Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

ZWO AM5 Owners' Club

  • Please log in to reply
1955 replies to this topic

#1 Matt Lock

Matt Lock

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 8
  • Joined: 21 Jul 2020
  • Loc: Lansing, MI

Posted 25 September 2022 - 10:59 AM

I have a NEW Mount!! smile.gif

 

I didn’t know whether to post this in the Beginners DSO forum or in the Mounts forum. I know that there is currently a more than 71-page topic on this mount commented by mostly experienced AP’ers, but I was looking for a place that fellow beginning AM5 owners can discuss the ins & outs of this product and what they may be experiencing with it for imaging.

 

So, here’s my story…

As a beginner I wanted to keep the decision making down to a minimum until I had enough experience under my belt and a better understanding of DSO imaging. I really was not interested in the "Best-of-Breed" (BoB) in equipment or software as a beginner, there are way too many things I must understand first about the art of DSO astrophotography before I delve into the finer things.
Coming from an IT background a lesson that I learned was that having the "BoB" equipment, was that if things didn't work just right, and when you looked to support, they would say it's the other companies’ component that was at fault and not theirs or offer you no solutions at all (not wanting to saying its user error). So, for my current computing needs I bought into the Apple ecosystem, because I’m too old to fiddle with PCs to have them work for me.

 

In just starting out in DSO imaging this approach of "Best-of-Breed" seems to create too many points of failure for me, so I decided that I would move to a one company's ecosystem for my astrophotography hardware, in the hope that I had one place to turn too. I understood that I could be missing out on some (maybe great) features that could be offered by the "BoB" products, but as a newbie to the astrophotography world, I wanted to keep the points of failure down to a minimum. With the biggest one to overcome being between the telescope and the chair, so I got the highly recommended “The Deep-sky Imaging Primer, Third Edition” to help with that issue.

 

After trolling the forums here for some time, there seems to be many experienced Astro photographers who did not like being tied to one ecosystem and preferred using the "BoB" method of equipment to acquire the results they wanted. I'm a sucker for "new tech" (at least to me) and being a newbie, I decided to buy into the ZWO's ecosystem for my imaging adventure, with the full understanding that they come with their own issues. I now own ZWO’s ASI533, Air Plus, EAF, OGA, ASI120 mini and now the AM5 mount. Because I use Apple computers, I decided to go with Astro Pixel Processor software for my image processing.

 

I hope that this thread can be a place for new ZWO AM5 owners where they can discuss their findings as they work with it and share solutions that they find during their journey in using this mount.


  • ScottAz, Gary Z, CharLakeAstro and 9 others like this

#2 jscmanson

jscmanson

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: 29 May 2021

Posted 25 September 2022 - 02:11 PM

Great idea!  Let me go first...

 

Just spent last night with the AM5 and my zwo gear (asi pro, 2600 mono, OAG-L with asi260, riding a new TS Optics130mm f/7.0 - lovely scope!).  had a bit of an issue with the AM5, the on-off switch wasn't working properly, and the unit wouldn't stay on...  but the next day it seemed to fix itself, so it is staying on so far...  ZWO is sending a replacement switch just in case it fails again.

 

My question is around mount/equipment collision management.  I plan on setting up a shooting session, and letting the rig proceed unattended.  With this long scope and the large 2 inch filter wheel, it's easy to find targets that result in equipment collisions with the tripod. (I have 2 of the 60mm extensions on the carbon fiber tripod I got with the AM5). 

 

What I would like to be able to do is set up the target in the planning module, and enter in the desired exposures etc.  At that point, the asi pro will know what is being photographed, and for how long (more or less).  Would it not be possible at this point to have a 'button' in the ap that quickly slews the rig through the arc of this exposure 'plan', including going through the flip if there is one, so we can quickly confirm that there is no mechanical conflict with the mount for this session?  I presume you could just manually slew the scope once it's set up, but you'd need to do the flip manually as well?  (A bit of a newbie here on this)...  


