Upgrading the EXOS-2GT for AP with ASIairPro and EQStarProEQ5
First, I should say I bought my first telescope - a 114mm Newt - a year ago. Like a lot of folks here, I'm a fan of space having grown up watching the Apollo missions. I thought I'd be content with visual astronomy eventually upgrading to a 200mm f/5 Newtonian. Until I felt compelled to get a DSLR and try taking a picture – just 7 months after getting started - and I was down the rabbit hole.
This revealed a lot of issues I needed to address with my rig. The past several months I've been working away, improving my manual PA, converting my finder scope to a guide scope, getting a cooled CMOS camera, adding an ASIairPro and, finally, unable or unwilling to buy a new mount, I knew I had to upgraded the motor control of my EXOS2-GT. After some research and contacting several of the good people on CN I bought the EQStarProEQ5 kit. I did a half-teardown of the mount, cleaning and lubricating while replacing the motors. Now with everything up and running I've had a 2 good nights with the new set-up, and it really is great.
I am on a fast and steep learning curve right now, yet in this combination I am able to very accurately polar align, target, track and guide better than expected, and can see good things coming. Last night I shot my first 300 second light with guiding around 0.9 – exciting, for sure, and will improve with better balance. Although I was lax on my focus and optimizing my gain while working out the other aspects last night I will still process all the images captured.
The AAP ads a lot of automation from managing the cameras and imaging, to the PA function and the meridian flip, which I like a lot.
The EQStarPro upgrade to the mount is what makes it all work, though. Without the improved motor control none of the other upgrades matter. I've learned here on CN that it really is all in the mount.
My rig now:
GSO 8” f/5 Newtonian w/2-speed crayford
EXOS-2GT with EQStarProEQ5 on the Twilight Heavy Duty Tripod
ASIairPro with dedicated router connected by ethernet cable
ASI120MC guiding with the 8x50 scope
ASI071MC-Pro main camera
Here are some pictures of the scope and the backyard astro-shed - half the wall are doors I can open to work and then close for imaging. Also the single 300s image of Orion.