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The Exos Nano EQ Thread

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#1 Adun

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 01:21 PM

This thread is to share information and experience regarding the Explore Scientific Exos Nano, which is a small, inexpensive equatorial mount.

It comes with several of the ES First Light telescopes, and is sold separately for $99.

I've never had an equatorial mount before, being wary of possible issues at my latitude (3°N), like counterweights hitting legs or no sight of polaris, but to satisfy my equatorial curiosity, I found the inexpensive Exos Nano worth a shot.

ES rates it for 15 lb loads, which seems optimistic for the tripod's rather thin 1.25" steel legs, so I mounted a few small scopes on it, to find out what the mount can and can't do.

Here's the entire scoop:

The box it comes in is rather small (beer and Plössl for scale):

 

Exos Nano unboxing
 
Exos Nano unboxing


The shipping weight was 15 lb. You can see a sort of unboxing in the video ES made for the AR102EQ3.

Here are the mount's component outside of the box:

 

Exos Nano unboxing
 
Exos Nano unboxing
 

If you watched the video, you'll notice something different here, and this is where I made a mistake, of not reading the specifications: the counterweight that comes with the AR102-EQ3 weighs 4 pounds and is thick, but the $99 Exos Nano comes with a smaller 1kg counterweight. It's clearly stated in the specs, and I should have read it instead of assuming it'd be the same.

 

Exos Nano unboxing
 

During unboxing of the tripod, this disc was loose in the box, and after noticing that small hole that aligns well with a tiny hole in the tripod, I searched the box for a small screw that would fit, and found it. The screw never really tightens, but it does keep the black "washer" in place.

 

Exos Nano unboxing

 

Besides from that, assembling the mount was pretty easy, and the whole thing weighs just 5.8kg (13 lbs). I added a few grams by placing a big bubble level on the tray.

Now let's mount the first scope on it: the OTA of my Orion autotracker, a 1.3 kg (2.7 lb) 80mm achromat also sold as the Orion Go Scope:
 

Exos Nano with 2.7lb Orion GoScope

 

It's a feather weight scope, and in the picture it's fully balanced, clutches unlocked. If the position seems weird to you, it could be because I set up the mount for 3°N.

Notice the position of the counterweight, this is where it has to be for balance, and it easily clears the legs, so no problems at my 3°N. Movements seem smooth, but I'll have to wait for an actual first light before I can comment any further.

Now, for a different scope, a C90 (weighting 5lb) in perfect balance, clutches loose:

 

Exos Nano with C90

 

Exos Nano with C90
 

They seem like a good fit. The C90 will probably benefit from the slow motion controls for planetary and lunar. For even easier tracking, this mount could be fitted with the Celestron Astromaster single axis motor drive (see this thread) and I'm very tempted to try that.

For a little beefier scope, I've mounted a Zhumell Z114 OTA, weighting 2.7 kg (6 lb) including the rings+bar. Here the counterweight is no longer sufficient, and to achieve balance I had to add 1 lb of magnetic counterweights that I use with my dobsonian (got them from scopestuff):

 

Exos Nano with Z114 (F4)
 
Exos Nano with Z114
 
 
or with a 2 lb ankle exercise weight:
 
Exos Nano with Z114 and extra counterweight
 

The Z114 is the kind of scope that should work well on this mount, and it's a shame that the included counterweight is 1 lb short of working with it. I will try it on the field with the magnetic counterweights and I'll eventually post my experience here.


Finally, to test the limits of this mount, here it is holding a C6 that weighs 3.5 kg (8 lb), right about half of the alleged 15 lb the mount is rated for according to ES. In this mount, the C6 looks big, although it's not really as heavy as it looks (It weighs the same as a 5" Maksutov)

 

Exos Nano with C6


As you can see, it took even more extra counterweight than the Z114 to reach proper balance. I think it would be properly balanced with the 2 kg counterweight that comes with the Exos Nano on the AR102 F10 long refractor. That long tube must pack quite a bit of moment-arm, probably not a good fit for the mount, but the C6 being a short tube might work a little better. The mount is also sold with a 100mms Mak (I wonder how much it weighs). When the clouds cooperate and I get to try the C6 on it, I'll post my impressions here.

