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Thread: 8SE (6SE) Primer for New Owners

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    Post 8SE (6SE) Primer for New Owners



    I assume that most of this applies to the 6SE also, but I have only tested on my 8SE which is about 4-5 years old, but upgraded to the newest firmware.

    What I am writing here is mostly built on suggestions from others on this board and from other sites on the Internet. I am just compiling it and adding some reasonable level of confirmation from my own trial and error. Then I thought it would be useful to have them in one spot. I did a half dozen alignments testing this alignment process and am pretty confident this is a good process and would have saved me about 4 hours of frustration in my first nights.
    ------------------------------------------------

    So you just got your first 8SE (6SE). You are pretty sure you read the manual well enough to take it out and logging the objects you have seen thanks to your handy dandy goto function. Here are the things that I have learned over my first three weeks with my 8SE, knowing this might save you a few frustrating hours at the beginning.

    Preparation:

    Tripod: –
    As far as I know the standard tri-pod is the same as I have. DO NOT OVER TIGHTEN THE LEG EXTENDER THUMB SCREWS. The design allows them to be over tightened and that will at some point crack and even break the plastic. My used unit had one with a clean break and one with the same crack circling the base of the socket the thumbscrew goes in. For me I turn the tightner until I just start to feel resistance than 1/4 turn more. Pressure down on the upper leg, should confirm this is more than enough to hold it in place. Any more is just stress on the plastic.

    Get an External Power Supply:
    While I could get a few good hours out my 130 SLT in 8 AA batteries.. I found the 8SE (with GPS attached) was prone to weirdness after a couple of hours. I run my 8SE off a $35 Wal-mart jump-start pack. even after 3.5 hours the charge check is still in the green. There are good recommendations on this forum and the net ..for batteries or complete power packs, so I will not do that here.

    Find your balance points..
    The altitude motor has a lot less work to do if the scope is located near the balance point on the dove tail. Use a trick I found on this board… Put a traditional pencil with flat sides on the desk. Then put your diagonal and eyepiece and dew cap on the OTA. Then put the dove tail down on the pencil and find the point where the scope is balanced. Mark it. That mark should be near the center of fork mount when you attach point. If you do AP add the camera and mark that point too. This is the thread where this was discussed- Celestron 8SE Alignment Woes

    I read that it made sense to favor a bit more weight in the back because the original Nexstar 8, that didn’t move was that way (so software might favor that).. That means a small slide of the scope backward after you center on the mark you maind. For me, not using the camera, that means the fork mount circle edge hits the dove tail right about where the rear gray end cap of the scope OTA starts.

    Firmware:
    Especially if it is a used scope.. as of July 2011.. the 8SE should have: 4.18 on the hand controller and 5.14 on the Motor Controller.. More info here… http://www.nexstarsite.com/Firmware/SE68Firmware.htm

    Dew Cap:
    Even on a pretty damp evening a dew cap may be all you need to keep your front corrector plate dry. Without it.. you may find the scope collecting moisture fast. I have used a construction paper cap in a pinch that worked.. but eBay has fitted ones for $25. This may not be apparent to former Dob/Reflector owners where primary is deep down..

    Settings:

    Set the time, every time:
    The scope does not keep time when off.. it remembers the last time.. So even if you don’t need to update the location, don’t forget to set the clock. I have a watch that syncs to the atomic clock; also cell phones are very accurate pulling time from the network.

    Anti-Backlash…
    I have played with this a lot and in the end I just set all the axis to 20 and am happy. This should help with accuracy and getting your scope aligned easier. This setting stays even with the power off. If you want to work with this more there are articles here about it:
    http://www.nexstarsite.com/OddsNEnds/Backlash.htm
    What is backlash and how can I adjust it?

    Aligning the Scope: (Takes 2-3 minutes once you have done it right a couple of times)

    Level the tripod:
    Make sure you have a good bubble level (round or two way). I have a 1.5 inch round bubble level I can use level the tripod, and if I am cutting corners I can level it with the scope on putting the bubble level on the Silver Celestron base badge. [I don’t recommend this as you have your scope on one more loosened tripod legs]

    Which align?
    I use the Auto Two Star… you can print a star chart off the included software that shows all the named alignment stars for the coming evening. If you are new the sky just use the sky align. I like the auto two star align because once you align to the first star, when you pick a name from the list it slews to a location close to the second star.

    Always center your align stars moving the scope up and to the right:
    This was a very important piece of info that may have been in the manual or on the boards.. but I only paid attention to after a few nights use. Before this I would sometimes find my Goto was consistent but always way below the object and some evenings it was near perfect.
    • Make sure your diagonal is facing up. Use a 25mm – 40 mm eye piece.
    • Get the star in the upper left of the eyepiece.
    • Then hit enter and use the fine control to move the star moving to the right and moving it down (this is moving the scope up) until it is in the center. If you overshoot.. move the star back to the upper left and go at it again. [This has to do with gear-play and backlash] You will notice the GOTO function always comes at the object from below and left of the object. You need to do that for ALL aligning and syncing. Tweaking alignment by moving the star up or back towards the left is worse than being a bit off center.
    • Go to your next star and repeat.