  • rloggie, srvkmr and New Astrophotographer like this

#3 glancey

glancey

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 419
  • Joined: 05 Jun 2019
  • Loc: Santa Ana, CA, USA

Posted 25 September 2022 - 03:03 PM

I usually just run a one-time thorough, around-the-world, manual test of the mount rotation with everything loaded, the scope, guiding and imaging rig, EAF, ASIAIR and power boxes, if needed, and all chords plugged in, before automating my imaging session. You don't have to do this more than once as the target setting isn't really a factor.

 

Glenn


  • Gary Z, rloggie, srvkmr and 1 other like this

#4 rkaufmann87

rkaufmann87

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,052
  • Joined: 07 Feb 2009
  • Loc: Folsom, CA

Posted 25 September 2022 - 03:14 PM

Part of setting up a mount is setting its collision avoidance. This should be done after you install your scope, cameras, cables and any other equipment on the mount and balance your system. This step guarantees you will not collide which not only can ruin a session but also possibly damage your equipment too. Please make sure you balance your your system, then set your avoidance. I am a Losmandy user so I don’t know your mounts system software so I cannot be more specific. However please do look for that topic.

Edited by rkaufmann87, 25 September 2022 - 03:17 PM.

  • JSTAR0057 and New Astrophotographer like this

#5 jscmanson

jscmanson

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: 29 May 2021

Posted 25 September 2022 - 06:04 PM

Yah the AM5 mount is a harmonic mount, no balancing needed - I presume I can just run the mount through the arc using the RA manual move button (harmonic mounts do not allow you to release a clutch and swing the scope like the regular mounts do).  I'll have to figure out how to do the meridian flip to check the travel after the flip...


  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#6 Wow!

Wow!

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 710
  • Joined: 12 Oct 2020

Posted 25 September 2022 - 06:13 PM

Yah the AM5 mount is a harmonic mount, no balancing needed - I presume I can just run the mount through the arc using the RA manual move button (harmonic mounts do not allow you to release a clutch and swing the scope like the regular mounts do).  I'll have to figure out how to do the meridian flip to check the travel after the flip...

Point to an object near zenith, then let it run (not too close to zenith, mind you)


Edited by Wow!, 25 September 2022 - 06:14 PM.

  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#7 joshman

joshman

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,063
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2018
  • Loc: Coffs Harbour, NSW

Posted 25 September 2022 - 06:19 PM

Part of setting up a mount is setting its collision avoidance. This should be done after you install your scope, cameras, cables and any other equipment on the mount and balance your system. This step guarantees you will not collide which not only can ruin a session but also possibly damage your equipment too. Please make sure you balance your your system, then set your avoidance. I am a Losmandy user so I don’t know your mounts system software so I cannot be more specific. However please do look for that topic.

There is no way to set the collision avoidance within the ZWO ecosystem (yet?). And being a strain-wave drive, there's no need to balance the RA, only the DEC. I don't see a mention of what telescope the OP is using, so it's a little hard to advise if mount collision will be of great concern. 

 

My advice:

  • Start with a short focal length to get comfortable with the mechanics of the mount, the process for AP.
  • Manually drive your mount "around the world" to make sure your cables are long enough and there's no snags or drag.
  • CABLE MANAGEMENT!

  • Gary Z and New Astrophotographer like this

#8 Stelios

Stelios

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11,131
  • Joined: 04 Oct 2003
  • Loc: West Hills, CA

Posted 25 September 2022 - 06:20 PM

For collision avoidance, Stellarvue riser blocks are quite helpful. 


  • Gary Z, rloggie, JSTAR0057 and 1 other like this

#9 joshman

joshman

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,063
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2018
  • Loc: Coffs Harbour, NSW

Posted 25 September 2022 - 06:31 PM

Yah the AM5 mount is a harmonic mount, no balancing needed - I presume I can just run the mount through the arc using the RA manual move button (harmonic mounts do not allow you to release a clutch and swing the scope like the regular mounts do).  I'll have to figure out how to do the meridian flip to check the travel after the flip...

