iOptron Az Mount Pro

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smp
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iOptron Az Mount Pro

#1

Post by smp » Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:06 pm

After months and months of deliberation, as well as watching to see if it *ever* might go "on sale," I finally pulled the trigger today and purchased the iOptron Az Mount Pro.

As folks here may recall, before last Christmas, I purchased a Celestron C6 OTA from Highpoint Scientific. At the time I had already been monitoring the iOptron mount for maybe a month to two, waiting for a possible sale. I stumbled across the OTA at a very good price, and fearing that the price would not be there for long, I jumped on it. Alas, that is Highpoint's normal everyday price, and I could have waited.

The thing for me with an SCT like this is, with the narrow FOV, I have a fair amount of difficulty doing an alignment with my NexStar mount. I have a *much* easier time of it with my TV-85 - with a wider FOV. I want to use the SCT - I've always loved the size and portability. Just had a bummer of a time doing alignment, and that has been a hinderance for me getting out and just doing some observing.

The Az Mount Pro is advertised as having completely automatic alignment. Something they call "Just level and go." Get the mount level, get your scope attached, balance it parallel to the ground, and hit the power. From there, it's supposed to automatically orient itself, and get aligned. If this turns out to be even close to true for me, it will be a great leap ahead for me being able to do my observing.

I must confess, I have very poor sky recognition and recall. From childhood, I can spot The Big Dipper, and from my early years of trying to learn Constellations, I can spot Cassiopeia and Orion, but that is almost all there is for me. I have always had a monstrously difficult time translating from the page of whatever atlas or guidebook I might have in hand to the actual sky here in southern New Hampshire, in close proximity to Manchester with its sky glow. Going the other way, if I am lucky enough to find myself under darker skies, I am overwhelmed quickly by the much greater number of objects in the view. Both situations have conspired to muddle me up, and has really hampered my ability to just go out and know about where to point to observe even the most basic things. I believe that's why I have confined myself many times to Planetary or Lunar observing.

This mount promises to open things up for me. If I can get my scope aligned, and I can perform a "sky tour" or begin to select objects from the offered list of what's up and observable at the moment, I will be thrilled beyond belief. Maybe then, I can pull out one of my books on double stars, and actually have a prayer of locating some of them in my night sky.

Here's hoping for the best. The Az Mount Pro should be easily able to handle either my TV-85 or my C6, or actually both at the same time if I go back and purchase the additional saddle. This could be a very big turning point for me.

Thanks for listening!

smp
Stephen
- - - - -
Telescopes: Tele Vue TV-85; Celestron C6; Questar 3.5 Standard SN 18-11421
Solar: Thousand Oaks white light filter; Daystar Quark (chromosphere) Hα filter
Mounts: iOptron Az Pro; Explore Scientific Twilight I tripod w/ Celestron NexStar GT mount; Majestic heavy duty tripod
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#2

Post by bladekeeper » Wed Jun 12, 2019 3:38 am

Congrats on the trigger pull, Stephen! I am looking forward to your "first light" experience. :)
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Scopes: Apertura AD12 f/5; Celestron C6-R f/8; ES AR127 f/6.4; Stellarvue SV102T f/7; iOptron MC90 f/13.3; Orion ST80A f/5; ES ED80 f/6; Celestron Premium 80 f/11.4; Celestron C80 f/11.4; Unitron Model 142 f/16; Meade NG60 f/10
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#3

Post by Hartsville SkyGazer » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:22 am

Congrats Stephen! Always helpful to have a sky map on a phone, tablet or laptop at your mount if you are having a hard time identifying stars, the phone ones work great. This would be beneficial as you get used to identifying alignment stars used by the mount. Looking forward to reports on the new mount. Clear Skies!
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#4

Post by STEVE333 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:17 pm

Congratulations on your new mount. Hopefully the alignment portion works well for you. Have fun!

Steve
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#5

Post by smp » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:00 pm

2 day shipping from NY to NH - and it arrived the next day! YAY!

I have a few photos in my Gallery here:

app.php/gallery/album/109

I was able to get the battery charged and set up for some daytime Lunar viewing. The mount did it's automatic calibration, but instead of slewing to a bright object in the sky, it stayed at azimuth pointing to the South, and altitude pointing to the Zenith. I manually adjusted the settings for UTC -300 minutes, and changed the date from tomorrow to today. By that time the Moon had come out from behind the trees, so I selected it, and the mount slewed to about the right spot. I hadn't done a good job of leveling, so it was off. I was able to manually slew to center the Moon and then successfully performed a "sync to target." Since it is still bright sunlight at 6:00 PM, I couldn't try much of anything else. I tried all the Solar System objects that indicated as above the horizon, and the scope slewed to their positions (accurately? I don't know because it was too light out).

