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Looking for a mid-range but still portable mount.

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#1 Kevin Thurman

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 07:38 PM

I'm looking for a "mama bear" sort of mount for DSO imaging. I currently have a small star tracker (the skyguider pro) which I am quite pleased with for wide-field imaging and my short refractor and I intend to keep that around for a long time as an air travel mount. I have no plans to get a really big permanent mount and scope yet until I'm completely settled in a long-term house. Until then, I'm looking for a mid-range mount that would be easy to haul out to dark skies and set up every night of imaging at home since I don't have a dome. The heaviest scope I could ever see myself putting on this mount would be a RASA 8" at 17 lb. and most other scopes around that focal length are obviously much lighter.

My only requirements are that it has
-GoTo (for easier mosaic-making), 
-Can connect it directly to my computer for guiding rather than using an ST4 port
-Isn't super heavy
-$1,600 max budget.


Currently I'm leaning towards the HEQ5 (30lb. capacity), which is popular and fairly light and portable it seems. The RASA 8" would really push the recommended 1/2 payload limit on that one though if I do decide to get the RASA. The EQ6R-pro is able to handle heavier gear, but is itself heavier and also about $500 more expensive.

Those aren't my only two options of course, but I've seen those around a lot so I assume there must be a reason. What do others recommend? How do these skywatcher options compare to iOptron and Celestron and so-on?



#2 SilverLitz

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 06:17 AM

For lighter mounts relative to load capacity, I would look at iOptron.  EQ6-R is heavy for its capacity; it is heavier than my G11 (which can handle 60#).  Ideally, I would look at the CEM60 w/ Tri-Pier, but it is about 2x your budget.  You might be able to get by with the CEM40, but it is $500 more than the EQ6-R.

 

I doubt an HEQ5 can handle a RASA for AP.  The load limit should take into account the entire load, including: camera, filter drawer, guidescope, guidecam, dew heaters/straps, extra dovetails, etc...


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#3 Huangdi

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 07:51 AM

HEQ5/CEM40. Both should be able to easily handle the Rasa, considering the low focal length.

I personally would go with an EQ6 but I'm young and don't mind carrying around the heavy thing.
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#4 terry59

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 08:19 AM

How far from the vehicle are you planning to go? If you set up right there (perhaps using the vehicle as a wind block if necessary) it shouldn't be difficult as long as picking up the head  of an EQ6 isn't an issue


Edited by terry59, 15 August 2020 - 08:20 AM.

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#5 RJF-Astro

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 01:58 PM

I see no bad options mentioned here. And I am sure the HEQ5 can handle that RASA. I have used it with a 6RC fully loaded, no issues and easy to get 8 minute subs.

The RASA is a shorter focal length and subs are shorter too, especially LRGB.

Also look at the belt modification if you plan on taking the HEQ5. Imo a big improvement.
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#6 Kevin Thurman

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 02:14 PM

How far from the vehicle are you planning to go? If you set up right there (perhaps using the vehicle as a wind block if necessary) it shouldn't be difficult as long as picking up the head  of an EQ6 isn't an issue

Well, it really depends on the site. I live under bortle 8 and almost all my imaging is done there in the backyard which means moving it outside. I sometimes go to a bortle 4 site where I can park right next to wherever I set up. I am going to make a trip further soon to a bortle 1 site and I'm not yet sure how that will look, logistically. For that trip I will still just use my portable star tracker as it's good enough to handle my current FL. 



#7 Stelios

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 03:56 PM

The HEQ5 is the standout choice. A small hand truck might be the answer in carrying a heavier mount some distance (unless you're big and strong like Terry :)).


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#8 SilverLitz

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 04:03 PM

I still have doubts about the RASA 8 with an HEQ5.

 

I just did an estimate on the load, starting with 7,700g for the OTA, adding an extra dovetail for guide scope, guide scope, guidecam, bracket, dew heater/straps, camera, filter drawer/filter, dewshield, and focus motor.  This comes to 26-27 pounds, that assume that the 7,700g OTA weight includes the CGE Dovetail.

 

Also, it seems that the RASA only comes with Losmandy dovetail, not the narrow Vixen, and the HEQ5 does not handle Losmandy.

 

Even a CEM40 would be pushing it.


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#9 terry59

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 04:59 PM

The HEQ5 is the standout choice. A small hand truck might be the answer in carrying a heavier mount some distance (unless you're big and strong like Terry smile.gif).

LOL...I am 61, 5'7", 135 lbs and can carry my G11 head (without counterweights) to the backyard and back. I can (barely) carry the entire GM-8 mount, counterweights included, but not far

 

smile.gif  



#10 astrodd

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 05:30 PM

I have a RASA 8 and HEQ5 Pro. I haven't imaged with it yet (I'm waiting for a clear night). I can say that any weight other than the camera, filter drawer, eaf and losmandy adapter won't balance perfectly. I think it will track fine for my intentions but if I did it again, I'd have opted for the EQ6R.


