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Light-weight mount to drag out to a dark sky site a.k.a. middle of nowhere

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#1 CrossoverManiac

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 05:40 PM

My local astronomy club goes out to dark sky sites every once in a while and I'm looking for a light-weight and portable AP rig.  Currently, I have a SW EQ6-R Pro which weights over 70 lbs after tripod and counter weights. I also own a SW Star Adventurer which is too small for any AP rig over 10 lbs.  I'm looking for something that is lighter in weight than the EQ6-R and uses less power but can carry a heavier AP payload than the Star Adventurer.  I've looked into the Meade LX85 and the CG-4 with the Shoestring Astronomy GPKIT-EQ mod for autoguiding.  Do anyone have any suggestions?



#2 descott12

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 06:04 PM

Check out http://www.rainbowastro.com

 

Very light weight. People seem to like them but very expensive.

 

Avalon also makes some pretty nice stuff but also pricey

https://www.avalon-i...cts-menu/mounts


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#3 ChrisWhite

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 06:08 PM

I used to have a cem25p. I currently have a cem60. I think a cem25p or cem40 would be a consideration for you.

#4 Huangdi

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 06:10 PM

If you limit your scope to a 70-80mm refractor, the ES iExos100 won't even need a big battery tongue2.gif

 

If you have a higher payload, I'd second the CEM25P.


Edited by Huangdi, 31 March 2020 - 06:11 PM.


#5 mikefulb

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 06:37 PM

I use an Orion Sirius for small loads.  I can put it and its tripod in the back of my suv assembled so all I do is plonk it on the ground, add counterweights and its ready to go.  Be sure to leave the clutch loose during all this of course.



#6 Sam Danigelis

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 08:40 PM

I had the CG-4, and it was heavy enough to handle my 6" f/8 Newt. But I donated it, and got a CEM25P, which is a lighter mount, but same payload capacity. Tracks better without having to guide.
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#7 calypsob

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 10:23 PM

Well, if you dont have to carry the EQ6R very far I would suggest you stick with that. Im sure the head itself without anything attached is not too bad, unless you have health issues. 

The reason I say this is because at a dark site, in the dark, its easy to step too close to a tripod leg and nudge out polar alignment at the worst times possible. Dont ask how I know.

I have found that I prefer a heavier mount because of this, its alot harder to accidentally nudge and another thing I did not mention is wind. even on a calm night in the mountains you can get random gusts up to 30mph out of nowhere. 

I have a ZEQ25 which is really light and easy to transport, but when I have to pick between the two, the CGE always goes in the trunk when Im loading out. 

If I was to choose a more portable mount it would be in favor of the one thing I hate most, meridian flips.  With this in mind, I would go with an Muno dual, a whole different price range, yes.

Where are you going to image at btw? 



#8 CrossoverManiac

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 11:25 PM

It's a Bortle 2 site near Pine Apple, Alabama.



#9 calypsob

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Posted 01 April 2020 - 12:02 AM

It's a Bortle 2 site near Pine Apple, Alabama.


Nice! Those skies will be fantastic. Seeing in alabama was usually really good, transparency gets iffy when humidity rises. I went to Auburn and got into astrophotography while I was there, Good times! It sounds like you should be able to get some great data. Ill be interested to see what you decide with your mount situation.

#10 poobie

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 11:55 AM

It's a Bortle 2 site near Pine Apple, Alabama.

That should be excellent.  The Chilatchee Creek Park down that way has very dark skies as well.  



#11 gezak22

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 12:11 PM

The Losmandy GM-8 was perfect in terms of weight while still consistently delivering sub-arcsecond rms guiding with a fast 90 mm refractor.


Edited by gezak22, 02 April 2020 - 02:59 PM.


#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 04:18 PM

iOptron pretty much as the low weight thing down.  Look at the CEM25P, the CEM40, the CEM60.


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#13 Stargazer3236

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 09:29 PM

I own the ZEQ25 mount and I have to say it tracks awesomely! My polar aligns are dead nuts and my goto's put the object of desire near the center every time. I only do a one star align after pole star acquisition. I have never had a problem with tracking with that scope. And the mount head weighs 10 lbs and the tripod another 15 or so. One counterweight and my C8 and everything is perfect! I sometimes use my Orion ST 120 refractor or my AT60ED apo.


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#14 17.5Dob

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 09:50 PM

I take my EQ6......It's really easy to set up, when you only have to move the parts 5'.

Dark sites are where you really want to bring to bring the best gear you have.


Edited by 17.5Dob, 03 April 2020 - 09:51 PM.


