HEQ5 Now Working Again!

I sometimes question the wisdom of taking up a hobby that requires clear skies whilst living in the UK (one of the lowest points in the UK to boot!). Most of September and October have passed with no opportunity to point a tube shaped device at the sky. The clear nights that we have had the seeing has been pretty abysmal.

ES APO 80mm – f/6 – GPCAM3 – EQ3-2 Pro – 44 x 120s exp – Total exp 1h 28m

The best shot I managed to get last month was of M1 on a really dodgy night seeing wise using my ES ED80APO and EQ3-2 Pro (which worked remarkably well after sitting in the astroshed for nearly a year). This was made up of 44 x 120s exposures using my GPCAM3.

But enough moaning about the weather!

The HEQ5 with belt mod is now running smoothly. The hardest part of fixing it turned out to be hauling it up to my upstairs office so I had somewhere quiet and dry to fix it and finding a few days where the clouds have cleared so I could point it at the sky to test it.

After an initial try of tweaking the backlash on the RA axis using astro baby’s guide the clicking still remained.

I briefly toyed with the idea that there might be a slight lump on the RA belt, which was reported in one thread, but this turned out not to be the case (just flip the belt over and see if the click happens in the opposite direction of travel).

So I reread the instructions carefully and did the job properly. Clicking disappeared. Movement appeared to be smooth.

My pipe-dream of making a laser spot on the wall to do a star cross test in PHD2 seemed like to much trouble and clear skies were forecast for that night so I just took the plunge and set it up outside and started taking test shots.

First Night of Test Runs

Almakk – 60s

So I started off taking test shots on the first of two nights. The first night I did unguided shots and the second I setup my guide scope. All pictures were taken with my 200PDS and Hypercam. I should point out that although the sky was clear the seeing was bad and the moon was near full. Oh well. The first shot I took was a 60s shot of Almaak. All good so far 🙂

I then took a series of shots of Betelgeuse.


Obviously 300s unguided is to much but 120s looks OK which is about what I’d expect from an HEQ5 and what I could get before I started the belt mod.

NGC2024 – Nov 2020 – Unguided – 200PDS – Hypercam 183C – 1hr 30m – 60s exp

Of course the acid test is if I can actually put together a stacked image.

So unguided 60s exp produced this. 1hr 30m of 6os exposures once processed.

A successful first night 🙂

Second Night of Test Runs

The purpose of the second night of testing was to get my guide scope working with the new setup. Again I used my 200PDS and added my StarWave 50mm guide scope and a mono GPCAM AR130.

So I ran the calibration on PHD2 and all seemed to go well.

Next up some single shots of stars. Starting at 180s this time and going up to 600s. Again all seems fine 🙂


So again the acid test, can I take a stack of exposures. Seems to be yes.

M81 – Nov 2020 – Hypercam 183c – Skywatcher 200PDS – HEQ5 – 12 x 5m exp – 1 x 10m – Total exp 1h10m

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