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Is there a mount that's guaranteed to work out of box?

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#1 etunar

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 05:49 PM

I have been having issues with my EQ6R and during the process of trying to diagnose the issue and looking at new mounts it got me thinking... Is there a make/brand of mount that's guaranteed to work perfectly out of box? Browsing these forums all the generic brands (skywatcher, ioptron, celestron) seem to be a bit of a pot luck - even the high end models aren't problem free.

 

Is the only option a $10k mount like 10u or AP?

 

 



#2 Mbenj2405

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:00 PM

You seem to already know the answer. I have a GM1000hps and yes it just flat works as advertised.


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#3 TopherTheME

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:05 PM

My Fornax 52 worked well out of the box after I wrapped my head around the controller.

 

FYI, Fornax 52 $ << 10u $$$$

 

My Celestron and Skywatcher mounts did not and required a few hours of adjustment to get them working right. 



#4 FRANKVSTAR

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:13 PM

 Your right, if you spend 10K or more your probably AOK. I had a EQ6R pro and it worked with no issue at all, but I have a I-Optron CEM70 and it had issue right out of the bow ( Bad power button and sloppy alt adjustment if you tighten up the side screws as you told to do after getting the right elevation). Really a pain when you seeking perfection of some sorts.

  At this point I am not comfortable enough to think anything can be done with the mount without an issue popping up, not a good feeling.


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#5 etunar

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:16 PM

My Fornax 52 worked well out of the box after I wrapped my head around the controller.

 

FYI, Fornax 52 $ << 10u $$$$

 

My Celestron and Skywatcher mounts did not and required a few hours of adjustment to get them working right. 

i haven't heard much about fornax other than their lighttrack mount - which seemed to be a pretty good portable mount - though limited range.

 

52 looks good. Also been looking at paramount myt. they are just a bit too expensive still but the promise of a trouble free mount does make them almost tempting. It would be nice if they had a smaller model slightly cheaper!!



#6 etunar

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:18 PM

 Your right, if you spend 10K or more your probably AOK. I had a EQ6R pro and it worked with no issue at all, but I have a I-Optron CEM70 and it had issue right out of the bow ( Bad power button and sloppy alt adjustment if you tighten up the side screws as you told to do after getting the right elevation). Really a pain when you seeking perfection of some sorts.

  At this point I am not comfortable enough to think anything can be done with the mount without an issue popping up, not a good feeling.

exactly! i like the CEM70, i have been thinking about them but seeing them pop up with issues every now and then isn't helpful.

 

my eq6r was great with 4 inch refractor, but i have been struggling ever since i upgraded to 5 inch.



#7 GaryShaw

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:23 PM

Hi

 

I’ve had a few mounts and they all worked ‘out of the box’ but only after I took the time to read and understand the instructions that came in the box. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve learned that almost all of the ‘gear issues’ that I’ve experienced, I trace to myself. In reading about problems that others post here in CN, it seems similar across the board. All the device  ‘connectivity’ that’s involved in AP and EAA creates a complicated mesh of hardware, software, firmware and user knowledge - it amazes me that things work as well as they do. Imagine life without Ascom….

 

Gary


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#8 rgsalinger

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:24 PM

I've bought quite a few new mounts over the past few years --- 

 

Celestron CGE -2003, 

 

iOptron iEQ45 -20011,

 

Paramount MX+ - 2016,

 

Orion AZ/EQ6 -2017,

 

iOptron CEM120EC2 - 2018,

 

iOptron AZ Pro -2020,

 

AP Mach2 - 2022,

 

arrived with no mechanical defects to speak of.  I will say that the software in many instances as well as the documentation could have been improved in almost every case. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#9 psandelle

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:25 PM

I think the key to mounts like the iOptrons is to get them, test them immediately indoors (put them through a stress test with a full rig, slew them all over, let them track, meridian flip, etc.) and if everything isn't perfect, send them back. I've always had good luck with iOptron and their support, for me, has always been good...but, yes, if what arrives isn't perfect, send it right back.

 

On the other hand, I got my third 10Micron officially out last Saturday and it spent the whole evening calmly and coolly taking unguided subs all night, even 10 minute ones. No big thang.

 

Paul


Edited by psandelle, 25 January 2023 - 06:26 PM.

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#10 SeymoreStars

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:26 PM

It doesn't cost anything to put your name onto the waiting list for an AP Mach-2.