 

And that's it for now. Meanwhile I'll try to find a better counterweight. The bar is 14mms wide, in case you have any suggestions:

 

Exos Nano counterweight

 


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#2 junomike

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 07:10 PM

Looks good.  For added CW I'd just use what you have (Synta CW's or similar) as they are usually 18mm - 20mm so and should fit reasonably well.



#3 hcf

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 08:56 PM

Congrats on the new Nano.

 

I use one of these cw s with my EXOS Nano because I had it already.

 

https://www.bhphotov...eight_3lbs.html

 

Sometimes you can buy them used from B&H for under $10. It works but scratches the bar a little and you have be careful taking them off because one side is open.

 

Did you hear back from scopestuff about the motor coupler?


Edited by hcf, 18 February 2018 - 08:56 PM.

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#4 Adun

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Posted 18 February 2018 - 09:46 PM

I use one of these cw s with my EXOS Nano because I had it already.

 

https://www.bhphotov...eight_3lbs.html

 

Thanks for the tip.

 

 

Did you hear back from scopestuff about the motor coupler?

 

Not a single for word. I wrote back again yesterday, copying also the "Jim" who notified me of shipment. Let's hope they reply



#5 GoldSpider

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 09:29 AM

I'm wondering if this might be the reasonably specced/priced EQ mount I'm looking for for the 90mm f/11 refractor I recently rescued.  


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#6 Adun

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 11:12 AM

I'm wondering if this might be the reasonably specced/priced EQ mount I'm looking for for the 90mm f/11 refractor I recently rescued.  

 

This mount is sold with the Explore Scientific AR102  F10 refractor, so it's not unthinkable, but it's probably not a match made in heaven because of the long moment arm of 1 meter long refractors. I've never ever owned a long refractor, so I really lack knowledge there. 

 

How much does that 90mm F11 weight? It's probably 1000mm FL, right 


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#7 GoldSpider

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 11:45 AM

 

I'm wondering if this might be the reasonably specced/priced EQ mount I'm looking for for the 90mm f/11 refractor I recently rescued.  

 

This mount is sold with the Explore Scientific AR102  F10 refractor, so it's not unthinkable, but it's probably not a match made in heaven because of the long moment arm of 1 meter long refractors. I've never ever owned a long refractor, so I really lack knowledge there. 

 

How much does that 90mm F11 weight? It's probably 1000mm FL, right 

 

Exactly my concern as well.  You're correct, it's 1000mm FL, weighing in at 8.2 lbs.  The nearest step up mount is going to cost twice as much, and I'm not looking to spend a whole lot of $$ on rehabbing a 90mm achromat.

 

Edit: Weighed the OTA.


Edited by GoldSpider, 21 February 2018 - 08:59 PM.


#8 Adun

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Posted 21 February 2018 - 09:01 PM

Today I did first light with the Exos Nano the mount, taking advantage of the beautiful crescent moon, since about an hour before sunset (thus avoiding the clouds).

I set the mount on grass/soil (not concrete), bottom legs only half extended, and I pointed the "south leg" to the general south area (by memory). That's all the polar alignment I did.


Experience with the C90:

Compared to the fluid head tripod I had been using with the C90 (Orión Tritech II), the C90 on the Exos Nano was outstandingly more comfortable and ergonomic.

I observed the moon at 52x, 138x, 156x, 200x and even 312x.

Regarding the tripod, I could stomp the ground around it (dirt/grass) and I didn't get any vibrations in the view. Might not work on concrete/asphalt though.

Touching the tripod legs with my finger very gently, did not produce vibrations, but tapping it did produce vibrations that took almost 3 seconds to settle.

