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FORGETFUL iOPTRON CEM70G MOUNT

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#1 p11321

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Posted 31 July 2021 - 06:57 PM

I have a 9 month old CEM70G. It works great except I have had this bizarre problem for months. Every few weeks or so I power on the mount and the time offset has been reset from -420 hours (Arizona) to +480 hours (Beijng)  and the the meridian offset from +3° to 0°. These are probably the defaults. Less frequently the 1 star alignment  data is also deleted. I thought this info was stored in the HC, but I really don't know. After lots of emails to iOptron, they sent me a new HC and I updated all my software to the latest versions.  The result: Both HCs do exactly the same thing and the batteries check good, so it appears not to be the HC or software. I don't have a block diagram or schematic of the HC and mount boards, so even though I am a electrical engineer and circuit designer, I can't really diagnose the root cause of this.  This luckily is not a big problem since I can reprogram the time and meridian offsets quickly and a 1 star alignment takes only about 5 minutes. It is more of a nuisance.

 

Does anyone have any ideas what is causing this or had a similar problem?



#2 germana1

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Posted 31 July 2021 - 07:08 PM

Check the battery inside the hand controller when the battery is flat it causes all sorts of issues like not remembering park position,time zone etc

hth Pete


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#3 DesertCrawler

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Posted 31 July 2021 - 07:29 PM

I agree that the battery replacement is a good place to start.

 

This happened to me on my CEM70G recently too. It was four hours into an imaging session when I realized the mount thought I was in China. A meridian flip failed which prompted more scrutiny. It is then it became clear both the time and GPS location were way off.  That last one is puzzling since one would think the GPS lock would provide both time and location with some level of accuracy and I know the GPS is working. The guiding and slews were weird that night as well which should have clued me in a little earlier. :) I had not paid any attention to what was staring me in the face. Live and (re) learn.

 

I had already encountered this on another mount earlier this year, a ZEQ25GT. A new HC battery resolved the issue. Hopefully that's all you're up against as well.



#4 MikeCrapo

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Posted 31 July 2021 - 08:43 PM

If it is not the hand control battery I would wonder about the gps unit. It may be faulty.



#5 Paul AZ

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Posted 31 July 2021 - 09:43 PM

I had placed an order for a CEM70 that Agena Astro had, then I realized I could not find any piers, or tripods and then also came across some negative reviews so I canceled just in time. Prior to ordering I saw the youtube video with the CEM60 being reviewed along with the iOptron rep and so I was impressed. At this point I am staying away from iOptron.

 

Then I was looking at Losmandy reviews and I see lots of stories about G11 mounts arriving with issues and then having to tweak them with the help of more YouTube videos. Does anyone ship a mount without issues anymore? I am venting right now.

 

I own an Atlas mount and have had no issues but, I am a little concerned about the payload I want to use which is at 27 pounds. So about 66% of the 40lb capacity. I may need to just wait until I am able to try out the combo once I get some clear skies. I have just been gathering some better quality components (e.g. Starizona reducer/coma corrector etc) and at some point would also like a mount that has larger payload capacity, without the headaches. confused1.gifmad.gifshocked.gifundecided.gif


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#6 Blackhawk163

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 11:23 AM

I had placed an order for a CEM70 that Agena Astro had, then I realized I could not find any piers, or tripods and then also came across some negative reviews so I canceled just in time. Prior to ordering I saw the youtube video with the CEM60 being reviewed along with the iOptron rep and so I was impressed. At this point I am staying away from iOptron.

Then I was looking at Losmandy reviews and I see lots of stories about G11 mounts arriving with issues and then having to tweak them with the help of more YouTube videos. Does anyone ship a mount without issues anymore? I am venting right now.

I own an Atlas mount and have had no issues but, I am a little concerned about the payload I want to use which is at 27 pounds. So about 66% of the 40lb capacity. I may need to just wait until I am able to try out the combo once I get some clear skies. I have just been gathering some better quality components (e.g. Starizona reducer/coma corrector etc) and at some point would also like a mount that has larger payload capacity, without the headaches. confused1.gifmad.gifshocked.gifundecided.gif

Paul, I would say you dodged a bullet. So far in my 45 days of having this mount (I have the non G model) I have had the ipolar slowly become neurotic, until finally dying. The power supply burning out. The HC being stuck on the ioptron splash screen for days, then all of a sudden working.

