Jump to content


Photo

CEM60-6 Months, 2 Mounts and some observations

  • Please log in to reply
91 replies to this topic

#1 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 25 July 2014 - 11:37 PM

Someone mentioned that the thread of initial impressions was getting a bit long, so here are some observations over a period of several months useage.

I signed up for the CEM60 Beta program early on (Feb 2014), and ordered a CEM60EC at the same time. My first beta was the CEM60 standard model and I really liked the mount overall.

The gear switches were problematic, you never knew where they would wind up due to rattling in use. The overall design of the mount was, in my opinion, excellent and I quickly became used to liking it's sleek 'Center Balanced' appearance. It's an attractive mount and I admit to being partial to white telescope mounts.

The major problem that I had with the mount was the fact that it arrived without a fully functioning set of firmware. It was not even possible to test auto-guiding since that function was omitted from the initial firmware. I was therefore limited to mechanical testing of the mount and some unguided imaging. With just a polar align and a simple One Star align 180-240 second images w/round stars were easily obtained with short focal length otas and I even managed some 180 second images at 1370mm/F9 with the AT6RC.

Several weeks went by, along with our horrible winter skies here in New England which limited testing severely. By the time a firmware set with auto-guiding arrived, it was almost time to turn the mount in to iOptron at NEAF 2014. Even so, I managed some episodes of cloud hopping with the auto-guiding finally present and had some very encouraging results.

I found that the CEM60 performed well with low RA Aggression and low Mx RA setttings in PHD and PHD2. Unfortunately, NEAF arrived before I had time to really wring it out and I reluctantly drove to Suffern, NY and surrendered the mount as my CEM60EC was within a week or two of shipping.

My CEM60EC arrived Apr 21st and had been in use by another tester and shipped back and forth across the country a few times, nonetheless I was glad to see it. The mount had been updated with the new style knobs prior to shipping to me.

The new engagement knobs work like a charm, I really like them and haven't had any issues. Just turn them counterclockwise until you feel contact with the internal nylon washer and leave it there.

As for the mount itself, testing under the skies had been agonizing at times. Improper tracking, stars bouncing up and down and generally just not performing. I began to seriously think about sending it back for the CEM60 standard model.

I'll make a long saga short, it seems that during all the shipping and knocking around the mount received the high precision encoder ring (glass) had become dislodged from under three silicone glue tabs used to hold it in place on the rear of the RA ring wheel. When it was not moving independent of the wheel, it worked great..:) Removing the RA ring wheel and securing the encoder glass with 3 dabs of hot glue instead of the silicone glue completely cured that issue. Subsequent nights testing and imaging under the stars has been a joy and trouble free.

Firmware updates have been released frequently, and each release has improved the functionality of the mount. The EC mount, like the standard CEM60 likes low RA Agg and low Mx RA settings in PHD and PHD2. The EC mount also likes the Low Pass algorithm for DEC.

Ever since the encoder repair and the recent firmware releases, the mount has performed brilliantly for me. Ten and twenty minute images with round stars when guided are not difficult to obtain without the need for drift aligning.

I like the new menu for the Zero Position, it lets you select a Zero Position of your own and the mount never fails to return exactly to the Zero Position at the end of a 4 or 5 hour session. The new firmware also has a nice feature, if you lose power when tracking, the mount will automatically resume from the point the power was lost once power is regained. Big time saver. The current firmware set is 140701.bin and is available at the iOptron website in the Support tab.

There are still a few minor bugs in the firmware, like the star database is alphabetically reversed, from Z-A instead of A-Z. And some selected objects like NGC7331, once slewed to is displayed as NGC 7330, etc. iOptron is aware of this and will correct it in the next firmware release along with adding even more enhancements.

I'm a bit of a tinkerer, whenever I get something new, I immediately start looking it over to see what can be made better or make it easier to use. This mount is made so well, and designed so well, that there were only two things I could find to improve on. I made a knurled cap that fits over the existing smooth head of the alt/az locking lever because it was difficult to unscrew from the mount with cold fingers or gloves. The mount also had some stiction between the top of the pier and the bottom of the mount, a few pieces of adhesive backed PTFE (Teflon) and it's now smooth as silk. iOptron has foiled the tinker in me with this mount...:(

Bottom line, the mount is light, it's well built and easy to look at, it is also extremely quiet. The handcontroller menu is extremely intuitive. Service and support from iOptron has been excellent and all my questions were answered in a timely manner.

