Jump to content


Photo

iOptron SmartEQPro is Shipping

  • Please log in to reply
32 replies to this topic

#1 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 18 November 2012 - 12:17 AM

And I inexplicably decided to become an early adopter...

Ordered it on Wednesday and the Big Brown Sleigh with the stealth UPS elf paid me a secret visit yesterday. Despite an open front door she managed to sneak it onto the porch undetected where it lay abandoned for hours. And of course it has been raining for two days, so all I can do is set it up in the tv room and make believe.

First impressions are that the mount head is nicely put together, but the tripod is forgettable. If I press down moderately on the mount, I can see all three lower leg segments visibly flex and it has little torsional rigidity. Perhaps I can make an adaptor plate to put it on my heavy duty photo or CG-5 tripods. Will probably make something out of wood to see how that works out. Another option would be to make some wooden legs. Also, the various set-bolts need some time with a bench grinder. Only the elevation adjustment bolt and the dovetail clamp bolt have rounded ends. The counterweight shaft clamp bolt and the ra/dec bolts are unfinished raw-ended bolt ends.

The mount comes with a polar scope installed and has an auto guide port so tomorrow I'll see if an SSAG successfuly connects to it. The hand controller has a serial port, so I'll also see if I can make up a cable and connect a SkyFi unit to it. In addition to batteries, there is a standard 5mm power connector, so my battery system works just fine with this mount. It does make an unholy coffee-grinder sound when slewing rather than a nice whirring, but volume is lower than a CG-5, so perhaps it will not annoy neighbors. Judgement awaits a night out on the drive way.

Of course what matters is how this little tyke performs. That will have to wait for a clear night. The weather guessers say partly cloudy so maybe...

I got this mount as a GnG for my SV 80 and for "wide-field" astro work with my DSLR, so hopefully the Pro model with its metal gears will have improved periodic error characteristics. I'm thinking of using a 50mm finder with the SSAG for guiding. If the PE rates are low enough to guide out, it should be a nice transportable field unit for dark site wide-field astrophotography.

#2 core

core

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1506
  • Joined: 23 Feb 2008
  • Loc: Mostly in Norman, OK

Posted 18 November 2012 - 02:44 AM

Perhaps I can make an adaptor plate to put it on my heavy duty photo or CG-5 tripods.


iirc the specs says "3/8" threads to fit on camera mount" - can you confirm that the EQ head can be mounted on 3/8" post? I've been considering trying one out as well.

#3 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 18 November 2012 - 03:19 AM

Yes, it is definately 3/8 inch. Should fit a photo tripod fine. I'll have a look at my photo tripod tomorrow.

However, there is a 1.5 inch diameter center section that projects out 1/2 inch. I'm thinking a piece of 1/2 inch thick plywood with a 1.5 inch center hole would stabilize the mount on the tripod base just fine. The outer diameter of the mount base is 3.2 inches. so a 3 1/4 to 3.5 inch diameter plywood circle, half-inch thick (just a bit thicker (or use a shim) to ensure the center section clears the base) with a 1.5 inch center hole would make a nice base plate adaptor for a photo tripod. It would need a longer 3/8 inch bolt to mount. I'll have to measure that up. Also, a 3/8 inch bolt with the head sawed off would serve nicely as a pin for the azimuth adjustment bolts.

I can provide a photo of the mount base tomorrow. It is too late tonight to bother.

#4 ghataa

ghataa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 625
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2011
  • Loc: Central, NJ

Posted 18 November 2012 - 01:45 PM

Cool! I am definitely interested so please keep us updated.

Best,

George

#5 ottovonrotton

ottovonrotton

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 117
  • Joined: 01 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Where is Port Perry?

Posted 18 November 2012 - 03:53 PM

Yes, Please post photos of bottom of mount!

#6 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1316
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 19 November 2012 - 07:51 PM

I also received my SmartEQ Pro, and am very impressed by it's initial performance when autoguided. Link to some images here: http://www.astronomy...eq-will-do-4...

This is definitely going to be my snatch n grab mount...

Clear skies,

Paul

#7 ghataa

ghataa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 625
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2011
  • Loc: Central, NJ

Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:15 PM

Hey Paul, that looks really great! Very lightweight and grab and go.

What weight do you think it could handle? I see you too have the SV 90 Raptor CF. Do you think it could handle the SV90 and the Orion mini SSAG?

Motivated self interest here as I have the same combo.

Best,

George

#8 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:06 AM

Outstanding news, Paul! This is what I was hoping for. I'm still in the fiddling stages with mine. May get it out later tonight for first light (does that apply to a mount?). I just got an SSAG and have not used it yet, so it will take a night or two to figure it out and do some test guiding.

I took some photos of the mount this evening, I'll post them in a minute. This first photo is the SmartEQPro on a photo tripod. The Pro version is identical to the standard version from the outside except for the autoguide port and installed polar scope.

Does anyone know how to attach multiple images in one post? I've seen posts that do that, but I see no way to do it.

Attached Files



#9 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:08 AM

Here is a closer view of the mount head. Note the guide port on the right. The black rectangle is the battery cover. 4 AA batteries fit inside with another bay for 4 batteries on the other side.

Attached Files



#10 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:09 AM

And here is a shot of the mount base, showing the 1.5 inch, 1/2 inch deep center section. Note the Azimuth adjustment screws to the left on the base.

Attached Files



#11 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:12 AM

Here is a shot of the tripod base. Note the 1.5 inch center hole with lock nut at the bottom and the Azimuth adjustment pin to the left.

Attached Files



#12 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1316
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:13 AM

Hey Paul, that looks really great! Very lightweight and grab and go.

What weight do you think it could handle? I see you too have the SV 90 Raptor CF. Do you think it could handle the SV90 and the Orion mini SSAG?

Motivated self interest here as I have the same combo.

Best,

George


I don't know George..that would be stretching it a bit..:)
Although it meets the ota weight capacity, I don't think you would enjoy it. Unless you tightened the RA and DEC locks with a pipe wrench..it would probable slip under the weight of the ota. That's one weak point on the mount, insufficient torque on the lock nuts. The RA can be fixed easily, but the DEC lock nut has to clear the mount when slewing, and there's only so much room for knob diameter..:(

My ST90 is going to stay on the iEQ45 for the time being. I have the SmartEQ Pro mainly for wide field stuff with a 50 and soon...60ED ota.

Clear skies,

Paul

#13 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:14 AM

And here is the SmartEQPro on top of a photo tripod. This tripod has a narrow top post which just fits the center section of the mount base. It actually is pretty secure. In fact it is significantly better than the stock tripod thanks to more robust legs.

Attached Files



#14 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:17 AM

I also have a Gitzo clone Adorama Flashpoint tripod, which is a much heavier duty bit of kit. It has a wider column top. The center stud is a very nice feature. As you can see, it is a threaded shaft with a lock nut, so its height is adjustable. It is also reversable, with a 1/4-20 thread on the other end.

Attached Files



#15 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1316
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:18 AM

Here is a shot of the tripod base. Note the 1.5 inch center hole with lock nut at the bottom and the Azimuth adjustment pin to the left.


Dan, nice job on the tripod, looks really solid. One of the Achilles Heels of the Smart EQ is that cylindrical mounting boss. It should have been made with a slight taper, with a corresponding taper on the tripod. That would eliminate all axial play when the mount is bolted to the tripod. I wasn't there when they designed it, so this is what we got.....:) I'll be looking for another tripod for it eventually, it is a weak point for imagers.

Oh..how do you plan on using the azimuth adjusters without a center pin on the tripod??

Best,

Paul

#16 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:19 AM

And here is the SmartEQPro on the Flashpoint tripod. I think I'll make a 3/4 inch thick 3.5 inch diameter wooden disk to put under it. It will have a 1.5 inch center to fit the mount and I can add a pin for the azimuth adjustment.

Attached Files



#17 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1316
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:21 AM

And here is the SmartEQPro on the Flashpoint tripod. I think I'll make a 3/4 inch thick 3.5 inch diameter wooden disk to put under it. It will have a 1.5 inch center to fit the mount and I can add a pin for the azimuth adjustment.


Ah ha! You answered my question, thank you.

Paul

#18 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:21 AM

I have a leveling plate with a bubble level that I will use to help level the tripod. Perhaps getting a circular level and gluing it onto the iOptron mount base would be helpful for quick setup.

Enough photo spam. This is going to be a fun little mount, and if mine works as well as Paul's I'll be a happy dark-site camper!

Attached Files



#19 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Posts: 438
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:32 AM

And here is the SmartEQPro on the Flashpoint tripod. I think I'll make a 3/4 inch thick 3.5 inch diameter wooden disk to put under it. It will have a 1.5 inch center to fit the mount and I can add a pin for the azimuth adjustment.


Ah ha! You answered my question, thank you.

Paul


I've been adding photos as quick as I can, but you guys are too quick. :)

It is really good to get confirmation from you that the autoguider interface works. That way I will know any technical problems I have are probably with getting the autoguider itself set up right. It looks like clear skys for the rest of the week in SoCal, so I hope to get it figured out by the weekend. Of course the Moon is waxing, but I'm not leaving town anyway due to the TG holidays.

This is going to be a fun little project getting this mount up and running for DSLR "wide field" photography and perhaps my SVR 80 if it can handle the weight.

Has anyone used this mount with SkySafari/SkyFi? The manual has the pin configurations and I will make a cable, but it would be nice to know ahead of time that that i/f works ok.

#20 ghataa

ghataa

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 625
  • Joined: 20 Jun 2011
  • Loc: Central, NJ

Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:38 AM

Thanks Paul. Wishful thinking but excited about the wide field capability!

George

#21 ottovonrotton

ottovonrotton

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 117
  • Joined: 01 Jan 2009
  • Loc: Where is Port Perry?

Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:42 AM

Thanks for the photos Dan, I plan on getting one by xmas, and have a few tripod choices.

#22 lakeorion

lakeorion

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 582
  • Joined: 03 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Lake Orion MI

Posted 20 November 2012 - 12:25 PM

Thanks for the info. I think this is my choice for taking widefields and my money...

#23 *skyguy*

*skyguy*

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2028
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Western New York

Posted 21 November 2012 - 12:23 PM

The manual has the pin configurations and I will make a cable, but it would be nice to know ahead of time that that i/f works ok.


From what I can tell ... maybe I'm just looking at it wrong ... the cable pin connections shown in the mount manual are different from what is shown in the online "software upgrade" manual. Both show the same ground connection, but the TX and RX lines are reversed. Can anyone verify this?

#24 kaiinn

kaiinn

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: 21 Nov 2012

Posted 22 November 2012 - 04:19 AM

Dear Dan,
I have made a custom cable myself RJ9 to serial port following the online manual for 8408 upgrading.( google it).
It works well and I was able to control the SmartEq using both Stellarium and CDC planetarium software.
I do not own the SKywire or Skyfi but I have read somewhere that it didnt work.

#25 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1316
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 22 November 2012 - 08:55 AM

I don't know why iOptron doesn't include the cable, but if you didn't know, you can purchase it on their website.

http://www.ioptron.c...2c9e23a-f790...

Clear skies,

Paul






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics