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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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ghataa
professor emeritus


Reged: 06/20/11

Loc: Central, NJ
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: russdirks]
      #5489762 - 10/26/12 06:52 AM

Has anyone tried AP with his mount yet?

George


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: Astronewb]
      #5489801 - 10/26/12 07:54 AM

Quote:

Oh, dont forget to get a 5mm/25mm cap screw or knob for your top mounting plate..I see you have a hole, mine didn't have a set screw in it, had to install a cap screw to remove all the vertical play it caused with an OTA in place.

Clear skies,

Paul




The new Smarteg Pro shows a knob installed in the top mounting plate:

http://www.ioptron.com/index.cfm?select=productdetails&phid=6650b0b6-9767-494d-b9e6-9e82c223c1a6

I wonder if iOptron will supply them to customers who purchased the standard Smarteq that didn't have a knob installed?


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Astronewb
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 09/19/11

Loc: Connecticut
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: ghataa]
      #5497088 - 10/30/12 11:41 PM

Quote:

Has anyone tried AP with his mount yet?

George




Yes George...Ive done some short exposure stuff with it, but my particular mount has some periodic error issues. Basically, 30-40% of my images over 30 seconds exhibit star trailing, like the drive motor is slowing or speeding up at random intervals. I took 40 images and put them in a video for iOptron to see the stars bouncing up and down, they have forwarded it to the engineers...no answer yet.

But here's an image off the mount that only needed short exposures:

[img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8052/8117928050_5ceb8e...
M31 Borg 50mm achromat. by Astronewb2011, on Flickr

Hope the info helps,

Paul


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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: Astronewb]
      #5497268 - 10/31/12 03:36 AM

I would not be at all surprised to hear that a little mount in this class was limited to about 30 seconds. If the motor is speeding up and slowing down randomly, that is NOT periodic error, and you have some kind of problem with the electronics, likely.

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Astronewb
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 09/19/11

Loc: Connecticut
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: rmollise]
      #5497379 - 10/31/12 07:40 AM

Quote:

I would not be at all surprised to hear that a little mount in this class was limited to about 30 seconds. If the motor is speeding up and slowing down randomly, that is NOT periodic error, and you have some kind of problem with the electronics, likely.




Very true, not periodic error, my bad. Basically, in a string of 40, forty five second exposures, it will have 3 or 4 perfect images with round stars. The next 2 to 3 will all have severe trailing, then perfect stars again for 1 or 2 images. The pattern is random but basically cyclical. I'm thinking a bad servo motor or 'stiction' in the gear train. Hopefully, iOptron will sort it out.

Thanks for the input,

Paul


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: Astronewb]
      #5497572 - 10/31/12 10:51 AM

Quote:


I'm thinking a bad servo motor or 'stiction' in the gear train. Hopefully, iOptron will sort it out.





I own a good number of motorized equatorial mounts and the iOptron Smarteq has ... by far ... the strangest sounding drive of them all ... and loud! I find it very disconcerning to hear a loud "groan" then a soft "groan" then another loud "groan" then a soft "groan" .....! The mount certainly tracks well ... even at high powers ... with no discernible problems, at least for visual use. However, I do find the drive noise very strange ... or should I be kind and say "very unique?"


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russdirks
member


Reged: 07/06/12

Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5498049 - 10/31/12 04:30 PM

skyguy, I noticed the same thing. After taking the above pictures, I disassembled a bit more to where I could see the stepper motor and attached gears. The motor has a shaft coming out both ends. On one end is the usual drive train, and on the other end was a type of sprocket with about 15 square'ish looking teeth, which I'm guessing is some kind of optical encoder. I powered up the mount and watched it operate. I had a good view of the encoder sprocket. During the relatively silent periods inbetween the "groans", as you put it, the sprocket was rotating in a nice uniform way. But during the "groans", the sprocket vibrated back and forth very rapidly, by about 10 - 30 degrees of rotation, all the while maintaining a somewhat regular rotation rate. So, in other words, it would advance one way a certain amount, then back-up the opposite direction, and so on, but always advancing more than it backed up. Mind you, the vibrations were faster than what the human eye can resolve, so I'm guessing slightly as to what was happening. I would assume it is a solid shaft going through the motor, which means the gear sets on the other side are being exposed to the same intense vibration. Over time I would think that could lead to some early failures of the gear sets, not to mention the motor itself. My guess is there is somekind of software/firmware bug in the driving algorithms. Hopefully iOptron is aware of this and can provide a fix eventually.

