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EQ-Tech Equatorial Platform Impressions and Pics

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#26 helobuba

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Posted 11 July 2015 - 12:44 PM

I decided to get one of these Eq-Tech platforms for my old Coulter 10-inch dob.  I realized this represents the bottom end of the EQ platform market, but I couldn't really justify spending much more for an old telescope I bought 30 years ago.  I am actually very happy with this platform and I wish I had one years ago, but in my opinion this really is an unfinished product and requires several modifications to be truly useful.
 
I ordered mine on Etsy for $179 + $30 shipping and avoided the Ebay bidding process.  My platform arrived via USPS in a single box which appeared undamaged.  The platform inside looked OK for the most part, but I feel the packaging could have been done better. Aside from a few pieces of bubble wrap and some foam packing "peanuts" the platform wasn't really well protected.  It seemed extremely fortunate that my platform arrived mostly undamaged.  I say mostly because there were some small chips in the wood on bottom edge of the northern sector.   These were in a place that did not make contact with either the drive or the roller bearing so it was just cosmetic and I repaired it with wood dough.

 

20150625_093835a.jpg

20150709_104522.jpg

 

One thing I didn't like right away was that the feet height could not be adjusted to level the platform.  I solved this problem by removing the stock feet and replacing them with adjustable feet I purchased online.  I also used a moto tool to cut about 8 mm off the bottom of the metal bracket which attaches the motor to the platform.  This allowed me to lower the adjacent foot all the way down without the bracket contacting the ground.

 

20150709_104725.jpg

 

Like others I moved the reset stop about 1 cm further out to increase the run time.  I would be cautious about moving this out too far because it is likely to create problems on the southern bearing which may bind or rub against the southern sector. The white friction tape on the southern thrust bearing peeled off right away and I had to glue it back in place with epoxy.

 

Like another owner I also removed the little rubber pads and added a sheet of non-skid to the top to hold my telescope securely to the platform.

 

20150709_104738.jpg

 

The platform worked well for the first couple of runs and then began to stop working.  I had to keep increasing the clock speed for it keep up until it finally wouldn't move at all.  I tried replacing the included 9V battery with a new better one with no effect.  I inspected it closely and noticed that the drive shaft was only contacting the inner edge of the plywood northern sector.  The same was true of the eastern roller bearing.  This was either caused by the off axis southern bearing or by the maker not machining the northern sector properly.  The emery cloth strip had been worn down on the inner edge and the drive shaft couldn't move the platform anymore.  I was tempted to remove and re-angle the southern bearing but I wanted to avoid doing something which might throw the whole design off.  I could have sanded down the inner edge of the northern sector, but I also wanted to avoid doing anything so permanent.  So instead I unscrewed the drive shaft bracket and inserted some rubber O-rings under the outside edge to lift it just slightly.  I also inserted a small washer under the outside edge of the eastern roller bearing to lift it slightly as well.  After replacing the strip of emery cloth with a new one, this allowed the drive shaft and roller bearing to make more even contact with the edge of the northern sector and solved my drive problem.  I also noticed that the platform seemed to drive smoother if I placed my telescope slightly off center to the west. 

 

20150709_104703.jpg 20150709_104649.jpg

 

After these several slight modifications my platform is running smoothly and I am very happy with it.  Once I have the speed dialed in it will keep the object right in the center and runs for about 45 minutes.  Like others, I think that the off-axis southern bearing may cause more problems than it solves and modification of that may be in its future, but for now I'll leave it be.  If you are the type who wants something to work right out of the box then you should probably order an Atomic or other more expensive platform.  If you want to save money and don't mind a bit of tinkering then the Eq-Tech is the way to go.

 

20150625_175741.jpg


Edited by helobuba, 11 July 2015 - 01:10 PM.

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#27 Rocky68d

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Posted 03 August 2015 - 08:13 AM

I would prefer the Atomic but the issue for me is the latitude range. I live at 48.5N and according to their website the northern limit is 45 degrees. Nor does the website offer any way to communicate with the builder which I find odd. It says look for ads in CN but a search turns up nothing.

