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Is my iEQ45 defective?

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#1 rhalbers3

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 08:32 PM

After being away from the hobby for many years, I recently decided to renew my interest, de-fork my 1985 C8, and upgrade it to a go-to mount. After researching various mounts within my budget, I selected the iOptron iEQ45. It seemed to offer the best mix of functionality, load capacity, and portability. So I purchased one from High Point Scientific, eagerly awaited its arrival, and happily unboxed it immediately after UPS delivered it to my door.

Unfortunately, from the moment I first plugged it in and started testing it, my experience with this mount hasn't lived up to any of the glowing reviews and comments that I've read about it on this forum and elsewhere. After struggling for weeks to understand and correct several problems that I was having with the mount and seeking advice from both iOptron support and High Point, I eventually returned it to iOptron for repairs. They claimed to have repaired the mount, but after arriving back at my house, it still exhibits all the same problems it had before I sent it in for repairs.

So, I'm wondering, do I have a defective mount which I should insist iOptron replace, or are my expectations for this mount simply way too high? I hope other iEQ45 owners reading this could offer some advice. Here are the problems that I'm seeing:

1. The mount is loud while tracking. Before repairs it made a constant grinding noise that I could hear from 50 feet away. Now it makes an off-on croaking noise that is almost just as loud (I'll post a sound clip if I can figure out how). I wasn't expecting this at all. My old Celestron mount is so quiet that you have to put your ear up to the drive housing to hear any sound.

2. The electronic balancing does not work. I have about 15 pounds of equipment on the scope (a C8 tube, finder scope, 2" diagonal, and eyepiece) and both counterweights on the shaft. After running multiple times through the Dec and RA balancing commands and getting <Balance OK!> messages for both, the resulting balance (after releasing the clutches and checking manually) is very front-end heavy on the Dec axis and counter-weight heavy on the RA axis.

3. The go-to performance degrades after 2-star alignment. After leveling the mount, balancing it manually, and performing a careful polar alignment, the mount's go-to performance is decent after 1-star alignment, with most objects somewhat near the center of an 8x50 finder scope. But after a 2-star alignment (following the procedure in the manual exactly), the go-to performance significantly degrades, often failing to place an object anywhere within the finder scope's field of view. In fact, the hand controller reports that the mount is not even slewing to the target coordinates, sometimes slewing instead to a point 30 or more RA-minutes away. I've repeated this many times, turning the mount on and off in between, and I've never gotten useful go-to performance after a 2-star alignment.

4. The tracking performance is poor. Before sending it in for repairs, I was not able to take unguided exposures (I don't have a guide scope yet) for much beyond 10 seconds without stars trailing on over half the images. This was after very careful leveling, balancing, and polar alignment. I know that, with a 2000mm focal length, a C8 is a very tough test, but the iEQ45 is not performing any better than my Celestron stock mount from 1985. After the mount returned from repairs, I checked the tracking ability by centering a star in a 9mm eyepiece (222X) with an illuminated bullseye reticle. I was shocked as I could clearly see the star moving in the RA direction, cross completely out of the bullseye, stop for a while, and then move back in the other direction. I know this isn't very quantitative, but again, my original C8 mount performed much better when I was using the bullseye reticle for piggyback tracking.

Does any of this seem normal, or do I have a lemon? Any advice or comments for this first-time poster would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Roland

#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 10:03 PM

Doesn't sound normal to me.

Sound - mine is nearly silent when tracking.

Electronic balancing - *usually* works fine, but occasionally does not.

Goto and tracking work much better for me than you describe. Something does not seem right.

-Dan

#3 psandelle

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 11:28 PM

I have the iEQ30...but, essentially similar. Does sound like yours has a problem. Mine's very quiet as well (though at full speed on a slew I can hear it, but not that big a deal).

As for the balancing...there will be a difference between manual balance and electronic balance (or so I was told by the iOptron guys, who've been just great for me) - the electronic balance takes into account certain mount tendencies, though, with a new scope or configuration, I do "eyeball" it/manually balance first and get pretty close before doing the electronic thang (though, with my ES 152 achro I can hit the RA electronic balance time after time by setting it to a piece of tape I have marked out, but the DEC is always finicky at that weight and moment arm).

I believe the last firmware for the mount has a problem with the two-star alignment. I upgraded the firmware, then was told to wait before using the two-star. Waiting for a fix.

Still, sounds like something might be wrong somewhere.

Paul

#4 nomosnow

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Posted 07 November 2012 - 11:31 PM

I agree with Dan ...Mine is really silent when tracking balancing has always worked.
I always do a one star align and never use a finderscope as it always puts the object in the fov of my ep or on the camera chip.Note ..I use a 750 mm fl scope.
As for tracking I autoguide mine and at 750 mm fl it will give acceptable star shapes most of the time for a 3 min exposure...but for my mount I would not want to go more then 750 mm fl which is 1.75 arc/secs per pixel .

