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Rowan AZ100 advice request

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#1 DHurst

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 06:17 PM

I’m contemplating purchasing the AZ100.  I have never seen nor used one in person.  The heaviest scopes I currently own are a C9.25 and and a SV127D which are each about 20lbs.  I also have and use Sky Safari and Nexus II.  I’m just curious about all the extra accessories.   

Questions assuming basic mount with encoders:

1.  Would a Berlebach Uni 18 tripod handle those 2 scopes well, or is the Planet tripod recommended?

2.  Will the mount handle either of those scopes individually with diagonals, eps, binoviewer etc…without a counter weight?   

3.  How much (if any) counter weight is necessary for a single scope about  25-30 lb.?

4.  If using 2 scopes, is the altitude adjuster necessary?

5.  Is the goto/tracking worth it? Does it run without glitches or hassles?

6.  If the goto set up is installed, can I still use the mount in non powered alt/az push mode without having to tinker too much?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Cheers!


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#2 jrazz

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 06:26 PM

I am a relative newcomer to the AZ100 world but I think I can answer at least some of these:

 

2. I mount a 30 lbs TOA on it without a counterweight and it seems not to even notice the weight. I would say the shorter C9.25 and the lighter SV127D should be easy.

3. I don't use a counterweight and don't seem to need it. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong but maybe I am and someone here will correct me.

5. IMHO yes absolutely. The implementation of GOTO is among the best I've seen. The ability to track a star at high magnification is the "killer app" here. The fact that there are encoders and you can disconnect the clutches and move without losing alignment is simply awesome. I say yes, totally worth it! The planetarium app is also very fast and responsive. Ditto connection to SkySafari. I think it's significantly better than iOptron and Celestron's implementation. Granted, I only have a couple of nights using it but it's way less frustrating than those solutions.

6. Yes, the encoders keep track of the mount so you can disconnect and reconnect at will. It's a fantastic setup and makes you wonder why everyone else doesn't do it.

 

I think it's a fantastic mount and well worth the price of admission.

 

Below - my 30lbs TOA on the AZ100

AZ100_TOA_PIER_DOG.jpeg

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#3 aranelchan

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 06:34 PM

This is what Derek told me concerning counterweights on the AZ100:

 

We recommend a counterweight:

a) When the tripod isn’t fully stable and has a risk of toppling over.

b) Telescopes of about 12kg or higher.

c) When best pointing accuracy is required as an offset load causes the tripod head to twist.

An AZ100 on a fixed pier for example will easily take a 15kg load without counterweights.

(...)

The worst point is were the OTA is in line with two of the legs. The only way to know is to hold the telescope and try to tip the tripod, and estimate its stability.

Edited by aranelchan, 15 April 2024 - 06:34 PM.

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#4 swsantos

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Posted 15 April 2024 - 07:05 PM

I’m contemplating purchasing the AZ100.  I have never seen nor used one in person.  The heaviest scopes I currently own are a C9.25 and and a SV127D which are each about 20lbs.  I also have and use Sky Safari and Nexus II.  I’m just curious about all the extra accessories.   

Questions assuming basic mount with encoders:

5.  Is the goto/tracking worth it? Does it run without glitches or hassles?

6.  If the goto set up is installed, can I still use the mount in non powered alt/az push mode without having to tinker too much?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Cheers!

Here are the questions that I can answer from a few years’ experience with it, the first couple of years without motors then with motors once they were available…

 

5) I use my AZ100 in push-to and track mode and it runs very well with little hassle or glitching. The planetarium built into the firmware works very well and nothing else is needed to use the mount, the occasional glitch I might sometimes get are usually related to using SkySafari at the same time and doing something out of sequence. The latest firmware has pretty much smoothed everything out and the mount’s motor system is reliable and predictable and SkySafari plays nice with it.

 

6) With the motor kit installed the mount can still easily be used in push-to (I assume you mean fully manual without motors at all) mode there is no tinkering needed at all. With the motors turned off the mount is as easy to push around as it is without the motors installed, the only difference is in the operation of the slow motion controls. Without the motors installed the slow motion controls operate with a very light frictionless touch, with the motors installed and powered on the slow motion controls do not turn at all, but with the motors turned off they still operate smoothly but are dampened because you are also turning the motors. I don’t find it at all bothersome as they still turn very smoothly.

 

One of the AZ100 super powers, and there are many, is that with the motors installed you have at your disposal a fully manual mount perfect for simple push-to, a fully motorized go-to mount, plus a push-to then track mount which is how I usually use it. You can even use the mount in all of those ways all within the same session on an object by object or I’m too tired to push-to this one will go-to instead basis. You can even turn it on with it pointing to its home due south horizon position then point it at something and it will track it accurately without having to align it first which is great if I just want to put it on then look at a visible known object like a planet to start a session.


