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#1 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 07:29 AM

Hi CN,

 

Since I started AP about 4 years ago, I have been using a Celestron AVX mount.

 

I have enjoyed using the AVX since it is light weight and very easy to use.

 

The mount hasn’t been perfect, but it has performed well enough for my needs.

 

Recently, I have set up my Sharpstar 61 and the guiding has gone south. On DEC reversals and dithers, the DEC recovery is very poor. PHD has to send 30-50 correction pulses sometimes to get DEC back on track. Luckily, the image scale of 2.8 with the Sharpsta 61/ASI533 combo has been very forgiving.

 

I attempted to disassemble the DEC axis and the outcome was not good. I have decided it was time for a new mount.

 

I do not plan to try to work things out with the AVX. I am ready for a change.

 

With the very helpful nod of my CFO, I am in the market for a nice, reliable economical mount to use with my Explore Scientific ED102 (about 14-15 lbs with guider, camera, and FF/FR) and Sharpstar 61 (about 7 lbs ready to image).

 

Of course, with long lead times in some cases, I have found some mounts are available.

 

I am looking at two right now. The Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro and the Ioptron GEM28.

 

I have not heard anything bad about either mounts (contrary to the AVX). The price range of $1250-$1300 is good for me. At 66, I really don't want to drag a heavier mount outside if a mount like the Skywatcher or Ioptron will get the job done reasonably.

 

I am not looking for perfection, just good reliability and consistent performance. Some periodic error is acceptable and sounds much better than random high frequency spikes in RA as I was used to with the AVX

 

Does anyone here have any experience with either mounts?

 

Thanks a bunch for any comments/advice you can give me!



#2 DJL

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 08:25 AM

I have an HEQ5. It has been reliable despite some RA sawtooth which has not really impacted image quality. It does not have the Rowan belt mod. At the time of purchase I did not know that they could be purchased already belt-modded and would probably have investigated that if I had known.

 

I chose the HEQ5 over its big brother the EQR-6 because the latter is notoriously heavy. I was able to take the HEQ5 fully rigged outside to a deck with a step of a couple of inches indoors and 4-6" outdoors. This got sketchy when I had both counterweights fitted. I also got dolly casters for it and was able to roll it to position once I got over the step. I was thinking about making or buying a ramp for this step when I found a better viewing spot in the drive, accessible from the garage. However there are a couple of tiny steps out of the garage which still caused issues for the dolly casters.

 

The next upgrade was the JMI wheely bars - I got the pneumatic tyre offroad version and now I can keep the HEQ5 fully rigged and roll it out of the garage to my viewing locations. 

 

And this is where I conclude that an EQR-6 would be a non-issue for me because my mount stays on the wheely bars permanently.

 

I had been interested in the iOptron CEM models, which were unavailable, but I have read that they should not be moved with the scope mounted, and there are various rules about locking and unlocking the clutches during moves which are a non-issue for the HEQ5.

 

Hope this helps and good luck with your choice.


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#3 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 09:00 AM

Thanks a bunch DJL for responding!

 

I just finished reading a thread on CN about the Ioptron GEM28 and it sounds like a fine mount. It has a couple of quirks though. Yes, as you mentioned, the rules about locking and unlocking the clutches.

 

The HEQ5 Pro sounds tried and true.  Lots of positive comments I have found both on CN and other forums. Not interested at all in a heavy mount. 

 

I plan to pull the trigger soon as there are some targets coming up soon that I want to image. Maybe some more folks will respond and share their experience with either the HEQ5 or GEM28 to help in my decision.

 

I really appreciate your comments!



#4 JCDAstro

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 10:50 AM

I have the AZ/EQ-5, slightly more complicated than the HEQ-5, but I chose it since it has a direct USB port for computer control, no need for a silly specialty cable. I do not know if the newer HEQ5 still has this limitation or not, but it is worth looking into if you are the type that automates everything and doesn't use a hand controller.
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#5 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 02:29 PM

I have the AZ/EQ-5, slightly more complicated than the HEQ-5, but I chose it since it has a direct USB port for computer control, no need for a silly specialty cable. I do not know if the newer HEQ5 still has this limitation or not, but it is worth looking into if you are the type that automates everything and doesn't use a hand controller.