 

So it seems I have the choice between a possible fixer-upper for cheap from Eq-Tech or pay a grand for Terry O. to make me one that I know will be well made. It's the old, you get what you pay for, dilemma. 



#28 mdsohio

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 07:16 AM

I bought this EQ plat as well, from ebay. I asked a lot of questions, got extra pics sent my way and considered ALL the other, more expensive options. Read over the reviews here which were MOSTLY negative, and with good reason. Than said to myself...you have been building craftsman kits for Model RR and Model Ships for years...rebuild this! The extra cash outlay will be minimal and it will teach you a thing or 2. I have a shop and the time to some degree, and so it worked, FOR ME! I didnt need fancy, works without a hiccup, lifetime warranty right out of the box, some do. Keep that in mind with this product.

Mike



#29 Rocky68d

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Posted 04 August 2015 - 01:09 PM

Mike-How about sharing some specifics as to what changes/improvements you made?



#30 helobuba

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Posted 08 August 2015 - 04:56 PM

My platform stopped working again.  My scope is 80 lbs and the abrasive coating on the emery cloth strip eventually wears down and the drive shaft just spins without moving the platform.  I replaced the emery cloth with a strip of non-skid tread which I purchased at Home Depot and cut to size.  The abrasive coating on this is much more durable and should last longer.  So my platform is back up and working nicely.  I'll post again if I have any further updates.

 

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#31 mdsohio

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 11:50 AM

When i re-built this beast i placed a very tight section of fuel line hose over the ground up bolt/drive shaft then used a better/more abrasive peice of emery cloth for the drive surface. Works great...but theres a fine dust of rubber around the shaft after every use. I will be replaceing fuel line sooner than later. Plus the other mods ....feet holder rings for the dobs feet, safety bracket for the motor drive, battery holder, compass and level, and a remote for simple on and off. One thing that really bothered me about his construction tech was his total disregard for washers.....bolts and nuts crushing wood! Those were the first change at various spots. overall....wouls i do it again? NO! Would i purchase a more expensive EQ platform? NO! I would do as im doing now, learn the math and build a better one!

Mike



#32 GeneT

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Posted 11 August 2015 - 07:09 PM

Helobuba,

Great post!



#33 davidpitre

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Posted 15 August 2015 - 03:15 PM

My Ed Jones EQ platform was super well made. No speed adjustments necessary. Objects stay absolutely centered for the entire run. Construction is very precise and the finish is excellent.

Ed gives some very good pointers on his web site for those who want to make their own.



#34 helobuba

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 08:07 PM

Reading Mike's post gave me a good idea, but instead of fuel line I used some 3M friction tape and wrapped it around the drive shaft.  It tracks much smoother now and the friction tape is easy to replace if it gets worn.


Edited by helobuba, 19 August 2015 - 08:08 PM.


#35 wolfli

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Posted 11 January 2016 - 05:03 PM

Hi guys:

 

When you polar alignment your EQ-tech, do you align to the central axis of the bottom plate, or do you align to the line perpendicular to the southern bearing? Because the southern bearing is not perpendicular to the central axis.



#36 helobuba

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 12:43 PM

You need to align it with the axis of the southern bearing since that is the axis on which it turns.  I drew a line on my platform to help me.

 

20160112_092416_resized.jpg

 

I also fashioned this tool to assist me in polar alignment.  The angle of the wedge has been cut to my latitude.  I place it flush with the back end of the top portion of the platform and adjust the platform until the laser points at Polaris.

 

20160112_092457_resized.jpg

 

20160112_092543_resized.jpg


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#37 wolfli

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Posted 12 January 2016 - 01:45 PM

nice, thanks a lot!



#38 Hap3niz

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 03:14 AM

Well, just bought this, waiting for it to be delivered.. slightly nervous about what to expect. Seems more negative than positive, anything for me to pay attention to upon arrival? I will update with pics.

PS: Received a message that the platform was recently updated with high tech roller bearings and extra rib-joints

PPS: Was told that the platform will support my Zhumell Z12, but "will need to off balance the scope with more weight on the north side by raising the southside of platform. This increases more weight on the drive shaft for better performance".


