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VIXEN IN JOINT TECHNOLOGY PARTNERSHIP WITH EUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORY (ESO) POLARIE STAR TRACKER BEING USED FOR ULTRA HD EXPEDITION - CURRENTLY TAKING FORWARD ORDERS FOR NEW SKY-WATCHER 18 INCH TRUSS F/4 NEWTONIAN - CHECK OUT THE NEW VIXEN SLV LANTHANUM EYEPIECES....

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SKY-WATCHER AZ EQ6 GT DUAL PURPOSE HEAVY DUTY MOUNT - AstroShop

 

Wonderful New Mount from Sky-Watcher
Updated 31st January 2013
 



Fig 1.) A superb telescope (the Sky-Watcher 190mm MAKSUTOV-NEWTONIAN riding on a sleek new multi-purpose heavy duty mount from Sky-Watcher.

Fig 2.): The new AZEQ6 GT goto mount from Sky-Watcher is set up for equatorial use. While it also can be used as an heavy duty dual telescope mount it boasts many new and well thought out features. As usual, AstroShop works closely with Sky-Watcher, with product development (particularly for use in the southern hemisphere) and is proud to provide this first hand / first look at what maybe the only mount you'll ever need. In fact during our testing the manual was still being written.

Arriving in two large cartons (one for the tripod and counterweights and the other containing the mount head, controller, pucks etc) this system is packed very securely for shipping with foam lined inner carton and an outer carton. The new mount head casting looks fantastic in classic white powder coat finish, large clamping knobs and highly polished and chrome fixtures. Opening the side panel reveals the new belt drive system on both axis.
 

Fig 3.) The main panel. Note the new two pin, screw on polarised power connector, and SNAP camera control connector. The hand control interface is now like the HEQ5 mounts sporting RJ45 connector rather than the old 9-pin RS-232 connector.

Fig 4.) RA clamping lever (black handle) sits back where the polar scope is fitted. Nice chunky elevation bolt lever makes for easy adjustment.
 


Fig 5.)
Solid chrome elevation lever noted at rear and just behind it the R.A clamp lever. At the top of the counterweight shaft is the three pronged dec clamp.


Fig 6.) Side plate removed reveals the new belt driven encoder drive motors that yield a quieter, smoother and more accurate slewing motion.

 

As an Equatorial mount
While there is a great deal I need to test yet including side by side telescope operation in ALT-AZ use, for initial testing I set up the mount in equatorial mode and placed the mount in rough polar aligned position. Adjusting the latitude elevation was a breeze using the solid silky smooth lever seen at the rear of the mount head (fig 4) above.  After balancing the scope and applying power, the SynScan V3 (fitted with product specific V3.31 firmware) did not give the usual initialisation beep EQ6 users are familiar with. It first prompts for the mode you wish to use. From the choice of EQ or ALT-AZ, after selecting equatorial, it then gives that nice comforting beep. Setting up is the same for date, time, location, daylight savings and number of alignment stars you wish to align to. I selected a simple two star align using Achernar and Altair. The first thing that really impressed was the smooth sound of the motors when slewing at full speed. A little like a muffled dentists drill - not offensive by any means due to the new belt driven steppers with encoder and was about as audible as a HEQ5 yet completely different sounding to the gears in motion of classic NEQ6. While I am on the subject, after an alignment is completed, one can manually move the mount to another position in the sky and clamp off each axis again without losing alignment.

Selecting a few  common favourites from the Synscan tour selections, it was off to M6 then the colourful double Alberio. Both fell perfectly in the centre of the 22mm eyepiece. Later I was off to M7 for a check and then across to NGC104 (47 Tuc) globular cluster. I left it for 30 minutes and came back to the eyepiece to find this magnificent cluster still centred nicely in the eyepiece. I decided to then try the lovely Pavo globular cluster (NGC6752) and it too fell nicely into the centre of the FOV. Off to one of the wandering worlds, Uranus this time. It wasn't centred but I could see it within the field of the eyepiece. As the clouds started building up, I quickly shot over to M8 now a bit low in the west but centred in the view.
 

As an Alt-Azimuth mount

Fig 7.) So easy to convert to ALT-AZ configuration for one or two telescopes within 5 minutes. Use counterweights on the extendable declination shaft for balancing a single heavy scope or simply add another scope and extend for best balance of the system.

