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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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

Loc: Western New York
iOptron SkyTracker
      #5587339 - 12/24/12 02:41 PM

It looks like the Vixen Polarie Star Tracker is going to have some stiff competition from the iOptron Sky Tracker. At $349... including the polar scope ... makes it awfully tempting!

iOptron SkyTracker


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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: *skyguy*]
      #5587355 - 12/24/12 02:56 PM

It looks really nice. I was looking at one when I was looking for a tracker. I still went with the Polarie as it was smaller and lighter by a large amount. The Vixen is also Japanese engineering--the reviews of the iOptron mounts were not very encouraging.

Anyway, it would be nice to see some results. The price is certainly right and the polar scope is illuminated.


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munchmeister
sage
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Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Hikari]
      #5613995 - 01/09/13 04:13 PM

Looks like this is the only thread for the iOptron Skytracker. I am about to buy one, think it might be a better value since it includes the polar alignment scope for $348 and is still a very compact 6" x 4" x 2.5 inch unit. It is also equipped with the bottom mount so it can be directly mounted on to a photo tripod and has a latitude adjustment there. The Polarie has a moon and sun tracking speed, which the Skytracker does not but my application for it would not be moon or sun photos. It will be nice to pack on a trip or something since my camera is always with me and this would allow some "astronomy" while on a trip or out of the country. I was recently at a wedding in Jamaica and it would have been fun to get some wide field shots of a more southerly sky.

An Italian video is on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCEZQPsBWtQ

Edited by munchmeister (01/09/13 04:51 PM)


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munchmeister
sage
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Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5614234 - 01/09/13 06:28 PM

Couple more things I have noticed. The Skytracker has a geared knob to make the adjustment for the latitude scale. I think this has large advantage over the sort of "plumb bob" approach of the Polarie, as it lets you incrementally "dial in" the latitude adjustment and this could pretty much be locked in, rather than having to redo it each time. This would allow you to just pop it onto your photo tripod and start the azimuth adjustment for polar alignment. And, this latitude adjustment joint also effectively eliminates the need for two ball heads, since the latitude adjustment joint would work with your tripod to get the latitude set. Just thought I'd add those points for anybody else searching for info on this. I will try to update this after I take delivery and have a chance to try it out.

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MikeML
professor emeritus
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Reged: 10/09/04

Loc: NJ
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5618938 - 01/12/13 12:04 PM

Just picked up mine at the post office. Got it at the introductory price. Unfortunately the weather forecast is for cloudy skies into the foreseeable future

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Urban Observer
member


Reged: 04/06/08

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: MikeML]
      #5625420 - 01/15/13 11:07 PM

Really looking forward to the first reports!
Oh, and for those of you who watched that short YouTube vid: You didn't miss anything, he was saying exactly what you think he was saying - Just the basics, "here's where the on/off controls are...here's where the 4 batteries go...etc. Very basic stuff.

-Al


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REC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Urban Observer]
      #5628290 - 01/17/13 03:20 PM

So, does this $348 price include the scope? I see on their site it is $399 w/scope and $348 without?

Looks really interesting and look forward to some hands on reviews and some pic's. Perfect timing to shoot Orion now!

Bob


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munchmeister
sage
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Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: REC]
      #5628475 - 01/17/13 05:04 PM

Here is a quick report. Got mine last night and wonder of wonders, had clear skies. Nifty unit for sure. Ordered direct from iOptron and delivery was pretty fast. I wanted to take advantage of a clear sky so I just got things going as quickly as possible and, ya know what... that is what I like about it. It is simple and fast to set up. I have not used a Polarie or Astrotrac, but I was shooting photos in minutes and not only felt none of the usual frustration but was so anxious to see the results I almost dug out some SD cards so I could change it out, then plug the other SD card into the computer to do stacking and post processing while the ST was shooting another series.

So, things I like. Fast and simple to set up. For example, it has a geared altitude hinge. Fasten this on to your tripod, set up the tripod legs, use the compass on top of the unit to get North, then use this geared knob to set your latitude scale. Then, with the very nice polar alignment scope installed in the receiving hole, look for Polaris and use the geared knob to center Polaris and use the tripod's knob for horizontal, azimuth adjustment. This makes polar alignment a breeze and that is one of the reasons I got this thing. I was pretty darned close in very short order. Lock it down then go to the next step, putting your camera on.

This too is pretty easy. I used a spare smaller Manfrotto ball head from my photo gear and screwed it onto the ST mounting ring. I use the Manfrotto quick release plates on my camera and ball heads so clicking in my Nikon D90 was easy to do. This does introduce some extra metal, i.e., the QR lever, which could get in the way so consider that for your own use.

But I got my D90 with grip mounted then was careful to tighten down the screws on the ST mounting ring. With a heavy camera, lens & battery grip, you want to make sure these are tightened down as much as possible. Some slippage occurred to me but I was in a hurry, like I said.

