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About Avocette

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    Star Forming

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  1. I recently bought my AZ-EQ5 second-hand technically still under two year guarantee. I found a touch of backlash on both axes - about equal on each. Rather than ask the dealer to honour the guarantee and argue about whether the level of backlash was abnormal, I had a successful go at making adjustments myself. Not difficult, but not for the faint hearted. Obviously a new mount bought from a reputable dealer like our sponsor, shouldn’t have significant backlash, but I sometimes question the factory quality control. For instance, the printed tape sticker which shows the latitude angle for the Alt adjustment, is about 5° out! On your second point the Delux pier style tripod has definitely been withdrawn from the market, but whether that signals the demise of the whole mount I don’t know. I feel lucky to have bought my AZ-EQ5 with the pier style tripod, admittedly already fitted with a pillar extension to bring it to a very useful height. And I am very happy with the wide range of adjustment on the Az axis (around +/- 25°) and the simple single spring loaded lever adjustment on the Alt axis (very effective and no risk of bending adjustment bolts).
  2. My friend and I are still scratching our heads for ways of making it possible for one observer to use both scopes...
  3. It’s early days for me with my newly acquired AZ-EQ5. I can feel a little backlash, about equal in both axes, and that does mean a touch of horizontal slop in AZ mode. Last night was my proper first light in AZ mode where I wanted to compare my ‘old’ SkyMax 150 Pro with a friends much newer one. We set up the two scopes in parallel and I was happy that the views through my one were no better and no worse that through his (using matched pairs of eyepieces). I did a quick levelling of the pillar top before attaching the head and carrying out a two star alignment. After that we toured the sky with a 20mm Maxvision 68° eyepiece in my scope and a 4.7mm 82° in his. We were amazed how well the two scopes were aligned naturally on their standard dovetails in pucks which have differential adjustment only in the Alt direction. But the AZ backlash didn’t bother us and the GoTos were spot on, often in the centre of the 4.7mm I.e. at ~380x. My major application of the mount will be AP in EQ mode, when a little unbalance should bias the backlash, but it was great using AZ mode - and a touch of backlash in the AZ axis in visual use didn’t worry me as a long term Dob nudger. I shall be reading up on everyone’s experience in attempting to minimise backlash in both axes on the AZ-EQ5, but last night’s experience was great and may have sold another AZ-EQ5 to my friend.
  4. That's the same setup that I have with RPi4 4GB running Raspian Buster, KStars, Ekos and Indi. I run it 'headless' I.e. without monitor, keyboard or mouse attached, but controlled via VNC on an iPad. The specific package I installed on my RPi used the AstroPi3 script written by Rob Lancaster (search rlancaste on www.github.com) who has been preparing versions to run on various other OSs if you don't like Raspian. I'm no Linux expert so I have needed step by step instructions but Rob has provided these in his Readme.txt. I have a Ublox 7 gps dongle, an EQDir EQMod cable and my Canon DSLR connected by USB, so the KStars knows where it is and the correct time when operating in hotspot WiFi mode in the field. My 'experiments' with the whole rig over the last few nights have been to try to become familiar with the myriad software packages especially starting with Polar Alignment (I have no polar scope on my AZ-EQ5). No resounding success so far, but maybe better news tonight having downloaded and installed a further 12GB of astrometry.net Index files today. This means that my RPi microSD card now has about 28GB onboard! Plate solving of some images I photographed last night has been working offline on the RPi with a typical delay of a little over a minute so sounds like things may work tonight.
  5. I sympathise greatly with you -philip- having myself explored various telescope options over the last seven or eight years. My budget didn’t stretch to buying new, so my purchases were largely steered by local second hand availability and a bit of luck. As my signature suggests I presently have assembled an array of four scopes, a 300mm Flextube Dob, 150mm Newt, 150mm Mak and an 80mm ED Frac. The latter three can be mounted on an AZ4 manual mount or an AZ-EQ5 GoTo with two of the three side by side in AZ mode or one in EQ mode. I regularly question myself about which of them I really enjoy most, and which I would I keep and which I would sell if I only had room for one. During my slow climb up the learning curve, I first owned a Skyliner 200p and after an outbreak of aperture fever I also had a 250px for several months. The latter needed some significant breathing on (cleaning up in general, washing mirrors, swapping out a dodgy focuser etc) and I fitted up both scopes with digital setting circles, Wixey's and leveling bases I believe I should have been satisfied with the 200p. With the benefit of hindsight, I think most of my observing was limited by the quality of the atmosphere, and my somewhat aging eyes, and not by the equipment. The fact that the 200p and 250px scopes have identical focal lengths should have made it easy to pick out the differences made by the aperture differential. I persuaded myself that the slightly greater 'astigmatism' or was it 'coma' at f4.7 of the 250px required better quality eyepieces than the f5.9 of the 200p. Many authors do suggest that f5 is a threshold, if not a cliff edge, beyond which higher quality eye-pieces are a requirement. Of course you might buy a good example of a particular telescope model or a rough example of the same model - and it's quite clear that we are required to carry out our own personal quality control of such inexpensive Chinese made equipment. I have two other opinions on aspects of your dilemma (200p versus 250px Flextube GoTo): Weight - My 300p Flextube is heavy - about at the limit of my capability to deal with comfortably when divided into base and OTA. I would prefer a fixed tube version except that I like to use a binoviewer for viewing the Moon and planets. This requires me to set the truss rod fittings about 10cm down from their maximum positions to achieve focus through the BV. But the GoTo Flextube scopes are that much heavier, which for me would be beyond comfortable handling on my own. GoTo accuracy - I have owned an EQ5 Pro with the SynScan v3 handset and more lately the AZ-EQ5 GoTo mount with the v4 handset. Both have tripods can be adjusted to physically level the mount before you begin alignment procedures. I have learned just how critical this leveling is to the success of subsequent alignment and GoTos. The Flextube base has no inherent capability for leveling adjustment so if you plan to make a suitable trolley or truck base for moving it, don't forget to build in some leveling screws, that preferably would reach down to terra firma. If you can persuade your friend to let you have the 200p back on long term loan you could end up being a happy man!