Thanks for that info. From what I gather, the HEQ5 does need a specialty cable (about $50) to connect directly to a pc without the HC. Yeah, a negative as I do automate and have no need for the HC. Thanks for that!



#6 T~Stew

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 02:51 PM

Thanks for that info. From what I gather, the HEQ5 does need a specialty cable (about $50) to connect directly to a pc without the HC. Yeah, a negative as I do automate and have no need for the HC. Thanks for that!

I bought the cable on amazon for $16... and its very common


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#7 chili555

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 02:51 PM

I have and recommend the HEQ5 Pro. The specialty cable in question cost me $26 at Amazon and works perfectly.

 

I chose the HEQ5 for the same reasons you are considering: its weight makes setup and teardown easier for a gentleman of years. (Hint: I faintly remember being only 66!)


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#8 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 03:02 PM

I bought the cable on amazon for $16... and its very common

Great. Thanks!

 

 

I have and recommend the HEQ5 Pro. The specialty cable in question cost me $26 at Amazon and works perfectly.

 

I chose the HEQ5 for the same reasons you are considering: its weight makes setup and teardown easier for a gentleman of years. (Hint: I faintly remember being only 66!)

Good for you!!! Makes me feel younger!!!

 

The recommendation is much appreciated



#9 acrh2

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 03:39 PM

If you get the Ioptron, you will be stuck with EQMOD. If you get the Skywatcher, you can also use GSS.

Skywatcher also has an optional wifi dongle ($70), so you don't need a cable. But beware that the WIFI connection can be unstable if your mount is too far away from the wifi router ( or the computer, if connected directly to the mount's wifi.) That won't affect the guiding so much, so it would still work for a single target. But it will disconnect the mount from NINA, which will stop it from slewing and recentering until you hit the reconnect button manually.

 

On the other hand, the Skywatcher is a lot heavier than Ioptron. Maybe twice or more. 

 

I have Sirius EQ-G, which is basically the Skywatcher+illuminated polar scope, and it's great. Out of the box, the dec backlash was pretty bad, around 6000ms. But because you can easily compensate for it in PHD2, I have been reluctant to open the mount and adjust it. My guiding is 0.5-0.6 arcsec RMS total error, and it gets into 0.4 routinely for some sessions.


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#10 terry59

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 03:56 PM

102mm is pushing at the boundaries of being overwhelmed by the moment arm. You may or may not be happy

 

penny.gif penny.gif


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#11 Professor2112

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 04:29 PM

If weight is a concern, iOptron mounts are some of the lightest for their payload capacity.  I chose the CEM70 because it’s almost 15lbs lighter than the eq6-r pro, but has almost 25lbs more payload capacity.  Not to mention all the bells and whistles such as ipolar, a nice USB hub, gps…  I’m glad I waited and got the iOptron.  At the 910mm I image at, using an OAG has produced reliable, solid tracking.  The last 2 sessions the seeing was great, and I was averaging 0.30 arc seconds total rms or slightly lower consistently all night.  My buddy that has a premium mount(Paramount MX) says my guiding has been just as good as his.  It’s definitely a purchase I don’t regret, but as a serious imager, I know I’ll need to upgrade to a premium mount sooner or later regardless.  But the CEM70 has surpassed my expectations so far.  I imagine other iOptron mounts would handle their rated payloads very well with the proper guiding setup. 


Edited by Professor2112, 16 October 2021 - 04:30 PM.

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#12 Oort Cloud

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 04:36 PM

I say get the EQ6-r Pro and a telegizmos 365 cover. Much easier than moving an HEQ5 around.
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#13 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 04:48 PM

I know you're done with the AVX, and I was too.  Several times.  I still have the mount.

 

The key for Dec is balance, a good polar alignment, and mounting everything as low and compact as possible.  The bearings are so stiff that it's hard to know just where the right balance is.  I've had sessions where Dec seems to get stuck off-center for a while, with PHD2 pounding on it to move back.  Shift the OTA just a little (like, 1/8"), and all is good.  Once you find the spot, mark it with tape so you can get back to it in the future.

 

My problem is actually in RA, where there's an 11 second PE component that the guider has to fight.  PHD2 does a heroic job here, keeping it down to about 1.5" on a typical night.  With a binned pixel scale of 1.7", I am just below that. 