Once your camera is mounted, point it in the direction of your target(s). I had a lightweight 35mm f/1.8 Nikon prime on the D90. I first set my sights for the Andromeda Galaxy as Cassiopeia was high in the northwest. I was in my backyard, with streetlights around, neighborhood lights and the general glow of Fort Collins, CO, pretty much red zone.

I use an external intervalometer, set to shoot 12 sub frames, 60 second exposures. I wanted to see what it would do with 1 minute subs. I had to fiddle with ISO a bit and live view and focused the camera before locking it down, then turned manual focus on, with manual settings. I took the ISO down to 800 since it was really blowing out at 1600 with all my sky glow. As it was, my exposure histograms were pretty far to the right of the scale, but it was a work night and I was just testing things so I was not too concerned about the exposure. Mostly I just wanted to try it out and see if my stars were pinpoint or oblong.

The result of the Andromeda attempt can be found here:
http://www.astrobin.com/30065/

I am very pleased with the unit. When it was time to go in for the evening, it was amazing how lightweight it all seemed compared to taking out my DSV-2 Alt Az mount on an Oberwerk tripod. I used a carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod which is, of course, super light and with just that and the Skytracker, it was just sooo light and easy to take back into the house.

So, its a keeper for my purposes. I'm a rank beginner at AP but love photography and take week and two week long motorcycle trips with my photo gear along, to get photos along the way of places I've always wanted to see. Now, I will take the Skytracker along with the D90, lenses and CF tripod to take advantage of the evenings as well as the days, to shoot photos and astro photos.

It seems to be a well built unit, comes with a nylon case. The polar alignment scope uses the concentric ring approach to place Polaris correctly in comparison to the celestial pole and it has a notch to allow a small red LED to light the markings in the PAS. Nice touch, clever design. I got the ST unit with PAS for $348 plus shipping. I think some dealers sell the unit with the PAS and have free shipping. So it is a much cheaper alternative to the Polarie or the Astrotrac, etc.

Hope this is helpful for you Skytracker researchers !!

--munch


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REC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5629629 - 01/18/13 10:24 AM

That was a GREAT report and it sounds really nice! Your first image came out really well!

Have to put this on my wish list for sure. Hope you do another shot of Orion next:)

Thanks for posting!

Bob


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oldgazer_rt
journeyman


Reged: 01/20/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5633990 - 01/20/13 09:53 PM

Hello Munchmeister -

I agree w/ your assessment. Last night, I conducted a more severe test. I used a 200-mm Canon lens and my target was the region around Orion. The Orion area was selected because of its declination being near 0 deg. So, with a longer focal length and a target much lower than Andromeda, my test confirms your results. Please note that my exposure time was 30 sec. I shot subs for a total of 18 minutes.

I believe that I could have used a considerably longer exposure time, but I arbitrarily chose 30 sec. I'll continue to experiment.

I used a Gitzo mount, Manfrotto ball head. The camera w/ lens was almost 5#, well under the advertised weight limit of 6.6#.


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REC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: oldgazer_rt]
      #5634744 - 01/21/13 11:17 AM

Hello oldgazer, can you post a picture of your Orion shot?

Thanks,

Bob


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oldgazer_rt
journeyman


Reged: 01/20/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: REC]
      #5637364 - 01/22/13 05:13 PM Attachment (2093 downloads)

Here is an image compressed to meet the site requirements.

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REC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: oldgazer_rt]
      #5638511 - 01/23/13 09:35 AM

Wow, that pretty darn good from a 200mm lens, really nice black sky's. That was 18 30sec subs?

Bob


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oldgazer_rt
journeyman


Reged: 01/20/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: REC]
      #5638624 - 01/23/13 10:39 AM

Hi Bob,

Yes; I shot 18 30-sec subs and 6 darks. I did final processing in PhotoShop. The uncompressed image shows the Flame and Horsehead nebulae much better, but the compressed image shows nice round stars which was the point of the exercise.

I calculated that a 200-mm lens shooting at a dec = 0 could be used for 5 sec w/o excessive trailing. A 35-mm lens at dec = 40 could be used for about 37 sec w/o significant trailing. As mentioned previously, w/ good polar alignment, one could shoot longer subs at dec = 0 w/ the 200-mm lens. I am actually considering repeating the excercise using the Canon 2x teleconverter w/ the 200-mm lens to push the unit further.


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munchmeister
sage
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Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: oldgazer_rt]
      #5638746 - 01/23/13 11:37 AM

oldgazer: very nice image and very encouraging for me, the other Skytracker owner. I just have not had time to get out there! I have a Nikon 80-200 ED glass lens that I would like to try, although it is pretty big and heavy.

Do you use the iPhone app for doing polar alignment with the included polar alignment scope? I need to update my iOS on my iPod touch to be able to use it.

Thanks again. Keep those images coming !


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oldgazer_rt
journeyman


Reged: 01/20/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5639361 - 01/23/13 06:16 PM

Hello Munchmeister -
Thanks for the kind words. I did not use the iphone method described in the tracker manual. I use the so-called Kochab clock method to get close enough to the NCP. I really like the polar alignment scope. The beauty of the little tracker is the ease of use.