    Calibrate:
    Once I am aligned.. I always go to Utilities menu and do a “Goto Calibration” With the right alignment process this seems less needed.. but I like to do it. Also if it returns to the alignment star this confirms the goto is likely to be accurate.

    Syncing and Un-Syncing:
    Syncing is about tightening up the Goto in an area of the sky. So if you are going to be touring objects in the same part of the sky, pick one, center it and Sync to it. This may get you doing well enough to move between objects and have them show up in even a 9mm eyepiece. When you are moving to another part of the sky “undo the Sync” it can make goto operations less accurate when you have moved too far from the Sync object. If you forget this and start having goto misses… it might be the cause.
    Example:
    I sync to Dumbbell and then the Ring Nebula is dead center when I move to it. I un-sync before moving to say Mizar and M101.. Sync to a star near a dim object and you can be pretty sure the dim object is in the center of your eyepiece, if you have tested and confirmed a good alignment.

    That is my check list for having a good evening:
    Have fun.. there are 40,000 objects in the controller database..so get to work!!
    Last edited by fogfire; 07-19-2011 at 11:02 PM.
    Ken H. sharing the sky with my 9yr old daughter
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    I have a 6SE and can attest that all above applies to the 6SE also.
    Jack --
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    Some great info, I'm sure quite a bit of it will apply to those with the CG5 mount as well (balance, final directions for alignment stars and such). I'll give these a try next time I have a chance to get out and report back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kbeverage View Post
    Some great info, I'm sure quite a bit of it will apply to those with the CG5 mount as well (balance, final directions for alignment stars and such). I'll give these a try next time I have a chance to get out and report back.
    Please do...!!! I hope to move to a CG-5 mount in the next year if work situations improves.
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    Excellent FogFire.

    I have a 4SE. Your process works for it. Should work for the 5SE as well as the 4 SE and 5SE mounts are identical.
    SXINIAS

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    Quote Originally Posted by fogfire View Post

    Always center your align stars moving the scope up and to the right:
    This was a very important piece of info that may have been in the manual or on the boards.. but I only paid attention to after a few nights use. Before this I would sometimes find my Goto was consistent but always way below the object and some evenings it was near perfect.
    • Make sure your diagonal is facing up. Use a 25mm – 40 mm eye piece.
    • Get the star in the upper left of the eyepiece.
    • Then hit enter and use the fine control to move the star moving to the right and moving it down (this is moving the scope up) until it is in the center. If you overshoot.. move the star back to the upper left and go at it again. [This has to do with gear-play and backlash] You will notice the GOTO function always comes at the object from below and left of the object. You need to do that for ALL aligning and syncing. Tweaking alignment by moving the star up or back towards the left is worse than being a bit off center.
    • Go to your next star and repeat.
    So, if I'm using the SkyAlign, I should center with the finder, hit enter.

    Next, use the controls to move the star/object to the upper left of the EP, and once that's done, ONLY use the Right and Down button to center it, then hit Align, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eskimo Spy View Post
    So, if I'm using the SkyAlign, I should center with the finder, hit enter.

    Next, use the controls to move the star/object to the upper left of the EP, and once that's done, ONLY use the Right and Down button to center it, then hit Align, right?
    Yes.. that is the key...
    The gears have enough play that moving backward to tweak the centering may be interpreted more like moving to the edge of the EP or further.

    Final centering one direction in each axis only.. moving the star down and right with the default settings works best.
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    big help to me! had been trying to get the okay left button moves object right...no left..no right. and up moves....had read about always aligning by moving the scope the same direction so this makes sense to me.

    i've always started to my left low and worked around the sky to 3 stars moving right and up but tonight/in the morning am going to just stick w/ doing everying w/ right/down buttons on keypad during alignment of those three stars. and if over slew correct fully by doing left/up so can re-approach w/ the right/down.

    get that muscle memory down while seeing what it does in the ep out help me sort out right is left and up is down!

    thanks!

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    The explanation of backlash compensation on Celestron's site is very confusing and I could not understand it, Nexstarsite is much more helpful.

    Thanks!
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    One thing I discovered, the date does not have to be accurate - just the time. The only draw backs the planets wont center.

    Also double check your star, especially if you are new to the night sky. Using a planet as your alignment object will cause erratic performance in your GOTO explorations

    Finally, even if using external power supplies, keep fresh batteries in the compartment. They will kick in if anything interrupts your power usage. Saves you having to re-align the scope for the evening
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