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Old 24-08-2020, 08:37 PM
bluesilver (Peter)
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Setting up the AZ-EQ6

Hi, I have got two threads started on here as i thought it might be easier to split them up as they are both two different questions.

So i have just made the move to a AZ-EQ6 mount, coming from a Dobsonian goto mount.
The Dobsonian goto mount worked great, but wanting to do a bit more astropotograhy work, decided to get a AZ-EQ6 mount aswell.

So to get it roughly lined up, i kind of did the basic way.
Found out when the solar noon was, a got a rod into the ground where i want to observe from.
Waited till the correct time and ran a calk line across the shadow, I figured this would give me true South?

Set the mount up with one leg on the chalk line, found the middle of the other two legs and the half way point sits in the middle of the chalk line.

So in theory the mount should be facing exactly South.
Got the mount dead level, put an angle meter on the mounts head and got it to spot on to me current elevation of 41 degrees.

Having a bit of trouble finding the Octans stars in the polar scope, made worse as my current phone app has stopped working ( previous post )

First star is Hadar as it is easy to see for me and up at a good angle.
Second star, handheld unit keep saying searching all the time, searches for at least 4 - 5 seconds and then dose the same again.
Kind of keeps going in short loops with only maybe 10 stars, but takes about a minute or more to get through them.
Tries my handset from the Dobsonian and the same thing happens.

Have i got a faulty head unit on the AZ-EQ6? or is it just my setup just too rough?

On the Dobsonian i usually pick Spica and Hadar and tings are spot on, but as mentioned, handset is playing up searching for the second star.

Sorry for the long drawn out questions, just trying to give as much information as possible in the hope someone can advise me on what might be the issue.

Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Peter.
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  #2  
Old 24-08-2020, 09:48 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Peter
Forget the polar scope it’s a neck breaker and visually challenging especially on poor seeing nights
Try the Synscan polar alignment routine in the handcontroller, you don’t need a view of Octans
Preferably a view of the east / south between 35 deg Alt and 65 deg Alt with 2 brighter stars , one will be your polar alignment Star closer to the meridian ( also 1 of 2 alignment stars ) and a second alignment star. I’m using Atria ( PA star and 1st Alignment Star ) and Hadar ( 2nd Alignment Star ) at the moment between 6.30pm and 9.00pm
You can you use an illuminated reticle eye piece or your laptop / tablet with capture software that has live view
I’m polar aligned to less than 1 arc minute in 10 minutes
Here’s my procedure -

Synscan Polar Alignment Routine V3 and V4 Skywatcher EQ Mounts
( A view of the South Celestial Pole is not required for this Polar Alignment method )

