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iOptron ZEQ25, initial impressions

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#1276 mfulmer

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 11:20 AM

I'll throw my initial impressions in here. Ran the ZEQ25 through an initial rough test last night with an ST80. Very good results. I was on the back patio without a view of Polaris so, with a leveled mount, I did a quick compass/inclinometer alignment. I needed to adjust for daylight saving time (it was off by an hour). With a leveled zero position, did a two star alignment on Arcturus and Spica. The PA was off (forgot to take into account magnetic declination), but goto's were fairly spot on after the alignment from the meridian westward. Spent time viewing Mars/Saturn/Moon before returning to zero position without an issue. Can't complain. Focusing an ST80 isn't the best experience, but that mount vibration was not an issue, even at high power on Mars.

All was not perfect, however - my power switch is not positively engaging for on/off. I'm able to keep the mount on with some pressure, but it's not perfect. iOptron support has a new main board in the mail. Working with them was painless. Perhaps it was an issue with the treatment of the mount after shipping, but sure seems like an issue that could have been resolved with better QC at the factory. Not going to let that put me off, though. I can tell this mount is going to get a lot of use. Setup and tear down time was quick - even surprised my wife with how fast it went.

#1277 Mkofski

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 12:20 PM

Paul,

Great results on a 90 second unguided image... I'm amazed! I mean, I do like the mount a lot but would have never tried a 40" in long 30 pound set up on it.

Mike

#1278 Mkofski

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 12:25 PM

I'll throw my initial impressions in here. Ran the ZEQ25 through an initial rough test last night with an ST80. Very good results. I was on the back patio without a view of Polaris so, with a leveled mount, I did a quick compass/inclinometer alignment. I needed to adjust for daylight saving time (it was off by an hour). With a leveled zero position, did a two star alignment on Arcturus and Spica. The PA was off (forgot to take into account magnetic declination), but goto's were fairly spot on after the alignment from the meridian westward. Spent time viewing Mars/Saturn/Moon before returning to zero position without an issue. Can't complain. Focusing an ST80 isn't the best experience, but that mount vibration was not an issue, even at high power on Mars.

All was not perfect, however - my power switch is not positively engaging for on/off. I'm able to keep the mount on with some pressure, but it's not perfect. iOptron support has a new main board in the mail. Working with them was painless. Perhaps it was an issue with the treatment of the mount after shipping, but sure seems like an issue that could have been resolved with better QC at the factory. Not going to let that put me off, though. I can tell this mount is going to get a lot of use. Setup and tear down time was quick - even surprised my wife with how fast it went.


Mike,

Sounds like your off to a great start. Congrats on the new mount.

Mike

#1279 Astronewb

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 01:51 PM

I'm amazed! I mean, I do like the mount a lot but would have never tried a 40" in long 30 pound set up on it.


Mike, I think more weight = more damping = better results?

Oh, I would have been very hesitant to mount that 152mm on the ZEQ25 if I weren't using the replacement ADM Vixen saddle. Even with all that tube on board, the ADM saddle kept it rock solid. Two thumbs up for ADM's saddle!

Regards... Paul

#1280 tpuerzer

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 01:45 PM

First light with ZEQ and 300mm lens...

My ZEQ25 arrived yesterday and thanks to all the great info in this thread I was able to get it set up with my Canon 300mm lens very easily.

Of course, it would have to be very near a Full Moon, but I was able to get an UNGUIDED 240 second exposure with near perfect stars, so I am very happy with this initial test. Much better performance (even unguided than the SkyTracker which I had been using). Central crop of M13 attached.

Thanks again to everyone that has contributed here!

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#1281 Astronewb

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 02:55 PM

I was able to get an UNGUIDED 240 second exposure with near perfect stars


Actually, I can see more astigmatism in your camera lens than trailing, very nice first light. When you become a little more familiar with the mount you will truly appreciate it.

Nice image, wishing more clear sky for you.

Best...Paul

#1282 tpuerzer

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Posted 11 July 2014 - 03:48 PM

"Actually, I can see more astigmatism in your camera lens than trailing..."

