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The "Wet Feet" of the Astrozap Equatorial Mount

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#1 Olivier Biot

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 02:22 PM

The "Wet Feet" of the Astrozap Equatorial Mount

By Dr. Fanis

#2 7331Peg


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Posted 27 May 2011 - 12:12 AM

Darn good review, Doc. I "soaked" the whole thing up.

Actually, one of the better reviews I've read. If anyone fails to realize what they're going to get when they buy the mount, it won't be because you didn't cover it.

Clear Skies to you as well!

John :refractor:

#3 herrointment


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Posted 27 May 2011 - 01:01 AM

That's a fine review and a fun read. I may buy one myself!

#4 herrointment


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Posted 27 May 2011 - 01:06 AM

deleted by spaceydee

#5 QS3000


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Posted 27 May 2011 - 04:02 AM

Thank you for your comments. The review that is published here was submitted to CN in February of 2011 and since it was taking too much time to be approved I posted it on my web site with some newer pictures and an additional section in the end after I received requests for information by a couple of prospective Ebay bidders. I am creating my own site where I plan to post various projects (mostly electronic control devices) that I have finished and could perhaps be useful to other amateur astronomers.

The additional section contains rough language that is not suited for the CN forums but shows my feelings all the way. I tried to be funny initially and later I noticed a few details that took some of the fun away. I do not like it when people try to scam other people. Maybe I have old standards that not everybody understands. Who knows...

In general I would say that both reviews are very similar. I did not find any negative points beyond whatever I described in my original review. At some point I added control cables to the mount because in the dark they are more functional than knobs.


#6 Starman1


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Posted 27 May 2011 - 02:48 PM

IMO, asking for a sub-$200 mount that handles 20 lbs is like asking for a Maserati for $20K. It may be what you want, but it doesn't exist.
Though this mount handled the small scopes pictured, it would do horribly with a 20 lb load unless that included the weight of the counterweight.
You see, it's a function of shaft diameter, bearing size, casting robustness, etc.
I work in the industry, and what follows are my recommendations for price range of mount to accompany a particular load for visual use. Exceed this, and the periodic error will be too severe for decent imaging, and the shimmy period will exceed an acceptable period for visual use, though there are exceptions. The tripod makes a big difference. Mount most mounts on a pier and they will handle heavier loads. But I am assuming the tripods that come stock on the equatorial mounts. These weights are for OTA only.
$300-$500 up to 8 or 10 lbs.
$600-$1000 up to 15-17 lbs
$1300-$2500 up to 25-30 lbs
$3000-$4500 up to 40-45 lbs
$7000-$8500 up to 70-80 lbs
>$10000 heavier loads
I think a lot of people must either observe in no-wind environments, or simply put up with a lot more shimmy and shake than I would find acceptable. Certainly a lot of people have a fine time observing with overloaded mounts--I see them all the time. But my imaging friends would be a lot more stringent than I am about appropriate mount and OTA combinations (an 8" newtonian on an AP1200 mount, for instance), so I am being a lot more liberal. I think, too, that once you have experienced a rock-solid mount with a 1-2 second shimmy period, it would be hard to go back to one with an 8-10 second shimmy period.

The author found all the ins and outs of a lightweight mount with a lighter weight load, and the two examples of scopes he used with the mount were excellent examples of proper loading for the mount in question. I am presuming that the load requirement to which he was referring included the weight of the counterweights.

A nice write-up, with deeper exploration of the fine points of the mount than most users would give it.

#7 QS3000


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Posted 01 June 2011 - 10:55 PM

Overall I will agree with you Don. The "you get what you pay for" statement stands true most of the time when we deal with astronomy equipment though there are exceptions.

As an example I will mention a variable projection eyepiece adapter. Adorama sells one with the Meade logo on it for $35 (S/H included), while telescopes.com sells the same item for $54 (S/H included). A Chinese no-logo version that looks exactly the same as the Meade one, cost me $15. No idea why such a difference in price is necessary.

Of course nobody sells good telescope mounts for a low price. But few seem to agree on what each mount can carry. The CG5 that I use is such an example. Your estimate for its $600 to $1000 price range is 17 lbs for decent results but telescopes.com suggests that you can put on it 65 lbs (I very much doubt it) and others suggest up to about 28 lbs for low PE. The weight of my C8 with a modified C70 on it, a motorized Creyford focuser, a mechanical digital counter for primary focus, a Telrad, a green laser pointer, a modified webcam and a very small balancing weight comes to about 19 lbs. To that I may add soon a Canon T2i and the total is going to be around 20 lbs. Will it work with low PE? Maybe. As you said there are exceptions. I hope to be one of those exceptions now that I replaced all that original sticky grease with better quality synthetic grease suggested by more experienced users.

Thanks for the positive comments on my review.


#8 bluedandelion


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Posted 14 June 2011 - 12:25 PM

I have used an older example of a nearly identical mount. As far as I can tell, from the pictures and description, the only difference I can see is that the mount I had was not marked with the product name. The leg barrels were thin and dented. So be careful with those clamps. The motor cover was deformed. The electrical connectors were loose. One of the plastic leg brace clamps had cracked. Returned it to the very responsive seller here on CN classifieds and bought a used Vixen SP which seems to be made in heaven compared to the mount I returned.

For those on a budget my advice would put your hard earned dollars into something you won't have to replace in a year or two.

That said I think this review for a new out of the box mount is in depth and well done.


#9 QS3000


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Posted 28 July 2012 - 01:34 PM

It has been some time since my last post and I thought that an update was in order. I use this mount frequently and my original opinion about it has not changed. It has its good points and bad points.

Recently I performed a partial tune-up of the RA axis mechanical parts. One thing was obvious: the mount was made to function as cheaply as possible. There is no bearing inside, just a couple of very thin plastic washers to reduce the friction of the moving parts. The familiar Chinese sticky grease was everywhere but I removed it and lubricated the parts with a good synthetic US made grease. Before that I used fine sandpaper to clean up some edges and other manufacturing defects. The RA axis is smoother now.

Another issue is the polar finder. My original review stated that I had not seen one like this before. A bit of research on this and other astro-related web sites indicated that the Astrozap EQ mount is an almost exact clone of the Meade LXD75 mount, including its polar finder. Aligning the finder with the mount was not an easy task because the three hex screws that control the reticle movement were difficult to handle. There was too much sticky grease inside the polar finder reticle compartment. I removed most of it and I have replaced those screws with longer ones to help me align the finder faster. But it appears that I need to check and correct that alignment often. Due to the longer screws that I use the polar finder cap does not fit anymore.

To polar align the mount itself, I use the procedure found here: http://www.weasner.c..._alignment.html

I must say that I am extremely pleased by the simplicity and results of that procedure on both mounts that I own, the Astrozap and the CG5-GT. The latter features Celestron's polar finder. I have added a modified Galileo driving system on the RA axis of the Astrozap. The tracking results surprised me considering that it is an open loop system without feedback. A post with all the technical details and calculations will follow some time soon. I think that other users will find it very useful mainly because it combines information scattered on various web sites and posts.

None of the two scopes that I mentioned in my original review is used with the Astrozap mount anymore. They have been replaced by a Vixen R130Sf that I bought for a huge 50% discount on Amazon a few months ago. It was one of those flash sales they have often. The Vixen is a beautiful scope externally and works way better than other smaller scopes of its kind. Add to that the $113 price I paid for it and you have a winner. I need to replace its spider vanes though because bright objects look really bad with spikes around them. It's excellent on Saturn, a disaster on Venus, very good with the Moon, the Orion Nebula, etc.

That's all for now.

#10 Starhuckster


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Posted 31 July 2012 - 10:08 AM

This, I think, was sold with the goto as the Ioptron PR-GEM as well, which I used to have. I was happy enough with it and it was VERY solid with my loaded up C8 on it, but I didn't have the QC issues you seemed to encounter. Mine set up and worked perfectly.


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