No real way, or at least undiscovered by me, to set slew limits, as the design in these mounts allow for the RA axis to slam into the mount base regardless of pier or not.

I am unhappy with the mount thus far. Seeing hasn't been exactly great, and so tracking had been OK. So I can't really comment on it.

I should have just waited for the eq8r or something similar, to come in stock.

Edit
Their support has been non existent too

Edited by Blackhawk163, 01 August 2021 - 11:24 AM.

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#7 Paul AZ

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 01:58 PM

Paul, I would say you dodged a bullet. So far in my 45 days of having this mount (I have the non G model) I have had the ipolar slowly become neurotic, until finally dying. The power supply burning out. The HC being stuck on the ioptron splash screen for days, then all of a sudden working.

No real way, or at least undiscovered by me, to set slew limits, as the design in these mounts allow for the RA axis to slam into the mount base regardless of pier or not.

I am unhappy with the mount thus far. Seeing hasn't been exactly great, and so tracking had been OK. So I can't really comment on it.

I should have just waited for the eq8r or something similar, to come in stock.

Edit
Their support has been non existent too

Well I am sorry to hear about your issues while thankful that I canceled the order. At moment I may stick with what I have and see how it goes once I get outside or maybe get that Rowan belt upgrade kit.



#8 p11321

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 02:48 PM

Thanks all for the comments.  Unfortunately as I said in my original post both "the batteries check good". So that's not it. And both HCs have this identical problem that occurs very infrequently....

I am especially grateful to Sputnik as he has had this weird problem also. So I am not alone. That hints that it may be a software design problem that occurs with low probability. But that is just a WAG on my part.

Anyone else had this issue?  Other than that I am very pleased with my mount so far including iPolar, iGuider and tracking so I guess I should count myself lucky.



#9 DuncanM

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 04:25 PM

Paul, I would say you dodged a bullet. So far in my 45 days of having this mount (I have the non G model) I have had the ipolar slowly become neurotic, until finally dying. The power supply burning out. The HC being stuck on the ioptron splash screen for days, then all of a sudden working.

No real way, or at least undiscovered by me, to set slew limits, as the design in these mounts allow for the RA axis to slam into the mount base regardless of pier or not.

I am unhappy with the mount thus far. Seeing hasn't been exactly great, and so tracking had been OK. So I can't really comment on it.

I should have just waited for the eq8r or something similar, to come in stock.

Edit
Their support has been non existent too

You set slew limits via the Commander Interface. I am away from my mount, so I can't give exact instructions.



#10 limeyx

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 06:22 PM

Paul, I would say you dodged a bullet. So far in my 45 days of having this mount (I have the non G model) I have had the ipolar slowly become neurotic, until finally dying. The power supply burning out. The HC being stuck on the ioptron splash screen for days, then all of a sudden working.

No real way, or at least undiscovered by me, to set slew limits, as the design in these mounts allow for the RA axis to slam into the mount base regardless of pier or not.

I am unhappy with the mount thus far. Seeing hasn't been exactly great, and so tracking had been OK. So I can't really comment on it.

I should have just waited for the eq8r or something similar, to come in stock.

Edit
Their support has been non existent too

Sorry to hear that, I thought you were happy with yours :(

 

I've only had one night so far with the CEM70 so it's too early to report on longevity issues etc

 

It does guide better than my G11 though, with very little tweaking and this is important to me so if it continues I will be happy

No significant issues so far except the limits setting not seeming as nice as Gemini and it wont track barely at all past meridian



#11 MikeCrapo

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 08:03 PM

Sorry to hear you are having so many problems with your CEM70. I have had my CEM70G since last November and have not had any issues at all. My guiding on it is amazing. Never have had a failed meridian flip. I use the ASIAir with it and it works perfectly every time. I count myself lucky to have gotten a good one.

Hope you have better luck with the eq8r when you get it,

 

Mike


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#12 Blackhawk163

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 09:02 PM

Sorry to hear that, I thought you were happy with yours frown.gif

 

I've only had one night so far with the CEM70 so it's too early to report on longevity issues etc

 

It does guide better than my G11 though, with very little tweaking and this is important to me so if it continues I will be happy

No significant issues so far except the limits setting not seeming as nice as Gemini and it wont track barely at all past meridian

Awesome! I am not as happy with it as I feel I have to work the mount vs it working for me. But like I said in my NINA thread, I think this is more self inflicted I belive, as I'm trying to power too much thought the mount than what it can handle. 

Sorry to hear you are having so many problems with your CEM70. I have had my CEM70G since last November and have not had any issues at all. My guiding on it is amazing. Never have had a failed meridian flip. I use the ASIAir with it and it works perfectly every time. I count myself lucky to have gotten a good one.

Hope you have better luck with the eq8r when you get it,

 

Mike

Oh no no, this mount and I are joined, a blood compact if you will lol. I seldom give up, and if this mount requires some re-engineering, I'm doing it.

 

Back to the OP

Have you checked the battery as suggested? Just incase the gremlin named Murphy comes my way, I'll Have this thread to fall back on as well as the 75 page one.


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#13 DesertCrawler

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 09:07 PM

I researched a long time before purchasing my CEM70G. I found by far more positive feedback than negative. Hopefully your issues are readily resolved. Mine is the latest incarnation (slightly different layout, updated boards) so not sure if that makes a difference.

 

Out of the box the mount required some mechanical adjustments that took a few seconds, nothing at all serious. iPolar works well. I have a tiny bit of DEC backlash which is so small I have not bothered to try and tune it away, and doesn't seem to present any issues guiding. Typical use is either a C9.25 with OAG or FLT132, and a RASA 11 in the wings. The iGuider is not great but works.

 

I am routinely seeing 0.30" to 0.60" guiding at F/10 when everything is set up properly. 0.40" is typical at the equator and just East of the meridian which should be close to worse case. This way better than I could hope to achieve for this class of mount. Other than time sync issue described above, which was a battery, my CEM70G has been very reliable and a real workhorse.

 

I think it is good to give the mount a high current dedicated power supply with lots of headroom so it does not compete for current with dew straps and TECs that may be plugged in to the mount. Voltage sag due to other power demands can cause strange behavior.



#14 Paul AZ

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Posted 01 August 2021 - 09:40 PM

I researched a long time before purchasing my CEM70G. I found by far more positive feedback than negative. Hopefully your issues are readily resolved. Mine is the latest incarnation (slightly different layout, updated boards) so not sure if that makes a difference.

 

Out of the box the mount required some mechanical adjustments that took a few seconds, nothing at all serious. iPolar works well. I have a tiny bit of DEC backlash which is so small I have not bothered to try and tune it away, and doesn't seem to present any issues guiding. Typical use is either a C9.25 with OAG or FLT132, and a RASA 11 in the wings. The iGuider is not great but works.

 

I am routinely seeing 0.30" to 0.60" guiding at F/10 when everything is set up properly. 0.40" is typical at the equator and just East of the meridian which should be close to worse case. This way better than I could hope to achieve for this class of mount. Other than time sync issue described above, which was a battery, my CEM70G has been very reliable and a real workhorse.

 

I think it is good to give the mount a high current dedicated power supply with lots of headroom so it does not compete for current with dew straps and TECs that may be plugged in to the mount. Voltage sag due to other power demands can cause strange behavior.

Does the CEM70 really hold 70 lbs for astrophotography or is it a mount that you should only load up to 50%? Looks like will be getting a new mount after all if I can find one. I almost ordered a CEM70 but canceled and now not sure what to do. I also thought about the Losmandy GM811G. Same price and it comes with a tripod and they say the load they publish is for astrophotograhy. Similar to the CGX.



#15 DesertCrawler

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Posted 02 August 2021 - 03:30 PM

Does the CEM70 really hold 70 lbs for astrophotography or is it a mount that you should only load up to 50%? Looks like will be getting a new mount after all if I can find one. I almost ordered a CEM70 but canceled and now not sure what to do. I also thought about the Losmandy GM811G. Same price and it comes with a tripod and they say the load they publish is for astrophotograhy. Similar to the CGX.

Frankly, I do not know for certain. Perhaps someone here has tried to image at max payload.

