Posted 23 January 2014 - 09:08 AM
The adjustability of this mount is mostly a real positive. The ability to adjust the worm mesh to fine tune backlash is especially nice (fun to play with it while you're guiding). I also like the fact that you can adjust the positioning of the counterweight bar--makes getting everything balanced easier. With adjustability comes some complication and while the mount is superbly designed and manufactured, the assembly leaves many of these mounts in need of a little attention upon arrival. I nearly sent mine back for backlash and the ring gear ratcheting off the worm. Then I found Paul Chasse's (Astroweb) tuning videos and have fallen in love with the mount.
One MAJOR advantage over the AVX is the bearings in both RA and DEC. I was always fighting the AVX's stiction in DEC (no bearing in DEC). Of course, if you have PERFECT PA, then DEC stiction shouldn't be an issue--just turn off DEC guiding. But my experience was that I was never able to get PA accurate enough to turn off DEC guiding.
Speaking of bearings--the bearings on this mount are SO smooth and free. It can make you obsessive about balance. Just a few grams of force will getting it turning. It's like a perpetual motion machine when balanced. I always suspected that the tight axes of the AVX were hidding some pretty serious balance issues, and it turns out to be true. I can now dial it in and then apply a small, intentional imbalance for AP. It's no longer a mystery.
The polar scope is also very nice in that it is illuminated (I haven't had any trouble with the led) and is always available (don't have to swing the DEC 90 degrees) due to the design of the mount. Haven't got to use my mount too much yet, but PA seems pretty accurate with the scope.
The fact that this mount is lighter than the AVX is a plus, as well. I have the 2" legs and it is very sturdy. At least as sturdy as my AVX.
I find that adjusting the ALT and AZ on the ZEQ is much easier than the AVX. It was always difficult for me to move the AVX axes with fine enough precision. And then, when I tried to tighten the axes down, the position would always move.
I do miss Celestron's ASPA rountine and the intuitive handset. iOptron comes in second in this regard. But the excellent polar scope makes up for most of that negative.
I do like the ZEQ's saddle--it is a spring assisted friction clamp and does not mar your dovetail the way the AVX's set screws did.
iOptron's customer support is VERY good. When I had an issue with my AVX, I got the phone que for 20 minutes, then a 1st level tech, then finally someone who could help, then a bunch of questions, then an RA number so they could "look at it" and the guidance that I would hear back within 30 days WHETHER it was a warranty repair. In the meantime they had no way to send me a loaner to stay imaging. When my ZEQ arrived with a bad power supply, my email was answered within minutes (on a Saturday) and the fellow asked for my address, said he could send a replacement from one of the mounts they had on the floor, "ran down to the post office" minutes later to get it in the mail before the PO closed and before an imminent winter storm hit. I received it two days later. iOptron clearly empowers it's people to serve.
A few things I've learned:
1. Paul Chasse's tuning videos are VERY helpful and very necessary until the factory gets consistent assembly lined out.
2. to focus the reticle on the PS, simply use finger friction to spin the eyepiece to focus.
3. I applied a little grease to the ALT lock bolt threads. This allows a little more clamping pressure on the ALT lock (I found it slipped a little without it).
4. The rubber hand wheel on the main mount bolt has a set screw that is supposed to sink into a hole in the shaft. Mine had been shipped with this set screw pressed against the shaft--allowing it to slip.
5. The motors in this mount are prone to a phenomenon characterized variously as "crosstalk" or a "fax machine" or "R2D2" sound. I have seen little evidence that it impacts guiding or operation. Paul has posted a tune for this as well, but the fix had only a mild effect on my mount.
6. When you receive your legs, be sure to move the AZ post over one of the tripod legs--this allows much easier access to the polar scope in the northern hemisphere. If you don't, it will look like you are getting friendly with the tripod leg when all you are trying to do is align your mount.
7. iOptron uses third party power supplies and probably should design and spec their own. The variation in quality from third party vendors puts iOptron at risk for issues in the single most important link in the product--a reliable and consistent supply of power.
8. GPS lock will happen faster when you are outside and when you turn the RA axis 90 degrees for a few minutes. This allows the GPS chip to be better "illuminated" by the satellite signals.
Hope this helps!