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Three Simple iOptron Improvements

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#1 Michael Covington

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 05:09 AM

In what follows I want to tell you about three things I've done to improve my early-model iOptron GEM45 mount. With a bit of adapting, you can apply the same ideas to many other mounts, both iOptron and other brands.

Click here to view the article
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#2 GoldSpider

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 07:05 AM

Love the DIY saddle bolts.  The star knobs on my ZEQ25 are plastic and smooth; possibly the worst in the hobby.


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#3 GaryShaw

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 07:41 AM

I was going for that true ‘lab look’ and went with blue painters tape and a Sharpie…

; -) 


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#4 Michael Covington

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 08:39 AM

I was going for that true ‘lab look’ and went with blue painters tape and a Sharpie…

; -) 

White artist's tape (removable, opaque) and a black fine-point Sharpie are one of my standard labeling methods.  Very easy to read by dim flashlight.  The tape can be cut to any size... the Sharpie has no problem with schematic symbols or Greek letters...


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#5 ColdyNitesNC

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 02:02 PM

Your index marks look more professional than the pencil on masking tape marks I currently use on my ieq45.


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#6 steveincolo

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 06:40 PM

Here’s one:  I replaced the metal washers on the bolts that hold the mount to the tripod with nylon washers, after someone’s suggestion here.  I can tighten down the mount and still make azimuth adjustments. 


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#7 lurking_grue

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Posted 02 May 2022 - 10:08 AM

I have a GEM45 that's 'bone stock', if you will.  I agree the saddle knobs aren't my favorite and now I use a big hex key 100% of the time I put equipment on the rig.  I've actually had it cost me about $500 already in damaged gear that fell.

 

In the end it's really picky about how it's handled - and then really hard to handle when doing so correctly.... 

 

Thanks for the great tips, though!


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#8 Michael Covington

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Posted 02 May 2022 - 11:27 AM

I actually put a label on the front of mine that says:

DELICATE MECHANISM

iOptron GEM45 equatorial mount
PLEASE DO NOT HANDLE OR MOVE
WITHOUT KNOWLEDGEABLE ASSISTANCE

 

This is in case I have to leave it set up while attending to an emergency, or am sick or injured while observing, or someone comes upon it while I'm away from it.   My family has been instructed that if for any reason I am not able to take it down myself, they should disconnect all sources of electricity, throw a waterproof cover over it, and get a knowledgeable person to come help.
 


Edited by Michael Covington, 02 May 2022 - 11:31 AM.

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#9 jlinsobe

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Posted 02 May 2022 - 03:54 PM

Get a BROTHER P-Touch label printer.

 

If you like organization in your life, then this is the tool.

 

mine is an older H-100.  Just amazing.



#10 Michael Covington

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Posted 02 May 2022 - 04:10 PM

Get a BROTHER P-Touch label printer.

 

If you like organization in your life, then this is the tool.

 

mine is an older H-100.  Just amazing.

I have a small fleet of them (I think 4 total), one of which connects to my PC and can print any typeface, even graphics, on tape up to an inch wide.  

In my earlier career I ran the artificial intelligence laboratory of the University of Georgia.  Lots of computers, some of them specialized, and also rather rapid turnover of the students working there, because most were in a 2-year master's degree program.  As you might imagine, we used LOTS of labeling.  (IP addresses on printers, basic operating instructions on lots of things...)  One fellow complained, "This doesn't look corporate -- it looks like a laboratory."  To which I replied, "That's what it is!"

I label astronomy equipment copiously, too.


Edited by Michael Covington, 02 May 2022 - 04:11 PM.

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#11 fmendes

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Posted 02 May 2022 - 08:19 PM

Are the original knobs that bad? On my CEM40, they are fine.



#12 cchivers

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Posted 07 May 2022 - 11:34 AM

I also have a CEM40 and found the knobs a little "finicky" - they would seem tight, but be just loose enough for my scope to slip.  I got 2 Eklind ball-head hex screwdrivers from Amazon [https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1] , fantastic solution.  Very easy to tighten the 6MM hex bolt for the knobs now and the 4MM make it SO easy to assemble the head to the tripod:

IMG03621[1]
 
IMG03622[1]

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#13 RichA

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Posted 07 May 2022 - 04:25 PM

Good, simple fixes for nagging issues.

