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EQ3-2 - how the heck to set this thing up


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Hi all. I recently got myself a skywatcher eq3-2 which I want to use for wide field AP with my DSLR camera and lens. I've accomplished what I thought was the most difficult task, aligning the polar scope reticle but I now want to practice setting the mount up and polar aligning it and unfortunately am now faced with what feels like another impossible task. I really don't understand what I'm meant to be doing here, at all.  I've tried following a few youtube videos and reading the manual that came with the mount etc  but none of it makes much sense to me and has left me even more confused. Is there a simple beginners tutorial that you could recommend to help that will work with my EQ3-2? I hope someone can help because I'm starting to loose the will to live again.

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I just use polar finder and the reticule on the finder scope. Just rotate the RA axis until the reticule matches the view from polarfinder. Then just twiddle the adjustment bolts on the mount until Po

I'd agree, unless you have a mega money mount as such the setting circles are basically a nice gimmick, although do find time to understand the principles of them as they are facinating. As for the po

Yes turn the whole RA axis till it lines up it can put the scope/counterweights in an awkward position sometimes but its not a problem because it will change throughout the year. Alan

the dark art

TBH it seems difficult but a few app's or software make it easy
I use EQMod to tell me where polaris should be in my polar scope then just place polaris there regardless of the setting circles
seems to work for me and there are many apps that will give you the position for your location and time

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It can seem confusing - especially if you read the Skywatcher manuals.  I found them to be pretty poor.

I have an android app on my phone called PolarFinderPro.  This will tell you where Polaris is relative to the true north celestial pole at any given time of day.  I find this accurate enough for visual, and have even used this with success for a few minutes camera exposures .

I used the Astronomy Shed videos on Youtube which explain polar aligning in simple terms.  They use an EQ5 mount, but the principles are exactly the same.

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Yeah, I still haven't worked out the setting circles either. I've found a shortcut which is good enough for me at the moment, I use the free programme PolarFinder to check where Polaris is in relation to due north, then use the polar scope to place it in roughly the right position on the 0.7 degree circle around the NCP. It's good enough for two minute subs at 135mm I find.

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Yeah, I still haven't worked out the setting circles either. I've found a shortcut which is good enough for me at the moment, I use the free programme PolarFinder to check where Polaris is in relation to due north, then use the polar scope to place it in roughly the right position on the 0.7 degree circle around the NCP. It's good enough for two minute subs at 135mm I find.

I've tried using the setting circles on my NEQ6 mount - but I find that they're not accurate enough to rely on them.  Either that or I'm the one that's not accurate!

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I just use polar finder and the reticule on the finder scope. Just rotate the RA axis until the reticule matches the view from polarfinder. Then just twiddle the adjustment bolts on the mount until Polaris is in the little circle and that's it. I do all this without the scope or counterballances on the mount (as RA may not rotate sufficiently with everything mounted) and I just check that Polaris is in the right place on the larger circle once everything is ready to go. That's pretty much it. The polarfinder programme does all the setting angles stuff for you and you just need to match the view in the polar scope. It just takes a couple of minutes once you're practiced. The setting circles are next to useless on all but the professional (read very large) mounts so I wouldn't rely on them.

If you're having issues identifying polaris in the polar scope then aim a dimmed light (torch) at the polar scope. The fainter stars wil vanish and polaris will be the last star to wash out as it'll be the brightest in the field of view. It's surprising how tricky it is to determine which star is the brightest and I find this method works every time.

Edited by WaveSoarer
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I've tried using the setting circles on my NEQ6 mount - but I find that they're not accurate enough to rely on them.  Either that or I'm the one that's not accurate!

Sorry, getting my terminology wrong. I don't mean setting circles, I'm talking about the date and time adjustment on the polar scope. 

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Yep don't bother with the setting circles on the eq3-2, if they're anything like mine were they don't stay put and move when you turn the mount in RA. Better off downloading something like Polarfinder on your laptop or similar app for your mobile and position the small circle on Polaris the best you can :)

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I'd agree, unless you have a mega money mount as such the setting circles are basically a nice gimmick, although do find time to understand the principles of them as they are facinating. As for the polar align, it really depends on how far you need to go, are you intending major astrophotography work, or is it just the ideal of setting up the polar scope. Do make sure you have the N (North leg) of the mount pointing north as well. If it is just a case of aligning generally with the north star then loosen the bolts as such that raise and lower the mount and turn her side to side, center the pole star in the center of the polarscope and its as good an alignment you need.