Yup, but to be fair to the lens, this is a pretty severe crop of the full image, since M13 is so tiny at 300mm on a DSLR sensor...

#1283 CosmicDave

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 10:52 AM

My unit came in Thursday! First setup will be this Intes MK-65 150mm x 1500mm Mak-Cass with Canon 1000D, guided by ASI120mm on PHD. Hope it works well. I'm a long time planet shooter but short timer on the deep sky.

If this works well, or even if it doesn't, I will try the SN-8 you see in the background, mounted on the Z. It weighs 24.4 lbs with cameras mounted.

Mike Kofski, do you recognize this scope?

Dave Polan

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#1284 Mkofski

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 11:37 AM

Dave,

Great looking set up. Yes, the scope looks a bit familiar! I really missed having a 6" f/10 Mak and just picked up a replacement a few weeks ago. I still need to figure a way to add a guide scope to mine. Please let us know how it works out on the z25.

Mike

#1285 John Miele

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 08:25 PM

I have always had some amount of field rotation in my ZEQ25 images and put it in the list of things to fix…someday. I typically polar align very carefully using the polar scope and always figured I was at least within at least a few arc-minutes of the pole. Well someday came today and I finally decided to check the alignment of the polar scope with the RA axis. I centered the reticle on a distant object and spun the RA axis. Whoa!! There was major misalignment. The object was swerving in a large off centered arc at least 20 arc-minutes across! No wonder I never get a good PA! I slid out the polar scope and began a 20 minute long trial and error process with the reticle set screws and got it to where the object stayed within the center 4 arc-min circle. That was as close as I could get without tearing my hair out. But it’s still probably 4 to 5 times better than it was before :jump:! I can’t wait to take a image. If I was ever even getting close to being polar aligned in any of my previous images, it was purely by accident! Moral of the story... check your polar scope alignment! Mine was terrible from the factory and I should have done this the first day I had the mount…John

#1286 bmyers12

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Posted 13 July 2014 - 10:00 PM

Dave,

I am anxiously awaiting your results of your F10 scope on
the ZEQ25. I have been warned by many that the ZEQ25
may not get good results with long focal length imaging.

Bruce

#1287 tango13

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 10:59 AM

Moral of the story... check your polar scope alignment! Mine was terrible from the factory and I should have done this the first day I had the mount…John

Hi John,
my polar scope alignment is appalling too from the factory, I tried to adjust the reticle by turning the three set screws but I gave up after about half an hour of hair pulling and no noticeable results :ooo:
Do you have any special advice or recommendation about the alignment procedure?

Thank you,
Piero

#1288 swobodny

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 12:01 PM

Hello everyone, greetings from the UK!
Do you know whether ZEQ25 would fit HEQ5 tripod?
I am thinking of getting this mount, but as I have already HEQ5 tripod I noticed that it may fit ZEQ25 head, if I only drill a new hole and move the azimuth pin. Is the bolt size the same on both mounts (I guess it is M10)? If anyone has access to both mounts and tripods and could check that, I would be very grateful for this information.
Cheers,
Tomas.

#1289 Tony Finnerty

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 01:03 PM

Hi John,
my polar scope alignment is appalling too from the factory, I tried to adjust the reticle by turning the three set screws but I gave up after about half an hour of hair pulling and no noticeable results :ooo:
Do you have any special advice or recommendation about the alignment procedure?

Thank you,
Piero


Hello Piero. I highly recommend the Polar Scope Spacer from V5 Astro. It made adjusting my ZEQ25 polar scope easy, by moving the scope partly outside of the RA housing so the adjusting screws are always accessible.

#1290 Astronewb

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 03:32 PM

Do you have any special advice or recommendation about the alignment procedure?

This is the best video on the subject that is available:

http://youtu.be/G34fzcqwdIc

But, there really is no way to accomplish alignment since the adjusting set screws are buried in the DEC housing. What were they thinking when they did that?

Cheers.Paul

#1291 Blues Dr

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 07:31 PM

Agree with Tony, get the spacer so you have access to the adjusting set screws.

#1292 Henry from NZ

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:47 AM

My near new iOptron ZEQ25 mount just died.