The slow motion controls were smooth and a pleasure to use (compared to the fluid head, an "Orion slow motion adapter", and even a manual 10" dob). Using them, I could easily frame the part of the moon I wanted to observe.

Moving the slow motion control handles haphazardly does introduce vibrations, but if I moved them carefully (trying not to flex the slow motion handle), I could "track" the moon (to keep a feature centered) without affecting the view (no vibrations), and this convinced me that I should add a motor drive to this mont, before the upcoming Mars opposition.

Conclusion: This is a terrific mount to pair with 90mm Mak. Sure, an Orion Atlas will be better and settle faster, but this mount is definitely enough for the "something for nothing" C90.


And with the Z114:

The experience was very similar. One big difference is that this 450mm FL reflector does much lower powers (I maxed out at 112x with a 4mm), so it's much less sensitive to vibrations, and operating the slow motion controls didn't require as much "care" (to avoid disturbing the view).

Another big difference is the ergonomics of a newtonian reflector in an EQ mount. Just after aiming at the moon, the eyepiece position was rather uncomfortable, so I had to loosen up the scope's rings and rotate it. The eyepiece location was also generally higher, and since I prefer to observe seated, I'm tempted to collapse the tripod legs when using the newtonian on this mount.

I'd say this is a great EQ mount for 4.5" newtonians, except for the fact that the included counterweight is insufficient for these scopes, and I had to add the ankle exercise weight.

Corollary: with either the Z114 or C90 on the mount, the whole thing is still a one hand carry, which is a big plus in the grab-n-go department.

Edited by Adun, 21 February 2018 - 09:08 PM.

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#9 ghostboo

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 08:45 PM

Today I did first light with the Exos Nano the mount, taking advantage of the beautiful crescent moon, since about an hour before sunset (thus avoiding the clouds).

I set the mount on grass/soil (not concrete), bottom legs only half extended, and I pointed the "south leg" to the general south area (by memory). That's all the polar alignment I did.


Experience with the C90:

Compared to the fluid head tripod I had been using with the C90 (Orión Tritech II), the C90 on the Exos Nano was outstandingly more comfortable and ergonomic.

I observed the moon at 52x, 138x, 156x, 200x and even 312x.

Regarding the tripod, I could stomp the ground around it (dirt/grass) and I didn't get any vibrations in the view. Might not work on concrete/asphalt though.

Touching the tripod legs with my finger very gently, did not produce vibrations, but tapping it did produce vibrations that took almost 3 seconds to settle.

The slow motion controls were smooth and a pleasure to use (compared to the fluid head, an "Orion slow motion adapter", and even a manual 10" dob). Using them, I could easily frame the part of the moon I wanted to observe.

Moving the slow motion control handles haphazardly does introduce vibrations, but if I moved them carefully (trying not to flex the slow motion handle), I could "track" the moon (to keep a feature centered) without affecting the view (no vibrations), and this convinced me that I should add a motor drive to this mont, before the upcoming Mars opposition.

Conclusion: This is a terrific mount to pair with 90mm Mak. Sure, an Orion Atlas will be better and settle faster, but this mount is definitely enough for the "something for nothing" C90.


And with the Z114:

The experience was very similar. One big difference is that this 450mm FL reflector does much lower powers (I maxed out at 112x with a 4mm), so it's much less sensitive to vibrations, and operating the slow motion controls didn't require as much "care" (to avoid disturbing the view).

Another big difference is the ergonomics of a newtonian reflector in an EQ mount. Just after aiming at the moon, the eyepiece position was rather uncomfortable, so I had to loosen up the scope's rings and rotate it. The eyepiece location was also generally higher, and since I prefer to observe seated, I'm tempted to collapse the tripod legs when using the newtonian on this mount.

I'd say this is a great EQ mount for 4.5" newtonians, except for the fact that the included counterweight is insufficient for these scopes, and I had to add the ankle exercise weight.

Corollary: with either the Z114 or C90 on the mount, the whole thing is still a one hand carry, which is a big plus in the grab-n-go department.