By 6:15, the high clouds were rolling in, in advance of the predicted rain late tonight and tomorrow. By surprise, I managed to beat out the rain and get this new toy set up! Hopefully, it won't rain for the next week straight. Here's hoping!

Thanks for listening!

smp
Stephen
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Telescopes: Tele Vue TV-85; Celestron C6; Questar 3.5 Standard SN 18-11421
Solar: Thousand Oaks white light filter; Daystar Quark (chromosphere) Hα filter
Mounts: iOptron Az Pro; Explore Scientific Twilight I tripod w/ Celestron NexStar GT mount; Majestic heavy duty tripod
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#6

Post by STEVE333 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 3:42 pm

One day early!! That doesn't happen very often.

Looks like a nice compact setup. Should be many hours of fun viewing ahead.

I actually started my AP imaging with an Alt/Az mount (Nexstar5). Limited to 30 sec exposures, but, captured many of the Messier targets. Your setup should be great for viewing.

Steve
Steve King: Light Pollution (Bortle 5)
Telescope + Mount + Guiding: W.O. Star71-ii or ES ED102 CF + iOptron CEM40 EC + Orion Magnificent Mini AutoGuider
Camera: ASI 1600MM Pro + EFW Filter Wheel + ZWO 7nm Ha & Sii + Chroma 3nm Oiii + ZWO LRGB Filters
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#7

Post by Gulf Coast Guy » Thu Jun 20, 2019 1:36 am

smp wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:06 pm
After months and months of deliberation, as well as watching to see if it *ever* might go "on sale," I finally pulled the trigger today and purchased the iOptron Az Mount Pro.

As folks here may recall, before last Christmas, I purchased a Celestron C6 OTA from Highpoint Scientific. At the time I had already been monitoring the iOptron mount for maybe a month to two, waiting for a possible sale. I stumbled across the OTA at a very good price, and fearing that the price would not be there for long, I jumped on it. Alas, that is Highpoint's normal everyday price, and I could have waited.

The thing for me with an SCT like this is, with the narrow FOV, I have a fair amount of difficulty doing an alignment with my NexStar mount. I have a *much* easier time of it with my TV-85 - with a wider FOV. I want to use the SCT - I've always loved the size and portability. Just had a bummer of a time doing alignment, and that has been a hinderance for me getting out and just doing some observing.

The Az Mount Pro is advertised as having completely automatic alignment. Something they call "Just level and go." Get the mount level, get your scope attached, balance it parallel to the ground, and hit the power. From there, it's supposed to automatically orient itself, and get aligned. If this turns out to be even close to true for me, it will be a great leap ahead for me being able to do my observing.

I must confess, I have very poor sky recognition and recall. From childhood, I can spot The Big Dipper, and from my early years of trying to learn Constellations, I can spot Cassiopeia and Orion, but that is almost all there is for me. I have always had a monstrously difficult time translating from the page of whatever atlas or guidebook I might have in hand to the actual sky here in southern New Hampshire, in close proximity to Manchester with its sky glow. Going the other way, if I am lucky enough to find myself under darker skies, I am overwhelmed quickly by the much greater number of objects in the view. Both situations have conspired to muddle me up, and has really hampered my ability to just go out and know about where to point to observe even the most basic things. I believe that's why I have confined myself many times to Planetary or Lunar observing.
This may help. When I finnally learned a few pointers ( pointer stars that is) I felt a bit more comfortable finding my way around

http://www.shawnee.edu/planetarium/medi ... ePart1.pdf

and this.

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OTA's: 203mm f10 Meade SCT (LXD75); Antares 80mm Refractor w/William Optics APOGrade f6.9 objective; Orion Starseeker 80 f11.2 Refractor
Mount/tripod's: Meade LXD-75 EQ; Orion Starseeker IV ALT/AZ; Celestron Heavy Duty ALT/AZ Farpoint UBM (Universal Binocular Mount)
Eyepieces:Meade - 26mm plossl, 12mm Astrometric; GSO (OPT badge) 2" Superview 50mm & 30mm 1.25" 15mm; TMB Planetary Series 9mm, 6mm, & 4mm: 10mm & 23mm 60° that came with the 80mm f11.2
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#8

Post by smp » Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:29 pm

I got some time with the Sun out today, and the high winds we've been having are calmed down.

