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Found 12 results

  1. I’m looking for some advice regarding a possible motherboard failure. In the photo of the board in my mount the capacitor circled doesn’t look too good; I believe it has failed. I’m using the mount with a Raspberry pi 3B running Stellarmate. The Pi is powered by the official Rpi power supply and the mount by a 12v power brick with sufficient power for the mount and the peripherals. The mount carries my Skywatcher Explorer 200p and both scope and mount are well balanced. What is happening is the mount will slew easily enough to a target then it will track for a while quite happily, but after a period of time, which varies between a minute and several minutes the reticle on my laptop screen will jump E/W or N/S sometimes by several degrees all the while the mount goes on tracking. Then a N/S jump will take the supposed position below the horizon and the mount will stop tracking. I have also had the mount spontaneously slew to a different position, or creep until the ‘scope is pointing to the ground or worse still, collides with the tripod legs. On occasions it has also been slow to respond. Polar alignment via Stellarmate is near impossible as the software reports 'Mount aborted. Please restart the process and reduce the speed.' If I ignore this I can sometimes get an alignment but not always and reducing the speed does not help. The same thing happens when calibrating the auto-guider, making calibration, on times, impossible. I’ve removed the R-pi and noted the mount also misbehaves when using the Synscan dongle linked to Skysafari. I’ve not had it do a random slew in this configuration but I did not have the scope on the mount at the time. All I saw was the reticle on Skysafari flashing on and off at random intervals. I can leave the mount running with the handset and everything seems fine but the whole idea of using the Rpi was to stay warm whilst photographing the stars and using a robotic telescope on my back yard. It appears the problems are worse when the mount is loaded. I understand from my research the failed capacitor is a smoothing capacitor for the power supply to the board. Is its failure likely to be responsible for odd signals being transmitted to the Rpi which then cause the behaviour in the third paragraph above. Is this the likely source of the problem? Would it be worth simply replacing the failed capacitor in the photo to see if that would help? Or is the board completely Kaput? Any thoughts and advice would be appreciated especially if you have done something like this yourself.
  2. Hi all, I have been using this with my standalone Nexguide for more than 2 years now, so about time to tell the world... I guess it would work the same with any ST4 connected autoguider. It is not intended to be critical of the HEQ5 Pro, I just love it. I guess things like these takes place in many mounts except the most expensive ones. This is a story of what often happens when a stepper motor is driven with microstepping. It started during collimation of my Meade LX200-ACF and I was inspecting a star with maximum digital zoom. I noticed that the star was "dancing", or jumping, very very little in RA at a regular pace. Later I found out that the stepper motor does not have a 100% linear motion during tracking : heq5_tracking_speed_1.mp4 I took this as a challenge, and also a opportunity to learn something about using a Arduino microcontroller. I also got a reason to get myself a (very cheap, usb type) oscilloscope. This immediately showed me that there is a voltage spike on each of the two stepper coils, that could act as a trigger for the Arduino to send a pre-defined pulse train on the ST4 port (the probe was connected via a high ohm resistor directly over the stepper coils). Designing that pulse train was later done by trail and error. The below oscilloscope image is in fact two images (one for each coil), combined to one in PS. Time between a blue and a yellow spike is approx 600 ms (which corresponds to the dancing star that I estimated to be 0.5 sec). The above cirquit allows for the guider to have priority over the Arduino (via the two diodes to the right of the Arduino). I have set the HEQ5 guide speed to 1.0 (fastest) in order to minimize the pulse length of the guider, so it will free up more time for the Arduino pulses. The "inpins" (#2 & 5) have no active role in this "RA fix", these are only used for monitoring the guide