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EQ6R Pro Mount


JDKay1
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current equipment:
- EQ6R Pro mount
- SW120 EDDS Pro scope
- Canon 600D DSLR
- Dedicated laptop
- Guidescope - ZWO120mm. Cable from camera to laptop
- USB B cable from Mount to laptop

Got this mount a few weeks ago and it’s solid and sturdy to say the least..! However, it will remain as a permanent external decorative fixture unless I can get this Polar alignment / tracking sorted out……

I have the Star Adventurer 2i which I use with my Canon 600D DSLR and is soooo easy to PA / find a target then track (I have a little finder scope on top of my camera which puts me roughly where I need to be). Had some really good wide FOV photos.

Not so easy with the EQ6R Pro though… when I think I have PA with this (same principal as the SA) I then use the handset to align. I pick one star (just to get going) and it always slews to a different place from where the star is..! I use a spirit level on the RA & DA and twiddle the number things to what it shows in the manual (and online) but still it is way off from the stars. 

if I do actually manage to get the PA and alignment correct, how then does it track..? Do I have to tell it or does it do it automatically..?

I have my laptop hooked up to both my guide camera and mount with all the required programs and drivers but it doesn’t see my mount at all.

All in all - very frustrating but determination and some knowledge from others will definitely help..!

Edited by JDKay1
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Assume you're using EQMOD? I think you usually have to adjust the Baud rate to 9600 if I remember correclty before it will connect. tracking rate should just be a button in eqmod once youve got it connected. 

if you have a guide cam I would just use sharp cap to polar align, then get plate solving working and you wont have to worry about aligning - much easier.

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The EQ6-R requires the baud rate to be 115200 not 9600. I used to use EQMOD but now use GS Server . You may also need to make sure that the Prolific USB drivers are installed if you are using windows so that the EQ6-R is seen as a serial COM port. I would recommend using N.I.N.A with the Three Point Polar Alignment plugin which makes polar alignment super easy. It controls the mount so you do not have to manually move it and it takes three images which it then plate solves to calculate the polar alignment error. Then you can adjust the latitude and azimuth bolts to get the polar alignment down in real time. The great thing about this is that you do not need to be able to see Polaris, so if it is obstructed you can do your polar alignment in a different part of the sky and it will be able to still polar align perfectly. You can also do this with Sharpcap with a £12 license and it has a great polar alignment function which can take images via the guide scope but this does need to be able to see Polaris to work, and you have to move the mount yourself.

If you use N.I.N.A then you would not have to use the handset at all, my handset has never been connected to the mount since I have had it!, as N.I.N.A can plate solve using ASTAP when slewing to a new target and then it will plate solve and re-slew until the target is centred. Once the target is centred then the mount would be sent a command which set the mount to tracking mode which would then be moving the mount at sidereal speed in the same way that your StarAdventurer would when you turn the dial to the star position.

PHD2 is usually used to see how far the mount has moved and to make any corrections and these corrections can be sent via PHD2 directly to the mount rather than using an ST-4 cable between the guide camera and EQ6-R.

I hope this helps a bit but is maybe quite a lot to take in. If you are unsure about anything I have mentioned then please feel free to ask and I will help

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You didn't mention how you are connecting the mount to the PC.  Given the mount is the R version I'm assuming this was via a A-B USB cable.  In that case you need the Prolific driver and the com port that is assigned to the connection needs setting to 115200 baud as already stated.  The 9600 speed is only required for older mounts that don't have a USB port, and need an EQDIR cable to make the connection via the same port the handset normally uses.

To control the mount from a laptop (presumably running windows) you'll need to have ASCOM installed, and then either EQMOD or GSServer, both of which can be thought of as a telescope "driver".  In EQMOD the pulse guiding settings need to be between x0.5 and x0.9.   For polar alignment I found the plate solving tool in Sharpcap very easy to use and managed to get the accuracy to within a few arc seconds.  You have to pay a yearly subscription for this, but its only around £12, so won't brake the bank.

Hope this helps

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Thanks all for taking the time to reply. Just to confirm the mount is connected to my laptop via the B USB cable. However it got me thinking - this cable is 10m long which may not be as reliable after a specific length.

I have ASCOM/GS Server installed but there are other things from the replies that I will also check.

On a side note - If I take away the laptop & once I was Polar Aligned (I believe accurately) when i try and align an object (a bright star) it slews to a completely different area.  Surely i am missing a step here..? Also, if everything is working/aligned etc. how does it then track..? Does it do it automatically or do i need to tell it to do it..?

