I haven’t started my official evaluation test yet for my using my scope (Attempt #0 of 5 to save my hobby), mostly as I am still struggling to figure out what exactly is causing the alignment problems. After lots of back and forth with a few people online and by email, the list of potential problems is known but not insignificant.
First and foremost, apparently the three-star method I’ve been using is notoriously prone to margins of errors. Nice. I don’t know how I missed that previously, but considering that’s the approach I’ve been using since the beginning, not encouraging. Apparently, I’m just a fucking idiot.
Second, I need to make sure everything is fine for the actual mechanics of it. This includes five things:
- Reset everything in the hand controller to factory defaults — done;
- Checking to make sure I have adequate power…I used fresh brand new batteries tonight, and it seems to be the same results as when I use my Lithium Ion pack, so I don’t think power is a problem — done;
- Checking my basic left-right play (none) and up-down play (went to zenith, returned to horizontal, stops when coming down, no problem) — done;
- Checking my slew motion…after I take my finger off the button, it doesn’t “stop” immediately like a brake, but it does stop within half a second or so…I don’t know if that’s a problem or not — pending;
- I still need to check backlash for settings — pending;
Third, for the preferred two-star alignment, I confess it sounded less accurate to me originally so I never really considered it. After all, how can two stars for your pinpointing work better than three? Wouldn’t triangulation always be preferable? Apparently not, in part because it isn’t “any” two stars, it’s choosing two of a small set of big well-known stars like Polaris, Vega, Mizar, etc. Which is another reason why I haven’t used it — I’m not very good at identifying stars yet. That was the main reason I wanted the goto option, so I wouldn’t need to do that originally. Tonight I tried Polaris and then hoped to use Scheat as it was one suggested by a very knowledgable guy online. Unfortunately, Scheat wasn’t one of the options it gave me. I started with Polaris, or to be more accurate, with what I hope was Polaris and had to settle for Mizar as my second one. Not particularly great for range. Anyway, it slewed to Mizar, and it was pretty close, not awesome, and I was using a 17.3mm lens instead of my normal 32 or 25 mm ones, so whatever. I adjusted, aligned, all done pretty quick. So I told it to show me Saturn. Which it did. Pretty far edge of the FoV, but it found it. It also found Uranus and the moon. Not sure about Neptune. I tried a bunch of targets, and they were okay — some showed, some didn’t. Same as always.
I eventually reset and went with Mizar and Hamal. Pretty far apart. And with my 32 mm plossl. Much closer to my real world test. Then I told it to show me Saturn and it was off by almost a whole FoV in the 32mm lens. Sigh. I did a whole bunch of other targets just for fun. The Ring Nebula? No problem. Definitely within the FoV. Pinwheel Galaxy, Whirlpool? No idea, nada in the FoV. I would say I was hitting about 60%, which is an improvement. I was also in a slightly darker sky setup.
Where does this leave me? I have no real idea.
I need to verify the backlash settings, but I am not sure that’s the problem.
I will also need to use my Stellarium software to help me figure out which stars I am trying to hop to, and with my tablet repaired, hopefully I can figure that out a little better than on my phone (pretty smushed together). I would have loved to use Arcturus tonight as it was super bright, but that wasn’t one of the 2-star options. The only real positive part to it is that a 2-star alignment is relatively quick.
But I also keep coming back to the same problem. I have no idea if this is as good as it gets, or there’s something really tiny I’m doing wrong. So it’s mostly trial and error to figure out the problem.
And honestly, while I gave myself five more tries once I get the alignment figured out, I almost called it quits tonight. It worked a little better, but well, I don’t really know why or how, or what will make it “right”. Or maybe I’m completely wasting my time as the hobby is beyond me, or the mount is fucked up and I have no way of knowing. I was really tempted tonight to just chuck it until next summer.
I don’t know how much positive energy I can muster for it…