 

What will probably push me to upgrade is the desire to add a 0.7x reducer/flattener.  That's 3 lbs of metal and glass that will be positioned at the end of the imaging train.  Besides pushing the weight up, I fear it will kill the guiding.  But upgrading the mount will involve a complete (from the ground up through the software) rebuild of the imaging rig.  Not sure I'm ready for that yet.

 

Since I have it handy, here's a screen shot of last night's imaging...  Note the infrequent Dec corrections.  This is with 26 lbs of 910mm focal length refractor on top, at the sweet spot of balance.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Guiding 2021-10-15.jpg

Edited by TelescopeGreg, 16 October 2021 - 04:49 PM.

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#14 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:20 PM

102mm is pushing at the boundaries of being overwhelmed by the moment arm. You may or may not be happy

 

penny.gif penny.gif

Sorry for the question, but what is the moment arm??? Which mount are you referring to?



#15 fewayne

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:36 PM

If you get the Ioptron, you will be stuck with EQMOD. If you get the Skywatcher, you can also use GSS.

 

How so? I've used ASCOM and INDI both with iOptron mounts. Yes, you need a USB-to-RS232 cable to plug into the hand controller, but so what?

Likewise iOptron also offer a WiFi dongle for their mounts.


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#16 Phishin_phool

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:41 PM

Moment arm refers to the length of the counterweight placement. The further away from the mount head the greater the moment arm. The inertia is less when you keep it close.


Edited by Phishin_phool, 17 October 2021 - 04:18 PM.

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#17 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:45 PM

I know you're done with the AVX, and I was too.  Several times.  I still have the mount.

 

The key for Dec is balance, a good polar alignment, and mounting everything as low and compact as possible.  The bearings are so stiff that it's hard to know just where the right balance is.  I've had sessions where Dec seems to get stuck off-center for a while, with PHD2 pounding on it to move back.  Shift the OTA just a little (like, 1/8"), and all is good.  Once you find the spot, mark it with tape so you can get back to it in the future.

 

My problem is actually in RA, where there's an 11 second PE component that the guider has to fight.  PHD2 does a heroic job here, keeping it down to about 1.5" on a typical night.  With a binned pixel scale of 1.7", I am just below that. 

 

What will probably push me to upgrade is the desire to add a 0.7x reducer/flattener.  That's 3 lbs of metal and glass that will be positioned at the end of the imaging train.  Besides pushing the weight up, I fear it will kill the guiding.  But upgrading the mount will involve a complete (from the ground up through the software) rebuild of the imaging rig.  Not sure I'm ready for that yet.

 

Since I have it handy, here's a screen shot of last night's imaging...  Note the infrequent Dec corrections.  This is with 26 lbs of 910mm focal length refractor on top, at the sweet spot of balance.

I absolutely know the 11 second PE! I think that all AVX's have that. It think that it is coming from the gearbox underneath the motor cover or the pinion. 

 

Yeah, I am over it. I have been dealing with its idiosyncrasies for the past few years, but 30-50 DEC corrections after a dither, really? I really don't want to babysit the mount anymore. Plus, if I wait until the mount recovers after a DEC reversal or dither, I will not get any imaging done!

 

Looking forward to a mount that doesn't have to be "tended" to as much.

 

All said though, the AVX has taken me quite a ways and I really enjoyed using it. If it didn't take a big turn for the worse recently, I would keep using it and fiddling. I will, however, keep it for visual where it shines!

 

 Thanks Greg!



#18 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:50 PM

How so? I've used ASCOM and INDI both with iOptron mounts. Yes, you need a USB-to-RS232 cable to plug into the hand controller, but so what?

Likewise iOptron also offer a WiFi dongle for their mounts.

That is not an issue for me really. I am used to plugging into the HC and really don't mind it.

 

I believe that the Ioptron GEM28 has built in wifi.

 

Moment arm refers to th elength of the counterweight placement the further away from the mount head the greater the moment arm. the inertia is less when you keep it close.

Got it, thanks. I thought that was it but wanted to clarify. Can't I purchase a second counterweight? The HEQ5 comes with two 11 lb counterweights, so it shouldn't be an issue with that mount.



#19 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 05:55 PM

Moment arm refers to th elength of the counterweight placement the further away from the mount head the greater the moment arm. the inertia is less when you keep it close.

