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Mini Tower Owners Chime in please!

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#1 EdTheEdge

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 08:46 AM

I am seriously considering ordering the iOptron mini tower mount in the next couple of weeks. I have read many glowing reviews and some not so flattering reviews. But it seems that this mount is overall well tested and numerous kinks have been worked out.

What are your experiences?

I would like to intitially pair it up with an Orion 100ED F/9 scope but it will also find usage with my SP-C6 and my ST80.

#2 wsuriano

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 10:11 AM

Ed:

I presume you want to use the MT solely for visual use, correct? As a visual platform, I have found it to be highly portable, very accurate (for both GoTos and tracking), and easy to set up. Buy it from Steve Forbes at Trapezium and he'll test it before it ships. I would not recommend the MT as an imaging platform.

#3 EdTheEdge

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 10:15 AM

Ed:

I presume you want to use the MT solely for visual use, correct? As a visual platform, I have found it to be highly portable, very accurate (for both GoTos and tracking), and easy to set up. Buy it from Steve Forbes at Trapezium and he'll test it before it ships. I would not recommend the MT as an imaging platform.


Thanks for the reply! Yes solely for visual. And Trapezium in definitely on the short list! ;)

Well that's one pro.... any cons anyone?

TIA

Ed

#4 Dr Benway

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 03:08 PM

Ahem! It is a great imaging platform! I have imaged with it in alt/az for about 7 months with good results. I now get longer exposures in EQ mode mounted on a wedge. I autoguide it with an Orion StarShoot DSCI II camera through an ST80 piggybacked on top of my C8/Hyperstar3/QHY8 OSC AP setup. Here is a picture of M8 and M20 from a stack of 11 subs shot at 120 seconds exposure on 6/30/09

John Bozeman

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#5 astroalex

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 03:36 PM

I was seriously considering the MT also, but was totally turned off by two things I heard/read about.

1. One owner reported that the battery cord wrapped around the mount after locating many objects, the problem being that the mount head would almost always turn clock-wise when locating an object instead of going left and right.
Has THIS been FIXED!

2. The legs don't appear to be sturdy enough. Got it from a very reputable source that the mount suffers from the "jiggles".

So, for these TWO reasons have not gotten this mount. Can anyone confirm or refute or explain that these are minor and/or have been fixed? Especially the "cord wrap" thing.
I was even thinking of placing this mount on my AT Voyager, which is a very solid A/Z platform. I am getting real tired of having to "re-engineer" telescope stuff I buy 10 seconds after I unpack it.

Thanks.

#6 wsuriano

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 07:08 PM

I did not mean to imply that you could not image with the MT, just that I did not recommend it. As you know John, to get long exposures with the MT you have to put the MT on the wedge Steve Forbes designed, which also requires a bearing upgrade. If you add up the cost of the bearing upgrade, plus the cost of the wedge, plus the mount itself, you'd be in range of a CGEM or Atlas, if not more. And you'd still have a tripod far less robust than the CGEM's. Where the MT really shines is in doing what it was originally designed to do, namely, provide a great grab and go mount that tracks really well.

Bill

#7 GaryML

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 10:16 PM

Thanks for the reply! Yes solely for visual. And Trapezium in definitely on the short list! ;)

Well that's one pro.... any cons anyone?

TIA

Ed


I had one and returned it after about a week. A bunch of small design and construction issues turned me off.

First of all, I had to jiggle the antenna wire for the GPS unit to get it to work. Even after it started working, it could take 10 minutes to get a GPS lock. Given the large number of GPS problems, this aspect of the design was clearly under-engineered.

Set-up and alignment was pretty easy and gotos were very accurate. But is was definitely more jiggly with my 100mm f/9 refractor as compared to my William Optics EZTouch. It was more of a low frequency wobble rather than a higher frequency jiggle, so it didn't interfere with focusing. (I traced the vibration to the azimuth bearing.) It was disappointing to get this level of shake with a 12 lbs scope on a mount rated for 25 lbs.

Some construction issues: the battery compartment was not properly sized. The only way to get the battery holder out of the compartment (in order to load batteries) was to extract it with a long-nose pliers. While the mount was mostly metal, the plastic trim on the head around the battery compartment seemed rather cheap-looking. On the tripod, the little screws that hold the flange that separates the upper and lower leg sections were too long and they caused the legs to jam if they were tight. I added small fiberboard washers to the three screws to fix the problem. But this level of careless engineering and/or assembly was disappointing in an $800 product.

