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Dual axis EQ5 Motor drive- is it worth it?


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Hello, fellow stargazers, and Happy New Year!

These days the sky has been pretty clear here and I got the chance to shot the moon, but I'm starting to get bored by short exposures, thus I'm thinking about buying a dual axis motor drive for my mount (https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-mount-upgrade-kits/dual-axis-dc-motor-drive-for-eq5.html), EQ5 (keep in mind that the scope used is an 8'' Newtonian, 8 kg). My question is, is it worth it? Or should I get a polar scope and stick with a good polar alignment? I obviously don't have very high expectations, since I'm doing this as a hobby (I know that some may argue that the min. for AP is HEQ5, but I saw and I believe that good results can come with some cheaper equipment too). So... I'm curious- from your experience- can an EQ5 with dual axis motor be good for AP or, at least, is the purchase an improvement from the manual version?

 

Thank you and clear skies!

 

 

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Correct me if I am wrong but your eq5 you say does not come with a polarscope? Mine did. Yes with your 200mm Newt and eq5 pushing the limit for AP a HEQ5 minimum  is what I have read. what 8" scope do you have ie in focal length. I have a dual kit dc motor drive for an EQ5 with enhanced controller as new never used as went down the astroeq route with mine.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/enhanced-dual-axis-dc-motor-drives-for-eq-5.html

if interested let me know where you are located via pm if interested

Andy

 

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Happy New Year.


I’ve had some surprisingly good (although early days yet) results with my 200p on an EQ5 with an old DSLR.

I’ve got two EQ5 mounts, one with the 200p and the other with a 150 SkyMax and fitted both with just the single RA motor drive.

I did this initially just for visual tracking convenience but then discovered they seem accurate enough for quite long exposures to have a go at photography. I left Jupiter centred in a 7mm eyepiece one night. Went inside for an hour or so forgetting to turn the motor off and came back to find it still visually bang on centred.

On a perfectly still night the mount copes OK but to be honest it takes some patience if the wind is even a little gentle using the 200p.

Honestly it’s a lot of fun for very little expense.

Frankly I wasn’t sold on the dual motor concept and wouldn’t bother motorising beyond the RA.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/single-axis-dc-motor-drive-for-eq5.html

Both my EQ5s came with a polar scope fitted, calibrating these and setting up the alignment is essential.

Overall, as much as I lust after an EQ6 Pro it’s going to be sometime before I justify upgrading.

There is so much else to learn that will improve my results first.

Good luck and enjoy.

Steve

Ps

Having just seen fozzybear’s reply above I’d take him up on the offer of the dual motor if it’s available.

I think both the single and dual motor drives are in short supply at the moment with long waits for replacement stocks.

Edited by SMF
Ps added.
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Some great things about the Moon are that it is easy to find and so bright that short exposure video imaging can be used with it. Many other DSOs, with the exceptions of planets, are dim and so require long exposure imaging. The dual axis motors, and mainly the RA motor, help with longer exposures though not with finding a target as they are too slow for goto. The dual axis motors can be used with guiding, though RA guiding mainly as DEC guiding isn't too accurate with the EQ5.

So I agree with @SMF that the RA motor is useful and a low cost introduction to longer exposure manually located imaging. Good polar alignment won't be necessary with your setup if non-motorised static as star trailing will limit imaging time. An RA motor can help provide images of around 60s or so (some can achieve longer) with reasonable polar alignment.

My EQ5 setup started with the dual-axis motors and AstroEQ for guiding, followed by replacing the motors with quicker stepper motors (twice) for belt driven guiding and goto, still with the AstroEQ.

Dual axis motors are a potential way forward without goto, though a SynScan upgrade for the EQ5 may be a better route, especially as this can provide goto before going for a guided setup.

