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Meade LX90 DEC Issues?

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#1 Blackbelt76

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 10:26 AM

I believe I may have discovered a problem with my ongoing alignment issue which I have discussed in another thread.

 

Today, I set the telescope to "Terrestrial" mode and conducted a slew test to see if
the hand box coordinates remained the same.

 

I trained the telescope on a distant object, locked the RA and DEC knobs.

I then slewed the scope 90 degrees in AZ only, making note of my coordinate starting position; then returning back to the target object, the hand box readout was very close.

***I understand the RA clock is running so my readout won't be exact due to the time it takes to slew 180 degrees and back again***

 

Declination slew test was way off!

 

Same slew test, slewed the scope 90 degrees up (alt), returned to the target object.
The readout was at least 5 degrees off; sometimes as much as 10 degrees when I repeated this test.

Am I doing this test incorrectly or is there a problem with the motor, clutch system or shaft encoders?

 

(IF) I am interpreting this test properly; this would completely explain why my 2 guide stars when setting up are way off and why I am unable to

achieve accurate GoTo's.

 

Also; when aligning on the guide stars, be it one or 2 star alignment; it misses in ALT, not AZ.


Edited by Blackbelt76, 24 November 2019 - 11:09 AM.


#2 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 12:00 PM

The best way to test your drive accuracy is to do a spin test. For the Alt drive(you are in Az/Alt) so its not Ra/Dec) remove your spotting scope and attachments  so that the the OTA can spin freely 360 degrees. Set the OTA level(I have a small spirit level mounted on my OTA) Switch the scope on and keep pressing "MODE" till it displays "select item: Object" then press and hold "MODE" for more than 3 seconds, it will now display your RA and Dec values, press the down scroll arrow and it will display your Az/Alt values and they will all be zero. Now press the slew up or down button until it complete one 360 degree revolution. You can start with max speed and just before its level let go and select a slow slew speed and stop on the level position. You must do this in only one direction : you cannot change direction during the test. Then you read your Alt value and the difference between that and 360/0 degrees is your error over 360 degrees. The result will be a good indication of your problem.  



#3 Blackbelt76

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 03:16 PM

The best way to test your drive accuracy is to do a spin test. For the Alt drive(you are in Az/Alt) so its not Ra/Dec) remove your spotting scope and attachments  so that the the OTA can spin freely 360 degrees. Set the OTA level(I have a small spirit level mounted on my OTA) Switch the scope on and keep pressing "MODE" till it displays "select item: Object" then press and hold "MODE" for more than 3 seconds, it will now display your RA and Dec values, press the down scroll arrow and it will display your Az/Alt values and they will all be zero. Now press the slew up or down button until it complete one 360 degree revolution. You can start with max speed and just before its level let go and select a slow slew speed and stop on the level position. You must do this in only one direction : you cannot change direction during the test. Then you read your Alt value and the difference between that and 360/0 degrees is your error over 360 degrees. The result will be a good indication of your problem.  

I will give that at try.

I'm not understanding however what I did is not conclusive evidence?

 

1) Center terrestrial target

2) Read DEC value (lets say 14 degrees)

3) Slew scope UP 40 or 50 degrees.

4) Slew back down until I see the target again in the EP.

 

DEC now reads maybe 10 or 12 or 8 etc...Never even close to 14 where it initially started from.

 

I can understand "some" gear slop..but 10 degrees worth?

Is what I'm doing not conclusive that there is a issue in the DEC motor, clutch or encoder?

 

I'm also assuming the test you recommend does not require a super level tripod base since we are not trying to align?


Edited by Blackbelt76, 24 November 2019 - 03:18 PM.


#4 Blackbelt76

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 04:57 PM

Truly appreciate your input and help:

 

I made a short YouTube Video.

In the first one below, I only allowed the scope to rotate once thru 360 degrees.

The readout as you will see is not close to being back to zero.

 

1ST Video

 

The 2nd video below, I rotated thru 360 and then back 360 to zero on the bubble level.

Showing off by 6 degrees.I did accidently hit the wrong key for a moment when I approached bubble level zero.

 

2nd Video


Edited by Blackbelt76, 24 November 2019 - 05:00 PM.


#5 Peterson Engineering

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 06:01 PM

Has your DEC clutch plate come loose?



#6 Blackbelt76

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 07:15 PM

Has your DEC clutch plate come loose?