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Astronewb
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 09/19/11

Loc: Connecticut
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: russdirks]
      #5499101 - 11/01/12 09:51 AM

Quote:

But during the "groans", the sprocket vibrated back and forth very rapidly, by about 10 - 30 degrees of rotation, all the while maintaining a somewhat regular rotation rate. So, in other words, it would advance one way a certain amount, then back-up the opposite direction, and so on, but always advancing more than it backed up.




Wow, nice diagnosis Russ, what you observed seems to perfectly match up with what I see when imaging. Putting 40 images into a video at 1 sec each shows the star field moving up and down (with corresponding star trails) just as you described the gear doing.

If the 'groaning' occurs at 1 1/2 to 4 minute random cycles, then my issue seems to be explained. First chance I get I'm going to duplicate what you did to see it first hand and time it.

Thanks..........!

Paul

Edited by Astronewb (11/01/12 09:53 AM)


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orlyandico
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: Astronewb]
      #5499157 - 11/01/12 10:27 AM

it's not a stepper motor, it's a servo. and if the optical encoder on the other end has only 15 slots.. that's one low-resolution encoder (even worse than the old Meade DS).

if it has a tendency to stall / go forward/backward sometimes which causes trailing, that sounds like a problem in the servo control loop. Hopefully something that can be fixed in software....


by the way, Paul, your M31 is really darn impressive coming from an achromat, this mount, and 30-second exposures. You must have really dark skies, i'm envious


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Astronewb
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 09/19/11

Loc: Connecticut
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5499198 - 11/01/12 11:00 AM

Quote:

by the way, Paul, your M31 is really darn impressive coming from an achromat, this mount, and 30-second exposures. You must have really dark skies, i'm envious




Thanks, I live in a Bortle Orange zone. The skies are pretty good, but I have several street lights in the East which makes imaging in that sector a challenge. Long dew shields and a Baader ND filter helps a bit in that respect.

Best,

Paul

Edited by Astronewb (11/01/12 11:01 AM)


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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5499255 - 11/01/12 11:30 AM

The problem could also be mechanical. The metal shafts stuck onto the end of a plastic worm assembly are very unlikely to be straight and could easily cause the worm to be binding during part of its rotation at which point the motor starts to strain which may in turn be triggering an electronics issue in regard to the power being supplied to the motor. I honestly can't believe that metal and plastic worm assembly. A cheap brass worm would have been far better, even with the plastic worm wheel.

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russdirks
member


Reged: 07/06/12

Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: EFT]
      #5499362 - 11/01/12 12:33 PM

Paul,

Skyguy didn't specify for his mount, but on my mount, each 'groan' only lasts about 1 second, with about a 0.5 second of quiet inbetween. It's very regular ... sounds like someone snoring. So I don't know if that explains your tracking problem. Does your mount make any such noise, or does it run quietly?

orlyandico : You're right. Servo, not stepper motor. Should have caught that from the previous posts.


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: russdirks]
      #5499443 - 11/01/12 02:41 PM

My mount also "groans" at approximately 1 second intervals. As you slew the mount at progressively greater rates, the "groans" get faster until they blend together at the highest slew rate.

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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5499453 - 11/01/12 02:46 PM

Quote:

My mount also "groans" at approximately 1 second intervals. As you slew the mount at progressively greater rates, the "groans" get faster until they blend together at the highest slew rate.




If you can run it with the cover off so that you can watch the gears turning, you will likely see a wobble in the worm or spur/transfer gears that corresponds to this groaning.


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russdirks
member


Reged: 07/06/12

Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: EFT]
      #5499461 - 11/01/12 02:53 PM

I can't do any further testing with my mount for a couple of weeks, as I had to send it back to iOptron to fix an unrelated problem. It should be in their hands next week, and I am definitely going to press them to examine this tracking issue in addition to fixing the original issue.