  6. I think you’re being a little unfair to Radek, the man who has assembled the Astroberry package! He’s regularly responding to questions (supporting) and has talked of the Ubuntu MATE 18.04 version (developing) although awaiting further progress from the Ubuntu MATE team. In my own case I’m, like Gajjer, more of a hardware man, hoping to be led through this software labyrinth through the easiest of possible steps. Nevertheless, I’ve now got my RPi running Astroberry, interfacing to my mount and camera, with a GPS dongle giving precise location and time, my old (2009) laptop running Ubuntu MATE 18.04, and controlling things via the astroberry WiFi hotspot from KStars/Ekos, and with SkySafari (4+, 5 pro or 6+) on my iPad giving me an optional secondary planetarium screen and controlling some mount positional features. And in the meantime I am definitely learning stuff......
  7. Slight change of topic I detect - which allows me to do the same and say ‘Happy New Year!’ I’ve just picked up this thread after a fortnight of similar struggles to get Ubuntu MATE 16.04 working on the RPi 3 B+. I firstly tried the Astroberry image which worked from the start, but I wanted to slim the unrequired features down (and understand) the INDI installation. A friend loaned me his RPi 3 B, and I set about adding the tweaks to the Ubuntu MATE downloaded image to avoid the ‘rainbow square’ freeze (updated boot loader), and then to get the WiFi working (firmware files). I’m now trying to add the missing B+ .dtb file to the boot folder in the SD card, although back to rainbow square freeze at the moment on the B+. I only bought my RPi in November as an early Xmas present to mess about with in the holidays so I was surprised to recognise the package as similar to Stellarmate and ASIair and so suddenly become aware it could be really useful to my Astro set up. I’ll be happy to follow this thread and I’ll report back on any further progress bringing the RPi 3 B+, Ubuntu MATE and INDI into a working system (other than the already impressive Astroberry and Stellarmate images).
  8. I’m following this thread with great interest. I recently chanced upon an ED80 to add to my Newts and the Mak, so I’m not in a position to make Frac vs Mak test comparisons yet, especially with the present weather. But I sympathise over the doubts sown in your mind when using the Mak. Are the imperfections you observe caused by the atmosphere or by internal thermal currents, miscollimation, or basic SW Mak QC factors? And while waiting for perfect observing conditions, it’s easy to doubt your scope.
  9. The Hotech Advanced CT laser collimator would not work on a SkyMax 150 due to the spacing of the three lasers. Specification says ‘larger than 170mm diameter’.
  10. The 66mm thread seems to have been unique to the SkyMax until in recent years the SCT thread replaced it. I don't think you should attempt to budge it - better to get hold of one of the special adapters to fit this thread and convert to SCT, at around £40 a unit last time I asked.
  11. Hi there - good choice of scope! As John says, get some experience whenever you can with it as it stands. I find personally that I need some help in getting to the right bit of the sky to look for particular objects unless it's Venus or the Moon for example. So I have added a 'setting circle' to calibrate the azimuth angle and I attach a Wixey magnetic angle gauge to the steel tube (alongside my Rigel Quikfinder and my RACI finderscope) to measure the angle of elevation (Altitude). I look up the instantaneous Alt/Az angles for the object I am seeking on my iPad running a planetarium program App (Sky Safari 5 in my case). There's more info also in this thread written about the 200p (and 250px) Dobs I owned before the 300 flextube.
  12. There are a few things you might consider as improvements to your 200p Dob that I wrote up a few years ago. I would also recommend adding a Rigel Quikfinder and replacing the straight through finder with a RACI one. The stand places the eyepiece at a more comfortable height and protects the chipboard from dew on the ground. The Quikfinder and RACI finderscope are the final steps in helping you to find the objects you're looking for, after pointing the tube roughly according to the digital setting circles for azimuth and a Wixey angle meter for elevation.
  13. When I bought my Skyliner 300p second hand it had no rubber grips. I made some from the textured rubber sheet Aldi sell for lining a car boot and glued them in place with Maplin black two sided foam adhesive tape described as 'Motor Tape' (or similar). This is 12mm wide which fits perfectly between the focuser knob flanges, and has very strong adhesive.
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