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KJ Dalley

Lessons From a Newbie HEQ5 Pro Owner

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Hi All

I realise that such a mount could easily be beyond the reach of some budding enthusiast's pockets and I'm not writing this to show off, but I thought that if anyone was thinking of saving up to buy such a mount, or were deliberating whether or not to go for the EQ6 (or higher) or some other mount completely, that this might provide something to contribute to the decision making process.

I am not as skilled in the dark arts as many who write on this forum (whom I have learned so much from already), but I am prepared to give an honest opinion on what products I have and my experiences to date. I've drawn a line in the sand and bought an HEQ5 Pro. Not everyone's choice, but like I say, line in the sand. Honest reviews will follow. Please feel free to make criticisms, judgements, evaluations and other such observations or just read and hopefully learn from the errors I will no doubt make! It will take a while to review the product properly but hopefully this will be beneficial for anyone thinking of upgrading their equipment.

So I rushed home from work to find that I am now the very proud owner of an HEQ5 Pro (big smiles like some dumb kid!). Difficult to concentrate at work when you know you've got something this exciting waiting for you at home! Yes it was delivered when everyone was out so neighbour bless her, took it in for me. Lovely lady, originally from Birmingham, lived in Cornwall most of her life so has a lovely blend of accents and phrases.

"Its 'eavy mind, th' maid had helluva job gittin it ooff 'er van".

Couldn't thank her enough and with a massive smile on my face carried two packages inside.

I've just started to assemble it (first impressions are that if this is the lighter weight version of the EQ6 then I would have had to get down to the gym for 6 months first!

Anyhow, I am part optimist, part cynic and part realist at heart and these three fight for possession of my soul on a regular basis. On a significant purchase like this (well it is to me at least) I always think that I have forgotten something crucial to the enjoyment of my new purchase. I had reviewed and asked more questions about 12v power supplies, surge protection and jump starter packs than I ever imagined that I would ever need to know. You don't need to be an electrical engineer to know how to run one of these devices but I found that a lot of what was being written assumed that you probably were. An extra £40 here and another £15 there were starting to bump the cost up and was making me a little uneasy. I scared myself with polar alignment but this great forum provided so much information and links that I felt suitably informed to make the necessary purchases.

Tripod setup was a piece of cake. Lets face it. Its a tripod. If your scared by opening up a tripod your probably going to need to get a friend in to help with the rest.

Attaching the mount to the tripod legs, slightly trickier especially if you haven't loosened the azimuth adjustment knobs enough to attach the primary locking shaft. Shouldn't be too hard to figure out you need to slacken them off enough to secure the mount to the tripod. Putting the primary locking shaft into the mount is simply a case of turning a threaded shaft into the equivalent threaded mount and is done by turning the upper knurled knob.

Fitting the accessory tray is again very easy and consists of removing the knurled knob and washer, lining it up with the primary locking shaft and each of the legs so that it fits snugly and then re-attaching the washer and knob and then tightening up.

Easy peasey so far!

Mount assembly is straightforward and shouldn't pose any problems.

This is easy and starting to look great!

Telescope assembly was unfortunately where my feel good factor left me in a hurry. Attaching the dovetail mounting plate (ah so that's what a dovetail mounting plate is) was again, very easy. Attaching the telescope tube rings however was slightly more difficult. The reason being that I hadn't ordered any...

Its very easy when you swamp yourself with so much technical information about power supplies, leads, and mounts to forget something little. When you order a mount such as this, its capable of taking a wide range of telescope tubes and its not a case of one size fits all tube diameters. I hadn't realised this which is why I'm writing about it now. I must admit to feeling a bit of a plonker as I'm now going to have to go back and order some before I get to use my sexy new mount and that potentially is another £40+

To summarise, the kit looks fantastic. Assembly is pretty straightforward provided you've got all the bits! Ballancing, polar allignment and using the Synscan unit are yet to be done, but I feel confident that these should be reasonably achievable given how well its documented. I'm happy with my purchase, dissappointed with my own ignorance about the tube rings but look forward to getting it put together. Its a lucky person that gets all their assembly done in one evening, so give yourself plenty of time. Don't expect to get everything done in one evening and out observing should we ever get some decent skies!