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Astronewb
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 09/19/11

Loc: Connecticut
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: russdirks]
      #5499502 - 11/01/12 03:16 PM

Quote:

Paul,

Skyguy didn't specify for his mount, but on my mount, each 'groan' only lasts about 1 second, with about a 0.5 second of quiet inbetween. It's very regular ... sounds like someone snoring. So I don't know if that explains your tracking problem. Does your mount make any such noise, or does it run quietly?

orlyandico : You're right. Servo, not stepper motor. Should have caught that from the previous posts.




To be honest, in slewing, it sounds like a Swiss watch, very pleasant. I never really paid attention to the noises it makes when tracking..?

I posted the video of the tracking issue on Flickr, it's only 40 seconds long, but if you put your cursor on the larger star in the starfield it's obvious there is a problem. Full screen the video for the best effect.

Not a problem for visual observers granted, but even wide field AP'ers are going to have some issues with this going on...:)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/astronewb2011/8145500655/


Oh, just a note, I posted a comment in the iEQ45 mod thread about the polar scope. To remove all the funky play in the polar scope focuser, just wrap the threads with Teflon Pipe tape...it takes all the play out of it and makes it enjoyable to use.

Best,

Paul

Edited by Astronewb (11/01/12 03:18 PM)


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orlyandico
Postmaster
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: Astronewb]
      #5500167 - 11/01/12 11:26 PM

Ed, I was going to comment on that plastic worm gear but you beat me to it.

Maybe it is one of these new structural plastics... could be better than the horrific worms and wheels put on EQ-1's and EQ-2's.


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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
*****

Reged: 05/07/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5500257 - 11/02/12 12:36 AM

Quote:

Ed, I was going to comment on that plastic worm gear but you beat me to it.

Maybe it is one of these new structural plastics... could be better than the horrific worms and wheels put on EQ-1's and EQ-2's.




There are some great plastics out there and some are very slick requiring very little lubrication. But fast wear and poor accuracy can be immediate issues if not done right and done with the best materials. It is good that the metal shaft goes all the way through the worm apparently. It is not good that the worm appears to be slid onto the worm and then jammed onto some grooves to lock it in place. It would be much better to form the plastic worm over the metal shaft and then hobb the worm right on the shaft. In addition, I would image that it is very likely that the worm wheel is simply molded platic where you would really want machined plastic, just like metal.

It's possible to do a lot of things with plastic now, but many things are simply made like the cheap plastic toys that have been made for years rather than manufactured with high-tech machinable plastics. Just wait until they start using 3D printers to make telescope mounts.


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*skyguy*
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/31/08

Loc: Western New York
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: EFT]
      #5500610 - 11/02/12 09:45 AM

Quote:

Just wait until they start using 3D printers to make telescope mounts.




Is that like "wait good" or "wait bad"?


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tango13
member


Reged: 03/16/11

Loc: Rome, Italy
Re: iOptron SmartEQ Mods and Partial Disassembly new [Re: Astronewb]
      #5645543 - 01/27/13 07:06 AM




Yes George...Ive done some short exposure stuff with it, but my particular mount has some periodic error issues. Basically, 30-40% of my images over 30 seconds exhibit star trailing, like the drive motor is slowing or speeding up at random intervals. I took 40 images and put them in a video for iOptron to see the stars bouncing up and down, they have forwarded it to the engineers...no answer yet.




Hi Paul, nice to see you here too

After so many days of bad weather I finally managed to test my new SmartEQ Pro mount under the stars (well let's say under my almost fully illuminated urban sky... )

Unfortunately, it hasn't been a very pleasant first test because I had quite a few problems, the worst of them being an awful tracking.

Has there been any answer from iOptron that solved your problem with your mount?
I'm asking because my mount seems to show exactly the same problem as yours, I've assembled a short video with a string of 40-second shots and I can see that the stars bounce back and forth forcing me to discard a whole lot of frames before stacking

I hope I can fix all the issues with my mount and enjoy using it in the future because it is hardly usable in this state...

Thank you.
Piero


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