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EQ-Tech Equatorial Platform Impressions and Pics

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#1 rnabholz

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Posted 06 July 2014 - 06:56 PM

Some of you may have seen my posting about the arrival of my new equatorial platform in this thread:

http://www.cloudynig...6608715/page...

I have been asked about which platform I bought, so here is more information on the EQ-Tech platform that I ordered.

I first came across the platform on Ebay. It was offered at a starting bid of $199 with $30 shipping. That would be a very attractive price if it held, so I started to do some research to see what people had to say about them - I did not find much.

There is a simple web site here: http://eq-techplatforms.tripod.com/

It offered a few user comments, but other than that, there was not much information available from third parties.

The limited pictures showed what seemed to be a solidly constructed platform, and the auction indicated that the product shipped would be tailored to the winning bidder's latitude. I decided to take a chance, and as luck would have it won the auction with a bid of just over the starting bid.

I fowarded my payment via PayPal, and included instructions that I would like the platform built to 42.5 degrees latitude. I received a prompt response informing me that my platform would be completed to my spec and shipped in a couple of days.

Two days later I received a tracking number for the package and it arrived 4 working days later. It was packed carefully, and arrived safely.

Contained within were the two pieces of the platform, a box containing the drive motor, and a very simple manual.

Attaching the motor was straight forward, simply attaching a bracket to the base of the platform using a supplied screw inserted into a pre-drilled hole. The motor is connected to the end of travel kill switch by two wires, again this is done by the user. They are color coded and this is a simple task.

Overall first impressions of the platform are good. It is well constructed, solid and simple. Edges are sanded smooth, light finish offers a seal on the wood, not sure but seems like it is an oil finish, like danish oil or tung oil. Attention to detail is good, little things like some saw burns detract just slightly, but one cannot expect perfection at this price point.

Set up it looks like this:

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As you can see, the top of the platform has a map of the night sky with Messier Objects marked, and the "brand name". It is just paper glued to the top. This is one thing I could have lived without. I don't blame the maker wanting to brand his product, but the map is dark, and small, and of course would be covered by the scope when it is mounted, so serves little value. A small niggle, but thought it worth mentioning.

The base is pictured below, need to mention that the compass and level you see mounted were my additions and NOT included as part of the platform as it shipped. Again this is not a complaint - it is a convenience that I added, and is another of those items that could be added for a price.

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Here you see the underside of the top with the two sectors. On the north sector (the larger one) you see two strips of a friction material, it would seem to be an abrasive tape mounted to provide friction on the drive roller. Also visible on the north sector is the reset stop. You can see the reset handle. It would appear to be a simple drawer pull knob. Great idea, cheap, simple and effective.

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As I mentioned in my earlier thread, I did find that there was an opportunity to move the reset stop out an inch or so. The effect was to add about 10 minutes to the run time, and make the tilt of the table even at about 5 degrees on both sides of center. It was as simple as pulling it out with a pliers, drilling another hole in the sector and tapping it in.

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The motor is a Celestron product, designed to drive one of their small equatorial mounts. It seems to be very well suited to the job here as well. It is powered by a 9 volt battery and is said to run about 40 hours on that source.

The only quibble with it is that it sort of "hangs" out there exposed. Concern for a misplaced foot hitting it and potentially damaging it is a consideration. Interestingly, the motor has the capacity built in to reverse itself for use in the southern hemisphere, and so it seems that there would be an opportunity to reverse the mounting and place the motor under the top board. May look into that possibility at some point if I find it a problem.

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The unit adds about 6.5" to the height of the eyepiece of a telescope mounted on board. That is about average, but builders can optimize and shrink that height if building for a specific scope, but for a general purpose, non custom built product, this is respectable.

I made one additional modification. The unit ships with small rubber feet attached to the top, presumably to act as an anti skid measure for the scope mounted on top. I removed those and replaced it with some no skid matting cut to size. I think this is a better solution. Again, not a complaint, just my preference.

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OK, so here is the scoop on the "first light". Put my Z-Scope 8" f6 dob aboard the platform, seen here on a previous occasion without the platform

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This is an older scope, plywood, sonotube, well and stoutly built, I would place it at about 50 to 55 pounds or so. Placing it on the platform, it handles the load well, no signs of stress.