1/ You will be using a 2 Star Alignment to start the process so nominate your 2 Alignment Stars on the same side of the meridian, one of which will be your Polar Alignment Star ( Alignment Stars should be fairly bright stars where possible to ensure they appear in the Synscan hand controllers data base, usually greater than magnitude 2.5 )
(Alignment stars for polar alignment ideally should be located between 35 degrees and 70 degrees in Altitude and no more than 50 degrees in Azimuth from the meridian) Important - Your Polar Alignment Star or 1st Star Alignment Star will be the one closest to the south meridian. To assist with locating and nominating your Alignment Stars use a Star Chart, a Planetarium like Stellarium or Cartes Du Ciel.
2/ Complete a 2 Star Alignment generally in accordance with Syncan 2 Star Alignment procedure. Start with your 1st Alignment Star close to the south meridian ( this will be your Polar Alignment Star as well ) and then 2nd Alignment Star away from south meridian no further than 50 degrees in Azimuth
3/ After completing a 2 Star Alignment press “Menu” then “Alignment” then “Polar Alignment” and then “Enter”
4/ The screen will display “ Select Star”. Scroll through list of stars until you find your previous nominated Polar Alignment Star and press “Enter”
5/ Mount will slew to the selected Polar Alignment Star
6/ Use direction keys on the hand controller to centre the Polar Alignment Star in the telescope eye piece reticle or Computer screen reticle. Once centred press “Enter”
7/ The hand controller screen will now display the polar alignment error ( degrees: minutes: seconds) then press “Enter” to proceed
8/ The mount will now slew to the new Altitude position. Now use the Altitude adjustment bolts only to move the Star to the closest point to the centre of FOV on the reticle eye piece or computer screen reticle. Remember this position and then press “Enter” to show the new polar alignment error ( degrees: minutes: seconds )
9/ Press “Enter” again and mount will slew to the new Azimuth position. Now use the Azimuth bolts only to move the Star to the closest point where the Star was centred in step 8. Press “Enter” to show the new polar alignment error
10/ Press “Enter” again to end the Polar Alignment procedure
11/ Go back to the “Alignment” menu in the hand controller and execute another “2 Star Alignment”. 1st Alignment Star will be your Polar Alignment Star which you should be already centred on from the previous Polar Alignment routine and 2nd Alignment Star is further away from the south meridian.Once the 2 Star Alignment is completed , the polar alignment error will be displayed on the hand controller ( degrees: minutes : seconds )
12/ Repeat the above procedures ( iterations) 2 or more times as required to reduce your polar alignment error below 1 arc second in both Altitude and Azimuth.
Polar Alignment Error displayed on hand controller should show as many zeros as possible
Eg: 1 arc minute error 000 01’ 00” Eg: 20 arc sec error 000 00’ 20”
Try and get below 1 arc minute error in both Altitude and Azimuth if conditions and time permit.
13/ Note: you must perform a 2 Star Alignment before you start with a Polar Alignment routine each time
14/ To improve accuracy of your Star centering and alignments , de focus the star slightly into a small donut shape, this way you can perform more accurate centering operations looking into your reticle eye piece or at your computer screen reticle
15/ The 2 Star Alignment stars you use for Polar Alignment maybe different from 2 Star Alignment stars you use for locating objects ( Goto) as the accuracy of Goto may improve with a wider distance between alignment stars in Azimuth.The 2 Star Alignment stars for Polar Alignment are fairly close to each other near the meridian and only span a small part of the night sky. The Polar Alignment routine obtains better results ( lower error ) when Alignment stars are within 50 degrees apart in Azimuth and closer to the south meridian at between 35 degrees and 70 degrees in Altitude.
16/ With some experience the Synscan Polar Alignment routine can usually be completed with sub arc minute PA error in around 15 to 20 minutes depending on seeing conditions
17/ Note: Star Alignment and Polar Alignment are two different processes
Star Alignment is used to tell the mount exactly its location in the night sky on an object using singular or multiple pointing model algorithms.
Polar Alignment is aligning the central axis of the mount and telescope to the South Celestial Pole using the Altitude and Azimuth adjustments. Depending on the accuracy of Polar Alignment,the celestial object will remain stationary in the FOV for at least a minute or so before any noticeable drift.
However Polar Alignment and Star Alignment do affect each other when adjustments are made. An adjustment of Altitude or Azimuth affects your star alignment accuracy, that’s why you perform a 2 Star Alignment after PA is adjusted.

Good luck !
Martin
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Old 25-08-2020, 02:44 PM
bluesilver (Peter)
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Thanks for that detail report,
I think after reading that i can see where i have been going wrong now.
It is all to do with selecting the first star as close to the South celestial pole as possible.
Will give it another go tonight if the clouds leave and use Atria as the first and Hadar as the second, they are visible all night here.

Appreciate the advice.
Thanks.
Peter.
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Old 25-08-2020, 07:55 PM
bluesilver (Peter)
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Ok, had a bit of a play tonight and kind of gotten worse as the night went on funny enough.
I am starting to think if i have an issue with the head unit itself.
But hoping it is just me, So this is what i have got and done so far:

With the tripod itself, i removed that black locator pin and moved it to the opposite side,
Reason for doing this was so that the black locator pin lines up with the tripod leg that faces South,
As it was out of the box, it was setup with the black pin sitting in the middle of two legs meaning the guide leg would have to be facing North, kind of as if it is set up for the Northern hemisphere.

Tried many times doing a two star alignments, and always coming up with about 2 hours or more out, I think it read something like
002 030’ 10” but not 100% sure, was getting frustrated by this point sorry.

Even after i went through the polar alignment setup moving the Altitude adjustment bolts, then enter, the proceed to move the Azimuth bolts, was getting frustrated by this point sorry. as instructed by the hand unit.
Then after doing a second 2 star alignment, find the 1st star is out, move it back and continue on through the process.
Slews to 2nd star is also way out also, more so than when i first started.

Only at the to find the polar alignment is still out bu about the same as when i fist started,
Go through the polar Alignment process again to find i am still moving the mount about the same amount in the same direction as before.
( now out of adjustment in the Azimuth bolts)

Now these amount I am talking about are way out, having to use the red dot finder to get the star back to the eye piece right from the first stage of all this.

Got a bit frustrated as you could imagine, so just out of interest, i switched it all of, turned it all back on, selected brightest star alignment, got that aligned on Hadar, then thought i wold test it out by just selecting to view Jupiter, the scope didn't hardly leave the Southern cross.
After than i just packed it up, need to figure out what i am doing wrong or if i have a faulty head unit.

I am use to the Dobsonian got mounts, you to have them sitting level, pointing South, and tube level before powering on.

Do i need to do anything special with these mounts?
When i power it on i select the first option EQ mode.
I have the tripod setup so that when the head unit is on it is facing South, and the Altitude set at 41 degrees for my location.