I got some practice in with alignment and learning the hand controller. As well, I got to use my new $40 hunk of metal to mount my TV-85. Nothing much going on with the white light view of the Sun, but I'm very happy with getting more familiar with setting up the mount and operating it, so when I finally do get a nighttime observing opportunity, I'll be much more used to how to operate this new equipment.

Baby steps... :lol:

675

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Stephen
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Telescopes: Tele Vue TV-85; Celestron C6; Questar 3.5 Standard SN 18-11421
Solar: Thousand Oaks white light filter; Daystar Quark (chromosphere) Hα filter
Mounts: iOptron Az Pro; Explore Scientific Twilight I tripod w/ Celestron NexStar GT mount; Majestic heavy duty tripod
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#9

Post by Gulf Coast Guy » Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:33 am

https://earthsky.org/clusters-nebulae-g ... giant-suns

There is a perfect pointer to the double cluster in Cassiopeia
OTA's: 203mm f10 Meade SCT (LXD75); Antares 80mm Refractor w/William Optics APOGrade f6.9 objective; Orion Starseeker 80 f11.2 Refractor
Mount/tripod's: Meade LXD-75 EQ; Orion Starseeker IV ALT/AZ; Celestron Heavy Duty ALT/AZ Farpoint UBM (Universal Binocular Mount)
Eyepieces:Meade - 26mm plossl, 12mm Astrometric; GSO (OPT badge) 2" Superview 50mm & 30mm 1.25" 15mm; TMB Planetary Series 9mm, 6mm, & 4mm: 10mm & 23mm 60° that came with the 80mm f11.2
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#10

Post by smp » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:13 pm

Here's an update on my experience so far with my Az Mount Pro:

I am having a terrible time with this mount. I find it very easy to set up and mount my scopes. I find the instructions for alignment and the use of the hand controller very intuitive and friendly. The mount operates well with one exception - it has only operated for a few hours before experiencing trouble, and when I got the mount back from iOptron Service, it again only operated for a couple of hours before completely failing a second time.

I have not read about any experience like this online anywhere. Except for some early software problems with tracking, all reviews and comments I have seen have been very positive. I assume that if anyone had the problems I am having, they would be posting online, just like I am now.

Let's go back to the beginning. After I received the mount, I was able to use it for a few Solar observing sessions (nice smooth featureless orange ball) in order to get used to setting up and aligning. The only issue I had was, after the automatic calibration, when I ask to point at the Sun, the mount seems to go to the position the Sun was in an hour ago. Oh, Daylight Savings Time, you say? Nope. Daylight Savings Time is properly set in the settings.

No matter, with my Tele Due Solar Finder, it's easy to get on the Sun and then perform a synch to target.

Once I had those few (approximately 1 hour +/-) sessions under my belt it was time to try some planetary viewing with my scopes. Both my TV-85 and also my C6 OTA mount simply and easily to the saddle. I managed a few sessions taking a look at Jupiter and Saturn for about an hour each time (the mosquitoes were certainly winning the nights). On the first session, I started to pick up a clicking sound from the drive after slewing to a target. That first time, I didn't know for sure, because it was soft and disappeared very quickly. The second session, I noticed it again. After slewing to a target, I got this rhythmic clicking sound, starting pretty loud and fading away quickly. I thought that perhaps the TV-85 with eyepiece might be a bit too heavy without the counterweight, but that turned out to not be the case. The third session was with my C6 and the same thing happened. That time, I noticed an up & down bounce of the target I was pointing at. I determined that I had an issue, so I broke it all down.

Looking online, I saw some indication that there may be a do-it-yourself adjustment, so I contacted iOptron Support for any pointers or instructions. They promptly asked me some questions and also provided me with instructions on the possible drive adjustments. I went out for another daytime session where I could potentially make adjustment and see what the elevation drive was doing. I ended up making no adjustments at all because the elevation started behaving somewhat erratically with lots of clicking, even though I could not see anything going on with the elevation drive that might be the cause of the clicking. Contacting iOptron Service again, I immediately got an RMA number.

Very lucky for me, iOptron is only a 40 mile drive away, so I could "save" the shipping and insurance cost, at the cost of gasoline and time.

I returned the mount to the good folks at iOptron, and a couple of days later, they informed me that they had, "...replaced the AZI motor. We also adjusted ALT belt. The mount has been tested and there is no more strange sound. We also modified the control board to improve the tracking." I retrieved the mount that afternoon.

