Well today the mount came back from DarkFrame and I got the chance to put everything back together for the first time since the recent upgrades.
I am over the moon with how everything has gone back together and tonight I also added the ADM saddle that originally came with the mount (now I have larger dovetails). This should help to give some extra stability as well as enable me to use different scopes in the future. The upgrades have added a little extra weight to the system, I am not too worried as everting is still very much within the weight limits of the mount. The counter-weights are now located further up the bar compared to before so should actually be better in terms of reducing Inertia in the mount. I have had a slight set back with the new camera in that the T2 Adaptor that I purchased for some reason does not fit, this is being sent back and I have another on the way along.
I can now give you a little more information in regards before and after tuning. Before I go any further I would like to say just how impressed I was with David and Darkframe, I would highly recommend him to anyone. I have been keeping in touch with him through the entire process and he has been more than forthcoming in regards to answering any questions that I had.
The standard HEQ5 Pro Synscan even in its standard form is very good mount however there a few things that we have to consider.
This is Chinese mount that retails for around £750 when new. Now this sound like and is a lot of money however, when compared to other mounts that are out there this is actually at the cheaper end of the market and represents very good value for money.
The mount in its standard form has been tested and will give an average unguided RMS of 20 – 30 arc-seconds and around 3 arc-seconds with a guided setup. Now in imaging terms this equates to an average or around 10 – 40% dropped frames at a maximum of 900 second exposures (at around 530mm) in a guided setup.
This is where Darkframe comes in. Darkframe offer a hyper-tuning service that includes a number of modifications and a few that are unique to them.
The full service includes a popular belt drive modification but also a hybrid ceramic bearing setup which was developed by them.
When you add up the cost of a standard set of upgraded bearings (£50 – £80), the belt drive modification (£100) and the average home tuned mount performance this starts to look like a very good price indeed. The question is how does does the darkframe service really compare?
Darkframe are one of the few companies that actually test mounts and even better publish their data.
A HEQ5 once tuned by them has been tested to give an average unguided RMS of between 3.5 – 6 arc-seconds and as low as 0.9 arc-seconds in a good guided setup. When it comes to imaging that can equate to a little as between 0 – 10% dropped frames at a maximum of 3600 seconds (tested at around 500mm). One thing I would like to make clear here is that every single mount and setup is different and there are number of factors that have to be taken into consideration when looking at these figures (weight on mount, mount age, seeing conditions, polar alignment and focal length etc…). David spends a LOT of time working on and testing every single mount him self until he is happy with the final result. If you would like more information and data regarding the HEQ5 and other mounts or the tuning services that he offers take a look HERE.
To say I am happy with the mount so far is an understatement. I have not had a chance to get it out under the stars yet and test it however just from the difference in feel and the way the mount reacts and moves is a massive improvement over the standard setup. One thing that I have also noticed is the noise, or lack of. The belt drive cuts down on a lot of this but the tuning that is done really does take it to another level. The mount is quieter, smoother and a lot more rigid. The original mount setup has a fair amount of play and backlash in it, not any more,
I will be updating with further findings and test results as the weather permits.