 

The way i've checked mine is to load the mount up with my imaging setup, then starting from home position point at the celestial pole:

rotate my RA axis just over 90 degrees, then rotate my DEC to point at Zenith - this will show if your going to collide with your back tripod legs

I continue to rotate the DEC past Zentih to point just below the horizon at the back of the mount (I'm in the southern hemisphere, so my scoping is pointing north at this point). During this enire operation i'm checking my cables and making sure my routing is not going to snag on anyhting. I also use this to double check the overall cable lengths, as this is past where my mount should ever get to.

 

If you do this, make sure you manually drive the mount back to the home position. if you use the AUTOHOME feature on the hand controller, it will see that you're positioned past the horizon limits and assume that it's on the other side of the mount and try to continue driving that direction to get you back to the home position.

 

I autohome, and do the same process for the other side of the pier.

 

 

 

If you check on my posts on page 68 (https://www.cloudyni...unt/?p=12159796) of the big thread, you can see how i've routed my cables. With my arrangement, i can rotate my DEC more than 270 degrees and my RA well past 90.


Edited by joshman, 25 September 2022 - 06:44 PM.

  • rkaufmann87, rloggie and New Astrophotographer like this

#10 AngryBear

AngryBear

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 561
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Spokane, Washington

Posted 25 September 2022 - 11:47 PM

Thanks for starting the AM5 owners club

  1. Apple = Check
  2. Nikon = Check
  3. ZWO = Check
  4. Harley-Davidson = Check
  5. Makita = Check

Wait which ecosystem are we talking about? waytogo.gif


Edited by AngryBear, 26 September 2022 - 05:10 PM.

  • ScottAz, Sctom and New Astrophotographer like this

#11 BrineyEye

BrineyEye

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 60
  • Joined: 11 Jan 2022
  • Loc: New Mexico, USA

Posted 29 September 2022 - 06:01 PM

I'm contemplating getting an AM5, and I have an idea how to balance it for heavy payloads.

 

I currently have a Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi, and because it's stiff, I balance it by screwing a short 3/8 bolt into the azimuth axis and setting the whole rig on the bench with the scope horizontal and the counterweight hanging off the edge.  If it will balance on the head of the 3/8 bolt I figure it's good.  I did put the bolt in my lathe and faced the head flat.  I'm getting sub-arc-second guiding when the wind isn't blowing (I did also put heavier springs on the worm drives).

 

I figure the AM5 head can be adjusted to 90 degrees, the counterweight attached, the scope driven to a horizontal position, then the head removed from the tripod and the bolt screwed in.

 

It's unwieldy, but the small flat on the head of the bolt makes the whole thing balance-able on a flat surface.

 

-Jon


  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#12 AngryBear

AngryBear

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 561
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Spokane, Washington

Posted 29 September 2022 - 07:04 PM

I'm contemplating getting an AM5, and I have an idea how to balance it for heavy payloads.

 

I currently have a Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi, and because it's stiff, I balance it by screwing a short 3/8 bolt into the azimuth axis and setting the whole rig on the bench with the scope horizontal and the counterweight hanging off the edge.  If it will balance on the head of the 3/8 bolt I figure it's good.  I did put the bolt in my lathe and faced the head flat.  I'm getting sub-arc-second guiding when the wind isn't blowing (I did also put heavier springs on the worm drives).

 

I figure the AM5 head can be adjusted to 90 degrees, the counterweight attached, the scope driven to a horizontal position, then the head removed from the tripod and the bolt screwed in.

 

It's unwieldy, but the small flat on the head of the bolt makes the whole thing balance-able on a flat surface.

 

-Jon

What kind of weight are we talking about?


  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#13 hfsarber

hfsarber

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 640
  • Joined: 04 Feb 2021
  • Loc: Sun City Center, FL

Posted 29 September 2022 - 08:36 PM

Balance isn't that critical with this type of mount.  I pick up the scope, move my hands around until I know roughly where the center of gravity is, and put that roughly in the center of the saddle.  Sub-arc-second is a piece of cake.  Getting it below .5 is more challenging. 


