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kookoo_gr

Hyper Tuning my HEQ5 Pro

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I start this topic in order to share my experience at hyper tuning my heq5 pro mount, of course this mods can be done and at the EQ6 mount. I have this mount since 2008 and i started DSO imaging at 2010. Ever since my guiding woes kept me from enjoying astrophotography at many sessions. This summer, after having fed up with this situation and spending a lot of time at tuning my mount i can happilly say that i have solved these issues

Here is a list of the mods i've done at my mount over the years.

1. Change the greasse and propperly mesh the gears of the mount. You can find a very good guide at astro-baby's site http://www.astro-baby.com/heq5-rebuild/heq5-m1.htmIt will improve the performance of the mount a bit but most importantly it will reduce that grinding noise form the gears if done correctly. A usefull bit of information is that changing the bearings of the mount does not affect the mount's performance. I've changed them and i saw no difference.

2. Change the mount's saddle. This was the first thing that made a difference at my mount. I upgraded the saddle to an ADM dual saddle and i also changed at my 8'' RC scope the dovetail to a losmandy. The scope is rock solid at the mount.

3. I upgraded the power adaptor of the mount since the power cable can get loose at the mount's factory power socket and loose the power causing a mental breakdown when imaging :tongue: . Even though i had this bulky socket

t_p8010025_212.jpg

i came across this thread http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/172680-upgraded-power-socket-for-heq5-pro-cable-managment/?hl=%2Bheq5+%2Bpower+%2Bsocket#entry2565255Needless to say my mount is more beautiful now

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4. Despite all these upgrades the mount still lacked that something during guiding and the last year i had a more consistent problem with the DEC axis. At random moments the DEC axis would spike over the 2'' limit of phd and of course the picture would have trails, especially at my RC 8'' setup even with an OAG. This issue plauged me to the moment i decided to sell my mount and go for the AZ-EQ6 but since 2000 euros is a big amount at these times of financial crisis, i withdraw it and decided to go for the Rowan Belt Mod.

The kit arrived but i had a big problem with the idle nut. I had the old version of this mount with the threaded idlers whereas the Rowan kit has no threads at the idlers.

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The options were either to use a drill and remove the threads form the gear plate and glue them somehow or cut the new idlers and glue them somehow. I went for option number three and i made a new idler with threads at a machine shop

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After that the fitting of the kit went smoothly and you can find very good details at this site http://www.astrosite.co.uk/sky-watcher-heq5-pro-guiding-issues-servicing-and-the-rowan-astronomy-belt-modification/

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After this mod the mount is even more quiet, stealthy quiet might i say, it is more responsive and the goto more accurate and the guiding was better than before.

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Then the ''tedious'' task started so i could fine tune the gears. During guiding i noticed that the DEC axis issue i had was there but not as frequent as before and not as intense. Also when calibrating phd2 during the north movement the mount moved normally but when it was time for the south movement the axis was very slow to move. So i concetrated at the DEC axis. I stripped it down 3 times and i noticed that it may be to stiff. A hint for this was the fact that when i turned the new gear of the DEC axis by hand there were moments when it was too stiff and momments when it was ''buttery'' loose. So i loaded my gear at the mount and by turning the gear by hand i adjusted the mesh of the worm gear at the DEC axis until i felt a smooth as ''butter'' movement at the DEC axis.

This did the trick and the mount performs briliantly. The guide error went down to 1''ish at phd2 and i managed to get a very good photo of the triffid nebula with my RC scope.

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5. Still there was room for improvement and the one thing that bugged me was the fact that when using my RC scope after the calibration was completed i had an orthogonal error, this error couldn't come at a better time since another member of this forum had a similar issue. One of the answers was to check the cone error and since i use an OAG this might solve the problem. I used the free software Conesharp and i found that i had an error of 6' at my scope which was also almost the same error i had at phd. I reduced it down to 1' (ran out of shims) and i also concentrated at my polar alignment (even though i drift align). I used Alignmaster and i have my polar alignment under 0.5'. The results surpised me that i almost started jumping all over the place. Not only did i remove the orthogonal error at my scope but an issue that plauged me with my RC is almost gone. At my photos at the top left corner my stars were always elongated. Even though i collimate my scope like a maniac i couldn't tell at the end if it was bad collimation, bad polar alignment or flexure. Welp it was the cone error. At the next photo of the bubble nebula this issue is almost gone (i need more shims and time). Also the guiding error fell under 1"

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6. The last nail in the coffin of bad guiding was put a few weeks ago. A fellow astronomer was selling a Berlebach Planet tripod for the HEQ5 mount. I bought it since i wanted a sturdier mount and also the azimuth adjustment for the polar alignment was giving me trouble the past months as it was too stiff even with an ed80 scope mounted and i didn't want to ruin the azimuth threads of the mount. At the tripod there is a deepish mark at the protrusion were the azimuth screws touch which ment a lot of stress at the threads even when i had the mount head a bit loose at the tripod. Boy was i for a huge surprise. The guiding improved even more and i almost started crying tears of joy. The accuracy is even better than before and i haven't lost a single sub with my RC

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The result of this tripod is that the skywatcher tripods, as the factory manufactures them, are not suited for astrophotography. The solution is to either put the mount at a pier or, for those that are forced to use a portable equipment, buy a sturdier tripod or reinforce the existing tripod. A few good tricks are shown at these videos

http://www.tpiastro.com/spreaders.htm

I hope this post will help other member solve their guiding issues. Also i have a similar therad at http://www.astrovox.gr/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21522&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0even thogh it's in Greek you can use google translate

P.S. i am not affiliated with any of the sellers, these are my experiences at the subject of bad guiding

Edited by kookoo_gr
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Another +1 for the belt mod. Made a big difference to accuracy and tracking for me as well on my HEQ5.

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On ‎21‎-‎09‎-‎2015 at 23:35, kookoo_gr said:

A hint for this was the fact that when i turned the new gear of the DEC axis by hand there were moments when it was too stiff and momments when it was ''buttery'' loose. So i loaded my gear at the mount and by turning the gear by hand i adjusted the mesh of the worm gear at the DEC axis until i felt a smooth as ''butter'' movement at the DEC axis

Sorry for posting on an old thread. Its an excellent detailed guide. I have an HEQ5 Pro and it struggles to guide even with 5kg of equipment. I need some help for these adjustments. Is it done with telescope etc. loaded on the mount? I've not belt modded my mount but I will use the image below to clarify. Do you mean to say that I should check if I can rotate the largest gear (seen in the image) with my fingers? Wouldn't the motor gear stop it from rotating?

Another thing that is bugging me for over an year is that if try to lock the ra axis like you have in this image( CW shaft not extended, no CW attached, no telescope attached), it doesn't stay in position. The axis just swings down due to gravity. That is the lock isn't effective enough or its slipping I guess. Is there any solution to this?

 

On ‎21‎-‎09‎-‎2015 at 23:35, kookoo_gr said:

 

download.php?id=50955

 

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58 minutes ago, Ishan Mair said:

Sorry for posting on an old thread. Its an excellent detailed guide. I have an HEQ5 Pro and it struggles to guide even with 5kg of equipment. I need some help for these adjustments. Is it done with telescope etc. loaded on the mount? I've not belt modded my mount but I will use the image below to clarify. Do you mean to say that I should check if I can rotate the largest gear (seen in the image) with my fingers? Wouldn't the motor gear stop it from rotating?

Another thing that is bugging me for over an year is that if try to lock the ra axis like you have in this image( CW shaft not extended, no CW attached, no telescope attached), it doesn't stay in position. The axis just swings down due to gravity. That is the lock isn't effective enough or its slipping I guess. Is there any solution to this?

 

 

Yeah rotate the larger gear. I have the belt mod and removed the belt when doing this. It might be a bit of a pain without the belt mod. I had exactly the same thing though - certain positions it was smooth and certain positions it was very tough to move. A bit of tinkering and it was all smooth.

Hmmm does your ra clutch feel tight when you lock it? If it feels like it can be tightened more but the clutch hits the stopper, then unscrew the clutch and rotate it a bit so it's got more space to tighten.

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I agree with everything said

 

I did the Rowan bekt mod - that helped

 

I did the full astrobaby guide - that helped

 

I built a pier - that helped

 

But the thing that made the biggest difference by a long way was changing all the bearings to FAG/SKF and good quality Lithium grease.

 

The overall effect of the above was amazing.

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I'm thinking of replacing the bearings too and found your excellent post in the below thread that lists the bearings needed with links. I'm thinking I would go with the quality options.

Andy.

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13 hours ago, zicklurky said:

Yeah rotate the larger gear.

Thanks. Should lock the axis before that? Should all equipment be loaded on mount and balanced or without any equipment on mount?

 

13 hours ago, zicklurky said:

A bit of tinkering and it was all smooth.

What did you adjust?

 

13 hours ago, zicklurky said:

Hmmm does your ra clutch feel tight when you lock it?

It feels tight. I cant turn it more. No it doesn't hit the stopper. So that's not the problem.

11 hours ago, Skipper Billy said:

But the thing that made the biggest difference by a long way was changing all the bearings to FAG/SKF and good quality Lithium grease.