The mount delivers what I wanted, a very smooth tracking and smooth guiding mount capable of imaging up to 20 minutes if I ever need to. Highly doubtful I will since most of my otas are fast refractors and I like to fill up a histogram in 2 or 3 minutes rather than 10 or 20. What I do enjoy is knowing that as long as I do my part, I am going to be rewarded with round stars.

I fully intend to get the AT10RC on board the mount for some 2000mm imaging, just waiting for a real focuser for it at the moment. If Wayne at Starlight ever gets through his backlog, it may arrive in time to image M1 this fall? ( I just mentioned that in the hopes that he's reading this..haha).

For me, in the final analysis the mount is the equivalent of the "working man's" low volume, high cost mount at a fraction of the price. IMHO.

Cheers all...Paul
  • HxPI likes this

#2 dvb

dvb

    different Syndrome.

  • *****
  • Posts: 6199
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2005
  • Loc: Vancouver, Canada

Posted 27 July 2014 - 09:38 PM

Thanks very much for this summary, Paul.

While the original thread is a classic, it is now getting close to 1,000 posts, so a summary is helpful.

#3 De Lorme

De Lorme

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 845
  • Joined: 30 Dec 2008

Posted 27 July 2014 - 10:45 PM

Paul, What did you see in the CEM60 that you like over the
CGEM-DX? I once had a 10" Astro Tech reflector on my CGEM
and it rode on it well. So I would think the CGEM-DX would be an over kill. De Lorme

#4 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 28 July 2014 - 12:30 AM

Paul, What did you see in the CEM60 that you like over the
CGEM-DX? I once had a 10" Astro Tech reflector on my CGEM
and it rode on it well. So I would think the CGEM-DX would be an over kill. De Lorme


Just one major item for me. The CEM60 on a pier is 27 pounds for the mount and 23 pounds for the pier, for a net total of 50 pounds. The CGEM-DX on its tripod is 41 pounds for the mount and 45 pounds for the tripod for a net total of 86 pounds.

At my advanced age, that 36 pounds makes a big difference in how often I would use the mount and how much I would enjoy using it. The CGEM-DX package is just plain too huge for my tastes.

Just a personal preference.

Best...Paul

#5 chboss

chboss

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 720
  • Joined: 24 Mar 2008
  • Loc: Zurich Switzerland

Posted 28 July 2014 - 07:23 AM

Thanks Paul, your report gives a much easier overview than the monster thread! :D

best regards
Chris

#6 GJJim

GJJim

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1506
  • Joined: 09 Sep 2006
  • Loc: Western CO

Posted 28 July 2014 - 10:37 AM

high precision encoder ring (glass) had become dislodged from under three silicone glue tabs used to hold it in place
...
When it was not moving independent of the wheel, it worked great..:)
...
Removing the RA ring wheel and securing the encoder glass with 3 dabs of hot glue instead of the silicone glue completely cured that issue.


High precision, held in place with dabs of silicone glue (that came unglued), fixed with hot melt glue -- now it works?

Does anyone else see the incongruity between the price tag and performance out of the box?

#7 Stelios

Stelios

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1974
  • Joined: 04 Oct 2003
  • Loc: West Hills, CA

Posted 28 July 2014 - 11:59 AM


high precision encoder ring (glass) had become dislodged from under three silicone glue tabs used to hold it in place
...
When it was not moving independent of the wheel, it worked great..:)
...
Removing the RA ring wheel and securing the encoder glass with 3 dabs of hot glue instead of the silicone glue completely cured that issue.


High precision, held in place with dabs of silicone glue (that came unglued), fixed with hot melt glue -- now it works?

Does anyone else see the incongruity between the price tag and performance out of the box?


Yes, that part scared me. I wouldn't have any idea what to do. If this is a mount just for those who like to tinker, count me out--when I get one, I want it to work right out of the box. Too bad because I can't possibly afford the AP or Paramount mounts--the CEM60 was a shining hope that now appears a mirage...