  • gothicm3rcy and New Astrophotographer like this

#14 joshman

joshman

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,063
  • Joined: 06 Apr 2018
  • Loc: Coffs Harbour, NSW

Posted 29 September 2022 - 09:36 PM

I'm contemplating getting an AM5, and I have an idea how to balance it for heavy payloads.

 

I currently have a Sky-Watcher AZ-GTi, and because it's stiff, I balance it by screwing a short 3/8 bolt into the azimuth axis and setting the whole rig on the bench with the scope horizontal and the counterweight hanging off the edge.  If it will balance on the head of the 3/8 bolt I figure it's good.  I did put the bolt in my lathe and faced the head flat.  I'm getting sub-arc-second guiding when the wind isn't blowing (I did also put heavier springs on the worm drives).

 

I figure the AM5 head can be adjusted to 90 degrees, the counterweight attached, the scope driven to a horizontal position, then the head removed from the tripod and the bolt screwed in.

 

It's unwieldy, but the small flat on the head of the bolt makes the whole thing balance-able on a flat surface.

 

-Jon

This seems like an overly complicated method to balance. I just setup my imaging train, set it on a table with a pencil under the dovetail, then roll the setup back-and-forth until i've found roughly where the centre is. I then use a permanent marker to place a mark on the dovetail, I'll either write some more detail directly on the dovetail, or go back later with a label maker and make a sticker about the imaging train (eg. "1600+EFW+AAP") that way when I setup, I'll know where my centre of balance is. It's simple, effective and helps out future Josh.

 

with my EQ35M, I can remove the DEC head entirely, so i've loaded up the DEChead with my imaging train, removed it and balance the counterweight on a bench. On the "top" of the counterweight i've written a distance measurement for neutral balance and a brief description of the scope and imaigng train. (eg "68mm - ZS61+1600+EFW+AA"). that tells me everything i need to know about how to setup my rig.


  • Gary Z, Jlg5, AngryBear and 1 other like this

#15 AngryBear

AngryBear

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 561
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Spokane, Washington

Posted 29 September 2022 - 11:36 PM

This seems like an overly complicated method to balance. I just setup my imaging train, set it on a table with a pencil under the dovetail, then roll the setup back-and-forth until i've found roughly where the centre is. I then use a permanent marker to place a mark on the dovetail, I'll either write some more detail directly on the dovetail, or go back later with a label maker and make a sticker about the imaging train (eg. "1600+EFW+AAP") that way when I setup, I'll know where my centre of balance is. It's simple, effective and helps out future Josh.

 

with my EQ35M, I can remove the DEC head entirely, so i've loaded up the DEChead with my imaging train, removed it and balance the counterweight on a bench. On the "top" of the counterweight i've written a distance measurement for neutral balance and a brief description of the scope and imaigng train. (eg "68mm - ZS61+1600+EFW+AA"). that tells me everything i need to know about how to setup my rig.

That is exactly what I did, labels and all. Not using the counterweight for my FRA300 but my ES127, even though it is the carbon fiber version, I will be using a 5kg or 11lbs weight, probably near the end of the counterweight bar. On my CGEM the 5kg wasn’t quite enough for balance but was close and I think it will be fine on this mount. Although, I believe my counterweight bar is longer on the CGEM. 


  • TransitVanMan and New Astrophotographer like this

#16 Zambiadarkskies

Zambiadarkskies

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,866
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2021
  • Loc: Zambia

Posted 29 September 2022 - 11:50 PM

I thought I understood from all the hours (and hours and hours) of reading and watching the videos about the AM5 that adding a counterweight is simply to aid mechanical stability and is absolutely not required for balancing. At least that was my takeaway from TJ Connelly's 2 hour video.
  • dciobota, Anthony_1138, Davemartin888 and 2 others like this

#17 AngryBear

AngryBear

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 561
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Spokane, Washington

Posted 30 September 2022 - 01:03 AM

I am sure we are overthinking it. Pretty sure using the counterweight is really to keep a heavier scope from leveraging the whole tripod over. 


  • Queux, TransitVanMan and New Astrophotographer like this

#18 Wow!

