View Full Version here: : HEQ5 Pro - Polar Alignment
16-10-2011, 02:47 PM
I have recently purchased an HEQ5 Pro and the guide is not helpful in regards to alignment.
Could anyone kindly guide me towards a website or video that will assist in aligning - mount and synscan ?
I think for synscan - 3 star alignment should be an easy go.
However the alignment of the mount is somewhat confusing.
16-10-2011, 03:44 PM
There is a guide by one of our members here:
Remember of course there are 2 separate but related things you're trying to pull off here - polar alignment then software star alignment. A question - do you need it spot on for photography, or just trying to learn how to tame set up for visual? :)
I always struggled to get my Heq5 pointing reliably for visual until I'd learned to get it PA'd really well for astrophotography must admit.
16-10-2011, 05:59 PM
Thank you peter for the link and rob for your comments.
I essentially want to achieve alignment for photography but I know its not gonna happen overnight. So I have gathered all my patience for this one.
The thing is there are so many different ways of achieving it and I'm confused.
But to start off, I may follow this to just see how it works out - http://www.geologynet.com/astronomy/polar.htm.
Also when its written to point the mount to true south, is it referring to moving the North Label on one of the tripod legs towards true south ?
The software alignment takes care of the visual alignment.
Have I understood this correctly ?
If you can see the South C Pole from your site it's probably worth learning how to align and use your polar scope. It does mean quite a bit of squinting and grovelling in the dirt though.
If you'll be doing astrophotography then drift aligning through a camera with a refresh rate of about 1 frame/sec is hard to beat and a 2nd technique really worth mastering. Do you have a guiding camera at the moment? If not it really would be worth having one for this alone, but also for some planetary fun (there was a Toucam with 1.25" adaptor going for $70 including postage from memory recently in the classifieds). The great thing about drift aligning is it teaches you the how and why about getting you altitude and azimuth adjusted well. As you get closer to perfect the drift is hard to see though, which makes doing it by eye time consuming and not much fun. I guess I'm assuming you'll have access to a laptop or PC at the scope though mind you.....
Yes, star alignments are just software correcting for mount inaccuracies and polar alignment.
16-10-2011, 08:34 PM
Thanks for replying rob.
Right now I don't have a guiding camera or scope although I do have the phillips toucam which I have used. But doesn't one need another scope with a camera dedicated for autoguiding ?
I have a hitechastro adaptor which can control my mount via the computer. I may try to use this using stellarium.
If you have a toucam and laptop then just whack the webcam in the main scope, then drift align according to:
I used K3CCDTools V1 freeware for ages, but now just turn off tracking in my guiding software and monitor the graph - but that's another story.....
Don't be too put off by the all the variations on how to get Polar aligned. If you can, trying a few of them for yourself is a great learning experience from the backyard. The goal is to get something you're fine with so when you go to a dark sky site you don't spend all night swearing. BTW, don't be afraid to mark out where you have the scope and put some marks on the mount if need be so you can get back to that spot. I can get away with a quick check (or none if I'm trying my luck) when pulling down and putting up again another night from home, but do have the luxury of tiles to set up on and mark. There are plenty of people here to help more if need be.
17-10-2011, 12:34 AM
I had a lump of 4x4 lying in the back yard for ages. It was aligned south so I could just put the rear mount legs against it and I was pointing south :)
17-10-2011, 12:51 AM
Yep, you've got it right - the tripod leg marked "North" is the leg you want to point roughly towards true south - this is correct on the premise that the leg is also aligned to where your scope is pointing to when it is mounted
17-10-2011, 07:12 PM
Thank you Rob, Bill and Robin for your replies.
Yesterday even though it was getting cloudy I thought to just try it out to get an experience out of it as I was unpacking a brand new heq5 pro.
Anyways got it all balanced between the weights and the scope.
Got hitecastro working on my laptop and could control the scope via using stellarium scope, eqmod ascom & stellarium.
I was able to get the mount to slew where ever I pointed it on the stellarium.
However, the accuracy was zero. I pointed the north leg of the tripod to true south. I used my android based compass, had a setting change to true north and I hope this showed me the true south. (I think this assumption could be wrong).
Anyways done that and I expected that if I point to Jupiter in the east (easily visible from my backyard), the telescope will slew in east somewhere and not to exactly where Jupiter should be (between the clouds I could see its exact location and ofcourse I had stellarium).
But the telescope started slewing into the south direction and stopped - stellarium showed - its on jupiter !!!