Finally, when using the mount, there was a clear vibration at medium and high power when tracking objects. Some vibration in the motor/gear assembly was being transmitted to the telescope. I supposed I could start fiddling with backlash settings and the like, but I decided that this thing was simply not a finished product. It just felt like it wasn't going to last, and I didn't want to spend $800 on something that seems poorly made and likely to fail after a few years. So after one week it was returned to the store for credit.

#8 asteroid7

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 10:57 PM

GPS does not work, even after checking for loose wires.
There is slippage on the alt knob.
go/tos are not anywhere near the center of a 24mm ep.
once you put on the telescope it is nearly impossible to get the mount level using the in-built bubble.
I would not recommend this mount

#9 Rick Socarras

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 06:43 AM

I've had mine for about 6 months. It works great! I use it for a TMB 92 and a Celestron 6" SCT. When I 1st got the mount, I looked at the GPS to make sure all things were connected. They were. The unit has a hatch with 4 screws for the GPS so you are not taking it apart.

As others have mentioned...it's accurate. How are the legs? Well, it's not my CGE but then again I have use of my back for the night. It's not a heavy duty mount. It is a GREAT portable mount that gets you observing quickly. It does exactly what I expected from it. It allows my to look at things without having to make adjustments every 20 seconds or so.

Do I have complaints? Well, every mount has an 'issue' and that includes the most expensive ones. If you look at the forums some are 'too heavy' or 'too tall' or 'cables are bad' or 'building it in the dark problem.'

It's a portable mount that implies it's light weight. Electronics work for me well. The legs are great for a portable mount. I like the system used for leveling it...very smart.

Would I buy again? Yes. It fits my needs 100%.

#10 EdTheEdge

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 10:00 AM

Ahem! It is a great imaging platform! I have imaged with it in alt/az for about 7 months with good results. I now get longer exposures in EQ mode mounted on a wedge. I autoguide it with an Orion StarShoot DSCI II camera through an ST80 piggybacked on top of my C8/Hyperstar3/QHY8 OSC AP setup. Here is a picture of M8 and M20 from a stack of 11 subs shot at 120 seconds exposure on 6/30/09

John Bozeman


WOW nice image John! While I am too much of a newbie to expect anything like that I like the fact that this mount shows the capability.

I was seriously considering the MT also, but was totally turned off by two things I heard/read about.

1. One owner reported that the battery cord wrapped around the mount after locating many objects, the problem being that the mount head would almost always turn clock-wise when locating an object instead of going left and right.
Has THIS been FIXED!

2. The legs don't appear to be sturdy enough. Got it from a very reputable source that the mount suffers from the "jiggles".

So, for these TWO reasons have not gotten this mount. Can anyone confirm or refute or explain that these are minor and/or have been fixed? Especially the "cord wrap" thing.
I was even thinking of placing this mount on my AT Voyager, which is a very solid A/Z platform. I am getting real tired of having to "re-engineer" telescope stuff I buy 10 seconds after I unpack it.

Thanks.


Thanks for the response Al! I would have never thought about the "wrap around" issue!!! That's why this this board is priceless! I too am wondering if this problem has been corrected. It seems that solving a problem like should have been caught early on and corrected.

Where the MT really shines is in doing what it was originally designed to do, namely, provide a great grab and go mount that tracks really well.


Bill at this point in my astronomical journey that is exactly what I am looking for. I am a relative newbie living in a very light polluted area. I have been struggling with my non GoTo GEM for too long and would like something quick and easy. THanks!

I had one and returned it after about a week. A bunch of small design and construction issues turned me off.

First of all, I had to jiggle the antenna wire for the GPS unit to get it to work. Even after it started working, it could take 10 minutes to get a GPS lock. Given the large number of GPS problems, this aspect of the design was clearly under-engineered.

Set-up and alignment was pretty easy and gotos were very accurate. But is was definitely more jiggly with my 100mm f/9 refractor as compared to my William Optics EZTouch. It was more of a low frequency wobble rather than a higher frequency jiggle, so it didn't interfere with focusing. (I traced the vibration to the azimuth bearing.) It was disappointing to get this level of shake with a 12 lbs scope on a mount rated for 25 lbs.

Some construction issues: the battery compartment was not properly sized. The only way to get the battery holder out of the compartment (in order to load batteries) was to extract it with a long-nose pliers. While the mount was mostly metal, the plastic trim on the head around the battery compartment seemed rather cheap-looking. On the tripod, the little screws that hold the flange that separates the upper and lower leg sections were too long and they caused the legs to jam if they were tight. I added small fiberboard washers to the three screws to fix the problem. But this level of careless engineering and/or assembly was disappointing in an $800 product.

Finally, when using the mount, there was a clear vibration at medium and high power when tracking objects. Some vibration in the motor/gear assembly was being transmitted to the telescope. I supposed I could start fiddling with backlash settings and the like, but I decided that this thing was simply not a finished product. It just felt like it wasn't going to last, and I didn't want to spend $800 on something that seems poorly made and likely to fail after a few years. So after one week it was returned to the store for credit.


Gary I am sad to hear that you had so many problems with this mount. This causes me quite some concern.

GPS does not work, even after checking for loose wires.
There is slippage on the alt knob.
go/tos are not anywhere near the center of a 24mm ep.
once you put on the telescope it is nearly impossible to get the mount level using the in-built bubble.
I would not recommend this mount


Hmm another "no" vote..... Thanks Asteroid

I've had mine for about 6 months. It works great! I use it for a TMB 92 and a Celestron 6" SCT. When I 1st got the mount, I looked at the GPS to make sure all things were connected. They were. The unit has a hatch with 4 screws for the GPS so you are not taking it apart.

As others have mentioned...it's accurate. How are the legs? Well, it's not my CGE but then again I have use of my back for the night. It's not a heavy duty mount. It is a GREAT portable mount that gets you observing quickly. It does exactly what I expected from it. It allows my to look at things without having to make adjustments every 20 seconds or so.

Do I have complaints? Well, every mount has an 'issue' and that includes the most expensive ones. If you look at the forums some are 'too heavy' or 'too tall' or 'cables are bad' or 'building it in the dark problem.'

It's a portable mount that implies it's light weight. Electronics work for me well. The legs are great for a portable mount. I like the system used for leveling it...very smart.

Would I buy again? Yes. It fits my needs 100%


Well Rick likes his! Cool! So far it seems that there are some very happy campers and some very disgruntled users. As I continue my searh for a quick and easy GandG GoTo mount I am quickly finding out is not going to be an easy one.

Thanks all for your replies. Anyone else care to chime in?

#11 Bob Moore

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 02:52 PM

I'm with Rick, I have had one for some time now and love it,
I took it to CSSP the weather was bad but the mount was great! right now it's sitting out back by the observatroy with and 80mm ED trip. and an 80mm ED dub. on it. Last night I was looking at the dub-dub with a 3.5mm ep and the MT was as solid as a rock. The MT is my #1 grab & go set up now I love that you car put 2 scopes on it. Lots of time i'll run a statblaster on one side and a 90mm mak. on the other. Yes some have had some problems but iOptron Tech support is GREAT!! People need to remember that it's not a G11 or a CGE it's a "MINI" Tower

There's my buck twenty five.

Bob

#12 Waduino

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 03:26 PM

Well, I've only had mine a few weeks and only had one really good session with it. It's very simple to set up and seems very accurate at GOTO and tracking. I'm not sure if I'd put a 100mm f/9 on it though.
To be fair, I have only used it with a 12V power supply. Yes, the cord could be an issue if you go after your targets in one direction and don't pay attention. It wouldn't be hard to pick an interim target to go the other way around, I don't think, but I'll have to try and see. The alt will slip if the clutch isn't tightened enough. Hasn't happened to me.
One surprise was that I found it a little jiggly focusing (not tracking). I may just extend the legs halfway next time to see if it makes any difference.
Oh, if you want to goto say epsilon Lyrae, you have to find the SAO number first, if it is not a named star in the menu, or you could just use the hand controller and slew the drive there. I'm new so I was surprised at that but it seems not too uncommon with GOTOs. I've seen many comments that the software is relatively user friendly.
Clear Skies.
Wad.

#13 marked

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 04:02 PM

Wad,

Is there some reason you wouldn't put a 100mm f/9 on it? I'm considering getting this mount for my 100mm f/8. Do you know of people who've experienced problems with scopes of that length?

Thanks,

Ed

#14 Bob Moore

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 04:04 PM

Hi Wad, Your right about the SAO numbers I went to the epsilon's using RA & DEC.

Bob

#15 jlicquia

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 11:06 PM

I think it's a *BLEEP* shoot. I had one for a couple of weeks and just returned it. I'm getting an Orion Sirius GEM instead.