Your Nikon lens should be OK, but weigh it to be sure. My setup was slightly over 5#.


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rjweng
member


Reged: 06/10/09

Loc: OP, NY
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: oldgazer_rt]
      #5647761 - 01/28/13 10:33 AM

So can this tracker take 4 to 5 min subs say with a 200mm lens? If you can only get 60 sec subs might as well make a barndoor tracker and save yourself the money.

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Traveler
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 08/19/07

Loc: The Netherlands
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5647978 - 01/28/13 12:08 PM

Thanks Munch for the report.

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Keith_H
journeyman


Reged: 06/12/12

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Traveler]
      #5648512 - 01/28/13 03:34 PM

Handy bit of gear but not worth the $550 price tag for us Europeans !

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Mihai
member


Reged: 08/11/05

Loc: Romania
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Keith_H]
      #5648518 - 01/28/13 03:38 PM

The Vixen Polarie look a lot like this,but is much more expensive...why?...any extra features compared with Ioptron Sky Tracker?...also the polar scope for Vixen is very expensive and is not even illuminated

Edited by Mihai (01/28/13 03:41 PM)


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Keith_H
journeyman


Reged: 06/12/12

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Mihai]
      #5648611 - 01/28/13 04:19 PM

The Polarie has Lunar and Solar tracking rates and is 15% more expensive than the iOptron, albeit without a Polar Scope. The Polarie has some after-market equipment options also. I`m just struggling to understand why there is a $200 mark-up on a Japanese product being sold in Europe. License agreements prevent US stockists from selling overseas.
I`ve been looking at the Sightron/Kenko Nano Tracker but the quality is a big concern.


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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Keith_H]
      #5649424 - 01/28/13 10:50 PM

The Vixen polar scope has a much better design from what I can see. The Polarie is manufactured in Japan and I would imagine the design and QC are higher. We have no idea about components which can also add to the difference in price as well as each companies business model to make a product profitable. Takahashi and Celestron make GEMs. Should they be the same price?

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rmollise
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Hikari]
      #5649767 - 01/29/13 07:03 AM

QA has NOT been Vixen's strong suit in recent years.

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Keith_H
journeyman


Reged: 06/12/12

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Hikari]
      #5649789 - 01/29/13 07:25 AM

Quote:

The Vixen polar scope has a much better design from what I can see. The Polarie is manufactured in Japan and I would imagine the design and QC are higher. We have no idea about components which can also add to the difference in price as well as each companies business model to make a product profitable. Takahashi and Celestron make GEMs. Should they be the same price?




I don`t know why your throwing Takahasi/Celestron in the mix. This discussion is about the iOptron Sky Tracker and my point was why the same product coming off the same production line costs $350 in the US and $550 in Europe.


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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Keith_H]
      #5650058 - 01/29/13 11:03 AM

Quote:

Quote:

The Vixen polar scope has a much better design from what I can see. The Polarie is manufactured in Japan and I would imagine the design and QC are higher. We have no idea about components which can also add to the difference in price as well as each companies business model to make a product profitable. Takahashi and Celestron make GEMs. Should they be the same price?




I don`t know why your throwing Takahasi/Celestron in the mix. This discussion is about the iOptron Sky Tracker and my point was why the same product coming off the same production line costs $350 in the US and $550 in Europe.




I was talking about the price difference between iOptron and Vixen.


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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Keith_H]
      #5650080 - 01/29/13 11:20 AM

Quote:

This discussion is about the iOptron Sky Tracker and my point was why the same product coming off the same production line costs $350 in the US and $550 in Europe.




Production line costs are not the final costs. There are exchange rates, taxes and tariffs, regional costs of business, shipping, translation, packaging costs, size of market, and a host of other factors that influence price.


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Keith_H
journeyman


Reged: 06/12/12

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Hikari]
      #5650296 - 01/29/13 01:13 PM

Hmmm, I still can`t see $200 difference in any of those.

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Hikari
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/05/11

Loc: Maine, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Keith_H]
      #5650440 - 01/29/13 02:22 PM

But the difference is there as you can see it in the price.

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Keith_H
journeyman


Reged: 06/12/12

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Hikari]
      #5650521 - 01/29/13 03:05 PM

Clearly

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munchmeister
sage
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Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: rjweng]
      #5650783 - 01/29/13 05:22 PM

Quote:

So can this tracker take 4 to 5 min subs say with a 200mm lens? If you can only get 60 sec subs might as well make a barndoor tracker and save yourself the money.