#8 WesC

WesC

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2063
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: La Crescenta, CA

Posted 28 July 2014 - 12:26 PM

I am constantly surprised that the types of major quality issues that folks just gloss over like its no big deal. 90% of users out there would be scratching their heads in frustration wondering what was going on when the highly vaunted encoders they paid extra for, instead caused their mount's tracking to go haywire. I for one would be really irritated that something that is supposedly to be so precise is held on with the equivalent of spit and bailing wire.

It IS great to hear that iOptron is so responsive at making updates and repairs to the mount. But, the issues I've been reading about are not trivial, and it seems to me that there is still some way to go before its lives up to the hype.

#9 SteveGR

SteveGR

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 137
  • Joined: 04 May 2013
  • Loc: Western Michigan

Posted 28 July 2014 - 03:15 PM


high precision encoder ring (glass) had become dislodged from under three silicone glue tabs used to hold it in place
...
When it was not moving independent of the wheel, it worked great..:)
...
Removing the RA ring wheel and securing the encoder glass with 3 dabs of hot glue instead of the silicone glue completely cured that issue.


High precision, held in place with dabs of silicone glue (that came unglued), fixed with hot melt glue -- now it works?

Does anyone else see the incongruity between the price tag and performance out of the box?


That does not sound very travel friendly. I realize cross country shipping can be brutal (seriously, I deal with this all the time :ohgeeze:)but that does not bode well for this being a good travel friendly mount. The back of an SUV may not be as bad as a UPS truck, but if it got shaken loose on the 15th trip to the dark site, or something, that could really spoil your night.

#10 Raginar

Raginar

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6138
  • Joined: 19 Oct 2010
  • Loc: Rapid CIty, SD

Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:19 PM

Hey Paul,

Do you have images taken with your scope at 20 minutes? Not inflammatory, just looking to see your images with it.

Chris

#11 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:41 PM

Hi Chris, no problem and no offense taken. Check this link > https://flic.kr/p/o1JenH It's a 30 minute, sorry...:) If you browse through my CEM60EC album there are some 900 second images also. The 20 minute exposures are on my desktop at home, and I'm currently on vacation at the beach.

Regards...Paul

#12 Raginar

Raginar

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6138
  • Joined: 19 Oct 2010
  • Loc: Rapid CIty, SD

Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:46 PM

:D Cool, thanks Paul. I've enjoyed reading these threads. You take quite a bit of time explaining it.

Take care,
Chris

#13 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 28 July 2014 - 04:58 PM

High precision, held in place with dabs of silicone glue (that came unglued), fixed with hot melt glue -- now it works?


Yep, a very low tech solution for a problem I know. But I know the bonding strength of hot melt glue is higher than the soft silicone that was retaining the glass originally.

iOptron is aware of that issue I had and worked with me to correct the intermittent issues. They immediately forwarded the info to the factory for review. This particular mount was sent to California from MA and then back to MA again and then to me in CT. Lord knows how many bumps and tosses in shipping it endured during the process? (Oh, I used to work for UPS during the 80's, I know what can happen)

Needless to say, I was pretty frustrated until I found out what was causing the intermittent poor tracking and guiding until the root cause was found. I haven't heard of anyone else's CEM60 or CEM60EC having this problem so I'm just writing it off to extremely rough handling at this time.
Since the 'high tech' fix the mount has been superb, as evidenced by the imaging results I have posted.

Oh, the mount in question is CA_ _ _ _ 01, the very first one built by iOptron.

Cheers...Paul

#14 George N

George N

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2762
  • Joined: 19 May 2006
  • Loc: Binghamton & Indian Lake NY

Posted 01 August 2014 - 10:47 PM


high precision encoder ring (glass) had become dislodged from under three silicone glue tabs used to hold it in place
...
When it was not moving independent of the wheel, it worked great..:)
...
Removing the RA ring wheel and securing the encoder glass with 3 dabs of hot glue instead of the silicone glue completely cured that issue.


High precision, held in place with dabs of silicone glue (that came unglued), fixed with hot melt glue -- now it works?

Does anyone else see the incongruity between the price tag and performance out of the box?


Yes, that part scared me. I wouldn't have any idea what to do. If this is a mount just for those who like to tinker, count me out--when I get one, I want it to work right out of the box. Too bad because I can't possibly afford the AP or Paramount mounts--the CEM60 was a shining hope that now appears a mirage...


