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What's the matter with my Atlas???

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#1 Trebor777

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 08:40 PM

So, I got my new Atlas. I had one for the past year, so I know how to use it.

Anyhow, I've taken my new one out on Friday and Saturday night.

1st issue: Polar alignment - I'm at 41 degrees latitude here in CT. I set the Atlas at 41 degrees, I'm not even close to Polaris. I got out my green laser, shot it through the polar scope I was wayyy above Polaris. I adjusted my altitude bolts and got Polaris in the circle (in the polar scope) When I checked the side of the Atlas, it was at 36 degrees???? I'm at 41.

Now, is this as simple as, whoever at Orion, not putting the cap with the degrees printed on it on correctly?

2nd issue: Alignment - I entered in all the info correctly. Correct Lat/Long, -05:00, Correct date and time - the first alignment star the hand controller gave me was VEGA - which, in CT at 9PM isn't even in the sky yet. I turned the Atlas off and back to Home position. Tried it again, I skipped over Vega and chose Duhbe as my first alignment star - the scope pointed at the ground looking NW??? i tried again and chose Betuelguese (SP?) - the scope pointed to the Southeast - while Orion was in the SW.

OK, so I gave up trying to align anything and went to manually look at Saturn. Needless to say, it was old school beause I had to keep on slewing to look at Saturn without any tracking. So, I got my 7mm TMB Planetary and viewed Saturn, I slowed the slew speed down to 2 - now when I pressed the right button, the slewing would NOT stop, so I pressed left - same thing, It wouldn't stop slewing (and no, my hand wasn't constantly on pressing the button, nor was the button stuck.

I worked on it for over 2 hours. Tried to align it again. I put the altitude back to 41 degrees and did a rough alignment, same thing happened - Vega as the first alignment star - which wasn't due to rise for hours. Besides the point that when it's at 41 degrees, it's not pointing at Polaris.

Any clues??? Did I just get a dud from Orion??? Is it set up for the Southern hemisphere? I have no clue.

Again, I've had an Atlas for the past year and do know how it works and NEVER had any issues like this with my old one.

I need some help. I'd rather not have to wait to ship it back to Cali and have Orion send me a new one. that's 2 weeks i'd have to wait. Hopefully, I'm just doing something stupid - But I did go over everything carefully. I did have the correct Lat/long, date, time, -5:00, etc, etc, etc....

HELP!!!

#2 Skylook123

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:11 PM

The latitude measurement on Atlases is wrong. I've seen them from 5 to 8 degrees off. Pretty much useless. Not only is the scale misapplied, but the bubble level is off on many mounts, so that you get hit with a double error. In the perfect world, you'd level the mount and the latitude measure would be correct. Not in the land of Atlas.

I bought an inclinometer at Home Depot (a protractor like device that reads used for aligning walls and shelves). IIRC, it was about $12. I set up the mount without the OTA with the slot in the top plate pointing north/south and used the inclinometer to adjust the mount head to the latitude.

Regarding the other craziness you see, there are stories running around about HC firmware that keeps deleting/modifying the DST value, changing its sign, or screwing with the latitude and longitude N/S/E/W. Recheck very carefully what the setup settings are, and see if they magically have changed. Sometimes a reload of the firmware cures the problem (enforce the database update).

The strange responses to the direction arrow has been seen before when the power to the mount is low. It burps at higher slew demands, but looks benign at rates 1-4 or so. This can be due to a battery undercharged or failing, corrosion at the 12V socket on the battery, wrong ID on the power cord (it needs 2.1mm, but many out there are 2.5mm and seem like they work, but cause troubles), or some other power related issue. Next time, try slewing at 8 or 9 and see if the red light flashes.

BUT, I'd wonder about the HC since there are several things going on. If a firmware reload doesn't help, then the HC itself may have an issue or two. Then it's time for a dealer discussion.

That exhausts my 3 years of experience with my Atlas!

