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SkyWatcher SynScan GOTO - what the Manual doesn't tell you!


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A little obvious really. .......2 options, enter the data while at home before you go anywhere. If it is lost at power off then no good. Meades allow you to enter 6 custom positions so you can preset and just select the new position from the custom list. Alternatively just enter the place you are going to and when powered back on the default is the last location entered.

I did point out in the title that I was talking about SkyWatcher SynScan - not Meade. Also I agree that much of this is common sense but it is also very easy to get a step wrong. I have used google maps to get a LAT and LONG and not realised that I was using decimals.

The aim of the post was to share some of the things I learned over a year of using the scope to help new users to get started quicker. Many of the solutions to these problems I found using this forum and I thought it was a good idea to put them all into one post.

I'm glad I got help from other SGL members rather than a snarky know it all response like yours.

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The aim of the post was to share some of the things I learned over a year of using the scope to help new users to get started quicker. Many of the solutions to these problems I found using this forum and I thought it was a good idea to put them all into one post.

I'm glad I got help from other SGL members rather than a snarky know it all response like yours.

I agree, not sure there was any need for that tone in Capricorn's response.

Capricorn - I think you missed the point entirely, not everyone is going to start out understanding all of the things Nigel is pointing out. If you did well done, but maybe don't be quite so dismissive of everyone else's learning curve.

Edited by SeedyF
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If you have decimal lat long values, its simple to convert to deg min sec values.

Say you have a lat long of 53.815886, -3.055208

Take the values before the decimal point away, leaving only the digits after the decimal point and multiply the decimal bit by 60 to give the minutes:

Lat minutes = 0.815886 x 60 = 48.95316 minutes

Lon Minutes = 0.055208 x 60 = 3.31248 minutes

Then do the same for the seconds

Lat seconds = 0.95316 x 60 = 57.1896 seconds

Lon seconds = 0.31248 x 60 = 18.7488 seconds

Putting it back together in the correct format you get

Lat = 53 deg 48 mins 57 secs (+ve so its North)

Lon = -3 deg 3 mins 18 secs (-ve so its West)

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Buy a Dob and point it. :)

Then when the basics become second nature, start to play with the technicalities of a GOTO and get the benefits rather than frustrations. On a cold cold night, if you aren't too sure what you are doing, aren't too sure what you are looking for, you won't be very sure if the problems are your fault or the GOTO's.

Just my rwo pennorth;)

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I use an app for the iPhone called polar align3 which gives date accurate time and location in both formats ie degrees and also decimal. The beauty is that it also shows the position of Polaris in the finder scope which can be inverted if needed.

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As a noob i found similar problems setting up the goto mount and for a while i stuck to only using the handset to slew to objects manually, only recently have i began learning more. If i'd have had better skills and the guts to admit my confusion over those same issues as the ones in the starter thread, I would probably have posted something very close to your useful and honest learning experience myself.

Nice1 for the heads up - the next wave of newbies will appreciate that info, as I did when i first received advice here at SGL that encouraged me to not give up.

Thank man,

Aenima

:D

ps. thanks also to the poster of the alignment stars PDF.

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That pretty much echoes my results from the first time I tried to set up the GOTO last week (I'd just been slewing manually prior to that). It took me ages to find stars on the list that were actually viewable from my back yard and not obscured by fences, sheds, street light pollution or my house.

I was trying to track Mars at the time and simply couldn't get it to track for more than a few minutes without minor manual adjustment.

The 2nd time though I looked through the star list first and located the familiar sounding stars in stellarium. I knew I always had a decent view of Orion so decided Rigel or Betelgeuse would be an easy star to start with.

Regretably Polaris is hidden behind my house (that'll cause me issues later if I ever get an EQ mount) so I settled on either Castor or Pollux for the 2nd star as both are easily located from Orion.

Using two stars so close together did seem to leave the tracking slightly innaccurate so I then slewed to some planets (easiest of all to find in the eyepeice) and used the PAE option (Pointing Accuracy Enhancement - found in the Utility menu) to to re-centre them. This seemed to leave me with excellent tracking over the few hours I needed to observe and image.

