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Ioptron Mini tower _ New Review is Unsettling

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#1 John Miele

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 01:52 PM

I have this mount on my short list as a candidate to use with my SV102ED refractor and it looks so cool that I really wanted it to be good. But I'm not sure I'd try one now, after reading the latest review on Cloudy Nights front page. What is the consensus on this mount? It is pricy enough that I would expect problems noted in the review would not/should not be happening... :question:

John Miele

#2 Dr Benway

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 03:10 PM

I have had one since last October and it has worked extremely well. I bought mine from Steve Forbes at Trapezium Telescope Services. He is the only dealer who tears each unit down, replaces the Chinese grease, makes all the fine adjustments, and actually field tests them before they are sold. Apparently, iOptron has lousy QC. The product is top of its class, operationally. I have tracked M42 for six hours or longer with it always in the center of the eyepiece. I do astrophotography in alt/az with mine using a C8, Hyperstar3 and a QHY8 CCD camera. It is a rock-steady platform and I am only limited to 56 second exposures due to field rotation.

John Bozeman

#3 Al Canarelli

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 04:14 PM

I want to buy one of these simply because it's so light weight, so compact and very accurate. However, when I think of how I'm going to use it, it may not be a good buy. I expect to use it as a grab and go during the cold weather months and the heaviest scope I would use is a C6. So, I think the CubePro may suit me better and will also save me $300. :jump: :jump:

#4 Lane

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 05:37 PM

That is a distressing review of what I thought was suppose to be a good portable mount. I guess getting one from Trapezium is the only way to go.

#5 Astrobuddy

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 06:21 PM

My MiniTower works as a charm. Never had a problem since last year. I bought it from a Canadian dealer.

#6 J_D_Metzger

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 06:22 PM

I'll post here what I just posted on the other forum:

========================================================================
I have a Mini-Tower that I bought from a vendor who does NOT test or adjust them before shipping. The only problem I had with it is that the GPS connection was loose, a problem that was well documented on the iOptron Yahoo Group, and it took me less than 5 minutes to fix it. Since then, it has worked perfectly, and is a joy to use with my 3" refractor or my C6.

One should keep in mind that the Mini-Tower only costs $799, and for a GPS-equipped GOTO mount, it is a price break-through IMO. I would recommend it to anyone who wants an inexpensive, easy to use, accurate GOTO mount for a small scope for visual observing.

Most of the complaints I've seen about the MT are related to its unsuitability for Astro-Photography, or some problems with PC control. IMO, anyone who bought a $799 alt-az mount thinking they could do AP was smokin' dope. The mount does a terrific job of what it was designed for, at a great price.

Just my :penny: :penny:

#7 Mlehere

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 07:48 PM

I purchased a used Mini-tower and immediately had it sent to Steve Forbes for upgraded bearings and adjustment. He tested it and it is dead-on in its operation carrying a 5" refractor. I would buy one from anyone but Steve Forbes because he guarantees they work properly before he ships it.
Mike

#8 JimWaterford

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 08:12 PM

I bought a SV102ED (standard Focuser) and the Ioptron Minitower six weeks ago and the combination is fantastic. The dealer I bought it from (Great Red Spot) did not do anything to the unit prior to me receiving the mount and I have had no problems at all. I have used it 8 times and am amazed at the accuracy of the tracking and ease of the set up. . I heard the MiniTower was the best offering from Ioptron. The SV102Ed is great too. No regrets here.

#9 Dr Benway

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 08:24 PM

J.D.,

I have to challenge you on the dope smokin' AP statement. I have been getting great results with the alt/az Mini Tower. My only limitation is 56 second exposures due to field rotation. Here is a 10x56 sec exposure I shot of IC434 02/28/09

John

Attached Files



#10 Loren A. Busch

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 08:44 PM

I have one of the first Mini Towers shipped and love it. I did have a problem with the GPS working when it first arrived but the problem was dealt with in record time by iOptron. Since then it has been trouble free. As for load, one evening I hung a Meade 8" SCT on one side and my Intes Micro 150mm MAK on the other, a load way beyond spec.I balanced carefully and it ran for over two hours without a hitch in pointing or tracking. Given the price for a complete setup with carry case I've found the setup for me (after many years and many mounts). I also had the iOptron Cube before the Mini Tower came out and (within it's weight limitations) also worked perfectly, great pointing, great tracking.
BTW, my Vixen Skypod (with expensive accessories) is for sale.

#11 John Miele

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 09:21 PM

Well it's great to see all these mostly positive experiences. Has anyone else seen the jerking problem the review was talking about? Sounds like no one who responded here has seen it. If these problems are very isolated then it's not as bad a situation as I thought. I agree that for the price, this is a very innovative mount and is really just what I am looking for...provided the quality is there.

#12 Dr Benway

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 09:55 PM

Hopefully this review will be a wake-up call to iOptron Corporation to get their act together. My handset tells me there is an autoguider function in EQ mode, for example. Steve Forbes has prototyped a wedge that will be in production soon. No one seems to have a clue what it will take to enable the autoguider feature. Others are having trouble trying to drive the mount with PC planetarium programs. iOptron says they are working on it. The GOTONOVA hardware engineers must not be talking to the software people.

John

#13 Bob Moore

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 10:45 PM

Can someone please point me to the review

Bob

#14 Lane

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Posted 02 April 2009 - 10:58 PM

Here it is Bob:

http://www.cloudynig...hp?item_id=1953

#15 J_D_Metzger

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:07 AM

J.D.,

I have to challenge you on the dope smokin' AP statement. I have been getting great results with the alt/az Mini Tower. My only limitation is 56 second exposures due to field rotation. Here is a 10x56 sec exposure I shot of IC434 02/28/09

John


Hi John,

Aw, that was with a Hyperstar - that's cheating! :lol:

Seriously, that's a great shot, and I stand corrected... :o

#16 Dr Benway

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:16 AM

Thanks, J.D.