#3 Rusty

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:11 PM

This is a WAG, since I haven't recently set up my Sirius EQ-G (which has the same motors and controllers), but try your time zome at +5 - IIRC, the EQ-G doesn't use Zone Description (-5) but how far ahead GMT would be. Another option, which I use on all my scopes, since I go to three different time zones for star parties, is just to use GMT on all.

#4 skyguy1

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:13 PM

Do you still have the hand controller from your old Atlas?
Might be that it's been assembled incorrectly.
This would have me scratching my head too.

#5 Steve Fisher

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:37 PM

This is going to be kind of vague and I'm sorry about that but early last summer we had a fellow show up at a public star party with a new Orion mount. Either an Atlas or HQ5?

Regardless he was having many of the same problems you described and we finally found that when he set the time at -7:00 for our time zone it the mount did not retain that setting once he left that part of the process.

He found that when he set the time at -7:00 and hit a "certain" key it would be retained. The sad part is that I cannot remember what key he hit. Later he told us it was a known glitch in the software he was using.

I don't know if that will help but maybe someone can elaborate on this.

#6 WarrenS

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Posted 22 February 2009 - 09:52 PM

Well, your Atlas is definitely defective because I'm at 41 degrees N latitude and the scale on the side of my Atlas says 45 degrees N latitude when I'm polar aligned. In all seriousness that scale on the side is inaccurate to say the least and unusable.

Like Norm said, I would try using your old hand controller if it's still available. If not, call Orion and ask if you could get another hand controller. It would take less time to send and get a new HC than to ship the whole mount I would think. Unless the wiring is reversed in the mount, my guess would be the HC's at fault.

#7 Arbacia

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 02:59 AM

Use a normal Carpenter's spirit level for the tripod.
1.- Place the level on top of the tripod in E-W direction and adjust both of the southern legs (SW and SE),
2.- then orientate the level N-S and adjust the Northern leg.
3.- Place the mount head on the already leveled tripod.

Now check if the bubble level of the Mount head is OK, just to know. It's more precise, and easier to use, the carpenter's level.

Forget about the numbers of the elevation dial. They are indefectible wrong. If eventually you need to adjust the elevation axis bolt, you will have to take off the cover with the dial. When glue again place it in the right position for your latitude (as the scale is also wrong...)

Have you try to update the firmware of the hand control and reset the data stored in the hand control? If the hand control has the golden label "Synscan" in the Dial screen is updatable (V.3), if in silver color not (V.2).

Patricio

#8 Skylook123

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 07:48 AM

This is a WAG, since I haven't recently set up my Sirius EQ-G (which has the same motors and controllers), but try your time zome at +5 - IIRC, the EQ-G doesn't use Zone Description (-5) but how far ahead GMT would be. Another option, which I use on all my scopes, since I go to three different time zones for star parties, is just to use GMT on all.


I agree on using GMT to take one variable out of the loop. But the SynScan system uses "-" for North America; mine is set at -7:00 here in Arizona.

#9 Skylook123

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 07:54 AM

This is going to be kind of vague and I'm sorry about that but early last summer we had a fellow show up at a public star party with a new Orion mount. Either an Atlas or HQ5?

Regardless he was having many of the same problems you described and we finally found that when he set the time at -7:00 for our time zone it the mount did not retain that setting once he left that part of the process.

He found that when he set the time at -7:00 and hit a "certain" key it would be retained. The sad part is that I cannot remember what key he hit. Later he told us it was a known glitch in the software he was using.

I don't know if that will help but maybe someone can elaborate on this.


There have been glitches in some HC/firmware combos. Luckily, I've never had one, but it seems over the last year or so several folks have reported on the Yahoo! EQ6 group that when they've gotten a new unit, or upgraded the firmware to the latest version, the DST setting and sometimes latitude/longitude settings revert to other than the desired settings. Sure would be good to know what that magic key is! Never heard that one.

