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Plodder

Paramount ME MKS5000 Upgrade.

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Hi All,

 

Having had the Paramount ME for many years I thought I'd give it a facelift and bring it up to the latest spec by upgrading the mount to MKS5000. This is achieved by a kit from Software Bisque available either direct or via a Dealer,  I chose Ian King  even although Baader are the sole European dealers so it comes via them anyway. I looked at the option of ordering direct from Bisque but the price seemed cheaper ordering from Ian King and in any case it was £1568 delivered. The order took around 3 weeks with Bisque requesting the index values of the motors which they then store on the new board making installation easier. You can't fault Software Bisque's attention to absolute quality of their stuff and the upgrade kit is no exception. The new MKS5000 requires The SkyX thus retiring The Sky6 and this was also done but not included in the upgrade price.  There is a good installation procedure but I'd add the removal of the Versa plate is essential though I never saw it mentioned for removal in the guide. For anyone not acquainted with circuit boards attempting this upgrade I'd recommend familiarising themselves with the plugs on the old board as to how they are disconnected and subsequently reconnected but the process is fairly straight forward. A good set of imperial Allen Keys is also recommended as some of the screws of which must tally around 50 that have to be removed some of which are fairly tight. Don't yank at them but slow steady increasing pressure until the bond breaks is my advice. I took the opportunity to run some new cabling through the mount which means not a single trailing cable any more making the strip down worthwhile in itself.

 

The upgrade kit can be found here:

http://www.bisque.com/sc/shops/store/MKS500Upgrade.aspx 

 

And finally, Do I think the upgrade was worth it, yes definitely.

I also took the opportunity to add my own connections and this extra box (Lower) can be see seen in the image attached.

 

Graham.

IMG_0243.JPG

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That's a fairly expensive upgrade - there's no info on the SB page you link, so can you say what benefits there are by doing this?

ChrisH

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Yes, It could be considered an expensive upgrade or a cheap one depending on your outlook and circumstances. The original MKS4000 build had parallel and serial ports wired through the mount and the upgrade removes all this providing USB ports instead. The servo motor control is now completely silent and removes the whining noise albeit a minor but pleasant feature. In truth my stars can't be any rounder than before so the upgrade is one of personal choice and probably best judged by Paramount ME MKS4000 owners. If I was being critical I would say The SkyX should have been included in the cost however it's likely the small number of upgrade units Software Bisque would need to produce to offer this upgrade would keep the cost high.

 

Graham.  

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Old thread but I am thinking about doing this myself, did you notice any other benefits from the upgrade?

the ME II can track further past the meridian, does this have anything to do with the 5000 board or is it a mechanical difference? 

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Not having heard a response, I recently upgraded myself and can answer my own question. Nothing about how the mount limits change, they are all very much mechanically limited by the hard stops in the mount. So no "+/- 3 hours" as with the MEII.

As for the benefits - well there are a couple of minor ones;

#0 - cable routing. There's simply more room for more modern cables, our goes all the ribbon cable and RS-232 leaving loads of room for Cat5, power and USB cables. It's still as PITA the drag them all through, so you really want to do this just the once - but once you have, my sense is you're good for another 10 years.

#1 - you can add WiSky for wireless control. Not a huge win, but when you're like me and trying limit the amount of USB traffic and the attendant problems that too many hubs/ports brings with it - it's a nice little win, I wish more mounts and devices (focusers etc) had the same.

#2 - update PEC without having to reboot/shutdown the mount. Again a minor thing, but when you're debugging/optimising PEC, you know the frustration that comes with having to add a lot of fiddling that (at least with TSX) requires you to reconnect cameras, domes, etc - all of which can be easily forgotten during a long night of auto guider tuning.

#3 - inbuilt temp sensor. The main benefit here is cold weather slew adjustment (to combat increasing lube viscosity with increased torque), however it's also helpful for TPoint, updating the mounts atmospheric model as the temp drops throughout the night - how much that helps, I am not sure

#4 - quiet. As Graham mentioned, at least in my and his case, the mount is now dead, eerily, silent. If you know the Paramount ME, they "sing" at 3333Hz as they fight gravity to keep the encoders in position. For whatever reason, it's now dead silent - from what I understand that's NOT what everyone has experienced, so woudl love to hear from others. Have I done something wrong?

 It's not a cheap upgrade, nor a critical one, but satisfying if you can afford it and/or need it due to a blown main board for example.

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Just to throw this in: oval stars do prove bad tracking but round ones do not prove good tracking. Equal error on both axes gives round stars.

Olly

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Olly why did you have ot go and feed my already overworked astro-tracking paranoia?! 😉

Interestingly that is pretty much what I saw during my tracking test runs, both axis were largely recording the same error.

 

  • Haha 1

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15 minutes ago, xthestreams said:

Olly why did you have ot go and feed my already overworked astro-tracking paranoia?! 😉

Interestingly that is pretty much what I saw during my tracking test runs, both axis were largely recording the same error.

 

Sorry! 🤣  I said this because it's often assumed that round stars mean good tracking but, when calibrating our first Mesu 200 in PHD, we had round stars from the start. However, they were rather large round stars and, as we refined the guiding parameters, they got smaller as the errors reduced. As I'm sure you know, as long as your guide RMS in arcsecs is half or less of you image scale in arcsec per pixel, your tracking will be perfectly fit for purpose.

Relax!

Olly

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