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1 hour ago, JDKay1 said:

Thanks all for taking the time to reply. Just to confirm the mount is connected to my laptop via the B USB cable. However it got me thinking - this cable is 10m long which may not be as reliable after a specific length.

I have ASCOM/GS Server installed but there are other things from the replies that I will also check.

On a side note - If I take away the laptop & once I was Polar Aligned (I believe accurately) when i try and align an object (a bright star) it slews to a completely different area.  Surely i am missing a step here..? Also, if everything is working/aligned etc. how does it then track..? Does it do it automatically or do i need to tell it to do it..?

The tracking is like a clock, if the time is correct it tracks the time correctly, if wrong it will keep the tracking the wrong time.

The first obvious checks are your date/time & location.  You can download the Synscan app for  PC to set the date, time & location if you are not already doing that (you won't need to connect the handset).

 

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19 hours ago, JDKay1 said:

Thanks all for taking the time to reply. Just to confirm the mount is connected to my laptop via the B USB cable. However it got me thinking - this cable is 10m long which may not be as reliable after a specific length.

 

From personal experience I found that anything over 5m needs to be an active cable.  A 10m passive cable will result in voltage and packet data loss.  

Each time you start a session, GSServer will assume the mount is starting from the default home position (point north with the weighs down).  If the mount is then slewed to a target vis a planetarium application and then a sync point added (ie you are telling the software it's on target) and then you disconnect the laptop it will have no idea where mount is pointing when reconnected, and if that results in an restart of GSServer then it will presume the mount is in that home position when actually it's pointing at a totally different position.  

People also often make the mistake of centring the target using the handset buttons once the initial slew has been undertaken via the software.  The software (EQMOD / GSServer) will have no idea of the error by which it is off target if the mount is moved using an external method, which is why any adjustments need to be made from within EQMOD or GSServer using the NSEW directional "buttons" on screen.

My advice would be to replace the 10m cable with a shorter active cable, and having done your PA, use just the software to direct the scope, returning to the default park position after a session.  

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Following on from Steve's post, the mount is dumb, it has no idea what or where it is pointing.  All the motorboad does is keep track of the number of pulses it has sent to each stepper motor based on the gearing and microstepping spec of the motors.  It needs to know a starting point, which is typically the default home position.  When first connected the software (well in the case of EQMOD, and would presume GSS does the same) interrogates the mount to obtain the mounts parameters so that it can calculate the number of pulses in each direction to move the mount form the start point to the target.  The software does a bulk of the calculations based on the location / date and time you enter into EQMOD/GSS and the planetarium software.  Once the software commands the mount to move to the target, the firmware in the motor board keeps track of the number of pulses whilst it drives the motor, returning  the message that the slew is complete when it is finished.  The software will have already instructed the firmware to track at sidereal so the firmware calculates, based on the gearing and motors how many pulses (microsteps) are required to make the RA motor move the mount 15 degrees. This is simple maths as the RA axis has 9216000 microsteps per revolution (24 hours), so 384,000 microsteps / hour is required.

Naturally if the date / time / location information is incorrect this can screw up these calculations and the scope can end up pointing somewhere totally different to what was expected !

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Hello I have just purchased this mount from FLO and can you tell me when you opened the box with the legs in it was leg extender clamps facing inwards like in my picture.20220402_093112.thumb.jpg.56c8fecea912a99b311cf2434a2f20f8.jpg

Edited by cardconvict
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33 minutes ago, scotty38 said:

Think it's the same tripod on my AZ-EQ6 and they're on the inside on mine (I think 🙂 ). Better there so they don't get kicked anyway

Thank you for the clarification 

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3 hours ago, cardconvict said:

Thank you for the clarification 

NP and I checked and yep on the inside so all good..... Can you tell I never touch them lol

Edited by scotty38
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Maybe a small thing, but when i got my Eq6R back in 2018, i remember i aligned the polarscope first.

You can check this by rotating the axis of the polarscope (by rotation of RA) on a fixed point, if it's aligned properly, the crosshair should remain on the fixed point.

Most likely this is not the source of mayor tracking issues, but all small steps added make a big one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all again. Well, first clear skies last night for a while and the conditions were great and I loved being outside for 7 hours and still managed to achieve….. nothing..! Well, not strictly true so I will give you a summary and I would really appreciate your help again as I do not know what steps to take next. Here goes…. 

- EQ6R Pro mount is located on a sturdy and level base (my patio). I have imputed the time, date and Co-ordinates correctly.
- SW120 EDDS Pro scope is attached to the mount.
- Canon 600D DSLR is attached at the end of my telescope. 
- Dedicated laptop is attached to my mount using the USB A/B connector.
- Guidescope - ZWO120mm. Connected with cable from camera to laptop
- telescope and mount, I believe, are in the home position I.e weights down and telescope pointing up and the mount and scope aligned.
- used the Bahtinov mask on my scope/canon camera and managed to get a bright star focused after a couple of test shots.
……all good so far (I think)….