Wow!

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 710
  • Joined: 12 Oct 2020

Posted 30 September 2022 - 01:20 AM

Yep. No need to balance the scope with the counterweight. Don't think even balancing Dec is that important.


  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#19 sctchun

sctchun

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 882
  • Joined: 26 Mar 2006
  • Loc: In the Middle of the Sea

Posted 30 September 2022 - 03:48 AM

I thought I understood from all the hours (and hours and hours) of reading and watching the videos about the AM5 that adding a counterweight is simply to aid mechanical stability and is absolutely not required for balancing. At least that was my takeaway from TJ Connelly's 2 hour video.

You are correct, up to about 10 to 13 kg, you don't need a CW.  If you go over (up to 20kg) or place a long scope on it, then yes a CW up to 5kg is recommended.  Here's my setup close to 13 kg that I did use 4.8kg of CW on and I'm able to confirm that it did help with stabilizing the scope.

 

Stress Test Imaging Rig.jpg

 


  • Sheridan, dciobota, Gary Z and 6 others like this

#20 AngryBear

AngryBear

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 561
  • Joined: 26 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Spokane, Washington

Posted 05 October 2022 - 10:06 AM

I found this on High Point Scientific’s web site.

 

Important Note

There is an ASIAIR finder shoe attached to the AM5 mount's side panel. If you plan on attaching the ASIAIR anywhere else, such as on the side of the Losmandy/Vixen-style dovetail saddle plate, make sure you do not completely screw in the rest of the two hex screws. The length of the inner part must be kept between 3 ~ 5 mm. Do to the mount's compact size, if you screw them in completely, the cables inside the mount can get pressed and damaged, which may cause the mount to no longer work.

 

I recently took off that finder shoe and screwed in the hex screws by hand. When I read this, I removed the front cover on the AM5 to check and luckily I had not pinched any wires, but this is a real possibility to anyone who does this. 
 

Just an FYI. 


  • Joe Bergeron, dciobota, tk421 and 5 others like this

#21 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 05 October 2022 - 02:40 PM

You are correct, up to about 10 to 13 kg, you don't need a CW.  If you go over (up to 20kg) or place a long scope on it, then yes a CW up to 5kg is recommended.  Here's my setup close to 13 kg that I did use 4.8kg of CW on and I'm able to confirm that it did help with stabilizing the scope.

 

attachicon.gifStress Test Imaging Rig.jpg

Steve, when you say stabilize, you mean keep from tipping or actually improved performance in some way?


  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#22 nwcs

nwcs

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,113
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2013
  • Loc: Tennessee

Posted 06 October 2022 - 03:52 PM

I’ll be joining this club eventually. Maybe over the winter when supplies get better. I’m wondering if I should use my Gitzo 3 series systematic tripod instead of the TC40 one. Also I keep seeing recommendations to use the pier extensions. Anyone do it?
  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#23 sctchun

sctchun

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 882
  • Joined: 26 Mar 2006
  • Loc: In the Middle of the Sea

Posted 06 October 2022 - 04:52 PM

Steve, when you say stabilize, you mean keep from tipping or actually improved performance in some way?

I noticed that without the CW, I noticed a bit of wobble when focusing using the EAF.  Of course, that is when I only use the 152 which is 4 ft long.


  • dciobota and New Astrophotographer like this

#24 Reid W

Reid W

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,519
  • Joined: 06 Oct 2010
  • Loc: Shreveport, LA

Posted 06 October 2022 - 05:38 PM

Regarding the declination side....

 

How sensitive to balance here?


  • New Astrophotographer likes this

#25 dciobota

dciobota

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,735
  • Joined: 07 Aug 2007
  • Loc: No longer on this site in protest of poor site moderation

Posted 06 October 2022 - 09:29 PM

Regarding the declination side....

How sensitive to balance here?

I would say none. My rc6 setup is pretty unbalanced in Dec and it works just fine.

Edited by dciobota, 06 October 2022 - 09:29 PM.

  • Reid W, Celerondon, joshman and 1 other like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics