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iOptron Smart EQ Pro issues

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#1 jonbosley

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:01 PM

I have the iOptron Smart EQ Pro and have found balancing it with my WO66mm and image train a nightmare. One night I can get 10min subs the next I am down to 2mins, my whole system weights in at around 7lbs you would think balance wouldn't be much of a issue but it is and this mount will not balance like normal EQ mounts. I will say that goto's and tracking are very good and the whole thing with counter weight and OTA can be picked up with one hand but the manuel is a joke full of syntax errors and should not have been released upon the English speaking world. I am sure with just a DSLR and len balance is no issue.
My mount has been blown over twice! My $60 Simons spotter scope came with a better tripod. You have to put plumbers tape on the Polar-scope focus lens to stop it wobbling and remember to screw it all the way back in each time its used or it with bind the RA.
By the time I bought a PC cable and power cord (with shipping) I was nearing the price of a Clestron VX mount. Clearly I made a mistake on this mount purchase :foreheadslap: & iOptron will have to do a lot better in quality then this for me to consider purchasing from them again. Just my 2CW.

Jon

#2 lakeorion

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 06:31 PM

Agreed.
The tripod is a waste of $10.
Declination balance is improbable.
I've never had or used another GEM, so I have no frame of reference on the polar scope.
Mine had to go back to the shop - bad declination motor or encoder.
iOptron will need to do some serious song and dance for me to consider buying another of their products after that experience.

But,
I wanted a GEM to do camera lens widefields. 35mm to 300 mm focal lengths.
I wanted GOTO.
I wanted battery portability (not a 12V deep cycle or 120V shore power).
I wanted something that could break down and fit into a carry on.
I had better tripods.

So, for me, it's $300 cheaper and 40# lighter than the Celestron VX.

Eventually I'll probably have both. Now I want a GEM for my 127 Mak...

#3 ASTERON

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 07:36 AM

I Dunno what is the story with iOptron.
On Paper their mounts look incredible and the price is right.
It seems that the low cost is at the expense of QC.
A few months ago I almost bought a used MiniTower. Luckily, the seller lives near me so I took the mount for an evening of testing. I found that no matter what I did, After the 2- Star calibration the mount operated nicely for 2-3 minutes and then suddenly (and repetitively) announced that there is an imbalace problem and refused to continue tracking and working.
Now, believe me I can balance a 10 pound refractor on an Alt-Az mount.
Something was very fishy with the mount. So I skipped it. I also heard from some local guy that had a Minitower Pro, that he had twice had problems with the electronic boards of the mount that needed fixing by replacing boards.
Such problems may be handled by a good local service Dept. but no such thing in Israel (meaning months on months of downtime in case one has a problem and parts start shipping back and forth across the atlantic).

No iOptron for me in the future :lol:

#4 Astronewb

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:41 PM

Interesting comment, I don't have any problem with mine, but I did realize it's shortcomings once I received it and spent about $20 to make it extremely useable.

My mount has been blown over twice! My $60 Simons spotter scope came with a better tripod.


Agreed, the tripod is marginal, but is very sturdy and flex is minimized if you take the time to modify it.
Oh, and I wouldn't even be out on a night with wind gusts that strong

You have to put plumbers tape on the Polar-scope focus lens to stop it wobbling and remember to screw it all the way back in each time its used or it with bind the RA.


Well, in truth, you don't have to screw it back in unless you want to cover it up with the metal cover. If it's screwed out too far, when the cover is installed without screwing it back in, it will rub on the cover. I leave the cover off most of the time except when transporting the mount. And yes, Teflon plumber's tape removes the play in the polar scope threads...I use it on all my polar scopes, because they all have play.

By the time I bought a PC cable and power cord (with shipping) I was nearing the price of a Clestron VX mount.


Wow, that must have been an expensive cable and cord, because the VX mount is about $400 more than the SmartEQ Pro?

I've been pretty lucky balancing, but I just find the DEC balance point with a pencil on a hard surface...then put that point in the center of the saddle. Never had a problem balancing in RA except with a very light payload..had to use a 'C' battery taped to the counterweight shaft instead of the counterweight to achieve balance.

Sorry you've had issues with the mount, it's not for everybody it seem, nor is any mount, they all have their quirks.

Good luck,

Paul

#5 jonbosley

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 04:29 PM

Interesting comment, I don't have any problem with mine, but I did realize it's shortcomings once I received it and spent about $20 to make it extremely useable.

My mount has been blown over twice! My $60 Simons spotter scope came with a better tripod.


Agreed, the tripod is marginal, but is very sturdy and flex is minimized if you take the time to modify it.
Oh, and I wouldn't even be out on a night with wind gusts that strong

You have to put plumbers tape on the Polar-scope focus lens to stop it wobbling and remember to screw it all the way back in each time its used or it with bind the RA.


