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Calling iOptron MiniTower Experts

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#1 Starman1

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 01:07 AM

I have an interesting problem and it may be related to backlash settings, or alignment star choice.

Perhaps someone could trouble-shoot for me.

My iOptron MiniTower seems to align normally, and seems to find the target just fine.

The problem comes when I move the telescope in any direction with the arrow buttons on the hand controller once it is aligned.

Regardless of which arrow button I push to gradually slew the scope, the instant I let off pressure on the arrow button, the scope moves about a degree upward in altitude. It doesn't matter whether I move it east or west or up or down. The instant I let off pressure on the direction button, the mount jumps upward about 1 degree.

The scope is balanced.

The odd thing is that the mount will slew to a new target just fine, but the instant I try to center the object with the arrow buttons, the altitude jump occurs when I let off the button.

I tried adjusting the backlash to zero and then back to the original setting--no difference.

Anyone got any idea what's going on?

#2 Mikejj

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 03:04 AM

Did you set the anti backlash to 0 for both DEC and RA? It seems to me the DEC anti backlash is big.

#3 Dr Benway

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 06:41 AM

Low power. Are you using AA cells? Try the AC adapter or a 12vdc RV battery.

John

#4 Illinois

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 07:32 AM

Yes, I have the same problem in the past and CN informed me about Anti-backash. I clicked on Set Up Controller then set Anti- Backash from 075 down to 050 then little better but I need more. I changed from 050 down to 000. Lot better!

#5 Starman1

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 10:10 AM

I'm powering with a 20 amp-hour, freshly-charged battery.
I also have backlash set at 0000.
Neither of those was the problem.
I discovered what the problem is and it has nothing to do with settings or my alignment accuracy.
Since I now know the problem, and it requires a repair of the mount, I thank everyone for their time and suggestions.
Best to everyone,
Don

#6 Waduino

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 11:25 AM

Since I am about to order a MT, can I ask if the problem was in manufacturing or something that happened after you received the mount?
Thanks.
Wad.

#7 Starman1

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 02:42 PM

I believe the mount I obtained was an older one, and it was a manufacturing problem that has long been solved. Such are the perils of getting a used mount. I don't think you need to worry about that if obtaining a new unit.

As for the mount itself, it's unbelievably portable for such a stable mount.

I have some observations:
1) The tripod has to be extended some in use. Otherwise the eyepiece is too low. Unless you sit on a very low stool.
2) The brightness of the hand controller screen needs to be reduced significantly. The default is WAY too bright. I suggest you do so before it gets dark. And hang the hand controller with the screen facing the scope when not in use.
3) It takes a lot of button pushing to go from picking one DSO to picking the next. It is a menu-driven telescope, without hot buttons on the hand controller for different objects. Meade is the best in that regard. If on M66 and wanting to go to M65, you hit M-6-5-GoTo (4 clicks). With Celestron, you hit Undo-M-0-6-5-Enter (6 clicks). With the MT you hit Menu-sight&slew(if that was the last menu button chosen)-down arrow to Messier-enter-0-6-5-enter (8 clicks). If you go back and forth between NGC and Messier objects, you'll hit even more buttons.
Let's put this in perspective, though. The Tangent-manufactured DSC on my dob requires ten to twenty button pushes to perform the same action (even more if the numbers are very different than the next object).
So the MiniTower doesn't have the smallest number of button pushes possible to go from one object to the next, but it is far from the worst.
Were I to suggest one improvement in the software, it would be for the handcontroller to not return to the main screen after the target is acquired, but to return to the menu. It would only save one to three button clicks per object, but that would be nice over a night.
4) The manual does not say, but I recommend, loosening the center screw a bit when leveling the mount with the screws under the base. If using the tripod to level, it is not necessary to loosen the central screw. Be sure to retighten before using the scope, though.
5) The mount does not have E-W and N-S reverse for the arrow buttons. It would be great if it did. I find it easier to use the arrow buttons to move the object than to move the field of view of the telescope. Meade and Celestron have this feature.
6) Did I mention I like the size and portability? Did I mention I also like being able to load the mount with two scopes at the same time? My Mak has a long f/ratio and a narrow field of view. It's great to put a 66mm refractor on the other side and see a 3 degree field at low power.
Close-up and wide field without changing eyepieces! Nice.

#8 Luigi

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 03:18 PM

>>>I find it easier to use the arrow buttons to move the object than to move the field of view of the telescope. Meade and Celestron have this feature.<<<

Rotate the controller in your hand so the display is at the bottom. :grin:

#9 Waduino

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 03:58 PM

Great info. Thanks for all the tips.
Makes me wonder about firmware hacks :question: but from what I can tell iOptron seems to be pretty good at providing updates for this controller.
Wad.