A friend of mine's AP 1200 died on the first slew and it took over a month to get it fixed. Any new mount can be DOA...
  • Orion58 likes this

#15 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 02 August 2014 - 01:31 PM

A friend of mine's AP 1200 died on the first slew and it took over a month to get it fixed. Any new mount can be DOA...



Very true, stuff happens regardless of the manufacturer or the price point of the product.

iOptron has informed me that when I made them aware of the issue with my beta CEM60EC mount they forwarded the info to the factory.

The new CEM60EC mounts (retail) have had the retention method of the HP encoder changed and the problem that plagued me is no longer an issue. Yay!

Regards...Paul

#16 cloudywest

cloudywest

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 110
  • Joined: 15 Jun 2013

Posted 02 August 2014 - 04:06 PM

So, your CA_ _ _ _01 is Beta not production?

#17 nomosnow

nomosnow

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2011
  • Loc: Fort Saskatchewan,Ab ,Canada

Posted 04 August 2014 - 08:23 AM

Worm engagement question?? Paul or any one ??

 I have an iEQ45 and as you all know a spring loads / holds  the worm against the worm wheel . On the CEM  60 I assume a magnet does this job .My  question is if the engagement knobs move the worm gear on the CEM 60 toward or away from the worm wheel how exactly does the magnet take over and perform the loading of the worm and worm gear?

                  Thanks                  John



#18 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 04 August 2014 - 09:54 AM

So, your CA_ _ _ _01 is Beta not production?

It's the first CA high precision version built, and was part of the beta program.   It has now been updated with the new style engagement switches and production boards.    The beta mounts were indeed beta, and were shipped to the initial testers who signed up with limited functionality.  For example, there was no auto-guiding possible with the beta units among other things.

 

iOptron gathered information from the testers in conjunction with their own testing in China and very quickly sorted it all out.  The basic mechanical design of the mount was excellent and remains so.   Updates to the engagement switches and continued firmware releases and updated Ascom drivers have just refined it further.   

 

Oh, the latest beta Ascom release allows multiple connections and has a completely new control panel and should be released for download soon. 

 

Cheers....Paul



#19 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 04 August 2014 - 10:16 AM

Worm engagement question?? Paul or any one ??

 I have an iEQ45 and as you all know a spring loads / holds  the worm against the worm wheel . On the CEM  60 I assume a magnet does this job .My  question is if the engagement knobs move the worm gear on the CEM 60 toward or away from the worm wheel how exactly does the magnet take over and perform the loading of the worm and worm gear?

                  Thanks                  John

Hi John,

 

If you had an opportunity to physically see and touch the engagement system it would be perfectly clear.  The worm does not actually 'float' around under magnetic force. 

 

The engagement knob screw is attached physically to the worm housing and turning the knob clockwise pulls the worm/housing away from the ring wheel.  Turning the knob c/clockwise moves the worm housing into the ring wheel and there is a shoulder on the knob's shaft that contacts a nylon washer when it is at the optimal position.  There are 2 alnico (?) magnets in the housing and 2 in the mount housing that are magnetically opposed and constantly push against each other when in the optimal position.  So that magnetic field provides the tension on the worm/ring wheel without requiring any springs or other tension method.   

 

Kind of like putting two magnet on a tabletop with the poles reversed and trying to push them together, it's impossible... :)    The beauty of the system is that there is no possibility of mechanical dragging of a spring in a bore, or loss of tension over time or variation in tension due to production or spring tempering processes.    I like it a lot.

 

Attached is an image of the worm housing, you can see the nylon washer which contacts the edge of the mount housing.  You can also see the magnets.

 

Hope that helps....Paul

Attached Files



#20 nomosnow

nomosnow

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 366
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2011
  • Loc: Fort Saskatchewan,Ab ,Canada

Posted 04 August 2014 - 05:43 PM

Thanks Paul ...so when you engage the worm  and contact the nylon washers the opposing magnetic force provides the  correct force between the worm gear and worm wheel ?

                      John



#21 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5486
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 04 August 2014 - 07:56 PM

I'm guessing the magnets provide tensioning of the worm against the ring, in the same way that AP and Paramount (and the Celestron CGE and CGE Pro) use springs.

 

BTW those are probably rare earth magnets, same type used in higher-end fridge magnets where there's this teeny tiny magnet at the back of the decoration that is quite powerful.