Most of the problems I had with mine were related to poor tracking and intermittent motor operation and slewing in azimuth mode. Sometimes it would just stop functioning all together. I installed the latest firmware upgrades and they made no difference. All in all, I think the Mini Tower was a good idea but poorly engineered. Qc also seems to be questionable give the number of problems people seem to be having. Not recommended.

Jim

#16 Waduino

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 12:29 PM

It would be better to hear from someone who has a 100f/9 or equivalent on one. Perhaps I shouldn't have postulated, but I wonder if the moment and the possibility of alt clutch slippage would be an issue. People do put pretty big scopes on these things though, and I know someone who uses a small strap wrench to ensure the alt clutch is tight (and to loosen it).
Wad.

#17 marked

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 04:05 PM

Thanks Wad. That's my concern too - either the alt clutch slipping or increased vibration and dampening time. However, I've read a few posts from folks who say they've mounted OTA's of that size and the mount handled it with no problem.

#18 Bob Moore

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 05:38 PM

Ask and you shall receive! Here's a 127 F8 on the MT, It worked, but I think the scope is a little long for the MT. I think the MT will handle a 100mm just fine.

Bob

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#19 marked

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 06:28 PM

Thanks Bob - glad to hear it worked. Could you describe how stable everything seemed, vibration, and dampening times?

Ed

#20 johnnyha

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Posted 08 July 2009 - 06:48 PM

I ordered one from Trapezium last week with Steve's ultra bearing upgrade and a 6" round tripod adapter plate to mount it to any 3/8-16 flat top tripod. He says he's at about a three week turnaround right now so I won't have it for a few weeks but I'll let y'all know how that goes.

#21 EdTheEdge

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 02:45 PM

I think it's a *BLEEP* shoot. I had one for a couple of weeks and just returned it. I'm getting an Orion Sirius GEM instead.

Most of the problems I had with mine were related to poor tracking and intermittent motor operation and slewing in azimuth mode. Sometimes it would just stop functioning all together. I installed the latest firmware upgrades and they made no difference. All in all, I think the Mini Tower was a good idea but poorly engineered. Qc also seems to be questionable give the number of problems people seem to be having. Not recommended.

Jim


Jim sorry to hear that.... I really am. I am close to pulling the trigger on this mount but you have given me reason to pause a bit. Could it be possible that you just got a bad one? Since I already have a GEM I am not in the market for another. I AM looking for a good grab and go with GoTo. I guess I'll be doing a bit more research.... :(

#22 EdTheEdge

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 02:47 PM

Ask and you shall receive! Here's a 127 F8 on the MT, It worked, but I think the scope is a little long for the MT. I think the MT will handle a 100mm just fine.

Bob


WOW Bob! Thats a beautiful scope!!!! Sizeable too! You say that worked on the MT? How well?

#23 EdTheEdge

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 02:50 PM

I ordered one from Trapezium last week with Steve's ultra bearing upgrade and a 6" round tripod adapter plate to mount it to any 3/8-16 flat top tripod. He says he's at about a three week turnaround right now so I won't have it for a few weeks but I'll let y'all know how that goes.


Please do!!!!

Although I don't think I could afford the Trapezium tune up. I hope it works out for you!

#24 johnnyha

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 03:23 PM

Although I don't think I could afford the Trapezium tune up. I hope it works out for you!


EdtheEdge - Steve includes a tuneup of every MiniTower he sells for free regardless of whether you get the ultra package or not. The extra charge is for a bearing upgrade which he can do later if you choose to purchase one without it, and I'm sure it should be good for a few years before doing the upgrade. He does charge a bit less to get the bearing upgrade at time of purchase however, and he says it will help the MT track even smoother.

I am planning on shooting color Mallincam images (which require up to 56 second exposures) with my NP101 and the MT, I've read owners' anecdotes and seen images showing the MiniTower is capable of producing excellent results for this kind of astrophotography.

#25 Bob Moore

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 06:10 PM

As I said it worked. the mount had no trouble with the weight of the scope but the tube is quite long so it did take some time for it to settle down after touching the scope. Look I don't think the MT is the right mount for a scope that is as long as the mount is tall. I have put a 101mm on it, a two 80mm side by side, a 6" F4 Newt, a 90mm Mak. with an 80mm Apo side by side, a starblaster and any of the above side by side and they all worked great.

Bob






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