Stay tuned for testing that very thing. Just don't know yet, and sorry I have not had time to test this myself

But a home built barndoor is certainly an option. Lotsa plans, descriptions, etc. out there to get you going. One of the main benefits of the StarTracker to me, was the way iOptron implemented polar alignment. First, the PA scope comes with the unit, at the price I mentioned earlier. That may, or may not be the price now. But I think it is still cheaper than Polarie. Second, it has a notch in it to allow the "on" LED (red) to shine into the PAS, illuminating the concentric circles which indicate placement of Polaris. And they make an iPod/Pad/Phone app that determines where Polaris should be giving iPod owners a very quick way to determine the placement of the celestial pole quickly. Haven't tried that yet either (need to update the OS on my 'pod). Third, the PAS is not located in the camera mount ring. It is off to the side so you can continue to use it-- and fine tune polar alignment-- once the camera is mounted. Fourth, the SkyTracker's built in altitude "hinge" means you do not have to set altitude with the tripod ball head or geared head or whatever. It's built in, lessening expense for a ball head etc. And, the implementation of a geared knob to set altitude is, IMHO, easier. It also means less equipment to carry if portability is important to your use. (It is to my use). 4 AA batteries as opposed to 2 (I think) for Polarie. But the ease of polar alignment is key for me, as is portability.

I think that the Polarie is a great unit, as is a well made barn door tracker. Choice, choices. For that matter you can likely find a nice CG-4 mount for about the same or less money. Not so portable though. Just food for thought, folks, food for thought.

When I have time to get out there, I plan to test the length of subs. As for a 200mm lens, I don't know. Again, it is all about what DSLR you are using, etc., and the combined weight of your specific gear. The Kenko SkyMemo and the Losmandy StarLapse, I believe, have higher limits for loading, so those could be considered as well, if you have the $$$.

Hope this info helps. As I said, stay tuned !


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REC
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/20/10

Loc: NC
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5650804 - 01/29/13 05:38 PM

Nice post and food for thought and look forward to more of your results:)

Bob


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Mad MikeE
member
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Reged: 05/28/06

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: MikeML]
      #5654335 - 01/31/13 01:33 PM

Mine shows up tomorrow - should be snowing

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PGW Steve
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/03/06

Loc: Winnipeg, Canada
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Mad MikeE]
      #5654367 - 01/31/13 01:49 PM

I've got an Astrotrac, Vixen Polarie, Smart EQ pro, and hopefully a SkyTracker soon. I had a Sightron Nano, but it was DOA, and was sent back for a credit on the SkyTracker yesterday. I'm taking a couple of these to Costa Rica in March, I have to do some testing as to which ones....And then a bigger shootout in April with any luck.

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luigis
sage


Reged: 07/27/10

Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: PGW Steve]
      #5686639 - 02/18/13 09:13 AM

I got one to test, it's nice and solid but it has one fundamental design problem. No Azimuth control.

The Ioptron has a geared knob to control declination so this would mean you don't need two tripod heads as you need with the Polarie or Astrotrac. But if you attach the unit to a normal regular tripod you have to move the tripod legs to setup azimuth and that's a big no-no. What were they thinking?

I guess a tripod rotating base would be the answer but it's a pitty to need one and I can't find a cheap one.

I'm quite furious with this design they went from a great idea to a total failure.

Edited by luigis (02/18/13 09:14 AM)


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Peds
sage


Reged: 03/07/07

Loc: Brasília, Brazil
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: luigis]
      #5687287 - 02/18/13 04:44 PM

Quote:

I got one to test, it's nice and solid but it has one fundamental design problem. No Azimuth control.

The Ioptron has a geared knob to control declination so this would mean you don't need two tripod heads as you need with the Polarie or Astrotrac. But if you attach the unit to a normal regular tripod you have to move the tripod legs to setup azimuth and that's a big no-no. What were they thinking?

I guess a tripod rotating base would be the answer but it's a pitty to need one and I can't find a cheap one.

I'm quite furious with this design they went from a great idea to a total failure.




Was about to purchase one of these but you've now changed my mind and I will go for a Polarie w/ polar scope instead. Just have to find Sigma Octantis...

P.


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JMW
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/11/07

Loc: Nevada
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Peds]
      #5687310 - 02/18/13 04:56 PM

I am currently using is on a 3 way Manfrotto geared head. I just looked on B&H Photo and found this Feisol PB-70 Panning Base for $39. Shipping is free. Solid and simple. It looks like a lighter and cheaper option than my geared head. I just ordered one. Would also be useful for doing terrestrial pano photos. I like the peep hole and polar scope combination on the SkyTracker. The peep hole is useful for getting close the the polar scope with hour scale is good for nailing done the polar alignment. I like how the main unit provides the red LED illumination for the scope. Saves having to provide another battery for the scope.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/848913-REG/FEISOL_PB_70_PB_70_Panning_B...


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luigis
sage


Reged: 07/27/10

Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: JMW]
      #5687614 - 02/18/13 07:25 PM

Peds & JMW:

It's funny to compare the polarie and the skytracker, they have both advantages and disadvantages.

So far my summary is:

Polarie:

+ Excellent polarscope (works wonderfully in the south hemisphere too)
- Batteries last about 2 hours
- You need 2 tripod heads
- You need to remove the camera to polar-align, so when you put the camera back the alignment might be off a little.

