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Oh no - I think I might have broken my telescope. It won't track anymore.


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Hello

I am really worried that I may have broken my new telescope.  

It said it was going to be 100% clear tonight, so I prepped Celeste Bubble, my new 8" Celestron Evolution, and took her outside for her first light. 

Within an hour it was 100% cloud  cover 

Within that hour, mutiple attempts at aligning my scope failed. I was using a smart phone and the SkyPortal app with Star Sense. I had the Star Sense HC completely unplugged, btw. A few people advised me to do that to try and help ensure it wouldn't affect m using the Sky Portal app. I am not so worried about the alignment failing. 

What I am worried about is that during one of my failed alignments, the scope ended up trying to plate solve my house. So, being the lazy cow that I am, rather than pick up the telescope and move it to face clear sky, I simply loosened the azimuth clutch and spun it around 180 degrees.

After I did that, the scope would not track anymore. I could hear the motors turning (or doing something) but whatever I had in my eyepiece was moving out of view. It was tracking OK before this - I manually (clutches) aligned to Jupiter so as to at least see something and it was tracking Jupiter fine. 

I checked the scope settings on my phone and it was set to track Sidereal, it hadn't been switched off by accident.

I tried another alignment which failed and that's when I spun the mount around 180 using the azimuth clutch.

Do You think I have broken something? Have you heard of this before? Is there some sort of reset or something I can do? 

What a disaster of an evening.

Thanks for any help or advice you can give me

 

Siouxsie 

Edited by StarGazingSiouxsie
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Tough to say, but my suggestion -

Leave the scope turned off, then remove batteries.  As appropriate recharge or fit new top quality replacements. Complex go-to kit needs fully recharged or brand new top make batteries - this is vitally important.  So many problems can be fixed by doing this.

Next opportunity retry taking care to follow all instructions - hopefully all’s ok.

Ed.

 

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Did you turn off your mount and start everything from scratch again? Sounds like it just got confused where it was more than anything. Don’t think it would be broken just by moving it manually after undo clutches, which is one of the selling points of the scope anyway to be able to do this after any successful alignment. As yours wasn’t successful before you manually moved it then  it more than likely is confused as to where it is pointing and is playing it safe not to move anymore. A switch off and back on again should hopefully cure all.

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One other thing you may have done also is on the Skyportal app you may have accidentally set the slew rate of the mount to fine (slowest speed), so even though you may hear the motors working you wont be able to discern movement of the scope very easily at its slowest speed.

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51 minutes ago, NGC 1502 said:


Tough to say, but my suggestion -

Leave the scope turned off, then remove batteries.  As appropriate recharge or fit new top quality replacements. Complex go-to kit needs fully recharged or brand new top make batteries - this is vitally important.  So many problems can be fixed by doing this.

Next opportunity retry taking care to follow all instructions - hopefully all’s ok.

Ed.

 

Thanks Ed. Battery (mine has the one large Lithium Iron battery) seems fine, power not an issue. 

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As there's no internal encoders on the NexStar, if you drop either clutch and move the tube, the software has no idea that you've done that, or that you're now pointing elsewhere. It screws-up any alignment you've done, but the software doesn't actually know that and likely gets very confused. You've got to throw a six and start the alignment again. Shame as it means using the clutches to quickly move around doesn't work well.

Switching off the scope certainly clears the alignment information from the scope, but I think, SkyPortal records and uses it's own alignment information. As I understand it, the only way to clear any previous alignment is to use "Connect and Align" rather than "Connect".  Connect keeps old alignment data and assumes you just lost the connection to the scope. Maybe someone with more of a clue than me can confirm or correct this?

If it tries to plate solve the house, let it do it's thing and it will just fail that one image and try somewhere else. I leave it to it and use that time to get eyepieces, coffee etc from the house.

Once you get StarSense to see sense... it works very well. Even in my Bortle 7/8 back garden, with overhanging trees and some clouds in the sky, it somehow manages to work things out.

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You should use the handset for your next attempt, not the apps. Trying to use the apps at the outset is to try running before you can walk.  But watch out for the gap in the printed instructions.   In the FIRST TIME SETUP: CALIBRATE CENTER, at the end of para 2. you need to press ALIGN before following the rest of the instructions. (para. 3.)

If an alignment does not work, I always switch off power, switch on and return the telescope to the start position.  The manual is vague about what the start or index position is, but I always start mine with the tube horizontal and pointing due south. 

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5 hours ago, Starwatcher2001 said:

Once you get StarSense to see sense... it works very well. Even in my Bortle 7/8 back garden, with overhanging trees and some clouds in the sky, it somehow manages to work things out.

I want it to work!!! I think it's very cool technology. 

I wonder what the deminimis amount of stars or area of sky that StarSense can use to complete an Auto Alignment? I think Celestron did, to their credit, design this product mindful that many people have only limited accerss to open  areas of sky.

