Current turnaround for DarkFrame Hypertuned Mounts is circa 15-21 working days from receipt of mount, subject to mount condition and specification (non standard mounts may take longer).
Please book your mount in and either pay via the website or when you arrive. We endeavour to ready your mount within this timescale as the imaging season is now upon us!
We are proud to announce that we now offer a 2 year limited warranty on all
Sub-Arcsecond Hypertuned HEQ5, NEQ6 and AZEQ6GT EQ Mounts,
re-engineered to our enhanced Bonneville Build Type.
Book your mount in asap as April - August 2017 slots are already filling up!
Why tune your HEQ5 Mount?
Equatorial mounts by nature are precision made products. However, due to mass production and to keep the prices lower, they are often not adjusted to the best of their ability due to the variances in each mount. Various improvements can be made to transform the performance of your mount from what is a median production build, which may save you the need to upgrade to a more expensive mount if you are happy with the payload you have.
Check out how your mount compares in our performance charts.
EQ mounts are subject to being outside and often in the damp, so renewing the grease is often a first port of call with a better type more suited to our climate. It will also help reduce friction which means the motors can drive the mount more accurately, both unguided and guided.
Also, with more care in adjusting the worm-gears and motor drive train, they can often be made to run smoother and quieter, which also benefits better tracking and periodic error reduction. Mounts do need servicing and can be tuned, like any mechanical device. No-one as yet has designed a maintenance free mount!
What's the difference between a Service and a Tune and a Repair?
Our Mount Servicing is effectively bringing your tired mount back to a factory fresh setup with backlash adjustment and using standard greases and oils. However, if there is any damage or wear, then new components may be required at extra time and cost for it to be put right. Like a car, you cannot tune a sick motor, so we evaluate every mount before we attempt to tune it.
There are three generations of hypertuning for the HEQ5 that we have developed for tuning Sky-watcher EQ mounts:
Gen 0 Hypertune - No Belt Drive Upgrade. All components checked then ultrasonically cleaned and both axis re-lubricated to eliminate stiction. Replace worm gear bearings with SKF or better. Adjusted and load tested to customer specified payload, and to reduce drive-train backlash
Gen 1 Hypertune - As per Gen 0, Belt-Drive kit correctly fitted. Mount castings de-burred, and excess paint removed from mating surfaces to ensure better fit.
Gen 2 Hypertune - As per Gen 1 but with Hybrid-Ceramic bearings run-in and tested, other components optimised/re-lubricated to reduce internal friction even further. Motors rubber mounted to reduce vibration. Case reprofiled where required to provide better clearance for belt drive pulleys.
Our tuning methodology across all levels of tuning provides a more detailed approach using higher performance lubricants, which have tested extensively over several years, that help the mount perform better. We also clean up the castings and can upgrade the worm-gear bearings for a better drive response.
If required, we can also upgrade the main DEC and RA axis bearings as an option, but often this isn't needed if the mount is new. We also load test the mount and take sound profiles, as well as stripdown/rebuild photos and video as part of the tune-up record. We can prove the difference that tuning makes.
The HEQ5 mount typically runs at 20-30 arcsecs from new unguided in independent tests and is said to be sweeter than the NEQ6 for astro-imaging. Once tuned our mounts run circa 4-6 arcsecs, and less than 1.0 arcsecs guided is often reported by our customers in independent tests. Also the mount will run smoother and much quieter.
This mount responds well to belt drive installation and wipes 10-15 decibels off the slewing noise. The Rowan Belt drive kit is an easier installation than the EQ6, but still needs setting up properly. It runs near silently and transforms the mount. We have an increasing number of customer fitted kits that have not followed the careful installation instructions. It's an easier upgrade than the NEQ6 kit, but still has to be fitted properly.
The worm-gear shaft just spins with upgraded low-friction SKF bearings compared to the standard bearings, and even better still with our new Hybrid Ceramic bearings. These reduce the end-float, and provide a very solid feel to the mount, which in turn virtually eliminates the well known rocking motion in both RA/DEC.
We calibrate the end-float to an accuracy of 0.01mm, to ensure a consistent dial-out of backlash and minimised play in the gear-train. Cleanup and de-burring of the castings is often needed as they are quite rough in places, and the mating surfaces contribute to better engagement of the worm-gear. We don't often change the main axis bearings, but we test them and replace if not smooth. These only move 180º over the course of an evening, so replacing them with ones tested to 20,000rpm is largely academic! :)
Once tuned, consistent 15-20min subs are more than possible with this mount, with very few if any lost frames when guided and 2-4 mins unguided at circa 500mm focal length.
Add an optional Geo-Position Pack or Geo-Guide Pack, which includes as standard a StarGPS and QHY Polemaster to the HEQ5 and your imaging is taken to a whole new level, especially when quided.
Here is our own HEQ5 Reference Mount with 60 minute single frame star test and PHD Graphs from the session taken 13th Sept 2016 in the UK with a Megrez 72FD and a modded EOS450D. This mount as you see guided extremely well with just two 70mm f6 class APO refractors, plus a guidescope for a lightweight and versatile imaging rig.
This HEQ5 was running a solid 0.9 Arcsec over a three hour session as part of our reference testing using standard bearings. Hybrid-Ceramic versions, can take this lower to circa 0.6 arcsec, and our Zero Drop Frame tuning methodology ensures that all out mounts are rebuilt to perform a similar level of performance.
Every Mount is examined externally for any damage and owner notified for any extra-parts (replacement Sky-Watcher EQ bolts for example).
The Mount is stripped back in both axis to component level, inspected for damage or wear, and degreased and ultrasonically cleaned where applicable. Bearings are then replaced with low friction SKF bearings as standard, or better still Hybrid-Ceramic worm-gear bearings, that really do improve the responsiveness of this mount. All bearings are checked before fitting.
Owners are notified for any extra-parts and time if required if there is a need of repair, as other costs may be incurred.
Mount is reassembled using upgraded greases and oils which operate in all temperatures from -25ºC to +50ºC (we use them in our Export Service and our own products so have been tested at these temperatures for over three years!).
We fit the optional Rowan Astronomy Belt kit that allows you to use the existing handset, which also is a major contribution to the mounts performance by eliminating backlash in the standard brass drive gears. It also removes the noisy meshing noises when going into and out of fast slewing.
The Mount is then bench tested and adjusted to remove backlash in the worm gear, and to ensure the operation of the mount is as cohesive as it can be.
GoTo Handset and Mount are checked for Firmware updates and updated with latest code as required and also tested for operation.
In the case of axis repairs and tuning we carry out a load test on every mount with either an 8 inch f5 Reflector or 100mm f9 Refractor - or 70mm Refractor for smaller mounts, and adjust so to ensure the mount is performing as it should under real-world conditions.
Your mount is then readied for shipping/collection. Our three-way UK/EU Courier Service is just £29 fully insured using a tracked service, if you don't have original packaging.
The mount is videoed/photographed during evaluation, disassembly and rebuild, with a soundwave check to confirm drivetrain signature. A Mount Report is available for an extra charge. All work carried out is now covered by our 24 month limited warranty.