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It is not easy being the noobie

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#1 Cav10x

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:08 PM

I was very excited yesterday to receive my new gear after a what felt like an eternity from the time I clicked to order. That excitement was quickly squashed as nothing that I purchased came with any useful information on how to assemble and set it up. An EQ mount is light years away from the Dob that I am used to. I reached out to Explore Scientific for a manual and they emailed me a PDF that was either purposely written to be stroke inducing or was written by a time traveler from the early 1970's whose last job was writing stereo instructions for marantz. I will have to wait another week at least before I can try and setup the scope as life is busy. I spent some time fumbling around and have some questions.

 

1. Balance: I put one counter weight on the very end of the counterweight shaft and this seems to balance the ED127 just fine. My question is do most people leave the counterweight on the shaft when storing their equipment or do most reassemble and find the right spacing for counterweights each time they use their equipment?

 

2. Balance: Balancing the scope on the other axis was just plain difficult. Swapping eye pieces or adjusting the focus seems to be enough to throw off the balance of the very front heavy ED 127mm APO 

 

I ran out of time to try and tackle the polar alignment or anything else last night.

 

On the plus side, I was able to manually maneuver the scope to look at Jupiter at dusk and the optics and contrast were exactly what my blind eyes were hoping for.

 

Over the next few weeks I hope to get the full PMC-8 controls set up and working. I don't know if I will ever be able to wrap my head around the fact the mount does not spin along its azimuth.

 

Have a great day all.

 

 



#2 DLuders

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:17 PM

1.  Leave the counterweight on the shaft; otherwise you may have the mount flip over if you happen to place the Optical Tube Assembly on FIRST.

2.  If your tube is magnetic, you could have a magnetic counterweight that you could easily adjust up-and-down the tube.  If not, perhaps place a strip of Velcro along the axis of your telescope tube, and attach your counterweight that way.

 

What do you want to see with your Explore Scientific ED127 specifically?  Will you be doing Visual Astronomy, or also astrophotography?



#3 Jarno

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:43 PM

I have to disassemble the mount for storage anyway but I wouldn't leave the counterweight on. I don't like the thought of that unbalanced weight pushing on the bearings for a long time. I put a piece of tape on the shaft so I know exactly where to place the weight.

As for balancing the OTA, one of those fitness wrist- or ankle weights will work great even if the tube isn't magnetic. Wrap it around the tube and adjust as needed.

Jarno

Edited by Jarno, 13 June 2018 - 02:45 PM.


#4 xiando

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 02:50 PM

I marked my shaft for CW placement and no I don't keep them on. I remove them and the OTA (OTA first!!!)  when bringing everything inside.

 

Since I use two counterweights, a friend made me a stop that I just slide the first weight up to meet. The second one gets slid up to its marked position, which I re-mark every 6 months or so, since even indelible marker wears off.

 

There are a few good balancing You Tube videos. Personally, I love Astronomy Sheds' take on the subject.

https://www.youtube....h?v=4fO6hyYtPwM


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#5 Cav10x

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 03:37 PM

Hi I am interested in visual astronomy. I am horrible at taking pictures with a camera so I don't think I would be any better with a scope.

So then do most people leave the shaft on the mount and remove the weights? Last night when I broke everything down I removed the shaft from the mount. 


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#6 HillTop

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 03:53 PM

No need to get too stressed over balancing for visual use.  With a camera on it's potentially more important, but also less variable (focus doesn't change much, no swapping EPs.)   I personally never saw much advantage to removing the cw shaft, just the weights.  Never needed to really compact things down myself though.  I usually leave the mount on the tripod unless it's going in the car anyhow.



#7 aeajr

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 04:14 PM

Do you have someplace you can leave the mount assembled?   I keep my astronomy stuff in the garage, assembled and ready to go on a moment's notice.

 

 

How to align an Equatorial (EQ) mount
https://www.youtube....h?v=plx6XXDgf2E

 

How to use an Equatorial (EQ) mount
https://www.youtube....h?v=F7HVDKAZ6eM

 

Practical demonstration of using charts to read RA/DEC for
Setting circles on your EQ mount
https://www.youtube....h?v=geQszAVWMok

 

Using EQ mount in AltAz mode
https://www.youtube....h?v=qte50646544

 

Tips on using an EQ mount
watch-v=_TNrPLHB21k
http://wn.com/how_to...uatorial_mounts
http://www.bing.com/...61FFA7D6E30A912


Edited by aeajr, 13 June 2018 - 04:16 PM.