How would I know?

Seems locked up pretty tight.



#7 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 11:34 PM

I will give that at try.

I'm not understanding however what I did is not conclusive evidence?

 

1) Center terrestrial target

2) Read DEC value (lets say 14 degrees)

3) Slew scope UP 40 or 50 degrees.

4) Slew back down until I see the target again in the EP.

 

DEC now reads maybe 10 or 12 or 8 etc...Never even close to 14 where it initially started from.

 

I can understand "some" gear slop..but 10 degrees worth?

Is what I'm doing not conclusive that there is a issue in the DEC motor, clutch or encoder?

 

I'm also assuming the test you recommend does not require a super level tripod base since we are not trying to align?

With this test gear slop has very little effect : you want to see if the encoders working and the % of error will show how many veins its not reading, by repeating the test you can see if it is a consistent error. I suggest that you do a " calibrate motor" before the test because this calibrates the encoder levels to get a better mark-space reading.    



#8 Blackbelt76

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 06:02 AM

With this test gear slop has very little effect : you want to see if the encoders working and the % of error will show how many veins its not reading, by repeating the test you can see if it is a consistent error. I suggest that you do a " calibrate motor" before the test because this calibrates the encoder levels to get a better mark-space reading.    

Did you watch the video I did?

 

I will be calling Meade later today as this the 2nd scope after returning the first one.

This one is not yet 30 days old.

 

Would love to know if perhaps a batch of bad encoders slipped thru QC; though I know Meade would never admit this to me if I asked.


Edited by Blackbelt76, 25 November 2019 - 06:07 AM.


#9 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 06:21 AM

I have watched the video and clearly there is a big problem but you were using the scope before and at times it was just a bit off? So this big error is a new problem? I wonder if your Ra and Dec ratio did not change by accident? maybe you should do a reset and then in setup select your model (8" LX90) again. the ratio should be -2.750745 and +2.750745

 

The two tests indicates to me that the scope is measuring "degrees" wrong, so  when it travelled 360 it did not indicate 0/360 like it should but when you reversed the same distance it were nearly at 0/360 again. So the ratio could be out.    


Edited by Piet Le Roux, 25 November 2019 - 09:27 AM.


#10 Blackbelt76

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Posted 25 November 2019 - 10:10 AM

"but when you reversed the same distance it were nearly at 0/360 again"

 

 

Not true. It was off by 6 degrees. Unacceptable IMO.

 

Yes, I have had better pointing accuracy at times, but that was when I was using HP pointing.
Prior to going to the intended target, HP chose a star within a few degrees of the final target. (i.e)
The DEC motor was not having to move very far.

 

So this big error is a new problem?

 

Not new but is progressively getting worse which I believe points to a clutch problem or Encoder slipping on the shaft.

I did check the ratios several days ago..they are as you indicated. No issue there.

I've done resets and verified all info is correct, site coordinates, type of scope & mount etc..all is as it should be.

 

The most telling evidence is how when it is aligning on the first and second star, that it misses in ALT only, and by a wide margin, 10-20 degrees too high.

 

AZ is right on. (Interesting to note, DST on or off seems to have no effect?)

This is the second LX 90 for me in 60 days. The first one Meade exchanged.

I've read many alignment complaints on the internet concerning the LX 90.
I'm sure a great number are user setup  errors, but I don't believe that is my situation after this much exhaustive testing.

 

The GoTo technology is what brought me back into this hobby, so I'm not overly interested in using setting circles again.

 

Mr Peterson suggested a slipping DEC clutch. This is a good possibility.

I could open the fork and visually watch the DEC plate move after placing a mark on it; but at less that 30 days ownership,

doing so would probably void any warranty.

 

I will be calling Meade today and hopefully talk to a tech and reference the video to them.

 

I will be giving this some more time to resolve this issue, but if I lose confidence in Meade's drive system, I will

probably start looking at other alternatives; no doubt at greater cost.

IMO, selling such a scope at this price should not have such issues.

Even if I can solve this, I am wondering how the mechanical performance will be 2 or 3 years hence?


Edited by Blackbelt76, 25 November 2019 - 10:11 AM.


#11 Blackbelt76

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Posted 26 November 2019 - 06:24 AM

Went out last night to test some theories.

 

Sure enough; after aligning on two stars, trying the"ping pong" test as Meade suggested, once or twice the scope would point back at the original stars, sometimes it would miss by 15-25 degrees.

