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Tracking Woes - SW EQ6-R PRO

astrophotography beginner equipment
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#1 diferraro

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 04:56 PM

Hi All,

 

I have looked through a lot of forum posts, and internet searches, and I just can't figure out what I am doing wrong. I am hoping its not a mount issue, hopefully I can explain how I go about my setup and PA, and someone can point something out that I did not think of.

This is a newer mount, I am newer to astrophotography.

I have used the EQ6-R Pro probably 15 nights in the last 4 months (In NY, where the skies have not been so clear), with a few really great transparent and cloudless nights in the last week.

For the life of me, I have not been able to resolve tracking over my last 3 sessions or so, spending a couple of hours each time.

 

Here is my process:

 

Level my tripod with a bubble level, facing Polaris; Place mount on the tripod, secure down

Mount the telescope, guide scope, cameras, etc.

Install counterweight and balance.

Manually place the mount in home -position.

Power up (I use an inverter and extension cord to a DC outlet).

Use Synscan to set up and run PA with the HH:MM designation provided by Synscan.

Set the mount head back to home position.

Do a star alignment (1-star alignment worked fine in the past, but I have tried with 2 and 3 star, as well).

Focus with mask on bright star.

Slew to target VIA GoTo, startup PHD2, and start imaging.

 

Lately, as soon as I select a star (or auto-select with PHD2), and start tracking, the RA and Dec lines just start pushing away form each other, and then out of frame, and I see the stars moving in the PHD2 FOV.

I take a couple of 1 minute subs just to make sure its not an issue with PHD2, and stars are trailing.

 

Unfortunately I do not have any logs from PHD2, but its showing me that I am not tracking at all.

Power indicator is solid, I have tried both the DC outlet and my 17 mAh celestron power bank, and no progress.

The PolarFinder App and my Synscan controller are giving me differences of about 30 minutes in Polaris location, but trying to PA with both, multiple times, and neither are giving me good alignment.

 

Last night I might have what looks like a minute or two of good tracking, RA and DEC lines criss-crossing with a small radius between them (PHD2), but then I lose tracking.

 

The weather has changed in NY, it's been much colder, I'm shooting in 15 - 30F  degree weather. Can I not use this mount in those temperatures without replacing the grease with something better for cold temps?

 

I am currently using a Nikon D3500 (I already know the issues here, but it didn't stop me from getting good results in the past), so I cannot control the camera with my laptop.

Small payload (AT60ED, DSLR, 60MM Guide Scope, and ZWO ASI 290MC) - Less than 15 lbs, and everything is locked down.

 

Any ideas?

 

I appreciate any words of wisdom.

 

Thank you,

Dave

 

 



#2 scadvice

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 05:06 PM

Try re-calibrating in PHD2 as you may have rotated your guide camera. I believe it's Tools-> Modify Calibration->Re calibrate.



#3 OhmEye

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 05:36 PM

This doesn't sound like a tracking problem, it sounds like a guiding problem. Recalibrate PHD2. You didn't say if you are using ASCOM or ST4 to guide the mount, if using EQASCOM make sure you are using a high enough multiplier, I'm using 9.

I've used my EQ6R Pro below -10C without issues.

#4 cshine

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 06:21 PM

 

Lately, as soon as I select a star (or auto-select with PHD2), and start tracking, the RA and Dec lines just start pushing away form each other, and then out of frame, and I see the stars moving in the PHD2 FOV.

I take a couple of 1 minute subs just to make sure its not an issue with PHD2, and stars are trailing.

 

Unfortunately I do not have any logs from PHD2, but its showing me that I am not tracking at all.

Power indicator is solid, I have tried both the DC outlet and my 17 mAh celestron power bank, and no progress.

The PolarFinder App and my Synscan controller are giving me differences of about 30 minutes in Polaris location, but trying to PA with both, multiple times, and neither are giving me good alignment.

 

 

Hi Dave, if you are "not tracking at all" then I would suggest simplifying everything as a first step. I would forget about PHD2 for now and figure out why it's not tracking without guiding. Even a poor polar alignment should get fairly decent tracking without guiding for short 30s subs with your short FL scopes. 

 

If it was me I would start the mount,  then choose Start Tracking in the hand controller menu (see Easy Tracking Mode in the user manual), then manually slew to a decent star. Then using Live View on the Nikon, watch the for movement across the frame. Is the movement the same with tracking on and off or does it improve?

 

Eq6-R.JPG

 

On the PA issues, I would highly recommend using SharpCap for it's polar alignment routine. It's fast, intuitive and accurate. 

 

BTW - totally unrelated point but something that jumped out at me when you described your setup process.. safer to put the counter weights on before the OTA to reduce the risk of an unexpected rotation of scope into mount.. reverse order for tear down. 

CS



#5 D_talley

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 06:30 PM

As a side note, install the counter weights first.  You don't want the telescope swinging down by accident without the weights countering it. 


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#6 nimitz69

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 07:00 PM

Do you meanPHD is not ‘tracking’ a star?  This actually a guiding issue as someone already said - not a tracking issue with your mount.  But to verify after you complete a star align do a GoTo to something easy like Venus or the Orion Nebula and verify you can track that over some period of time - 5 mins should be plenty.

 

however, this most certainly sounds like an issue with guiding. Recalibrate and check that you are using the recommended settings to start.  EQMOD or ST4 port?  I would highly recommend going the EQMOD route is its one of the really good reasons to have a EQ6-R



#7 hiMike

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 07:21 PM

Here is my process:

 

Level my tripod with a bubble level, facing Polaris; Place mount on the tripod, secure down

Is a perfectly level tripod actually necessary? The telescope only has two degrees of freedom once its pointed at the north star, neither depend on the earths surface.



#8 OhmEye

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 08:23 PM

No, leveling the tripod is completely unnecessary. It does not matter at all if the tripod is level for an equatorial mount.
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#9 AussieGazer

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Posted 21 January 2020 - 09:43 PM

I am having a similar issue with the HEQ5. Watching this thread with interest.

#10 RJF-Astro

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Posted 22 January 2020 - 02:56 AM

It sounds like ST4. If you use the handcontroller, you need to set it to 'pc direct mode' if you want ascom. That means no GoTo.

If so, I am missing the calibration part (yellow dotted lines, before they turn green and the guiding starts). In my experience PHD2 does this every time you start guiding on a new session in ST4. If this does not happen I'm guessing there is something wrong with the PHD-settings. Is 'On camera' selected as mount for instance?


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