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Which would you choose?

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#1 HenryV1598

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:03 PM

I am getting close to upgrading my CG-5 AS-GT mount. Its been a great mount, and I'll probably keep it around for visual work, but its not ideal for photography.

I've budgeted up to $1,500 for a new mount. I want something more suited for deep sky photography. I'd love to have an Astrophysics or Takahashi mount, but for $1,500, I don't see that happening anywhere near my budget range.

If you look below at my signature you can see my payload. Add in a few odds and ends (Telrad, focal reducer, etc...) to up the weight a little. But when I put it all together, the CG-5's two 11-lb counterweights have no problem balancing it all out (one at the far end of the shaft, the other about 1/2 way up). The motors don't struggle with the weight, so I'm not worried about payload overload (of course, the lower the payload weight to mount capacity, the better).

Unfortunately, On exposures of as little as 30 seconds, I often end up with egg-shaped stars or worse, even with a good alignment. I've tried running just the 80 mm scope and camera, but still end up with non-round stars (though I can usually get up to 5 minutes like this). The mount is simply not optimal for photography. Yes, I know some people have luck with it, and hyper tuning it might help. But I'm dead-set on getting something new, with less backlash, and simply more suitable for photography.


I'm currently looking at the following options:

  • Celestron CGEM - list at $1,500, but I'm confident I can get it a little cheaper
  • Celestron Advanced VX - list at $800, best price option I've seen, but I'm not sure about its performance yet and its at the lower-end of the payload capability. I don't expect to increase my payload much, if any, but I'd like the option.
  • Orion EQ-G - both this and the CGEM have similar specs, they're both made by Synta, right? Is there an appreciable difference?
  • iOptrion iEQ45 - Someone I know has an iEQ45 he'll sell me in my price range. I've never heard anything bad about this mount, but I've never used it. How does it stack up against the above options?

Is the iEQ45 a no-brainer, or would one of the above mounts be better? Is there anything better still that's in my under $1,500 price range that anyone can recommend?

#2 JoLo

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:11 PM

I've never used either, but I think the VX and the 45 are really going to be taxed with your payload. I bought an Orion Atlas (EQ-G)two years ago and couldn't be happier, will handle the scopes you list above, easily. Good luck!

#3 neptun2

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:33 PM

I don't see skywatcher EQ6 (Orion Atlas) in your list. Do you have specific reason to avoid it?

#4 HenryV1598

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:37 PM

Unless I'm mistaken, the VX is an upgraded version of the CG-5 - better gears, better motors, better electronics. The only complaints I have on the CG-5 are the backlash and the simple lack of ability to track that accurately for anything more than 30 seconds. If the VX has improvements that are that significant, I'm thinking its back in the game... but, since its so new, its a big question mark to me. The iEQ45 is listed at 45 lbs payload, which is more than the CGEM and EQ-G, both listed at about 40 lbs payload.

#5 HenryV1598

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:38 PM

Neptun2: that's the EQ-G. I forgot the "Atlas" part.

#6 neptun2

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:43 PM

Oh sorry. My mistake to miss that. Well i only hev heq5 pro (orion sirius in US) which is scaled down version of the Atlas. I am happy with it. several of my friends have the bigger Atlas and are happy with it. It is simple and proven technology (stepper motors without encoders) and synta are adding new features to the synscan controller constantly (like the new polar realign feature in 3.32). I have mine heq5 for 5 years now and did not have any problem with it.

#7 csrlice12

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:50 PM

S&S Optica-Denver Colorado:

Losmundy GM-8 Mount with Dual Axis Drives and Hand Control

Also Includes:
Extra Motor
Aluminum Motor Covers
DUP -- Universal Plate

In Very Good Condition

Package Price: $1,200.00

#8 zjc26138

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 05:51 PM

My vote goes to the Ioptron iEQ45m.

I have one and love it. My imaging set up is 35 lbs, maybe slightly more. I usually only shoot 2-4 minute guided subs due to light pollution. However, I have pushed the mount to 7-8 minute guided subs. The subs were good other than being washed out due to light pollution. My polar alignment was not perfect. I imagine with a better polar alignment you could push the mount further. Hope this helps!

#9 mega256

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 06:49 PM

I also like my iEQ45....
It is easy to set up,and a one star align get stars
In the ep..So simple to setup,and easy to carry...

But if you dont mind the extra weight,and only have one mount,
The EQ6/atlas is hard to beat..for its price,and EQmod is free and nice.

But I strongly suggest with you imaging with a C8 and 80mm refractor and guide scope,camera,stay at least in the 40-50 lb payload type mounts (in the 1400-1700 rage)
"YOU CANT OVERMOUNT a TELESCOPE"(it just gets hard to carry)

#10 Midnight Dan

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:00 PM

One more vote for the iEQ45. Of course I have one, so I'm a bit prejudiced! But I do like mine.

-Dan

#11 David Pavlich

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:09 PM

It looks like Celestron got the bugs worked out of the CGEM, so I'd go with the DX for the extra capacity. And I do like Celestron's firmware. Easy to use and with a couple of iterations of the All Star Polar Align, you have a very good polar alignment.

David

#12 orlyandico

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:48 PM

The cgem and DX still have the 8/3 issue until if and when celestron updates them with the avx motors.

Ed Thomas might pop in here but he has said the ieq45 doesn't match the cgem and atlas for build sturdiness.

For this reason I'd go for the atlas.

If you can find a used cge with Bennett mod.. That's a bit more than $1500 but is much more robust.

Used non GOTO G11s can be had in this price range as well. But a Gemini upgrade will be pricey. And if you're used to having goto you will dislike a non GOTO mount.

