How to Set Up the ZWO AM5


In this article, we’re gonna go over how to set up the ZWO AM5 so we can get you up and running. Whether you already have one or you’re looking to buy one, hopefully this will help you out with exactly what you need to capture some great images.

As of the time of publishing this article, ZWO has announced the AM3. You can follow the same steps below for that mount too!


The first thing you’re going to need is a tripod. This guide uses the tripod that was designed for the AM5, but you can use another tripod if necessary. The is rather short, so to get started, extend the legs completely.

If you are going to be setting up in grass, you can unscrew the feet on the tripod and screw in the spikes that are provided to help keep things stable. Once you place the tripod where you need it, take the spreader screw out because it holds the mounting plate into the tripod, and set it aside for now. Unlock the lock that holds the plate into place and remove it. It will be attached to the bottom of the AM5 next.

Attaching the Plate

On the bottom of the AM5, there are three screws on the bottom of it that is for that plate that was just removed from the tripod. Provided in the case, there is a large hex wrench that is the correct size for these screws. Remove the screws and line the plate up with the holes with the flat side against the AM5. Reattach the screws and tighten all three of them down.

Attaching the ZWO AM5 to the Tripod

Attaching the AM5 with the plate attached is fairly simple, just set it in there! Point the front, which is the side with the same logo on the case, towards the North or South pole based on where you are located. Once that is done, tighten the lock on the side to hold the plate and AM5 in place.

Next, grab the spreader screw and screw the short end into the plate. The longer end can be used as well, but ZWO has told me that the longer end is for using the tripod with other brands of mounts. How useful! Once screwed in put the leg spreader back on and screw the knob that holds it all in place onto the bolt. I recommend spreading the legs as much as possible when tightening the spreader to make sure the tripod is stable.

The last thing to attach to the tripod is the provided sling. If you will be using a battery to power the system, this can come in handy to attach. The choice is yours, however.


The last step before continuing is to level the mount. The AM5 has two bubble levels on it. Before attaching the telescope, you can level the legs by loosening the tripod legs and centering the bubble in the levels.

Attaching the Telescope and Controls


The AM5 comes with a dovetail holder that accepts both Vixen style and Losmandy style dovetails. As long as you have one or the other, you will be able to mount your telescope.

When mounting your telescope onto the dovetail holder it is a good idea to keep it balanced. Harmonic drives work in a way that balance does not matter as much as they do with a German Equatorial Mount. But it does still matter slightly so try to center it as much as possible.


Whether or not you use an ASI AIR or you use a laptop with NINA or another program, you can connect this mount to your controlling device with just a USB cable.. The mount comes with a long USB cable that can be plugged in on the front of the mount. From there, you plug it either into your laptop or one of the USB 2.0 slots on an ASI AIR. If you are not using an ASI AIR, you will need to plug your guide camera into the autoguiding port beside the mount USB port using an ST-4 cable.

For power, the input is the one on the front. The one on the side is output for an ASI AIR. Just remember you need to use a twelve-volt power source. If you need to use a converter, the one I use is the {name here} with these cables from Amazon. Both have worked well for many nights under the stars.

The last cable to be plugged in would be the hand controller. The hand controller is plugged into the last slot, and if you want to connect to the mount with WiFi, you need to plug it in. But if you want to just use it for manual control, you can do that too.

Hand Controller

The hand controller is completely optional.

Whether you are using an ASI AIR or you are using a program like NINA, the hand controller is still usable and useful. It has the ability to help you change your field of view. Another example is if you need the mount to go back to the home position, you can hold down the button that looks like a rewind button. Just hold it down until it beeps and then it will go to the default home position.

Polar Alignment


The way to make adjustments is in the wedge. There are locks on the azimuth bolts. If they are in, they are unlocked. If they are out, they are locked. And the one thing I like to do before getting started at all is make sure that I unlock them and adjust the knobs to get this as centered as possible.

If you look at the little slot in the picture below that the locks can go through, you can only go so far either direction before you hit an edge. So if you center it before getting started, it might make things a little bit easier.

For your altitude, the locks are on the side. Before getting started, adjust it close to whatever your latitude is will at least get it close enough that polar alignment can run smoother.

In the picture below, you can see a little indicator on which direction to turn the lever to lock it.

Adjusting for Polar Alignment

The easiest method to polar align is to make sure you are standing behind the mount and unlock the locks. For the azimuth knobs, turning the one in your right hand clockwise, it’ll move the mount counterclockwise. And the opposite is the same for turning the knob in your left hand.

So you just go ahead and make your adjustments. And once you have your adjustments made and your polar alignment is good. So just like an equatorial mount, you have to adjust the altitude and the azimuth, like I said in the Asar Plus setup video, go ahead and get focused.

App Settings for the ASI AIR

In the app, there are a few settings to know about. On the first screen where you pick the mount, ZWO put the AM5 at the top of the list.

The mount icon looks like the AM5 at the top of the main screen. the icon for your mount looks.

In the mount settings, you can change the beep volume to your preference. And if you need to, you can change your tracking based on the type of imaging you’ll be doing.

And if you aren’t using the hand controller, you can set it back to home at the end of your session. The AM5 will always properly go to the home position so you don’t have to worry about it parking crooked.

Closing Remarks

This concludes the guide on how to set up the ZWO AM5 mount. It is an excellent mount that will help you get amazing images of the night sky. If you still need to know how to set up an ASI AIR to control the AM5, go ahead and check out the ASI AIR Plus Set Up Guide.

Or, if you would like to follow along with the video version of this guide, check out the video:

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