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#11 etunar

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:28 PM

Hi

 

I’ve had a few mounts and they all worked ‘out of the box’ but only after I took the time to read and understand the instructions that came in the box. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve learned that almost all of the ‘gear issues’ that I’ve experienced, I trace to myself. In reading about problems that others post here in CN, it seems similar across the board. All the device  ‘connectivity’ that’s involved in AP and EAA creates a complicated mesh of hardware, software, firmware and user knowledge - it amazes me that things work as well as they do. Imagine life without Ascom….

 

Gary

I get your point and sometimes i do think that maybe it's me doing something wrong. But then again in my case, it just randomly behaves well certain times and guide smoothly. Then I start to think again it must be the mount! haha.



#12 etunar

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:30 PM

It doesn't cost anything to put your name onto the waiting list for an AP Mach-2.

and hope to win the lottery before i get the email from AP? :D


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#13 Phil Cowell

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:40 PM

I have quite a few mounts:

 

2 CGE Pros

2 CGEMs

1 CGEM DX

1CGEMII

Atlas EQAZ 6

iOptron CEM 25P

iOptron CEM 60EC

iOptron CEM 70G

iOptron AZ Pro

AP 900

AP 1600

AP Mach1

 

No problem with any of them 

 

Had quite a few others in the past some good some bad.


Edited by Phil Cowell, 25 January 2023 - 06:44 PM.

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#14 Panotaker

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 06:55 PM

I just recently got a new AM5 with the ASIAIR Plus, and it has been working perfect since I got it a month ago. All the other mounts I have I bought used, and they all needed something. My Paramount MX which I also got used, has been working perfectly since I got it around 5 years ago. 



#15 Dwight J

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 07:31 PM

Have a Tak EM200 working perfectly for 15 years.  I tried to get an EQ6 to autoguide for two years unsuccessfully.  The Tak autoguided first night out with the default settings in PhD.   
    I think some mount issues are with the software provided.  I have an EQ3 SynScan mount that I had trouble getting good results with as far as accurate GOTOs and autoguiding.  The ASiair solved those issues and now it performs very well.  I had a Meade LXD55 mount that did not track at the proper rate until the six or seventh update to the software.  


Edited by Dwight J, 25 January 2023 - 07:36 PM.

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#16 WadeH237

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 07:51 PM

In the time that I have been doing this, I have bought probably around a dozen or so mounts.

 

Of them, I had one that was DoA, out of the box.  It was a Celestron CGE with a dead declination motor.  I gave the mount back to the dealer and they replaced it with one that worked.  Other than that, every mount I've purchased worked correctly.

 

I think that some of the issue is the definition of "working correctly".  In reading these forums over the years, I get the feeling that people expect far more from this gear than what it can actually do.  Sometimes, there is this idea that you can take a new mount out of the box, put a scope on it, and start observing with goto's that put the object in the center of a high power eyepiece.  Or put a scope and camera on it and do unguided deep sky imaging.  That is simply not going to happen.

 

There are two critical aspects to success in this hobby:

 

First, you need realistic expectations of the gear.

 

In order to work correctly, a goto mount needs proper alignment.  By far the most common error that I've seen in getting goto to work properly is aligning on the wrong stars.  In order to properly align the mount, you will need to know the names of your alignment stars.  In most cases, learning the names of a dozen or so bright stars in the sky is plenty to give you some good alignment stars.  Also, you need to have your finder correctly aligned with the main scope.  Otherwise, you might end up centering the right one in the finder, and a nearby - but different - star in the main scope.  Also, there may be a specific technique required.  For example, Celestron mounts want you to always complete the centering of stars using only the "up" and "right" buttons on the controller.  This is important, as it ensures consistent handling of backlash.  If you don't do this, you might end up with goto that mostly works, but not for all objects.

 

If you are planning to do some deep sky imaging, it's tempting to think that you can put your scope and camera on the mount, and start taking unguided exposures.  That's simply not the way things work.  With the vast majority of mounts, guiding is an absolute requirement (unless you only do very short exposures, like under 30 seconds - and even then you would need to be imaging a wide field).  Even with the highest end mounts, you need some sort of sky modeling with tracking correction.  This is because even if the mount is perfect, the sky itself is not perfect.  Objects move at a different rate at the zenith than they do lower in the sky.  Also, it takes only microscopic tracking errors to affect exposures.  This means that mechanical flexure issues outside of the mount can, and do, affect the quality of the subs.  Using a guide scope for guiding can deal with the sky issues, and some mount behaviors.  But to address flexure, often times you need to use an OAG.