I was able to get out yesterday (Friday, 2 August) only one day later. The mount was completely silent and set up just as it always had for me. In the daytime, it pointed to where the Sun was an hour before (my estimate). DST setting was fine. Synched to the Sun in its actual position, and tracked perfectly for about an hour. I tried a few goto. Because it was daylight, I could not verify them, but retuning back to the Sun after was dead on. I shut down and covered up for the afternoon.

I went back out at about 8:30 - 8:45 PM. Jupiter and Saturn were up, low to the SE. The mount automatically calibrated and went to the east of Jupiter, just like it did for the Sun. I used my red reticle finder on my TV-85 to get on Jupiter and synch to it. Nice view through so-so seeing low on the horizon. To be expected. Did a goto to Saturn but the foliage was still bothering the view. All this was using my Celestron 40mm Plossl for the widest FOV I can get. once on target, I tried a 15mm Plossl, and also my TV 6-3mm zoom, but it worked well only at 6 or 5mm. I decided to go for it and try some double stars from the HC menu. Back to the 40mm. Mizar & Alcor. Goto was great. I selected another from possibilities above the horizon, and each time an obvious target was in my FOV. I was getting excited now. On the third or fourth goto, I started to hear grumbling in azimuth. With each goto, the grumbling/humming in azimuth got louder. Then some humming in elevation as well. By the 6th or 7th attempt to goto, the azimuth drive froze entirely and the elevation drive was complaining loudly.

I broke everything down and put the scope, eyepieces, and finder away. I brought the mount & tripod into the garage and tried a couple more times for an unloaded calibration. The first time I got a mainboard error message, and the second time it tried, but azimuth was frozen both tries and the elevation continued to complain loudly.

This, for me, is terrible. After only a few one hour sessions, the mount started with the clicking. iOptron Support was good and promptly fixed the mount. Then, again after only a couple of hours of operation, the mount is completely failed.

I put in my message to iOptron Support, but, of course, this was 9:45 PM on Friday, and I'm now waiting for Monday before they will even read it. I expect prompt and courteous support as before, but this is very disappointing for me. For the price of this mount, I had no expectation whatsoever of performance like this. I sincerely hope that iOptron can fix this, and I can get on with observing. My wife & I are looking forward to visiting with our niece again this year in September, and I was planning to bring my scope, as they are in a dark sky location there in south-western Tennessee.

I'm depressed. Thanks for listening.

smp
Stephen
- - - - -
Telescopes: Tele Vue TV-85; Celestron C6; Questar 3.5 Standard SN 18-11421
Solar: Thousand Oaks white light filter; Daystar Quark (chromosphere) Hα filter
Mounts: iOptron Az Pro; Explore Scientific Twilight I tripod w/ Celestron NexStar GT mount; Majestic heavy duty tripod
Local Club: New Hampshire Astronomical Society
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#11

Post by smp » Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:20 pm

Here's my update:

I got my mount back (again) from iOptron Friday afternoon. Here's what they said in their message: "The technician identified the problem. - RA belt pulley setting screw loose, pulley walked out and touch/stuck to the cover. Replaced pulley and setting screw, repositioned the pulley, tested whole day, good."

I jumped in the car and went down to pick it up right away. I didn't bother with any discussion about why this should have occurred right after they had the mount and fixed it for my previous issue. I note that if they actually tested the mount "the whole day," they have probably put more operating hours on it than I have, at this point.

I haven't had the opportunity to observe yet, but hopefully I'll be able to get out soon, and I'll be back to let you know how it goes.

Thanks for listening!

smp
Stephen
- - - - -
Telescopes: Tele Vue TV-85; Celestron C6; Questar 3.5 Standard SN 18-11421
Solar: Thousand Oaks white light filter; Daystar Quark (chromosphere) Hα filter
Mounts: iOptron Az Pro; Explore Scientific Twilight I tripod w/ Celestron NexStar GT mount; Majestic heavy duty tripod
Local Club: New Hampshire Astronomical Society
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#12

Post by Juno16 » Sun Aug 11, 2019 8:04 pm

All the best on a successful test!

Sounds like they finally caught the issue and repaired it.

I know that this has been a very emotional and stressful time with your new mount.

I really hope all goes well and looking forward to a successful viewing report!

