Here's my setup workflow:
1. Balance OTA, level mount, and orient the mount to celestial north pole and set the system in the home (zero) position.
2. Run the EC calibration by turn off the mount, while pressing/holding 2 on the hand controller, turn power on, then release button when encoder calibration message comes up. The mount will slew to the east, then west and returns to the home position, and supposedly the encoder has completed the calibration (then turn of then back on the mount).
3. Focus the main camera, perform polar alignment (using ASIAir or PoleMaster), return the mount to home position.
4. Perform "one star alignment", plate solve, and then slew to the star used in the one-star alignment, confirm the star is centered in the preview screen.
5. Slew to the target, turn on tracking and start guiding (perform ASIAir guiding calibration if needed) - usually set guide camera exposure to 1-2s to get a nice FWHM peak, tweak aggression in RA and DEC to minimize corrections and flat line the guiding results.
6. Setup plan for session, slew to the target, plate solve, sync and start plan (in the case of the ASIAir application, I usually re-focus on the target before staring the session).
Prior to step 2. above, have set the EC guiding (in the hand controller) to Filter RA Guiding or Allow RA guiding, then go through the remaining work flow as described. Neither hand controller guide setting provides any benefit or relief. Same work flow for the CEM25P, CEM40 and CEM70G that produce sub 1" guiding easily and consistently.
So I'm baffled but now will setup a PhD2 guiding session and see if this makes any difference.