 

This is all perfectly normal, but isn't something that you will see printed in bold letters on the box.

 

Second, you should expect to invest in yourself as well as your gear.

 

An equatorial mount depends on an accurate polar alignment for tracking.  Don't skimp on this.  There is a continuous temptation to spend hundreds of dollars on polar alignment aids.  But if you want to educate yourself, you'll learn that there are lots of ways to do polar alignment.  For example, I polar align my mounts during the day, when the sun is high in the sky.  I don't use any cameras, or polar scopes, etc.  It just takes a reasonable understanding of the gear and the geometry of the sky.

 

Even with a goto mount, it is in your best interest to learn the sky.  Sure, if everything works, you don't need that knowledge every night.  But when things don't go as planned, it sure is nice to understand what the mount is actually doing, where it's actually pointing, etc.

 

For imaging, you really want to deeply understand all of the gear, as well as the sky, the weather, etc.  There are whole books written on the things that you should know to get going with deep sky imaging.

 

If it helps, I like to use musical instruments as an analogy to astronomy gear.  For example, you wouldn't expect to be able to pick up a guitar and play a song without first learning how to play a guitar.  Yet for some reason, people (not referring to anyone specifically) expect that they should be able to plop down an astronomical mount, put a scope on it, and then have it perform as if the operator had years of experience.

 

In addition to the dozen or so mounts that I've owned, I have helped dozens more folks with their gear at star parties - many makes and models.  The story is pretty much always the same.  Someone goes to a vendor at the event for help.  The vendor sends them my way.  I give the gear a once over, correcting any setup problems, etc.  I then align it and get it configured...and it works fine.  Except in cases of mounts that are missing parts, or are physically damaged, I've only encountered one mount that I couldn't get to work right.  It was a Celestron AVX.  The owner had made significant electrical modifications to it.  When we powered it up and tried to align it, it gave me a mild shock any time I touched it.  I spent a few minutes with it, before deciding that the best course of action would be to reverse all the electrical mods and return it completely to stock.

 

So in my experience, the overwhelming majority of mounts work just like they are supposed to (even if the owner wants more out of them than they are designed for).  There are certainly some mounts that don't work well (or at all) out of the box - but they are actually pretty rare, and either the vendor or manufacturer needs to get involved.  In most cases, what's needed is some education for the owners.  Even then, I have met a few people who just aren't interested in putting in the work to learn the techniques - and follow them with an appropriate attention to detail.  They want it to work they way that they have pictured in their head, and not necessarily the way that it's actually supposed to work.

 

I will say this, though:

 

You do tend to get what you pay for.  An expensive mount tends to be better at everything that a lower cost mount.  The quality of construction is higher.  They are physically more durable and resistant to damage.  The tolerances are tighter.  They perform better and more consistently.  They last longer.

 

But you still need to understand how they work and their limitations.


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#17 Drothgeb

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 09:46 PM

My AZ-EQ6 worked great out of the box. First night out it connected the ASIair without issue, and guiding has been 0.3”-0.6” since the beginning. I wouldn’t hesitate to set it up remotely.
 

My CEM70g is very glitchy, and doesn’t guide as well as the EQ6 with a smaller scope on it. Some nights it works OK, some nights it’s a pain. Can’t say I’d recommend one.

 

I also have a EXOS2, and LXD75. No issues with them. I’ve been using the LXD75 for about 15 years. Turn it on, align it, and it does it’s thing year after year. 



#18 luxo II

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 10:37 PM

The AZEQ6 I had worked fine in altaz mode visually, but a few years later I decided to try imaging and found (a) in equatorial mode it refused to polar align, and (b) never successfully guided. Eventually came to the conclusion the main board had issues but wasn't worth fixing.



#19 Tapio

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 10:50 PM

The AZEQ6 I had worked fine in altaz mode visually, but a few years later I decided to try imaging and found (a) in equatorial mode it refused to polar align, and (b) never successfully guided. Eventually came to the conclusion the main board had issues but wasn't worth fixing.


I am curious - how does a mount refuse to polar align?