That's probably my last resort.

 

5 hours ago, Andyb90 said:

I'm thinking of replacing the bearings too and found your excellent post in the below thread that lists the bearings needed with links. I'm thinking I would go with the quality options.

Andy, I have posted in on your PHD 2 graph issues topic. I'm plagued by that too.

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4 hours ago, Ishan Mair said:

Thanks. Should lock the axis before that? Should all equipment be loaded on mount and balanced or without any equipment on mount?

 

What did you adjust?

 

It feels tight. I cant turn it more. No it doesn't hit the stopper. So that's not the problem.

That's probably my last resort.

 

Andy, I have posted in on your PHD 2 graph issues topic. I'm plagued by that too.

Yeah lock the axis, and I did not have any kit on the mount.

You need to adjust the worm carrier set screws. This takes a long time to get just right, but it's worth the time. There's a TINY difference between the axis having backlash and being too stiff. This is covered in astrobaby's guide.

Not sure what to suggest with your RA. If it's locked it really shouldn't budge. Maybe try remove the locking bolt and give it a clean and grease.

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1 hour ago, zicklurky said:a

You need to adjust the worm carrier set screws. This takes a long time to get just right, but it's worth the time. There's a TINY difference between the axis having backlash and being too stiff. This is covered in astrobaby's guide.

Ok I tried it. I may not have got it perfectly right but I noticed that there's some play between gears marked in this image (credit: astrobaby) . What adjustment would remove this play? Or that's not important? 

motor gear play.png

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I'll kill two birds with one stone here and answer your question from the other thread. The larger, brass coloured spur gear is fitted to the shaft of the worm which is not visible in the picture. I've never known it to have a name so it must be the Voldemort gear. The middle one is the transfer gear, also known as the idler. The smallest one is the stepper gear or motor gear and is fitted to the drive motor shaft.

The adjust the mesh between the transfer gear and Voldemort, loosen the screws holding the motor in place. You can see they are in slots so you can slide the motor in and out to get a good mesh. Then retighten the screws.

The transfer gear is the one that gets replaced with the belt mod as it is a source of backlash.

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For info, here is a picture of the worm from Astrobaby's website. It helped me to understand the various gears in the mount.

ra034_edit.jpg

Also there are 3 good diagrams on another Astrobaby webpage, showing the worm engagement adjustment. The page is for the EQ6, but I think the principle is the same for the HEQ5:

http://www.astro-baby.com/EQ6%20rebuild%20guide/EQ6%20worm%20alignment.htm

Again they helped my understanding of the gears and adjustments.

Andy.

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Thanks Ken and Andy for your patience with me.

I tightened the RA worm carrier lower set screw and loosened the upper one till I could make the CW bar wobble a bit. But even at that point, the rotation of wasn't smooth.  Deciding what's "smooth" maybe tricky. But I had to put quite an effort to rotate it.

I have a video. Please take a look at it. Pardon me its bad resolution. Video0009.3gp

At one point though while adjusting, maybe I tightened it too much and couldn't rotate the gears by hand at all. So I guess that's what stiff condition is.

Anyways I continued, following the advice in this thread and astrobaby's guide. Adjusted set screws a quarter of a turn alternatively to remove the wobble in RA axis. I couldn't rotate the gears with the hand easily again. But I turned on the mount and motors were able to turn the axis without any abnormal sound. Does it look good now?

19 hours ago, kens said:

The adjust the mesh between the transfer gear and Voldemort, loosen the screws holding the motor in place. You can see they are in slots so you can slide the motor in and out to get a good mesh. Then retighten the screws.

Voldemort :hello2:Harry Potter is one of my favs. Ken there are so many screws on the motor. Noob Question which ones ? Or All?

 

motor gear play.png

Edited by Ishan Mair
Video link at wrong place

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You'll need to loosen all of them to move the motor. Don't take them out - just back them off say half a turn or as much as you need to slide the motor to mesh the gears. Then retighten them. I would start at 5 then 6, 3, 1, 4, 2 to just take up the slack, then a second time to tighten up and maybe a third time to nip them up.

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On ‎07‎-‎04‎-‎2016 at 14:43, kens said:

You'll need to loosen all of them to move the motor. Don't take them out - just back them off say half a turn or as much as you need to slide the motor to mesh the gears. Then retighten them. I would start at 5 then 6, 3, 1, 4, 2 to just take up the slack, then a second time to tighten up and maybe a third time to nip them up

Ken I followed exactly as you said and I think it worked. Loosened the screws off and shifted the RA motor away first. Tried to rotate the worm and axis by my fingers. It was easy and smooth. Then shifted motor back in towards the worm and it looks like this now. Should it be extremely close as it is in this image or I should back off the motor a little bit?

