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iOptron ZEQ25, initial impressions

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#1 Astronewb

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 07:48 PM

Since we have a post concerning this mount, and most of us do not read Chinese, I thought I'd kindle some curiosity for the 'about to buy' stargazers, or those about to move up from alt/az.


The ZEQ25GT actually has a payload of 27 pounds maximum. The mount has a 2.6 : 1.0 payload to mount ratio due to it's unique "Z" design. Much like the childrens wire toys that balance a long wire over a central fulcrum point and seem to balance and/or spin forever.

The mounts hardened fulcrum point is a pair of mount pins that distribute the weight to the tripod. This "Z" design enabled iOptron to reduce the mass of the mount head, which is a small ribbed casting.

In use under the limited stars I have, the go-to's have been spot on with just a one star alignment. The mount's PE captured with PHD and PecPrep one short session showed a PE in RA of just under 8 arc-seconds peak to peak and a DEC PE of under 2 arc-seconds.

The hand controller is the 8408, introduced with the Smart EQ series...except it had a lot more menu items, guide rates, PEC, several alignment routine choices, etc.

The polar scope is a dream...and it is usable ALL the time...it is pre aligned at the time of manufacture to the mount axis and due to the design of the mount is never blocked by the DEC shaft. Stub the tripod...just look thru the PS and adjust it back...done.

There will be a version without the polar scope for narcasistic users...but I guarantee the polar aligns wont be as good...

The tripod is 1.5 inches and is very sturdy...for the obsessive types, a 2" tripod is available.

I will try to post up a brief review of the mount as soon as possible, along with a YouTube tour of the not so little gem.

It does have a guide port...it does have PEC training...it does not have a heated hand controller, but it did work fine at 15 degrees fahrenheit. Any colder and I would have wrapped a chemical hand warmer around it just out of pity.

The base mount w/out polar scope will retail in the area of $799.00 The polar scope equipped model will retail between $849-900. So that puts it in head on competition with the Celestron AV mount.

iOptron will formally introduce the mount shortly, along with the determined US pricing and availability.

Stay tuned...

Paul

#2 Bluejay08

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:03 PM

It should be very stable with heavy payload.

#3 Astronewb

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Posted 27 February 2013 - 09:12 PM

It should be very stable with heavy payload.


Exactly..with a heavy payload, up to the designed payload of the mount and properly balanced, all the weight is finely
balanced over the mount's fulcrum point. The RA axis is on one side of the pin...the DEC axis is on the other and the controller boards are centered as well.

This is a really well thought out design, it's not perfect, but weight capacity-wise, it's great.

Cheers,

Paul

#4 Astronewb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:06 PM

I posted up some images to my Flickr site of the ZEQ25, some initial views here:

http://www.flickr.co...57632878588706/

Clear skies,

Paul

#5 psandelle

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:58 PM

Paul - coolie-moolie!

On my iEQ30, the fine-tuning alt knobs/screws are a little rough on the ends (need to be rounded out for more accuracy), how are they on the ZEQ25?

Thanks,

Paul

#6 tjugo

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:03 PM

From the OP

DEC PE of under 2 arc-seconds.


Never seen anything like this before... Any idea?

Cheers,

Jose

#7 Astronewb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:48 PM

Paul - coolie-moolie!

On my iEQ30, the fine-tuning alt knobs/screws are a little rough on the ends (need to be rounded out for more accuracy), how are they on the ZEQ25?

Thanks,

Paul


The azimuth adjustment screws are pretty smooth Paul..the bolts don't seem to have as much 'cup' as previous models, but I like to round the ends off regardless..results in much smoother movements.

Cheers,

Paul

#8 Astronewb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 01:56 PM

From the OP


DEC PE of under 2 arc-seconds.


Never seen anything like this before... Any idea?

Cheers,

Jose


Jose..the DEC periodic error is just a function that PecPrep offers, it's really not important unless your declination axis is extremely bad, so bad autoguiding can't keep it under control.