Yes, the Hyperstar feels like cheating, too!

John

#17 Al Canarelli

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:38 AM

I just read the last review and I share the conclusion that this fine looking piece of equipment may not be ready for prime time. It seems that some who posted in this thread, purchased from Steve Forbes at Trapezium, paid extra for this service and have had no problems.

I already find that the stock mount (@ $800) is on the pricey side. If I were to buy this mount, I would also want Steve Forbes to trick out my mount. What does he do and what does he get for his service? Can anyone offer some information?

#18 jasonj998

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:55 AM

Well it's great to see all these mostly positive experiences. Has anyone else seen the jerking problem the review was talking about? Sounds like no one who responded here has seen it. If these problems are very isolated then it's not as bad a situation as I thought. I agree that for the price, this is a very innovative mount and is really just what I am looking for...provided the quality is there.


I am among the early bird group of Minitower and have been using it flawlessly since then. I noticed some discussion about the jerking problem at high power in iOptron Yahoo group at the very beginning, and it was solved by firmware upgrade if I remember correctly. There wrer a few weeks gap the Minitower sold out, but when the new ones arrived, it seemed no mention of the jerking problem again.

Looks like the reviewer purchased the unit not too long ago, it should not be the old batch.

#19 dpastern

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 06:08 AM

I can never understand people supporting poor QC...it appears that this mount has a solid reputation of problems, I'd give it a wide berth myself. One should not have to rely on a 3rd party (and extra expenditure) to fix core basic problems with poor QA and manufacture. Even at a "lowly" US $700 (which is not that cheap I might add).

Dave

#20 Peter King

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 08:14 AM

I can never understand people supporting poor QC...it appears that this mount has a solid reputation of problems, I'd give it a wide berth myself. One should not have to rely on a 3rd party (and extra expenditure) to fix core basic problems with poor QA and manufacture. Even at a "lowly" US $700 (which is not that cheap I might add).

Dave


Mine was not from a third party; I bought the MiniTower last year from iOptron online store and it was shipped to my house directly from CA by UPS. To be honest, the product's workmanship is pretty good and the design is super. I have used it for several public events and constantly used at by backyard, never had a single issue at all. The first time assembly was about 10 min with manual (the manual was so so, but you barely need it) and 2-3 min every time later per the simplicity of the mount. I have owned/used at least 5 different mounts including every expensive ones; I give the MiniTower number one rank. Both goto and tracking accuracy of MiniTower are great; it often lock the target at the dead center of the FOV. After I had the MiniTower, two of my friends bought it, one from OPT and one from iOptron. I am not aware any problem they have encountered but happy and enjoy. Peter

#21 J_D_Metzger

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:22 AM

Interesting. It seems the majority of positive comments are by owners of the mount, and the majority of negative comments are by people who have never used one... :question:

#22 Al Canarelli

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:36 AM

As a very likely Ioptron buyer, (was planning to buy a Mini Tower or CubePro at NEAF) this thread and the recent review on CN has served as an eye opener.

While there is a solid group of people in this very thread who are very happy with the product, one can't overlook the fact that the author of the review got two "stinkers" in a row! This tells me that there is an excellent chance I would get the same if I buy one. Having been through this scene with other manufacturers and other products in the past, I'm going to avoid future complications and reserve my buying plans for a while. If you think I'm making a mistake, kindly post here or PM me.

#23 donsinger1

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:22 AM

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the review. I had one and sold it for several reasons: (1) I did notice the jerkiness and found it annoying at high power; and, (2) I found it noisy when tracking when compared to my SE setup, which is dead silent. However, maybe Steve Forbes tear down eliminates this, I do not know.

What I really liked was the accuracy of the gotos and dead on all night long tracking; however, this did not overcome my annoyance at the jerkiness and noise; but this is personal preference.

Relative to portability, I think it is a tossup between the iOptron and my 6SE..I have a great Lowpro bag that compactly fits the 6SE with OTA, and then some, so I give each a tie on that issue.

Sincerely,
Don

#24 Dave Ponder

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:53 AM

I tried two of them....both bounced the image so much I could not enjoy the view at all. Would love to have a good one, but zero for two is enough for me....
Dave P

#25 Al Canarelli

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:42 AM

I did some research with Trapezium and here's what I learned...

If you are planning to buy a Mini Tower, you should buy it ONLY from Trapezium! These people take each unit out and use it for a few hours. If it works satisfactorily, it goes back to the shop for tune up and custom greasing. It then goes back to the field for testing again. I am told that each unit is tested for several hours. If it works satisfactorily, it is packed and sent to the client. If not, it is rejected and sent back to Ioptron. This is called the regular tune up.

The Ultra tune up goes a little further in that the stock bearings are changed for better bearings.

Okay, so what does it cost? There seems to be NO CHARGE for the regular tune up costs as the price is $799, which is almost what all other dealers charge. Keep in mind, however, that Trapezium does not discount the mount and a few other dealers do...the lowest price I've seen is $749. Additionally, Trapezium WILL charge shipping to you, which is not the case with many other dealers. Therefore, you will be paying a real cost of $100 more for the Mini Tower with basic tune up than you would be paying from another dealer (this assumes that shipping cost is about $50.) The real price of the Mini Tower has now escalated to $899, under the circumstances, this is a bargain!

The price of the Ultra Tune Up is an extra $300, bringing the price of the Mini Tower to $1099 plus shipping.

Finally, a very important point: Trapezium will handle all warranty claims from their shop in NH, so Ioptron is kept out of the loop. (Not sure of the warranty period)






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