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iOptron SkyTracker

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#26 Hikari

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 11:20 AM

This discussion is about the iOptron Sky Tracker and my point was why the same product coming off the same production line costs $350 in the US and $550 in Europe. :)


Production line costs are not the final costs. There are exchange rates, taxes and tariffs, regional costs of business, shipping, translation, packaging costs, size of market, and a host of other factors that influence price.

#27 Keith_H

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:13 PM

Hmmm, I still can`t see $200 difference in any of those.

#28 Hikari

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 02:22 PM

But the difference is there as you can see it in the price.

#29 Keith_H

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

Clearly :D

#30 munchmeister

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:22 PM

So can this tracker take 4 to 5 min subs say with a 200mm lens? If you can only get 60 sec subs might as well make a barndoor tracker and save yourself the money.

Stay tuned for testing that very thing. Just don't know yet, and sorry I have not had time to test this myself :p

But a home built barndoor is certainly an option. Lotsa plans, descriptions, etc. out there to get you going. One of the main benefits of the StarTracker to me, was the way iOptron implemented polar alignment. First, the PA scope comes with the unit, at the price I mentioned earlier. That may, or may not be the price now. But I think it is still cheaper than Polarie. Second, it has a notch in it to allow the "on" LED (red) to shine into the PAS, illuminating the concentric circles which indicate placement of Polaris. And they make an iPod/Pad/Phone app that determines where Polaris should be giving iPod owners a very quick way to determine the placement of the celestial pole quickly. Haven't tried that yet either (need to update the OS on my 'pod). Third, the PAS is not located in the camera mount ring. It is off to the side so you can continue to use it-- and fine tune polar alignment-- once the camera is mounted. Fourth, the SkyTracker's built in altitude "hinge" means you do not have to set altitude with the tripod ball head or geared head or whatever. It's built in, lessening expense for a ball head etc. And, the implementation of a geared knob to set altitude is, IMHO, easier. It also means less equipment to carry if portability is important to your use. (It is to my use). 4 AA batteries as opposed to 2 (I think) for Polarie. But the ease of polar alignment is key for me, as is portability.

I think that the Polarie is a great unit, as is a well made barn door tracker. Choice, choices. For that matter you can likely find a nice CG-4 mount for about the same or less money. Not so portable though. Just food for thought, folks, food for thought.

When I have time to get out there, I plan to test the length of subs. As for a 200mm lens, I don't know. Again, it is all about what DSLR you are using, etc., and the combined weight of your specific gear. The Kenko SkyMemo and the Losmandy StarLapse, I believe, have higher limits for loading, so those could be considered as well, if you have the $$$.

Hope this info helps. As I said, stay tuned !

#31 REC

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:38 PM

Nice post and food for thought and look forward to more of your results:)

Bob

#32 Mad MikeE

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 01:33 PM

Mine shows up tomorrow - should be snowing :coldday:

#33 PGW Steve

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 01:49 PM

I've got an Astrotrac, Vixen Polarie, Smart EQ pro, and hopefully a SkyTracker soon. I had a Sightron Nano, but it was DOA, and was sent back for a credit on the SkyTracker yesterday. I'm taking a couple of these to Costa Rica in March, I have to do some testing as to which ones....And then a bigger shootout in April with any luck.

#34 luigis

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:13 AM

I got one to test, it's nice and solid but it has one fundamental design problem. No Azimuth control.

The Ioptron has a geared knob to control declination so this would mean you don't need two tripod heads as you need with the Polarie or Astrotrac. But if you attach the unit to a normal regular tripod you have to move the tripod legs to setup azimuth and that's a big no-no. What were they thinking?

I guess a tripod rotating base would be the answer but it's a pitty to need one and I can't find a cheap one.

I'm quite furious with this design they went from a great idea to a total failure.

#35 Peds

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:44 PM

I got one to test, it's nice and solid but it has one fundamental design problem. No Azimuth control.

The Ioptron has a geared knob to control declination so this would mean you don't need two tripod heads as you need with the Polarie or Astrotrac. But if you attach the unit to a normal regular tripod you have to move the tripod legs to setup azimuth and that's a big no-no. What were they thinking?

I guess a tripod rotating base would be the answer but it's a pitty to need one and I can't find a cheap one.

I'm quite furious with this design they went from a great idea to a total failure.


Was about to purchase one of these but you've now changed my mind and I will go for a Polarie w/ polar scope instead. Just have to find Sigma Octantis...

P.

#36 JMW

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 04:56 PM

I am currently using is on a 3 way Manfrotto geared head. I just looked on B&H Photo and found this Feisol PB-70 Panning Base for $39. Shipping is free. Solid and simple. It looks like a lighter and cheaper option than my geared head. I just ordered one. Would also be useful for doing terrestrial pano photos. I like the peep hole and polar scope combination on the SkyTracker. The peep hole is useful for getting close the the polar scope with hour scale is good for nailing done the polar alignment. I like how the main unit provides the red LED illumination for the scope. Saves having to provide another battery for the scope.

http://www.bhphotovi...70_Panning_B...

#37 luigis

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 07:25 PM

Peds & JMW:

It's funny to compare the polarie and the skytracker, they have both advantages and disadvantages.

So far my summary is:

Polarie:

+ Excellent polarscope (works wonderfully in the south hemisphere too)
- Batteries last about 2 hours
- You need 2 tripod heads
- You need to remove the camera to polar-align, so when you put the camera back the alignment might be off a little.

SkyTracker
+ Longer battery life
+ You don't need two tripod heads if your tripod can magically rotate (sigh)
- With a normal tripod you still need two tripod heads or a rotating base
- Polar scope not so good and really bad for the south hemisphere (no octans in the reticle)
+ No need to remove the camera to polar-align or refine

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#38 Mkofski

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:08 PM

Luis,

All other things being equal, it looks to me as if the SkyTracker is the mount I'd buy.

#39 Peds

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 08:30 PM

Luis,

I was under the impression that the polar scope for SkyTracker also worked for southern hemisphere? The manual states that the outer rings (60' to 70') must be used instead of the inner rings on the polar alignment scope for those of us below the equator.

This said though, you're still depending on an iPhone or iPad app to tell you where to place Sigma Octantis or Polaris, which I don't think I like (+ for the Polarie and - for the SkyTracker, no tech required approach).

I already own a Manfrotto geared head and a ball head but was hoping to be able to leave the geared head home as it can be heavy to lug around. Without a rotating base on the SkyTracker I'd have to take it with me anyway.

What worries me about the Polarie is accidentally messing up the alignment when attaching the camera after removing the polar scope. It is a great comfort to know that the polar scope works wonderfully here in the southern hemisphere though!

Decisions, decisions...

P.

#40 luigis

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:53 PM

You are right, decisions, decisions.

The skytracker is a new unit I used the Polarie and the Astrotrac last weekend. (I'll leave the AT outside this discussion)

The Polarie was very easy to align with its excellent polarscope. I went from Beta Hydri that is easy to see with the naked eye towards the trapezium asterisk in Octans. Then
I placed the asterism in the polarscope,the polarie scope is not illuminated so I used a small red led torch. With that alignment I could do 4 minutes exposures with a 50mm lens no problem. But I had to realign a few times after changing lenses.

If I were you I wouldn't know which one to buy :-) What about an astrotrac ?

#41 Chip in MD

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Posted 24 March 2013 - 02:35 PM

There's now an Android app on the Google Play store for using the polar alignment scope. It's called Polar Finder and is by techhead. It costs a little over US$1. Uses GPS longitude or manually-entered longitude. Has an iOptron scope mode and a "built-in" scope mode (not sure what that's for). Has Northern and Southern Hemisphere modes. Very simple to use.

#42 munchmeister

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 09:51 AM

Good review with photos of Jeff's setup here:

http://www.cloudynig...5699876/Main...

#43 ZakAttack

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:10 PM

The SkyTracker instructions mention that you need a 1/4" to 3/8" tripod adapter screw (or camera tripod bushing adapter) to mount it to a 1/4-20 camera tripod post. I have a Quantaray tripod head with a 1/4-20 quick-release plate. Exactly what kind of part am I to look for?

Dean

#44 Darren Bly

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 07:47 PM

Here are a few:

http://www.amazon.co...k/dp/B006R38IJY

#45 ZakAttack

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 08:08 PM

Thanks, Darren. That looks like just what I need. I had just ordered the Sky Tracker and Ball-Head. The ball-head is currently out-of-stock.

Dean

#46 working212

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 11:58 AM

I have had nothing but success with the Sky Tracker. easy set up and easy to use. Here is a pic i took at 300mm for 30 sec with my Nikon D5000.

Attached Files



#47 carver2011

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:52 PM

I just read the review of the iOptron SkyTracker in the May issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. It was a very favorable review, in my opinion, and I will be looking to buy one at the NEAF convention later this month. I'm hoping to use it to image comet c2012ISON if it puts on a good show in November.
Ed

#48 kyang

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 06:23 PM

Is there any indicator for low battery ?
I got mine setup but still waiting for a clear night...

#49 Patrick

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 07:12 PM

I got one to test, it's nice and solid but it has one fundamental design problem. No Azimuth control.



I added a Feisol PB-70 Panning Base to my iOptron Skytracker to take care of the azimuth movement. It's an inexpensive fix and works well.

On the other hand, it does seem a little odd that iOptron would design in an altitude control but not add anything for azimuth.

Patrick

#50 Dan Finnerty

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:16 AM

Tried to see if Amazon had this for sale:

http://www.amazon.co...new?ie=UTF8&...

:shocked: :shocked: :shocked:

The good news is that shipping is only $7.14. :roflmao:






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