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HEQ5 Pro Blues


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Hi Guys,

I recently took delivery of the above mount to go with my Skywatcher ED80. I've not had to deal with alignment and calibration before as my normal set up is a Meade LS so it does it all itself.

The manual for the HEQ5 Pro is about as useful as toilet paper and assumes that you already have a fairly good level of knowledge. I saw some videos on You Tube but these seemed to relate to the EQ6 and the clock settings on the mount didn't work the same as the HEQ5. The one video I did find consisted of a Scottish gentlemen who spoke rather quickly and assumed once again that there was a certain level of knowledge and important details were glossed over.

For some one like me, I need a step by step tutorial. I was also introduced to the concept of transiting times for Polaris and inputting of longditude etc. Whilst most of you will know how to do this, when you've never had to do it before, it's not as easy as it sounds. I also downloaded Polar Finder to get the charts etc and I don't actually know how to break down the co ordinates for input into the polar finder.

I feel like a complete dunce and that I should know more. Does anyone know of any good links to tutorials that could help me out. I'm getting quite frustrated, good thing we've not had great weather otherwise I'd be tearing my hair out.

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Don't worry Peter, it's doable, so you will suss it out and realise that it's not that bad after all. I totally agree with you, the dials and stuff with the polar scope and the manual and even the tutorials out there are really quite confusing. However, don't despair.... The good news is that you really don't need to use the dials at all.

So, first question is: do you have a laptop with you in the field already? If you do, make use of these cloudy nights to get EQMOD onto it and connected up to the mount (you can do this through the synscan handset with a USB to rs232 adapter). That's the easiest way to do things, there's a bit of learning, but well worth it as all you do is press a couple of buttons and the mount is in the perfect (well, nearly, but there's another solution to that too!) polar alignment position for you to move alt & az bolts to get polaris in the little circle.

If you don't have a laptop, not to worry, things just won't be as accurate, but it needn't be complicated. Basically the synscan handset tells you where polaris is on the clock face and you rotate the mount until the circle is in the right place by eye.

Astronomy Shed has some good videos about setting up the mount. One important thing is to centre up the polar scope reticle.

Let me know about the laptop or not and I can try and elaborate on the appropriate route. I would highly recommend going down the laptop route though... It's going to make everything much easier in the long run.

I've presumed that you are interested in imaging rather than observing, from the long list of cameras in your sig!

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We feel the pain but can help.

After the new poalr align feature was added to the handset I found it much easier.  This is a quickie list from memory:

1. Place mount facing North
2. Set latt to your location if not set
3. A level mount helps but not critical
4. Turn on & set date time correctly (US format)
5. Align to 2 stars you know
6. Use polar align feature in handset
7. Test with a few goto star/planet
8. Re-do polar align feature (higher mag eyepiece)

It's item 6 which is the real help.  The scope software will move from a centred star by a set figure and ask you to move it back using the hanset, if your adjustment does not tally with what it should be it will then do a similar move but ask you to use the mount att/lat bolts instead. It may take a few iterations to get to it but it does work.  It will be more accurate if you the redo with a higher mag eyepiece - but easier to start with a low power if your start position is far out.

Note  - you don't even need a polarscope let alone a perfectly aligned one. :smiley:

Hope that helps a bit and gives some encouragement that it gets easier.

Edited by StevieDvd
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Once again thanks for the feedback. It's truly funny when the real problems seem to come mainly from trying to follow the manufacturers instructions.

I do have a laptop and ultimately may well move to using it together with software to control the scope. Right now I am keenly aware that I am on the bottom rung of this very tall ladder and I want to build my knowledge from the ground up (like I have a choice....lol). I think the introduction of a laptop based control program may result in my brain leaking out of my ear in an effort to escape. I have identified someone in my Local Society who is familiar with EQMOD so thanks for that suggestion.

I have a feeling that I will probably move on to a laptop controlled scope fairly quickly once I have my head sorted out with the basics.

Ultimately its heartening to realise that I'm not the only one left scratching my head.

Once again, many thanks.

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Definitely a good move to go with the laptop eventually, but I think a wise idea to take small steps at a time. I used my mount on its own for a while before feeling confident enough to hook up the laptop. Having said that EQMOD, Cartes Du Ciel & Alignmaster really aren't as frightening as it all seems and give superb results.

Anyway, back to aligning the mount...

Interesting procedure from StevieDvd, not one that I have done, so can't vouch or otherwise.

The procedure that I did was this:

1. Level tripod with notch facing North

2. Put the mount on and set latitude to roughly right value

3. Put on scope and everything, with the imaging set up in a focused on a star position

3. Balance the mount in Dec, then RA and also vertically

4. Put into Home Position

5. Swap out camera for eyepiece, ideally an illuminated reticle

6. Turn on mount and enter all details correctly - I used Skytime app for accurate data

7. The handset gives you the hour angle of Polaris, ie where it appears on the clock face

8. Turn the mount in Dec to open up the hole so that the polar scope can see out

9. Turn the mount in RA to place the polaris circle in the correct hour position (from handset)

10. Place polaris in the circle using Alt & Az bolts

11. Do a 2 or 3 star align

12. If the Mel & Maz are not good enough for you, go to Setup/Alignment/Polar Align and do as it says on the handset

13. Do a 2 or 3 star align and hopefully it's better

14. Repeat the Polar Align / 2 or 3 Star Align routine until you are happy

15. Find your target and start exposing some perfect 180s + subs!

Good luck.

