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Old 10-10-2023, 08:23 PM
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gregbradley
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Anyone using a ZWO AM3 or AM5 mount?

Wondering what real users of these mounts are experiencing in performance.

20+/- arc secs seems high but I read the tracking is excellent so how is
better tracking achieved?

Greg.
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  #2  
Old 10-10-2023, 10:23 PM
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Nikolas (Nik)
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tracking is excellent so long as you are autoguiding
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  #3  
Old 11-10-2023, 05:07 PM
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seeker372011 (Narayan)
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I have had an AM3 for exactly two nights as I said on your other thread. Came with the factory certificate saying 18.5 Max and 7.1 arc seconds Min PE.

Autoguided easily RMS a is sub 1 arc sec..people are reporting sub .25 but I haven’t bothered with trying to get it down as low as possible because my image scale is between 1.9 to 3.6 arc sec per pixel depending on which optics camera combo I use.

One thing I found on night one was that usual RA and DEC aggression of 70 and 100 % ( that I used on my EQ6 and EQ5) is waaay too high and ruins guiding. Somewhere much less aggressive-45 % or thereabouts seems to be the sweet spot. Possibly could tweak more but it’s not worth it for me given my camera and optics.
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Old 11-10-2023, 09:40 PM
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I've got a new AM5 and an old HEQ5 pro that I've replaced bearing and tuned. I regularly get between 0.6 to 0.4 arc sec tracking with the HEQ5, on a good night I might even see low 0.3s.

However, with the AM5 I rarely see below 0.7 and sometimes as high as 1.3 arc sec carrying the same equipment. The problem with harmonic drive is that the periodic error changes quickly, you need a good guiding setup and at 0.5 second if possible to have a chance of compensating for the PE.

To me, the AM5 is not a high quality mount, it's a light weight "grab and go" that has high load capacity, and is acceptable for short focal length optics with > 1.5 arc sec per pixel image scale.

Chris.
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  #5  
Old 12-10-2023, 05:17 AM
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joshman (Josh)
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I've had an AM5 for over a year now, and it's been pretty good. Everything that ChrisD has mentioned is pretty accurate, though i have seen guiding as low as 0.4" RMS under good skies. For my Coastal location here in Coffs Harbour, I consistently sit around the 0.8" RMS which is perfect for my imaging needs.


Due to the untrainable PE and quick guiding cadence required to compensate, it's performance is very dependent on your sky quality and seeing conditions.



The biggest benefit has been the "Grab and Go" aspect. I'm simply able to image more. It take me all of a few minutes to get setup, and i can be ready to go before my Camera has even had a chance to get down to Temp.
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Old 20-11-2023, 08:07 PM
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Hi

I was wondering if you have used the mount in Alt Az mode and how the Go To performance has been? I'm looking to replace a HEQ5 mount with either a AM5 or HAE29 as a grab and go Alt Az mount for quick visual sessions in the evening / community outreach events or when I'm feeling lazy and can't be bothered setting the larger mount up using it in EQ mode.
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  #7  
Old 25-11-2023, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davewr View Post
Hi

I was wondering if you have used the mount in Alt Az mode and how the Go To performance has been? I'm looking to replace a HEQ5 mount with either a AM5 or HAE29 as a grab and go Alt Az mount for quick visual sessions in the evening / community outreach events or when I'm feeling lazy and can't be bothered setting the larger mount up using it in EQ mode.
I haven't used my AM5 in the Alt/Az configuration so I really can't comment, however, using the AM5 for visual does come with a few caveats. Unlike the HEQ5, the AM5 hand controller has no "smarts", no goto functions and no star alignment options, it only slews, turns tracking on/off and finds home. The AM5 requires AsiAir or a PC with Nina or equivalent. Also there is no polar scope on an AM5, although I think there are some after market mounts so it is possible to attach one, but if you're using AsiAir the best solution may be a guide scope with camera for alignment.

Also I'm concerned that the standard TC-40 tripod would be too low for comfortable visual work, at least for me.

Chris
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  #8  
Old 02-12-2023, 05:13 PM
S34photography (Steve)
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Yeah agree about the TC40 mount height of just 80cm (to the top of the tripod deck), going to add a pier extension but that only adds 160-200mm depending on model. I suppose it's a great little grab & go/travel/backpacking tripod but already thinking of other alternatives for tall/stable applications
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  #9  
Old 03-12-2023, 07:33 AM
johnhild (John)
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Am5

I have been using AM5 for astrophotography. Has been performing well.
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  #10  
Old 23-01-2024, 10:17 AM
jaleung (Jason)
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AM5 needs guide settings optimisation to get great results

I have the ZWO AM5 and itís working well (after optimising guide settings)
Out of the box guid settings are not right (in good skies, around 1.3 a-s total and with a mediocre guide scope setup). This was acceptable for my 500mm focal length scope.
I now have the following settings for guiding to get around 0.5 a-s for my 2032mm focal length.
Calibration step: 2000ms
Max DEC duration : 100ms, DEC Aggression : 35%
Max RA duration : 50ms, RA Aggression : 45%
It needs a good guide scope setup - needs at least 10 stars for multistar guiding (I max out the gain on my guide scope in my light polluted sky to get there).
It is an excellent for transport and speedy setup compared to my old HEQ5.
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  #11  
Old 23-01-2024, 01:31 PM
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Provided atmospheric conditions are good, my AM5 pretty consistently guides at sub-0.5", I've even seen it go as low as around 0.25" on particularly good nights.