Hi Adun. With the legs fully collapsed and when using the Z114, was the eyepiece height comfortable for viewing while seated? Thanks.



#10 Adun

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Posted 24 February 2018 - 09:11 AM

Hi Adun. With the legs fully collapsed and when using the Z114, was the eyepiece height comfortable for viewing while seated? Thanks.


Hi.

I didn't fully collapse the legs that night, so an answer from actual observing experience will have to wait.

However, I just went and tried it in daylight "simulating use", and I could feel that although it was very comfortable at the horizon, up to 67° altitude (inclinometer measured). From 67° to zenith I felt I needed a little more height (or a lower chair).

For reference, with the Z114 scope fully balanced and the legs fully collapsed, when aimed at zenith the eyepiece height is just 94cm (37 in), which is not quite enough for me. (I'm 5'10" tall).

Edited by Adun, 24 February 2018 - 09:15 AM.

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#11 ghostboo

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Posted 28 February 2018 - 02:30 AM

 

Hi Adun. With the legs fully collapsed and when using the Z114, was the eyepiece height comfortable for viewing while seated? Thanks.


Hi.

I didn't fully collapse the legs that night, so an answer from actual observing experience will have to wait.

However, I just went and tried it in daylight "simulating use", and I could feel that although it was very comfortable at the horizon, up to 67° altitude (inclinometer measured). From 67° to zenith I felt I needed a little more height (or a lower chair).

For reference, with the Z114 scope fully balanced and the legs fully collapsed, when aimed at zenith the eyepiece height is just 94cm (37 in), which is not quite enough for me. (I'm 5'10" tall).

 

Thanks for checking this! I'm interested in picking up this mount up for a grab and go. The biggest scope I'll use on it is an 80mm refractor or maybe a 114mm newt...just need a light mount I can keep near the door. I only observe while seated.


Edited by ghostboo, 28 February 2018 - 02:31 AM.


#12 jcj380

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 09:05 AM

https://www.bhphotov...eight_3lbs.html

 

Sometimes you can buy them used from B&H for under $10. It works but scratches the bar a little and you have be careful taking them off because one side is open.

 

Wrap it in duct tape?  Ugly, but might save a toe.

 

Anyway, this mount intrigues me, so I'll be curious to follow this thread.  Currently using a Twilight 1 alt-az for GnG with an ST120.  Thinking about getting an EQ since I'm so used to setting circles if the weight and load rating are ok, etc.


Edited by jcj380, 06 March 2018 - 09:06 AM.

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#13 Adun

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 03:31 PM

I've gotten two nights with the 6SE, and I'm satisfied with how they work together.

 

 

While the mount is "rock solid" with the 80mm refractor and the C90, it's not so steady with the 6SE. Still, I like them together because I wanted lightweightness. A beefier mount like the CG4 would be too much for me to use it as a "grab and go". 

 

I'm now working on motorizing this mount. Although the Celestron Drive costs just $35 and works with it, I already have a 0.6 RPM DC motor, so I counted how many rotations of the slow motion control does it take for a full rotation of the RA axis, and it was around 120. So my math told me that the 0.6RPM motor at 14% speed should work.

 

I built a prototype with an arduino and a cheap drive and it did work for tracking:

 

PWM prototype with arduino

 

... but the drive I have couldn't handle the current for long, so I ordered a proper motor drive ($3 from China). Once I get it I'll finish motorizing the mount. The idea is not just to have tracking (like the Celestron drive does) but also a couple buttons for 7x sidereal speed, so that I can still do slow motion in RA, for centering an object in the FOV. I plan to use this mount for EAA, and that will come in handy. 


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#14 jcj380

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 07:37 PM

What camera are you planning on using for EAA?



#15 Adun

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Posted 06 March 2018 - 09:02 PM

What camera are you planning on using for EAA?