#10 lawrie

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 10:45 AM

I know this doesn't answer your question about the HC, but if it persists try EQMOD.

#11 SardonicMeow

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 01:10 PM

2nd issue: Alignment - I entered in all the info correctly. Correct Lat/Long, -05:00, Correct date and time - the first alignment star the hand controller gave me was VEGA - which, in CT at 9PM isn't even in the sky yet. I turned the Atlas off and back to Home position. Tried it again, I skipped over Vega and chose Duhbe as my first alignment star - the scope pointed at the ground looking NW??? i tried again and chose Betuelguese (SP?) - the scope pointed to the Southeast - while Orion was in the SW.


I got my new Atlas about two weeks ago and had the exact same problem. I called up Orion and the support person I spoke to had the answer immediately, so they must be aware of this issue. It's a bug in the hand controller.

Here's the deal: When you are selecting the time zone offset, it defaults to +0:00. So you cursor over to the plus and change it to a minus (using the up or down arrow buttons to toggle it) and then set the number of hours. Well, if you had used the down arrow button to change the plus to a minus, even though it looks like it's changed, the change to the sign doesn't get saved. So you end up with +5:00 instead of -5:00. If you go back through the setup again, you'll see that the timezone offset is +5:00. If you use the up arrow, the minus will actually get acknowledged by the hand controller. Since it has the correct value at that point, the alignment procedure will give you the appropriate set of stars, and you can proceed from there.

Very annoying, but at least you can get beyond it once you know the right thing to do.

#12 Trebor777

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 01:26 PM


2nd issue: Alignment - I entered in all the info correctly. Correct Lat/Long, -05:00, Correct date and time - the first alignment star the hand controller gave me was VEGA - which, in CT at 9PM isn't even in the sky yet. I turned the Atlas off and back to Home position. Tried it again, I skipped over Vega and chose Duhbe as my first alignment star - the scope pointed at the ground looking NW??? i tried again and chose Betuelguese (SP?) - the scope pointed to the Southeast - while Orion was in the SW.


I got my new Atlas about two weeks ago and had the exact same problem. I called up Orion and the support person I spoke to had the answer immediately, so they must be aware of this issue. It's a bug in the hand controller.

Here's the deal: When you are selecting the time zone offset, it defaults to +0:00. So you cursor over to the plus and change it to a minus (using the up or down arrow buttons to toggle it) and then set the number of hours. Well, if you had used the down arrow button to change the plus to a minus, even though it looks like it's changed, the change to the sign doesn't get saved. So you end up with +5:00 instead of -5:00. If you go back through the setup again, you'll see that the timezone offset is +5:00. If you use the up arrow, the minus will actually get acknowledged by the hand controller. Since it has the correct value at that point, the alignment procedure will give you the appropriate set of stars, and you can proceed from there.

Very annoying, but at least you can get beyond it once you know the right thing to do.


So, the fix is as easy as pressing the up arrow (instead of down) to set the time zone to -05:00????

Well if that's the fix for that issue, then I wont be asking for a new hand controller.

Now the remaining issues:

1) altitude markings - that I can deal with. Some idiot at Orion just glued the cap on wrong.

2) the slewing issue I had when I put the slew speed to 2 (and 3, 4, 5 and 6). Where I would press right and it wouldn't stop slewing and then I pressed left and it slewed the other way but didn't stop either. Buttons weren't stuck.

Any ideas on that issue?

And thanx to everyone for your responses...

#13 astro_baby

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 01:58 PM

I just upgrade a basic HEQ5 to GoTo with the Synta upgrade - the software guts are the same I would think as with your mount.

I had a weird problem the firts night I used it which was exactly waht your describing - I would hold a slew key down at rate 9 and when I took my finger off the mount would continue to slew unless I cut the power.

It was very consistent at doing it until and had me baffled. The second night I took some time to run through the set up process, time, date etc etc and its never done it since. I have no idea why but I have a suspicion that what was happening was the software got confused and started slewing to a star as if it was in alignment mode.

No idea if thats any help.

#14 Skylook123

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 03:48 PM

Just a note to say don't blame Orion about the latitude indicator; I believe it's added in the factory in China.

And last year I did have the slews occasionally stick one night in both RA and DEC. Turned out that early on the arrows stuck; never did before, never have since. Then later in the night it was definitely a low battery that failed to charge the day before.

#15 Trebor777

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 04:23 PM

Just a note to say don't blame Orion about the latitude indicator; I believe it's added in the factory in China.

And last year I did have the slews occasionally stick one night in both RA and DEC. Turned out that early on the arrows stuck; never did before, never have since. Then later in the night it was definitely a low battery that failed to charge the day before.


The buttons weren't stuck and I WILL blame Orion. It's their name on the $1500 mount. When paying $1500 for something a plastic cap with latitude marks on it should be glued on correctly - and if not glued on correctly by some Chinese guy, QC should catch it.

And it's a shame if, as someone already posted, it seems Orion KNOWS about the time zone issue - and they're still shipping out new mounts without correcting the issue.

$1500 is A LOT of money - especially these days.

But I will note: The Orion Atlas is a superb mount, I'm just a little miffed about my current issues.

#16 jrbarnett

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 10:40 PM

Trebor:

Sorry to hear your mount is giving you problems.

Unfortunately, if Orion had to open and test every unit received from China and inspect it thoroughly before shipping it to a customer, you'd be paying a lot more than $1500. $1500 is a steal for a 40# capacity GOTO mount.

You'll get your issues sorted out. Personally, I'd return the whole unit and ask for a new one. Let them troubleshoot the bad behavior. Why should you waste your valuable time?

I've had mine for 3 years and it has worked pretty well. I've had accurate GOTOs and no run away slews. The old version of the firmware had several catalog glitches. I am running v3.21 now and am stable. I'm not going to update again until I have a problem. It sounds like the newer versions may have arrow button issues. The firmware is the Achilles heel of this mount for certain. Given than Synta makes the Atlas and owns Celestron, and Celestron has super stable, super mature Nexstar firmware at its disposal, it was foolish to re-invent the wheel with Synscan. Unless, of course, Celestron pays royalties on Nexstar shipments. :question:

I've never even looked at the altitude scale on the mount. I used Polaris and the included polar scope to get the correct altitude. Next time I'm in the field I'll look to see how far my label is off.

One thing that is VERY important is that this mount needs a solid power supply. A weak battery will make it behave erratically. I use a massive 60AH battery pack. I used to use a Kendrick 17AH unit, which was fine for my CG-5 or Losmandy GM-8, but not up to par on the thirsty Atlas. From home I use an AC adapter.

Out of curiosity, what are you using as a power supply?

Regards,

Jim

#17 Trebor777

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Posted 23 February 2009 - 11:37 PM

Trebor:

One thing that is VERY important is that this mount needs a solid power supply. A weak battery will make it behave erratically. I use a massive 60AH battery pack. I used to use a Kendrick 17AH unit, which was fine for my CG-5 or Losmandy GM-8, but not up to par on the thirsty Atlas. From home I use an AC adapter.

Out of curiosity, what are you using as a power supply?

Regards,

Jim


I use a 100AH Deep Cycle Marine Battery that's only 2 months old. Power isn't an issue. My old Atlas has ver. 3.21 and I never had an issue with it.

It's gonna be clear tomorrow night, I'll give it another try. Like I said, if the fix for alignment is to just press up instead of down while entering the time zone and everything else works as it should, then alls well.

#18 jrbarnett

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 12:20 AM

Good luck sir!

- Jim

#19 rmollise

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 11:15 AM


The buttons weren't stuck and I WILL blame Orion. It's their name on the $1500 mount. When paying $1500 for something a plastic cap with latitude marks on it should be glued on correctly - and if not glued on correctly by some Chinese guy, QC should catch it.

And it's a shame if, as someone already posted, it seems Orion KNOWS about the time zone issue - and they're still shipping out new mounts without correcting the issue.

$1500 is A LOT of money - especially these days.

But I will note: The Orion Atlas is a superb mount, I'm just a little miffed about my current issues.


Well, this is a very inexpensive price for a mount with these capabilities. As in any other industry (well, maybe outside the Pantex plant), QA does not mean every product gets QAed. And Orion, like most dealers, doesn't QA a thing. They just sell stuff.

Now as for your slewing problem, since you've been using this mount for a year, I assume this has just recently cropped up? If it doesn't move just a wee bit when you let up on a button, but a lot, the usual problem is power. If you are powering the mount from an AC adapter, try a battery. If you are using a battery, try a fully charged battery. Also, some mounts shipped with the incorrect power cord about a year ago. It fits too loosely...Orion would send you a new one if you'd a-called them. They would no doubt have fixed the latitude indicator as well if you'd called them.

;)

#20 Skylook123

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 12:55 PM

I've had four mounts off and on over the years in the Meade GEM and Mead LX families, and NONE was within five degrees of correct on the altitude indicator. And I agree with Rod; I don't want to have to pay a much higher price to fine tune the mount. However, KW Telescopes in Canada does wring out every EQ6 they ship. Don't know if there is a premium for that.

#21 Trebor777

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 02:57 PM



The buttons weren't stuck and I WILL blame Orion. It's their name on the $1500 mount. When paying $1500 for something a plastic cap with latitude marks on it should be glued on correctly - and if not glued on correctly by some Chinese guy, QC should catch it.

And it's a shame if, as someone already posted, it seems Orion KNOWS about the time zone issue - and they're still shipping out new mounts without correcting the issue.

$1500 is A LOT of money - especially these days.

But I will note: The Orion Atlas is a superb mount, I'm just a little miffed about my current issues.


Well, this is a very inexpensive price for a mount with these capabilities. As in any other industry (well, maybe outside the Pantex plant), QA does not mean every product gets QAed. And Orion, like most dealers, doesn't QA a thing. They just sell stuff.

Now as for your slewing problem, since you've been using this mount for a year, I assume this has just recently cropped up? If it doesn't move just a wee bit when you let up on a button, but a lot, the usual problem is power. If you are powering the mount from an AC adapter, try a battery. If you are using a battery, try a fully charged battery. Also, some mounts shipped with the incorrect power cord about a year ago. It fits too loosely...Orion would send you a new one if you'd a-called them. They would no doubt have fixed the latitude indicator as well if you'd called them.

;)



Well, your expectations must be a little lower then mine. If I pay whatever amount for a new product it should be as described.

Saying "well, it's an inexpensive price for it's capabilities" is just lame. That's like buying a new 2009 car and then having the engine not work and saying something to the manufacturer about it and them saying, "well, it's an inexpensive price for it's capabilities - if you wanted us to actually check that everything worked we would have charged you x-amount more."

This Atlas is new - got here 5 days ago. It's my second one. My first one I got last year - no issues with that one.

I can deal with the altitude indicator being off. When I do my Hypertune to it, I'll glue it back on correctly anyway. I don't "think" power was the issue. I had a fully charged 100AH deep cycle marine battery, but the cord might have come loose. I'm going out tonight so I'll see.

I'd like to thank everyone for their insight. And sorry if I seemed a little miffed in this post about the "inexpensive" comments. $1500 isn't inexpensive for any capibilities - if you're using the word inexpensive and $1500 in the same sentence you're making a lot more then me.

The Atlas EQ-G is still the best bang for the buck.

#22 rmollise

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 03:37 PM

Well, your expectations must be a little lower then mine. If I pay whatever amount for a new product it should be as described.