SkyTracker
+ Longer battery life
+ You don't need two tripod heads if your tripod can magically rotate (sigh)
- With a normal tripod you still need two tripod heads or a rotating base
- Polar scope not so good and really bad for the south hemisphere (no octans in the reticle)
+ No need to remove the camera to polar-align or refine

--------------


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Mkofski
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 07/19/11

Loc: Greenfield, Indiana, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: luigis]
      #5687690 - 02/18/13 08:08 PM

Luis,

All other things being equal, it looks to me as if the SkyTracker is the mount I'd buy.


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Peds
sage


Reged: 03/07/07

Loc: Brasília, Brazil
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Mkofski]
      #5687741 - 02/18/13 08:30 PM

Luis,

I was under the impression that the polar scope for SkyTracker also worked for southern hemisphere? The manual states that the outer rings (60' to 70') must be used instead of the inner rings on the polar alignment scope for those of us below the equator.

This said though, you're still depending on an iPhone or iPad app to tell you where to place Sigma Octantis or Polaris, which I don't think I like (+ for the Polarie and - for the SkyTracker, no tech required approach).

I already own a Manfrotto geared head and a ball head but was hoping to be able to leave the geared head home as it can be heavy to lug around. Without a rotating base on the SkyTracker I'd have to take it with me anyway.

What worries me about the Polarie is accidentally messing up the alignment when attaching the camera after removing the polar scope. It is a great comfort to know that the polar scope works wonderfully here in the southern hemisphere though!

Decisions, decisions...

P.


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luigis
sage


Reged: 07/27/10

Loc: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Peds]
      #5687896 - 02/18/13 09:53 PM

You are right, decisions, decisions.

The skytracker is a new unit I used the Polarie and the Astrotrac last weekend. (I'll leave the AT outside this discussion)

The Polarie was very easy to align with its excellent polarscope. I went from Beta Hydri that is easy to see with the naked eye towards the trapezium asterisk in Octans. Then
I placed the asterism in the polarscope,the polarie scope is not illuminated so I used a small red led torch. With that alignment I could do 4 minutes exposures with a 50mm lens no problem. But I had to realign a few times after changing lenses.

If I were you I wouldn't know which one to buy :-) What about an astrotrac ?


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Chip in MD
newbie


Reged: 03/24/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: oldgazer_rt]
      #5754307 - 03/24/13 03:35 PM

There's now an Android app on the Google Play store for using the polar alignment scope. It's called Polar Finder and is by techhead. It costs a little over US$1. Uses GPS longitude or manually-entered longitude. Has an iOptron scope mode and a "built-in" scope mode (not sure what that's for). Has Northern and Southern Hemisphere modes. Very simple to use.

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munchmeister
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Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Chip in MD]
      #5757933 - 03/26/13 10:51 AM

Good review with photos of Jeff's setup here:

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5699876/Main...


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ZakAttack
super member


Reged: 09/20/06

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5774397 - 04/02/13 11:10 PM

The SkyTracker instructions mention that you need a 1/4" to 3/8" tripod adapter screw (or camera tripod bushing adapter) to mount it to a 1/4-20 camera tripod post. I have a Quantaray tripod head with a 1/4-20 quick-release plate. Exactly what kind of part am I to look for?

Dean


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Darren Bly
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Loc: Bakersfield, Ca
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: ZakAttack]
      #5776419 - 04/03/13 08:47 PM

Here are a few:

http://www.amazon.com/Convert-Screw-Adapter-Tripod-10-pack/dp/B006R38IJY


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ZakAttack
super member


Reged: 09/20/06

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Darren Bly]
      #5776486 - 04/03/13 09:08 PM

Thanks, Darren. That looks like just what I need. I had just ordered the Sky Tracker and Ball-Head. The ball-head is currently out-of-stock.

Dean


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working212
newbie


Reged: 02/07/13

Loc: Cleveland, OH
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Mihai]
      #5781834 - 04/06/13 12:58 PM Attachment (523 downloads)

I have had nothing but success with the Sky Tracker. easy set up and easy to use. Here is a pic i took at 300mm for 30 sec with my Nikon D5000.

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carver2011
member


Reged: 08/07/11

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: working212]
      #5782293 - 04/06/13 05:52 PM

I just read the review of the iOptron SkyTracker in the May issue of Sky and Telescope magazine. It was a very favorable review, in my opinion, and I will be looking to buy one at the NEAF convention later this month. I'm hoping to use it to image comet c2012ISON if it puts on a good show in November.
Ed


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kyang
member
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Reged: 12/09/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: carver2011]
      #5782459 - 04/06/13 07:23 PM

Is there any indicator for low battery ?
I got mine setup but still waiting for a clear night...


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Patrick
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Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: luigis]
      #5782547 - 04/06/13 08:12 PM

Quote:

I got one to test, it's nice and solid but it has one fundamental design problem. No Azimuth control.