I have installed many programs including NINA / ASTAP / ASCOM / Prolific USB drivers / GS Server. My laptop now sees my telescope and my guide camera and I can control them from my laptop. Before I have connected all the programs, I believe I have successfully manually Polar aligned using the mount polar alignment reticle and my phone tells my where Polaris should be in this reticle.
 

This is when i have the issues and maybe I am missing a step..? If I then, for example, use the laptop to send the mount to a known star, it sends the mount to a completely different part of the sky from where the stars are. I have also tried this using the handset with the same results - the mounts just moves to an area nowhere near the star..!!

I have no idea where to go next. Although I love being outside, it is demoralising when the mount doesn’t seem to know where to go. I appreciate this is a learning curve but could there be an issue with the mount or is there something I have overlooked..?

 I am resilient and will persevere however long I takes..!
Thanks

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Being polar aligned ie the mount is physically aligned is the first thing to achieve but you then need to be star aligned so the scope knows where it is pointing in the sky.

You have NINA (hopefully you have 2.0 installed) so you could actually use the TPPA plugin for polar aligning and then also use plate solving to get aligned. Once you've done that your gotos will be spot on, or at least pretty accurate.

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54 minutes ago, scotty38 said:

Being polar aligned ie the mount is physically aligned is the first thing to achieve but you then need to be star aligned so the scope knows where it is pointing in the sky.

You have NINA (hopefully you have 2.0 installed) so you could actually use the TPPA plugin for polar aligning and then also use plate solving to get aligned. Once you've done that your gotos will be spot on, or at least pretty accurate.

Thanks for the reply. What I cannot understand is, if you strip away all the photography stuff for the minute, why the mount still does not go anywhere near a star for the first star alignment. I can understand if it was in the vicinity and I could then fine tune but it is always way off. If I cannot get that right then surely all the computer stuff is going to be way off as well..?!

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On 27/03/2022 at 16:38, JDKay1 said:

I then use the handset to align. I pick one star (just to get going) and it always slews to a different place from where the star is..!

Sounds like wrong coordinates in the handset, or wrong time/elevation/timezone. It is far to easy to mess up this in the handset, when you are fiddling with the knobs in the dark. Is the location given in degrees (hours)/minutes/seconds? My SynScan don't use decimal notation as used many places elsewhere. As for drivers, you must choose one corresponding to the way you wire the mount. I can control my HEQ5 in three ways: USB-cabel computer:handcontroller, EQDirRJ45-cabel computer:mount or SkyWatcherSynScan_USB-PC_Interface_Cable computer:handcontroller. Today I use my EQDirRJ45.

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2 hours ago, JDKay1 said:

This is when i have the issues and maybe I am missing a step..? If I then, for example, use the laptop to send the mount to a known star, it sends the mount to a completely different part of the sky from where the stars are. I have also tried this using the handset with the same results - the mounts just moves to an area nowhere near the star..!!

This is exactly what happened when I used the wrong drivers. I use Kstars/Ekos/INDI, and there are several drivers to choose from when it comes to SkyWatcher EQ's. Not obvious which to choose. Caused me some headaches.

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5 minutes ago, Rallemikken said:

Sounds like wrong coordinates in the handset, or wrong time/elevation/timezone. It is far to easy to mess up this in the handset, when you are fiddling with the knobs in the dark. Is the location given in degrees (hours)/minutes/seconds? My SynScan don't use decimal notation as used many places elsewhere. As for drivers, you must choose one corresponding to the way you wire the mount. I can control my HEQ5 in three ways: USB-cabel computer:handcontroller, EQDirRJ45-cabel computer:mount or SkyWatcherSynScan_USB-PC_Interface_Cable computer:handcontroller. Today I use my EQDirRJ45.

FWIW, I had the same issue as the OP when I first had my EQ5 Pro. In my case, it turned out that I'd entered the date in British format while Synscan expects US format. So, the 10th of February was taken to be 2nd of October!

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Are you leaving the handset connected?

It's not normally needed if you are using an eqmod lead. Is it possible the handset settings are wrong and the mount has a different date/time than the astro programs. Not used windows with my mounts for quite a while, but I expect NINA should set the date/time & location for you (are these set & correct?).