I rap the tube to see about stability. In my experience (once owned a RoundTable Platform) you alway sacrifice some stability when taking a scope off the ground and placing on a platform, but I am happy to report that the view settled quickly from the hard rap in about 2 to 2.5 seconds - darn respectable! Light touches of the focuser settle faster, very usable.

Setting the platform to the start position is as simple as a light lift on the reset knob, this scope moved easily and under good control to the start position.

I placed a well positioned Saturn in the field of view and turned on the drive. I was at a low power for finding the object, but immediately it could tell it was not moving in the field. What the heck, replaced the eyepiece with a 6mm yielding about 210 power. Same result - just hanging still in place. Great!

To check for motor vibration, grabbed the 2x barlow and added it to the optical train making 420 power. View was over powered for the seeing, but when I had an assistant turn off the motor, I saw no change in the view which confirmed that the motor was not introducing image degrading vibrations.

Spend the rest of the evening viewing Saturn, the Moon, Mars and selected Messier objects at high power and enjoying immensely not having to constantly nudge the scope. It was a real pleasure.

I am completely satisfied with the EQ-Tech platform. I believe it represents a fantastic value at the price point, quality construction, simple and elegant, no fuss performance. I am looking forward to many years pleasurable use from this piece of equipment.

Rod
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#2 bvillebob

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Posted 06 July 2014 - 07:26 PM

I just built a basic platform last week and I'm amazed at how nice it is to have. Being able to just observe and not have to track the object, particularly at high power, is like having a bigger scope.

BTW, I did just what you described. Mine is pretty similar in concept and I use the same motor but it's on the "inside" of the platform for safekeeping. I just cut a small notch out of the bottom board to make it fit and it's working great. I did take it out of the plastic shell, since it's protected there's no need for it and it makes it fit easier.

I'm sure you'll love it, good to see someone offering a basic product at a good price. I'm going to post a thread this week in the ATM section on mine as I've simplified construction quite a bit to make it easier to reproduce.
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#3 rnabholz

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 07:09 AM

I look forward to reading about your platform. I had considered building my own as well, but time for a project like that is pretty scarce these days, so when this option came along at the reasonable price, it made sense for me.

I agree that tracking absolutely helps me see more, especially the fine details that really enhance the memories for me.

I will keep a watch on the ATM board for your project.

Thanks,

Rod

#4 lamplight

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 05:25 PM

Had. NO idea they could be had so affordably, enjoyed the review, thanks!

#5 rnabholz

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 07:21 PM

You are welcome, my pleasure.

Attaching a few more pics for the record.

Here is the backside of the motor and drive.

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Another angle on the South sector

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The south bearings

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And the view from the front with the top removed

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Thanks for the interest.

#6 cpr1

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 08:19 PM

Nice platform. I glad it worked out well for you. I have a Ed Jones platform. He included a handy little device to help with lining up polaris. It was made with my latitude in mind. Just level and line up your laser on the North star. If you can see polaris of course. It would be simple to make one of these if you needed to.

Posted Image

Posted Image

#7 rnabholz

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Posted 07 July 2014 - 08:32 PM

Thanks Christopher.

I love Ed's work, and greatly admire his skills and immense knowledge. He is a very talented man.

I have seen his platforms, and he was kind enough to answer some platform related questions I posted here a few years back when I was contemplating making my own platform. That is a great looking platform.

With regards to the laser sight, it is a nice feature. I am lucky enough to live in a place where the magnetic declination is less than a half degree, so the compass works well enough for my visual observing purposes.

Besides, I am a relatively relaxed guy while observing, I can live with nudging the scope a quarter of the 200x field of view every 10 minutes or so...... ;^)

Thanks for the interest.

Rod

#8 precaud

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 09:25 AM

I decided to try one of these platforms, and received it yesterday. The box had a hole and a rip in two places. Opening it up, there is absolutely no padding material protecting it. Not a good start.

Unpacking the box, one of the feet had been sheared off and was laying loose in the box. The hole was stripped out and will not hold the screw.