Got a chance to test this last night. It was windy. So couldn't get a good judgement on guiding. Mount was really struggling against wind with PHD2 showing spikes in RA upto 7 arc-sec often.

DSC03305.JPG

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That looks pretty good but the only way to know if the mesh is right is firstly to go by feel. You want to be as close as you can get without the gears binding. If you can turn the gears by hand with no noticeable tight spots you can go to the next test. Set up the mount (no OTA) and make sure you can slew a full 360 degrees without any binding. Make sure nothing is going to get in the way as the mount rotates when you do this test. Then you can test with you guide camera or imaging camera pointing at a distant object. Use PHD2 manual guiding tool or EQMOD at a slow speed to first move in one direction to take up any backlash. Then make small movements in the other direction and count how many adjustments needs to be applied before you see the mount move. That will tell you how much backlash you have. Or you can use the tool in PHD2 to measure backlash. It will never be zero but if its not to big it is manageable. 

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2 hours ago, kens said:

You want to be as close as you can get without the gears binding. If you can turn the gears by hand with no noticeable tight spots you can go to the next test.

Ok. I went repeated the procedure. But moving the gears by hand took some effort as long as the transfer gear touches the Voldemort gear. Not at one but all points. And yet, the motor could rotate the axis at all speeds without screaming or stalling. Just the usual sound when it starts/stops slewing.

 

2 hours ago, kens said:

Set up the mount (no OTA) and make sure you can slew a full 360 degrees without any binding.

I tried but I couldn't check this as without OTA & CW its a huge imbalance, so RA axis lock slips if mount slews to a position where CW bar is a lot above horizontal facing the sky . (The other problem with my mount). But there was no binding for any position where the lock didn't slip. 

2 hours ago, kens said:

Then you can test with you guide camera or imaging camera pointing at a distant object. Use PHD2 manual guiding tool or EQMOD at a slow speed to first move in one direction to take up any backlash. Then make small movements in the other direction and count how many adjustments needs to be applied before you see the mount move. That will tell you how much backlash you have. Or you can use the tool in PHD2 to measure backlash. It will never be zero but if its not to big it is manageable.

I checked backlash in a rather crude (probably inaccurate) way. I moved the mount in one direction at min. 4x sidereal. Then in opposite at sidereal rate. Observed how much time it  took for the motor to start moving the Voldemort gear. But I see why your method is much more accurate than mine. I'll try that and redoing the motor adjustment when I get back home after a couple of days.

Thanks.

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What you've done sounds fine. If you really want to test the RA through 360 degrees you could first slew through 180 degrees. Then unlock and manually move it back 180 degrees and slew again 180 degrees with the motor. That should test the gear engagement around the full ring gear if I'm not mistaken.

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On ‎08‎-‎04‎-‎2016 at 05:12, kens said:

That should test the gear engagement around the full ring gear if I'm not mistaken.

Thanks Ken. Yes you are right. I've read it elsewhere but forgot this method. I'd try it soon. 
I'm back home from a star party where clouds sky-crashed. Back to tweaking the meshing, I loosened bolts 2,4 ,6 to move the stepper gear far away from transfer gear to remove any contact between them. I could rotate the axis by finger-turning the Voldemort gear. Smooth and easy. Next,  I moved the stepper gear back to get it in good contact (though a little space between) with transfer gear. And the Voldemort gear couldn't rotate easily now. So I concluded its the stepper gear that makes things tight/bind. Is that true? I tried adjusting the distance between transfer gear and stepper a few times but still couldn't make the rotation easy and smooth. Am I missing something here?

I also tried moving just the stepper when it was disengaged from the transfer gear. It needed a little push to turn by the fingers.
motor gear play.png

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Its probably the motor resistance you are feeling but multiplied many times . You're trying to turn a little gear with a big one (like the big chain ring on a bike). As long as it is snug it should be fine. Or you can loosen the clutch the use the hand control to test it. (Use a slow speed)

Edit to add: The engagement between the stepper gear and transfer gear is less critical. The stepper motor spins fast so any backlash clears quickly.

Edited by kens

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On 4/11/2016 at 02:25, kens said:

The engagement between the stepper gear and transfer gear is less critical. The stepper motor spins fast so any backlash clears quickly.

Thanks Ken. I am so pleased to read that. One less thing to worry about.

On 4/11/2016 at 02:25, kens said:

Its probably the motor resistance you are feeling but multiplied many times

I suspected motor resistance but wasn't sure. I think I'd re-grease the gears and try out imaging on a clear, calm night.

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