#10 Starman1

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Posted 05 June 2009 - 05:42 PM

>>>I find it easier to use the arrow buttons to move the object than to move the field of view of the telescope. Meade and Celestron have this feature.<<<

Rotate the controller in your hand so the display is at the bottom. :grin:

:foreheadslap:Doh!

#11 johnpd

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Posted 07 June 2009 - 05:32 AM

I had a similar problem one evening. I tried to center an object in the eyepiece. As soon as I hit any arrow, the mount would slew about 5 or so degrees from the object. I finally shut everything down, restarted, aligned, and everything worked again. Not sure what caused it.

#12 John_C

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 03:40 PM

I believe the mount I obtained was an older one, and it was a manufacturing problem that has long been solved. Such are the perils of getting a used mount. I don't think you need to worry about that if obtaining a new unit.


Unfortunately new isn't always in the budget... such is life... do you know happen to know the manufacturing date of your mount or even better the date when newly manufactured mounts stopped having the problem? Any info would be greatly appreciated!

#13 Starman1

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Posted 08 August 2009 - 08:55 PM

Sorry, I don't.

Since then, a software update has addressed a couple issues that makes the mount even more user-friendly: The screen turns off after a few seconds, which both saves battery life and eyesight, and if you restart the screen with a push of the menu button, you will find yourself on the search and slew mode. Convenient.

I've learned a lot more about this mount since my first post. I'm finding it more intuitive to use after learning from the user group on Yahoo how to achieve greater pointing accuracy, how to balance it more accurately, and how to set it up more quickly.

It's a fun mount to use.

#14 GShaffer

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 01:11 PM

I too have had the one degree jump, usually realigning cures it for a while but it always comes back.....In reading the thread I never saw an explanation of what the issue is......Do you know what the fix is?

Sorry, I don't.

Since then, a software update has addressed a couple issues that makes the mount even more user-friendly: The screen turns off after a few seconds, which both saves battery life and eyesight, and if you restart the screen with a push of the menu button, you will find yourself on the search and slew mode. Convenient.

I've learned a lot more about this mount since my first post. I'm finding it more intuitive to use after learning from the user group on Yahoo how to achieve greater pointing accuracy, how to balance it more accurately, and how to set it up more quickly.

It's a fun mount to use.



#15 deepskytraveler

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 01:34 PM

There was a bug in a firmware release earlier this year, the May version if I recall correctly, that resulted in the MiniTower jumping away from the selected object after returning to the menu. You need to upgrade to the latest firmware version and everything should work fine.

/Mark

#16 karlpenney

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 08:58 PM

The screen turns off after a few seconds, which both saves battery life and eyesight, and if you restart the screen with a push of the menu button, you will find yourself on the search and slew mode.


Which firmware version is this? I had mine out tonight and I didn't notice this feature with version 090701. Maybe I need to do something in the setup?

#17 Starman1

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 09:45 PM

I'm using the same firmware version.
After several seconds on main menu, the screen goes dark.
You push any button to reactivate the screen.
If you reactivate the screen by pushing the Menu button, you find yourself on the menu with the Select and Slew tab highlighted.
Merely hit enter and you will find yourself on the Select and Slew menu.
It only saves one keystroke, but in the course of using the mount over a year, it reduces the number of keystrokes.
The iOptron mount has more than its fair share of keystrokes to choose the next object. So reducing the keystrokes, even if only by one, is nice.
And the blackout of the screen on main menu, which was not in the previous update, is also nice and a battery saver.

#18 karlpenney

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 10:02 PM

Hmm, I still don't see it. I'll play around some more tomorrow.

#19 deepskytraveler

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 09:43 AM

I am getting a similar result as Karl with the backlight timeout with firmware version 090701. My backlight stays on for approximately 60 seconds after a slew is completed before it automatically turns off. This seems to be a shorter timeout period than previously, though not a few seconds like Don is seeing. Unfortunately I had never time it before so I am unable do a quantitative comparison. I did look for a timeout setting within the "setup controller" menu but didn't find anything.

#20 Starman1

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 02:02 PM

It's possible it's a minute before the screen darkens. It didn't used to do so, so it's an improvement. I keep the screen at minimum and it's still too bright, but the next dimmer setting is off. So I'm glad it shuts off in a few seconds--even if that few seconds is 60.

#21 karlpenney

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 08:26 PM

Are you guys talking about just the backlight going off, or does your screen go completely blank also? My backlight does goes off after a bit, but didn't time it.

#22 deepskytraveler

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 06:20 AM

Karl,

We are talking about the backlight going off. The display always stays active.

Mark






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