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  • 6650300-eqplat1.jpg


#9 precaud

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 09:27 AM

Nothing else appears to have been damaged, but I noticed that this bracket was installed sloppily. I assume it is supposed to be square to the board. Haven't heard back from the seller on this issue yet.

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#10 Bigstar

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 06:47 PM

Precaud get some wood matches and white glue. Put some glue in hole shove in as many wood matches in the hole. Not the match head end the wood end. Then break off the match and sand. Let dry over nite and put screw back in.

Ron
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#11 precaud

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 07:21 PM

Thanks Ron, but I'm not keeping this unit as it is. The top board doesn't ride squarely on the bearings and jams into the south bearing block partway through its movement. This is really sloppy assembly. And the cutoff switch doesn't work. The maker lied to me and told me the south bearing "is supposed to be mounted that way". Nonsense. Apparently noone put the top on the bottom to test it before shipping.

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#12 rnabholz

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 09:34 AM

A few pics with the scope aboard

 

zscopeplatformnorth.jpg

 

zscopeplatformwest.jpg

 

zscopeplatformdowntube.jpg

 



#13 Project Galileo

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 11:46 AM

Thanks for sharing.  Congratulations.  You will love your platform.



#14 Nils Olof Carlin

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 05:39 AM

John precaud wrote:
"The maker lied to me and told me the south bearing "is supposed to be mounted that way". Nonsense."

On the webpage, the maker writes this rather cryptic (to me at least) comment:
"Each eq-tech platform has a unique off set bearing angle design for a slight to the right extra axis-patent pending, giving more longer accurate tracking over other single axis platforms in the market Place"

I notice that the platform (unlike most, such as Tom Osypowski's) uses a straight (instead of canted) vertical North sector. This gives a rather large tangent error, making it run faster in the beginning of a run due to the changing distance from center of rotation to the driven sector.

The thought struck me that perhaps the skewed South bearing assembly would be an attempt to compensate for this error by forcing the platform to slide South during the run, to keep the distance more constant. I'm not sure it would work that way, but it might be an explanation.

Anyway, it shows that eq platforms for Visual use can be useful even with rather limited precision.

Nils Olof

#15 precaud

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 08:03 AM

On the webpage, the maker writes this rather cryptic (to me at least) comment:

"Each eq-tech platform has a unique off set bearing angle design for a slight to the right extra axis-patent pending, giving more longer accurate tracking over other single axis platforms in the market Place"

I notice that the platform (unlike most, such as Tom Osypowski's) uses a straight (instead of canted) vertical North sector. This gives a rather large tangent error, making it run faster in the beginning of a run due to the changing distance from center of rotation to the driven sector.

The thought struck me that perhaps the skewed South bearing assembly would be an attempt to compensate for this error by forcing the platform to slide South during the run, to keep the distance more constant. I'm not sure it would work that way, but it might be an explanation.

My further communications with the maker leaves me completely skeptical. Referenced to the front edge, the south bearing set was canted severely left (as shown in my pic), the motor bearing parallel, and the other north bearing to the right. It's a recipe for high rolling friction. I asked him to comment on this arrangement and got no reply. I suggested he could make jigs to ensure more reliable placement on the board and again got no reply. I give a "no confidence" vote to the platform and its maker.


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#16 pga7602

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:35 PM

 

On the webpage, the maker writes this rather cryptic (to me at least) comment:

"Each eq-tech platform has a unique off set bearing angle design for a slight to the right extra axis-patent pending, giving more longer accurate tracking over other single axis platforms in the market Place"

I notice that the platform (unlike most, such as Tom Osypowski's) uses a straight (instead of canted) vertical North sector. This gives a rather large tangent error, making it run faster in the beginning of a run due to the changing distance from center of rotation to the driven sector.

The thought struck me that perhaps the skewed South bearing assembly would be an attempt to compensate for this error by forcing the platform to slide South during the run, to keep the distance more constant. I'm not sure it would work that way, but it might be an explanation.

My further communications with the maker leaves me completely skeptical. Referenced to the front edge, the south bearing set was canted severely left (as shown in my pic), the motor bearing parallel, and the other north bearing to the right. It's a recipe for high rolling friction. I asked him to comment on this arrangement and got no reply. I suggested he could make jigs to ensure more reliable placement on the board and again got no reply. I give a "no confidence" vote to the platform and its maker.