Edited by Hap3niz, 18 January 2016 - 03:19 AM.


#39 wolfli

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 09:34 AM

Well, just bought this, waiting for it to be delivered.. slightly nervous about what to expect. Seems more negative than positive, anything for me to pay attention to upon arrival? I will update with pics.

PS: Received a message that the platform was recently updated with high tech roller bearings and extra rib-joints

PPS: Was told that the platform will support my Zhumell Z12, but "will need to off balance the scope with more weight on the north side by raising the southside of platform. This increases more weight on the drive shaft for better performance".

 

I have a XT12 so here is what you need to do to make it work:

 

1, as indicated above, change the friction bearing on the large circle to 3M non-skid tread. The glue on that tread will not be adequate. Something like Gorilla glue will do a better job.

 

2, You will need to put the scope a little towards the bearing so there is some more pressure on the shaft. But not so much that it tips over. Be careful.

 

3, You may also need to wrap the shaft with some 3M friction tape. But this may not be necessary.



#40 Hap3niz

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 11:47 AM

Appreciate the info, shall visit Home Depot after work today.  So with those few adjustments, seems to be working ok for you? Also, was wondering about the Logic Drive, is there any way to plug it into the wall, or only 9v batteries will work?



#41 helobuba

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 01:15 PM

My platform continues to work for me, but I use it strictly for visual.  I don't think you would have much success trying long exposure astrophotography with this platform.  Probably need to spend a lot more money for that.

 

I'm glad to hear that the maker of these is making some upgrades.  Sounds like he listens to his customers and reads our reviews. I noticed that he now charges $20 more for his product than what I paid less than a year ago.  I just hope that he put that $20 into improving his product and not lining his pockets.

 

I suppose you could rig an AC to 9VDC adapter to run this thing, but I couldn't for the life of me think why.  It will run for quite a long time (several nights) off of just one good 9V battery.  Why give yourself wires to trip over?

 

Since you have a big heavy scope like mine, there is one other modification you might consider.  After a while I noticed that the weight of my scope was causing the southern metal drive bearing to dig into the wood of the southern sector.  I easily and cheaply alleviated this by purchasing a small piece of aluminum sheet metal (about $1 at Home Depot, sold in the roofing section) and cutting it to size with a pair of tin snips. I then smoothed the edges with my rotary tool and glued the piece of sheet aluminum onto the side of the southern sector where the metal bearing makes contact.  Now I have a smooth metal-to-metal contact and solved the problem (see photo).

 

Oh, and one last thing.  The adjustable feet are a must.  I actually got mine from a sauna company here:  http://superiorsauna...products_id=753

 

 

20160118_094004_resized.jpg


Edited by helobuba, 18 January 2016 - 01:18 PM.


#42 helobuba

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 01:45 PM

Just in case it isn't obvious, if you are using a magnetic compass when you align your platform to the north be sure to take into account the magnetic declination (or variation) of your observing sight.  Depending on where you live this may be negligible or very significant since you want your platform aligned to true (or polar) north.  For example, where I live in SoCal the magnetic declination is almost 12 degrees east.  This means that true north lies 12 degrees counter-clockwise from where the needle points on my compass.  If the magnetic declination at your location was to the west, then true north for you would be clockwise from where your compass needle pointed.  Here is a website tool for figuring out your magnetic declination:

 

http://geomag.nrcan....lc/mdcal-en.php



#43 helobuba

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 05:29 PM

Well, just bought this, waiting for it to be delivered.. slightly nervous about what to expect. Seems more negative than positive, anything for me to pay attention to upon arrival? I will update with pics.

PS: Received a message that the platform was recently updated with high tech roller bearings and extra rib-joints

PPS: Was told that the platform will support my Zhumell Z12, but "will need to off balance the scope with more weight on the north side by raising the southside of platform. This increases more weight on the drive shaft for better performance".

I hope you still decide to get this and that my reviews don't put you off.  It does require a bit of tinkering, but it has made such an improvement in the quality of my viewing that I wouldn't consider viewing either the moon or planets without it.  There is so much more detail you can pick up when your object isn't racing through the field of view.  To get something better you would have to either make it yourself or spend a LOT more money.  $200 in this hobby is pretty cheap and for what it does for me I can certainly say it's worth it.  I just wish I'd had one years ago.