More importantly, the moment arm (rotational inertia) goes by the mass times the distance squared.  Autoguiding is a matter of fighting inertia.  The OTA isn't moving where is should, and needs to be corrected.  That squaring of the distance is why putting 2x the counterweight at half the distance balances the same, but you'll get better guiding because the inertia is cut in half.  It's a big deal.

 

In practical terms, don't put your finder scope or guide scope at the ends of the OTA, put it in the middle over the rotation axis.  That minimizes the impact to Dec.  Also keep things low (do not put the guide scope up on stilts), to minimize impact to RA.  Small changes in these details make a big difference, because of that squaring of distance.


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#20 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 06:14 PM

I absolutely know the 11 second PE! I think that all AVX's have that. It think that it is coming from the gearbox underneath the motor cover or the pinion. 

 

Yeah, I am over it. I have been dealing with its idiosyncrasies for the past few years, but 30-50 DEC corrections after a dither, really? I really don't want to babysit the mount anymore. Plus, if I wait until the mount recovers after a DEC reversal or dither, I will not get any imaging done!

 

Looking forward to a mount that doesn't have to be "tended" to as much.

 

All said though, the AVX has taken me quite a ways and I really enjoyed using it. If it didn't take a big turn for the worse recently, I would keep using it and fiddling. I will, however, keep it for visual where it shines!

 

 Thanks Greg!

Yes, it's the pinion gear on the RA motor.  Some are worse than others, so yours may be in that worse category.  What sort of guiding do you get on RA?

 

As for Dithering settle time, it is a problem, but again if your balance is off any sort of disturbance is going to take time to correct.  Fix the balance, and I bet it will fix your dithering.  I don't dither, btw, other than the inherent re-aiming offset when I move off target to re-focus every half hour or so, and from night to night.  That's been sufficient to minimize any FPN in the images, at least for my scope and camera.

 

You're absolutely "free" to replace your AVX with another mount, but "free" isn't free.  One can throw money at a problem, or really understand what is happening and solve it that way.  I've been rescued from pursuing that cost several times now by finding a change to my setup that has resolved whatever issue was driving me to a new mount.  Net $$ cost was zero, and I learned something in the process.

 

To be fair, I have done what you're doing.  I'd had enough of my Celestron 8" f/5 Newtonian, and replaced it with the Stellarvue refractor.  It was a pre-Christmas impulse buy from the Stellarvue CPO site, which consumed (and more) the budget for the new mount.  Surprising thing, besides the fantastic stars, no collimation, and butter-smooth focuser, the refractor also fixed my prior guiding problems because of that inertia thing (it's lower in profile, and the weight is more centralized when balanced).  My AVX taught me a bit about physics, and a reminder about patience and how one learns.
 



#21 acrh2

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 06:20 PM

How so? I've used ASCOM and INDI both with iOptron mounts. Yes, you need a USB-to-RS232 cable to plug into the hand controller, but so what?

Likewise iOptron also offer a WiFi dongle for their mounts.

I'm not sure what you mean by using ascom and indi. Those are mount drivers for PC and Linux, correct?

But if he wanted to do auto guiding, he would have to use software that actually drives the mount. I'm only aware of 3 on PC - Eqmod, GSS, and Synscan Pro app.

 

Eqmod is universally used. GSS is an open source app for Synscan mounts only. And the Synscan Pro app is, well for Synscan, official from Skywatcher.

 

If Ioptron has their own app that can communicate with PHD2, that's great. 

 

I imagine that their wifi dongle might have a similar app like Skywatcher 



#22 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 08:04 PM

Yes, it's the pinion gear on the RA motor.  Some are worse than others, so yours may be in that worse category.  What sort of guiding do you get on RA?

 

As for Dithering settle time, it is a problem, but again if your balance is off any sort of disturbance is going to take time to correct.  Fix the balance, and I bet it will fix your dithering.  I don't dither, btw, other than the inherent re-aiming offset when I move off target to re-focus every half hour or so, and from night to night.  That's been sufficient to minimize any FPN in the images, at least for my scope and camera.

 

You're absolutely "free" to replace your AVX with another mount, but "free" isn't free.  One can throw money at a problem, or really understand what is happening and solve it that way.  I've been rescued from pursuing that cost several times now by finding a change to my setup that has resolved whatever issue was driving me to a new mount.  Net $$ cost was zero, and I learned something in the process.

