I too spent a few hours last evening/night.

Mark had kindly repaired the JMI remote motofocus USB interface and it worked great! Having numbers to record for focusing with no barlow, x2, x2.5, x23 etc will be awesome!

The new cable that Mark built also works! Yay! My windows 10 laptop can now communicate with the Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 GT mount! Yay! It requires the ascom driver for “skywatcher telescope” however, not the “EQmodHEQ5/6″ that we had tried out earlier on the zoom session.. go figure!

So. I downloaded the latest PHD2 and installed it. No clear cut process to follow so I just turned it on, told it to use the primary camera (ASI290MC) and the scope with no barlows (1800mm) and it did some dark frame stuff.

I’ve been told that PHD2 will let me polar align the mount easily.. so that it what I was aiming for last night.

But first I had to park the scope at home, restart, do a 2 star alignment. On the first star (Arcturus) I had to use a 40mm eyepiece to find it as it was a few degrees off. Then I had to achieve focus. OK so far.

star #2 Dubhe. hmm don’t remember which one that was so cycled through the other 10-15 choices and did not even recognize most of them. Had to fire up stellarium to positively identify the star… and it had problems… it stalled on startup as it was fighting for telescope control with some other program … arrg.

Finally 10 minutes later I identify Dubhe as the last star in the Big Dipper dipper/bowl.

Align on it. ok. good align it says.

Then I try out the remote focuser to try and achieve the best focus possible. hmmm. not quite symmetric going in and out of focus. OK then. try the 8” bahtinov mask! Wow. The realtime result looks nothing like the sample images you see on the net. So another compromise and will use the best focus possible, which was not perfect.

OK them back to PHD2. Tools Polar drift align. ok.. it says move the scope to within 6 deg of polaris. Wow.. every try to get a scope to go to polaris when it is equatorial? It just did not want to. So down on the ground looking through the newly aligned telrad to get it within 1/2 degree. ok. PHD says pick a star. I did. click on start, wait for awhile, click on stop then physically move the mount in RA and Dec to put the seleted star into the circle at the end of the line. Hmmm the line goes offscreen and there is no circle. Tried to drive the scope with the hand controller.. nope.. other issues.

try again and physically move the mount.. still no circle and no end of line. Hmmm.

read through the online help again.. still nothing.

I am wondering if it requires a much lower power setup, ie not the primary 1800mm FL of the primary scope but something much wider field of view? It talks to the camera and mount and gets info from them to calculate a field of view and to tell me where to move the mount to in the end. I don’t think it will work on the mallincam video output of the actual finder/guide scope and the frame grabbing usb adapter in the middle.

But I may have to try that i nthe future.

So.. failure on the PHD2 front. )@#$& this lets get some Jupiter images. Tell the hand controller to go to Jupiter, it misses by a few degrees. arrgg. Doesn’t matter.. its getting late and I just want some image runs.

Center Jupiter with the eyepiece, then the camera. wooho.. Jupiter.. long time no see.

hmmm.. seems to be moving awfully fast… tracking is pretty bad. Try a reduced region of Interest (about 600×600 pixels) and the best I can do is about 30 seconds.

OK.. using firecapture I invoke the “autoguiding” feature that I used to use with the Meade LX200GPS, where firecapture would track the centered object and issues commands to the mount and keep it centered.

30 minutes later, everything I tried failed… will have to spend a lot of time reading manuals again and experimenting with variables (options not stars). So I took a few more 60 seconds runs at full resolution and called it a night.

Ooops! Forgot to do the one thing I set out to this evening… try to polar align the scope with the polar axis eyepiece. OK.. nice red LED inside.. the handcontroller can change the brightness. awesome.

Looks for the big dipper (not easy when lying on the deck, glasses off, eye glued to the bottom of the mount essentially. I discovered that the pier should have been a few inches higher, just for this)

Look for Cassie, rotate the template to match approx by eye. (next time I do this again I will use the actual RA numbers and dial in the template much more accurately). ok.. loosen the clutches.. hmm which star is Polaris?

loosen the mount and physically rotate it.. I see a star? Is it polaris? who knows.. we are going to use it anyway!

OK. move the mount in RA and Dec to put the star in the circle. Done!

tighten clutches and mount. ( I think I did that). Shutdown and go inside.


What a night. Now processing maybe 6 imaging runs of Jupiter.. will see how they look.

No mosquitos, watched the CFL game Montreal at Ottawa in the observatory.. Nice!

Next time!

a more accurate polar align with the polar eyepiece method. Learn the stars around polaris first!

Get some paper star maps! Do a 3 star align! Park it and restart it and goto anywhere. Are we even close?????

If so start looking in more detail at PHD2 mount alignment. Try it again maybe. Try it again with the mallincam finder/guider.

Start looking at using software to command and control and move the mount to targets. See how accurate it is.

Personally I would like it to find Jupiter in the full field of view of the camera without me hunting for it.

And the initial results from a lot of bad conditions, including:

Jupiter was still a few hours away from maximum altitude/zenith.

Jupiter was effectively in the Kingston SkyDome

seeing was average

transparency was below average

Quick processing run… will get better with practice.

All were initially and mistakenly process with only the first 2500 frames.

Io and Europa showed up after the registax processing. Nice!

This is the animated 6 runs over say about 20 minutes.

I predict that when I have time to reprocess this in tomorrows RAIN that it will be much better!