#13 Erik30

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:40 AM

+1 for the iEQ45. I upgraded from the CG-5 and cannot be happier.

#14 oo_void

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 10:26 PM

For the OP, are you using an auto-guider (you didn't say)? None of the mounts listed are going to perform, all that well, unguided. With guiding, it's a completely different story though. Additionally, trying to image with an SCT is never easy. If it were me with that budget, I'd get an auto-guider and either a reducer or a small 80mm first, before upgrading your mount.

#15 HenryV1598

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 09:11 AM

I actually already have both a focal reducer and an 80 mm F/4 refractor . I do intend to be guiding. I am looking at the Celestron Nexguide (have access to one to try it out) and have an Atik 16c which I run through PHD for guiding.

Unfortunately, the CG-5 doesn't want to guide well at all. I've tried guiding with the Nexguide, the atik, and a couple other cameras. I've tried through the st-4 compatible port and through the hand controller. I just can't get any more than 30 seconds through it, MAYBE a minute (if I pray to the fickle god of auto-guiding and sacrifice to him a virgin calculator by the light of a full moon).

I'm also planning, though not immediately, to get an F/4 8" Newtonian (the one Astro-Tech sells as an astrograph), and perhaps that F/7.5 refractor that Orion sells.

#16 oo_void

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 12:06 PM

Nexguide isn't the most sensitive, nor it the Atik 16c. I'd go with the Orion guider mono myself. That said, I have to ask ... What sort of problems are you seeing while trying to auto-guide?

A lot of us started with CG-5's and I've seen some amazing images produced with them. A lot of us also upgraded to larger mounts to find that it wasn't just the CG-5 to blame for our issues. ;) There was still a lot to learn in terms of alignment, balance, flexure, etc ...

If you do insist on upgrading though, I'd go with either the CGEM or Atlas. The iEQ45 may look nice, but you'll find a larger population of CGEM and Atlas owners to help you through the next steps of your learning process. Both the CGEM and Atlas are capable of producing outstanding images when used correctly.

#17 Wembley2000

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:22 PM

I have owned an ieq45, while nice it had gear noise pe at a 8.87sec interval that was difficult to guide and I have seen others with this problem also. Even thought it had a pe of 13.5 p-p I had to use very short guide periods of less than .5 sec due to the quick errors. I also had a cgem that I bought used that wasnt much better and would not guide in dec worth a darn.

Wem

#18 rmollise

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

My vote? "None of the above." For economical, dependable performance, it's the Atlas. Close second for me would be the CGEM.

--I think the VX is going to be a worthy heir to the CG5, but it is more like it than different.

--The iOptron is OK, I guess, but I am not nearly as impressed as I'd hoped to be. As in "not much impressed at all."

#19 SKYGZR

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Posted 30 January 2013 - 07:18 PM

I have (2) Atlas's..'nuff said

#20 HenryV1598

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 08:59 AM

When guiding using PHD, it nearly always ends up beeping and flashing at me that its not tracking. I've tried brighter stars, dimmer stars, different exposure times on the camera, tried it through the hand controller and through the ST4 port, tried several different cameras (not just the NexGuide and the Atik, but also a meade DSI III and a couple webcams, including an unbranded version of the orion starshoot). I've changed some of the other values in PHD (can't recall off the top of my head, but tried playing with nearly everything). Whether or not it beeps, when I look at the exposure I was taking, its obviously not tracking. It actually tends to do better without the guiding - its like the autoguider is fighting it.

I tried another CG-5 (owned by my club) - same problems. So its not the mount.

I've talked to several serious imagers in my club - they unanimously said to ditch the CG-5.

I should also mention I've tried programs other than PHD, but that's the one I've used most.

One of the guys in my club doing good imaging is using a CGEM. He picked up a nexguide and says the combination works like magic for him. So I started looking into it. I ended up taking to someone else about the Atlas EQ-G, which seems to be on a par with the CGEM. When I asked around in my club, that's when I got the offer from another club member to sell me his iEQ45. I have to say, I'm really leaning that direction now. I won't be buying until my tax refund comes back, so I have at least a few more weeks to go before I pull the trigger.

#21 EFT

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 09:37 AM

My recommendation would be the CGEM, CGEM DX or Atlas. An advantage to the CGEM/DX for you would be that you are already use to the Nexstar hand controller. With the Atlas you would use EQMOD. In general it is pretty much a toss up between the CGEM and Atlas. The DX has a slight advantage over those two mostly as a result of its better electronics.

The VX would not be the way to go as it is not that much of an upgrade for you.

#22 rmollise

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 11:16 AM

Obviously something is wrong, but it is NOT the mount, or at least not a problem common to the CG5. It will most assuredly guide. I've done successful autoguided exposures of 10-minutes + with mine...

#23 EFT

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:32 AM

When I asked around in my club, that's when I got the offer from another club member to sell me his iEQ45. I have to say, I'm really leaning that direction now. I won't be buying until my tax refund comes back, so I have at least a few more weeks to go before I pull the trigger.


I would look very seriously into why he wants to sell the iEQ45. In my opinion there is very good reason to. I would go with a used CGEM or Atlas over the used iOptron any day.

#24 rmollise

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 10:43 AM

:goodjob:

#25 ky1duck

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 11:44 PM

i would say ioptron ieq45 i bought mine used and love it. the last owner sold it because he wanted something bigger. customer service was great. even transfered the warrenty to me. easy to carry and polar align is easy and really close. tested it agenst pempro and was only 2 arcsec in ra and 2.5 arcsec in dec.






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