 

I suspect the load capacities published by iOptron are not imaging load, but I have not tested that. I suspect 50lbs would be feasible though. I asked this very question of iOptron and was told 50-60% of rated load or maybe more would be a very reasonable expectation for imaging. It likely depends on focal length and other factors. I have up to 40+ lbs on it now with great results and believe it will take more. Good balance is key. My best guiding sessions are when everything is properly balanced.

 

Not the same class of mount of course, but I maxed out my ZEQ25GT in earlier days with an F/10 SCT. While it worked, it was very much hit and miss and very sensitive to balance. It is not the mount's fault. It works fine with a reasonable payload.

 

What size of 'scope are you considering?



#16 rgsalinger

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Posted 02 August 2021 - 05:28 PM

FWIW, You have two limits that can be set using the Commander Software. First, you have a meridian limit setting where you can have the mount stop or flip. Second, there is an altitude limit. Those should be all you need (?). Most imaging software, but not pure planetariums per se, also comes with the ability to set limits. 

 

I have the CEM120EC2 and the only times that the mount has ever contacted my pier were my errors. On two occasions I moved the mount while it was turned off and did not home it before slewing it. One one occasion, I forgot to wait until the GPS achieved a lock and slewed the mount. That's after 3.4 years of using it actively at a remote observatory.

 

So, I'm baffled as to why anyone's mount is hitting the pier. It's pretty much always been the case that you need to experiment with the meridian stop position because you may have equipment that cannot image all the way to the meridian. 

 

I would also suggest that if the HC keeps losing time and it's not the battery, just wait until the GPS says OK. At that point you can check the date/time and it should be right. That has never failed me either (but use the mount driver and not the HC). 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#17 Paul AZ

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Posted 02 August 2021 - 11:47 PM

Frankly, I do not know for certain. Perhaps someone here has tried to image at max payload.

 

I suspect the load capacities published by iOptron are not imaging load, but I have not tested that. I suspect 50lbs would be feasible though. I asked this very question of iOptron and was told 50-60% of rated load or maybe more would be a very reasonable expectation for imaging. It likely depends on focal length and other factors. I have up to 40+ lbs on it now with great results and believe it will take more. Good balance is key. My best guiding sessions are when everything is properly balanced.

 

Not the same class of mount of course, but I maxed out my ZEQ25GT in earlier days with an F/10 SCT. While it worked, it was very much hit and miss and very sensitive to balance. It is not the mount's fault. It works fine with a reasonable payload.

 

What size of 'scope are you considering?

I have a c9.25 and with the camera and other items I am at about 29 lbs. After much tossing and turning  crazyeyes.gif I ordered a CGX and should arrive Thursday. We’ll see how it does. I’ll be sure to carefully check unguided tracking etc.



#18 Blackhawk163

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Posted 03 August 2021 - 05:58 AM

I have a c9.25 and with the camera and other items I am at about 29 lbs. After much tossing and turning crazyeyes.gif I ordered a CGX and should arrive Thursday. We’ll see how it does. I’ll be sure to carefully check unguided tracking etc.


Ah good luck! I have a c925hd with a variable setup as well, between the hyperstar to .07x reducer (using the COAG when at f/6 or f/10)

Last night I was able to use everything on my cem70 setup after a few modifications to my power setup, a 160w 15a dc power supply seems to have done the trick. Along with the fact that the unpowered usb port on my mount is in fact powered by the PC, as it's a pass through, I plugged in a USB 3 hub to it and it powered my cameras with it just fine.

Despite all this, I could only manage about a 1.5 rms all night. I first thought that I was suffering from that time sync issue as well, but then I remembered that I had unplugged the scope, and since I don't use the HC at all of course it wouldn't keep time when unplugged.
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#19 DesertCrawler

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 03:30 PM

No guide logs, but here's a link to a cell phone photo of the laptop screen taken late into a recent session. Most nights I see guiding clustering around 0.30" RMS (arcsecs, not pixels) total. Some nights are worse, likely when I have not done my part. Pretty sure everything is configured correctly. I have checked and rechecked as I did not expect (and at first questioned) these results from this class of mount. I would accept ~0.70" (or anything less than 1" really) so half of that is amazing to me.