pulses which serves two purposes: 1) I can have a "clouds alarm" (= no active guide pulses) 2) I have programmed the RA fix to be active only when the guide pulses are active - this is because the RA fix could disturb the stepper motor during slewing (and guide pulses immediately stop when I start slewing so I use that for on / off switching). The pictures below show my first version which was built in under the hood of the HEQ5, but later I have included an intervalometer etc and put most of it externally (just the dual trigger devices are left internal). Now things move smoother : heq5_tracking_speed_2.mp4 At last some live testing. The first image is during a manual slew in DEC (slowest possible) just to show the RA behaviour like in an oscilloscope. Of course no guiding here. The second is with guiding, while turning on or off this RA speed correction fix. Having used this for a long time now, I think it needs good seeing to make any difference. But if that is the case, the autoguider will be less disturbed by the rather fast (0.6 sec) RA wobbling, and the result is clearly noticeable. Ragnar
  3. Hi to everyone, I used to do some astrophotography in the past with a Celestron AVX and DSLR but after few month had to give up for several reasons, including light pollution (I'm living in zone 3 east London), and also working shifts. Now I want to start again, and this time more serious. I've been searching around for a couple of months to choose all the gear and I'm quite happy with the list so far although it's a bit over the price I planned at first. I will get an William optics Z73 with his 50mm guide scope, a flattener/reducer 0.8, light pollution filter IDAS D2 and as camera I will use a Canon 600D modded and I will buy a ZWO 183MC Pro, after so much research, I'm very happy with the scale and framing I will get with this combo, but I'm starting to get confused with the mount. My first idea was to go for an HEQ5 Pro, as my previous experience with the AVX has been awful, then I realized that the FLO, sells that mount with belt modification and also some cleaning and tuning if required, I heard that it's a big improvement over the stock one and the price it's ok, but another important factor for me it's portability. Unfortunately, my garden doesn't allow me to do much so I will need to carry around on trolley, for a km walk, I'm a strong person and been doing plenty of time with the AVX, so my confusion came recently when the iOptron mounts entered my radar. I start comparing the heq5 pro with belt, with the iOptron cem25EC and the CEM40 without encoders, and I'm so unsure of which to buy, the cem25 seem to be the equivalent of heq5 at least speaking of payload, but in some threads I read people saying it's a bit fragile so kind of remove it from the equation although the weight it's interesting for my situation, then the cem40, seem to be quite similar on weight to the heq5 but with higher payload and that's interesting too as I will buy a C11 at some point. Now it will all come down to the accuracy of tracking I guess, how the heq5 and cem40 would compare on tracking and guiding? If the cem40 it's better, I would probably go with that since it holds more and would last longer as I don't plan to get anything bigger than a C11, but if the skywatcher it's better, I could decide to go for that, and when I move to a place with better garden then get a second mount with higher payload. Apologise for the long post and my english. Kind Regards, Giovanni.
  4. Hi people, So I've been a bit of a fool and managed to drop my entire HEQ5 Pro mount head on my foot (Ouch). I was carrying it upstairs 'attached' to the tripod so I could make some adjustments to the DEC axis since there was a slight amount of play. So I set the tripod down and bam, the head rolled off and landed right on my foot. Silly me didn't realise the head screw wasn't done up all the way! So I gave it a test to make sure it was okay, got the hand controller out and moved it in both RA and DEC and it seemed fine. Then I decided to proceed with what I was going to do in the first place, adjust the worm gear engagement for DEC since there was a bit of play. After following astro baby's guide, I can hear this awful clicking sound when rotating the DEC axis a certain direction. I've attached a video below to show what I mean: HEQ5 Video.mp4 Any help on this would be greatly appreciated, I really hope I haven't messed it up too bad. Cheers, James.