One trick with the 3-2 mount is that they are light, if you remove the bottom foot tabs you can fill the legs with sand which helps hold it better.

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Yep don't bother with the setting circles on the eq3-2, if they're anything like mine were they don't stay put and move when you turn the mount in RA. Better off downloading something like Polarfinder on your laptop or similar app for your mobile and position the small circle on Polaris the best you can :)

Yes that's what was happening to me, the time circle (or is it setting circle, not sure what its called) would move around (not following the exact RA movement, moving out of sync) whilst turning in RA, and I was thinking this is impossible, how is this ever going to be accurate. I like the idea of using the app and matching the view of the app with the view through the polar scope but is this going to be accurate enough for my wide field imaging and what exposure lengths could I get away with this way? Also the other thing is getting the mount into the home position, whats the easiest way of doing it and also why do you need it to do it at all? I tried to follow Astronomysheds youtube tutorial but he uses his setting circle for it and as mine doesn't work properly so how can I do it?

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Ben, I ignore the setting circles as well - there is just too much play in them for my OCD to put too much stock in their accuracy. But I do agree with some comments above - if you watch some of the tutorials on YouTube, they will make a lot more sense than the instruction manual (which makes no sense) and at least get you familiar with the principle beind them.

Then I:

  1. Drag the tripod and mount out into the back garden, and set it up with the north marker facing north and in roughly the same position that I always put it, with all three legs fully extended (with the altitude already adjusted to my location)
  2. I then adjust the legs so that it is level, as per the spirit level on the mount.
  3. I make sure I can see Polaris through the Polar Scope and then use PolarFinder to work out where polaris should be on the target circle in the polar scope.
  4. Use the azimuth and latitude adjusment bolts to fine tune the placement of polaris on the polar scope target circle.
  5. Chuck my kit on the mount
  6. Double check the polar alignment

Get cracking!

By doing this, and experimenting, between 45seconds and 180 seconds, I reckon I can confidently get 90 to 120 seconds (max) for exposures using my little scope (420mm focal length) - for widefield, I suspect the accuracy is less important, so you should be okay. But I'm still learning and experimenting, and trying to get better with aligning!

I have to say, last time out, Polaris drfited away from the circle when I checked after imaging and didn't seem to have rotated as far around as I would have expected, so I think there are still issues with my reticule alignment and set-up, but I still managed to get some decent subs from it.

Withouth wanting to hijack the thread - is it necessary to rotate the RA axis so that the little circle is over polaris? The starting position of the little circle is not where it is supposed to be according to the instructions I have read/watched so I just make sure polaris is on the larger target circle where Polarfinder says it should be?

Good luck!

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Ben, I ignore the setting circles as well - there is just too much play in them for my OCD to put too much stock in their accuracy. But I do agree with some comments above - if you watch some of the tutorials on YouTube, they will make a lot more sense than the instruction manual (which makes no sense) and at least get you familiar with the principle beind them.

Then I:

  1. Drag the tripod and mount out into the back garden, and set it up with the north marker facing north and in roughly the same position that I always put it, with all three legs fully extended (with the altitude already adjusted to my location)
  2. I then adjust the legs so that it is level, as per the spirit level on the mount.
  3. I make sure I can see Polaris through the Polar Scope and then use PolarFinder to work out where polaris should be on the target circle in the polar scope.
  4. Use the azimuth and latitude adjusment bolts to fine tune the placement of polaris on the polar scope target circle.
  5. Chuck my kit on the mount
  6. Double check the polar alignment

Get cracking!

By doing this, and experimenting, between 45seconds and 180 seconds, I reckon I can confidently get 90 to 120 seconds (max) for exposures using my little scope (420mm focal length) - for widefield, I suspect the accuracy is less important, so you should be okay. But I'm still learning and experimenting, and trying to get better with aligning!

I have to say, last time out, Polaris drfited away from the circle when I checked after imaging and didn't seem to have rotated as far around as I would have expected, so I think there are still issues with my reticule alignment and set-up, but I still managed to get some decent subs from it.