I am now receiving an error message: "DEC connection error" on start up.
My last session immediately before this was normal, so this was without any warning.
I have tried the suggested fixes of replugging the cable and trying AC power - but still no go.
I must say this is very disappointing - I wouldn't have expected this for a new mount which I paid good money for (good money by my standard anyway).
Now I have to wait for my local dealer to get the required parts to fix it from the head office, as it is not stocked locally.

I really hope this is a one-off mishap.

Also just a few days before that the RS232 cable broke when the RJ11 plug meets the cable - a problem arising due to the cable not being crimped properly.

It seems there are serious problems with QC.

I just thought I would share my stories to provide this thread with a more balanced view.

I must say I am very disappointed and frustrated, especially now we have rare clear sky after weeks of rain but I have no mount to use. Makes me wonder whether I should have gone for the Celestron AVX instead for a bit more money.

I wonder if others have similar experience?

#1293 nodalpoint

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:29 AM

Henry, you are correct about the QC. So far I've been pretty lucky with mine after doing the tune up and other small things to get it as it should have been right from the box. While a busted mount isn't funny, some issues, like a bubble level installed at an angle, make you wonder if the factory isn't playing a trick on people.

In the States, the AVX sells for a bit less than the ZEQ. And right now it's on sale from Celestron for $719.

#1294 Mkofski

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:58 AM

Henry,

If you just started getting the Dec connection error after the mount was working, I'd check the cable. I did have a problem with the HBX cable on my mount also. It is not crimped properly and will fail at some point. Need to get a replacement now.

Good luck...

Mike

#1295 Astronewb

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 01:49 PM

I am now receiving an error message: "DEC connection error" on start up. My last session immediately before this was normal, so this was without any warning. I have tried the suggested fixes of replugging the cable and trying AC power - but still no go.


That's bad news, but maybe it's something simple?

Try removing the DEC cover and checking the power cord harness to the DEC encoder motor. I have seen something similar and it was a broken wire at the motor connector. A dab of solder straightened that out.


Regards...Paul

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#1296 John Miele

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 08:45 PM

Hi Piero,

Sorry but I do not. It's just a trial and error process. I would rotate the RA axis and guess where the center of rotation was occurring. Then slide out the polar scope and try to nudge the reticle in that direction. Always by loosening one or two screw sand then tightening the other ones. Do not tighten too hard or you might break the reticle. And at one point I loosened the screws too much and had the reticle tilt on me. I had to shake the polar scope t get it to seat back flat. I just ordered Paul's polar scope spacer which should help tremendously to do this process more efficiently. Mine still needs more adjusting but it is a lot better than before...John

#1297 tpuerzer

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 01:46 AM

Posted Image

I had a chance to try a few more unguided exposures with my new ZEQ25 last night and so far I'm pretty impressed with what it can do.

(The Moon had just risen - and these objects are pretty low anyway at my 50-degree North latitude - plus, there was still some lingering twilight, but I did manage to pull something out of that soup!) :)

#1298 Astronewb

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Posted 18 July 2014 - 07:33 AM

but I did manage to pull something out of that soup!)


Five minutes of total exposure time? I guess you did, very nice from 50 degrees latitude, grats.

Regards..Paul

#1299 Henry from NZ

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 02:10 AM

I checked the cable plugs and sockets and checked them with continuity meter, they are fine. So I guess the control board is toasted. My local dealer does not have parts to fix it and he says he is waiting to hear from the head office. I wonder if those control boards can be sourced directly as I am sick of waiting.

#1300 Mkofski

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Posted 19 July 2014 - 03:47 AM

I checked the cable plugs and sockets and checked them with continuity meter, they are fine. So I guess the control board is toasted. My local dealer does not have parts to fix it and he says he is waiting to hear from the head office. I wonder if those control boards can be sourced directly as I am sick of waiting.


Henry,

That sucks... If someone can't get you repair parts soon, how about returning the defective mount and then buying another one? With that as a possibility, your dealer may put a bit more effort into resolving the problem.

Where do parts come from? As easy as it is to get parts here in the US, I find it hard to believe you can't get a replacement board quickly.

Good luck,

Mike






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