I added a Feisol PB-70 Panning Base to my iOptron Skytracker to take care of the azimuth movement. It's an inexpensive fix and works well.

On the other hand, it does seem a little odd that iOptron would design in an altitude control but not add anything for azimuth.

Patrick


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Dan Finnerty
sage


Reged: 09/11/11

Loc: Pasadena, CA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Patrick]
      #5782996 - 04/07/13 01:16 AM

Tried to see if Amazon had this for sale:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00573NEEE/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&...



The good news is that shipping is only $7.14.


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Chris817
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Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Dan Finnerty]
      #5783973 - 04/07/13 02:52 PM Attachment (549 downloads)

So far it's worked great for me. Had a little trouble the first time out getting it polar aligned, but after the app came out for android, it's been great. With my Canon T3 I was able to do a 300 second exposure at 300mm with an ISO of 400 on M51 from the light polluted skies south of Cleveland, Oh.

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munchmeister
sage
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Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Chris817]
      #5785813 - 04/08/13 12:02 PM

Wow. Nice image. 5 minutes sub speaks pretty well for this little tracker. And a 300mm lens is probably pretty heavy, loaded on to your DSLR.

Any details on this image? # of subs, photoshop, DSS details?


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Chris817
member
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Loc: Lakewood, Ohio
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: munchmeister]
      #5786180 - 04/08/13 02:44 PM

Thanks. This is just one single image and no Photoshopping, still learning PS and how to stack. It didn't seem too loaded down either, handled my camera with the lens pretty well.

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YuriyT
member


Reged: 07/22/06

Loc: Moscow, Russia
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Chris817]
      #5788448 - 04/09/13 03:11 PM

Hi, I've recorder the guiding curve of my sample, see details on the graph below.

Amplitude of (quasi) periodic guiding error is +/-50". This means that for long exposures focal length should be below 50 or even 35 mm (it depends on the pixel size also).

It's a pity that guiding error is so high, SkyTracker is really nice piece of engineering, small and lightweight.



Other "unboxing" images could be found in related set on Flickr.


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bilgebayModerator
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Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: YuriyT]
      #5788530 - 04/09/13 03:35 PM

Thank you for sharing this Yuriyt.

I would love to see the same curve for Vixen Polarie!


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ZakAttack
super member


Reged: 09/20/06

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5799571 - 04/14/13 10:27 PM Attachment (469 downloads)

I used the SkyTracker for the first time on April 13th. I had no problems setting it up and using it. The polar scope with illuminated reticle was very easy to use. I left it attached the whole time and periodically checked the positioning. Since the ball-head I ordered hadn't arrived, I mounted a borrowed pan-head mount to the Sky Tracker and then attached a Canon XSi (450D) to it. I took a lot of constellation pictures in somewhat light-polluted skies. It is nice not having star-trails in my pictures!

Here is a snippet of a picture of the Beehive Cluster in Cancer I took with my Canon EFS 18-55mm zoom lens. The settings were: Aperture 4.0, Focal Length 27mm, ISO 400, Time = 60 seconds.


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ZakAttack
super member


Reged: 09/20/06

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: ZakAttack]
      #5799628 - 04/14/13 11:10 PM Attachment (478 downloads)

Here is a pic of the Big Dipper I took with the same lens. The settings were: Aperture 4.0, Focal Length 27mm, ISO 400, Time = 240 seconds (4 minutes).

Dean


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Mkofski
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Reged: 07/19/11

Loc: Greenfield, Indiana, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: ZakAttack]
      #5799647 - 04/14/13 11:28 PM

Dean,

Nice shots. These are single exposures?


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ZakAttack
super member


Reged: 09/20/06

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Mkofski]
      #5799726 - 04/15/13 12:32 AM

Yes, they are single exposures.

Dean


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Patrick
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Reged: 05/16/03

Loc: Franklin, Ohio
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: YuriyT]
      #5799770 - 04/15/13 01:14 AM

YuriyT,

What was your process for capturing your PE curves? What software did you use, etc? I'd like to measure mine.

Patrick


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kyang
member
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Reged: 12/09/12

Loc: Fremont, CA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Patrick]
      #5800682 - 04/15/13 02:19 PM Attachment (352 downloads)

Hello,

I have got several nice photos with SkyTracker/Canon T3i /50mm. When I try on the 200mm lens, I found my cheapy tripod is just too weak to hold the system steady.

Any suggested tripods which are in the reasonable price range (~$100) ?
Thanks.

-Kai

Edited by kyang (04/15/13 02:26 PM)


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Raginar
Post Laureate
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Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Rapid CIty, SD
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Patrick]
      #5800752 - 04/15/13 02:45 PM

I imagine you could use PEMPRO. Just set it up and use your DSLR in MaximDL.