 

..and what I've read about Meade's CS dept is true; they leave much to be desired. :)



#12 Blackbelt76

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 06:54 AM

Update:

 

Meade engineers looked at the video of the spin test I did; they agree, something is very wrong.

Scope is going back to Meade for repair. Doubtful they will tell me what they find.

I'm beginning to suspect a bad batch of "something" got off the assembly line.


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#13 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 10:01 AM

Update:

 

Meade engineers looked at the video of the spin test I did; they agree, something is very wrong.

Scope is going back to Meade for repair. Doubtful they will tell me what they find.

I'm beginning to suspect a bad batch of "something" got off the assembly line.

I hope that they will sort out your scope and that you will be a happy customer in the end. I went thru something similar and it was frustrating but when I showed the proof to the right people it was just a week before my new scope was on my doorstep in South Africa!   


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#14 Blackbelt76

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 03:13 PM

I hope that they will sort out your scope and that you will be a happy customer in the end. I went thru something similar and it was frustrating but when I showed the proof to the right people it was just a week before my new scope was on my doorstep in South Africa!   

I see you are using the 2" EP holder with your Meade 8" sct.

Do you feel it makes a positive contribution?

I've read a few articles that seem to indicate a 8" really doesn't benefit much by going to 2 inches.

For 10" and larger; yes.


Edited by Blackbelt76, 27 November 2019 - 03:15 PM.


#15 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 27 November 2019 - 11:35 PM

Compared to the standard Meade 1.25" : It has less light  scattering and for photography with a SLR type camera it gives you the stability you need, With my Fujifilm X-T100 I can mount it on the diagonal and can go up to 90 degrees Alt or on its 2" adaptor. But if this justifies the price is debatable....

 

PS I also use a 2" 0.5 reducer that I mount on the 2" camera adaptor and with it on I can still reach 90 degrees with the diagonal.     


Edited by Piet Le Roux, 27 November 2019 - 11:58 PM.

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#16 M57Guy

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Posted 28 November 2019 - 03:17 PM

I see you are using the 2" EP holder with your Meade 8" sct.

Do you feel it makes a positive contribution?

I've read a few articles that seem to indicate a 8" really doesn't benefit much by going to 2 inches.

For 10" and larger; yes.

After many years I upgraded the stock 1.25" Meade diagonal on my 8" LX-90 for a 2" version (went with the Meade 5000 enhanced diagonal).

My only regret was that I didn't do that sooner.

I'm visual only (no AP) and beside liking 2" eyepieces, IMO - visual performance, function, stability, etc are all improved even with using 1.25" eyepieces and an adapter.

I prefer a 2" diagonal on any scope that will accept one, including my 80mm short tube refractor.

To me, 1.25" diagonals and focusers now just seem 'flimsy' by comparison.


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#17 MikeBY

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 02:01 AM

I certainly hope that Meade turns around your scope and resolves the issue. +1 your comment on their phone team. In terrestrial mode tracking should be off. You made mention of RA tracking running. Hard to understand why that would be.
Hope they are covering all your shipping costs as well.

Clear skies,
Michael

#18 MikeBY

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 02:47 AM

Second question that came to mind. The difference in testing is that if you reverse direction of the slew there is backlash in the gear train that comes into play. Do you notice any delay between button press and OTA movement when changing directions that might indicate an issue there? When training did you set any compensation for this?

#19 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 03:06 AM

Second question that came to mind. The difference in testing is that if you reverse direction of the slew there is backlash in the gear train that comes into play. Do you notice any delay between button press and OTA movement when changing directions that might indicate an issue there? When training did you set any compensation for this?

Using the "Spin test", that I have described earlier, tracking does not come into play because no object have been selected. Because you are only moving in one direction backlash also does not come into play, only the accuracy of the encoders. The Autostar/Audiostar drive training does compensate for backlash but it should never be as much as a few degrees. It does have a "AzRa Precent" and "Alt/Dec Precent" that you can set, that controls the amount of kick that the motor would start with to reduce hesitation. With the new A4S4 firmware it appears that this % has little or no effect even if you set it to 99%. 

 

PS talking about drive training : Did you ever do drive training on the Alt/Dec drive ? Because it should give a drive error if the amount is too big!  


Edited by Piet Le Roux, 29 November 2019 - 03:14 AM.


