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iOptron CEM60, not a rumor anymore.

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#1 Astronewb

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 03:46 PM

I had the pleasure of driving up to Woburn, Mass this morning for a short hands on session with the new CEM60.

The mount I looked at is an engineering sample that was just assembled for the Arizona Astro Expo in Tucson this weekend. As such, all the software features were not completely implemented, and this mount was not a shipping version by any means.

The mount appeared to be satin finish white, but I was told final versions will be polished and painted. It looked incredible, and the mechanical features just spoke quality.

The mount is all metal, with the exception of an encoder cover and the GPS cover on the side of the mount.

The latitude adjustment and locking are superb, no way it's going to move once you lock it down, it's the same principle as a tilting milling machine vise.

Both RA and DEC axes can be easily unlocked for manual balancing with a couple of turns on the locking switches.



If the old saying "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch" applies, then iOptron has definitely left the porch with this introduction and is running right up front.

Here's a link to a video of the mount slewing, it's very pleasing to the ears:

http://www.flickr.co...11/10859225933/

width="400" height="300" flashvars="intl_lang=en-us&photo_secret=048d69ebb9&photo_id=10859225933" bgcolor="#000000" allowFullScreen="true"


And here's a link to an image of the mount with some annotations I added:

Posted Image
ZEQ60 features by Astronewb2011, on Flickr

Here's a comparison of the CEM60 alongside it's little cousin, the ZEQ25:

Posted Image
ZEQ25 meets CEM60 by Astronewb2011, on Flickr

The mount will be sold ala carte, no tripod or pier, so you can mount it up to whatever you desire.

Retail mounts will come equipped with a metal travel case and a factory supplied Periodic Error printout, which appears to be less than 10 arc-seconds p~p at this time.

The high precision version will come supplied with a Periodic Error printout which will be less than 1 arc-second p~p.

The mount has permanent PEC and realtime PEC.

The handset is the feature rich 8407 with a slightly different menu. Look for more details from iOtpron after the Tucson introduction on Saturday.

The mount has enough miscellaneous ports and connectors to make a electronic junkie quiver in anticipation of what to plug in next.

There are no spring loaded worm gears, nor are there any adjustments needed. The worm and ring are held in almost perfect mesh magnetically, a patent pending iOptron design.

I could not detect any slack or play in RA or DEC on the mount. Slews were precise, and as noted in the video, the sound effects at higher slew speeds were quite enjoyable.

High torque stepper motors are used in the mount, not servo motors.

Even the front polar scope dust cover was metal and unscrewed from the mount.

I'd like to thank John and Kevin at iOptron for the gracious offer to see the mount in person, and also permission to give a first heads up on some of the mount's features.

Retail price was not locked in yet, but it appears that the mount will be well south of $3000 in the standard encoder version.

My impression is that iOptron is really making an effort to produce the finest mounts available to the astronomy public, and after seeing the CEM60 in person, they are on track.

It will be available for sale in the Dec-Jan time frame, so don't delay, this will not be 'mass produced', order early.

Clear skies...Paul

#2 BWAZ

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 03:57 PM

That looks cool!

#3 dmcnally

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 03:57 PM

Thanks for the pre-release release. Looks cool and seems to be very attractively priced.

Dave

#4 Mkofski

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:00 PM

Looks good! Now I,just need tofigure out why I need one and how to pay for it.

#5 *skyguy*

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:21 PM

Very clever design placing the R.A. axis between two bearing in a yoke. That should significantly boost its load bearing capacity! I'm impressed!

Here's another close-up image of the CEM60:

CEM60

Also some additional specifications:

1. 60lbs (27kg) load. (Roughly equivalent to EQ7 level)

2 will be equipped with encoder (precision version), with or without encoder (Normal Edition).