Those figures were the max periodic error, the average PE for RA was 3.5 arc-seconds, with only a single star alignment. The mount has a alignment routine available that is similar to "Alignmaster", no view of Polaris is necessary, the adjustments are carried out with a combination of the mount adjusters and the handcontroller slews.

Unfortunately, the sky has been so bad I haven't had a chance to test that procedure yet.

The mount has enough Polar Routines to make anyone happy. That, in combination with the excellent polar scope reticle and the iOptron Polar Position App from iTunes make it a serious contender.

Oh, and it's not a German Equatorial Mount (GEM)...it's a Chinese Equatorial Mount (CEM), an evolutionary design based on the "Z" configuration. I think iOptron has set a standard with this mount....

Best,

Paul

#9 psandelle

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 02:10 PM

Paul - good to know. I round 'em, too, but was curious if they addressed that further at iOptron.

CEM? Now I gotta remember somethin' else....

Paul

#10 Midnight Dan

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 02:47 PM

Wow! Very innovative design! How did you get one? Are you beta testing for them? Also, how much does the mount head weigh?

-Dan

#11 Astronewb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 05:17 PM

Hi Dan, I got one several days ago, just to do some initial testing and tweaking for iOptron.

The mount weighs...10 pounds +/- a few ounces.

I'm going to start a new thread with links to YouTube videos..a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video is priceless..:)

#12 ourobouros2k2

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 05:41 PM

The mount has enough Polar Routines to make anyone happy. That, in combination with the excellent polar scope reticle and the iOptron Polar Position App from iTunes make it a serious contender.



Does it have something similar to the all star polar alignment routine? Just curious. This mount is intriguing

#13 tjugo

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:08 PM

From the OP


DEC PE of under 2 arc-seconds.


Never seen anything like this before... Any idea?

Cheers,

Jose


Jose..the DEC periodic error is just a function that PecPrep offers, it's really not important unless your declination axis is extremely bad, so bad autoguiding can't keep it under control.

Those figures were the max periodic error, the average PE for RA was 3.5 arc-seconds, with only a single star alignment. The mount has a alignment routine available that is similar to "Alignmaster", no view of Polaris is necessary, the adjustments are carried out with a combination of the mount adjusters and the handcontroller slews.

Unfortunately, the sky has been so bad I haven't had a chance to test that procedure yet.

The mount has enough Polar Routines to make anyone happy. That, in combination with the excellent polar scope reticle and the iOptron Polar Position App from iTunes make it a serious contender.

Oh, and it's not a German Equatorial Mount (GEM)...it's a Chinese Equatorial Mount (CEM), an evolutionary design based on the "Z" configuration. I think iOptron has set a standard with this mount....

Best,

Paul


Thanks Paul,

What was your setup when you measure the PE? This numbers are very good... My EM200 has a PE of 8 arcsec peak to peak, vey smooth tho.

Cheers,

Jose

#14 ourobouros2k2

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:35 PM

Sorry missed the part above about alignmaster like routine. Thanks! Wonder if similar routine will be available as an update for the smarteq?

#15 Footbag

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:39 PM

Nice review. What would the benefit of the Z-configuration be, though?

#16 Astronewb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:17 PM

Sorry missed the part above about alignmaster like routine. Thanks! Wonder if similar routine will be available as an update for the smarteq?


Yes same controller..firmware updates will be forthcoming soon, as soon as the initial results of the new routine are proofed out.

Best,

Paul

#17 Astronewb

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 07:19 PM

Nice review. What would the benefit of the Z-configuration be, though?


I pondered about that when I saw the mount. Then I remembered the children's balancing toys..you know, the ones made out of wire, where you place the horiontal piece of long wire on a central fulcrum..and it balances on it and spins forever..??

Same concept..

Cheers,

Paul

#18 Bluejay08

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 10:00 PM

Thanks Paul! Would like to know how stable it is with 27 lbs payload.