 

I use an RT224 with my EAA setup (an 80mm Orion Starblast Autotracker), I'll use the same scope and camera on the Exos Nano to see what I can get from it. The autotracker does limit my exposure times (<16s) and stacking times (<10 minutes) so if the Exos Nano allows me to get a bit more, it will be a win.



#16 JoeinWV

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Posted 19 March 2018 - 06:47 PM

Considering this mount for my C90. However in the pics, it shows a C90 with no finder or ep.

I'm kinda thinking that with a 6x30 finder, 32mm ep, and dew shield no way it's going to with that tiny weight.

 

Does anyone even sell the extra cw's or heavier ones to match the mount.

My C90 works good on my eq1, with motor, just thinking of something new to squander money on:)



#17 Adun

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 07:02 AM

When the C90 balances on the mount, there's still a lot of shaft left to move the counterweight farther away, so I think it could handle a 6x30 RACI.
 
Let me do the experiment with the C90 and an 8x50 + 32 Plössl and get back to you.
 
About the extra weight, there are these "price appropriate" microphone counterweights in 3 lb and 6 lb versions. I ordered one to replace the exercise ankle weights for use with my C6, but it will take a while to get to me.



#18 Adun

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Posted 20 March 2018 - 08:08 AM

Considering this mount for my C90. However in the pics, it shows a C90 with no finder or ep.

I'm kinda thinking that with a 6x30 finder, 32mm ep, and dew shield no way it's going to with that tiny weight.

 

Well, it turns out to balance a C90 + GSO 8x50 RACI finder + Plössl on the Exos Nano, an extra 0.5 lb magnetic counterweight is needed. It wouldn't balance without it:

 

C90 + GSO 8x50 finder + Plössl

 

If the 6x30 is half a pound lighter than an 8x50, then perhaps balance could be achieved without extra counterweight, but I don't have a 6x30 to try.

 

Explore Scientific really should just sell all the Exos Nano mounts with the 4 lb Counterweight they feature on some FirstLight models.


Edited by Adun, 20 March 2018 - 08:09 AM.

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#19 Adun

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 02:09 PM

The On-Stage counterweight finally arrived.

Sadly, it did not fit the counterweight bar of the Exos Nano the way I expected. The screw it comes with was not long enough to secure it.

What I had to get it to work, was add an additional screw on the opposite direction (it's head against the bank's shaft):
 

Using on stage Counterweight for balancing C6 on Exos Nano
 
It's quite secure this way, and it balances the C6 with a hefty 8x50 finder:
 
Using on stage Counterweight for balancing C6 on Exos Nano

 

I won't be using the exercise ankle weights on this mount anymore. I'm going to move those to my 10" dob (using an adhesive Velcro strip) to help it balance the weight of big 2" eyepieces and a coma corrector.


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#20 hcf

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Posted 26 March 2018 - 11:03 AM

The On-Stage counterweight finally arrived.

Sadly, it did not fit the counterweight bar of the Exos Nano the way I expected. The screw it comes with was not long enough to secure it.

What I had to get it to work, was add an additional screw on the opposite direction (it's head against the bank's shaft):
 

Thats strange, the screw on my 3lb CW counterweight is longer but it is close, and it is quite old. I notice they don't have a minimum shaft size in the B&H specs so I might have just got lucky.

 

Good fix though.

 

I also see ES has some Dob counterweights https://explorescien...unterweight-set

Don't know if they would fit the Nano CW shaft, but might be worth asking them.



#21 holocazz

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 12:36 AM

Has anybody tried using this mount with ES's ED102CF (and/or plain aluminum version)? The catalog suggests that this might not be supported, though I am curious since the CF version of the scope supposedly only weighs 7lbs - which is well within the max load of 15lbs for this mount.



#22 Adun

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Posted 16 April 2018 - 09:57 AM

Has anybody tried using this mount with ES's ED102CF (and/or plain aluminum version)? The catalog suggests that this might not be supported, though I am curious since the CF version of the scope supposedly only weighs 7lbs - which is well within the max load of 15lbs for this mount.

 
The counterweight this mount is shipped with will be insufficient to handle a 7 lb scope.
 
When I tried with a 6 lb scope (450mm long) it was already insufficient. That's the main problem with this mount.
 
Someone who just got the 127mm FirstLight mak recently said:
 

The mount is supplied with a counterweight that is too light to properly counter balance the telescope. Really inexcusable IMO

 
So the problem is not just with the standalone (sold without an OTA) mount.
 
If I was an US customer, I'd have been tempted to return it just because of the wimpy counterweight, but since I do international shipping it's not worth the hassle.



#23 jcj380

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 09:16 AM

DW suggested I get another mount for my ST120 when she saw me kludging up an azimuth circle for my TW1.  wink.gif   Actually, the az circle is reasonably accurate and I like it.  I guess the aesthetics don't thrill her.

 

Maybe I missed it, but what's the maximum weight you've put on this?  I see the 6SE is 8 lbs, but does that include finder, RDF, eyepieces, etc?



#24 Adun

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Posted 30 April 2018 - 01:28 PM

Maybe I missed it, but what's the maximum weight you've put on this?  I see the 6SE is 8 lbs, but does that include finder, RDF, eyepieces, etc?

 

So far, it's 4.1 kg, of the EVO 6 OTA, including a 6.3 reducer, diagonal and 8x50 RACI finder, plus whatever an 1.25" eyepiece weights. 



#25 Adun

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Posted 29 May 2018 - 03:04 PM

Quick update after some more use:

 

Regarding the Equatorial nature of the mount in general (I got this nano to experiment with equatorial mounts), I'm not quite fond of the weight, the setup, and the ergonomics of equatorial mounts. They lack some of the simplicity that I associate with "grab and go".

 

Regarding the Exos Nano specifically (strictly manual use, from grass/soil):

  • Of course it's fantastic with the C90 Mak. No doubt about it.
  • With the Z114 reflector, while it's size and weight is well within the mount's limits, the ergonomics of a newtonian on an EQ mount are just not my cup of tea. Perhaps for imaging it'll work well, although I had a problem getting a drive to motorize the mount, but I still hope to try that.
  • And most importantly, for the EVO 6 SCT: I wasn't expecting the mount to work this well with it. The extra 6 lb counterweight I had to add, makes carry/setup more uncomfortable, but I think it might be helping with stability/vibrations/something, because during use with the 6" SCT, I have no objections. The slow motion controls work well, vibrations are minor, settle time is quick, I've had no problem focusing, framing or tracking a planet up to 230x. In general it's pleasurable to use. It's still an equatorial, with a nuanced setup, and the extra 6 lb counterweight did hurt it's grab&go appeal quite a lot, and I ended up having to remove the 8x50 RACI finder from the C6 and re-installing the RDF, not because I wanted to, but because it just didn't work: it threw off the balance of the mount at one position or another. 

 

So, in conclusion:

 

Because the mount comes with an insufficient counterweight, I would not recommend it for anybody looking to install anything heavier than a 100mm Mak.

 

For myself, since I already got a workable extra counterweight, I'm definitely going to keep using it, both with the C90 and the C6.

 

It's good behavior has opened my apetite for a mount that works just as good, but is easier to setup and more ergonomic to use (and allows me to use the 8x50). Maybe a GSO Skyview Deluxe, although since the Exos Nano is good enough, I don't really "need" a nice alt-az mount now. I could just man-up and deal with the weight & setup, and make it's EQ contrivances of use a second nature. Also an extra mount will take up space at home that's already started to become scarce after 5 scopes. Add the cost factor ($300 + international shipping for the GSO mount, or no less than $200 for the inferior Twilight I)... it's money that could go to an ED travelscope instead. Plus it seems nobody likes the tripods those mounts come with.

 

Since the GSO mount will remain out of stock for a month at Agena, I'll keep enjoying the Nano while I ponder my options.


Edited by Adun, 29 May 2018 - 03:08 PM.

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