#20 Notdarkenough

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Posted 25 January 2023 - 11:51 PM

I have an Evolution and a CEM70; both were/are excellent, right from the start. Just remember that lots of the "reported issues" are often others explaining, in their own words, what they think about something they have never owned. Everything can have a hiccup, but people with a slight problem often post everywhere about how horrible it is. Then they call the tech support and things magically work again. There is no way to extrapolate negative internet posts into any meaningful causal relationship. 


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#21 luxo II

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 12:23 AM

I am curious - how does a mount refuse to polar align?

In EQ mode, aligning on the first star, when it slews to the second star it often pointed the scope way off - 45 degrees or more, or even into the ground.

Yet it worked fine in altaz mode.

 

In the end I gave up trying to align and instead used Sharpcap and a camera to mechanically align the RA axis on the S pole (no Polaris down here) and then just use the mount as a simple "tracker" and forget about GOTO - which didn't work either since it couldn't calibrate itself from star positions.

 

I sold it for a song to someone keen to use it altaz, and he's since confirmed it wont work in EQ mode.



#22 900SL

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 02:03 AM

My Vixen SXD2 just works. No problems, no issues. Made in Japan, not premium but well made and good tolerances. I also love the SB10 controller, works fine with AsiAir and Ascom.

As does most everybody else's SXD2, as far as I can tell.

 

If I bought again, I'd likely get the SXP2 belt drive with PPEC and 17 kg imaging capacity. With discount from Bresser around 4200 euro. Not cheap but unlikely to have any issues


Edited by 900SL, 26 January 2023 - 08:13 AM.


#23 etunar

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 02:46 AM

In the time that I have been doing this, I have bought probably around a dozen or so mounts.

 

Of them, I had one that was DoA, out of the box.  It was a Celestron CGE with a dead declination motor.  I gave the mount back to the dealer and they replaced it with one that worked.  Other than that, every mount I've purchased worked correctly.

 

I think that some of the issue is the definition of "working correctly".  In reading these forums over the years, I get the feeling that people expect far more from this gear than what it can actually do.  Sometimes, there is this idea that you can take a new mount out of the box, put a scope on it, and start observing with goto's that put the object in the center of a high power eyepiece.  Or put a scope and camera on it and do unguided deep sky imaging.  That is simply not going to happen.

 

There are two critical aspects to success in this hobby:

 

First, you need realistic expectations of the gear.

 

In order to work correctly, a goto mount needs proper alignment.  By far the most common error that I've seen in getting goto to work properly is aligning on the wrong stars.  In order to properly align the mount, you will need to know the names of your alignment stars.  In most cases, learning the names of a dozen or so bright stars in the sky is plenty to give you some good alignment stars.  Also, you need to have your finder correctly aligned with the main scope.  Otherwise, you might end up centering the right one in the finder, and a nearby - but different - star in the main scope.  Also, there may be a specific technique required.  For example, Celestron mounts want you to always complete the centering of stars using only the "up" and "right" buttons on the controller.  This is important, as it ensures consistent handling of backlash.  If you don't do this, you might end up with goto that mostly works, but not for all objects.

 

If you are planning to do some deep sky imaging, it's tempting to think that you can put your scope and camera on the mount, and start taking unguided exposures.  That's simply not the way things work.  With the vast majority of mounts, guiding is an absolute requirement (unless you only do very short exposures, like under 30 seconds - and even then you would need to be imaging a wide field).  Even with the highest end mounts, you need some sort of sky modeling with tracking correction.  This is because even if the mount is perfect, the sky itself is not perfect.  Objects move at a different rate at the zenith than they do lower in the sky.  Also, it takes only microscopic tracking errors to affect exposures.  This means that mechanical flexure issues outside of the mount can, and do, affect the quality of the subs.  Using a guide scope for guiding can deal with the sky issues, and some mount behaviors.  But to address flexure, often times you need to use an OAG.

 

This is all perfectly normal, but isn't something that you will see printed in bold letters on the box.

 

Second, you should expect to invest in yourself as well as your gear.

 

An equatorial mount depends on an accurate polar alignment for tracking.  Don't skimp on this.  There is a continuous temptation to spend hundreds of dollars on polar alignment aids.  But if you want to educate yourself, you'll learn that there are lots of ways to do polar alignment.  For example, I polar align my mounts during the day, when the sun is high in the sky.  I don't use any cameras, or polar scopes, etc.  It just takes a reasonable understanding of the gear and the geometry of the sky.