#5 orlyandico

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:47 AM

Not comparable, but on my CGEM I can see over a few minute period the periodic error, at 900mm focal length and using a Meade DSI. This is about 40" of periodic error.

What you report (periodic error at 222X) seems reasonable. Perhaps your 1985 Celestron had a Byers gear? that would make it much better than the iEQ45 in the periodic error department..

#6 Phillip Easton

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:07 PM

Have to agree sounds like you have a bad one there.

1. My mount is near silent when tracking.
2. Electronic did work for me. Now the DEC has stopped working but thankfully I bought the one with the modified clutch.
3. Never really used the 2 star alignment. I just sync to a star in the area I am imaging. You might have run away in RA.
4. These won't track like high end mounts but you can certainly try adjusting the worm to make sure it is aligned and meshed well with the gear to optimize performance. iOptron has a procedure to do this. You might ask them for it. It might help with the noise to.

Cheers!
Phillip

#7 rhalbers3

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 12:45 PM

Thank you all for your replies. You've confirmed my suspicions that this mount just wasn't right. I'll be contacting iOptron today and asking for a replacement.

The tracking noise is the most worrisome to me of the problems I listed. Along with being very unpleasant on an otherwise peaceful night of observing, I suspect it may be contributing to the wild tracking fluctuations and the electronic balancing problems, and it seems like a precursor to even more serious failures.

Here's a link where you can download and listen to a sound clip of the tracking noise:

https://docs.google....clpwWDlOd3R6Y2s

You shouldn't have to change your speaker volume much to approximate what I'm hearing from the mount. In real-life I can hear the "croaking" from 50 feet away. Not normal, right?

Thanks again for your help.

#8 Astronewb

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:23 PM

You shouldn't have to change your speaker volume much to approximate what I'm hearing from the mount. In real-life I can hear the "croaking" from 50 feet away. Not normal, right?


Definitely not right, downright annoying. My mount is virtually silent when tracking in sidereal rate...if I put my ear a couple inches from the mount, you can hear it working.

I would request a replacement and let iOptron sort out the returned mount. Imho.

Paul

#9 Midnight Dan

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:30 PM

Wow! That is definitely not right! I can't believe they sent it back to you like that.

If you remove the load, does it still sound like that?
-Dan

#10 rhalbers3

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 01:51 PM

Wow! That is definitely not right! I can't believe they sent it back to you like that.

If you remove the load, does it still sound like that?
-Dan


Dan, I'm baffled by iOptron's behavior too. It's remarkably easy to duplicate this problem with the tracking noise. I don't know why they would consider this properly repaired.

The noise is the same with or without a load. However, I discovered that if I apply some torque to the CW bar (either by pressing on it or significantly shifting the weights towards the end of the bar when the bar is near horizontal), then the sound will go away and it operates quietly. But not a very practical solution or, I assume, healthy for the life of the mount.

#11 Midnight Dan

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Posted 08 November 2012 - 02:28 PM

If it makes that noise with no load, I'd definitely send it back.
-Dan

#12 John Carruthers

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 12:12 PM

What power unit are you using? The one I work with, while low consumption, still needs a good steady supply, 14V @ 4A works fine and is much quieter than the old 12V @2A PSU.

#13 rhalbers3

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Posted 09 November 2012 - 02:39 PM

What power unit are you using? The one I work with, while low consumption, still needs a good steady supply, 14V @ 4A works fine and is much quieter than the old 12V @2A PSU.


I'm using the 12V/2A AC power adapter that came with the mount. I don't think I have another supply to try, but I'll rummage through my various boxes of spare electronics for one anyway. Thanks for the suggestion!

#14 1074j

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:07 PM

I am also experiencing significant issues with a new iEQ45 mount, very similar to the two previous posters with regards to poor GOTO performance. One star is kind of close (~1 degree) while the 2 and 3 star aren't even close. Also, my hand controller now goes dark and becomes non functional during 50% of my Align attempts. I have to unplug it and plug back in, which then reboots the mount. However, the mount does seem to track OK. I have also returned to the hobby after a 30 year absence. I feel like Rip Van Winkle due to the huge advances in AP, autoguiding, eyepieces, software, etc...!

#15 rhalbers3

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:59 PM

I am also experiencing significant issues with a new iEQ45 mount, very similar to the two previous posters with regards to poor GOTO performance. One star is kind of close (~1 degree) while the 2 and 3 star aren't even close. Also, my hand controller now goes dark and becomes non functional during 50% of my Align attempts. I have to unplug it and plug back in, which then reboots the mount.


In my recent emails with iOptron Support, they told me exactly what psandelle mentioned in his post. They have just confirmed a bug in the firmware for the 2-star alignment. They are recommending using the 1-star alignment until they can release a firmware fix.

I'm not having any problems with the hand controller, though. The behavior you report is definitely not right.

And welcome back to the hobby!

#16 Lew

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 01:01 PM

I also have a newer IEQ-45 acquired in early Oct. and it has a newer version of the controller than is on their website. With weather conditions, I had only tried two-star a few times and thought it didn't work because of my lack of experience with astronomy coupled with I had never used a GEM. This past weekend we had the rare event of three clear skies in a row and I tried two star a number of times with the same results noted - it didn't work and the controller showed it didnt' slew to targets. I just read this post and must have the same bug. If they send you a bug fix before they post it on their website could you post it or a link to it? Thanks.

Lew

Ioptron IEQ45M; Celestron 11" XLT; Orion 120mm EON; Orion 80mm CFT; Meade ACF LX 90; Meade ACF LS-6; Meade ETX 90PE. Various Celestron X-Cells and Meade 5000 HDs, Orion 12mm reticle, Astrotech 1.25" dialectric diagonal, Antares f/6.3 SCT reducer and Meade plossl set. Orion Mini-guider package; Orion Off-axis guider. Meade DSI II color and Orion Starshoot Deepspace video camera. Maxim DL v.5.

#17 mgwhittle

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 02:42 PM

Better yet, I paid $120 to update to the new controller and it has the problem also. Luckily one star alignment works very well.

#18 nomosnow

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:10 PM

I have had my iEQ45 for about 8 months now. In that time I have used it about 70 hours total under ambient temperature from 15 to -10 degrees C. It has NOT been trouble free for sure.
I have several issues with the hand controller (8406) either not booting ,or locking up requiring a reboot. I believe some of my hand controller problems were traceable to the micro sd card being not connected properly. It now seems to be corrected and I also have bought a couple of spares as well.
Now it tends to lock up and require a reboot when in the alignment menu displaying the polar alignment clock??
So I have problems I also had problems with my CG-5 as well so I am used to it. :bawling:
I however have no complaints about it's goto accuracy and I always do a one star alignment.

#19 Midnight Dan

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 10:47 PM

I believe some of my hand controller problems were traceable to the micro sd card being not connected properly


What micro sd card is that? Is there one inside the handset?

-Dan

#20 nomosnow

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:09 AM

Dan it is where the firmware is loaded /stored.You take the back off of the handset to get to it. So when you turn on the mount and it says loading firmware it is accessing the micro sd card.
It is a 2 GB card available from Amazon and at a reasonable price too. You can then download the firmware from the Ioptron site and have a new card ready to go.Using your computer card reader.
The reason I know all this is of course Ioptron support information. :)

#21 mgwhittle

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:18 AM

Yes, inside the hand controller is a micro SD card that holds the firmware. It might need to be reseated if someone is having problems with rebooting. Usually it is a one time procedure to correct the problem.

#22 mgwhittle

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 04:25 AM

Now it tends to lock up and require a reboot when in the alignment menu displaying the polar alignment clock??


I suspect, based on my experience, you still have an issue related to the SD card. I would have iOptron replace the hand controller as it might be the SD card holder that is not fully holding the card in place and not the card itself.

#23 Midnight Dan

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 09:36 AM

Good to know! Thanks!
-Dan

#24 John Carruthers

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 09:13 AM

handset dark: ours powered down to save juice after a preset time, bit odd as it has a heater? press any button to light it up again, the time can be adjusted in the settings menu and ours is now on permanently as power is not a problem.

We had the ieq45 out again last week for 12/14 year old students to use as part of their Astronomy GCSE. They love it, after a quick 10 minute demo of how to polar align and star align they were seeking their own targets. The built in gps is a boon.

With a careful polar align this particular mount has ~25" PE but the PEC reduces that to ~15". I suspect lapping the worm could improve that considerably.

#25 Erik30

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 11:19 AM

I bought my iEQ45 in October. After a good polar alignment my goto's are always within (Center) my 12mm eye piece on my 80mm ED. When I fist received the mount the goto's were off a little. Tweaking the polar scope and making sure the handset was set to normal time and not daylight savings resolved that issue for me. I had one other issue with it tracking one night. After about 10 minutes the object would be out of the eye piece. After aligning and realigning I found out my tripod was not level. One legs slipped down about 1" and threw it way off.

Other than that I'm Very happy with my iEQ45 mount.






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