#15 Stargazer3236

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 09:55 PM

In order for me to get to a dark sky site, I have to drive 2 hours north into New Hampshire to a Bortle 3 zone from a Bortle 8 zone. The skies up there are fantastic, but schlepping up there is only a once a month thing, when my friends lets us use his observing field. Plus gotta be mindful of DA Bears!



#16 ImNewHere

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 10:25 PM

CEM25 or CEM40



#17 richorn

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 02:43 AM

iOptron pretty much as the low weight thing down.  Look at the CEM25P, the CEM40, the CEM60.

Don't rule out the GEM45


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#18 Hesiod

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 04:13 AM

There are many options and in the end is mostly a matter of budget.

Also, it depends also on how you plan to shot (w or w/o PC, guided/unguided, OAG/guidescope, etc...).



#19 Stargazer3236

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 10:33 AM

I heard that the ES PMC 8 EXOS-2 GT is a great mount with ball bearings in both axis and it's Only $699, with a 28lb payload capacity and it is about $200 cheaper than the CEM25!



#20 bobzeq25

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 12:17 PM

I heard that the ES PMC 8 EXOS-2 GT is a great mount with ball bearings in both axis and it's Only $699, with a 28lb payload capacity and it is about $200 cheaper than the CEM25!

I think the CEM25P is worth the extra $200.  See this, read the first post, note the 13 likes.  Then read the second.

 

https://www.cloudyni...s-about-mounts/


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#21 schmeah

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 01:05 PM

I think the CEM25P is worth the extra $200.  See this, read the first post, note the 13 likes.  Then read the second.

 

https://www.cloudyni...s-about-mounts/

Thanks for the nostalgia Bob! I remember that thread well, like it was yesterday. Funny how we all sounded pretty much exactly the same five years ago. And I'm impressed that it didn't get locked when it hit that rough patch in the middle :) Ahhh, the days when we could argue and slam each other, and yet still get back on track and allow the thread to fade peacefully.

 

Derek 


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#22 Stargazer3236

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 02:51 PM

I have the ZEQ25 mount that I absolutely love! I bought it used and it performs great with my Nexstar C8, with EAF and EFW and 294MC camera. Never had a problem with alignment (best PA scope ever) and my goto's are always dead nuts!


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#23 Kendahl

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 07:41 PM

I'm happy with the iOptron iEQ45 I bought several years ago and later upgraded to iEQ45 Pro. It's comparable to their GEM45. My reason for selecting it over the noticeably cheaper EQ6 or CGEM was head weight. The iEQ45 head weighs less than 30 pounds whereas the others weigh about 40. Separating the head from the tripod is easy and I do that every time I move the mount.

 

The biggest disadvantage to a mount with a rated load capacity of 25 to 30 pounds is that you are limited in what you can put on it and still get good tracking. Long optical tubes are especially hard for the mount to handle. With the hood extended on my 4" refractor and DSLR attached, total length is 38" and weight on the mount is less than 20 pounds. The iEQ45 handles the load OK but I wouldn't want to try it with a 30 pound mount. If I upgrade again, it will be to a CEM60.


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#24 Bill001

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 05:02 PM

I think the CEM25P is worth the extra $200.  See this, read the first post, note the 13 likes.  Then read the second.

 

https://www.cloudyni...s-about-mounts/

Oh yeah. I have a cem25-p i bought last December. It was shipped from the factory assemble incorrectly. The packaged instructions were packaged incorrectly. The HC battery was dead (I’ve never in my life received a product that included a battery and that battery was dead). iOptron support was and is near useless. It took a couple months to get it operating correctly. It got damaged at one point and had to go to Massachusetts for repairs. The repair was very reasonably priced and fast. The only problem was they didn’t fix it, they made it worse and called me a liar when I reported the problems. They also broke my HC cable and said I lied about that too. Because they took so long to reply I bought a new cord so I could test the unit.  To get it repaired the second time took management from HighPoint to make iopton pay attention to the faulty repair. 

 

From factory assemble, to packaging, to support, to service, iOptron screws up. I could never recommend the unit unless one bought it used and the item was thoroughly tested. Now that the unit is back to working correctly it works well. If you happen across a used one at a bargain basement price that one knows works correctly it might be worth it.

 

I got this unit for portably and the mount readily guides 6 minute subs tightly with guide-scope. Under ideal conditions (zero wind) it would guide much longer I believe. When set low and weighted the mount is quite solid in the wind. It does serve well as a portable unit.


Edited by Bill001, 05 April 2020 - 05:06 PM.


#25 Stargazer3236

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 05:08 PM

I bought my ZEQ25 used and paid $600 for it. It has worked perfectly since I bought it!




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