 

To be fair, I have done what you're doing.  I'd had enough of my Celestron 8" f/5 Newtonian, and replaced it with the Stellarvue refractor.  It was a pre-Christmas impulse buy from the Stellarvue CPO site, which consumed (and more) the budget for the new mount.  Surprising thing, besides the fantastic stars, no collimation, and butter-smooth focuser, the refractor also fixed my prior guiding problems because of that inertia thing (it's lower in profile, and the weight is more centralized when balanced).  My AVX taught me a bit about physics, and a reminder about patience and how one learns.
 

There is no "fixing" the balance. It is as close as the mount will allow. You don't dither, really?

 

As for the inertia thing. I got much better guiding when using the AVX/ED102 with the counterweight at the bottom than I do with a scope of half the weight with the counterweight a couple of inches from the top. I understand the principle, but just my experience.

 

I am not just throwing money at a problem. Well, maybe I am. Bottom line is that I am over fighting issues with the AVX that I shouldn't need to fight. I am glad that the mount works well for you. I am moving on.



#23 Juno18

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 08:08 PM

Yes, it's the pinion gear on the RA motor.  Some are worse than others, so yours may be in that worse category.  What sort of guiding do you get on RA?

 

As for Dithering settle time, it is a problem, but again if your balance is off any sort of disturbance is going to take time to correct.  Fix the balance, and I bet it will fix your dithering.  I don't dither, btw, other than the inherent re-aiming offset when I move off target to re-focus every half hour or so, and from night to night.  That's been sufficient to minimize any FPN in the images, at least for my scope and camera.

 

You're absolutely "free" to replace your AVX with another mount, but "free" isn't free.  One can throw money at a problem, or really understand what is happening and solve it that way.  I've been rescued from pursuing that cost several times now by finding a change to my setup that has resolved whatever issue was driving me to a new mount.  Net $$ cost was zero, and I learned something in the process.

 

To be fair, I have done what you're doing.  I'd had enough of my Celestron 8" f/5 Newtonian, and replaced it with the Stellarvue refractor.  It was a pre-Christmas impulse buy from the Stellarvue CPO site, which consumed (and more) the budget for the new mount.  Surprising thing, besides the fantastic stars, no collimation, and butter-smooth focuser, the refractor also fixed my prior guiding problems because of that inertia thing (it's lower in profile, and the weight is more centralized when balanced).  My AVX taught me a bit about physics, and a reminder about patience and how one learns.
 

The system was as balanced as the mount would allow. You don't dither? Really?

 

AS far as the counterweight placement. Makes sense. However, I got much better guiding when using the AVX/ED102 with the counterweight at the bottom of the rod. With a scope less than 1/2 the weight and the counterweight at the top, my guiding is 2-3x worse. 

 

I am not throwing money at the problem. I am over fighting issues with the mount and I am moving on. I am glad that the AVX is working well for you.



#24 ayadai

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 08:43 PM

It looks as if the OP is well on their way to getting an HEQ5. Given the statement, "I attempted to disassemble the DEC axis and the outcome was not good" I think that this is the best option for them.

 

In the FWIW department and for those wanting to delve deeper into the mechanics of the AVX, one major issue is the RA bearing; they used a thrust bearing where a tapered roller bearing is required. I don't have the PHD data yet (rainy season came on before I could compile it), but I saw a profound improvement in guiding accuracy in the limited sessions I had after replacing the RA bearing in my AVX mount with the 32007 Nachi.


Edited by ayadai, 16 October 2021 - 08:44 PM.


#25 TelescopeGreg

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 12:51 AM

The system was as balanced as the mount would allow. You don't dither? Really?

 

AS far as the counterweight placement. Makes sense. However, I got much better guiding when using the AVX/ED102 with the counterweight at the bottom of the rod. With a scope less than 1/2 the weight and the counterweight at the top, my guiding is 2-3x worse. 

 

I am not throwing money at the problem. I am over fighting issues with the mount and I am moving on. I am glad that the AVX is working well for you.

Some AVX mounts are just bad; lots of variability have been reported.  If it's as squirrely as you describe, you probably have one of the bad ones, in which case you're probably right to move on.

 

Best of luck!




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