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Looking at EQ mounts, hopelessly confused

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#1 Adeema

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 02:46 PM

I've been eyeing the Explore Scientific AR152 Achromatic Refractor lately and came to realize that I lack a mount to handle such a beast! Most of my viewing is on a Vixen Porta II Alt-Az mount while the 8" SCT permanently rests on the Nexstar Goto mount.

Which is why I started looking and reading about GEM's and came out hopelessly confused. As far as I can tell, there are basic mount designs from the smallest EQ1 to a hefty EQ8 that various vendors rebrand as their own (e.g. Orion Atlas EQ6, Skywatcher series). There's also the Celestron offerings which I wasn't able to correlate to the EQ's, are they a completely different design? Does everyone start from the same basic design and tweak to their liking?

Complicating things is the fact that I also have three requirements of my new mount that I need a little help with:

- I'm far from starting, but when I do dive into astrophotography I'd like the mount to be able to do so comfortably with my ED80 (not sure if I should be accounting for the C8 instead of the ED80).

- I'd like to be able to slew the telescope by goto or by hand. I don't always want to be tied to a power source and I get the impression you can only have one or the other, not both.

- It needs to handle all my telescopes, from the smallest Mak 90mm to the (probably heaviest) AR152.


Can anyone be kind enough to provide some guidance?

#2 Mkofski

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 03:01 PM

Adeema,

I've been looking at the ES152 also and it is a monster. At about 40" long and just under 25 pounds, it may be ok for visual on a CG5 but you would the better off with a mount rated for about 40 pounds. The iOptron iEQ45 or Celestron's CGEM would be good. For that scope, I think you can forget any mount under $1,000.

For astrophotography the iOptron has gotten great reviews.

Any mount rated at 40 pounds or more would handle all your scopes.

I don't know of any mounts in this class that you can move manually, after aligning, without loosing the alignment. I'm sure you'll get advise from other members that know a lot more that I do.

Mike

#3 obin robinson

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 03:02 PM

What is your budget? Used or new?

obin :question:

#4 Stelios

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 04:16 PM

Get a CG-5. I assume this is a visual-only scope, the CA would be brutal otherwise.

Everything else will cost much more/be much heavier. Nothing smaller than a CG-5 will suffice.

Do you need more? IMO, not for visual. Unlike a C6-R which is f/8, this is only f/6.5 so the moment arm won't be too great.

#5 Pat at home

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 04:20 PM

The Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 (a dual function equatorial / alt-azm mount) and the newer EQ8 have encoders on both axis thereby enabling manual slewing of the scope without losing the alignment model. SW call this feature "Freedom Find". I have an older EQ6 and it handles an AR152 with ease. The AZ-EQ6, according to the SW blurb, lighter and carries more load but is also more expensive. The EQ8, according to some results from Australian users, seems to be an impressive mount for the price.

#6 Adeema

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 08:57 PM

I haven't really set a budget for myself yet. I wanted to see what I would realistically need to spend to properly mount the AR152. If it turns out to be too expensive then I may scrap the idea and stick to what I have for now.

I'm open to buying used since it can potentially save me a whole lot of cash. Buying new, especially from the US, would mean lots of shipping costs (Canada) and taxes/fees (again, Canada!)

I went to a nearby astronomy store and asked a few questions. Got to see the AR152 in person and it's huuuuge. I came to realize that a CG5 or EQ5 would be the bare minimum as well, and he even recommended the HEQ5 to be safe. I'm still not planning on astrophotography anytime soon, just visual using the AR152. When I do start trying to take pictures, it would be using the 80mm triplet and that should be vastly overmounted with the above mentioned mounts.

The AZ-EQ6 seems to be the only one with dual encoders, but that seems like overkill for what I intend to do.

#7 CharlesW

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:39 AM

To save shipping costs and get a vacation at the same time could you travel to NEAF and get your stuff? Montreal isn't really that far is it?

#8 hottr6

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:24 AM

A G8-class would be minimum for AR152 visual only. IMHO, a CG5-class mount would be an exercise in frustration.

The APers would know best, but I think they need mounts rated at twice the payload of a bare OTA. If you decide to try AP with the AR152 that would mean a minimum payload of 40-50lb. If you stick with just the ED80 for AP, the G8-class would be a great match.

