Hi All -
It took a good bit longer than I was hoping for he skies to finally clear up, but I managed to get out for a couple hours last night. Despite the strong gusts and sporadic cloud cover, I was able to gain some familiarity with the new mount and scope.
Sharp Cap was a breeze for polar alignment. I'll never unscrew a polar scope cap again.
Even with a near perfectly level mount, and aligning the index markers, the go-tos were still quite a ways off, even after syncing.
Plate solving was truly life changing. Close is good enough. No need for alignment stars. Worked incredibly well 90% of the time.
Guide wise, even on a bum calibration (too close to the NCP) PHD was guiding between .2 and .5 arc sec so long as there was no wind. As soon as a gust came, it bumped up to 1.5 to 2 or even more. Honestly, I normally wouldnt have gone out in such wind, but I was getting desperate with the poor conditions lately.
The mount did crash the OTA into the tripod on one occasion. I was quick to shut it down. Really not quite sure why or how it happened. I did have a couple programs crash on the underpowered laptop, so that might have affected it, but I dont believe POTH ever faltered, which I assume was keeping track of the mounts location. With more practice, hopefully I can isolate the cause.
Thanks for all the help and suggestions guys, the new setup shows a lot of promise. Cant wait for some better conditions.