3 Low weight / high load style. (Weight should be less than NEQ6 or AZ-EQ6, but higher than iEQ45)

4 new design style. (Unlike zEQ25/iEQ45)

5 Price predicted between 3000 $ to 4000 $ (precision version)

6 there will be more advanced mount features (mx can refer to some features)

7. Goto finally improved sound, similar to the kind of Cinda heq5/neq6 high frequency tone.

#6 Stew57

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 05:38 PM

EQ7? There is an EQ8 with payload of 50KG.

If the price of the precision encoder mount does indeed come in at 4000 I will have to rethink my plans! I will be watching the shakedown with interest when they are released.

#7 orlyandico

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:08 PM

d'oh!

What really interests me is what kind of encoder they are using. The EQ8 encoders are un-interesting (very low resolution).

Having built two encoder prototypes (bolt-on to existing mounts) I've learned a huge amount about encoder PE correction, and it is not an easy task - my latest prototype (the one that actually works!) can only maintain +/- 2" with (cheap) ebay encoders.

So I wonder what this new mount uses.. I am fairly sure it's not a Chinese encoder (the Chinese still can't make high-resolution encoders). And it can't be Renishaw Resolute (the price of one such encoder is greater than the price of this entire mount, if the pricing of 3000-4000 for the encoder version is correct).

Feeling a bit miffed that my efforts of the past year (ish) have been productized by iOptron. :D

#8 Stelios

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:31 PM

If this works, it may well be the "Equalizer" mount for those who can stretch to the 3K range by mortgaging the dog, but not to the Astro-Physics/Paramount levels.

OTOH, I'd love to see the iEQ45 worked to be the same idea as the 25 and 60. That would be perfect for the type of work I hope to gravitate to one day--handle a C8 or my APM.

#9 orlyandico

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:55 PM

"if this works" is the key, since it's in the same price range as the EQ8 and the CGE Pro - which is well-proven. Sure the CGE Pro can't do 1" p-p but it can do 4" p-p (with PEC enabled) which is plenty enough.

My newest encoder prototype does 4" p-p which is good enough for 10 minutes unguided at 600mm focal length. Statistically proven to produce rounder stars than the AP600 (10" to 11" p-p). Once I submit my project report I'll share my results here as well...

#10 Stelios

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 07:49 PM

Trust me, the "if it works" was not an idle choice. I was enthusiastic about getting a Celestron StarSense when it was announced, but opted to wait and see how it fared in practice.

Sure am glad I did.

But, call it wishful thinking, I can't help but believe the Chinese will start producing top-level mounts sooner or later. And unlike optics where a Roland Christen or a Yuri can make such a difference, mounts can be automated and designed by well-educated if less talented engineers.

#11 budman1961

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 08:07 PM

Exciting times.....iOptron looks to be on the money innovation-wise. Cant wait to hear about the ones going out for testing........

I assume you are on the list Paul?

Thanks for the report!
Andy

#12 Astronewb

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:12 PM

Hi all, I just posted another 21 images to the CEM60 Flickr set:

http://www.flickr.co...57637612473584/

Browse away...Paul

#13 Astronewb

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:16 PM

Looks good! Now I,just need tofigure out why I need one and how to pay for it.


I hear you Mike...:) I need to figure out whether or not to sell my iEQ45 with, or without the TDM installed.

I figure, on cloudy nights, I can at least power up the CEM60 and listen to that cool slewing sound, kind of like an arcade machine and mount built into one?

Best...Paul

#14 Astronewb

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:21 PM

"if this works" is the key, since it's in the same price range as the EQ8 and the CGE Pro - which is well-proven. Sure the CGE Pro can't do 1" p-p but it can do 4" p-p (with PEC enabled) which is plenty enough.


So true Orly. Each of these mounts will be delivered with a factory generated Periodic Error report. The engineering sample is 6 arc-seconds peak to peak, without PEC. I'm thinking they will shoot for 10 arc-seconds or less for the standard version.

This will not be a mass produced mount, each will be adjusted and tuned until it meets a minimum spec. They will then engrave the serial number and the owner's name on the black plate on the front of the DEC housing.