 

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14 hours ago, fozzybear said:

Correct me if I am wrong but your eq5 you say does not come with a polarscope? Mine did. Yes with your 200mm Newt and eq5 pushing the limit for AP a HEQ5 minimum  is what I have read. what 8" scope do you have ie in focal length. I have a dual kit dc motor drive for an EQ5 with enhanced controller as new never used as went down the astroeq route with mine.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/enhanced-dual-axis-dc-motor-drives-for-eq-5.html

if interested let me know where you are located via pm if interested

Andy

 

Hi! My EQ5 did not come with a polar scope, since it was the manual version. 
My scope is an 8 inch f/5 newt. (200/1000). Pretty heavy 😕

 

Thanks! 

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I used an EQ5 earlier in the year. I started with dual axis motors and then got the goto upgrade with the stepper motors. YMMV but I found:

- I couldn't get good guiding in Dec. Therefore polar alignment was key, and I'd just try to balance exposure time with % of discarded subs. Lots of people got much different results and I assume it's dependent on the particular mount, balance, tuning etc. I was probably a little over the 5kg weight limit for imaging.

- the Dec motor definitely helped as did guiding, so definitely go for the dual axis motors with the ST4 port on the controller

- The goto motors didn't lead to any particular increase in guiding accuracy for me

- there are lots of stepper motor projects out there for the EQ5 but none I found that are both commercially available and sensibly priced

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, bobro said:

Some great things about the Moon are that it is easy to find and so bright that short exposure video imaging can be used with it. Many other DSOs, with the exceptions of planets, are dim and so require long exposure imaging. The dual axis motors, and mainly the RA motor, help with longer exposures though not with finding a target as they are too slow for goto. The dual axis motors can be used with guiding, though RA guiding mainly as DEC guiding isn't too accurate with the EQ5.

So I agree with @SMF that the RA motor is useful and a low cost introduction to longer exposure manually located imaging. Good polar alignment won't be necessary with your setup if non-motorised static as star trailing will limit imaging time. An RA motor can help provide images of around 60s or so (some can achieve longer) with reasonable polar alignment.

My EQ5 setup started with the dual-axis motors and AstroEQ for guiding, followed by replacing the motors with quicker stepper motors (twice) for belt driven guiding and goto, still with the AstroEQ.

Dual axis motors are a potential way forward without goto, though a SynScan upgrade for the EQ5 may be a better route, especially as this can provide goto before going for a guided setup.

 

I wasn’t interested in GoTo since I want to learn the sky instead of relying on it. I guess the dual axis motors are worth it, if it would work without the polar scope too. 
For polar alignment I currently use an app called PS align and it works wonderfully for those-like me- that want a rough and quick polar align that is pretty accurate (clearly not professional AP level though)  

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Just bear in mind that the dual axis motor upgrade uses DC motors where as the goto upgrade uses precision stepper motors.  The latter means finer control for imaging if that is the ultimate goal.  If you simply want the scope to track a target once you have manually found it so that the target stays in the field of view of an eyepiece with just the need for the odd correction, then the cheaper dual axis system will be fine.

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It should be industry standard that if using dc motors to drive a mount axis that an encoder be used, and on-the-fly software adjustments as needed based on these encoder data be enabled. Even stepper driven systems can lose steps, and encoders could be used to verify, or other detect errors, in step counts. Wouldn’t that almost cancel out PE?

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I have the dual axis drives on my EQ5. It's for visual only so the simplicity is what I required. It works. I wouldn't like to image with it though.

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2 hours ago, malc-c said:

Just bear in mind that the dual axis motor upgrade uses DC motors where as the goto upgrade uses precision stepper motors. 

The dual axis motors are stepper motors, it's just that they are very low torque and highly geared to allow battery power driving without too much current consumption. I successfully used them connected to an AstroEQ for guiding. However, the gearbox makes slewing much too slow, hence they aren't good for goto.

 

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1 hour ago, bobro said:

The dual axis motors are stepper motors, it's just that they are very low torque and highly geared to allow battery power driving without too much current consumption. I successfully used them connected to an AstroEQ for guiding. However, the gearbox makes slewing much too slow, hence they aren't good for goto.

 

 

Well a lot of retailers need to update their descriptions then 😉

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