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munchmeister
sage
*****

Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Raginar]
      #5801101 - 04/15/13 05:45 PM

Do a search at B&H Photo for Manfrotto tripods, get one with leg angles that can be individually set for a wider, more stable stance and uneven terrain. Forget the center bracket tripods. Oben, Slik, Vanguard, Benro are some good brands, too and have some decent 'pods for ~ $100. I use a Slik carbon fiber and a Manfrotto 055XBPRO.

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carver2011
member


Reged: 08/07/11

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Patrick]
      #5803276 - 04/16/13 06:01 PM

Quote:

YuriyT,

What was your process for capturing your PE curves? What software did you use, etc? I'd like to measure mine.

Patrick




Yuriyt I would also like to know your method for measuring the tracking error. I have seen excellent results using the SkyTracker with lens as large as 180mm. Seeing your setup would be of great help. Thank you.
Ed

Edited by carver2011 (04/17/13 03:55 AM)


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Patrick
Postmaster
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Reged: 05/16/03

Loc: Franklin, Ohio
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: carver2011]
      #5803601 - 04/16/13 10:01 PM

Quote:

I would also like to know your method for measuring the tracking error.




I'm seriously racking my brain trying to figure out a way to physically measure the tracking error. In the past I've measured PE on various mounts using a telescope and a CCD camera. I'm not sure what to use since I'm pretty sure that the iOptron won't be able to hold my AT66ED refractor. I also don't think the DSLR in Live View mode will work because it just doesn't pick up on stars that well, and even if it did, how will I interface with PEMPro? Also, the longest lens I have is only 70mm.

If you're out there Yuryt, I'd be very interested to know how you did it.

EDIT: It just occurred to me that perhaps I could mount my 9x50 finder guidescope on the Sky Tracker along with my Lodestar guide cam. Still, the focal length is not that long, but it might be just long enough.

Thanks,

Patrick

Edited by Patrick (04/17/13 12:15 PM)


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MrFancypants
member


Reged: 07/05/12

Loc: Swift Current, SK
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: kyang]
      #5808330 - 04/19/13 09:01 AM

Quote:

Hello,

I have got several nice photos with SkyTracker/Canon T3i /50mm. When I try on the 200mm lens, I found my cheapy tripod is just too weak to hold the system steady

Any suggested tripods which are in the reasonable price range (~$100) ?
Thanks.

-Kai




I bought the Dolica GX650B204 Proline on Amazon and I am extremely happy with it. It cost $84 Canadian. I haven't tried it with the iOptron but it is rated at 17lbs.


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Psion
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/27/05

Loc: Czech Republic, Prague
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Patrick]
      #5837707 - 05/03/13 07:03 AM Attachment (288 downloads)

I've tested the Polarie and the SkyTracker on an artificial star and I have not so bad results.

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Cotts
Just Wondering
*****

Reged: 10/10/05

Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Psion]
      #5849935 - 05/09/13 12:31 PM Attachment (458 downloads)

I'd like to revive this thread and talk about the Periodic Error of my Sky Tracker. See photo below with a 105mm lens on a 60Da, with the Sky Tracker purposely mis-aligned by 30 degrees or so, drive engaged and 25 minute exposure. The P.E. is easily seen in this full frame pic where the field of view is 12deg x 8deg. My pics with the 105mm lens at 2 minutes ALL show the P.E. as elongated stars. If you can see the P.E. in this picture it will manifest itself as an equal amplitude elongation of stars when the unit is properly polar aligned....

Am I expecting too much? With a 105mm lens am I limited to 30 second or less subs?

I would like to do 2-minute subs with a 105mm lens... I doubt I would try any longer lens.

N.B. With a wide lens, 18mm, I shot a 10 minute pic and there was no evidence of star elongation - which stands to reason at that image scale. But is the Sky Tracker only suited to wide fields?

Dave


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Astropetev
journeyman


Reged: 03/30/09

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Mihai]
      #5873106 - 05/20/13 05:24 AM

That Orion shot looks promising (early in this thread) although 30 second subs are pretty short. It may be due to the compression but the stars look slightly out of focus. If so, with perfect focus even more impressive! But like another respondent I would like to be able to go up to 5 minutes or more at the longer focal lengths (no problem at 40mm or shorter).

I use a modded EQ3-2 at the moment when flying overseas, and although I have to severely limit my other luggage due to the weight (over 10Kg with battery pack), it's been round the world with me. And guided is good for long exposures at 400 mm focal length. If I had to replace it I'd probably go for the iOptron SmartEQ PRO - 7Kg all up, guided and GOTO.

On the other hand, if iOptron add a guide port to the skyTracker, then I'd probably reach for my wallet :-)

Cheers,
Peter.

http://www.madpc.co.uk/~peterv


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Psion]
      #5882462 - 05/24/13 02:39 PM

Quote:

I've tested the Polarie and the SkyTracker on an artificial star and I have not so bad results.



How long was the exposure? The Polarie looks much smoother when looking at the lines on-edge.