Do i need the telescope to be pointing in a general direction?
I just have it so that the counter weights are at the bottom and roughly in line with the leg facing South and the scope it pointing South if that makes sense?

The handheld unit itself is having great difficulty searching for the second star, always saying please wait searching and taking a good 5 seconds sometimes before it finds one and then you only get like 10 stars and it repeats itself, can take up to a minute to get through these.

Oh and the LED on the head unit is constantly blinking also, is this normal?
Have i got a bad unit all up or is all this just my setup procedure?

Very frustrating at the moment, if anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks.
Peter.

Last edited by bluesilver; 25-08-2020 at 08:08 PM.
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  #5  
Old 25-08-2020, 08:01 PM
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Outcast (Carlton)
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Blinking light on the head unit means your powersupply is not supplying sufficient power to the mount.

This could be part of your problem, the AZEQ6 is a bit power hungry especially for the initial start of and stopping of a slew...

I would start with that issue.. what are you using for a power supply?

Also, for frame of reference (not sure if you have already mentioned this) what scope are you using & also, what ep are you using when you start your alignments?

Last edited by Outcast; 25-08-2020 at 08:21 PM.
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  #6  
Old 25-08-2020, 08:09 PM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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If the LED on the mount is blinking it usually means the input voltage is low, how are you powering it? Taking a few seconds to search for the second star sounds not too far off normal to me, but I was using mine with an ASCOM driver and plate solving for the last year or so, I have not done a manual alignment in a long time. I also never tried to use the polar align routine, I only ever used Alt-Az when I used the mount visually.

How about a circuit breaker if you are getting frustrated. Put it in Alt-Az mode and you don't have polar alignment to worry about, you just need to check the tripod head is nicely level with a spirit level before you put the mount on. Then you can do a one, two or three star alignment and see how it goes, IMO ALt-Az is far and away the more convenient mode for visual use. But back to the start, if the LED is flashing you need to check on the incoming voltage.
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Old 25-08-2020, 08:17 PM
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Astronut07 (Ben)
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Peter

As Carlton has mentioned blinking led could be power supply issue.
I have the same mount & have a 100Amp/hr battery connected when in field

I have setup counter weights over the front leg as you have done also.
I use sharpcap to polar align. It costs say $15 annually but is truly worth it.
I can be polar aligned in 5 mins.
This obviously depends on if you can see South celestial pole.

I’m assuming that you have correct balance also & once you are back to home position you do clutches up.
If your mount is new it could have USB port, so long as you setup drivers you can control mount using software & bypass hand controller

As you have mentioned you are planning on do astrophotography so to use sharpcap for polar alignment you would have guide camera & scope

I’m nowhere as experienced as fellow IIS members but that’s all I can offer

Ben
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Old 25-08-2020, 08:21 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Peter,
General set up checklist -
Tripod facing true south ( front Tripod foot pointing true south and centre line of 2 rear tripod feet ) (I have a procedure)
Tripod level
Mount head fitted correctly ( not to sure about the AZ EQ 6 )
Mount head set to “home position” counterweight shaft pointing down front tripod leg ( I have a procedure )
Counter weights installed
Scope and accessories installed
Scope balanced ( I have a procedure)
Scope and mount set to home position before power up
Check adequate power supply 12V 5A ( I use 12V 7.5 A Powertech power adapter from Jaycar )
Ensure scope is secure on mount and check all fittings
Check all electrical connections
Power up
Ensure mount light is lit
Start Synscan 2 Star Alignment ( you already have my procedure)
Then Synscan Polar Alignment ( you already have my procedure)

Cheers
Martin
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  #9  
Old 26-08-2020, 05:31 AM
kon1966 (Kon)
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True south app

Hi Peter,
If you have an android tablet or phone, download an app called Solar Polar Align. It will calculate true south for your location during the day as you need any vertical shadow or edge. You can do this at any time during the day it will automatically adjust the angle.

Basically once it calculates, you align the small middle parallel lines with your vertical shadow and the sides of the tablet/phone are aligned to true south and top and bottom are at 90 degrees so you can get a plank of wood and put the 2 rear legs against the wood.

The app updates every 2 mins. Ensure the small middle line with the bulb on the end is pointing towards the sun as that represents sun direction.

Regards
Kon
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Old 26-08-2020, 03:39 PM
bluesilver (Peter)
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Thanks for the replies and advice, greatly appreciated.

Dam, didn't even think of a low voltage issue, that was definitely the reason for the blinking LED, can't believe i missed that, must of been the frustration getting in the way,

So to answer a few of the questions,
The battery is a 12V 18Ah battery from jaycar https://www.jaycar.com.au/12v-18ah-sla-battery/p/SB2490
Scope is a Skywatcher Evostar 150ED
Using a 20 mm illuminated eyepiece with the cross hairs and a 2x barlow.

