Thanks! I did do polar alignment using an app to get Polaris' position, and then I used the built-in scope. Is the iPolar scope that much better?
Also, I may have bumped the mount a little. The problem is, I can't polar align with the camera attached, since during the intial setup, I flipped the dec. bracket around (like people suggest for heavy cameras) so the camera is mounted closer to the axis. The problem I found with this is, the internal polar finder is upside down, and it won't illuminate, either. So what I did was, do the alignment, then rotate the bracket 180 degrees to mount the camera. Maybe there is a better way?
The camera is a D850 with 200-500 lens, so it's hefty. I could probably use a second counterweight to help balance, but it's pretty good as is. Maybe 500mm with this sort of setup is going to be a lost cause. I also have a 300mm f/4, and 70-200 f/4 that are much lighter. And then if I want to go wide, I have a 50mm f/1.8 and a 85mm f/1.8.
Finally, maybe I should save the small DSOs for when I'm more experienced, and try using different gear. Aside from the Skyguider, I also have a Celestron 6SE SCT and mount. Should I even try imaging with that mount since it's AltAz? I am getting a SW EQM-35 mount, so maybe that would be my best option for imaging, even better than the Skyguider? As far as scopes go, I have the 6SE and am getting a SW 100ED Evostar. I'm thinking maybe the best combo for imaging would be either scope on the EQM-35? Maybe the refractor for larger objects, and the SCT for stuff like M101?
You are the same journey with this mount that I was, my friend.
Re: iPolar. Not sure, since I haven't used it. I've gotten decent results without it, so I haven't invested in one. Also, for me, the whole point of this mount was portability and minimal peripheral equipment. The iPolar brings a laptop back into the mix, so I'm not as interested in it for that reason as well.
Flipping the DEC bracket is the right call, imo, but as you have noted comes with the downside of having the polar scope upside down in the mount housing. I love my SGP, but this is one of the major design flaws it has and I hope iOptron fixes this in future editions of the mount. The fix for this is, well, not ideal. You can disassemble the mount and re-orient the polar scope using these instructions: http://www.ioptron.u...opeRotating.pdf
The process linked above looks worse than it is. I was able to complete it in about an hour with no issues and it has greatly improved my experience with the mount, ease of set up, and consistency with good alignment. Now I just mount my camera and scope, align, and I'm off to the races. No awkward flipping of the DEC bracket or mounting gear after alignment. If you're comfortable with minor electronics repairs, it's a fairly simple process, but as with anything, you do run the risk of messing something up inside the mount, so I completely understand why someone wouldn't want to do this with a new $400+ piece of equipment.
And lastly, yes, what others have said in this thread about galaxies/tiny DSOs is spot on. The SGP wasn't made for that kind of imaging. However, there are TONS of great targets that are within its range. Moreover, I would actually argue that 500mm focal lengths, while challenging, are not out of the question for the SGP. But I've learned that starting with the most forgiving targets (wide field Milky Way, large nebulae, etc.) and then working your way towards the limits of the mount will yield a far better imaging experience and will be less frustrating overall.
Despite its quirks, I'm an SGP fan and am happy to chat about it anytime. Good luck and clear skies!!