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StellarDrive™ 5 Mount
£549.00 inc. tax

£457.50 ex. tax
? Tax based on United Kingdom.


HEQ5 StellarDrive™ 5 - from £449 (with Rowan Belt Kit already fitted)

Current turnaround for DarkFrame StellarDrive™ Mounts is now typically 2 -  3 weeks from receipt of mount, subject to mount condition and specification (non standard mounts may take longer). 

Please order via the website or drop it off to us (please call to confirm drop off date 
023 9257 0283 - dave@darkframe.co.uk)

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.


 (we ship you a box + all packaging, collect the mount and return when completed) 

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!

This is also available as a NEW mount with full two year warranty for £1299

StellarDrive 5 900s test frame

Single 900s test guided frame tuned standard hypertuned HEQ5 Reference Mount.

StellarDrive 5 Notes:

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. Our installs provide twice the performance of a DIY kit, because of the extra work we do and the processes we employ. A StellarDrive upgrade virtually trebles it.

The worm-gear shaft just spins with upgraded 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 measure and 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 15-60min subs are more than possible with this mount, with very few if any lost frames when guided and 5-10 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.

60 minute M31 Hypertuned HEQ5 Megrez 72 FD


3600 seconds with HEQ5

This HEQ5  in 2016 was running a solid 0.9 Arcsec over a three hour session as part of our reference testing using standard bearings and took 3x60min drift free images. Our StellarDrive mounts, can take this lower to circa 0.42 ArcCec or lower, and our Zero Drop Frame tuning methodology ensures that all out mounts are rebuilt to perform a similar level of performance. The sweet-spot payload for this mount is 11-13kg but can run up to 18kg. This translates into superior unguided performance too, up to 10 minutes with an ED80 refractor, 7-8 mins with an 102ED, and 5 mins with a 200P Newtonian!

Work includes:

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 and super smooth Hybrid-Ceramic worm-gear bearings, that really do improve the responsiveness of this mount. All bearings are checked and spun before fitting. Over and above our standard rebuild extra work includes:

  • StellarDrive-SPX™ High Precision worm-gears for RA and DEC axis.
  • Brass crown rings are super-finished as are cone axis bearing cups, and quality checked using a Specular Reflectometer.
  • More surface work on internal castings.
  • WaveFormR™ axis testing based on our build data to ensure correct backlash adjustment.

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 dampening greases and oils which operate in all temperatures from -30ºC to +125ºC (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 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.

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.


E&OE - Mount Build Specification and components used subject to change without notice. Example EQ mount tracking performance is not guaranteed, and is subject to the age and condition of the Donor Mount.



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Product Code
- STE-5
Product Condition
- New
- DarkFrame Tuning


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Product Details

Kurt Kimbrell (Gorilla Astro)
- 16/08/2018
5 product stars

I had a stock Heq5 mount that is now an amazing stellardrive! I currently own 2 imaging telescopes, an explore scientific 80mm ed apo triplet and a GSO Rc6. When i began my journey into longer focal lengths I began to realize how I needed to learn to get this telescope running to my personal standards. Using a zwo asi1600mm and off axis guider with a asi290mm mini the stock mount would maybe.... maybe.. allow me to get 3 minute subs but the toss outs at the end of the night were frustrating to the point where I would need several nights to get the data I required for a "decent" quality image. I wasn't wanting to ditch the RC6 as I knew this OTA has potential but phd2 guiding with my mount and even recording PEC on eqmod would only make a small difference. I wanted to stick by my RC6 and promised it I will take beautiful pics with it other than the moon in RGB, and wanted atleast 5min guided exposures with little to no toss outs. I just couldn't wrap my finger around it. I kept wanting to blame myself. I knew about the heq5 backlash and trouble it has tracking at the meridian but I just never knew how much it was until I went for a longer focal length. At that time, I felt my only option was let the Rc6 sit on display for everyone to just look at including myself as I save a few thousand dollars for a premium mount that could handle it. I just didn't want it to be a decoration and I couldn't justify spending that much money. Then I delved into research as I always do. I considering doing a self hypertune however working full time and being a father to a 3 year old, I wasnt sure I would have the time or focus to do it right and maybe end up making it worse. I then looked online and researched more and came across Dark Frame Optics! I was intrigued yet skeptical as I always am, but I spoke with David Woods who has a plethora of knowledge on this matter amongst many other things. If you get him talking, he will for sure talk and let you know anything you want to know. He was genuinely excited about working on my mount which made me feel like I had someone with a lot of care and passion for the work and not just someone who wanted the money like some people I talked to before dark frame. I explained to him my long focal length blues and he reassured me that i'll get better images and rounder stars and that my 80mm will be able to take 10 minute exposures UNGUIDED!! yeah, i didn't believe that.... I mean who believes that? you cant do that unless you have a premium mount! everyone knows that!..... yeah i was wrong to think so. I'll have to say I got my mount back and it was painted up to look new and even replaced the stock (backlash backlash) heq5 plate with a custom "Stellardrive" plate. Yeah I really felt special to see that. Anyways I will have to tell you I am a firm believer and proof that this mount is just amazing! So far with my RC6 on an asi1600 as the imaging camera I can get guided exposures of 10 minutes!!! seriously! My jaw dropped, but my frames didn't. In fact the only toss outs I had were due to seeing conditions, haze, sunlight, the occaisional buggy picture that comes from the 1600 v2 and if the mount got bumped. I could not believe it! If you don't believe my story look up on instagram and astrobin "gorilla astro" or my full name and Look for my M16 eagle nebula in SHO! This company really helped me make a satisfactory FIRST true SHO narrowband image! I am currently at this moment taking 10min Oiii subs of pickerings triangle with the RC6 and it I cannot wait to show the world. I am mega satisfied and have no more blues! I now enjoy the nights now where I don't have to spend it at the laptop obsessively watching Phd2, my frames one by one and making unneccesary adjustments. Now I just do my starting routine, let it image, make a cup of dark coffee and join in socializing with the rest of my astro friends! If you are skeptical still! just get in contact! They dont bite and their customer service is them, not a robot or a wookie. They are happy to talk! For now! I wish you all clear skies!
QHY5-II Mono Planetary ..
StarGPS Skywatcher SynS..
Geo-Position Pack Bundl..

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    11 Drift Road, Clanfield, Waterlooville, Hampshire, PO80JJ, United Kingdom
    +44 23 9257 0283
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