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#11 nimitz69

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 06:08 PM

I have the EQ6-R pro and prior to building my observatory I carried it outside to image in my backyard. It has a very nice integrated handle which makes it easy to carry around on handed. I’m 61 as well and I could carry it around, it only 32 lbs not 320 lbs ... lol.

The other thing I did was go buy one of those cheap $18 folding hand trucks at Harbor Freight and make a wood platform for the base because its hollow. Then I simple stuck my mount and tripod combo on it and wheeled it around, easy as pie ... then I really smartened up and built an observatory .... smile.gif

Edited by nimitz69, 15 August 2020 - 06:08 PM.

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#12 Kevin Thurman

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 08:57 PM

I think I've decided on the EQ6R. The handle makes the weight more portable in my eyes and the mount is overall a more flexible platform. I can easily handle a scope the size of the RASA and not worry about buying other counterweights or anything. I'm young and healthy, so I can probably handle it. It seems like lots and lots of images on astrobin with the same types of scopes I'm looking at are using the EQ6R, so it seems to work well for most people. The worst case scenario for long walks at other locations is I'd get a dolly or a cart or something. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.


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#13 nimitz69

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Posted 16 August 2020 - 07:29 AM

You won’t be sorry!
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#14 Huangdi

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Posted 16 August 2020 - 08:37 AM

Good choice! The handle definitely makes carrying it easier.

Edited by Huangdi, 16 August 2020 - 08:38 AM.

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#15 ResidualRichey

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Posted 07 September 2020 - 09:15 AM

I think I've decided on the EQ6R. The handle makes the weight more portable in my eyes and the mount is overall a more flexible platform. I can easily handle a scope the size of the RASA and not worry about buying other counterweights or anything. I'm young and healthy, so I can probably handle it. It seems like lots and lots of images on astrobin with the same types of scopes I'm looking at are using the EQ6R, so it seems to work well for most people. The worst case scenario for long walks at other locations is I'd get a dolly or a cart or something. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

Hey Kevin!

I've been browsing around this forum for quite some time looking for advice on this topic as I am in a very similar situation. I've been leaning towards the SW HEQ5 as it seems to be more portable than the 6R (and I will be carrying this setup to my dark-sky location which is about a 10 minute walk from where I would be parking my car). Thankfully, I won't be carrying my setup alone and I am also young and in good health *knock on wood*.

 

I currently have an 8in SCT as well as a 80mm apo (one for planetary the other for DSO). My ideal purchase would be a reliable and portable mount that I can use for both scopes targets without having to accumulate a literal ton of gear.

 

I'm curious if you would be able to share how things have been going for you with the EQ6R and if anyone else has any feedback or advice they would be willing to share.

 

Thanks and clear skies smile.gif


Edited by ResidualRichey, 07 September 2020 - 09:16 AM.


#16 Huangdi

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Posted 07 September 2020 - 09:45 AM

Hey Kevin!
I've been browsing around this forum for quite some time looking for advice on this topic as I am in a very similar situation. I've been leaning towards the SW HEQ5 as it seems to be more portable than the 6R (and I will be carrying this setup to my dark-sky location which is about a 10 minute walk from where I would be parking my car). Thankfully, I won't be carrying my setup alone and I am also young and in good health *knock on wood*.

I currently have an 8in SCT as well as a 80mm apo (one for planetary the other for DSO). My ideal purchase would be a reliable and portable mount that I can use for both scopes targets without having to accumulate a literal ton of gear.

I'm curious if you would be able to share how things have been going for you with the EQ6R and if anyone else has any feedback or advice they would be willing to share.

Thanks and clear skies smile.gif


The EQ6-R is lighter than the old EQ6 but I'm telling you, you do not want to carry that thing for 10 minutes... Also consider batteries, laptop, tripod, etc etc that is a LOT of stuff to carry.

I think the HEQ5 is a great mount and if it is well tuned it will handle a C8.
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#17 SilverLitz

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Posted 07 September 2020 - 12:14 PM

For weight and capability for C8, I would suggest a CEM40.

 

I would not say any of these are "mid range", but more entry level for AP.

 

Mid-range would be more like CEM60/70 or G11.


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#18 Kevin Thurman

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Posted 07 September 2020 - 12:28 PM

Hey Kevin!

I've been browsing around this forum for quite some time looking for advice on this topic as I am in a very similar situation. I've been leaning towards the SW HEQ5 as it seems to be more portable than the 6R (and I will be carrying this setup to my dark-sky location which is about a 10 minute walk from where I would be parking my car). Thankfully, I won't be carrying my setup alone and I am also young and in good health *knock on wood*.

 

I currently have an 8in SCT as well as a 80mm apo (one for planetary the other for DSO). My ideal purchase would be a reliable and portable mount that I can use for both scopes targets without having to accumulate a literal ton of gear.

 

I'm curious if you would be able to share how things have been going for you with the EQ6R and if anyone else has any feedback or advice they would be willing to share.

 

Thanks and clear skies smile.gif

Haven't bought the new mount yet, actually.



#19 RJF-Astro

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Posted 14 September 2020 - 03:51 AM

The C8 will work on the HEQ5 for planetary. DSO not so much, but if you use the 80mm for DSOs you will be fine.


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