#9 groz

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 01:35 PM

Why would you buy from the states, when there are a bunch of vendors in Canada, that will sell you the same stuff, cheaper than the american counterparts, and save all the hassles of cross border shipping ?

#10 frito

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 02:20 PM

A G8-class would be minimum for AR152 visual only. IMHO, a CG5-class mount would be an exercise in frustration.

The APers would know best, but I think they need mounts rated at twice the payload of a bare OTA. If you decide to try AP with the AR152 that would mean a minimum payload of 40-50lb. If you stick with just the ED80 for AP, the G8-class would be a great match.


for most commercial mounts half the rated payload is what is the general rule of thumb for AP

a 20-25 lb scope on a CG-5 for visual is doable, celestron sold many setups with the mount that weighed that much or even more (see the 10" 1200mm FL newt on a CG-5 they sold) many folks report being happy with such setup for visual use but they will also tell you that wind will make it vibrate and its not the most stable setup. whats considered to be the best thing aperature wise for visual use on a CG-5 is a C8 SCT (or similar SCT) the weight is not so much the issue its the size of the scope so that's why SCT's do better than longer refractors and newts on them. that being said i've used a Celestron 102F F/9 Florite refractor on my CG-5, its far from the weight of a AR152 but its similar is length and my mount handled it wonderfully for visual use but have adjusted the backlash out of my mount so that will make a difference with longer scope use and stability.

#11 Adeema

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 11:03 AM

Charles, I never heard of NEAF so I had to look it up. It's VERY tempting purely to experience it. However I can probably go to an astronomy store that's relatively nearby to grab whatever I need, and save myself 6 hours of driving.

Terra, I had previously looked at Larry's awesome mounts, but only considered the Dwarfstar for my small Mak 90mm as a grab-and-go setup. This would be my third Alt-Az mounts so I'd really prefer the next one to be a GEM, though thank you for the suggestion.

Shane, what qualifies as a G8 class mount? The only one I could find is the Losmandy version. Are there others?

groz, sometimes they have awesome deals! Like that Celestron 102mm refractor from Opt. Except when you add USPS shipping it doubles the price (no way am I going with UPS and their damn brokerage fees)... Now it's just a matter of finding out if it's cheaper to pay the duties or to just buy local.

Frito, this would probably be my last scope (or so I claim) so if I'm doing it, I'll do it right instead of skimping on the mount. Sounds like the CG-5 would be borderline and that I should probably go with an EQ6.

I made this little list to familiarize myself with what's available out there. Didn't realize that Orion mounts are basically rebranded Skywatcher mounts until I did this (or is it the other way around?), and that Celestron does their own thing...


EQ1 7 lbs Range
- Orion: EQ-1 ($130)
- Skywatcher: EQ1 ($150)
- Celestron: None

EQ2 9 lbs Range
- Orion: EQ-2 ($200)
- Skywatcher: EQ2 ($230)
- Celestron: None

EQ3 12 lbs Range
- Orion: Astroview ($250)
- Skywatcher: EQ3 ($290)
- Celestron: None

EQ4 20 lbs Range
- Orion: Skyview Pro ($850)
- Skywatcher: EQ5 ($880) <=== shouldn't this be called an EQ4?!?
- Celestron: CG-4 ($275 non-motorized)

EQ5 30 lbs Range
- Orion: Sirius ($1200)
- Skywatcher: HEQ5 ($1100)
- Celestron: AVX ($800)

??? 35 lbs Range
- Orion: None
- Skywatcher: None
- Celestron: CG-5 ($600)

EQ6 40 lbs Range
- Orion: Atlas ($1500)
- Skywatcher: EQ6 ($1600)
- Celestron: CGEM ($1500)

AZ-EQ6 45 lbs Range
- Orion: Atlas Pro ($2300)
- Skywatcher: AZ-EQ6 ($2200)
- Celestron: None

?? 50 lbs Range
- Orion: None
- Skywatcher: None
- Celestron: CGEM DX ($1800)

?? 90 lbs Range
- Orion: None
- Skywatcher: None
- Celestron: CGE Pro ($5000)



To me it looks like Celestron has the cheaper mounts, but I often hear that they're quite noisy compared to Orion and Skywatcher's offerings. I'm thinking maybe the Atlas is the most sound route. It would comfortable hold the AR152 or any of my other telescopes, and it would also be perfect for astrophotography with the 80mm triplet down the line. I was hoping to stick to the $1000 range, so I may have to keep my eye out on used items to see what pops up. Too bad the dual encorders are only available on the Atlas Pro, but that's a massive jump in price for a feature that would be a nice-to-have instead of a need.

#12 Adeema

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 11:09 AM

Adeema,

I've been looking at the ES152 also and it is a monster. At about 40" long and just under 25 pounds, it may be ok for visual on a CG5 but you would the better off with a mount rated for about 40 pounds. The iOptron iEQ45 or Celestron's CGEM would be good. For that scope, I think you can forget any mount under $1,000.

For astrophotography the iOptron has gotten great reviews.

Any mount rated at 40 pounds or more would handle all your scopes.

I don't know of any mounts in this class that you can move manually, after aligning, without loosing the alignment. I'm sure you'll get advise from other members that know a lot more that I do.

Mike


I don't know how I missed your post, but the iOptron is intriguing. I'm gonna start looking into it as well.

#13 timmbottoni

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 12:37 PM

Hi
I'm still learning but I think the ioptron ieq45 is a great mount.

Keep in mind that any equatorial mount will need power to track automatically anyway so you're original thought of a mount that can do both goto and be manually moved doesn't really apply.

Timm

#14 Adeema

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:47 PM

I'm not familiar enough with GEM's to know, but if I were to align my scope, disengage the clutches, move it manually to a different target, and re-engage the clutches, would it continue to track whatever I pointed it at?

#15 gdd

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:50 PM

I'm not familiar enough with GEM's to know, but if I were to align my scope, disengage the clutches, move it manually to a different target, and re-engage the clutches, would it continue to track whatever I pointed it at?



Yes, it will still track. Only GOTO's will be off.

Gale

#16 Falcon-

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 02:26 PM

I made this little list to familiarize myself with what's available out there. Didn't realize that Orion mounts are basically rebranded Skywatcher mounts until I did this (or is it the other way around?), and that Celestron does their own thing...


Orion's mounts are the rebrands, most of them of Skywatcher, but not all. Even with Celestron things are not always totally "their own thing", the EQ-5 and CG-5 are identical mechanically, Celestron just uses different, motors and electronics.



EQ4 20 lbs Range
- Orion: Skyview Pro ($850)
- Skywatcher: EQ5 ($880) <=== shouldn't this be called an EQ4?!?
- Celestron: CG-4 ($275 non-motorized)

EQ5 30 lbs Range
- Orion: Sirius ($1200)
- Skywatcher: HEQ5 ($1100)
- Celestron: AVX ($800)

??? 35 lbs Range
- Orion: None
- Skywatcher: None
- Celestron: CG-5 ($600)

I have to correct things a bit in this part of the list. The CG-5 does *not* actually have a higher capacity then the Sirius/HEQ5 or AVX - that is totally a marketing material thing and does not reflect reality. At best they are the same capacity, more likely the AVX is slightly higher capacity.

In terms of design and capabilities this part of the list should be more like:

"EQ4"-class
- Orion: none (Astroview is close)
- Skywatcher: EQ3-2
- Celestron: Omni CG-4

EQ5 Class (perhaps best put as "Vixen Great Polaris Clones")
- Orion: Skyview Pro
- Skywatcher: EQ-5
- Celestron: CG-5 (now discontinued, replaced with AVX, but still available)

EQ5+ class:
- Orion: none
- Skywatcher: none
- Celestron: Advanced VX (basically an improved design based on the CG5)

EQ6- Class: (significant mechanical design improvements over the basic EQ4, EQ5 and EQ5+, this is a scaled-down EQ6 rather then a beefed up EQ5)
- Orion: Sirius
- Skywatcher: HEQ5
- Celestron: none

I know I am splitting hairs a bit but your original version of the list made it seem the CG5 was better then the HEQ5/Sirius and AVX and that is just not the case. :)

#17 Adeema

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 02:33 PM

I know I am splitting hairs a bit but your original version of the list made it seem the CG5 was better then the HEQ5/Sirius and AVX and that is just not the case. :)


Thank you, I appreciate that. I did think that was odd when I looked it up, but I was only going off what websites like Opt were listing for the CG-5 and AVX, which were 35 lbs and 30 lbs respectively. I should've known the upgrade was capable of more!