So I'm a bit baffled :confused2: as to what this indicates. I also tried various trial and error methods but the direction which I would predict for the telescope would always be wrong once I selected a target on stellarium in a known direction ?
Any clues guys :sadeyes: ?
Sorry for the long post but I wanted to provide as much info as possible to get the correct advice. Its sort of overwhelming with the amount of info out there.
What longitude and lat set up in the handcontroller and PC?
Is time zone set to GMT + 10hrs?
17-10-2011, 10:00 PM
Lat on scope was set to 27 deg
Please don't mind but I can't give you my exact lat and lon as it can be used to find my location. However what I can tell you is lat was in the range of 27 deg and lon in the range of 153. I live around Brisbane.
Timezone was correct too. I wanted to use alignmaster but their registration key delivery system is too slow so I couldn't use the software. Still waiting for a key to be I guess manually generated and emailed.
The exact location lat and lon was found by using the following online tools -
Is my assumption regarding the true south correct ?
I should have been clearer - really just asking for you to check that Long is East and lat South, and time GMT+10
17-10-2011, 10:54 PM
I picked up an NEQ6 a couple of months ago and can sympathise with your frustrations. I've tried various methods for polar alignment, but the easiest method for me by far is to drift align using the PHD guiding software. (There are lots of online how-to guides.)
With 0.2 sec exposures on bright stars (i.e. 5 frames per second), the feedback is virtually instantaneous. I can make a change to the mount's alignment knobs and PHD will tell me within seconds whether it's an improvement. If I want more accurate alignment, I just wait a bit longer - HEAPS faster than doing it through an eyepiece.
Best part of all - I don't worry about figuring out which way the alignment star drifts versus what direction to make the change. When I get PHD started, I just make a BIG change to polar alignment and see how it affects the guiding accuracy graph (e.g. rotate mount to the left = moves the PHD graph/line up) and just go by that.
I still don't know how to polar align by looking through the polar scope or by drift aligning without PHD... but several minute long exposures haven't been a problem at all :)
Edit: are you able to successfully three-star align the mount using the SynScan hand controller only?
17-10-2011, 10:57 PM
Yup it was set correctly S 27 and E 153 as lat and lon respectively.
Stellarium also asked for altitude in and it specified 38m as soon as I entered my exact coordinates. If I entered Brisbane as location it showed 47m as altitude.
17-10-2011, 11:02 PM
Thanks for your encouragement dave. I haven't tried the star alignment as it was very cloudy and I was just giving my new scope a shot to get a feel of it. Also wanted to make sure I setup the softwares to control it.
I will give PHD a try next weekend. I have a philips SPC900N webcam which I will fit into the scope using an eyepiece projection unit with 25 mm EP to get a larger FOV.
If you have any links handy in relation to how to use PHD for alignment, do share them.
17-10-2011, 11:50 PM
I might be misunderstanding you... but did you run a successful star alignment routine through EQMOD when you were trying to slew to Jupiter via Stellarium? As others have mentioned, polar alignment and software star alignment are two different things.
Polar alignment is what keeps the stars in your eyepiece/camera stationary over time (i.e. it's what you need for astrophotography). You do this by physically turning the mount left/right and rotating it up/down ("drift alignment" tells you which direction and by how much to move it).
Software star alignment is used to slew to an object accurately (i.e. what you needed to slew to Jupiter). This is done by getting the software to point at a star, and then you make corrections to centre it using the hand controller or laptop, and then repeat a number of times. This doesn't involve physically touching the mount.
Before I discovered PHD drift alignment, I had very rough polar alignment but could still software align reasonably okay. I could accurately slew to objects within a few minutes of doing the alignment, but it would then rapidly become inaccurate.
(Sorry if you knew this already... it caused me a lot of grief in the early days until I figured out the difference!)
I had another quick look on Google - if you search for "drift alignment using phd graphs" (including the quote marks) one of the top matches should be a PowerPoint presentation with step-by-step instructions and screen shots.
18-10-2011, 02:40 AM
If you had pointed the mount in the "correct direction" ie due south (don't worry about being too accurate here) - you know, as much as true south is, based on your own method of finding it, eg: with a compass etc, then in general terms when you use the hand-controller to do your 1, 2 or 3-star alignments when prompted by the SynScan controller you should be able to get the slewing working quite OK-ish and accurately ONLY AFTER it's aligned!!
