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IEQ45 - an evaluation

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#1 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 03:49 PM

This is going to be a down and dirty evaluation of my particular IEQ45 mount. It is not meant to portray anything other than that. I am not claiming that my mount is a true representative sample. YMMV. I encourage other owners to report on their IEQ45 mount so that we can eventually learn what a typical IEQ45 is capable of.

I intend to be very picky - not to put off any potential buyers, but to provide as accurate a critique as I can. Since the mount has "the look" of an Astro-Physics 900 and a 1200 - and since I used to own an A-P 600E GTO and a 1200 GoTo - I intend to compare my $1,600 IEQ45 with my recollection of the $5,000 and $9,800 mounts from Astro-Physics. If nothing else, iOptron invites the comparison by knocking off the appearance of A-Ps mounts. - I have no personal experience with any other GEMs in the price range of the IEQ45, so I will not comment on any of those mounts.

Here is the tripod:

Posted Image

The tripod, 2 counter weights, and wiring "stuff" are all packed together in one carton. The mount head comes in a separate box. The tripod is sturdy, and thanks to the 2" diameter legs, it should provide a stabile platform. It has a spreader/locking device similar to those on a Celestron or Meade heavy duty tripod.

The first clue as to how the manufacturer cuts corners to produce a nice looking, and quite sophisticated mount for only $1,600, can be seen in the close up (insert). The spreader is not designed well. Had they tapered the spreader there would be no gap (small, circled arrow in insert). While this is just a supposition, a tapered fit at the leg/spreader junction would likely reduce vibration better than the "single point" contact, as shown. Still, it does seem to be a robust, capable tripod.

In the larger image, the arrow points to the alignment peg. You have to remove the three screws before placing the mount head on the tripod, but the mount head is light, easy to lift, and fits nicely on the tripod... a simple, easy operation.

BTW, if you want a Komodo Dragon to guard your mount, you need to order it separately. :)
 

#2 hypergolic

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 04:17 PM

Post deleted by hypergolic
 

#3 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 04:47 PM

The mount head is packed extremely well.

Posted Image

As soon as I opened the box, it became quite apparent that this is NO A-P mount. (Now remember, I am going to be very picky.) It's nothing I can explain, exactly - and you can't tell by looking at photos - but those of you who have seen an A-P mount and it's excellent paint job, will immediately notice the difference between the two mounts.
 

#4 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 04:49 PM

Nevertheless, it is quite a handsome mount:

Posted Image
 

#5 blueman

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 04:53 PM

Visually, it looks OK. How does everything fit together? How about lash in the RA & DEC? Do the Polar Alignment adjustments work smoothly and precisely? Do the thumb nuts seem to tighten sufficiently?
Just a few of the questions that come to mind.
Blueman
 

#6 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 04:56 PM

It comes with a Vixen style clamp attached, but there is also a Losmandy D style dovetail clamp included with the mount. Both are decent in quality. The Vixen has two simple screws... the D clamp has a spring loaded bar, and is the nicer of the two. Here is another angle showing the Vixen clamp:

Posted Image
 

#7 FoxTrot

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:06 PM

Larry, thanks for the review, this looks exciting! What's the pattern in the polar scope reticle, for southern observers? Fox
 

#8 rcarrow53

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:09 PM

When you have time, PLEASE tell us more. It looks good. How does it setup and operate? I know you are busy but patience is NOT one of my virtues. Nice lizard! Thanks for your time and reporting. -- RHC
 

#9 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:13 PM

Visually, it looks OK. How does everything fit together? How about lash in the RA & DEC? Do the Polar Alignment adjustments work smoothly and precisely? Do the thumb nuts seem to tighten sufficiently?
Just a few of the questions that come to mind.
Blueman


Everything fits together very nicely - nice and tight. No sloppiness at all. As for backlash??? I haven't used it yet so I will have to reserve comment until next week. Thumb nuts work perfectly. I haven't had the time to check the polar scope.
 