Saying "well, it's an inexpensive price for it's capabilities" is just lame. That's like buying a new 2009 car and then having the engine not work and saying something to the manufacturer about it and them saying, "well, it's an inexpensive price for it's capabilities - if you wanted us to actually check that everything worked we would have charged you x-amount more."

This Atlas is new - got here 5 days ago. It's my second one. My first one I got last year - no issues with that one.


Sorry your Atlas didn't work out for you. OTOH, Orion is extremely good about fixing customer problems, so you might at least think about contacting them.

Whether I make more money than you is beside the point. The fact is that the next step up, the next group of mounts with capabilities similar to the Atlas, but _maybe_ _slightly_ better QA is 3000 US$.

;)

#23 Trebor777

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Posted 24 February 2009 - 04:02 PM

Orion is sending me a new hand controller - rush delivery too!!

Hopefully that'll take care of everything.

#24 Trebor777

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 02:23 AM

I got my new Atlas about two weeks ago and had the exact same problem. I called up Orion and the support person I spoke to had the answer immediately, so they must be aware of this issue. It's a bug in the hand controller.

Here's the deal: When you are selecting the time zone offset, it defaults to +0:00. So you cursor over to the plus and change it to a minus (using the up or down arrow buttons to toggle it) and then set the number of hours. Well, if you had used the down arrow button to change the plus to a minus, even though it looks like it's changed, the change to the sign doesn't get saved. So you end up with +5:00 instead of -5:00. If you go back through the setup again, you'll see that the timezone offset is +5:00. If you use the up arrow, the minus will actually get acknowledged by the hand controller. Since it has the correct value at that point, the alignment procedure will give you the appropriate set of stars, and you can proceed from there.

Very annoying, but at least you can get beyond it once you know the right thing to do.


That was the fix. All I did was press up (instead of down) to change the "+" sign to a "-" sign and it saved my time as as -05:00.

I doubled checked and pressed down to change the + to a - and it didn't save it.

So, if any new Atlas owners come across this thread and have the same issues as me, the fix is as easy as pressing up instead of down. Though it shouldn't be like that and hopefully the new controller Orion is sending me doesn't have any of those issues.

I was out tonight for 4 hours and had no issues at all. There was no slewing issue like I had the other night. Tracking was spot on. I used my 12.5mm illuminated cross hair and did 5 minutes on Saturn and 5 on Sirius and there was little to no drift of any of the objects out of the center.

GoTo was spot on - Meaning I had a 5mm TMB planetary in the SN10 and when I slewed from Sirius to M42 to Saturn to Polaris to Arctus (sp?) they were all in the FOV is not spot on center.

Good polar alignment, leveling and weight balance do the trick. Spending an extra 5-10 minutes on those things and it will be a great observing (imaging too) night.

Next will be an Atlas Hypertune. I got my new bearings and spacers yesterday. I'm doing the altitude/azimuth mod also.

And I ordered a new Carbon Fiber OTA tube for my SN10. I'm getting the SN10 w/ the works from Bob McCourt at Deep Space Mods and Composites Not only will the tube be beautiful it'll be about 15lbs lighter. Now instead of pushing 50lbs on my Atlas I'll be around, maybe below, 35 lbs.

NEAF = New CCD camera :jump: :jump: :jump:

#25 jrbarnett

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Posted 25 February 2009 - 10:56 AM

I really wish that Synta would migrate the Atlas/HEQ-6 mounts over to a Celestron Nexstar firmware clone. Synscan simply isn't as mature or reliable. Why support two completely different firmware families when you own them both? Nexstar also has one valuable (to me) feature that Synscan lacks - the "Slew to RA and Dec" feature. This is a godsend for double star and variable star work beyond the teeny onboard double star and variable star catalogs. I end up using the User Defined Object feature in Synscan, but that's many more keystrokes, requires separate record keeping to identify what object has been assigned to each slot, and limits you to 25 targets at a time.

Beyond firmware issues, however, I've really enjoyed the Atlas and have used it ALOT without incident.

Regards,

Jim






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