I am trying to use this in EQ mode for astrophotography, i use my Dobsonian mainly for visual use.

Looking through the check list as Martin posted, it appears i have everything done correctly, and everything is balanced and leveled.
The only things i did pick up on was:

The Mount head set to “home position”
Scope and mount set to home position before power up

I haven't physically set anything but all the rest looks to be setup the same.

Might have to look into what setting home position is as this could be part of the issue also.

I have an andriod phone, so might have to look at getting another app for that as Skysafari5 has stopped working on mine this week,
Would Starleruim be a better choice there or go with Skysafari 6?
A bit annoyed also that this app has stopped working.

Also had a look for that app called Solar Polar Align, yet to find it but found this one, but it says it is for the North pole not South.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/d...4.solarcompass

Thanks again for all the advice,
Appreciated.
Peter.

Last edited by bluesilver; 26-08-2020 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 26-08-2020, 05:19 PM
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Outcast (Carlton)
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Having owned a few eq mounts now, including an azeq6, I found it's not that unusual for your first alignment star to be quite a way off.

If I might suggest using a wider field ep to assist in locating the star in the fov before switching out for your 20mm reticule to do the alignment. Even then, you may find the second star quite a bit out though, usually not as far.

Additionally, if your mount is not getting sufficient volts this will make skews erratic & more often than not, your star will be way off...

Finally, buried in your synscan handset menus is an alignment star filter setting. You can turn this off which will open up a few more stars for you. Essentially, the reason you only get a handful for the 2nd star is it's trying to give you the best 2nd alignment star based upon the first one you select. It will be looking for stars on the same side of meridian with the best angular cut. That's why the selection is limited as it is.

Also, you will find when you setup in alt/az mode it won't slew to your first alignment star, you have to drive it on, it will however slew to your second star. This is different to how it behaves in eq mode.

Hope this helps
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Old 26-08-2020, 05:35 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Also double check the settings in the Synscan handcontroller
EQ mode
Time
Date
Time zone +10
No Daylight savings
Latitude
Longitude
Turn off Star Alignment Filter ( in Set Up )


Cheers
Martin
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Old 26-08-2020, 06:06 PM
bluesilver (Peter)
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Thanks again for the replies and information,
I am open to any information and advise.

The app that i use o input the information into the Syscan hand held unit is called Synscanlnit 2.1, it works a treat, just enter the information as it is layed out and you can't go wrong, at least i think.

Full of clouds and not far from rain here, so tonight is out, but will give all these suggestions a go hopefully tomorrow if it is clear.

It sounds like the setup for the alt/az mode is the same as what i do on the GOTO Dobsonian.

Will look at a few apps tonight for the phone to replace the Skysafari 5, at least i will be able to find the correct stars again.

Thanks again.
Peter.
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Old 07-09-2020, 05:16 PM
Wilsil (Wilco)
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I know how you feel after trying an not getting anything.
How is the PA going now? Any better results?
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Old 07-09-2020, 07:43 PM
Rusty2
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Hi Peter , I recently went through exactly what your going through now , very frustrating . 6 months of trial and error .

I'm a noob as well and I'm not sure if I should be giving advice but it may help you . Someone correct me if I'm wrong .

I couldn't see octans either and purchased "polemaster" . It's a bit glitchy but works . Gota have a laptop to run it .

I eventually reset my hand controller , this did the trick .

I also "park" my scope when finished . Then "start from park" when ready to go again .

Make sure you don't put the date in back to front like I did on the weekend .
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Old 08-09-2020, 11:14 AM
bluesilver (Peter)
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I am hoping to try it out this weekend,
Shift work gets in the way a bit.
I can see octans from where i am if i look hard enough.
I haven't got a laptop to use yet, maybe a tad latter on i will get one.
I now use SkySafari 6 plus, helps a lot with locating things to start with.

I have been playing around during the day with Solar noon to get things spot on as close as i can that way, basically got the area marked out to when the tripod is setup it should be facing true South.

So if all goes well this weekend and all of next week, i should be able to get out and put everything into practice.

I use Synscanlnit 2.1 to put the data in to start with, works a treat.

Lots of great advice here.
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Old 19-09-2020, 07:38 AM
bluesilver (Peter)
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Skies finally cleared up nice last night, and after the long wait got to put it all into practice.
Worked like a charm, in about 10 minutes after going back and forward from polar alignment to 2 star alignment, i got it right down to the point where i didn't have to make any adjustments ( this is for polar alignment )
Using an eyepiece with the cross hairs.

Very much appreciated all the advice that has been given.
Easy to follow, just a pity it took me a few weeks to eventually get outside to put it all into practice.
Appreciated.
Peter.
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Old 24-09-2020, 03:50 PM
Rusty2
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Excellent !
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