Edited by swsantos, 15 April 2024 - 07:11 PM.

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#5 Deadlake

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 01:46 AM

Ditto to above.

 

For capacity the AZ100 will easily carry a SV 180 mm APO scope and you can even buy the mount I believe from Stellaview as they now carry the mount.

 

https://www.stellarv...m/rowan-alt-az/


Edited by Deadlake, 16 April 2024 - 01:48 AM.

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#6 weis14

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 07:21 AM

I’m contemplating purchasing the AZ100.  I have never seen nor used one in person.  The heaviest scopes I currently own are a C9.25 and and a SV127D which are each about 20lbs.  I also have and use Sky Safari and Nexus II.  I’m just curious about all the extra accessories.   

Questions assuming basic mount with encoders:

1.  Would a Berlebach Uni 18 tripod handle those 2 scopes well, or is the Planet tripod recommended?

2.  Will the mount handle either of those scopes individually with diagonals, eps, binoviewer etc…without a counter weight?   

3.  How much (if any) counter weight is necessary for a single scope about  25-30 lb.?

4.  If using 2 scopes, is the altitude adjuster necessary?

5.  Is the goto/tracking worth it? Does it run without glitches or hassles?

6.  If the goto set up is installed, can I still use the mount in non powered alt/az push mode without having to tinker too much?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Cheers!

I've owned the AZ100 and it is a fantastic mount.  Here are my thoughts.

  1. I think you need the Planet.  The sturdiness of the tripod affects whether or not you need counterweights.
  2. Yes.  I never use counterweights with mine, even when I still had the CFF160.  Also, before I mounted counterweights, I'd add a second scope.  The key is to have a sturdy tripod with a decently wide stance so the entire setup is stable.  I accomplish this by extending the legs somewhat on my Planet and then tightening them down.
  3. None.
  4. I find that this depends a lot on the field of view.  I have it and need it for the C9.25 and a second scope at 200x..  I don't need it when I'm using the second scope as a finder at 15x.  
  5. Yes.  As others have said, this is the best implementation of goto I've ever seen.  You don't realize how good it is until you have it.  Once I got the goto on the AZ100, all my other mounts were sold, including some very high end ones that I swore I'd never sell.  The AZ100 is that much better.
  6. Yes.  All you need to do is not turn it on.  I mounted the knobs from the slow motion controls on the other end of the shafts from the motor for this purpose.  It is not quite as smooth due to the motor steps, but still gets the job done.  You can also push the mount perfectly smoothly. If the battery  dies in the field, the slow motion controls let me keep observing.

Finally, Rowan is actively developing the mount and is working on their own hand controller.  They have also implemented a way to connect aftermarket controllers (i.e. gaming joysticks) though I've not personally tried this.


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#7 weis14

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 07:22 AM

I am a relative newcomer to the AZ100 world but I think I can answer at least some of these:

 

2. I mount a 30 lbs TOA on it without a counterweight and it seems not to even notice the weight. I would say the shorter C9.25 and the lighter SV127D should be easy.

3. I don't use a counterweight and don't seem to need it. I don't think I'm doing anything wrong but maybe I am and someone here will correct me.

5. IMHO yes absolutely. The implementation of GOTO is among the best I've seen. The ability to track a star at high magnification is the "killer app" here. The fact that there are encoders and you can disconnect the clutches and move without losing alignment is simply awesome. I say yes, totally worth it! The planetarium app is also very fast and responsive. Ditto connection to SkySafari. I think it's significantly better than iOptron and Celestron's implementation. Granted, I only have a couple of nights using it but it's way less frustrating than those solutions.

6. Yes, the encoders keep track of the mount so you can disconnect and reconnect at will. It's a fantastic setup and makes you wonder why everyone else doesn't do it.

 

I think it's a fantastic mount and well worth the price of admission.

 

Below - my 30lbs TOA on the AZ100

Jordan,

 

I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying the mount.  It should be a perfect match with that TOA.

 

Ryan



#8 jesse 3

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 07:36 AM

I had to use counter weights for my 30 lb scope. Unless tripod is perfectly leveled, the off center mount tends to rotate on its own, which is annoying at high power. With counter weights, mount stays and slow mo control works better.
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#9 davidgmd

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 10:19 AM

I’m in agreement with all of the positives Jordan, Steve, and Ryan have listed. Love the AZ100.
 
