As a result of the recent poor pointing performance of the telescope I have been experimenting with the use of plate solving to monitor the pointing performace.
A number of tests over the past week have shown that the accuracy and success rate of the plate solving process is far greater than I had expected.
The analysis of the plate solving data is indicating an error in the Dec axis. The error appears to remain consistent over the night of operation, with the spread of pointing errors the same as on a good night of operation, but with all pointing offset by a fixed amount. The consistency of the errors points towards an intermittent error in the homing process for the Dec axis.
I will be taking parts from our spare mount to the observatory on our upcoming maintenance visit in order to resolve this problem.
In the period between now and the maintenance visit I am working to incorporate plate solving in to the core of the telescope system; This solution will allow us to identify images with pointing issues and prevent them from being returned to the user in an usable form.