I hope the other manufacturers are paying attention, because this could start a new 'mount race', which is good for everyone...:)

Cheers...Paul

#15 Astronewb

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:23 PM

Exciting times.....iOptron looks to be on the money innovation-wise. Cant wait to hear about the ones going out for testing........

I assume you are on the list Paul?

Thanks for the report!
Andy


Actually Andy, I have one on order already, if all pans out, it will be serial number '00000' and I plan on putting it through its paces, so it had better be a good one..:)

Regards...Paul

#16 orlyandico

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:44 PM

a-hah. if they are individually tuned then the spec can be met.

the only reason the price point can be met, is because Chinese engineers are cheap(er).

the reason AP can guarantee performance is because after every mount comes off the CNC mill, its PE is measured using a high-precision encoder, and if it doesn't make the cut, the mount is send back for rework. Doing this in the US costs...

but eventually the Chinese engineers will get fed up with getting paid peanuts compared to US engineers. the reality is that niche skills of this type cost money.

#17 budman1961

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:46 PM

Congrats Paul.....fantastic pix and info.

Andy

#18 Paulimer

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:48 PM

My wish is to have a mechanically and electronically refined version of zEQ25 rather than the CEM60. For the lots who travel a lot this is still too much weight to lug around.

But to me this mount has quite good fit and finishing, and is pleasing at least to look at :p Those who need a higher capacity would really enjoy it.

#19 Falcon-

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:49 PM

Hi all, I just posted another 21 images to the CEM60 Flickr set:

http://www.flickr.co...57637612473584/

Browse away...Paul


Build in USB hub in the dovetail clamp? Nice. :grin:

Now that is rather a nice way to do "through the mount" cabling for camera, guide cam, etc control. Certainly can tell imagers are the prime target with a feature like that!

#20 Falcon-

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:52 PM

Hi all, I just posted another 21 images to the CEM60 Flickr set:

http://www.flickr.co...57637612473584/

Browse away...Paul


Build in USB hub in the dovetail clamp? Nice. :grin:

Now that is rather a nice way to do "through the mount" cabling for camera, guide cam, etc control. Certainly can tell imagers are the prime target with a feature like that!


On second look - looks like a pass through for ST4 guide port as well (the 6p6c ports both top and bottom) and pass-through 12v power. Man... I have such a thick bundle of cables hanging from my imaging rig all the time this just sounds REALLY appealing for that alone just for the avoidance of cable snags and balance issues.

#21 budman1961

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 10:06 PM

I wonder how many CW it will ship with?

Andy

#22 timmbottoni

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:03 PM

Looks fantastic - thanks for the pics and write up Paul!

Timm

#23 EdwardMH

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:36 PM

Dang it I just ordered a CGEM DX life is unfair. LOL Seriously though this looks absolutely wonderful.

#24 Linkage

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 11:50 PM

there is more....

Attached Files



#25 JS999R

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 12:56 AM

Paul, you mentioned the tripod isn't included, does that apply to both retail and upgraded versions, or just the latter? It also sounds like you can use any tripod with the mount, is this true? If one wanted to stick with an iOptron tripod, which makes sense to me, the nod would go to the iEQ45. It's really the only practical tripod available in the traditional tripod design. I know iOptron offers piers with high payload capacity, but they don't seem as versatile as a tripod. I never realized iOptron offers the half pier, just like Orion. Aside from the added weight, I like the half piers, having had them on both my CG5GT and CGEM. I had to remove it from the CGEM due to weight issues. I think the iEQ45 tripod topped by the mini pier would be a nice partner with the new CEM60 mount. However, tack on an additional $248 for the tripod and $138 for the pier and now things are ranging from $248 to close to $400 on the upsell.

I can't determine if this strategy by iOptron is an upsell scenario or does it make sense to sell the mount and tripod separately? For now I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but my cynical side is tugging at me unless persuaded otherwise.






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