Well, in truth, you don't have to screw it back in unless you want to cover it up with the metal cover. If it's screwed out too far, when the cover is installed without screwing it back in, it will rub on the cover. I leave the cover off most of the time except when transporting the mount. And yes, Teflon plumber's tape removes the play in the polar scope threads...I use it on all my polar scopes, because they all have play.

By the time I bought a PC cable and power cord (with shipping) I was nearing the price of a Clestron VX mount.


Wow, that must have been an expensive cable and cord, because the VX mount is about $400 more than the SmartEQ Pro?

I've been pretty lucky balancing, but I just find the DEC balance point with a pencil on a hard surface...then put that point in the center of the saddle. Never had a problem balancing in RA except with a very light payload..had to use a 'C' battery taped to the counterweight shaft instead of the counterweight to achieve balance.

Sorry you've had issues with the mount, it's not for everybody it seem, nor is any mount, they all have their quirks.

Good luck,

Paul


We all have our views but just to clarify:

1.To be honest I do not really purchase items and expect to have to mode them for a 3lbs scope.

2.As for them blowing over, it was in the day time, left out after good alignment and to save setup time, covered with my trusty Water proof BBQ cover, it really wasn't that windy just a few gusts is enough it seems.

3.I have never had to mode a polar-scope, I guess you have been unlucky with them.

4. No the VX is not $400 more then the EQ Pro,
EQ Pro $499
12V Car Re-charger and Cable $14.99 plus 18.72 shipping from iOptron (ordered later and not together, my bag)
RS232-RJ9 cable $25.99 Plus $18.72 Shipping from iOptron
(I do not see why these items are not included in the Pro)
Total: $577.42
Celestron VX $799 (comes with cables)

I have owned a number of Gem's over the years and never had issues before in balancing. It seems that winding out the focuse is enough to throw it off, I am not entirely sure but something is going on, it maybe my setup of oag, filter-wheel camera. I have seen a few others that had issues but they had 80mm refractors not a 66mm.

I have seen you reviews of iOptron mounts and and happy that you enjoy yours, I guess I, like a few others just expect a little more quality for my dollar.


clear Skies,

Jon

#6 PaulN

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 09:43 PM

Pretty interesting comments. I have ordered mine (back-ordered) primarily for DSLR photography and on occasion a small scope. Before deciding to buy, I read over the manual. Doesn't seem to be too complicated.

#7 CACitUP

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Posted 23 April 2013 - 06:15 PM

I have been enjoying mine for the last 2 months. I have yet to try my hand with astrophotography, but thats only because I have been too busy poking around visually with my AT72 after work every night. I love the little mount, have had no material issues, balances nice (until I load it up with my 2" UWA 32mm). This unit will get a lot of use because of its size and portability and the fact that it will run on rechargable AA's. Cant wait to get it out on some backcountry trips.

Craig

#8 cuivienor

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 02:18 AM

Well I just got my Smart EQ Pro (just arrive today), but unfortunately the upper half of the hand controller seems to not be working - makes it pretty much unusable until they (hopefully) send a replacement... Until then, I can't even know whether the mount has additional issues or not...

Hopefully their support team will be responsive!

Attached Files



#9 ASTERON

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 06:56 AM

Sorry to hear about the defective hand controller.
Hope you get the matter quickly resolved (I heard good things about their customer service and support).

#10 Astronewb

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 07:36 AM

Hopefully their support team will be responsive!

That's a disappointment. If you send them the pic, they will get one out to you asap, I'm sure.

Looks like someone didn't seat the ribbon cable inside the hand controller at the factory correctly?

Good luck,

Paul

#11 cuivienor

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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:12 PM

Thanks for the good wishes - their support team is indeed very responsive, and actually gave me instructions to open the controller and reseat the ribbon cable.

Unfortunately it didn't fix the problem - so I am now awaiting to hear from them on how to replace the controller.

I am very much looking forward to being able to use that mount!! It's just so sad to have it sit so lonesomely on my desk...

Yannick

#12 dbledsoe

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 10:07 AM

I have been deeply dissatisfied with my SmartEQ mount. My hand controller is ok but the mount itself is an exercise in frustration. Shakes, wobbly, touch the scopes focus knob and vibrations take forever to damp out. The tripod is a joke thanks to the cheap plastic leg couplers. I ended up throwing the tripod legs away and replaced them with a set of wood legs from Hands On Optics. That helped but not much because the EQ head is so flimsy. If you only image and never have to touch the scope once set up, well it does track well. But if you are like me, a visual observer, find a better mount because if you touch the scope it will vibrate/wobble for a long time. I should have spent a hundred more and bought a Celestron Next Star SE 6/8 for a decent go to mount.