  5. Hi, I've just ordered a Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 PRO from FLO. It will replace my wonderful 250px which is simply taking up too much room amongst my kids' growing population of Peppa Pig and friends! Will I miss the wider field of view and the light gathering capabilities of the big(ish) dob in my little backyard in averagely light polluted Bedford? I've read good things about the MAK but I'm nervous! Part of my motivation was that I want to be able to share the joy of the night skies with my young kids (6 & 3). The dob is fabulous but it's not that easy for them to see through the eyepiece without knocking it off target. I have an HEQ5 Pro mount (which I've never used). I'm hoping that, along with the MAK, the kids might have a better chance of seeing things and being inspired rather than frustrated. I'll almost certainly sell the 250px asap and free-up the space for 'Peppa Pig land'. I hope I'm not making a grave (and expensive) mistake! Best wishes, Jason
  6. I had a plan, very simply my HEQ5 was at it's payload limit so needed to upgrade. Part of the upgrade would naturally mean parting with the HEQ5 to regain some much needed cash (Bought this as my Christmas Present now Boiler playing up and really needs replacing not repairing yet again). I received my CEM60 with Tri-Pier from FLO as usual within just over 24 hours and had a play with it and love it. So time came today to dismantle my old friend and put it up for sale in the usual places. BUT, I cannot believe how sad I felt when dismantling it . I feel such a silly so and so but I feel sort of some attachment to this inanimate object. Only had it just over 2 years but have replaced all the bearings (even though when I striped it down I do not think they were required), added the Rowan Belt modification, spent ages tweaking the backlash out of it the best I could, and when I needed a Losmandy saddle upgraded the original saddle to a dual load saddle. Now although sense tells me to sell it as planned I am now wondering whether to keep it in case I ever start to do some imaging other than on my patio. It seems to make no senseas I will probably not use very often but I am a bit of a hoarder anyway and really struggle to part with anything I think will be useful one day (my garage is testimony to this fact ). I guess the sensible thing is at some stage getting a more light-weight tripod for the CEM60 as the weight difference is not that much to make the HEQ5 any better then the CEM60 for travelling and keeping two setups on APT for each mount may lead to mistakes being made. Steve
  7. Hi guys! Well, while I was out recently trying to shoot NGC 7000, I ran into a pretty serious problem. I have a 3 or 4 yr old HEQ5 Pro (Orion Sirius in the states) and i did the Rowan Belt Mod about a year ago. It's been working really well for me since, i and i usually get great guiding. Well, on this occasion, after i powered everything on, i could smell something burning, so i quickly turned everything off until i could find what it was. Turns out, it was the EQDIR cable, which had a hole melted right through it! The laptop is fine though, no damage done to any of the USB ports. I can still power on the mount, the red light comes on and if i connect the Synscan hand controller i can slew the mount in RA just fine. However, i can't slew at all in Dec. There isn't even a sound as though it is trying. What's more, as soon as i press either the Up or Down arrow on the hand controller, nothing else will then work, not even slewing in RA. It's as though it's crashed, and only power cycling will let me slew in RA again (I can also scroll through all the handset's settings, and I’ve tried doing a factory reset but it didn’t change anything). Also, while the mount is powered on, if I plug in the old fried EQDIR cable into the mount, but leave it open at the other end, i.e not plugged into the laptop, then as soon as it clicks into place the red power led on the mount starts flashing really quickly. When I unplug it, it goes back to being solid. If I plug in the hand controller the light doesn’t flash at all, it stays solid. I opened up the mount and had a good look around. The Dec motor cabling is definitely connected (i re-seated it just to be sure). If i rotate the cog & pulley, the mount does move in Dec, so the gear is definitely engaged. I did think it felt a little stiff when i undid the clutches and tried to rotate the mount in Dec, but not so much that it would cause it to not work. I tried loosening & tightening all sorts of screws but to no avail. It's almost as though the Dec motor has given up the ghost entirely (although apparently that’s virtually unheard of). Note, i'm using the celestron 7ah lithium power tank to power the mount alone. The laptop and DSLR just run off their internal batteries. I like the lithium battery as it’s small & light, can be run down to near empty without issues, and is more than enough to give me a full night of imaging considering the mount uses very little power while tracking. I should also mention, up until about 9 months ago I used to power the mount from a celestron 17Ahr power tank, but after going through a couple of power cables (suspiciously since i did the belt mod) i switched to the Lithium battery and i've had no problems ever since. I suspect i may have done something when i did the belt mod, but i know next to nothing about electronics or mounts, i simply followed the instructions to the letter and it seemed to work ok. I now only use the 17 Ahr power tank just for my dew heaters. I heard back from the guys at FLO, who I ordered the mount from originally. They seem to think that it’s the motherboard that has gone, so I’ve ordered a new one, along with a new EQDIR cable (according to the engineer at FLO's supplier, the Control Panel board either works or it doesn't, so it's unlikely that it is the reason). I hadn’t properly considered the motherboard to be the problem tbh, as I can still power on the mount and slew just fine in RA. I thought if the board was gone then the whole thing would just be completely dead. Does anyone have any input/experiences with an issue such as this? Does this sound familiar at all? The motherboard arrived today but without any instructions at all. Having done the belt mod before, I am at least somewhat familiar with the insides of the mount, but I would still have liked some instructions. Having looked online, the best I could find are the pictures I’ve attached below that come with the Synscan Upgrade Kit for a basic EQ5 Mount, but if anyone has anything better I’d love to see it. One last thing, ever since doing the Rowan belt mod, when I screw on the big plastic spacer that comes with it (to raise everything up over the cogs & pulleys) I always had a small gap left over no matter how hard I tightened the screws (see the picture below). Could this small gap have been enough to let moisture get in during cold weather, and could that have led to the problems I’ve had? I might try and insert something that’s thin and malleable, yet not porous, in the gap before I screw the bracket back on next time, in the hope I can keep any moisture out. Anyone got any non-destructive ideas as to what to use? If anybody has any thoughts/help/suggestions on any/all of the above then I’d be very grateful indeed.