Withouth wanting to hijack the thread - is it necessary to rotate the RA axis so that the little circle is over polaris? The starting position of the little circle is not where it is supposed to be according to the instructions I have read/watched so I just make sure polaris is on the larger target circle where Polarfinder says it should be?

Good luck!

Thanks, but what about the home position? What is the home position? Is it necessary and how do you get it there?

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Well, I did think about that, but then thought people would laugh at me.... (only kidding) I ummmm....well....guess to be honest....I set the scope up on the mount and have the RA and DEC axis resting so that the scope is simply facing North and everyting is all squared away.....so the marker on the RA circle is at 0 and I think 90 degress on the dec axis - its all done by eye - and it doesn't seem to stop me!

I figured if the setting circles were more accurate and I was using them, then I would put more effort in....but until I upgrade to a better mount, I am using a best guess scenario.

I suspect I am horrifying some of the purists on here, so am willing to be educated! :smiley:

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The home position usually just means counterweights as low as they can go and telescope tube pointing parallel with the polar axis, so pointing at Polaris. If you are not using a GoTo system then I can't see that it matters.

Olly

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The home position usually just means counterweights as low as they can go and telescope tube pointing parallel with the polar axis, so pointing at Polaris. If you are not using a GoTo system then I can't see that it matters.

Olly

Thanks, but why do you have to do it?

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Follow Marky's steps and you should be on your way ... no need to sort out home positions or anything like that. Date circles are for finding objects using known coordinates, I wouldn't bother with that either for the time being. Once everything is level just align polaris in the reticule and bob's your uncle ... you can image away. RA setting circle can be used to accurately set polaris in the reticule, but this isn't necessary to get the mount going.

BTW, is your mount motorised?

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Follow Marky's steps and you should be on your way ... no need to sort out home positions or anything like that. Date circles are for finding objects using known coordinates, I wouldn't bother with that either for the time being. Once everything is level just align polaris in the reticule and bob's your uncle ... you can image away. RA setting circle can be used to accurately set polaris in the reticule, but this isn't necessary to get the mount going.

BTW, is your mount motorised?

Thanks Rico. Yes its motorised.

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Thanks, but why do you have to do it?

I believe the home position is essentially a reference point for the GOTO system. So if you want the GOTO to find an object, you need to set it to the home position and do a star alignment, so it knows where the mount is relative to the stars. Without the GOTO, this step is irrelevant.

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As above ignore the setting circles for the time being use an app like polar finder and get shooting, i do agree with the comment regarding finding polaris best done before it gets too dark or use a torch as suggested (i have a variable led fitted to mine).

With the basic setup 1-2 mins should be easily acheivable with moderate focal lengths which is plenty to get some nice images.

When you get used to it there are methods and tips to get better alignment but will require a few minor mods.

Alan

Edited by Alien 13
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Thanks, but why do you have to do it?

Unless you want to initialize a GoTo system, you don't. But a GoTo system likes to start at least with a rough idea of the default position from startup and the obvious one is what is often called 'the Polaris position' which is probably what your manual is calling 'the home position.' The difference is that lots of software allows you to redefine your home position. If you have a roll off shed (I have six here!) the Polaris position may see the roof hit the scope on closure so you choose a better home position and lock that into the software.

Olly

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Hi guys, sorry to jump in on this thread, Imam having similar issues with m eq5 , using polarfinder do you turn the ra till polaris is in the small circle, ie if polarfinder is showing polar at say 1, o clock position do I turn the ra to 1, oclock to line up polaris in the small circle. I was lining it up as poaris at 1 oclock with polarfinder but on the actual mount reticle it was at 7 oclock

jamie

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Hi guys, sorry to jump in on this thread, Imam having similar issues with m eq5 , using polarfinder do you turn the ra till polaris is in the small circle, ie if polarfinder is showing polar at say 1, o clock position do I turn the ra to 1, oclock to line up polaris in the small circle. I was lining it up as poaris at 1 oclock with polarfinder but on the actual mount reticle it was at 7 oclock

jamie

Yes turn the whole RA axis till it lines up it can put the scope/counterweights in an awkward position sometimes but its not a problem because it will change throughout the year.

Alan

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