Thanks for reading, if you are not too bored, please come back as there will be more!

KD

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Hi,

not a bad post, I took delivery of a neq6 a couple of months ago and it was delivered the same day as my new car, so grinning like a cheshire cat for days, when you said about the tube rings, I had to email FLO about the rings as almost all the reflector tubes assemblies shown in the pictures have tube rings on them wether they come with them or not which is misleading.

Not sure about the eq5 but the mount is very good and I know people keep on about keeping costs down but the Azimuth adjusting bolts are cheap rubbish and I'll end up getting some better ones but wouldnt have had a problem in paying the extra to have better ones with the mount.

Kev.

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Hi,

Great post.

I have a HEQ5 pro mount and it took me quite a few sessions just to get comfortable with man-handling the mount to my observation site, fiddling with the legs ... getting it horizontal (a digital spirit level is the bees-knees for this task) ... setting up the tray ... attaching the scope ... but it is worth it in the end.

Pete

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Thanks Gents for your comments!

Have just had the email from FLO that the order I placed this morning for my tube rings has been dispatched and should be out for delivery tomorrow! Hope I got the right diameter..!

That's pretty fine customer service if you ask me. Order placed at about 0800h, order picked, packed and on the courier van the same day. Looks as though some parts of the country are working well. Same with Maplins when I ordered my power bank unit, which arrived today. Now if we can just shrug off some of this cloud...

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This is a great post. Had me giggling.

I was lucky in that I got the whole lot (mount and tripod, OTA etc) from FLO so had everything. Yes, it is easy to miss little, but very important, things when over-focusing on detail!

The main problem I had was understanding mount calibration and polar alignment as the manual's rubbish. But then someone pointed me to Astrobaby's polar alignment page (http://www.astro-baby.com/HEQ5/HEQ5-1.htm - which I'm sure you're aware of) which got me started. I didn't quite understand one little bit so I contacted her and she then explained in Alex-speak! Lovely lady and very clever.

Let us know how you get on.

Alexxx

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Thanks Alex. I'm still at the excited with the new purchases and halfway through assembly stage at the moment. Given the weather down here in tropical Cornwall, not having all of the kit isn't hurting too badly. The weather report for Sunday night is looking positive so I'm desperately hoping that things will be set up and working in time for that.

Your rig sounds exciting and I will eventually work up to something similar. Have you been using it for long? Would love to hear other's experiences of using a reasonably big Dob on this mount.

Literally as I write, my wife has sent me a text to say the rings have arrived! Its sad but my heart rate has increased with excitement!

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I've had my scope for a few years but was too unsure of myself with it to do much for the first few years but SGL has helped me in leaps and bounds and my local astro society, CNAAG. The cameras and stuff I've had / been using for, oh, about 2 years I think. Maybe more but me memory's going!

I'm not at all technical but do please PM me any questions that you might have about the mount if you like. Of course, the guys on here will be much more knowledgeable!

Have you managed to put it all together yet?? What OTA do you have?

You can now put all the kit in your sig block! :icon_salut:

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That Astrobaby is a real diamond isn't she? :hello2:

Following the advise on her website I have my reticule aligned and I am absolutely chomping at the bit.

Last night I thought I was going to get lucky but just as it got dark, it clouded over and after standing around hoping the skies would clear for about two and a half hours I gave up, picked up and yes you guessed it, the skies cleared. It was too late for me to go back out again.