 

I had to do a couple of things when I received my CEM70G to get good tracking. Here's the current typical setup:

  • C9.25XLT or EdgeHD 9.25 at F/10 (I do not use a reducer), plate solving reports 2227mm focal length, sometimes FLT132 / Guidetstar 61 / OSC of some sort
  • Celestron OAG / ZWO ASI174MM
  • ZWO 2" 7 position filter wheel fully populated
  • ZWO ASI 1600MM Pro
  • Pegasus Astro UPB
  • dew straps around the corrector plate and the filter wheel
  • sometimes a dew shield
  • CEM70G (latest version) on an iOptron Tri-Pier, set up on the lawn each night (less than ideal)
  • PHD2 usually set for multi-star guiding, usually 1.5 sec exposure, and rarely do I set the focus of the guide camera (FWHM ranges from <3" to >7"); also, usually calibrate (every session due to temporary setup) just East of the meridian at DEC=0 but not always
  • iPolar for PA
  • dithering frequently depending on sub length, NINA for acquisition
  • 5A PSU dedicated to the mount, everything else runs through a separate 10A supply

I think payload is over 30 lbs as configured above but haven't weighed it recently. The FLT132 which also rides on this mount loaded up with stuff is >40 lbs as I recall. I need to validate those numbers so please consider them SWAGs for now.

 

This may be a bit difficult to describe. The head of the mount where it connects to the base allows it to pivot in a dovetail interface. My mount had an almost imperceptible amount of play that got a little worse after a few nights, and became very obvious when the mount was loaded up with payload and counterweights. While it was small, there should be effectively zero play, of course. Guiding was widely variable, and error prone, over the course of an hour.

 

There are a couple of set screws that control the amount of play in the dovetail. I adjusted those until there was no detectable play by feel without totally locking down the dovetail. I verified this with the mount fully loaded then lifting on the c/w extension bar to feel for movement. Not scientific. When I get the mount on a permanent pier I will readjust perhaps with with a dial indicator. I set up and tear down every night, so it doesn't seem worth it just yet, especially given the results I am enjoying. I try to remember to check the c/w shaft and c/w knobs every night. Heat cycling (presumably, maybe vibrations too) causes them to loosen which can result in guiding issues. Finally, the to plate of the Tri-Pier was not 100% secure. This took a while to find and was remedied by tightening those fasteners. I suspect this may be a failure point in the future, but is not the mount's fault.

 

The RA axis on my mount seems pretty decent with PHD2 reporting near-zero backlash. PHD2 reports that DEC has more although I cannot detect it by feel. One of these days I'll fiddle with the worm gear engagement to see if I can reduce it. Even this DEC backlash is low based on what I see reported by other's mounts, but it is the source of deviations. PHD2 seems to be able to handle it.

 

 

Unguided subs of 5 mins are possible at F/10 but I rely on guiding anyway. Deformed stars appear now and then in 5 min subs depending upon how well I set up the mount. I have never seen issues in a 4 min unguided sub. Long unguided subs are super easy with the shorter FL refractors. I just typically guide because I feel I should and it (usually) covers up any lack of care I took during setup. Once in a more permanent set up, I'll take the time to get everything as close to perfect as possible.

 

I considered the CEM70G a gateway to something better later on from the usual suspects (AP, 10micron, Paramount). Had the premium mounts been available at the time I would not have purchased the iOptron. Now, I am not so sure I need to upgrade. I may do that if/when the CEM70 wears out, but even then, it's a question.

 

One irritating issue I am fighting is intermittent disconnects for devices plugged into the CEM70G USB hub. While rare, it happens enough that long imaging sessions have been ruined since it goes unreported by NINA (clearly at least) to the user. The errors are in the logs. I can address that by manually setting the abort on error for each command (tedious). There's no obvious way to my knowledge to send an alert to inform of this though. Maybe a log file watchdog. Issues are filter wheel not changing causing NINA to go into an infinite loop of error reporting, or focuser doing the same thing, or focuser not responding causing NINA to give up proceed to image with previous focuser position (and likely poor focus). Likely a h/w issue exacerbated by s/w design choices. NINA generally works great when the hardware behaves.

 

This is another topic and I have not sorted out the details yet so I'll stop there. Too many words up there already.

 

 

I hope something in these ramblings is helpful to someone.