#18 Falcon-

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 04:03 PM

What Opt lists are what Celestron's official specs are - it is just that Celestron marketing was being overly optimistic about the CG-5 and more realistic with the AVX. :) The fact that "20lb" rated Skywatcher EQ5 is mechanically identical to the "35lb" rated CG-5 gives you a bit of a hint here as to the more realistic rating the the CG-5. Sure you *CAN* put 35lb of scope on the CG-5, but it is a more more satisfactory experience to not do so.

I should note that while I do own/use a CG-5 I have not used an AVX myself yet (or even seen one in person) so my estimates of how much better the AVX is than to the CG5 is based purely on the discusion I have seen in this forum

#19 Adeema

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 10:17 AM

Having considered all my options, I decided to hold off on buying the AR152. The mount that would fill most of my current and future needs is an Atlas, and I'm not ready to plop down upwards of $2300 at the moment ($800 for the telescope and $1500 for the mount, plus shipping and tax). There's a few non-urgent things around the house I could finally get around to fixing and that money can be put to better use.

Thank you all for your help. I still have other toys to keep me busy for a long time so this purchase will be shelved for now!

#20 Bill W.

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 04:52 PM

I imaged with a Atlas Orion for a couple of years. I can tell you from personal experience that it can handle 30-35 lbs of gear for astrophotography. But, it does have to be perfectly balanced. It's a great mount for the money.

-Bill

#21 Joe Aguiar

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Posted 05 September 2013 - 05:10 PM

I had a 6" refractor on the Skywatcher EQ5 mount and the ASGT mount and the LXD-75 mount and it can easily handle it for visual needs altho I never did AP. so you don't have to buy an atlas pro now at 1500 buy a used CG5 mount (you can get a used none goto for like $250) with 2" steel legs use that later maybe upgrade to a EQ6 mount,
joe

#22 Adeema

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 09:51 AM

Since deciding to hold off on this purchase, my home was unfortunately broken into and robbed. We lost a lot, but thankfully the insurance came through and a good portion of the stolen items are being replaced, though some items can never be replaced :(

They ended up taking the 8SE, as well as a good chunk of accessories. Instead of replacing the astronomy equipment they stole, my insurer permitted me to upgrade to something else and pay the difference, so I'm going to jump right up to the AZ-EQ6.

It's definitely overkill for the remaining telescopes the robbers thankfully ignored in their little adventure through my home, but it'll be perfect for the AR I'll probably grab in a few months time. Hopefully it'll be the last mount I ever have to buy, since I don't anticipate moving up to anything bigger.

I still miss that 8SE... I loved that scope :bawling:

#23 BoldAxis1967

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 12:50 PM

My condolences on being robbed. It happened to me and it was an awful and frustrating feeling. Lost all my electronics and most of my music collection, some of which was irreplaceable. The pain still lingers in one corner even though it has been years. I was in graduate school at the time, no insurance. At least your insurance company seems to be cooperating. With all of my astronomy purchases over the internet it is easy to save the receipts. I have a hard copy and as well as copies on my home and work computers. My insurance is at replacement cost and the difference in premiums is not that much.

Hope you recover spiritually and materially sooner than later.

LB

#24 Ranger Tim

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 06:32 PM

You said that you wanted to be able to move the scope without having to use the motors or go-to? The losmandy mounts will allow you to do this since they use clutches. If you are not going to do any go-to you can simply move the mounts to where you want and they will continue to track. You can also have the straight digital drive with Digital Setting Circles and keep track of the position no matter how much you move by hand. I believe the AR150 would be okay visually with the GM-8 and would work well with the G-11 for AP. I have seen these situations in my own experience. However I believe thinking twice and going to another refractor/scope choice with a less expensive mount is a rational move. Good luck with the shopping! Sorry you had a thief. I hate a thief.

#25 Per Frejvall

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Posted 25 October 2013 - 12:15 AM

Sorry about the break-in. I have had that happen once and it turned me into a very cautious person. It is a very unpleasant invasion of the private sphere.

You are right in choosing the AZ-EQ6. It is a very versatile mount that can take you very deep into astro-photography territory in addition to being an excellent mount for push-to and goto. Belt drive is the way to go if direct drive is not suitable, and AZ-EQ6 has belts. Nice and quiet :)

/per






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