Edited by helobuba, 20 January 2016 - 06:20 PM.

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#44 wolfli

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Posted 20 January 2016 - 07:14 PM

 

Well, just bought this, waiting for it to be delivered.. slightly nervous about what to expect. Seems more negative than positive, anything for me to pay attention to upon arrival? I will update with pics.

PS: Received a message that the platform was recently updated with high tech roller bearings and extra rib-joints

PPS: Was told that the platform will support my Zhumell Z12, but "will need to off balance the scope with more weight on the north side by raising the southside of platform. This increases more weight on the drive shaft for better performance".

I hope you still decide to get this and that my reviews don't put you off.  It does require a bit of tinkering, but it has made such an improvement in the quality of my viewing that I wouldn't consider viewing either the moon or planets without it.  There is so much more detail you can pick up when your object isn't racing through the field of view.  To get something better you would have to either make it yourself or spend a LOT more money.  $200 in this hobby is pretty cheap and for what it does for me I can certainly say it's worth it.  I just wish I'd had one years ago.

 

 

You are definitely right. A working EQ mount improve the view much more than a $300 premium eyepiece. But if he does not mind waiting, then Ed Jones platforms, which has much higher quality for $450, would be available in may. 



#45 Hap3niz

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Posted 21 January 2016 - 03:49 PM

I had actually told the seller never mind on the platform.. but changed my mind shortly after. lol. I figured this would at least get me somewhere further along in this hobby, and for $200, couldn't go wrong. At first, the reviews were a little of putting, but ended up just made me aware of what I'll need to improve on, so verry helpful! The platform should be arriving next week, gonna head to home depot this weekend and pick up the extras I'll be needing.  Thanks for all the info guys. Oh, i looked into the Ed Jones platforms, very good looking and will probably be worth picking up later on down the road, appreciate the heads up.


Edited by Hap3niz, 22 January 2016 - 01:48 AM.


#46 Hap3niz

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 06:28 PM

So, last night i was able to get out and give the platform a go. This was my first time ever taking a swing at anything of this sort, and got to figuring it out. The instructions provided were fairly easy to follow, just had to learn the terminology of the parts. My first object was the moon. With tracking turned off, it would drift to the top right of my view, with it turned on.. and too fast, it would drift to the top left. I was finally successful at having it stay in the middle, but the moon would slowly drift straight up. The same was true for Jupiter.

I aligned the platform north, then 4 deg to the west to compensate for magnetic declination. I am just curious if i had everything setup correctly, or if i wasn't doing something right.

I am at work currently, and will update with pictures tonight! Overall, pretty pleased with quality and build, was actually thinking it would be larger. The base hangs off in all directions, but i figured it was suppose to be like so.

Any help aligning is appreciated!



#47 beatlejuice

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 07:08 PM

You might have better luck by just standing behind the south end of the platform and eyeballing that the north end of the platform is pointed in the direction of Polaris.   Also can you level it for the location that it was built for?

 

Eric



#48 Hap3niz

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 07:55 PM

hm, i believe it was custom build for my location (Corpus Christi, Tx). 27 degrees latitude is what i was told. i don't necessarily know what the change does, lol.  i appreciate the reply.



#49 beatlejuice

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 08:00 PM

hm, i believe it was custom build for my location (Corpus Christi, Tx). 27 degrees latitude is what i was told. i don't necessarily know what the change does, lol.  i appreciate the reply.

 

Ok thats good but did you check to see that it was level then?

 

Eric



#50 helobuba

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Posted 27 January 2016 - 09:08 PM

Sounds like you are getting some north-south drift. I sometimes get the same thing. It means that you need to either raise or lower the south end of the platform depending on the direction of drift. Try raising or lowering the platform south end and see if the drift increases or decreases. Then correct as necessary.

Either way, the drift should be much less than without the platform.

Edited by helobuba, 27 January 2016 - 09:10 PM.



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