After my big flurry of activity trying to get my guiding sorted out last month, we've had nothing but clouds. Tonight is the first clear night in weeks, so I thought I'd try a couple of the suggestions that folks on the forums have provided. My target for the night was the Cirrus Nebula East.
The first thing I did today was tighten up my backlash. Although I didn't seem to have "a lot", I wanted to make sure there was none there, so I followed the AP guide on tightening things up. I don't know whether I can say that things are any better in the backlast regard, but they're certainly not worse. Or at least I don't think so.. I'll check visually with Jupiter and see how responsive the moves are later.
Next I reseated everything with the 98flt. I'd moved the tube rings in closer together to accomodate my solar filter, but wanted to make sure it wasn't introducing flexure and causing the oblong stars. I also reseated the guider and snugged it down.
So, my conclusions are that I have two distinct issues..
Guiding - No matter what I do, I don't get a smooth graph. It always seems to start out as a sawtooth in the X axis, sometimes smoothing out, other times not. The Y axis varies anywhere from a smoothly wandering line to wild oscillations. I've tried everything from trying to make guiding very fast and sensitive, to giving it lots of leeway with long delays between corrections. Nothing seems to produce a good graph. Mind you, I don't know what exactly it's doing to my images because of my second issue..
Oblong Stars - I get oblong stars regardless of guiding, exposure length, area of the sky, etc. I tried reseating everything in the focuser on the 98FLT thinking that the camera might be slightly out-of-square.. nadda. So, it's either the camera, or the telescope. It should be a simple matter of determining which it is by getting another telescope up here and throw my camera on it and see if the problem persists.
Regardless of the issues, it's nice to be using the scope a bit again, even though I'm not getting anything really worthwhile out of it in the way of images.