Another great advantage of mounting your optical tube or tubes on this type of mount is that you can use a CCD camera fitted at the back of your telescope and point overhead without the worry of it banging into the base like of conventional old fork alt-az configurations like Celestron CPC and Meade etc...). Setup is easy just like the "go to" collapsible Sky-Watcher Newtonians. Simply set the mount level and facing north, power up and select ALT-AZ mode from the start up menu in the hand controller. After setting your location, time, date and Daylight savings (yes/no) options as usual, the user is presented with one or two star alignment options. I always prefer 2 stars (recommended). You must manually slew the mount to the first star chosen from the star selection options setting up as follows:

1) With the control panel of mount facing to you, the telescope should be installed on your right hand side.
2) When the telescope is levelled (ALT= 0 degree), the telescope should point forward with the control panel of the mount still facing to you.
3) To align the first (or the brightest) alignment star in AZ mode, always rotate the mount in azimuth (the RA axis) first to the right in the direction of the alignment star and then rotate the altitude (declination axis) upwards to point to the star. The telescope should not rotate or flip beyond 90 degrees overhead (zenith) to point to the first star otherwise it will cause problems when slewing to the second alignment star.

Once the first star is centred, and then selecting the 2nd alignment star, the mount will slew itself to or very near to that star (close enough as seen in the finder scope). Once you do a manual centre in the finder scope cross hairs and then at the eyepiece, simply press enter and you're ready to tour the night sky.

When objects are not perfectly centred, the ALT-AZ mode also allows the user to re-centre on the target after manual re-centring is done with direction keys by simply holding down the ESC key for improved accuracy (just like in equatorial mode use). The extra mounting head puck provided with the unit for side by side telescope use has fine altitude adjust lever screws for helping with on-axis alignment with the main scope. And of course when it comes to sharing the load between a heavier primary scope with a much lighter smaller one on the opposite side, one can simply extend the declination shaft in or out to suit.

**Latest testing reveals some inaccuracies in selected target centring using ALT-AZ configuration after doing a 2 star alignment but we have reported this and future firmware updates for the SynScan controller will no doubt sort the issue.

***UPDATE 12th December 2012 - As anticipated, feedback and quick development response has let to the required updates. See links at the bottom of this article. 

 

SPECIFICATIONS - AZ EQ6 GT Sky-Watcher mount (draft only)
Mount Type German Equatorial / Alt Azimuth Dual type
Payload 20 Kg plus 20 Kg for counterweights (40 kg in total in ALT-AZ)
Latitude Adjustment 10° to 70° ,90°
Azimuth Adjustment roughly +/1 9°
Head Weight 15.4 Kgs
Power requirement 11-16VDC (12V optimal)
Tripod 2-inch stainless steel (7.5Kg)
Counterweight shaft Extendable 25mm thick 20cm with 15cm extension piece
Counterweights 2 x 5Kg
Motors 1.8° Hybrid steppers
Transmission 180:1 Worm drive + 48.12 timing belt + 64 micro-step/1.8° stepper
Resolution 9216000 counts / rev (approx 0.14 arc-second
Max Slewing speed 4.2 degrees per second
Auto-guiding speed 0.125X, 0.25X, 0.5X, 0.75X, 1.0X
Periodic Error Correction 100 segments permanent PEC
Hand Controller SynScan V3 - loaded with V3.31 firmware
Database 42000 plus object plus custom entries allowed
Celestial Catalogue Messier, NGC, IC, SAO, Caldwell, Double and Variable stars, Named objects and planets.
Pointing accuracy  
Resolution of Aux R.A and Dec encoders 6356 counts / rev (approx 3.4 arc minutes)
Camera control YES - includes cable for Canon EOS
Plate Mounting type 2 x Mount Pucks ( one adjustable) Vixen and Losmandy style
   

 

 

Summary

With testing to-date, I am extremely impressed. We will provide a more thorough summary and update this first inspection article as time allows. But I can say, as a long time HEQ5 and EQ6 user, this mount is a major leap forward... stylish, smooth operation, packed with features (new and old) and well packed for shipping not to mention backed by true manufacturers 5 year warranty! - SM

 


SYNSCAN HAND CONTROL FIRMWARE V3.32
AND NEW INSTRUCTIONS RELEASED!!


EQ Firmware Update:
http://www.skywatcher.com/swtinc/customer_support.php?id=124&class1=1&class2=101

AZ Firmware Update:
http://www.skywatcher.com/swtinc/customer_support.php?id=148&class1=1&class2=110

SynScan Hand Control Instruction Manual (v3.32):
http://www.skywatcher.com/swtinc/customer_support.php?id=147&class1=1&class2=180

 

 

Buy the AZ-EQ6 GT mount now

 
Note: AstroShop reviews are only intended to provide prospective purchasers our own first hand impressions of performance and build as has been our long time policy.
Copyright - 2012 - Binary Systems Pty Limited

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