 

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2 hours ago, JDKay1 said:

If I then, for example, use the laptop to send the mount to a known star, it sends the mount to a completely different part of the sky from where the stars are. I have also tried this using the handset with the same results

After the GoTo slew, check in the handset what RA and Dec position the mount thinks it's at.

If RA and Dec are correct, then you have the mount set to the wrong location, date, or time.

Michael

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4 hours ago, JDKay1 said:

Hi all again. Well, first clear skies last night for a while and the conditions were great and I loved being outside for 7 hours and still managed to achieve….. nothing..! Well, not strictly true so I will give you a summary and I would really appreciate your help again as I do not know what steps to take next. Here goes…. 

- EQ6R Pro mount is located on a sturdy and level base (my patio). I have imputed the time, date and Co-ordinates correctly.
- SW120 EDDS Pro scope is attached to the mount.
- Canon 600D DSLR is attached at the end of my telescope. 
- Dedicated laptop is attached to my mount using the USB A/B connector.
- Guidescope - ZWO120mm. Connected with cable from camera to laptop
- telescope and mount, I believe, are in the home position I.e weights down and telescope pointing up and the mount and scope aligned.
- used the Bahtinov mask on my scope/canon camera and managed to get a bright star focused after a couple of test shots.
……all good so far (I think)….

I have installed many programs including NINA / ASTAP / ASCOM / Prolific USB drivers / GS Server. My laptop now sees my telescope and my guide camera and I can control them from my laptop. Before I have connected all the programs, I believe I have successfully manually Polar aligned using the mount polar alignment reticle and my phone tells my where Polaris should be in this reticle.
 

This is when i have the issues and maybe I am missing a step..? If I then, for example, use the laptop to send the mount to a known star, it sends the mount to a completely different part of the sky from where the stars are. I have also tried this using the handset with the same results - the mounts just moves to an area nowhere near the star..!!

I have no idea where to go next. Although I love being outside, it is demoralising when the mount doesn’t seem to know where to go. I appreciate this is a learning curve but could there be an issue with the mount or is there something I have overlooked..?

 I am resilient and will persevere however long I takes..!
Thanks

We need a little more information as it's slightly confusing as it seems you are setting the scope up with the handset and then using a the laptop to control it?  

Reading between the lines it would seem you have both the Handset connected to the mount, and a PC connected via a USB A-B cable.  If so remove the handset, it is not needed.

GS Server is expecting the mount to be in the default park HOME position, pointing North, weights down, scope pointing towards Polaris.  Most of the software will take the time form the PC's time, so that's one thing to check.  The other is that all applications are using the same location and date values so long and latitude are the same in all programs.

When you state that the scope is now where near the target, is it that it's more or less pointing in the correct area, or is it point in a totally different direction, ie West instead of East ?

One possible cause is that you have the DEC axis 180 degrees out of phase.  Try removing the scope, rotate the DEC axis 180 degrees so the two bolts that secure the dovetail are now on the opposite side to what they were and re-attach the scope.  You can test in the daytime by leaving all the covers on the scope and place it in the same HOME position (approx) and then select the sun as a target and see if the scope ends up pointing more or less at the sun, or at least close to it rather than miles off

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Thanks all for your replies some good stuff there that I will try when 8 get my stuff back out. Looking at the forecast, clouds all the way now….

6 hours ago, malc-c said:

We need a little more information as it's slightly confusing as it seems you are setting the scope up with the handset and then using a the laptop to control it?  

Reading between the lines it would seem you have both the Handset connected to the mount, and a PC connected via a USB A-B cable.  If so remove the handset, it is not needed.

GS Server is expecting the mount to be in the default park HOME position, pointing North, weights down, scope pointing towards Polaris.  Most of the software will take the time form the PC's time, so that's one thing to check.  The other is that all applications are using the same location and date values so long and latitude are the same in all programs.

When you state that the scope is now where near the target, is it that it's more or less pointing in the correct area, or is it point in a totally different direction, ie West instead of East ?

One possible cause is that you have the DEC axis 180 degrees out of phase.  Try removing the scope, rotate the DEC axis 180 degrees so the two bolts that secure the dovetail are now on the opposite side to what they were and re-attach the scope.  You can test in the daytime by leaving all the covers on the scope and place it in the same HOME position (approx) and then select the sun as a target and see if the scope ends up pointing more or less at the sun, or at least close to it rather than miles off

Malcom, 

that’s correct - I leave the handset connected as I tried to get it without the PC first then switch over. Obviously this then may have caused some issues and I will disconnect prior to trying again. 
When it comes to star alignment, it’s not as much as 180 or even 90 degrees off - something like 30-50 degrees. 
There a few things in your reply that I will try when I get my stuff back out. 
I appreciate the reply.

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