Even on aevrage to poor nights (windy, roaring jetstream, poor seeing or all of the above) it will generally still be below 1" but I would rarely actually image on these nights anyway.


I should note that I do not use the TC-40. I use the PE200 pier on top of the EQ6R tripod which is obviously a more stable base for the mount than the TC-40. I am unsure how much difference it actually makes to guiding performance but no doubt makes some.
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  #12  
Old 24-01-2024, 10:55 AM
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I recently saw an image of the M78 produced by an AM5 user in Thailand. They were running a TS 10" RC at F/8 - 2032mm f/l, separate guide scope - easily close to the max weight of the mount..

The resulting image was absolutely astounding...

The issue these days is, it's hard to know if the results you're seeing on a facebook/forum post are a result of brilliant skill/equipment, or reasonable skill, average equipment and a LOT of AI.

Regardless, if your aim is to make pretty pictures, I don't think you can go too far wrong with the AM5/AM3.

I've been considering getting an AM3 for my 65mm APO rig, then sticking a big fast newt on my G11... The only thing stopping me is how expensive they are...

I got my first EQ6R for $1699 new, and my HEQ5 Pro for $1399 new. My first G11 cost me $4299. The AM5 with a tripod is almost 'back in my day' G11 money, and I can't see that level of value in a mass produced mount...
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  #13  
Old 28-01-2024, 06:24 PM
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What about the AM3? Most of us here have an AM5, but does anyone have the AM3 and enjoy it? Any issues?
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  #14  
Old 29-01-2024, 03:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexN View Post
...
Regardless, if your aim is to make pretty pictures, I don't think you can go too far wrong with the AM5/AM3.

I've been considering getting an AM3 for my 65mm APO rig, then sticking a big fast newt on my G11... The only thing stopping me is how expensive they are...
One of the main features of the AM3/5 compared to a G11 etc - is portability...no CW remember...there is value in that depending on your intended use.

I have had an AM5 for just over a year now and and find it guides to 0.5-0.7" RMS which is the class of mount this is - in that sense you can compare a G11. In addition to this after, a little tuning to the PHD settings, this mount has been set and forget. I have used a Vixen Sphinx, G11 and iOptron CEM40EC previously...compared to those setup and use is simple.

One caution - ZWO QA seems a bit poor - I had to return my first copy it would not guide with the scope on the west side of the mount.
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  #15  
Old 30-01-2024, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH View Post
One of the main features of the AM3/5 compared to a G11 etc - is portability...no CW remember...there is value in that depending on your intended use.

Not just portability, but general ease of setup.


For example, I leave my PE200 pier bolted to the Skywatcher EQ6R tripod legs at all times. To set up I just plonk the tripod on the ground, drop the mount in and tighten the 3 locks, and level the tripod legs. I can point the mount 'roughly' south just by loosening the three locks and rotating it on top of the pier. Then polar alignment finishes the job. I am almost always polar aligned, focused and imaging before twilight has even ended from a totally fresh setup.


The EQ6R was so fiddly to set up in comparison.
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  #16  
Old 31-01-2024, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnH View Post
One of the main features of the AM3/5 compared to a G11 etc - is portability...no CW remember...there is value in that depending on your intended use..
No question about it, and the reason why I'm considering an AM3 for my 65PHQ...

Thinking about taking the g11 further than the driveway or the middle of the back yard makes my back hurt...

I unfortunately have a shopping list of astro toys as long as you can imagine, and a second mount to run two rigs simultaneously is low on the list of required items...
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2024, 11:08 AM
Geochron (Jon)
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I have only had my new AM-3 out for a grand total of two nights but it is already looking good.

On the first night using fairly generic guide parameters except for a 1sec guide exposure I have to admit that the results were less than inspiring (see first graph below). Then I found an extremely long (you will need a few hours to digest it) but highly informative thread on how to optimise guiding of harmonic mounts:

https://bbs.zwoastro.com/d/15989-get...from-my-am5/15

I have so far only implemented a couple of the suggestions in that thread (guide exposure down to 0.5 sec and max durations down to 150ms, with very low aggression) and I am already seeing much better guiding (see second graph below).

Clearly there is still periodic drift in there (both these sessions are three hours long) but there is also still plenty of room for further mods including upping the gain on the guide camera and playing with the sidereal guide rate. The latter is set as 0.5 by default in the ASIAir but people are suggesting improvements can be made by using a lower rate again. I believe the next update of ASIAir software will allow this, currently only the ASI Mount software allows it.

I would highly recommend reading at least parts of the quoted thread if you have an AM-3/AM-5. It really helps you to realise that every single mount has quite different characteristics and so guide settings need to be individually tailored.
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