Broke down the rig early tonight because I've been trying to get polar aligned for nearly 4 frustrating hours with no real luck. I got somewhere that I thought was close enough, but PHD2 guiding was absolutely horrible when I was getting ready to do some imaging. The red and blue dec and RA lines were chaotic, zigzagging above and below the chart with every correction. I tried recalibrating, then PHD2 gave me a warning saying my dec and RA have too large of an error between them or something like that, suggesting poor polar alignment (I don't remember exactly what it said).
My view of the sky is pretty limited; my yard faces south (I live in the northern hemisphere), and I have two large trees on either side of me.
The first thing I always try is using my EQ mount's three star polar alignment feature. I point it at three different stars and it tells me how many degrees west or east my azimuth is, and how many degrees low or high my altitude is. Problem is I don't know how many degrees it's turning when I'm turning the knobs. (There's no guide or markings to indicate it). It's also super tedious slewing to Altair, Deneb, and Vega over and over again.
I've also been trying to use PHD2's drift align function, but when I slew to its recommended coords for the altitude adjustment, it points directly to a tree. So that does me no good. The trendlines also seem wildly inconsistent to my adjustments.
I've also tried the polar alignment plugin for NINA, but it never makes it past the 2nd step (nothing happens. No error message or any change on the screen). Tried it multiple times. Useless.
I'm sick of battling janky astronomy software which seems to just add more complications to the problem. Ideally, I'd like to be able to get aligned without a computer. Just the scope, mount, its hand controller, and two eyes. People have done this before computers, right?
I have an 805mm refractor telescope, an iOptron GEM 45 EQ mount, an Orion 60mm guide scope, a Meade guide camera, a green laser, and a QHY mono astronomy camera.
Some nights are luckier than others where I can get aligned in two hours through trial and error, and PHD2 runs relatively smoothly. Other nights are like tonight where nothing wants to work.
My mount is level. The mount's zero position is correct. The front yard is way too bright from the street lights, and I can't afford a battery and all the extra equipment I would need to make a portable setup.