The first star offered depends on whether the setup menu for "alignment stars" were based on alpha sort order or by brightness - if you recognise say Canopus then use that as the first one for eg - the mount will slew to where it thinks Canopus is and then this is when you have to use the 4 arrows of the handcontroller to "center" Canopus to the center of the eyepiece manually (it may be quite off the center of your eyepiece view) - you then proceed to the next alignment star (assuming you chose the 2-star alignment option) and repeat the "centering" process and when that's all done you should be able to slew to any object quite accurately
Sorry to be so specific with the above explanation but just to make sure that you're ontrack with how it's being done
You did ask why Stellarium showed that you're spot on your selected object but actually the mount is not pointing in the correct location - reason is because you did not do the star alignment yet - hence Stellarium software thinks it's where it should be BUT it is not correlated to the mount thinking where it actually is because the mount wasn't aligned yet! I may be wrong in this but I'm confident that's the real cause - I been there and done that before!!;)
If you think about it this way: Stellarium knows where the SCP is, the mount has been star aligned so "knows where" the SCP is and therefore when you slew correctly to say Jupiter - the movement is "synchronised" with Stellarium showing where Jupiter is - if the mount is not aligned then the two results will have no correlation to each other
BTW naskies suggestion is workable too and is useful only when you need very close/accurate polar alignment :thumbsup:
18-10-2011, 02:46 AM
Oh! BTW I hope you've read this article - http://www.iceinspace.com.au/63-498-0-0-1-0.html
It will assist you to work thru the basic set up of the GEM and rough alignment of the mount
18-10-2011, 05:20 AM
How are you physically setting the correct latitude on your mount?
18-10-2011, 07:02 AM
Has anyone ever posted a video guide on how to do this? It seems that a huge amount of people have trouble getting their head around it.
18-10-2011, 07:10 AM
Answering my own question.
Some useful links for those who work better seeing it than reading about it.
They are Northern Hemisphere, but the setup of the setting circles, getting the home position right etc. are useful.
18-10-2011, 02:29 PM
Thank you Peter and Bill for the links.
I will go through the videos and report back how I go with the alignment over the weekend.
Bill, I had read a similar but not so detailed How To and so I think I had placed my scope with a rough polar alignment.
Thats why I was so suprised to see the slew direction of desired object to be completely out.
Anyways eagerly waiting for the weekend to try it out but I'm sure its going to be cloudy again !!!
Ross - I adjusted the metal knobs to move the mount head and get its pointer to approx 27 deg. on the lat scale.
18-10-2011, 02:33 PM
The videos are great for the setup you do before you even take the scope outside.
Also the suggestion to slew to an object very close to what you are aligned on, you can tell by where it then slews to if you are way out somewhere.
19-10-2011, 12:28 AM
Thank you peter for those video links.
They certainly were helpful and I did some re-adjustments.
To confirm using the Azimuth adjustments, one also needs to move the mount and point it straight along the N marked tripod leg ?
19-10-2011, 02:53 AM
Have you tried using the Eqmod alignment tool?
I use it (admitedly for the northern hemishphere) and it is a doddle. I understand that to use for the southern hemisphere that you use chi octans instead of polaris?
(scroll to the bottom of document for southern hemisphere)
Like I say, I haven't done this myself in the southeren hemisphere but it might be worth a try.
19-10-2011, 01:17 PM
OK understood that you've got the "rough polar alignment" correctly done - so did you then do the "1, 2 or 3-star" alignment of the mount in that position? AND this is to be done first before combining its use with your planetarium software Stellarium !!
19-10-2011, 03:01 PM
If you are using EQMod software what ever you put in the hand controller doesn't matter a squat as it just parses the RS232 control data straight though.
In my experience the only times that i have had the telescope go the opposite way is when I had put in the wrong Lat/Long coords, eqmod is a bit funny how you put them in especially when you set them.
Peter pointed you to my document showing how to actually set up your mount. This is what I have done and is a collection of a few years of information that i have gathered/experienced. It has pictures and a step by step way of setting everything up.
Nowdays i use pole align max and it is very good at what it does you just need to see its stars which can be problematic if you are in a tight area but other wise brilliant.