Problem with a lot of mid-line equipment are poor tolerances, right down to the tapped holes in things (I've seen bolts rock side to side owing to this) and cheap, course anodizing which inexplicably, they sometimes put on the threads of a tapped hole.  Be much better if they'd just leave it as raw aluminum but cut it right in the first place.  That pretty much goes for all thread cutting from China, not just bolt holes.



#14 RogerM

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Posted 09 May 2022 - 04:02 PM

Index marks are a necessary addition to these mounts.  Right now I just use a Sakura silver-colored Pentouch to place marks.  The ink is permanent but my mount (CEM25P) has a off-white paint scheme so I first made a black background with a sharpie.  I like your label maker idea, much cleaner way of doing this!


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#15 nato

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Posted 10 May 2022 - 03:36 PM

Great Idea, even if I do not own one of these mounts. Nate Goodman (Nato). Salt lake, Utah.



#16 owenh10

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Posted 11 May 2022 - 06:49 PM

To me, the worst part of the mount is dealing with the two bolts that connect the mount to the tripod.  The hex wrench takes forever, and the vertical clearances are so narrow, so I used this: https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

 It still doesn't quite fit in there, the wider bit holder presents a bit of a challenge, but you can get enough of the bit in there to screw in/out most of the bolt, and finish off with the hex wrench.


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#17 Michael Covington

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Posted 11 May 2022 - 07:12 PM

Yes, I use a ball end hex screwdriver for the same purpose.



#18 solaryellow

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 02:31 PM

I know I had mentioned about recieving some mystery package sent from Ioptron with replacement bolts. They are for the saddle, they have lever handles to grip and tighten more easily.
I don't beleive they are for my version of the GEM45.
I'm assuming there was 2 different variations of saddles.
Also 2 different versions of mounts with electronic ports in different positions.
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#19 Michael Covington

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Posted 12 May 2022 - 04:18 PM

At least 2 versions of each of the things you mention.



#20 solaryellow

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 08:29 AM

I was suspecting that as well, since I have I think the newer version of GEM45 but my saddle doesnt have the i guider housing on it.

At least 2 versions of each of the things you mention.



#21 Kevin_A

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 06:39 PM

I did the markings on ra and dec on my ieq45pro many years ago and it works great for referencing home position.


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#22 fielderda

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Posted 16 May 2022 - 08:45 PM

Great article Michael!  I've got a T-wrench for my GEM45 saddle knobs but may look the type of knobs you've made. 


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#23 Seaquel47

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Posted 17 May 2022 - 08:02 PM

I really like my CEM40 except for the saddle knobs that are hard to tighten, and the fact that the saddle has to be modified to switch from Vixen to Losmandy plates.  I contacted Anthony at ADM and he has just released a saddle for the GEM45 that also works for the CEM40.  It actually uses an adapter plate to mount one of his saddles onto the CEM40.  I am the second customer and it works well.  Now I can switch scopes without having to modify the saddle and the saddle knobs are much easier to use and the saddle is smooth and secure.  Here is a link to the product.  Needless to say this is a much more expensive solution.

 

https://www.admacces...-gem-45-mounts/


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#24 Waterman480

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Posted 19 May 2022 - 04:39 PM

Already had 2 out of 3,  Index marks are next.  Nice article.


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#25 rocketride

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Posted 20 May 2022 - 09:24 PM

Good, simple fixes for nagging issues.

Problem with a lot of mid-line equipment are poor tolerances, right down to the tapped holes in things (I've seen bolts rock side to side owing to this) and cheap, course anodizing which inexplicably, they sometimes put on the threads of a tapped hole.  Be much better if they'd just leave it as raw aluminum but cut it right in the first place.  That pretty much goes for all thread cutting from China, not just bolt holes.




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