 

Even with a goto mount, it is in your best interest to learn the sky.  Sure, if everything works, you don't need that knowledge every night.  But when things don't go as planned, it sure is nice to understand what the mount is actually doing, where it's actually pointing, etc.

 

For imaging, you really want to deeply understand all of the gear, as well as the sky, the weather, etc.  There are whole books written on the things that you should know to get going with deep sky imaging.

 

If it helps, I like to use musical instruments as an analogy to astronomy gear.  For example, you wouldn't expect to be able to pick up a guitar and play a song without first learning how to play a guitar.  Yet for some reason, people (not referring to anyone specifically) expect that they should be able to plop down an astronomical mount, put a scope on it, and then have it perform as if the operator had years of experience.

 

In addition to the dozen or so mounts that I've owned, I have helped dozens more folks with their gear at star parties - many makes and models.  The story is pretty much always the same.  Someone goes to a vendor at the event for help.  The vendor sends them my way.  I give the gear a once over, correcting any setup problems, etc.  I then align it and get it configured...and it works fine.  Except in cases of mounts that are missing parts, or are physically damaged, I've only encountered one mount that I couldn't get to work right.  It was a Celestron AVX.  The owner had made significant electrical modifications to it.  When we powered it up and tried to align it, it gave me a mild shock any time I touched it.  I spent a few minutes with it, before deciding that the best course of action would be to reverse all the electrical mods and return it completely to stock.

 

So in my experience, the overwhelming majority of mounts work just like they are supposed to (even if the owner wants more out of them than they are designed for).  There are certainly some mounts that don't work well (or at all) out of the box - but they are actually pretty rare, and either the vendor or manufacturer needs to get involved.  In most cases, what's needed is some education for the owners.  Even then, I have met a few people who just aren't interested in putting in the work to learn the techniques - and follow them with an appropriate attention to detail.  They want it to work they way that they have pictured in their head, and not necessarily the way that it's actually supposed to work.

 

I will say this, though:

 

You do tend to get what you pay for.  An expensive mount tends to be better at everything that a lower cost mount.  The quality of construction is higher.  They are physically more durable and resistant to damage.  The tolerances are tighter.  They perform better and more consistently.  They last longer.

 

But you still need to understand how they work and their limitations.

I think that's a good summary and I don't want to give the wrong impression - this isn't my first mount where I am expecting miracles without putting the effort in the setup. I had a very old heq5 as my first mount when i decided to take the hobby seriously and move away from DSLR and star adventurer...  It was ok, but never great at guiding. I bought new bearings for it and rebuilt it. It started performing better but it only started to shine when i put a heavier scope on it.

 

I am now having the opposite issue with the EQ6-R. It was great at first, but now i am struggling with the heavier scope. Sometimes its good, sometimes it isnt. It's still within capacity at 17kg. I understand the limitations of mounts - i don't expect 30 min super clean subs from a mount like this or image without guiding, but I also often see people post guiding graphs with 0.3, 0.4 RMS on these mounts - so clearly the potential is there. Which then comes down to ;

 

1 - I am doing something wrong with the heavier scope

2 - somehow the mount performance deteriorated between the smaller and heavier scope

3 - it's just not up to handle the 17kg load consistently.

 

I don't mind tinkering but living in UK, we also have limited clear skies, so it can be long time between clear sessions where you get the opportunity to test the results of tinkering. So knowing the potential performance of EQ6Rs, I wouldn't want to swap with a different mount only to have issues with it all the time again - hence the reason for the question in the first place.


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#24 gpaunescu

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 03:53 AM

In my opinion, in order to have guarantee that your mount is working out of the box, the only way I see, if  it is possible, to buy also the "check before ship service" from the seller. I mean, to agree with seller  to check mount before ship.

On the other hand, 17Kg are over half of the mount pay load capacity. As I know usually is recommended to stay around 50% of pay load capacity.

Depend also of your imaging rig: if is large Newtonian, wind can play very important negative role.

Also balancing is very important; you have to have very well balanced rig on all axis.

 

Clear sky.

Gabi



#25 Benuk

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Posted 26 January 2023 - 04:03 AM

Recently bought my first 'proper' tracking mount (AM5) and all seems well when paired with an Asiair plus.

 

Used it twice so far and both times got nice tracking with no errors. Might be beginners luck but so far it seems spot on.




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