Jay

#19 Astronewb

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:00 PM

Thanks Paul! Would like to know how stable it is with 27 lbs payload.

Jay


Interesting question Jay, but I'd have to rig something up. I'm not going to hang the 35# AT10RC on it..that weighs in at 30+ pounds at the moment.

Maybe a Comet Hunter (16#) with a 90mm (8#) piggybacked??

If I can configure and load it up...I'll let you know.

Regards,

Paul

#20 Senator48

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 02:35 PM

Really intrigued by the ZEQ25 now. Watched the videos from the other thread a few times and think that this would be a great mount for my new toy (AT111EDT APO Triplet) that just arrived on Friday. It's down to this and the Celestron AVX to replace my CG5.

The lighter weight of the ZEQ25 is a big draw since I have to set-up and tear down every session. I primarily stick to visual observing, but think the new iOptron mount will be fine for lunar and planetary imaging.

#21 Astronewb

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:32 PM

Really intrigued by the ZEQ25 now. Watched the videos from the other thread a few times and think that this would be a great mount for my new toy (AT111EDT APO Triplet) that just arrived on Friday. It's down to this and the Celestron VX to replace my CG5.


The ZEQ25 would be an excellent match for your purposes. Both the ZEQ25 and the VX are in the same price range, the polar scope equipped ZEQ25 is $50 more, but comes pre aligned at the factory and is never blocked.

The only scales you have to worry about is the latitude scale and whatever markers you place on the RA and DEC joints to establish a zero position.

I personally feel that the iOptron polar align reticle is the cat's meow and super easy to use.

I think that the ZEQ25 would be a little easier to setup and use, and thus be more suited to your needs, since the best mount is the one you use the most.

The AVX has the advantage of being available right now. The ZEQ25 will not be shipping until the end of this month with all the latest upgrades (external knobs for adjusting gear box tension) and improved Ascom drivers and firmware for linking to popular planetarium programs.

It does work with Starry Nights Pro and Cirques du Ciel at the moment. And also with The Sky as of this week. All that remains is a useable version to link to SkySafari or Orions StarSeek and it will be truly versatile.

Hope the info helps, happy shopping and have a ton of fun with whatever you decide to purchase.

#22 Senator48

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 06:49 PM

Thank you, Paul. Definitely appreciate the feedback and the factory aligned polar alignment reticle is another big plus. For a mount that will be simple to move and use whether it's on my deck or at a remote site, this one is looking more and more like a winner. If I feel like my CG5 is a bit cumbersome on some nights, I don't think that the AVX is going to offer a much easier experience for me.

Depending on whether or not I can convince Mrs. Senator48 that I need two mounts for hands-on comparison, I will most likely just wait until I can get a ZEQ25 at High Point since it's less than an hour's drive from home (through some beautiful northern NJ farmland and open space.) I was amazed when she told me to go for it on the AT111 last week - almost as amazing as seeing it briefly "In Stock" at Astronomics!

Best,
Jason

#23 Astronewb

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 06:55 PM

My pleasure Jason...and it sounds like you have a wonderful 'better half'..don't forget to invest in her..;)

Oh, and I just downloaded and installed MS Worldwide Telescope..and the ZEQ25 works fine with the Ascom platform in that software also. Worldwide Telescope is the program Flickr uses to label their astrophotos...never knew you could download and install a PC version. It's available for the MAC systems too. I also never knew you could control a telescope from the program as well..live and learn.

Clear skies..

Paul

#24 frozen.kryo

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:17 PM

It does work with Starry Nights Pro and Cirques du Ciel at the moment. And also with The Sky as of this week. All that remains is a useable version to link to SkySafari or Orions StarSeek and it will be truly versatile.



I believe it's "Cartes du Ciel". :grin:

#25 Astronewb

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 08:07 AM

I believe it's "Cartes du Ciel".

Ooops..brain hiccup...that's what I get for attending so many Cirque du Soleil performances.

Thanks,

Paul






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