If you want to get rough polar alignment without drift alignment and what not after you have done your basic set up as Bill discribed earlier, go to your hand controller, do a 1 star align shoot off to a nice bright star around the SCP region Canopus, Archnarr, Hadar, Rigel Kenturas those are some of the ones avalible. Once it has slewed DON'T TOUCH THE HAND CONTROLLER...... move the mount physically eg unscrew the 2 black RA adjustment knobs, and back off the front Dec adjustments and move the star into the center of view for your telescope (assuming that your telescope/mount is pretty well aligned). Once you have done this lock everything back off, park your scope to bring it back to your pre set home position.
This is where you either slip back to eqmod or use your hand controller but you can go further with doing your alignment with drift alignment or the like. but to test how close you are to the pole just slew to a bright star and you should land it in your finder scope, at least this is my experience.
19-10-2011, 09:39 PM
Thanks Jeremy for the EQMod links. Have gone through them but it wont be useful as I don't have the view of Octans so I will certainly have to go with a rough alignment followed by drift.
I think I did but you know what I may have very well forgotten to do this (was going through a lot of sites to understand polar alignment and was overwhelmed with the info). This may be what caused the slew of scope in opp direction. Thanks Bill.
Thank you for your comments Brendan. When I connected the EQMod, the hand controller was disconnected from the mount. You have mentioned that the eqmod has a different way of accepting the lat/long data ? How is it different, can you please explain ?
20-10-2011, 03:22 AM
Perhaps this may help.
The software is called Alignmaster.
20-10-2011, 12:21 PM
I use this mount, and I dont have a view of the CSP. The easyest way that I have found is guiding assisted drift alignment. I use my SSAG and PHD. The procedure is very easy.
23-10-2011, 01:18 PM
yesterday was a clear night after 12am. So in the session from 12am to 4am, I was able to balance and successfully complete a 3-star alignment via the hand controller.
Slewing to target object was then working out fine however after a minute or so found that the target object would drift away. So I just used the had controller to view the target object again and it would be in my EP. Or sometimes used the directional keys of the hand controller to get it back in my EP.
I guess I have to move now into drift alignment or probably look at a software doing so.
Also, by mistake during my session, I turned off the power to my scope. It was in a park position so no probs in that regards but when Itried to slew to the target again, the target object was no more in my EP.
Do I have to conduct a star alignment everytime ? Doesn't this info get stored in the hand controller with custom settings such as for home backyard, use these alignments ?
23-10-2011, 02:07 PM
Im pretty sure that you have to do the alignment everytime you turn it off, however I would only do a 2 star because the third one only adjusts for cone error and for me it hasnt helped with goto accuracy.
Unless your dovetail is buggered it should be fine.
23-10-2011, 02:56 PM
Yep, each time you turn off the power source you do have to do the 1, 2 or 3-star alignment routine again - there is no provision for a ROM-based storage on the handcontroller for such
Good to hear that you've finally managed to at least get it slewing to the right spot after the star alignment process
I'd recommend the Alginmaster software (http://www.alignmaster.de/) - there's a trial period before you decide to pay up, so give it a try
Generally speaking if you did this - http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=14036 - you'll find that you should be able to keep the "lock" on the object for much than the minute or so that you are experiencing
Give it a try!:thumbsup:
23-10-2011, 03:23 PM
I like to use EQAlign for drift aligning. I can't compare it to other software because it is the only one I have used, but I find it quite easy and it is free.
Whereabouts in Brisbane are you?
23-10-2011, 03:31 PM
That is sad but in terms of PEC, it must be storing it for sure. Its hard to believe that both star alignment data and pec need to be done everytime. Damn EQs are hard work. I guess once this part is mastered the outcomes make it all worth it.
Well to be honest, even when my mount was keeping the M42 in the EP for a min, it was like a joyous moment for me coming from the days of struggle of dob mount and alignment issues.
I had already downloaded the software but didn't realise that it would take the author 48 hrs before I receive a useable trial serial number. Usually such processes are automated and worth it when it comes to amateurs like me trying to go through forums around 2 am - find a solution and want to implement it straight away.
Anywho I have received the serial number and will give it a try most likely next weekend now.
Also, the link that you have provided is showing a complicated system for me at this stage. I have bookmarked it, once I get used to the routine and get my setup right, I will then move on to optimize it.
Thank you Bill & Peter for all your help.
23-10-2011, 03:35 PM
Hi Andrew, yeah I saw the EQAlign software, I will probably get into it next week. So with EQAlign, does it capture a webcam output as well into the program ?
Does it store the alignment data for the next session even after powering off the mount and the program ?
I live north of brisbane, near Petrie.