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4 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

You should use the handset for your next attempt, not the apps. Trying to use the apps at the outset is to try running before you can walk.  But watch out for the gap in the printed instructions.   In the FIRST TIME SETUP: CALIBRATE CENTER, at the end of para 2. you need to press ALIGN before following the rest of the instructions. (para. 3.)

If an alignment does not work, I always switch off power, switch on and return the telescope to the start position.  The manual is vague about what the start or index position is, but I always start mine with the tube horizontal and pointing due south. 

Thanks for those tips.

Just as many people seem to say that they find using the SkyPortal app easier than the StarSense HC but each to their own. I found it frustrating last night that the connection between phone & scope dropped quite often, despite me being 5 feet from it. It could have been for any number of reasons. I think the fact that the clouds were rolling in (unforecast) affeceted the plate solving which then upset the overall connection somehow. 

 

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Last night wasn't totally in vain, I did learn a few things. 

1. Never trust the weather forecast (For my fellow Bits in the UK - we really do have the best weather service in the world!! The National Weather Service where I live is inconsistent at best.......)

2. Don't try to use Vega as a calibration star when wearing a short skirt - don't ask. 

3. Don't try to use Vega as a calibration star without fiorst checking your visional back + diagonal will clear the bottom of the mount when approaching the zenith.....

4. I need to use an eyepiece with preferably 40mm focal length during initial calibration to simply sight the star in an eyepiece. I used a 32mm with a 56 degree FOV last night and found it a little restrictive. Although that is probably also due to my 8" SCT's comparitively narrower field of view.  But I feel I would do better with a 40mm.

5. Last night was not cold at all - 75F at 10pm - nor clear skies - but the amount of dew on my OTA!!! Wow!!! Defs need to get a dew cover. Heated one or not??

6. Did I mention not to trust the weather forecast? 

7. Never give up on your telescope and always believe in its ability to transport you to those wonderful places in the Cosmos. 

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1 hour ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

I want it to work!!! I think it's very cool technology. 

I wonder what the deminimis amount of stars or area of sky that StarSense can use to complete an Auto Alignment? I think Celestron did, to their credit, design this product mindful that many people have only limited accerss to open  areas of sky.

The camera has a FOV of 6.88º x 5.16º, and it needs to get 3 good images, preferably in different parts of the sky and different elevations. It certainly isn't fazed by my house (obstructs bottom 20 degrees of sky to south), garden fence (15 degrees for the entire west run), and trees behind me (virtually obstructs north to zenith), so I think it's pretty damn good.

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1 hour ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

3. Don't try to use Vega as a calibration star without fiorst checking your visional back + diagonal will clear the bottom of the mount when approaching the zenith.....

If the diagonal does not clear the mount, be aware that the OTA tube is NOT meant to be balanced; it is meant to be pushed as far forward in the clamp as it will go.  See the stock sales pictures of your scope.  There should be no problem aiming at the zenith with the stock 1.25" diagonal and 25mm Plossl eyepiece, only if you have attached bulky accessories (camera, etc) on the back end. 

A 40mm eyepiece will give you no more field than a 32mm within the confines of a 1.25" barrel.  Remember that, barring major accidents, you will only ever have to do this Starsense calibration once.  Periodic recalibration is recommended, but in this latter case the calibration star should be much easier to find.

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7 minutes ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

If the diagonal does not clear the mount, be aware that the OTA tube is NOT meant to be balanced; it is meant to be pushed as far forward in the clamp as it will go.  See the stock sales pictures of your scope.  There should be no problem aiming at the zenith with the stock 1.25" diagonal and 25mm Plossl eyepiece, only if you have attached bulky accessories (camera, etc) on the back end. 

A 40mm eyepiece will give you no more field than a 32mm within the confines of a 1.25" barrel.  Remember that, barring major accidents, you will only ever have to do this Starsense calibration once.  Periodic recalibration is recommended, but in this latter case the calibration star should be much easier to find.

My particular model; came with a 2" diagonal, but I take your point. I did actually experimnent indoors moving the OTA further along the mount to ensure business end clearance of diagonal etc in the zenith position. Then of course I forgot to do this when I was observing yesterday. 

So you don't think a 40mm would be worth me getting, as in it won't give much advantage over the (2") 32mm that I have? Maybe if I were to try and find a 40mm with a wifder FOV than 56 degrees?? (the FOV of the 32mm) 

Let's say I centre a bright star in the 32 or 40mm eyepiece. I then change to a higher magnification eyepiece, say a 15mm, as part of the fine tuning part of calibration - generally speaking, could I expect to see the target somewhere in the FOV of the 15mm? (Assuming tracking is all OK, I had target edad centered in the 32 or 40mm eyepiece, etc) IE I wouldn't have to start searching for the target again? Or ?? 

Thanks 

 

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A Two inch 40mm eyepiece would give you a wider field. I was assuming you had only a 1.25" diagonal.

20 minutes ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

Let's say I centre a bright star in the 32 or 40mm eyepiece. I then change to a higher magnification eyepiece, say a 15mm, as part of the fine tuning part of calibration - generally speaking, could I expect to see the target somewhere in the FOV of the 15mm? (Assuming tracking is all OK, I had target edad centered in the 32 or 40mm eyepiece, etc) IE I wouldn't have to start searching for the target again? Or ?? 

This is correct. An object fine centred with a 40mm eyepiece will be roughly centred in a 15mm eyepiece.  But this might entail switching from 2" to 1.25" fittings, unless you have higher powered eyepieces in the 2" size.  Or you could invest in a cheap optical finder.  As I wrote elsewhere, you should only have to calibrate from scratch once, so little point in buying an eyepiece just for this.

I always use a 25mm eyepiece for both the calibration (occasional) and initial viewing of the object (every time).

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14 hours ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

What I am worried about is that during one of my failed alignments, the scope ended up trying to plate solve my house. So, being the lazy cow that I am, rather than pick up the telescope and move it to face clear sky

Next time just let StarSense do it's thing. 

Let it try and plate solve your house and let it fail, it will move on until it finds three areas and will then say alignment.

What I mean is don't pick up the scope and move it to face clear sky, StarSense will find it. 

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I'm going to ask a very silly question now and I apologise in advance. You did do the clutch back up after moving the mount? That might explain the gears working but nothing moving.

A dew shield on an 8" sct is a must. It also blocks out any stray light. Heater tapes are good for those really bad nights, but this requires another power supply.

Edited by Stargazer33
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5 minutes ago, Stargazer33 said:

I'm going to ask a very silly question now and I apologise in advance. You did do the clutch back up after moving the mount? That might explain the gears working but nothing moving.

Such insolence! 😱

Nah, great question. Hi Bryan :) I believe I did do them back up, yes, as I was trying to manually lock on to Jupiter & Saturn a little later and I can remember tightening the clutches back up - only to see those 2 planets disappearing out of the centre of my eyepiece. 

Edited by StarGazingSiouxsie
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One thing I have noticed - not sure if it's coincidence or something more (I don't believe in coincidence, btw) is that after I did a factory reset on my handcontroller (StarSense HC - I don't have a NexStar HC, my set up didn't come with one) I examined the tracking menu. I found that tracking was 'Disabled'. My understanding is that 'Sidereal' is the default setting. 

Now, whether my scope went into some kind of safe mode and disabled the tracking after me confusing it or whether tracking defaults to 'Disabled' after a reset, I don't know. I wish I'd checked that first now before doing the reset but we shall soon see the next time it's clear here.............

One thing I did discover that might help someone else out down the line - when I tried to input my latt / long into 'Location' in the StarSense HC I could only see options for country, state and city. I later discovered you have to get to the country / state / city part of the menu and then press the Celestron logo button (AKA the 'Option' ) on the HC and this then changes the input fields to lattitude & longtitude. 

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4 minutes ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

 I examined the tracking menu. I found that tracking was 'Disabled'. My understanding is that 'Sidereal' is the default setting. 

Now, whether my scope went into some kind of safe mode and disabled the tracking after me confusing it or whether tracking defaults to 'Disabled' after a reset, I don't know. I wish I'd checked that first now before doing the reset but we shall soon see the next time it's clear here.............

 

Tracking is always disabled until you have done an alignment, then once aligned sidereal is default.

 I know this as during the day I solar observe and have to add solar tracking/sun via tracking menu.

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12 minutes ago, Mick H said:

Tracking is always disabled until you have done an alignment, then once aligned sidereal is default.

 I know this as during the day I solar observe and have to add solar tracking/sun via tracking menu.

Thanks Mick, that's great info. 

My scope was defs tracking for a little while after a successful alignment but an unsuccessful calibration (Vega) So maybe it tracked for a little while and then realised it shouldn't be and went on strike or something. Bottom line is I got to enjoy a tracked image of Jupiter appx 28 degrees up with nice views of cloud belts and moons. Saturn too for a little while.

I saw one of Saturn's moons, too, I'm guessing Titan.

I'm just hoping & praying I didn't do any permanent damage to the motors etc.

Edited by StarGazingSiouxsie
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Hi Siouxsie.

I hope you sorted your problems - I’m afraid I can’t help you at all, as I am a complete beginner with totally different kit. However, I am always very keen to pick up any helpful tips from others, even though they might not seem to be relevant at the time. So thanks very much for your advice - I will think very seriously about how I dress when aligning on Vega in future 😀.
Regards, Charles.

 

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11 hours ago, StarGazingSiouxsie said:

What do you get to see, sunspots & stuff?

Yes Siouxsie, sunspots.

It's quiet at the moment, but at least I get to use the scope. 😉

I have Astrozap Baader filter and at the eyepiece a Baader Continuum filter, not my image but looks like pic below.

sun.png

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