#22 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 04 August 2014 - 08:12 PM

Thanks Paul ...so when you engage the worm  and contact the nylon washers the opposing magnetic force provides the  correct force between the worm gear and worm wheel ?

                      John

Exactly John..!

 

@ Orly:  I don't know what type they are, but the little buggers are powerful.

 

Regards...Paul



#23 james7ca

james7ca

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 585
  • Joined: 21 May 2011
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 05 August 2014 - 01:22 AM

I suspect that this question has already been asked/answered in another thread, but can the CEM60 track through or past the meridian? I've been told that it can't and that if you really want that feature you need to look elsewhere. I also met up with two CEM60 beta testers back in June and one of them was still having problems getting the mount to do basic guiding. Both of them suggested that you probably wanted to wait a while before buying this mount (i.e. the firmware was still very beta). However, they seemed to like a lot of things about the mount, so it certainly wasn't all negative.


Edited by james7ca, 05 August 2014 - 05:29 AM.


#24 Astronewb

Astronewb

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1294
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2011
  • Loc: Connecticut

Posted 05 August 2014 - 02:35 PM

I suspect that this question has already been asked/answered in another thread, but can the CEM60 track through or past the meridian? I've been told that it can't and that if you really want that feature you need to look elsewhere. I also met up with two CEM60 beta testers back in June and one of them was still having problems getting the mount to do basic guiding. Both of them suggested that you probably wanted to wait a while before buying this mount (i.e. the firmware was still very beta). However, they seemed to like a lot of things about the mount, so it certainly wasn't all negative.

Hello James,

 

All the CEM60 series, as well as the Z series can track through the meridian.   In the HC menu you have to select 'Meridian Treatment' and in the menu you are given 3 choices; Stop....Flip...Continue to Track.   

 

If you select Continue to Track it opens a sub menu that allows you to select how far past the Meridian you want to track in increments of 5 degrees, up to 15 degrees past the Meridian.  I normally select 5 degrees to allow the current image to finish tracking, then I just reselect the target and let the mount do a Meridian Flip, do a quick rebalance and continue imaging.

 

I think I know the gentlemen you are referring to, and am familiar with their issues.   Both are using MaximDL for guiding and I don't have any experience with that software.   I have downloaded the trial version and hope to get in some clear sky time to test that  particular guiding software before the trial period expires.   PHD and PHD2 work like charm though..:)   I would also like to try some pulse guiding with the current beta Ascom drivers which finally allow multiple connections to the mount.

 

You can visit iOptron's website and download the CEM60/EC User Manual which explains all the nifty features of the mount and 8407+ Hand Controller.   The 8407+ HC is being used with the new iEQ45 Pro mount as well and both mounts share the same firmware.

 

Clear skies and keep looking up,

 

Paul



#25 james7ca

james7ca

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 585
  • Joined: 21 May 2011
  • Loc: San Diego, CA

Posted 05 August 2014 - 03:59 PM

 

I suspect that this question has already been asked/answered in another thread, but can the CEM60 track through or past the meridian? I've been told that it can't and that if you really want that feature you need to look elsewhere. I also met up with two CEM60 beta testers back in June and one of them was still having problems getting the mount to do basic guiding. Both of them suggested that you probably wanted to wait a while before buying this mount (i.e. the firmware was still very beta). However, they seemed to like a lot of things about the mount, so it certainly wasn't all negative.

Hello James,

 

All the CEM60 series, as well as the Z series can track through the meridian.   In the HC menu you have to select 'Meridian Treatment' and in the menu you are given 3 choices; Stop....Flip...Continue to Track.   

 

If you select Continue to Track it opens a sub menu that allows you to select how far past the Meridian you want to track in increments of 5 degrees, up to 15 degrees past the Meridian.  I normally select 5 degrees to allow the current image to finish tracking, then I just reselect the target and let the mount do a Meridian Flip, do a quick rebalance and continue imaging...

But can it do that with a long-tube refractor? I have a NP127is and I know on my CGEM that I can usually get more than one hour of tracking/guiding past the meridian (I also use a pillar extension on the Celestron tripod).  It would seem that with the CEM60 there might be a problem when tracking near the zenith and the meridian, since the refractor tube might contact the mount given the CEM60's center balance mount configuration.








Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics