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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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inZet
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Reged: 02/12/09

Loc: Milan, Italy
Pointing accuracy
      #6061364 - 09/03/13 05:26 PM

How do you achieve max pointing precision using a GOTO telescope? Intended as a star in the dead center of the eyepiece, to avoid confusion.
I may be wrong, I'm not so convinced a good polar alignment will suffice.
Having swapped out the old Sphinx StarBook board with a NexSXD my pointing precision has improved a lot, but still within 30 arcsecs or so. If I set the camera to 640x480, I could miss the double. Visually, I can zoom out and in, swap the eyepieces and so on, no problem other than the doubt I observed the right double...


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JAT Observatory
NOT a Wimp
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Reged: 02/20/05

Loc: In the Primordial Soup
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: inZet]
      #6062306 - 09/04/13 08:50 AM

You need a pointing program like T-Point or Max Point .

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Eddgie
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Reged: 02/01/06

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: inZet]
      #6062483 - 09/04/13 11:17 AM

Spend a lot of money on an AP or a Paramont or other high end mount. That is one way.

Pier mount your existing EQ head. I believe that of the pointing accuracy is related to flexure of the tripods, especially with so many people overloading mounts these days. Sure, you can use calibration stars, but done be surprised if stars that center in a 31mm Nagler are not centered in a 6mm Ortho. Just the weight of the eyepeiece can deflect a mount a few arc minutes. Even my CGE will deflect with an eyepiece change.

Putting the mount on a pier will take a lot of that away.

But these may be impractical. I mention them because if you really want perfect centering, that is the bar you need to get over.

Otherwise, what can you do?

Hypertune your mount. Replace the bearings with higher quality bearings and end-float the shafts properly.

Check the worms to ensure they are not bent, and check the end float here.

Lap the worms and worm wheels with a fine lapping compound. Of course this is painfully tedious, and this is the kind of thing that high end mounts get that you won't get from mass market mounts.

The lapping is necessary to ensure that you can get the most precise worm gear mesh to the worm wheel. The lash between these gears is a crucial issue for real high accuracy pointing and you do get some pointing inaccuracy, especially if you have light and heavy eyepeices.

Pre-load. Do not perfectly balance the mount. You want enough weight on the gear faces so that they always settle with the same faces in firm contact.

Use a stiffer dovetail setup. If you are using a light aluminum dovetail, try going to a heavy or solid one.

I also eliminate cone error. It is not supposed to matter because the calibration routines are supposed to correct for this, but I find it helpful.

Do not use vibration suppression pads. Asymetric loading can cause very slight deflections when the scope is in different orientations.

I mean you requirement is for arc-second accuracy, and to get it will be very painful.

Or very expensive. A paramount on a concrete pier would be easier because you are going to do all of these things above and still not get 5 arc second pointing accuracy.

Sorry Charlie.


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: inZet]
      #6062505 - 09/04/13 11:37 AM

Quote:

How do you achieve max pointing precision using a GOTO telescope? Intended as a star in the dead center of the eyepiece, to avoid confusion.
I may be wrong, I'm not so convinced a good polar alignment will suffice.
Having swapped out the old Sphinx StarBook board with a NexSXD my pointing precision has improved a lot, but still within 30 arcsecs or so. If I set the camera to 640x480, I could miss the double. Visually, I can zoom out and in, swap the eyepieces and so on, no problem other than the doubt I observed the right double...




inZet,

Basically Eddgie is spot on. However I would like to add the LX850 to the list. My goto's are spot on. Per the spec it is +/- 1 arcminute for gotos, but all of mine have been dead center. When I get back home I will post a video on this (I will use the MallinCam software with the target window to show this).

Of course this is not a cheap option either.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
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Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6062511 - 09/04/13 11:41 AM

http://sourceforge.net/p/astrotortilla/home/Home/

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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: inZet]
      #6062557 - 09/04/13 12:20 PM

Quote:

How do you achieve max pointing precision using a GOTO telescope? Intended as a star in the dead center of the eyepiece, to avoid confusion.
I may be wrong, I'm not so convinced a good polar alignment will suffice.
Having swapped out the old Sphinx StarBook board with a NexSXD my pointing precision has improved a lot, but still within 30 arcsecs or so. If I set the camera to 640x480, I could miss the double. Visually, I can zoom out and in, swap the eyepieces and so on, no problem other than the doubt I observed the right double...




The long and the short of it is it depends on which scope/mount you are talking about. Some go-to GEMs require a good polar alignment for good go-tos, and some don't, for example.

I would guess you mean 30 arc-minutes. 30 arc seconds would be pretty dadgum good.

The main secret with the Celestron system? Do all four cal stars and always finish centering with the up and right keys only.


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orlyandico
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: rmollise]
      #6062577 - 09/04/13 12:31 PM

well as pointed out by others, backlash in the worm engagement, flexure of the tripod and optical tube, mirror flop if it's an SCT, will all contribute to inaccurate pointing.

the "best" way is to GoTo the desired star, plate-solve, calculate the error, than RCAL the mount. then do another GoTo. even Paramounts are required to do this in my experience (with GRAS/iTelescope) in order to obtain best pointing accuracy. Out of the gate, the Paramount ME "only" gets about 1' to 2' pointing accuracy, and that's with a very, very good polar alignment.


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Phil Sherman
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/07/10

Loc: Cleveland, Ohio
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6062622 - 09/04/13 12:56 PM

If you need to get absolute pointing accuracy, then you have at least three solutions.

1. Buy an AP or Paramount mount - lots of $$$.
2. Buy an Atlas or EQ6 mount and use EQMOD to point it.
3. Download, install and learn how to use AstroTortilla (a plate solving software suite) to tell you exactly where the scope is pointed. You'll need to take a short test exposure to pass to AT for analysis but it'll tell you exactly where you're pointed. If your scope is being run using the ASCOM platform, AT can move your scope to your intended target.

Phil


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WillCarney
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Reged: 10/08/09

Loc: Bloomington, ILL
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Phil Sherman]
      #6062748 - 09/04/13 01:58 PM

I recently found that once I balance the scope I never seem to set the scope in the exact park location. So on my Atlas I will do a one star alignment first then park and turn off. Then do a three star. This is much more accurate since the mount is parking in it's correct position. Of course proper polar alignment is important. Which I have struggled with.

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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6062751 - 09/04/13 02:01 PM

Quote:

well as pointed out by others, backlash in the worm engagement, flexure of the tripod and optical tube, mirror flop if it's an SCT, will all contribute to inaccurate pointing.

the "best" way is to GoTo the desired star, plate-solve, calculate the error, than RCAL the mount. then do another GoTo. even Paramounts are required to do this in my experience (with GRAS/iTelescope) in order to obtain best pointing accuracy. Out of the gate, the Paramount ME "only" gets about 1' to 2' pointing accuracy, and that's with a very, very good polar alignment.




That may help if very tight pointing accuracy is required. A normal a normal 2+4 alignment will put anything from one horizon to the other in the field of a medium power eyepiece or on the chip of my Mallincam Xtreme. "Up and right," BTW, is how Celestron takes backlash into account; fooling with gears is not required.

The ME doesn't have the calibration/cone stars that the Celestron and some other mounts implement. That why the Bisque mounts require a tight polar alignment and other measures if they are to have good go-to performance.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: WillCarney]
      #6062759 - 09/04/13 02:04 PM

Quote:

I recently found that once I balance the scope I never seem to set the scope in the exact park location. So on my Atlas I will do a one star alignment first then park and turn off. Then do a three star. This is much more accurate since the mount is parking in it's correct position. Of course proper polar alignment is important. Which I have struggled with.




Parking/home position will affect how close the mount comes to its initial alignment stars, but will not affect final go-to accuracy.


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Phil Sherman]
      #6062765 - 09/04/13 02:06 PM

Quote:

If you need to get absolute pointing accuracy, then you have at least three solutions.

1. Buy an AP or Paramount mount - lots of $$$.
2. Buy an Atlas or EQ6 mount and use EQMOD to point it.
3. Download, install and learn how to use AstroTortilla (a plate solving software suite) to tell you exactly where the scope is pointed. You'll need to take a short test exposure to pass to AT for analysis but it'll tell you exactly where you're pointed. If your scope is being run using the ASCOM platform, AT can move your scope to your intended target.

Phil




1. Those are great mounts mechanically, but Celestron's go-to system is considerably more sophisticated.

2. EQMOD works very well, but so does Celestron's NexStar system.

3. For some applications that is the answer, but for me, the standard Celestron alignment is good enough in that it puts objects on my small chip cameras reliably.



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Moromete
professor emeritus


Reged: 02/15/12

Loc: Romania
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: rmollise]
      #6062783 - 09/04/13 02:14 PM

Rod is right. Unfortunately Celestron still has no competition when it comes to go-to pointing accuracy. Celestron software is still the most complex when using HC only. Skywatcher/Orion are still lagging behind in software go-to precision.