#13 CACitUP

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 05:49 PM

Dbledsoe,

Why stay in a bad marriage. Post it on the classifieds. It will sell quickly and then you can move on to something that will make you happier. I love mine, and with the mods its pretty damned rock solid for its size and weight. If I didnt already have one I would buy yours :)

Craig

#14 andysea

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 06:10 PM

I have no experience with the Smart EQ, however I would think that for the price one should expect to fiddle with it a little bit to make it suitable for astrophotography. My Skymemo worked out of the box and I imaged with it the first night out, however it cost me exactly three times as much as the Ioptron and I only got tracking, no dual axis motors and no goto. At $500 the Smart EQ looks like an amazing bargain. It might be closer to the Celestron mount in price but I noticed that there seems to be a premium for miniaturized mounts.

#15 Bluejay08

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 10:58 AM

I was at NEAF last weekend and had a conversation with their salesperson about the SmartEQ mount. They told me that the SmartEQ was designed for a grab 'N go visual mount, with some wide field imaging in mind. It seems customers have more demands on the mount. So here comes the Pro with metal gears, guiding port and polar scope.

#16 Astropetev

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 03:39 AM

Some like 'em, some don't. Sometimes it's genuine faults, but often it's simply user error or inexperience. Some call it cheap, yet it's more expensive than the workhorse EQ3 Pro mount which can carry more weight, but is also around 4Kg heavier for a full setup, so less suitable as an airline friendly mount.

If anyone has access to the SBIG Yahoo! forum look at this:
http://groups.yahoo....311582/pic/list

The images were taken with a flattened ZS66 and SBIG ST-2000XCM. I quote from the owner (I've been corresponding with him):

'The image of the Horse and Flame was four hours of 15 minutes subs with no "toss-aways" in the bunch. I haven't done anything in the mount menus in order to improve the guiding function since it seemed to work quite well out of the box.'

Sounds pretty good to me! I'm going to be watching this mount over the year and see how it progresses, maybe next year....

I'm attaching a reduced version of his Horse and Flame image.

Cheers,

Peter
http://www.madpc.co.uk/~peterv

Attached Files



#17 cuivienor

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 02:14 AM

I have received a new controller for my Smart EQ Pro, and of course it is now very cloudy - I am looking very much forward to a cloudless night, but have run a first test inside, and it seems to be pointing in the correct general direction.

So while it did ship with a bad controller first, iOptron was very quick in sending a new one (one week), and their customer service is excellent (if anyone from iOptron reads this, Tech1/John is awesome).

Will update if any further issues :)

Yannick

#18 phliperfil

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 06:30 AM

I had an ioptron mini tower ..worse unit I have ever owned Tried it with my AR127 It kept slipping every single time even with my C-8" celestron .. sent it back .. refund .. not very good equipment in my book .. a lot of complaints about this company you would think they were in the anvil bus.. before getting into mounts poorly designed and kluncky

#19 orlyandico

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 10:17 AM

Funny...

Takahashi used to be in the foundry business, so yes they (probably) produced anvils.

I did give the SmartEQ some thought, because I want to have a small lightweight mount so I can do some AP during my numerous trips. This requires that the mount goes into check-in baggage (without compromising my clothing!)

But... the SmartEQ seems to be riddled with problems. Also my DIY bent has me leaning to a Vixen Polaris or similar and add GoTo and/or PEC to it (not too difficult to do, I can create a GoTo controller from my grab-bag of Arduino parts).

#20 andysea

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 12:29 PM

Interesting. I actually bought and sold a smarteq pro. I was very pleased with how it performed for AP with lenses and my small FS-60CB.
I had to spend some time fine tuning it and a couple of dollars for replacement screws.
Here are my results
http://www.flickr.co...sea/9752710054/
http://www.flickr.co...sea/9984512456/

#21 orlyandico

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Posted 28 November 2013 - 07:50 PM

Andy, so why the "sold" part?

#22 andysea

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Posted 29 November 2013 - 02:50 PM

Oh because I just decided to keep using my Skymemo for wide field work. It gives me the same tracking performance.
If I want goto, plate solving etc. I have the Mach1.
The Smarteq pro works great however it required a little more fiddling than my other mounts. It also felt lower quality overall.
I would like to find a Tak/AP quality super portable goto EQ mount and it does not exist.

#23 Kowitz113

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Posted 24 January 2014 - 05:47 PM

My SmartEq Pro seems to have a lot of play in the Dec axis. Is this normal or does anyone have any suggested mods to help reduce it? My first few runs with the mount and my AT65EDQ had quite a few star trails even after multi-star aligning. Had some good frames followed by pretty smeared ones.

#24 cloudywest

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Posted 26 January 2014 - 12:34 AM

You can adjust the lock screws on the mount head to get rid of plays.






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