The problems I've been having mainly relate to getting the secondary in the correct position over the primary. The skywatcher manual says to get the reflection of the primary under the secondary in such a way that you can see all three primary mirror clips with equal size and spacing. With the collimating cap this is no problem, with the cheshire this is not possible as the view is too narrow to see all the mirror clips. If I try and pull the cheshire out a little bit and then tighten the focuser screws to give me a wider view, there is waaaay too much focuser slop to get any kind of accurate reading. So the collimating cap is definitely the best manual way to go for this step for me.
Now the problem I've been having - If I get the secondary centered over the primary according to the collimation cap and then throw in the Hotech laser, the beam from the laser is way off, I'm gonna say close to a full centimetre. If I make the adjustments according to the laser and then throw the cap back in it looks noticeably out of alignment. See the attachment for the difference, don't worry about clip sizes or spacing this is just a rough sketch to show the difference in space around the reflection of the primary.
Now here's the kicker, my laser is not out of alignment as the beam doesn't move when rotated in the focuser. Also, this is my second laser that has given me this exact type of result, my first was an Orion lasermate deluxe which I sent back because I figured it was faulty. I also went to the store where I purchased my scope and tried collimation with one of their floor models of my scope with a different laser and I got the exact same result - two different scopes of the same model, two different lasers, same result!!
So either Skywatchers instructions are off and the primary mirror reflection isn't supposed to be centered, maybe due to a slight offset of the secondary?? Or, something is going wrong in the laser process that I can't figure out.
It would make sense to me that what I can see with my eye to be centered would be the correct way, but the laser says I'm way off. Very frustrating.
I know that the star test is the best way to tell if something is out of alignment but to be honest I guess I haven't quite perfected either process yet because when I do a star test after each method of collimation the rings aren't exactly symmetrical. The only response I've gotten from Orion, and the vendor where I purchased the orion laser, and a different vendor where I purchased the Hotech is that "the laser is probably correct", this does not instill a lot of confidence.
Any input would be greatly appreciated, sorry for the long post. Maybe someone has had a similar experience to mine with collimating skywatcher dobs.
Thanks in advance!