So far I've tested the balance of the scope, checked that the power supply is working, practiced parking the scope, varying the rate to move the scope from *1 to *9. It dawned on me last night exactly what the altitude adjustment T bolts were actually for (yes I know Homer style, moment of realisation but this is coming from a man who mounted his tube 180 degrees the wrong way around...). I decided to strip the tube rings off and rotate these 180 degrees as well so that I could get better access to them. This gave me another opportunity to check the dovetail fixings were secure as I suddenly became very paranoid of the overall weight of the outfit and with it slewing all over the night sky I didn't want my tube to fall off!

In short I haven't electrocuted myself, set fire to anything or tripped over, yet.

I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity for that!

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Well that was absolutely PHENOMENALL!!!

I cannot believe what a brilliant time I have had this evening. I love this mount it is brilliant, absolutely flabergasted and I'm running out of superlatives and not even half way through how much I want to say how good this mount is.

The only Nebula I have ever seen until now was the easy to find Great Nebula in Orion. I'm still in my first 12 month period of astronomy and only 6 months with this scope so at the time when I first started there were things like Jupiter, Venus, Mars, the Pleides and of course Orion to learn about. All good things but they were the only things that I could identify with any degree of confidence and didn't think to look much beyond this. Sure I could see interesting things in the sky but I had no idea what they were and couldn't see how I could relate what I was seeing with what was on the star charts.

Tonight was a first for me on so many different levels. Things I observed tonight were the stunningly beautiful Albireo, M11, M92 and M27. I was absolutely awestruck with what I was seeing even in the light pollution of where I live. I was very close to picking everything up and going to a dark sky site there and then but I was just having so much fun I couldn't not look at the lovely cloud - free sky! I don't have very good eyesight and I know that there is no way I would have been able to find those DSO's without any help. I realise now that in my early efforts to find other galaxies I was probably looking at them through the finder scope but would never have known that the fuzzies I was looking at were actually night sky objects (honestly I thought it was my defective eyesight!). There is a very childlike grin on my face as I write this. I am extremely pleased with the mount and I am still at that getting to know it, stage. I have little idea of what half the menu functions are on the Synscan unit, but I have made the first Polar allignment (piece of cake when you know how isn't it?) and have thoroughly enjoyed myself tonight.

I have also discovered that there is a hedgehog in my back garden that scared the living daylights out of me. I have never seen a real live hedgehog before tonight either. Somethings come many light years away, some a little closer, but one thing is for sure, the night surely is a place of wonder.

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Have taken the liberty of doing just that!

It's great read and I remember the same excitement when I got my HEQ5 and Explorer 200!!

KD - you have a PM

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Oh boy, you are sooooo like me! I had the same wow experience but with the Tour feature, my eyesight's bad and I too got scared out of my wits by our hedgehog (several times - sad innit!).

Biiiiig congrats and were so with you on this. It's a wonderful feeling. Well done! :icon_salut:

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Well I have been meaning to post some more about this mount but like many others, the work-family-astronomy balance has meant that writing has taken a back seat for a while. Since the last time I wrote anything about this fantastic mount I have had some real wow moments, a few more lessons learned the hard way and another close encounter with the hedgehog which I'd like to share.

The 21st August 2012 was the first real use of the scope, and I raved with enthusiasm so hard that I either annoyed everyone or stirred a few grins and memories in others of equally brilliant, personal astronomy moments and this, I think is actually a real feature to this mount.

It allows the user to take the subject a lot more seriously without compromising the time you spend in other aspects of your life. Is it a short cut to the wonderful sights of the night sky? Answer: Yes. Is that a bad thing? Answer: I say no.

Don't get me wrong, there is much to be said for learning how to read charts, star hop and astro-navigate without the aid of a goto system but I don't think that the two need to be mutually exclusive. Already, I talk to those who will listen, and point out the names of many more stars than I knew less than a month ago. I understand the Messier & NGC catalogue. I've researched (originally Wikipedia searched and then followed links!) objects that I would never have learned about otherwise. If you develop the skills required to operate goto and conventional scope / mounts at the same time, you will get the most out of both methods.