Each time I inserted a higher powered eyepeice, barlow or webcam I re-centered using the slowest slew and then used PAE again to lock it at increased accuracy.

Another lesson learned is that there seems to be the tiniest bit of give in the motor gearing at the slowest slew meaning that it might take a second or two to respond to you telling it to move one way after you've just told it to move in the opposite direction.

If I centered the star/planet by moving the scope in a direction opposite to the motion of the celestial sphere then tracking was bad as the scope's motors would have to go through that small "dead zone" first. I solved this my simply ensuring I centered the object by manually tracking close to its direction of motion. This way the scope responds instantly to movement requests and thus held the alignment perfectly after I'd used the PAE option.

That's my experience of the two times so far I've done the alignment. After a few more clear nights practicing I'm sure it'll be second nature to me but for now suffice to say GOTO sadly doesn't work by magic but the 2nd time is a lot easier than the 1st time.

To give me something to do until the skies clear again, Intend to take a 360 degree panoramic photo of my back garden and import that as a stellarium landscape to make it easier for me to see what will be obscured from view. I have a lot of obscructions and light pollution leaving me a restricted window to observe in so I'm sure this will prove a valuable use of my time.

Oh and as got the location co-ordinates, I used the excellent Android app GPS Status, which serves both to give accurate location coordinates and as a handy compass.

Edited by vince1976
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Very informative thread with plenty to think about. I have recently purchased my first scope, a Celestron Omni 120 xlt on a CG-4.

Initially I struggled fining anything to write home about, but with some perseverance I have now reached the point that I can readily find some deep sky objects without the need for the setting circles (which I have decided aren't that great). Had I purchased the goto upgrade for 300 quid and not been able to use it due to the limited view from my yard I would have been somewhat disheartened.

I was considering a motordrive and having a shot at some astrophotography with my 10D. My local shop recommended that I go for the sysnscan goto system as mentioned above, as they claim the motor drive lacks accuracy. I have noted from this forum that most people seem to think I'd be wasting time trying to take pictures with my 120 achro but I'm going to have a stab anyway.

One things for sure I think I'll wait until I'm upgrading my rig before I bother with goto.

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Thanks OP, we have just gone for SW250 Dob without GOTO as it seemed to me that for our purposes it wasn't the 'magic' solution that was advertised, you seem to have confirmed that. I'd have had it if it were a cheap option but it's not.

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I agree that it's very easy to interpret goto ads as if goto is a magical telescope that springs out of the box and eagerly points at stuff. The same as detailed pictures of Jupiter's cloud systems (etc.) are often on chainstore 700x76 packaging.

Fantastic first post. I think it's easy to be a tad overwhelmed or confused when your telescope is choosing for you what you have to find and look at. On the plus side, it's a pertinent reminder that astronomy is a study, and it's an active process. Astronomy is like a sewer - what you get out of it depends on what you put into it.

Excellent list of SynScan goto objects - thanks, that'll be useful. It'd be handy to have a white-on-black version, for night use. I might get on the case.

Edited by Squagnut
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One thing that can help with Goto accuracy is to always approach the alignment star in the same direction. By this, I mean always using (for instance) the Right and Up arrow keys on the handset. If you overshoot, then back up beyond the alingmenrt star and then re-approach with Right and Up. Doing this will prevent the gearing backlash from putting the Goto system out.

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One thing that can help with Goto accuracy is to always approach the alignment star in the same direction. By this, I mean always using (for instance) the Right and Up arrow keys on the handset. If you overshoot, then back up beyond the alingmenrt star and then re-approach with Right and Up. Doing this will prevent the gearing backlash from putting the Goto system out.

Yes, this is something that ive seen before and noticed myself on these mounts. There is a backlash function on the handset menu but i have not yet learnt to use it properly. But the mechanism definitely stops momentarily whilst changing directions at certain speeds (slow fine-tuning speeds).

Find Latitude and Longitude

this is great for getting the lat/long right.

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  • 3 months later...

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