Jump to content


iOptron SmartEQ Pro or Celestron AVX

  • Please log in to reply
7 replies to this topic

#1 N1ghtSc0p3


    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 140
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 20 August 2013 - 10:28 PM

OK, so I know this is kinda apples to...well, more like Macintoshes to Golden Delicious, but here goes:

I have an AT72ED that I love, with the A2FF and a DSLR...basically ~7.8lbs of gear. I learned a bit about AP (unguided) last winter with my CG-4 mount (w/ motors and polar scope), and I really enjoyed it. Now I want to try guided AP (leaning towards the Orion Mag Mini package and a netbook or Raspberry Pi.) I was originally all about the Celestron AVX as my next mount because its more capable than the CG-4, has PEC, autoguide port, GOTO and what seems to be a pretty good polar alignment routine.

Then I start doing some research on the iOptron SmartEQ Pro...with metal gears, autoguide port, etc., and what caught my eye was how truly portable it is, compared to the AVX. I understand the standard ratio of 'weight of gear' to 'capacity of mount', and that with my setup above I'm pushing 2/3 of the 11lbs capacity of the SmartEQ Pro, but I've also seen posts (Astronewb) that say that ~8lbs is still doable on the SmartEQ Pro.

I will have to setup and tear down each night, have a 2.5yr old at home, and have very limited time avail for observing/AP. Plus I do anticipate taking the mount up north of Austin, TX this fall to try to catch the comet, and may even try getting to some star parties. So I guess I'm looking for anyone that has a similar setup (scope, camera, autoguider) on one of these two mounts. I also have to say the savings of the iOptron over the Celestron is pretty tempting, but that will not be the sole reason I go one way or the other.

I have read several threads on both these mounts, and in general it seems that folks are happy with both.

Anyway, thank you all in advance for your input.


#2 ohata0


    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 61
  • Joined: 10 Mar 2009
  • Loc: Hawaii, USA

Posted 21 August 2013 - 02:22 AM

i don't think i'll be too much help, but i do have the avx. for me, since i take down and setup from scratch completely every night, it does take a while. i think about 30 mins to "put everything together." well, that and also just carrying it out to the backyard. if i had room to keep things assembled, it probably wouldn't take as long, but i have to keep it in my room so...

it was also heavier than i expected (although that was probably from everyone saying you could carry it out fully assembled...it felt like i should be able to carry the whole thing with one hand :p) that said, i'm used to the weight now.

although i have an autoguider and mini guidescope i use on my c90, i can't really say i've started autoguiding (just got everything about a month ago). right now i'm just doing pec training since the moon is out, and practicing my polar alignment. i had some trouble at first, but using the c90 and my 7d and byeos to center the stars gives me really accurate polar alignment. i expect, from my test shots, that this will work out very well, i should be able to get some nice images with my setup. i just need the clouds to go away >_<

have you considered the zeq25? it has a capacity of 27lbs i believe and reports have been pretty positive. also about 15-20 lbs lighter than the avx i believe.

the only reasons i chose the avx over the zeq25 were pec (which may not matter that much in a mount of this class, and matters even less if you're planning on autoguiding), the fact that it was on sale, and opt had free shipping to hawaii (zeq25 would be $150 or so more just for shipping).

i also choose the avx over something like the astrotrac (smart eq pro or polarie) because i wanted only one mount and the ability to put larger, heavier telescopes on it later on.

#3 rkayakr


    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 534
  • Joined: 27 Oct 2010
  • Loc: Northeast Ohio

Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:16 AM

I have the original SmartEQ and a ZEQ25 and have to travel and set up every observation. The SmartEQ is a good portable mount that I enjoy with my WO ZenithStar 80. Having the battery pack built in is a big plus for me. On the other hand, the tripod is flimsey. I made an adapter and use the mount on the tripod from my AT Voyager. Also, the SmartEQ saddle wouldn't open wide enough for the WO dovetail - I had to make a replacement. If you look closely at the iOptron / WO ads that say "made for each other" you see that the WO scope has a second dovetail bar attached to mount to the SmartEQ since they are clearly not "made for each other".

The ZEQ25 is a wonderful mount. It is just a joy to use. The only thing I might add is the Powerweight.

#4 Starhuckster


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 122
  • Joined: 09 Sep 2010
  • Loc: Boston, MA

Posted 21 August 2013 - 10:26 AM

I'm in a similar boat. I went with the zeq25 (which arrives today!). I ordered the powerweight as well, to hopefully make the whole thing a one trip procedure. FWIW, I looked at the avx and even more closely at the eq45, but the portability and good responses of the zeq won me over.

#5 N1ghtSc0p3


    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 140
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 21 August 2013 - 03:20 PM

Thanks for the input all!

So I guess a question for me is whether anyone has fit the SmartEQ Pro to a third-party tripod? I'm not sure the extra ~$130 for the ZEQ25 over the AVX is worth it, as I still have to get the autoguider... But, if the SmartEQ can be mated fairly easily to another tripod, that might make it the one...

However, if its not really worth it to try that route, the AVX on sale right now might make more sense for me. Also, I've read there are some mods one can do to the SmartEQ tripod, has anyone done any that have made a significant improvement? I kinda wish I didn't have to sell the CG-4, as that tripod was pretty good... Oh well.

#6 Dan Finnerty

Dan Finnerty


  • -----
  • Posts: 463
  • Joined: 11 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Pasadena, CA

Posted 21 August 2013 - 09:21 PM

Thanks for the input all!

Also, I've read there are some mods one can do to the SmartEQ tripod, has anyone done any that have made a significant improvement? I kinda wish I didn't have to sell the CG-4, as that tripod was pretty good... Oh well.

Paul Chasse (astronewb) has an older thread on mods to the SmartEq mount to improve its performance. The one that made the most difference to me was cementing the leg couplers with expoxi.

As shipped, the tripod legs are held into their couplers with philips-head screws. The fit is not at all secure and in particular you get a lot of torsional flex. Gluing the legs into the plastic couplers with epoxi takes all the slop out and makes a significant difference in the rigidity of the tripod.

Search for his link and be sure you don't get any epoxi on the movable parts of the colapsible sections of the legs. It actually was pretty easy to do once I'd looked at his link. He has some good photos to make it all clear

#7 cn register 5

cn register 5

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 760
  • Joined: 26 Dec 2012

Posted 22 August 2013 - 12:03 PM

I've got an AVX and am very happy with it.

I can carry it in and out fully assembled with an 80mm Oynx EDF scope but I had much more on would disassemble it.

It seems very sturdy and capable for astro photography, I've used two 80mm scopes, one for guiding and one for imaging, also a 6" GSO RC with a ST80 piggy backed as a guide scope. That is definitely not carry out fully assembled territory. The PEC is very good and guiding works well. The ASPA works well for polar aligning, just as well because I can't see Polaris from where I operate.

Can't comment on the iOptron mount because I've never even seen one.


#8 N1ghtSc0p3


    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 140
  • Joined: 19 Feb 2011
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 22 August 2013 - 11:31 PM

Thanks for all the input. After checking out Astronewb's mods to the SmartEQ mount, I've decided to order one. For my purposes right now, it really seems to fit the bill.


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics