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Upgrading mount... iOptron CEM120

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#1 ScottS

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 10:53 AM

I am consider upgrading my current CGE Pro mount and tripod that carries my EdgeHD 14 and equipment.  Not quite sure why other than my current mount is a bit on the noisy side when slewing, it has acted up a few times where I had to kill the power and start my setup process over again, and the mount struggles with proper movement once I piggy back my ES 127mm APO Triplet (I will be changing this to a side by side setup).  After quite a bit of research and setting a budget between $3,000 and $6,999 for the purchase. I've limited my consideration down to iOptron and looking at either the CEM120, CEM120EC, or the CEM120EC2. Not sure with my skill level I would notice a big difference between the EC and EC2 models.  So I'm leaning toward the CEM120EC and a Tri-Pier 360. In addition I'm adding an 8' NexDome to my back yard.  But don't want a permanent pier post just incase I want to head out for a weekend under dark sky's.

 

So as far as the quality, technology, and movement of the iOptron goes.  Do you think upgrading to the CEM120EC and Tri-Pier 360 would be a noticeable improvement over my current CGE Pro mount and 2" tripod? Also does it seem reasonable that the CEM120EC could handle the extra payload weight of adding the ES 120mm APO and additional Imager equipment?

 

Thanks

 

 

 

 


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#2 rgsalinger

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 11:19 AM

I used my EC2 on Sunday night. The seeing was terrible. Guiding in both axes was around .2 arc seconds which is what I've been getting since I bought the mount. It worked this well out of the box.The original software demons have been sent back to where they belong and the operation is smooth as butter. It's just a better mount than my MX+ which cost so much more in terms of performance. I've had loads ranging from 15 pounds (now) to over 60 pounds on it - same performance. It's hard to believe but, service and unproven longevity aside, this is the new "premium" mount. (A little heavy though and I've never used the Tri-pier - mine is mounted on a PierTech2 pier.)

Rgrds-Ross


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#3 Real14

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 11:39 AM

I am consider upgrading my current CGE Pro mount and tripod that carries my EdgeHD 14 and equipment.  Not quite sure why other than my current mount is a bit on the noisy side when slewing, it has acted up a few times where I had to kill the power and start my setup process over again, and the mount struggles with proper movement once I piggy back my ES 127mm APO Triplet (I will be changing this to a side by side setup).  After quite a bit of research and setting a budget between $3,000 and $6,999 for the purchase. I've limited my consideration down to iOptron and looking at either the CEM120, CEM120EC, or the CEM120EC2. Not sure with my skill level I would notice a big difference between the EC and EC2 models.  So I'm leaning toward the CEM120EC and a Tri-Pier 360. In addition I'm adding an 8' NexDome to my back yard.  But don't want a permanent pier post just incase I want to head out for a weekend under dark sky's.

 

So as far as the quality, technology, and movement of the iOptron goes.  Do you think upgrading to the CEM120EC and Tri-Pier 360 would be a noticeable improvement over my current CGE Pro mount and 2" tripod? Also does it seem reasonable that the CEM120EC could handle the extra payload weight of adding the ES 120mm APO and additional Imager equipment?

 

Thanks

Hi,

 

Go for it and I see you did set your Budget up to US $ 6,999.00 go for the EC2 as I did. IMHO both Encoders are worth it.

 

I want to make clear I do not work for iOptron ! , I do not get any commission ! but I can confirm, that I am very happy with my two CEM 120EC2 mounts which I installed this year a few months ago.

 

regards Rainer


Edited by Real14, 25 October 2018 - 11:40 AM.

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#4 Real14

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 12:19 PM

Hi Scott,

 

I forgot and as Ross said, the mount is a beast and meant more to be an Obsevatory Mount rather then a portable Setup.

 

I am 66 and ask me what it meant to get it on top of my piers shocked.gif

 

regards Rainer


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#5 ScottS

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 12:37 PM

Thanks guys for the comments! I will probably lean toward the EC2 at this point.  Also as for it being a beast! I travel with my current setup and I feel it too is a beast.  My current equipment - The EQ mount is 75lbs, the tripod is 52lbs, and the counter weight bar 5lbs!!!   


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#6 Real14

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 12:44 PM

Thanks guys for the comments! I will probably lean toward the EC2 at this point.  Also as for it being a beast! I travel with my current setup and I feel it too is a beast.  My current equipment - The EQ mount is 75lbs, the tripod is 52lbs, and the counter weight bar 5lbs!!!   

Hi,

 

Being so then the CEM 120 is a lightweight lol.gif

 

The Mount is just 57 lbs and the CW shaft 10 Pounds. The tripier for the CEM 120 is ~42 lbs.

 

Rainer


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#7 carolinaskies

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 01:31 PM

 The CEM120 is quickly earning an excellent reputation in the community and becoming an alternative to mounts with larger price tags.  Support of the CEM series from iOptron has been beyond most owners expectations which puts it well beyond many alternative mounts.  

User experience wise at the hand control you'll have to learn a new menu system, but you'll find it more easily read and if using computer control it will be seamless.  Also learning how the CEM series balance is a curve but most have handled this well. 

With your 14" and 127mm APO side-side I believe the CEM mount will handle the weight far better than the CGE Pro as it supports OTA weights between 2 main bearing surfaces making it much easier to balance and less prone to vibrational issues.      

The CEM series is on my list if I ever defork my 16" off the LX200.  


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#8 Real14

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 01:39 PM

Also learning how the CEM series balance is a curve but most have handled this well.

 

confused1.gif

 

Hi,

 

Interesting. I balanced my two CEM 120 in the same way and workflow I used to balance my two former Losmandy Mounts ...

 

I did not need to learn a new balancing technique ...

 

I never noticed any difference when balancing the Losmandy Mounts and my CEM 120EC2 Mounts.

 

If you know how to blalance there is absoultely no difference in doing it woth the one or the other ... crazy.gif

 

The only noticeable difference was that the CEM did allow balancing by far easier then the Losmandy G11 with their friction clutches. I really never did get a good Balance with the G11 as I now got with the CEM 120E2 and you have to know that I placed exactly the same equipment I had on the G11 on the CEM 120EC2. Nothing more and nothing less, except that I was able on one Mount to add one more telescope to the ecuation ... and this balanced out perfectly too ...

 

Rainer


Edited by Real14, 25 October 2018 - 01:41 PM.

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#9 SteveInNZ

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 01:59 PM


Go for it and I see you did set your Budget up to US $ 6,999.00 go for the EC2 as I did. IMHO both Encoders are worth it.

 

Is there something specific that you are using the Dec encoder for ? The only thing that comes to mind is tracking comets or asteroids.

 

Steve.


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#10 carolinaskies

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 06:44 PM

confused1.gif

 

Hi,

 

Interesting. I balanced my two CEM 120 in the same way and workflow I used to balance my two former Losmandy Mounts ...

 

I did not need to learn a new balancing technique ...

 

I never noticed any difference when balancing the Losmandy Mounts and my CEM 120EC2 Mounts.

 

If you know how to blalance there is absoultely no difference in doing it woth the one or the other ... crazy.gif

 

The only noticeable difference was that the CEM did allow balancing by far easier then the Losmandy G11 with their friction clutches. I really never did get a good Balance with the G11 as I now got with the CEM 120E2 and you have to know that I placed exactly the same equipment I had on the G11 on the CEM 120EC2. Nothing more and nothing less, except that I was able on one Mount to add one more telescope to the ecuation ... and this balanced out perfectly too ...

 

Rainer

What I was referencing in general was the non-friction system.  Sorry I didn't spell it out, though for those investigating a CEM120 in more than a cursory level would recognize this IS different and the feel is different.  The ease in balancing should be largely thanks to the center of gravity over the mount centerline rather than offset like the GEM.  


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#11 niteman1946

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 07:04 AM

Besides the previously stated comments, I’ve found the through-the-mount cabling to be an asset.  I transitioned from a CGE Pro which required several cables hanging from it. In an effort to do a fair comparison I used the same arrangement initially with the CEM120.

But once comfortable with the mount I used the TTM connection and could not be happier.  I’m using only the USB2’s so YMMV.

Guiding is much better than the Celestron.

 

Be aware that iOptron’s PPEC feature, while functional, does not work with a guiding program such as PHD2.  This may be moot if you go with the encoders.

I’m running with the old 12LX200 Classic OTA.  With everything, the setup weight is 50 lb. and the c’wts are 44 lb.

 

Mark

 


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#12 Real14

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 08:23 AM

Is there something specific that you are using the Dec encoder for ? The only thing that comes to mind is tracking comets or asteroids.

 

Steve.

So far iOptron confirmed me, a few days ago, that the DEC axis with encoder is compensating atmospheric refraction. The mainboard has a Barometer from Bosch BMP 180 as well as a temperature sensor.


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#13 rgsalinger

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 10:47 AM

I knew about the DEC encoder because to get my pointing models to work I needed to turn off atmospheric compensation in T-Point (where I create the model). What I didn't know was that it has instrumentation to accomplish this. This might well explain the issue I'm having with my pointing model. I can easily create one and run all night with it. The next night I use the system, it's off by quite a bit. Since it only takes (at most) 15 minutes and I can do it before it's fully dark, it's just an annoyance. Still, I'd love to turn off those features if I could. 

 

I'm also still perfecting my start up procedure but to me the guiding performance has been simply amazing. I have everything connected through the built in power and USB cables and they work well - my PC is just 3 feet below the mount when it's working. Not a dangling cable in sight. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#14 Real14

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:03 PM

 

Still, I'd love to turn off those features if I could.

Hi Ross,

 

Well what a curse now having a hardware correcting atmospheric refraction making the software correcting obsolete. 

 

What shall we do now ? Tell the innovative " Chinese Mass Mount " producers to stop integrating this electronic features as the software developers are behind the electronic improvements in our mounts ? 4.gif

 

Rainer 



#15 Real14

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:10 PM

What I was referencing in general was the non-friction system.  Sorry I didn't spell it out, though for those investigating a CEM120 in more than a cursory level would recognize this IS different and the feel is different.  The ease in balancing should be largely thanks to the center of gravity over the mount centerline rather than offset like the GEM.  

Thanks. Still do not understand what you mean Sorry. My English is not that good and it is not my mother/father language.

 

The only thing I can say is that the CEM 120 was easier to balance then my very old Losmandy G11 ...

 

Rainer



#16 WadeH237

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:11 PM

What shall we do now ? Tell the innovative " Chinese Mass Mount " producers to stop integrating this electronic features as the software developers are behind the electronic improvements in our mounts ? 4.gif

I would ask that they please make them configurable at the very least.

 

This is one example of a case where a feature that works great for one person, is not appropriate and causes problems for another.  And I can think of others.

 

Honestly, having features that make assumptions about my scenarios are a showstopper for me if they cannot be turned off.  I would prefer to have a mount that nails the fundamental mechanical aspects and then lets me have as much direct control of it as I want.

 

Just my two cents...



#17 ScottS

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:16 PM

So are you guys indicating that with this mounts (CEM120EC2) technology and features that using software guiding such as PHD2 that it will not properly guide via the computer/software such as nudging the mount and tracking a star as does my CGE Pro???


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#18 Real14

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:17 PM

 

 

I would prefer to have a mount that nails the fundamental mechanical aspects and then lets me have as much direct control of it as I want.

 

Just my two cents...

Get a CEM 120EC

 

lol.gif



#19 WadeH237

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:25 PM

Get a CEM 120EC

 

lol.gif

Is it possible to disable the encoders?  If so, does it support PEC when the encoders are turned off?  And if it does that, can you autoguide it when running PEC?

 

From the thread above, it looks like it uses some environmental information to perform tracking corrections.  Can this be turned off?  Can you override whatever conditions it's detecting?  Can you provide environmental information from another source?

 

Note that these are honest questions.  Some of them are a bit loaded, because I think I know the answers (but would appreciate knowing for sure).  If the CEM120 can't do some of these things, I think that it would improve the mount to make them configurable.  And it could probably all be done with a software update.

 

I don't know if the iOptron engineers follow these threads, but if they do, this is my feedback (I know that some other mount manufacturers do follow threads about their mounts).


Edited by WadeH237, 26 October 2018 - 02:28 PM.

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#20 Real14

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:37 PM

So are you guys indicating that with this mounts (CEM120EC2) technology and features that using software guiding such as PHD2 that it will not properly guide via the computer/software such as nudging the mount and tracking a star as does my CGE Pro???

Hi Scott,

 

I have sent you a private message for the CEM 120 group. There is a lot of acquired experience already from many CEM 120 owners and users.

 

No it does not. I do guide both axes but do not use any additional software as perhaps the one or other with a CEM 120 xxxxx does and I have no problems.

 

PHD2 chases the movement of the stars and the simplest guiding method applied on a EC2 mount is the best. You do not need PEC or PPec or whatever it is called nor anything else on an EC2 ...

 

RA encoder does kill the PE in almost real time ( tenths of seconds, hundreds of seconds or even thousands of seconds ?) I do not know but what I know is that it works as I have seen in my images. OK, I have not done much imaging, as I live far away from my Observatory but this will actively change starting November 1 2018 = Next week waytogo.gif

 

 iOptron does like to get feedback from us owners and users and so why not contact them and expose your questions or ideas ? and this is another topic here which I have seen. A lot of people complain but do not actively talk to the mount producers what they would like to have ... I get it. It is easier to complain in life rather then be proactive ... Getting active means more work and as the nature of the human being is to be lazy it is easier to do nothing ... lol.gif   lol.gif   lol.gif   lol.gif   lol.gif


Edited by Real14, 27 October 2018 - 11:34 AM.

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#21 WadeH237

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Posted 26 October 2018 - 02:46 PM

iOptron does like to get feedback from us owners and users and so why not contact them and expose your questions or ideas ? and this is another topic here which I have seen. A lot of people complain but do not actively talk to the mount producers what they would like to have ... I get it. It is easier to complain in life rather then be proactive ... Getting active means more work and as the nature of the human being is to be lazy it is easier to do nothing ... lol.gif   lol.gif   lol.gif   lol.gif   lol.gif

Just in case this part of the comment was in response to something that I said...

 

I'm not in the market for a CEM120 at this time, but I do have a general interest in mounts - and this one is really pretty interesting and seems to be an excellent value proposition.

 

As such, I don't want to contact iOptron directly, because I feel like it would be unfair for me to use their time to satisfy my curiosity.  I don't have any problem with chatting about it in a public forum in a topic for which it is the subject.  There are some very knowledgeable owners here, who might be willing and able to share their thoughts.  And if, by chance, the manufacturer uses this forum to collect user feedback and thoughts (as I know some manufacturers do), so much the better.

 

Not all questions are criticism, and some criticism is intended to be constructive.

 

Added on edit:  To your point above, I have a significant investment in astronomy gear.  There are many manufacturers with whom I've done business, where I do give direct feedback and ask direct questions.  I've even met many of them in person.


Edited by WadeH237, 26 October 2018 - 02:50 PM.


#22 ScottS

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Posted 29 October 2018 - 09:48 AM

I confirmed with iOptron that the CEM120EC2 has NO issues working with PHD2 or TPoint for auto guiding, and added they both work very well with the mount.



#23 rgsalinger

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Posted 29 October 2018 - 02:07 PM

That is not exactly correct. While  you can plate solve an individual frame with Image link, you will find that you need to build a new TPoint model every night. So, it's compatible with Image Link and sort of compatible with TPoint but not fully. 

 

I've reported this and been basically brushed off since not many people use the SKYX with these mounts. One other thing, make sure that you set any TPoint run to have zero atmospheric refraction by setting the Pressure in the calibration tab to 0mB. Refraction compensation is built into the encoder software, presumably based on the GPS values.  

 

If, on the other hand you get it wor night after night, I'd love to know what settings you used. It's more an annoyance than anything else since you can easily build a new model between dusk and the time you would start imaging. Still it would be nice if they debugged - maybe a time issue or ?????.

 

As far as turning things on/off, PEC, etc. I don't see the point. Both axes just sit there at .2 arc seconds all night long. I'd be happy to host a session this weekend to show the phenomenon to anyone who might want to log on (Teamviewer) to my comptuer. It's amazing. It's the opposite of what I've had to go through with my MX+ which seems to need tweaking on bad seeing or windy nights. The CEM's encoders automatically put it back in place immediately.

 

Rgrds-Ross 



#24 brinke

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 04:00 PM

hello to everybody, I'm new in this forum. I'm interested in buying a CEM120 (without encoders) as the price is very much lower. my question is the following: considering that I would use PHD2 to guide the mount, will I notice differences from an EC or EC2 version?

does the encoder version follow the stars better also with the PHD2?

 

thank you in advance for your comments



#25 BobT

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 04:10 PM

Welcome to the forum!

 

I am not an expert.  I own a CEM120EC and have had no experience with the non-EC models so take this with a grain of salt.

 

I use PHD2 for guiding and the times I have seen instances of what I believe to be an advantage of having the encoder is when PHD2 loses the guide star for long periods of time.  The encoder seems to take over and you don't lose image data (at least I haven't) during the non-guiding period.  The really big advantage (over my other mount) is the DEC backlash is almost non-existent and you get that with or without encoders.

 

That said, I can easily do 5 minute unguided exposures with no lose of quality.  I haven't tried 10 minutes but at 20 minutes there is a slight amount of trailing that is probably due to imperfect polar alignment.  The cable management system is the best I have ever used and the build quality (on my sample of one) is excellent.


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