Regarding tripods, the Berlebach Uni is OK with an Edge8 and/or NP101 attached. The Avalon T-pod 110 is better. I have no doubt that a Planet would be better yet but I don’t have one. Primarily because of weight. The T-pod is stable enough that I feel no need for a more stable tripod.


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#10 Scott99

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 05:13 PM

>>1.  Would a Berlebach Uni 18 tripod handle those 2 scopes well, or is the Planet tripod recommended?

 

Planet or T-Pod will be needed


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#11 DHurst

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 07:14 PM

Thank you for all the feedback and info.  Looks like the AZ100 with goto, planet tripod, dual saddles, counter weight bar, counter weight, and altitude adjuster is going to take a swing at my wallet!laugh.gif   I’m retiring in 7 weeks, and this will be a little gift to myself!  I’m considering selling my Takahashi EM200 to help this project along.   I’m sure I’ll be back with questions and comments once this new tool arrives.

Much appreciation to those who’ve responded!

Cheers!


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#12 swsantos

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 08:03 PM

Thank you for all the feedback and info.  Looks like the AZ100 with goto, planet tripod, dual saddles, counter weight bar, counter weight, and altitude adjuster is going to take a swing at my wallet!laugh.gif   I’m retiring in 7 weeks, and this will be a little gift to myself!  I’m considering selling my Takahashi EM200 to help this project along.   I’m sure I’ll be back with questions and comments once this new tool arrives.

Much appreciation to those who’ve responded!

Cheers!

The Y-axis balancer (YAB) is also a great accessory especially if you are going to use the AZ100 a lot manually without the motors I feel.

 

I will also bet the Panhandle is a commonly ordered accessory.

 

Both can be ordered separately and self installed should you pass at first. They will even customize the length of the panhandle whose length would then be easier to determine once you get your mount on your tripod.


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#13 jesse 3

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 08:53 PM

Eyepieces counter weight and bar are very useful. I can quickly re-gain balance switching from 1.25” TOE to Binoviewer. I actually purchased two eyepiece counter weights to increase adjustment range. The whole setup looks wild, but it maintains perfect balance and slow mo works really well.

#14 PerfectlyFrank

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 10:56 AM

Ditto to above.

 

For capacity the AZ100 will easily carry a SV 180 mm APO scope and you can even buy the mount I believe from Stellaview as they now carry the mount.

 

https://www.stellarv...m/rowan-alt-az/

I recently talked to Vic, the owner of Stellarvue about the AZ100. He said his 180mm scope was mounted on the AZ100

and no counter weights were needed. 

 

Although I don't know what tripod he was using. 



#15 DHurst

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 03:55 PM

What methods of powering the AZ100 do you use?  I was hoping to use a solar 500 watt generator.



#16 aranelchan

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 05:04 PM

At home I use a 12V 4A power supply connected to my outdoor mains power point; at dark sites I use the 12V DC port on my Ecoflow River 2 with a cigarette plug to 5525 connector cable.

#17 astrophile

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 06:07 PM

What methods of powering the AZ100 do you use? I was hoping to use a solar 500 watt generator.


You could certainly do that with the right DC connector cable. I prefer a mounted 6.5ah LiFePo4 battery, to eliminate cable wrap. Unless you do a lot of goto slewing the mount uses very little power.

Edited by astrophile, 18 April 2024 - 06:13 PM.


#18 DHurst

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 08:15 PM

John, do you mount that battery on the mount itself?



#19 Kolenka

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 03:47 PM

Ditto to above.

 

For capacity the AZ100 will easily carry a SV 180 mm APO scope and you can even buy the mount I believe from Stellaview as they now carry the mount.

 

https://www.stellarv...m/rowan-alt-az/

 

Well now, didn't realize they started carrying the AZ100. Nice to see more folks carrying it in the US. I've been thinking of getting something a little beefier than the FTX for a little while now when the Mach2 is imaging.

 

John, do you mount that battery on the mount itself?

 

100Wh batteries with 12V outputs can be had in the 1-2lb range these days and there's a few <300Wh batteries in the 3lbs range, so I'd imagine there's a bunch of ways to mount it. A single saddle setup leaves you with one side you could add something to hold it that may not even be getting used. A dual saddle setup or when using the counterweight, I'd imagine it could be mounted using a dovetail bar to a scope.

 

The mount itself has mounting points for the DSC100 and the AZ100 motors (or the DSC shelf for the Nexus), and those points are on both the front and back of the mount. So I'm sure something can be rigged up there as well, but that might need a bit of thought depending on the exact battery. 

 

This thread might be helpful: https://www.cloudyni...itial-thoughts/



#20 PatientObserver

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 04:50 PM

Well now, didn't realize they started carrying the AZ100. Nice to see more folks carrying it in the US. I've been thinking of getting something a little beefier than the FTX for a little while now when the Mach2 is imaging.