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Cotts]
      #5882504 - 05/24/13 03:01 PM

Quote:

I'd like to revive this thread and talk about the Periodic Error of my Sky Tracker. See photo below with a 105mm lens on a 60Da, with the Sky Tracker purposely mis-aligned by 30 degrees or so, drive engaged and 25 minute exposure. The P.E. is easily seen in this full frame pic where the field of view is 12deg x 8deg. My pics with the 105mm lens at 2 minutes ALL show the P.E. as elongated stars. If you can see the P.E. in this picture it will manifest itself as an equal amplitude elongation of stars when the unit is properly polar aligned....

Am I expecting too much? With a 105mm lens am I limited to 30 second or less subs?

I would like to do 2-minute subs with a 105mm lens... I doubt I would try any longer lens.

N.B. With a wide lens, 18mm, I shot a 10 minute pic and there was no evidence of star elongation - which stands to reason at that image scale. But is the Sky Tracker only suited to wide fields?

Dave



Dave, looking at that image, even at 2 minutes you're still going to be throwing away a lot of subs.

This thing looks pretty much ideal except for the error in tracking rate. The spec says "DC servo motor". If that's true (closed-loop feedback) then I assume that it is meeting its design specs.

The Polarie looks better to me, although I agree with the cons v the iOptron that have been mentioned. With polar scope, that's $550+ US. Now we're in a price range where stronger EQ mounts are entering the picture.


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DzmitryK
newbie


Reged: 09/18/08

Loc: Tallinn, Estonia
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5902237 - 06/04/13 05:23 PM

Hello,
I'd like to share my experience.
With the help of EQAlign 2.2 software, I measured PE of my tracker using 135 mm lens and QHY-5 camera (7.9"/pix). I got +/-20" periodic error and the period of about 512 sec. Here is the graph (horizontal/vertical axis are in sec and arcsec respectively; Blue line represents RA, yellow - DEC drift):




I also made a number of sample shots with 135 mm lens, and was able to get perfectly round stars using exposures up to 120 sec. The tracker also performed satisfactory at 180 sec - I got approximately 50/50 ratio of good images and images with slightly elongated stars. And no good images were obtained using 300 sec exposures. Here are the links to crops of the sample shots in 100% scale (120, 180 and 300 sec).

120 s

180 s

300 s

Unfortunately, I also had an unexpected problem with my tracker: it stopped to work after 8 hours of use in total. It was sent back for repairing, and, as I was informed, the problem was in the defective gear motor. The motor was changed. Hope it will not happen again.


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astroSc0rch
newbie


Reged: 06/21/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: DzmitryK]
      #5933080 - 06/21/13 02:02 PM

looks like they have a new model

here

i'm new to this discussion - it looks to me like the topic initially involved an iOpteron SkyTracker with a white body - now there are two models on their website, a white body and a black body...


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cloe
member


Reged: 12/02/04

Loc: Canada
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: astroSc0rch]
      #5934270 - 06/22/13 09:23 AM Attachment (406 downloads)

one shot of the milkyway(approx,200sec.)using a Sigma 10-20mm lens.Sky was a bit hazy due to thunderstorms.
Used photoshop to bring out contrast,colors etc.
Fun piece of equipment


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munchmeister
sage
*****

Reged: 04/04/12

Loc: Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: cloe]
      #5934983 - 06/22/13 04:53 PM

Quote:

one shot of the milkyway(approx,200sec.)using a Sigma 10-20mm lens.Sky was a bit hazy due to thunderstorms.
Used photoshop to bring out contrast,colors etc.
Fun piece of equipment



Very nice. What was your ISO setting?


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derangedhermit
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 10/07/09

Loc: USA
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: luigis]
      #5942401 - 06/27/13 01:12 AM

The iOptron SkyTracker has been updated to model 3302. The two touted improvements are:
- azimuth (panning) base (answering the #1 complaint,I guess)
- load increase to 7.7 lbs (from 6.6 I think)

The adjustable az base is self-explanatory. The load increase: marketing or mechanical improvement? Anyone know?

It seems to be the same list price, at least for an introductory period. I'm not sure if it's available in the US yet.


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Psion
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 04/27/05

Loc: Czech Republic, Prague
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: derangedhermit]
      #5948995 - 07/01/13 01:58 AM

New payload is marketing I think. I can't see any improvement.

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Darren Bly
sage
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Reged: 07/24/06

Loc: Bakersfield, Ca
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Psion]
      #5951244 - 07/02/13 12:09 PM

Any improvement would be internal.

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calypsob
sage
*****

Reged: 04/20/13

Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Darren Bly]
      #5972213 - 07/15/13 01:09 PM

Well if you are still after a tripod http://bit.ly/12Qw1cD. This is a little over budget but is rated at 22 lbs. go find another carbon fiber tripod less than 500 and you will see that this is a great deal

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park
member


Reged: 08/20/11

Loc: Hangzhou, China
Re: iOptron SkyTracker new [Re: Patrick]
      #6031992 - 08/17/13 11:45 PM

Patrick,

Did you find a way to amount a finder scope on SkyTracker?

I'm very curious.


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