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#8 macdonjh

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 04:58 PM

I was very excited yesterday to receive my new gear after a what felt like an eternity from the time I clicked to order. That excitement was quickly squashed as nothing that I purchased came with any useful information on how to assemble and set it up. An EQ mount is light years away from the Dob that I am used to. I reached out to Explore Scientific for a manual and they emailed me a PDF that was either purposely written to be stroke inducing or was written by a time traveler from the early 1970's whose last job was writing stereo instructions for marantz. I will have to wait another week at least before I can try and setup the scope as life is busy. I spent some time fumbling around and have some questions.

 

1. Balance: I put one counter weight on the very end of the counterweight shaft and this seems to balance the ED127 just fine. My question is do most people leave the counterweight on the shaft when storing their equipment or do most reassemble and find the right spacing for counterweights each time they use their equipment?

I leave the weights on my mounts.  I don't worry about the bearings at all.  The radial loads imposed on the bearings by telescope loads are trivial compared to what they can carry.  I do; however, keep my mount's clutches loose so I don't put any force on the worms when I carry my mount into the driveway for observing.  If you decide it's better to remove your counter weights for mount storage, a couple members suggested marking your counter weight shaft with tape or paint to make it easy to put the weights back.  A good idea.

 

2. Balance: Balancing the scope on the other axis was just plain difficult. Swapping eye pieces or adjusting the focus seems to be enough to throw off the balance of the very front heavy ED 127mm APO.

I wouldn't worry about balance when changing eye pieces.  Your mount won't care, even with your refractor.  If you are concerned, try setting up and balancing with your middle-weight eye piece in your diagonal.  That way when you change to your light or heavy-weight eye pieces you won't be changing balance that much.

 

I ran out of time to try and tackle the polar alignment or anything else last night.

Polar alignment for visual observing is pretty simple: use a compass to find magnetic north and the sight along the compass' north arrow and your mount's polar/ RA axis and move your tripod until your mount is pointing north.  That is certainly accurate enough for visual.  If you bought a polar alignment scope with your mount, use it for aligning.

 

On the plus side, I was able to manually maneuver the scope to look at Jupiter at dusk and the optics and contrast were exactly what my blind eyes were hoping for.

If you were able to move your new EQ mount manually and get it pointed at Jupiter, you're only about ten minutes from being an equatorial expert.  Sure, it's different from an alt-az mount, but it's really not hard.

 

Over the next few weeks I hope to get the full PMC-8 controls set up and working. I don't know if I will ever be able to wrap my head around the fact the mount does not spin along its azimuth.

You will get used to it.  In about fifteen minutes of using your new mount.  Have faith...

 

Have a great day all.


Edited by macdonjh, 13 June 2018 - 04:59 PM.


#9 sg6

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 05:34 PM

I don't know if I will ever be able to wrap my head around the fact the mount does not spin along its azimuth.

Got 2 of them and have to agree they just do not move right.

 

Worst question I faced was looking after a big scope with an RA readout and a Dec setting. I was asked How can it point/see something over there?

 

"Over there" being sort of due East and low, while the scope as set up looking South and highish.

 

So trusting to luck I help up a tablet, found a star in the East and took its RA+Dec and started to move first the RA to the valued given, then the Dec and sure enough the scope pointed exactly to where it was expected - East and low. Being honest I half expected it to all fail, adn was a bit surprised when it all worked fine.

 

On an Equitorial I suspect that goto is likely essential, that way you don't have to think too much. Decide on a target, mutter an incantation and press go.


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#10 xiando

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Posted 13 June 2018 - 05:58 PM

Hi I am interested in visual astronomy. I am horrible at taking pictures with a camera so I don't think I would be any better with a scope.

So then do most people leave the shaft on the mount and remove the weights? Last night when I broke everything down I removed the shaft from the mount. 

I leave the shaft attached. If I had a hard case and was more apt to a traveling kit, I'd remove it, but I don't, so...I don't. I play from home, so there's little reason to go that extra step.

 

to be clear when I break down I have the following items (ignoring my imaging gear since you said you're visual only) in the following order:

 

  1. OTA (telescope)
  2. Counterweights
  3. Mount (with shaft attached)
  4. Tripod spreader
  5. Tripod

Never ever remove the counterweights before the OTA. There's nothing worse than watching your OTA swing down to crash against the tripod due to the system becoming top heavy and whatever "stop" not doing its job or because you forgot to lock down the RA


Edited by xiando, 14 June 2018 - 09:38 AM.

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#11 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 08:26 AM

A few years ago when I was getting into astronomy with my first scope (a 3" alt az reflector), I bought a used 60mm Tasco on an EQ1 mount for $20 to see if I liked using an EQ mount or not in order to better inform my next telescope upgrade. It turns out I liked it so much that I (unsuccessfully) attempted to convert my reflector to be used on an EQ mount and now have little interest in buying a Dob because I don't want to go back to Alt Az mode. I'm content with a fork mount Cat on a wedge, but Dobs on wedges look... uncomfortable.

 

1) Balance: I do both. I leave my scopes assembled most of the time but it's not an issue to take them apart for transport. After a while you get used to approximately where the counterweight needs to be. I also don't torque down on the clamp bolts / set screws for them too much so I can slide them up and down slightly (when twisting them) to make small adjustments as needed.

 

2) Balance: Since my most used equatorial scope is a reflector, I keep the tube rings fairly loose, too, so I can easily rotate the tube to keep the eyepiece and finder in convenient positions. I end up sliding the tube back and forth a good bit through the night as it slips one way or the other or as eyepiece + Barlow combinations shift the balance.

 

Polar alignment for visual is a non-issue, provided you know your latitude and more or less which direction north is. Set the mount for your latitude, point it vaguely north, and you're done. The worst thing that can happen is you have to make more frequent minor adjustment in Dec as you follow an object. For photography you need a better alignment, but you can worry about that later. For visual I almost never bother with too precise an alignment unless it's a motorized mount and want it to follow an object for a long time so several people can take a look at it.

 

The general problem area for EQ mounts is looking at objects to the north (for those of us in the northern hemisphere at least). The mount motion gets a bit awkward since it's not always intuitive how to get it to point where you want. My solution is to pick up the tripod and spin it around to point south instead, then it's must easier to maneuver. You lose the ability to track in RA only, but objects to the north don't move across the field of view as rapidly as those to the south so it's not a huge inconvenience. Worst case scenario you can just set the latitude to 90 on the mount and use the scope like an Alt Az scope.

 

You'll get used to it. Once you wrap your head around the fact that the scope now moves North-South-East-West instead of Up-Down-Left-Right the advantages become more apparent.


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#12 dhawn

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Posted 14 June 2018 - 01:19 PM

Getting the hang of an EQ does take time. There will continue to be some areas of the sky that are troublesome to figure out how to get to, but everything will start to come naturally with practice. 

 

Remember the first time you rode a bike or drove a car? Everything seemed complicated. Using an EQ mount is nowhere near as complicated as either of those activities which we can now do without thinking.



#13 gnowellsct

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Posted 18 June 2018 - 01:48 PM

Hard for me to do it any other way but equatorial.  The answers to your questions are "it depends."  I fully remove counterweight shaft and counterweights because I do 98% of my observing at a remote site.  Keeping everything assembled is very difficult and makes for an awkward mass.  Not mess, I mean MASS.  Counterweights and a mount and all that can be a bit much to handle and they move in unpredictable ways.  Plus it's all heavy!  Break it down and it's easier to handle.

 

If you have it assembled such that you can just lift the whole thing and take it out the door, then you would leave it all assembled.   This would be extremely awkward to do with a 10 kilo OTA which I think is what you have, in such a way that you don't bang stuff up.  The most I would want to move is tripod + GEM head with the counterweights off and the scope off.  The counterweight shaft is a definite "maybe" in such short distance transport, maybe on, maybe off.  

 

Weight position:  I have so many different rigs that usually I just test the balance.  If you have one rig you can mark, or get to know by sight and habit, the correct placement of the counterweights.  In DEC on the other hand you've got two things going on.  1.  You can move the telescope on its dovetail within the saddle for balance.  2.  You can move the tube *within the rings* for balance.  Make sure you know EXACTLY what you are doing in both cases, if you loosen the rings to move the refractor then tighten them up again, and if you loosen the saddle make sure you tighten that up again.  The Dec balance has to be done with the scope as you would use it:  Diagonal in, finder on, dust cover off, and one of your larger eyepieces.  Now when you've got it all balanced it is convenient to have a mark to find that spot again.  I put a scratch on my dovetail because I'm uninhibited about that sort of thing and as I say, some of this stuff I'll be dead before I sell it.