#10 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:23 PM

Another view:

Posted Image

The motor covers and electronic boxes (arrows) are plastic - not metal as used in A-P mounts. But to keep this fair to iOptron, for $1,600 you are not going to get a $5,000 mount.

Another thing to note is that nice shiny weight bar. It's quite thick and looks impressive. However, instead os being polished stainless steel, it appears to be chromed... probably chrome over iron - not chrome over stainless steel. I point these things out because they go towards durability and longevity. If the mount functions as good as I hope it will, the next question should be, "will it still be a good mount in two or three years - or will it start to rust, or otherwise deteriorate?"
 

#11 hypergolic

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:34 PM

It is a pretty mount.
 

#12 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:34 PM

Yes indeed - chromed iron. My guess was correct. I unscrewed the safety screw on the weight bar and looked at the bottom. The very last inch of the bar is hollow (95% is solid). Inside the hollow part I see some rust. It's definitely chrome over iron.

By itself, this is not a big deal. Anyone familiar with the "cheapo" weights that used to come with GM-8 and G-11 mounts... as well as some of the other lesser quality construction features of those otherwise very fine mounts will know what I mean. If the chrome job was done correctly, that bar will last a lifetime... if not, the chrome will separate from the iron over time. In any case, I will add a little grease to to areas that have started to rust a bit.
 

#13 LLEEGE

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:50 PM

Maybe I'll NEAF one if the price is right. :)
 

#14 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 05:51 PM

Here is another example of a less than perfect paint job. You'll never see it once the mount is set up:

Posted Image

Or this - on top, beneath the dovetail clamps.

Posted Image

Again... I am picky, but with good reason. I know I am going to win a lottery in 2011, so I will be able to replace my IEQ45 anytime I want... but some of you guys who will not be winning a lottery might be planning on keeping your mount for more than a year or two... so the fit and finish is important.

To put things in perspective, thus far I find no surprises and I am pleased with the mount. So far I have found nothing that makes me regret my order. So far, the way I see it, you are getting a lot for your money.

I hope I can say the same thing in a couple of weeks time.
 

#15 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 06:04 PM

The D dovetail clamp that comes with the mount (middle) and an ADM equivalent (on the left):

Posted Image

I decided to use my ADM dovetail just because it is just slightly nicer in some ways. But if I didn't already have it, there is no way I would buy one to replace the stock dovetail.

Posted Image
 

#16 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 06:14 PM

The rest of "what's included:"

Posted Image

I know you all have many questions - and so do I. I'd love to play with this mount and report on the things that we both want to know about. And now that I see it, looking all nice and pretty, staring me in the face and winking at me, I have to exercise considerable constraint and tend to the chores my wife has set out for me. Women have very little sense about what things in life are really important. :( :lol:
 

#17 skybsd

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 06:22 PM

Hello Larry,
Can't help but notice the absence of counterweights anywhere so far..,

Where're they at?

Regards,

skybsd
 

#18 luck

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 06:31 PM

Larry, that looks nice. Thanks for sharing!!!

Now, we eagerly await the PE results in the coming weeks. I will be praying for clear skies :praying:
 

#19 hfjacinto

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 07:12 PM

Larry,

I see a USB connection, so we actually have a scope that can connect to a USB jack? Can you try and see if actually works? I couldn't read the writing, does it have an autoguide port? If yes does it use the SBIG standard?

Thanks for the report.
 

#20 Steven

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 07:21 PM

Thanks for a quick evaluation.
Are all those black knobs plastic or metal?
 

#21 wasyoungonce

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 07:35 PM

Thanks Larry keep it up..would love to know your impressions of the GTN handset..ease of use etc.

Oh..and the mount as well..
:smirk:
 

#22 mcl198

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 08:13 PM

I received my new IEQ45 last week.

So far the following.

The mount is built nicely. Electronics seem to work well, no
lockups or crashes. Hand controller is very easy to use. GPS
locks on fast (faster than my Droid phone).

Setup for polar alignment is easy. Just follow the manual.

Be sure to set the RA to 12:00 on the polar scope (zero position) before you start the polar alignment.

Select Polaris (star 140), then the mount will slew to
polaris. Press Sync, then use the hand controller to center
polaris in your eyepiece. Press the enter button when aligned. You can do a two star alignment also.

I slewed the mount to Jupiter and just waited for awhile to watch the tracking. Seems to be ok. Next week when the weather clears up in my area, I plan on some 5-10 minute exposures with a Canon D5m2 on a few stars to see how the mount tracks. This will be done with a light weight Questar 3.5.

One issue with the mount I noticed is the motion in the RA and DEC motor assemblies with a large >25lb scope mounted on the unit. I have a call into Ioptron about this issue and
may not be an issue at all, but I don't like the extra
movement. If this is normal, then I won't use the mount for
any large scopes. I don't know if this movement will damage
the gears over time.

Larry, Can you mount your scope to the IEQ45, balance the
scope , then set the scope to the zero position. Scope up, counter weights down. Then move the scope at the focuser
around and see how much movement you see in the unit. The movement is not in the RA or DEC gears on my mount but the actual motor housing moving up and down (remove the motor covers). I don't know if this is normal or not.

Please post what you find.

Hopefully with the gears slightly loaded with weight
from the scope, this noticable movement will go away.


mcl198

EM200T2 TOA-130, questar 3.5, C10SCT Canon D5M2, D7, hasselblad.
 

#23 CounterWeight

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:01 PM

This is great to see some actual user information start appearing - thank you very much!

PS - i'd love an image or two of the worm gear/axis gear(s) with the cover off just to see what they look like (esp the shaft gear thickness)
 

#24 elwaine

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:17 PM

Ok... so my wife may never talk to me again, but I have some more info and I will try to answer as many of the above questions as I can.

Can't help but notice the absence of counterweights anywhere so far.., Where're they at?


Here they are:

Posted Image

I see a USB connection, so we actually have a scope that can connect to a USB jack? Can you try and see if actually works? I couldn't read the writing, does it have an autoguide port? If yes does it use the SBIG standard?


There is a USB port. It is located at the base of the Hand Controller and is used to connect the HC to a computer. I haven't tried it yet. In part it will depend on which programs you use. The mount is so new, I doubt there are any specific drivers for it, but it is ASCOM compliant, so it should work with Maxim, etc. I am certain that there will be specific drivers for the IEQ45 in the not too distant future. I know that Ski-Fi is working on a way to get the IEQ45 to work with its wireless controller so that you can control the mount using your iPhone. I'm looking forward to that.

There is an autoguider port and it is ST4 compatible. I haven't attached my SBIG ST-8XME to it yet, but I know it will work with the mount. It realy makes no sense not to use the SBIG standard when designing an autoguide port.

Are all those black knobs plastic or metal?


They are a very hard plastic... quite durable and very similar to the ones used by A-P. (See that!!! A favorable direct comparison :) )

mcl198 Welcome to CN... and thank you for such a great report!

One issue with the mount I noticed is the motion in the RA and DEC motor assemblies with a large >25lb scope mounted on the unit. I have a call into Ioptron about this issue and may not be an issue at all, but I don't like the extra movement. If this is normal, then I won't use the mount for
any large scopes. I don't know if this movement will damage the gears over time.


I think you are referring to the "overshoot." That is, after you release your finger from the buttons that activate the drive motors, there is quite a lag before the motors actually stop, so the mount continues to move. It is especially noticeable at the three fastest settings. I haven't looked through my C9.25 yet so I do not know how much overshoot it has as the lower drive speeds. Almost all mounts exhibit that to some degree or another - except for some of the really expensive mounts. During actual use, when pointing, that rarely causes a problem. At the slow speeds, the overshoot motion is likely to be minimal and you will quickly learn to compensate for it.
 

#25 mcl198

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 09:31 PM

Larry,

No overshoot. I am talking about actual movement in the system with or without the motors turned on when you
wiggle the telescope just a bit with very little pressure.

Try it.

Pat
 






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