#20 MikeBY

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 03:50 AM

I agree Piet, it seems though that the OP might have not been careful about that. Certainly doing and "Up and Down" ALT test is invalid. I'm also a bit concerned how he relates his initial north alignment. He's aligning on Polaris, which is not true north. I'm not sure how much error that introduces at 41°N latitude. It might be enough that HP or syncs will compensate for one area of the sky but other areas will then be out. He also mentioned leveling after aligning Polaris, and it seemed to me he released the DEC clutch. Maybe I read it wrong or he related the sequence wrong, but after telling the mount you're pointing north, clutches must remain locked. I haven't had my lx200 out in a long while so it could be my confusion since I'm using a celestron GEM lately, but isolating the issue seems more confusing than it should be.
For example, the OP referenced that RA tracking is on when he selected terrestrial mode. All motors are off in that mode, and if he's in Alt-Az mode both motors are used for tracking. He reports that the drift he's seeing is purely up/down when tracking which immediately has me thinking he's put the scope HBX in polar RA/DEC mode while using it in ALT-AZ. That would basically turn off the DEC motor tracking unless he's programmed for cone error correction and cause the symptom he described.

Perhaps the OP can clarify how he has the scope mounted what he's got set, or if he's done a factory reset to have a known starting point. It might help.

Regards,
Clear skies,

M

#21 Blackbelt76

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 07:31 AM

I agree Piet, it seems though that the OP might have not been careful about that. Certainly doing and "Up and Down" ALT test is invalid. I'm also a bit concerned how he relates his initial north alignment. He's aligning on Polaris, which is not true north. I'm not sure how much error that introduces at 41°N latitude. It might be enough that HP or syncs will compensate for one area of the sky but other areas will then be out. He also mentioned leveling after aligning Polaris, and it seemed to me he released the DEC clutch. Maybe I read it wrong or he related the sequence wrong, but after telling the mount you're pointing north, clutches must remain locked. I haven't had my lx200 out in a long while so it could be my confusion since I'm using a celestron GEM lately, but isolating the issue seems more confusing than it should be.
For example, the OP referenced that RA tracking is on when he selected terrestrial mode. All motors are off in that mode, and if he's in Alt-Az mode both motors are used for tracking. He reports that the drift he's seeing is purely up/down when tracking which immediately has me thinking he's put the scope HBX in polar RA/DEC mode while using it in ALT-AZ. That would basically turn off the DEC motor tracking unless he's programmed for cone error correction and cause the symptom he described.

Perhaps the OP can clarify how he has the scope mounted what he's got set, or if he's done a factory reset to have a known starting point. It might help.

Regards,
Clear skies,

M

Hi Mike,

 

Pointing the scope at Polaris for North should make no difference for my location.. I have tried both selections when using Polaris, (TRUE & COMPASS)

The True North DEC error for me is -5 degrees; tried that too.

I've also used a compass to point north; still not good.

BTW:  Polaris is within 1 degree of True North when pointing at it.

 

Sorry about the confusion concerning how I set up.

 

Yes, I've done a reset several times. Verified all info is correct.

Scope type, alt/az mode, DST, time & date.

 

1) Level Tripod

2) Mount scope

3) Loosen RA & DEC.

3a) Use spirit level to insure OTA is level thru 360 degrees.

4) Point North at Polaris and center w/ 9mm ep.

5) Lock RA

6) Lower scope and use spirit level on OTA to level it.

7) Lock DEC.

8) Turn power on to initialize

 

That's about it before I select one or 2 star alignment.

 

..and yes; I've done scope training w/o problem on a object a mile distant.

 

Not sure why you believe the "spin test" is invalid?

The Meade engineers looked at the video I made and agreed there is a problem.

From everything I've read, the readout should return to 00.00.00 or extremely close to it after starting at

level, rotating thru 360 and then coming to rest at level.

 

For example, the OP referenced that RA tracking is on when he selected terrestrial mode.

 

No. The RA "clock" is running on the HBX,, (i.e) Counting (up)...60 arc secs per min. This makes perfect sense and as it should be.

The scope is NOT moving because I did not  go through the alignment procedure; I was only testing ALT/AZ motor accuracy on land objects.

 

He also mentioned leveling after aligning Polaris, and it seemed to me he released the DEC clutch.

 

Of course I released the DEC lock after pointing at Polaris.