 

If you get the thing reasonably lined up on true N, you will have an immense advantage in looking for stuff: the directions in which your telescope moves are EXACTLY the same as the lines you see on star charts.  You're not as reliant on pattern hopping as in alt-az.    If it's a *good* German equatorial it will be very solid in the wind and allow for very precise control of the telescope for purposes of centering and looking around, assuming you have tracking.  

 

I keep my tripods wrapped in moving blankets for cosmetic protection and over twenty years I've grown less concerned about the G11.  It can take care of itself.  I don't mean less concerned in the sense that I want it to stop working.  I mean I have a high degree of confidence in its ability to handle being casually handled.  I'm probably going to have it until I'm dead but even if I don't it's one of the least expensive things I've owned, figure it out, $2,000 to purchase works out to $100 a year.  

 

Other kinds of mounts are more vulnerable such as AVX the outer casing is not as tough as a G11.  Kinda egg-shell-y by comparison. 

 

HINT: On polar alignment, leveling the mount will make it easier the NEXT time you set up.  That is, with a new mount you have to get the altitude correct for your latitude.  Once you find that spot, it's good for as long as you live at that latitude.  By leveling, you go back to the correct declination automatically after that.  Which means that the main "centering" task will be the left-right (azimuth) adjustment to get the scope pointed due north.  If you're interested in precise alignment you'll have to fine tune, typically with a polar scope (or computerized suggestions).

 

But you don't need to level, it's just convenient for the next time you set up.

 

If you're using a go-to system try to nail a star on the east side of the mount first.  Most systems seem happiest with that.

 

This is a ten kilo tube.  I hope you have a good mount.  If you find you got the shakes "consider the G11."

 

Greg N



#14 Cav10x

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Posted Today, 12:28 PM

Thanks everyone for the links and info. I still seem to be struggling with balancing the scope on the mount. I understand the importance of a mount but my funds pretty much restricted my purchase ability. Many vendors have package deals on the ED127 with an EXOS 2GT mount for sale so dumb me assumed this setup would work. I ended up spending more to get the pmc8 version. After I ordered this I was looking at the ES website and found a brochure that stated that the mount did not support the scope but I reached out to customer support and they told me it should work fine. I really don't plan on picture taking.

The mount shipped with 2 counterweights but With one mounted close to the end of the shaft the balance in the RA axis is great. There are no problems there. The Dec axis has been very difficult to work out.

Last night I failed at get the PMCEight to work but spent the night using the scope manually and found that the EQ mount is now much more comfortable to me than the Dobsonion mount. Locking the Dec axis and then just gently guiding the RA to look at Venus Jupiter Saturn and Mars one after another was pretty cool even though the atmosphere is horrible right now.
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#15 Stacyjo1962

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Posted Today, 12:41 PM

Cav,

 

You're doing great!  You'll have this nailed in no time...and with this, the most incredible community of people sharing their wonderful knowledge, I don't doubt that in the near future you'll be helping another newbie with what you learned.



#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted Today, 01:06 PM

I leave the shaft attached. If I had a hard case and was more apt to a traveling kit, I'd remove it, but I don't, so...I don't. I play from home, so there's little reason to go that extra step.

 

to be clear when I break down I have the following items (ignoring my imaging gear since you said you're visual only) in the following order:

 

  1. OTA (telescope)
  2. Counterweights
  3. Mount (with shaft attached)
  4. Tripod spreader
  5. Tripod

Never ever remove the counterweights before the OTA. There's nothing worse than watching your OTA swing down to crash against the tripod due to the system becoming top heavy and whatever "stop" not doing its job or because you forgot to lock down the RA

:waytogo:

 

And also , never ever attach the scope before the counterweight has been put in place.. 

 

Whether i remove the counterweights depends on the weight of rig .

 

Jon


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#17 xiando

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Posted Today, 03:31 PM

waytogo.gif

 

And also , never ever attach the scope before the counterweight has been put in place... 

 

Whether i remove the counterweights depends on the weight of rig .

 

Jon

Yeah, I've made that mistake too. Live and learn.




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