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Footbag
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Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Moromete]
      #6062795 - 09/04/13 02:21 PM

My CPC's pointing was considerably better then my AP Mach 1. The Celestron mounts have pointing models built into the firmware. To get that pointing accuracy out of a AP mount, you will need additional pointing software.

I never had any issue getting perfectly centered targets on my CPC. With my Mach 1, I use additional software to help me point at targets. The targets are close, just not smack in the center.

I do have a non-orthogonal system which impacts pointing with a system without a pointing model.


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Moromete]
      #6062802 - 09/04/13 02:25 PM

Quote:

Rod is right. Unfortunately Celestron still has no competition when it comes to go-to pointing accuracy. Celestron software is still the most complex when using HC only. Skywatcher/Orion are still lagging behind in software go-to precision.




Um, I have to dispute this claim "Celestron still has no competition...".

My LX850 provides excellent gotos (i.e. spot on), and I am pretty certain the same is true for the LX600. Like I said, once I am back home in New Mexico I will use my MallinCam to show how good the Meade setup is.

I cannot speak for all the other Meade units, but I simply have wonderful gotos on my LX200 and LXD75, though qualitatively speaking the LX850/LX600 are better. This is also one of many reasons I chose Celestron over Meade.

Anyways, stay tuned for the video later this month or October (the monsoons have been massive) - you will see what I mean.


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Spacetravelerx
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6062805 - 09/04/13 02:28 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Rod is right. Unfortunately Celestron still has no competition when it comes to go-to pointing accuracy. Celestron software is still the most complex when using HC only. Skywatcher/Orion are still lagging behind in software go-to precision.




Um, I have to dispute this claim "Celestron still has no competition...".

My LX850 provides excellent gotos (i.e. spot on), and I am pretty certain the same is true for the LX600. Like I said, once I am back home in New Mexico I will use my MallinCam to show how good the Meade setup is.

I cannot speak for all the other Meade units, but I simply have wonderful gotos on my LX200 and LXD75, though qualitatively speaking the LX850/LX600 are better. This is also one of many reasons I chose Celestron over Meade.

Anyways, stay tuned for the video later this month or October (the monsoons have been massive) - you will see what I mean.





Oh and I forgot to add - the accurate gotos (spec is +/- 1 arcminute) are with the stock LX850/LX600. No need for a separate computer or software. "It just works"...


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jrcrillyAdministrator
Refractor wienie no more
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Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6062817 - 09/04/13 02:38 PM

Quote:

Oh and I forgot to add - the accurate gotos (spec is +/- 1 arcminute) are with the stock LX850/LX600. No need for a separate computer or software. "It just works"...




It does work well, and it's so convenient. I'm sure that C will add this capability to their very affordable Starsense system soon - and I've been saying for a while that such capability will become an expected feature in midrange gear in the near future.


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Whichwayisnorth
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Reged: 07/04/11

Loc: Southern California
Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #6062842 - 09/04/13 02:53 PM

I concur that the Starlock system puts objects dead center (or close enough). I think the theme of this thread is how can you take an existing mount that doesn't have Starlock and get accurate pointing. The answer has already been given. Make sure your hardware is tight, eliminate flexure, make sure your Cogswell Cogs and Spacely Space Sprockets are working the best they can and if all else fails get Astro Tortola. One more thing that was already mentioned and is very important. Something center at a short focal length will not necessarily be centered at a long one. For instance, my little 80mm refractor F/4.8 typically has targets in the center(or close enough) but when I use my F/10 SCT they not.

Edited by Whichwayisnorth (09/04/13 02:54 PM)


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6062885 - 09/04/13 03:22 PM

Quote:



Um, I have to dispute this claim "Celestron still has no competition...".

My LX850 provides excellent gotos




He means "by telescope companies who are still in business."

JUST KIDDING. Maybe.


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Eddgie
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Reged: 02/01/06

Re: Pointing accuracy new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6062941 - 09/04/13 03:59 PM

The OP said he is getting 30 arc seconds now, but does not satisfy him. I would be thrilled with 30 arc second pointing, but apparently he is not.

I think he is aiming at "dead center" meaning maybe +/- 5 arc seconds or so?

I don't know. 30 arc seconds is pretty good to me though.

I am lucky to get 10 arc minutes out of the CGE.


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