23-10-2011, 09:55 PM
Yep, sounds like inadequate polar alignment. After you re-centre the object in your EP, you can hold down the ESC button on the hand controller for two seconds and it will come up with a prompt to update its alignment data (press ENTER to confirm). The next time you slew to the same object, it will use the updated data... but it obviously doesn't fix any polar alignment issues.
According to the SynScan manual, it will remember the star alignment provided that you (1) explicitly park the mount using the hand controller, and (2) don't move the position of the mount or unlock the clutches.
24-10-2011, 01:25 AM
Thank you dave for your comments. I will carry out the ESC procedure in my next session.
Today I did another session (unfortunately didn't see dave's comment regarding ESC key untill now).
It was a great session and captured Jupiter.
Attached is a quick processed image.
24-10-2011, 02:46 AM
Yep that's true BUT only if you did not turn the power off - the previous "star alignment" will still hold true when parked - and then you can continue another session without going through the "star alignment" process providing the mount too hasn't been moved - I'm sure that my EQ6 Pro loses the "star alignment" when the power is turned off though!!
24-10-2011, 02:53 AM
Mate - that is how you can achieve repeatability in obtaining as close as accurate can be to being polar aligned (without having to drift align) so that you will NOT experience so quick a drift (you mentioned the 1 minute only you got on M42) and therefore can enjoy your time lookin' thru the eyepiece more
Anyways you're on the way now! - so good luck with your enterprise :thumbsup:
24-10-2011, 10:18 AM
You might well be right - I've never kept star alignment because I've been packing up my scope/mount after every session. However, this passage is straight from my SynScan manual:
The result for the star alignments and PAE is stored in the hand control even after the power has been shut off. You will only need to perform the star alignment once as long as these two criteria are met: 1 The telescope is moved to its home position (Park the telescope) before turning off the power. 2. The telescope setup. including the mount, has not been moved.
I think I remember reading about other members' experiences with pier-mounted EQ6s where they don't have to re-align the mount every session. Perhaps callingrohit could try it and let us know? :)
24-10-2011, 04:23 PM
When i set up my telescope and leave it set up for periods of time eg 2-3 day astro trips, I do the same thing in EQMod, i save the alignments. So i park the scope upon completion of the night then the following evening all I do is click go to which generally slips the star on the sensor first time.
I then clear the previous nights alignment if i have taken the scope off for the day time if not i just make sure its on the sensor and then follow my way to my target. Rarely will i take a map of the whole sky if my polar alignment is good as it isn't needed. I star hop to my target and that makes the alignment really accurate, if im attacking a object that needs a 2-3 min exposure just to see it, I will triangulate the object then go to it this gives a highly accurate localised spot and ive never had issues doing it this way.
29-10-2011, 05:40 PM
Thank you everyone for the encouragement and the amazing help.
Hi Dave, I don't leave my setup in the backyard so I wont be able to test it. If I ever do happen to leave it, I've made a note for myself to test it out and will report back.
Hi brendan, how do you achieve triangulation ?
30-10-2011, 05:22 PM
Yep that's correct!! +1:thumbsup: - I might have given the wrong impression previously re: loss of alignment stars after powering off
This is my take on the matter:- If you've aligned and PAE'ed (ie fine-tuned your sync and stored it in the handcontroller; it stays there and doesn't get wiped off even when you power off your mount!) - pier-mounted EQ6s mean that they "The telescope setup. including the mount, has not been moved." - and obviously if you've got it pier-mounted - it would also be "moved to its home position (Park the telescope) before turning off the power" - hence you have no need to do your alignment again
For those of us who do take the rig apart after each session it means that the "alignment stars" and PAE data (if done) would be defeated anyway because we've moved the mount
02-11-2011, 11:51 AM
triangulate as it seems. i pick 3 stars around where the object should be and sync on those stars then I slew to the object take a 3 minute guided photo once its come though stretch the buggery out of it to see whats there :).
To give you an idea of what happens when your polar alignment is actually spot on. I went out for a deep sky trip over the weekend, Friday night i set up my scope, alls well without any syncs i was able to put stars on the CCD sensor from north to south east to west. with 2 syncs i would drop it within 5 minutes of the center of the ccd. Saturday I pulled the scope off the mount because i wanted to do some modifications, I put the scope back on the mount. and same thing as friday night. 1 sync and i was getting pretty much perfect pointing.
When doing my guiding calibration it would land back directly on the same pixel which means no drift at all. Aim for this level of accuracy and your images will take a massive step up in the world!
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