Pointing at Polaris, in my case at 41 degrees, the OTA needs to be returned to level.

 

Believe me; I've tried everything, ALT/AZ and polar mode, thinking maybe the HBX was wrong.

GPS is working fine as it gets my location, time & date correct.

 

Also interesting to note, changing DST on or off had no effect.

One would expect to see a 15 degree difference in RA.

 

Also interesting, periodically (though rare), the scope would do a pretty good job pointing with precision; then on a subsequent slew, even if only

moving 20 degrees; it would miss the target by 10-15 degrees.

This ^^^ indicates to me a slipping clutch or optical shaft encoder slipping.


Edited by Blackbelt76, 29 November 2019 - 08:19 AM.


#22 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 09:11 AM

My previous question :  "have you done "drive Training" on the Alt/Dec drive?"

What was the results? did it give a error warning? 

Patched firmware would be helpful here because then you could read the the values and see how far are they from the "100" default value.


Edited by Piet Le Roux, 29 November 2019 - 09:14 AM.


#23 Blackbelt76

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 09:17 AM

My previous question :  "have you done "drive Training" on the Alt/Dec drive?"

What was the results? did it give a error warning? 

Patched firmware would be helpful here because then you could read the the values and see how far are they from the "100" default value.

Yes..I did drive training twice. No error messages.

It did exactly what the manual says it would do. (i.e) Center target, allow the scope to slew away and then re-center with HBX control.

I don't necessarily feel this is a valid test (IF) the clutch is slipping; the slip may not occur until

after a greater deflection in ALT or AZ.

The Drive Training test seems to only move the scope 10 degrees or so off the target before I move it back to center.

 

I would like to see a drive train test where the scope slews perhaps 50 degrees off target.

This ^^^ is what I thought the spin test was for?

 

Question?

 

If I level the scope, have the HBX read 00.00.00, then slew downward 90 degrees and back to level;

should not the readout be 00.00.00 again?


Edited by Blackbelt76, 29 November 2019 - 09:27 AM.


#24 Piet Le Roux

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 09:43 AM

Yes..I did drive training twice. No error messages.

It did exactly what the manual says it would do. (i.e) Center target, allow the scope to slew away and then re-center with HBX control.

I don't necessarily feel this is a valid test (IF) the clutch is slipping; the slip may not occur until

after a greater deflection in ALT or AZ.

The Drive Training test seems to only move the scope 10 degrees or so off the target before I move it back to center.

 

I would like to see a drive train test where the scope slews perhaps 50 degrees off target.

This ^^^ is what I thought the spin test was for?

 

Question?

 

If I level the scope, have the HBX read 00.00.00, then slew downward 90 degrees and back to level;

should not the readout be 00.00.00 again?

The drive training is not a test it measures the "slop" of the drive if it change direction and compensates for it. The "slop" of my Dec/Alt drive is less than that of my Az/Ra drive : I can see this when I change direction at a slow slew, the one has  more hesitation than the other. It also shows in the train values 

 

 

RA/Az = 180 and Alt/Dec =78 , the default value is 100 

 

If I level the scope, have the HBX read 00.00.00, then slew downward 90 degrees and back to level;

should not the readout be 00.00.00 again? 

 

Yes obviously it should ... 

 

PS something that's in the manual but not emphasized,  and is critical with unpatched firmware : after you have done drive training you must exit with "Mode" and not "Enter"


Edited by Piet Le Roux, 29 November 2019 - 10:08 AM.


#25 Blackbelt76

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Posted 29 November 2019 - 10:48 AM

The drive training is not a test it measures the "slop" of the drive if it change direction and compensates for it. The "slop" of my Dec/Alt drive is less than that of my Az/Ra drive : I can see this when I change direction at a slow slew, the one has  more hesitation than the other. It also shows in the train values 

 

 

RA/Az = 180 and Alt/Dec =78 , the default value is 100 

 

If I level the scope, have the HBX read 00.00.00, then slew downward 90 degrees and back to level;

should not the readout be 00.00.00 again? 

 

Yes obviously it should ... 

 

PS something that's in the manual but not emphasized,  and is critical with unpatched firmware : after you have done drive training you must exit with "Mode" and not "Enter"

 

after you have done drive training you must exit with "Mode" and not "Enter"

 

Now THAT ^^^ is interesting.

Howwould I know if mine is unpatched?

I believe (working from memory, my HBX shows vers. A4S2




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