#20 rgsalinger

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 03:57 PM

If you're getting disconnects then you need to see if you can shorten your cables and/or make sure that anything attached to the ports on the mount has adequate USB power. Those are the usual reasons for occasional disconnects. I had this with my QHY600 using the USB 3 port on my CEM120 (for example). I gave up and use a USB 2 cable and I've had maybe one disconnect in over a year. 

 

I don't really understand the time synch issue that's being reported. The way to use these mounts is to either push the time from the controlling computer into the driver or let the system pick up the time from the GPS. If you have an internet connection then any Windows computer will pick up the time that way. I would expect that the ASI Air has the same ability. Maybe it just doesn't. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#21 DesertCrawler

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 05:34 PM

Understood. This is why the USB 3.0 cable to the mount is 3' and a high quality shielded part. It also is known to work with a 6' cable but I don't use that since the imaging computer sits at the mount. There are never dropped mount commands and imaging camera traffic passes through that cable without dropped frames. All other cables are minimum length required ranging from 6" to 18" and of high quality, RF shielded and with chokes.

 

Pretty certain power is not the issue as the mount gets ample as does the UPB. The only devices that draw USB power from the iOptron hub are the FW (USB 2 and < 100 mA)and the guide camera (USB 3 < 150 mA), well under the current specification for USB 3 of 150mA per port. There's 15A on tap and 12.3V delivered when dew heaters and camera TEC are on full bore. An inline volt-ammeter bears that out. The UPB provides the rest of the power directly to imaging camera and focuser. All power profile settings in Windows that otherwise allow devices to sleep or hibernate are disabled at the driver level.

 

Pretty certain it is the implementation of the iOptron HUB or a mechanically flakey port, or a very intermittent cable that favors failure when plugged into the mount (as opposed to other USB hub). Using the same cables and power supply without using the mount HUB, no issues seen to date, so if it is a flakey cable, haven't seen that yet at least.

 

I'll dig out the USB trace and monitor tools one of these nights and hopefully be able to capture a failure.



#22 Blackhawk163

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 05:42 PM

I think your random disconnects are due to power as well.

What I did was upgrade the psu to a 160w 15a ac/dc. Then (I have the non G version) I bought a usb3 charging capable 4 port hub and attached that to the non powered usb port on my mount, as I discovered for myself, that one acts as a pass through to the pc which I then plug into my pc's usb 3 slot from the ra port of the ipolar.

If anyone read my thread about NINA and this mount, they'd know that I had struggled mightily with random disconnects.

Now if I can get guiding down to past 1.0 consistently, I might start to not regret this purchase.

Quick question about NINA and the coordinates message I get., there's a mismatch between the pc and the mount, I usually push the values from the mount to NINA as opposed to letting NINA use its values. Is that correct?

#23 DesertCrawler

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 07:05 PM

I will try giving the mount 10A itself, just haven't done that because the data from the power monitor does not support expecting a different outcome. The mount never draws more than 3A and voltage is stable. Max current draw for the PBB is 4.3 at full tilt. That's a lot of overhead in each case.

 

Will report back if a stiffer power supply resolves the issue. If that doesn't work, I'll also try a single high current power supply to eliminate the possibility of ground loops due to differing ground potential.

 

I have total of 15A powering everything, 5A to the mount proper, 10A to everything else. The devices that disconnect from the CEM70G hub, or won't connect properly at all, are low power USB 2.0 devices. USB 3.0 devices, which are the two cameras, do not disconnect. This would not be the first time a manufacturer did not implement USB 3.0 backwards compatibility properly, or USB 2.0 for that matter. Speculation at this point, of course, and not ruling out power.



#24 MikeCrapo

MikeCrapo

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 07:16 PM

Check your internal wires for cracks or torn plastic shielding. You could be getting a short when something move in just the right place.

I bought a new GEM45 to go along with my CEM70G and found I had 3 wires from the factory that where sliced. One was only hanging on by a single thread of wire. This is what was causing my issues. I replaced the wires and all was good.

 

Mike



#25 HeyJP

HeyJP

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Posted 07 August 2021 - 08:18 PM

Regarding Astro photo setup weight, I have a Celestron 11” EdgeHD SCT on my CEM70. With OAG and gear, I check in at about 40-45 lbs. No issues with managing and running it all.

Jim
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