What you will struggle most with is finding a clear sky!

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Two good threads above which are both accurate and explained in more detail in the manual.  I find the latest Synscan/mount manual very good, certainly a million miles from the one I got 7 years ago.  So I guess I must be odd.  Are you using the latest version i.e., v3.35?  You don't critically need a level mount or to see Polaris these days.  What I found with the HEQ5 Pro Synscan mount was the poor state it came to me from the supplier.  it took me a while to realise that the worm drive lock nuts weren't even done up!  I've since done a full service in my kitchen and it is much better for it.

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Hi Peter,

I know what you are going through. I got the same telescope and mount as yourself. Last night was the first clear night in ages. I went out to the

back garden and tried for three hour to polar align, NO LUCK. I was disappointed but I'm not giving up, I'm determined to get it.

So I wish you luck and we will get there eventually ( I hope ).


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You're not alone!

HEQ5 and 8" Newt picked up last Saturday, five or six attempts now at just getting the Polar scope aligned to the mount, FAILED, FAILED & FAILED AGAIN!  

It is THE most frustrating thing I have ever tried, I can't see the cross-hairs through the Polar scope at the same time as seeing a star so I tried the piece of paper on the wall trick indoors, could not get it in any sort of focus but hey I can see the little circle and cross-hairs in the Polar scope though!

Now going to attempt in daytime, dreading the actual Polar alignment when I do get to that stage eventually.  It's a very steep learning curve but am sure it will get easier and our time will come when we can help others too!

6 attempts to get to the stage where I finally put the Newt on (thought well, it's pointing North, that'll do for now!) only to look up at all the clouds that had arrived.  I then tried to get it to point to Beetle Juice in Orion (it's the SynScan version) knowing roughly where that was before the clouds turned up, after it slewed round the scope was pointing completely the wrong way and at the ground.

All it's done is stressed me out, made me feel completely stupid and I'm sure a few more grey hairs have arrived.

I've read so many guides and watched so many You Tube clips to no avail, now just can't wait for that magic moment to come when it all clicks into place.

Off to play again.......................We'll get there!

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If it's any consolation or help - I've never used the polarscope and never actually 'properly' polar aligned. I have a very restricted view of the sky. Assuming you have a laptop and can use it to control everything (If you don't then sorry, ignore most of this! But Dion at 'Astronomyshed' has an excellent series of videos on YouTube for guiding you through setting up conventionally) :

After installing Stellarium, EQmod, APT and Astrotortilla, and connecting a PC to the mount via an EQdirect cable, I set up my kit by

1) Levelling the tripod (using a small 'boat' level) in all three axes

2) Setting the tripod so the 'N' leg points to true north (I used a tablet compass app) 

3) Putting the head on and adjusting the altitude to my latitude as best I could using the scale (it's not very accurate but good enough to start.)

4) With scope and camera in place first balance the scope in RA and DEC. (See Astronomyshed videos!)

5) Polar aligned using Astrotortilla PA tool (which uses plate solving) - Point to East via Stellarium, then to South

The first 4 steps can obviously be done in daylight. Step 5 should give you a fairly precise polar alignment but it can take some time to do all the adjustments. It's a question of get error, adjust, repeat - until you feel the error is small enough (or until fatigue wears you down...). It does rely on having clear views to the East and South. As it happens I only have a view to the East so I have to apply an heuristic approach to azimuth adjustments (a lot of trial and error!)

** It's recommended to upgrade the alt/az bolts as there is quite a strain put on them when adjusting with scope in place.

Astrotortilla is a bit complicated to install and use but there is a good step by step guide here:


And a user guide here:


AT works in conjunction with APT+camera to take pics of the sky. It then compares what the camera sees to that stored in databases and can then accurately calculate where your scope is pointing. It takes multiple images and works out the error between where the mount thinks it's pointing at and where it's actually pointing. AT allows you to 'slew' to a target (selected in Stellarium), and can re-slew to get a very accurate positioning. I only use my setup for imaging and the above combined with PHD guiding makes it all possible. If you're into imaging all the software is a godsend - and free too!

Just a practical note - when I first got my HEQ5 Syntrek I could not budge it to adjust the altitude even with no bolts in place. I had to apply my whole weight (60kgs!) to shift it!

Phew - hope that covers most things...



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"For some one like me, I need a step by step tutorial. I was also introduced to the concept of transiting times for Polaris and inputting of longditude etc. Whilst most of you will know how to do this, when you've never had to do it before, it's not as easy as it sounds. I also downloaded Polar Finder to get the charts etc and I don't actually know how to break down the co ordinates for input into the polar finderi,


For now forget all this mumble jumble about the transit of the Polaris and setting circles ( these circles are hopelessly inaccurate for the SW hobby mounts anyway) these concepts were or are useful if you had a manual mount and wanted to set things correctly so that you could find the celestial objects manually but you have GoTo so learning to polar align is the first step and before you even start to do this you need to adjust the polar scope so it is coaxial with the mount ( see the web tutorial pointed out in the above posts ) this is a long process of learning but does not take long to start and be able to get the mount working. Untill you have learned how to do a basic polar align I would not bother with other more involved methods of refining polar alignment. One step at time.



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