 

precaud- Did you get a refund? 

 

I don't think it is a matter of using a jig since eyeballing would make it better than it looks. 

 

It could be an optical illusion, but if you look closely at the OPs recent closeup photos fromt the top view, his boards/south bearings are also mis-aligned leading me to believe this was intentional.  I would be interested if you still have the platform to try it out to see if the offset really works. 


Edited by pga7602, 07 August 2014 - 12:41 PM.


#17 Herr Ointment

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 09:11 PM

Looking at the materials involved in construction and the simple design, the price is right about where it should be. Profitable, but in no way out of line.

 

I can't believe that that crazy angle on the bearing mount is unintentional. Whoever is building these knows what works (for him).



#18 precaud

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Posted 17 August 2014 - 09:27 PM

 

precaud- Did you get a refund? 

 

I don't think it is a matter of using a jig since eyeballing would make it better than it looks. 

 

It could be an optical illusion, but if you look closely at the OPs recent closeup photos fromt the top view, his boards/south bearings are also mis-aligned leading me to believe this was intentional.  I would be interested if you still have the platform to try it out to see if the offset really works. 

 

Sorry for the delayed reply, I stopped following this thread.

Yes, I returned the platform and got a refund. I could not try it out because the platform would only rotate about half way before binding.

I don't believe for a second that the extent of misalignment on my board was intentional. One of the north bearings was canted in the opposite of the south bearing. Was that intentional too?



#19 Herr Ointment

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 04:08 PM

My apologies if I came across suggesting that you don't know your stuff. That was not my intent. Admittedly, it looks ridiculous.

 

Glad you got a refund!

 

I'm always taken aback by how dirt-simple these devices appear to be. Then I see the prices and think it must be otherwise.



#20 precaud

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Posted 18 August 2014 - 06:12 PM

No problem, herr. Others appear to be getting functional boards; mine was not. Yes, it is a very simple design and, if executed well (which doesn't appear to be too difficult), the price point makes sense. Unfortunately I got no confidence from my email exchange with the maker that, had I ordered another board from him, it would have been any better. An easy pass...



#21 pga7602

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 10:12 AM

 

 

precaud- Did you get a refund? 

 

I don't think it is a matter of using a jig since eyeballing would make it better than it looks. 

 

It could be an optical illusion, but if you look closely at the OPs recent closeup photos fromt the top view, his boards/south bearings are also mis-aligned leading me to believe this was intentional.  I would be interested if you still have the platform to try it out to see if the offset really works. 

 

Sorry for the delayed reply, I stopped following this thread.

Yes, I returned the platform and got a refund. I could not try it out because the platform would only rotate about half way before binding.

I don't believe for a second that the extent of misalignment on my board was intentional. One of the north bearings was canted in the opposite of the south bearing. Was that intentional too?

 

 

 

 

I see your point.  That is bad, thank you for responding.  I went with Atomic.


Edited by pga7602, 19 August 2014 - 10:16 AM.


#22 rnabholz

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Posted 19 August 2014 - 06:31 PM

The Atomic looks like a very nice product, and there are a couple more vendors that will provide similar products at that price point. But it is only fair to point out that most of those carry a price point that is double the product under discussion here.

I am not justifying any of the circumstances that caused the return of the platform by Precaud, he deserved better answers than he got. That said the platform I was shipped works well, and represents a very good value in my opinion.

For what it is worth

Rod

#23 mdsohio

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 10:15 PM

Hello, Rod, have you still been using this platform and has it still served you well? Can you indicate any mods you may have made other than those listed from last year? Any issues crop up since then? Thanks.

Mike



#24 josta

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Posted 17 March 2015 - 11:48 PM

How well does this platform work for astrophotography? 

 

John



#25 precaud

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Posted 18 March 2015 - 03:44 PM

I feel there is very good reason NOT to buy the Eq-tech, no matter what the price, quality (or lack thereof), unless you like supporting vendors who have no scruples. The guy is dishonest and deceitful. A few months ago he actually created a CN account and posted a "positive review" of the platform as if he was an end-user. He was caught, the thread was deleted, and his account cancelled. I would never support such a vendor in any way.


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