Thanks,
Jim
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#13

Post by bladekeeper » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:48 am

Wow. Well, good luck, Stephen! Hopefully this time it is fixed and no more worries!
Bryan
Scopes: Apertura AD12 f/5; Celestron C6-R f/8; ES AR127 f/6.4; Stellarvue SV102T f/7; iOptron MC90 f/13.3; Orion ST80A f/5; ES ED80 f/6; Celestron Premium 80 f/11.4; Celestron C80 f/11.4; Unitron Model 142 f/16; Meade NG60 f/10
Mounts: Celestron AVX; Bresser EXOS-2; ES Twilight I; ES Twilight II; iOptron Cube-G; AZ3/wood tripod; Vixen Polaris
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#14

Post by Cliff » Thu Oct 24, 2019 12:24 am

I have a bought used iOptron MiniTower Pro similar to yours without the quiet belt drive and built in battery. So far so good.

Did replace the GPS board as it had the rollover bug and added the upgraded AZpro clutch and gear kit.

Have found levelling to be critical especially with my 6" Meade SCT. Also counterweight and balancing .

Glad you got it fixed
Cliff

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#15

Post by pakarinen » Mon Oct 28, 2019 1:50 pm

I realize these are complex pieces of machinery, but you'd think that for the price, these things (all manufacturers, not just iOptron) should work extremely well if not flawlessly. And also a reason why I think about going back to manual RA and Dec circles from time to time. Hope all goes well.
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#16

Post by smp » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:29 pm

smp wrote:
Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:20 pm
...
I haven't had the opportunity to observe yet, but hopefully I'll be able to get out soon, and I'll be back to let you know how it goes.
...
Since posting that, I have been able to have several observing sessions, with both my TV-85, and also my C6. I am very happy to report no further problems. The Az Pro has performed flawlessly, with good calibration, and (unbelievable for me) excellent go-to performance.

Interestingly, when I first started using this mount, it consistently calibrated itself about 15 degrees east of the target it selected for the final confirmation of alignment. I chalked that up to not handling my local magnetic north declination properly, because it was completely consistent. After I got the mount back from the second return to iOptron, it was calibrating itself pretty much perfectly. Lately, perhaps the last few session I had, it seems to be finishing about 15 degrees east again. Very curious.

With this mount otherwise performing flawlessly, I can let it perform its calibration dance, and, no matter where it ends up, as long as I can get on a known target, I can then do a sync-to-target, and after that enjoy quick and easy go-to performance. And, the mount is super quiet, too. Very nice operation overall.

I managed to get a few sessions in August, several sessions in September, and, even though October has been extremely cloudy for us, 3-4 more sessions in October. I am now finally getting to the point where I am no longer holding my breath waiting for what will happen next with this mount, and simply enjoying its excellent performance. I just got a new reticle RDF for my C6, and I got it lined up, but since we've had another bout of clouds. Hopefully they'll break in November, and I can get back out there and give it a go. I should only have to use it for the initial calibration, or the initial sync-to-target, but it should help out with the narrow FOV tremendously.

So much for my rambling. I'm very happy to report that I finally have this great mount operating as it should be.

Thanks for listening!

smp
Stephen
- - - - -
Telescopes: Tele Vue TV-85; Celestron C6; Questar 3.5 Standard SN 18-11421
Solar: Thousand Oaks white light filter; Daystar Quark (chromosphere) Hα filter
Mounts: iOptron Az Pro; Explore Scientific Twilight I tripod w/ Celestron NexStar GT mount; Majestic heavy duty tripod
Local Club: New Hampshire Astronomical Society
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#17

Post by Myk Rian » Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:01 pm

smp wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 9:06 pm
I must confess, I have very poor sky recognition and recall. From childhood, I can spot The Big Dipper, and from my early years of trying to learn Constellations, I can spot Cassiopeia and Orion, but that is almost all there is for me. I have always had a monstrously difficult time translating from the page of whatever atlas or guidebook I might have in hand to the actual sky here in southern New Hampshire, in close proximity to Manchester with its sky glow. Going the other way, if I am lucky enough to find myself under darker skies, I am overwhelmed quickly by the much greater number of objects in the view. Both situations have conspired to muddle me up, and has really hampered my ability to just go out and know about where to point to observe even the most basic things. I believe that's why I have confined myself many times to Planetary or Lunar observing.
Pretty much what my problem is. Once I find where something is, I study it until I can target it unaided. It's a very frustrating disability at times.

I'm considering a mount in the 30-35 lb range. I have an iOptron SmartEQ Pro and like it. Works very well with my Meade Adventure 80 and Meade DS-90 OTA. The 90 wobbles in wind, but hanging a chain on it quiets it down. I'm still not sure if I want another EQ, but for an Alt/Az, this one is in the running. Thanks for the report.
Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill on the same night.
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