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    Default iOptron SmartEQ Pro - a good cheap solution for a novice?



    I like the AstroTrac, but the iOptron SmartEQ Pro looks good also, with the addition of GoTo - and not least, because of the $. Will setup be too complicated for a noob!!?

    moonrise.jpg Moonrise this afternoon!

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    Default Re: iOptron SmartEQ Pro - a good cheap solution for a novice?

    I meant to clarify, this would be for a DSLR rig - Nikon 5100 and 70-200 2.8 lens. I'm happy with that combo for now. Perhaps add a 72mm ED refractor. Happy taking subs too and stacking (for now!)

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    Default Re: iOptron SmartEQ Pro - a good cheap solution for a novice?

    The iOptron is a German Equatorial Mount (GEM). If you have never used a GEM before then you will have a period of adjustment to go though, nothing difficult but just learning the ways of an equatorial mount. The goto part is fairly easy to learn but does require some effort also. All in all, it will come together fairly rapidly and you will be getting some nice images with your camera and fast f/2.8 lens.
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    Default Re: iOptron SmartEQ Pro - a good cheap solution for a novice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick James View Post
    I like the AstroTrac, but the iOptron SmartEQ Pro looks good also, with the addition of GoTo - and not least, because of the $. Will setup be too complicated for a noob!!?

    moonrise.jpg Moonrise this afternoon!
    Hello Rick! I just wanted to stop by and say congratulations on your decision to get deeper into this discipline. I have been imaging with the SmartEQ Pro for almost a year and I am nothing but pleased with the portability and accuracy that it offers. I have some items that I would like to touch on that I will list below for you.

    Pros
    +Lightweight @ ~12 lbs (maybe 15 with the carrying case for the mount head)
    +You can go from completely packed away in your trunk to imaging in under 10 minutes ease. I do recommend however you practice aligning in your backyard many many times before you drive out to a dark site.
    +Excellent tracking at sub 10 minute exposures. It can go longer with perfect alignment however that takes some pretty serious practice.
    +Very long battery life. I never take the batteries all the way to dead but I have gotten about 12+ hours of excellent feedback (no handset dimming or tracking falter) -Note: it comes with an AC adapter also, I use this with a power inverter sometimes if I have a chance to set up early and I want to be super thorough.
    +Respectable payload for it's size. It's specs online say it has a max payload of 11lbs. I would say you can safely load up 9.5 and not lose tracking accuracy. Your DSLR or an 80mm Triplet can be mounted with ease.
    +Potentially sturdy tripod legs/spreader (more on this later)

    Cons
    -The polar finder sucks. It's literally a crosshair with a circle. This mount begs to be drift aligned. Though I use iOptrons polar finder app and you can get pretty damn close with that.
    -Out of the box, the tripod is somewhat weak. Along with a myriad of other tips, Paul (astronewb) put together a solid guide for adding additional rigidity to the tripod legs. If you're imaging, this is pretty much a must do. https://www.flickr.com/photos/astron...747500/detail/
    -There is a slight backlash in the declination drive. This can be adjusted however I recommend you get familiar with the mount before you go tightening/loosening stuff .
    -No Periodic Error Correction (PEC), however this seriously isn't necessary with this mount as you're not paying for perfection, though you're getting super close for the price.
    -The knobs, oh my god the knobs are super lame. Getting the torque to a comfortable point pretty much means stripping the knob off the bolt..and this is ok because the solution for me is absolutely viable. I was going to replace them, but truthfully I just threw a pair of vice grips in my bag and I use them to adjust RA and the tension on the scope base.

    I know it sounds like I'm being a little harsh with my cons there, but I promise you those are not even close to big issues. The SmartEQ Pro is a killer mount and a fantastic choice for a first GEM.

    As the adage goes, the best mount is the one you use the most. I will have some amazing mounts in the next few years, and I promise you every single night, the SmartEQ will come with me either way, because it takes minutes to setup and I have a strong appreciation for it's capability and easy of use.

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