I'm actually good with the constellations and can identify Polaris in Ursa Minor, just can't find it in the polar scope, but then again, I can't see the guides for polar alignment. I have gotten a decent polar alignment once while just pointing the mount to true magnetic north and got Jupiter between the mounting brackets (albeit not center, far from it, but an accomplishment in my book). I still want to get more accurate, but I can't tonight due to the heavy rainfall.
I am still "old school" when it comes to polar alignment, and have a lot of experience using the polar scope in the AVX. I do not like having to align the mount for goto operation, and therefore, I never use the all star polar alignment routine. I prefer the simplicity of turning the mount on, and going directly to sidereal tracking mode. If you are interested, read on.
First and foremost, you are going to need to align the polar scope to the mount's optical axis. Take the mount outside in the daylight to perform this adjustment. 99 times out of 100, you will need to use a small allen wrench to adjust the set screws on the polar scope so the crosshairs do not move on a distant object. Instructions can be found here on CN, and all are confusing - just be patient. This will take a lot of time, so be prepared. If you do not get the polar scope properly aligned so the crosshairs do not move on a distant object when rotating about the RA axis, any attempt to polar align using this method is futile.
Once aligned, you can now use the Kochab Clock method to polar align. Here is a link showing this very useful and EASY method to polar align without having to use apps, clocks, etc. I love this method because you initially use the star in the Little Dipper (Kochab), and Polaris, and align them to the counterweight bar by sight, without having to look through the polar scope. Just stand back a few feet from the counterweight bar, and sight Kochab and Polaris along a line formed by the counterweight bar. Make small adjustments in RA to get this line perfect. This method works because it just so happens that when you draw a line between Kochab and Polaris, the polar axis falls somewhere on that line (within approximately three quarters of a degree at the present). You then look through the polar scope to do the fine adjustment.
Once the polar scope is aligned, you will only need to perform a check before sundown each imaging session to ensure the polar scope has not been whacked out of alignment. I have found it holds alignment really well, provided that the mount is handled gently.
That being said, my method has served me well for up to 5 minute subs autoguided on the AVX with a GTF81 at 535mm focal length. I have never imaged with anything larger than that, nor have I imaged any longer subs than 5 minutes. If I do in the future, I may use a different method, such as plate solving to get the polar alignment "dead on". For now, however, this method has proven very reliable.
P.S. One other tip...it is very hard to see the reticle in the dark. Take a small red led flashlight or headlamp. I use my red headlamp to briefly illuminate the reticle, by placing the red led headlamp on the hole on the backside (i.e., the side of the mount opposite where you are looking through the polar scope) to illuminate the reticle. It takes a bit of experimentation to get the level of illumination correct, but it is pretty easy. You just want enough red light to see the crosshairs and the other parts of the reticle, and still be able to see Polaris for the alignment.
Edited by gene williams, 15 July 2020 - 07:12 AM.