Silly things that I have done include pulling the power supply out two and a half hours into a session whilst skewing from West to East and not realising what had happened, thinking I'd killed the entire setup and having to restart from scratch. Worse than this, trying to decrease the height of the legs so that I could see into the eyepiece as it was too high even for my 6' 2" frame, I lost control of the precariously balanced set up (e.g. mount, counter weights, OTA) only to see my mount topple over and send the eyepiece of my OTA crash into the edge of a concrete path. Never, NEVER take short cuts and risk damaging your gear. Take the time to disassemble properly and re-align. The time spent doing this isn't time lost, it makes you more proficient the next time you try to do it. I'm annoyed to think that I was so stupid but it was an 0100h decision and I should have called things to a halt but tried to squeese in "Just one more" when I should have stopped.

Right at the start of this I wanted to describe an honest and down to earth account of all things good and bad about this mount. One of the ironic things about it, is that the mount is so good, it makes you want to see more and stay up even later. This comes with its own problems (making silly decisions when you are too tired).

Prior to this mount I could pack away in five minutes and be secure in no time. To disassemble the rig now means recognising when you are tired before you get too tired to do it, which means packing up slightly sooner than I would other wise would normally do.

However on the plus side, I cannot begin to explain the enjoyment of seeing my first DSO's. I've learned where some truly jaw droppingly beautiful open clusters are located and one of the best experiences to date happened this morning.

Until this morning, I had only ever set the alarm once to get up early and observe and was disappointed by a thick layer of cloud. This morning, at 0350h, I crept tentatively down the stairs, placed my hand on the back door handle, unlocked the door, barely breathing as I looked up and saw "A CLEAR NIGHT SKY!!!". I was on!. I got dressed faster than a kid on Christmas day, ran outside looked up again and saw it! There once more were the phenomenal sights of Jupiter, Betelgeuse, Orion, Pleiades and countless other wonders. Honestly, the word "Rapture" took on a whole new meaning for me today!

Bringing things back to a more Earthly and practical nature, I tried out the Sidereal tracking feature of the HEQ5 Pro, whilst using the highest magnification my scope and lenses are capable of producing,whilst (you guessed it) studying Jupiter. Once again, the mount put a massive grin on my face. I could stand up perfectly comfortably, watching Jupiter whilst the mount seamlessly tracked the object without so much as a hint of a flicker. I didn't have to worry about moving a Dob (previous mount experience). I could just stand, perfectly still and just study. And study I did. Not having to worry about moving anything or getting into an awkward position, I could let my eye adjust to the spectacle in front of me. The detail that can be observed when the tracking is enabled is so much greater than I ever thought possible.

Such a wonderful start left me buzzing all day at work and the grin is returning just re-living the experience as I type this, although I am rather tired now.

I can guarantee that some people will find something to criticise about this mount, but for the vast majority of people it will probably produce moments of absolute bliss, like it has done for me. I pitch myself very middle of the road, netiher especially gifted with intelligence nor so incapable of learning new skills. I can make things work and and disable them just as quickly, but honestly, if someone like me can use this mount, then anyone can. I am nowhere near exploring it to its full potential, but this is good as it gives me something to aim for. Should you be reading this and be 50 : 50 about whether or not to go for an HEQ5 Pro and you're a little off put by the jargon and the terminology, don't be. You can get your head around it. I did! Furthermore, I can categorically say, that it is the most brilliant piece of kit I have ever had the pleasure to use. Couple it with some derivative of the Skywatcher 200 series and you will have a very nice set up to enjoy the night sky with. Now for a nice wide angle 37mm eyepiece, a T-ring, digital SLR, a converted webcam and to repair the screen on my laptop...

Thanks for reading and clear skies to you all.

KJD

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Couldn't agree more about the HEQ5 it really is a brilliant piece of kit IMHO :grin:

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