100Wh batteries with 12V outputs can be had in the 1-2lb range these days and there's a few <300Wh batteries in the 3lbs range, so I'd imagine there's a bunch of ways to mount it. A single saddle setup leaves you with one side you could add something to hold it that may not even be getting used. A dual saddle setup or when using the counterweight, I'd imagine it could be mounted using a dovetail bar to a scope.

The mount itself has mounting points for the DSC100 and the AZ100 motors (or the DSC shelf for the Nexus), and those points are on both the front and back of the mount. So I'm sure something can be rigged up there as well, but that might need a bit of thought depending on the exact battery.

This thread might be helpful: https://www.cloudyni...itial-thoughts/


I used a SmallRig battery holder to mount the Nexus II on my AZ75. I am certain it could be used for its intended purpose and hold a battery.

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  • NexusII.jpg

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#21 astrophile

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 05:06 PM

John, do you mount that battery on the mount itself?


There are about 100 ways to hang a smallish battery on an AZ100 😉 - literally. Another CN thread containing a whole bunch of them, if you’re willing to scroll through it all, is titled “Rowan AZ 100 with motors first light.”

Me, I use the CW bar opposite a TEC 140, and hang a small vinyl case containing the battery off the bar so it’s part of the counterweights. An atypical approach but hey astronomy is a big tent 🙂
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#22 davidgmd

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 05:24 PM

What methods of powering the AZ100 do you use?  I was hoping to use a solar 500 watt generator.

  
I put a TalentCell LiFePO4 battery on top, attached with magnetic tape (thank you Steve Santos). One of these:

https://www.amazon.c...duct/B07YRZYLKV

https://www.amazon.c...duct/B09KCB11Z3
 
I attached a SmallRig articulated arm and tablet holder as well.

  

20231025_122032.jpeg

  

“Would you like to order a drink while perusing the menu of available objects?”


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#23 swsantos

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 07:40 PM

Here is the Talentcell 12V/11000mAh and it fits on top of the azimuth motor housing and is attached there by neodymium magnetic tape. This particular Talentcell fits here and although it's form factor appears very similar to the other Talentcells, this one's width is just enough less than the others that it fits here on its side. It stays put by the magnetic tape even when I sling the mount and tripod over my shoulder, carry it upstairs from the basement, then out through the garage to the back yard and back again. As a matter of fact I never remove the Talentcell from the AZ100 unless it needs to be charged.

 

AZ100 Talentcell battery.jpg

 

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Here is the magnetic tape I used a pack of 1" x 12" strips, originally I had tried one in a roll but since then have used these strips as they are the ideal width and only need to be cut in one dimension.

 

https://www.amazon.c...le?ie=UTF8&th=1


Edited by swsantos, 19 April 2024 - 07:42 PM.

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#24 PhilG

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Posted 21 April 2024 - 09:43 AM

That looks great. How long does it last on a charge? Sorry to be lazy but what did you use for connection to the mount?

 

I just received my Az100 from Vic, going to test it out tonight after I make some mount modifcations and get my AC power supply. Will try the web and SkySafari interfaces. Is there a way to connect to the mount through Bisque TheSky? 

 

Here is the Talentcell 12V/11000mAh and it fits on top of the azimuth motor housing and is attached there by neodymium magnetic tape. This particular Talentcell fits here and although it's form factor appears very similar to the other Talentcells, this one's width is just enough less than the others that it fits here on its side. It stays put by the magnetic tape even when I sling the mount and tripod over my shoulder, carry it upstairs from the basement, then out through the garage to the back yard and back again. As a matter of fact I never remove the Talentcell from the AZ100 unless it needs to be charged.

 

attachicon.gif AZ100 Talentcell battery.jpg

 

https://www.amazon.c...e?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Here is the magnetic tape I used a pack of 1" x 12" strips, originally I had tried one in a roll but since then have used these strips as they are the ideal width and only need to be cut in one dimension.

 

https://www.amazon.c...le?ie=UTF8&th=1



#25 swsantos

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Posted 21 April 2024 - 10:32 AM

The battery lasts through several sessions that's never an issue for me.

 

The wire was not in the previous post's picture but I use one of the wires that came with it which is perfect. It is short with right angle connectors on each end and each connector is the right size so no adapters are needed.

 

It is 17" long, 16" wire plus the two right angle connectors.

 

 

20240419_201830 (Large) (Medium).jpg                                    20240421_123500 (Medium).jpg


Edited by swsantos, 21 April 2024 - 05:51 PM.

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