  8. Hi SGL Hivemind, I’m after some advice: specifically, whether to upgrade my mount to an HEQ5 PRO or an NEQ6 PRO. I’m interested in astrophotography rather than visual. I currently image with an ED80, QHY8L, and a guided EQ3 PRO. It’s been an ok set-up for me so far, but the mount is the weak link. I’m sure an NEQ5 PRO would be sufficient for my current kit. But thinking longer-term I’d like to upgrade, perhaps to mono imaging and a bigger telescope. So in that regard an NEQ6 PRO would be a good choice for future-proofing. But I’m concerned that the sheer weight of an NEQ6 PRO, plus telescope, might deter me from actually setting it up in the first place! I do all my imaging from my garden and what's really handy about my current set-up is that I can just about pick all the kit up in one go, carry it a few metres from shed to garden, plonk it down, and go. In case it’s useful, these are the results I’m getting at the moment: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lee_pullen/albums/72157624700448482 And thoughts / comments / advice would be most welcome! Thanks, - Lee
  9. Recently I had belt modded my HEQ5-PRO and last night i gave it a full run and i was absolutely stunned to say the least about the guiding results I achieved. I was left wondering if its even too good to be true! Below are Before and After images of guiding.
  10. After trying and failing some time ago to find a video tutorial on how to strip-down my Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro mount, clean all the bearings and gears, re-grease them, and put it all back together again, I eventually learned how to do this from various other online resources and have now created my own video tutorial. For those of you with a Skywatcher HEQ5 or HEQ5 Pro mount, or indeed an Orion Sirius EQ-G mount (which is the same mechanically), this video can help you to keep you mount running smoothly through regular DIY servicing (~every 2 years). I hope you find it useful. Here is the link...
  11. Dear all, This is my first post. I'm quite new at astrophotography, although I've used a startravel mount together with a camera for a couple of years. I recently decided to upgrade to a skywatcher heq5 pro mount which I intend to use with a Ed-80 refractor, also from skywatcher. I've been spending countless hours trying to solve my problem and I am now to the point where I think my équipement is faulty and needs to be returned to be checked. Before I do, I wanted to ask you guys for advice because I can not exclude the possibility that I'm just doing things wrong. Here is my problem : The mount does not track even though I've done the polar alignment and hooked on the synscan handset. I initially believed I would not need the handset for simple tracking and that after polar alignment, the mount would automatically start tracking. Clearly it did not, as the mount did not move and was completely silent. I then hooked on the handset, entered all the info for initialisation, checked the sidareal tracking was checked, but still no tracking, even though the mount did make some noise at that point. I did try to align one or two stars, but the telescope would just be way off the targeted star. I mean totally way off, sometimes pointing the opposite direction. I gave up star alignment, so just skipped the alignment part, thinking I could still use the mount to track without star alignment. However, when pointing to a star, I would see it drift after a few seconds, so clearly no tracking. Can somebody help me out? Questions: is it possible to use the mount to track without any star alignment, or without using the synscan handset? Is there an on/off button somewhere I have missed to start tracking? Any idea why the star alignment is so incredibly off target? I doubled check all the gps, elevation, date info and the polar aligment is accurate as I checked it after a couple of hours and polaris was exactly where it should be according to my Find polaris app. I'm quite desperate now, so any advice is more then welcome! Thanks. fred
  12. Has anyone used the celestron lithium powertank (the small one, not the pro version) with a skywatcher HEQ5? It looks like it should be perfect but that is coming from someone who is relatively clueless From the skywatcher specs, it looks like the mount needs 2 amps of current, and the powertank supplies 3, so that should be good? It also looks like the power cable is a double-ended tip-positive 2.1 mm plug, so i assume that even though it doesn't have one of those 12V car battery inputs, it shouldn't matter right? (just to save people some time, i'm not going to bother with a lead battery / leisure battery / jump-start pack / etc)
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