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EQ6 Skyscan - first light


russ
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I thought i would write a quick 'First Look' review of the EQ6 Skyscan upgrade. I purchased this quietly last week once everything had settled from our house move. Be wanting this upgrade since it was first announced and was ready to buy 3 weeks ago but Steve kindly made us aware that Skyscan was about to be upgraded and to hang on. So i did.

Just for info, Skyscan no longer exists. Now replaced by Synscan. Physically they look identical.

The kit contained:

New controller board, new Handset, two motors, RJ45 to RS232 cable, 12volt power cable, sachet of grease and a 7.5Ah Power Station.

Installation took 30mins, would have been much quicker but i lost a washer in the gears (still lost). This is a very easy upgrade to perform with nothing technically challenging to do. Just gets a bit fiddly installing the motors without dropping the washers in the gears, especially with two children constantly asking questions.

Chance for a first light came last night. Due to poor weather forecasting, the clear sky was totally expected. And i had no idea how long the clear spell would last, so the whole thing became a rushed affair. Not ideal when you're trying to learn something new.

Not surprisingly i ran into a snag almost straightaway. Punched in all the setup details (date, time, location, time zone, daylight saving Y/N) and then tried to perform a 3 star alignment. Trouble was, with the exception of Vega, all the stars it was offering had already set. Checked my setup details again and it all looked fine. Decided to do a 1 star alignment using Vega which it said was succesful. But then every object i wanted to observe it refused to find because it reckoned they had already set.

Anyhow, 8 times I re-entered date, time, location and time zone, each time it fouled up. Was getting pretty fed having been out 1 hour and not made any progress. However, when looking in the manual it finally it clicked what the problem was. The system was expecting the date in US format (mmddyyyy) and not Brit format.

Having figured out this I did a 2 star alignment which was a breeze. Then told it to slew too M1 The Crab. I took an image to show where it placed M1 on the CCD. The image is rubbish btw:

image.jpg

Was totally amazed to find M1 sitting smack in the middle of the Meade 26mm. Now that's impressive! Strangely though Mars was just outside the FOV. But it successfully put M81 and the Eskimo in the eyepiece.

At this point I have to say this is a first rate piece of kit and deserves all the rave reviews it's currently getting. It slews across the at 800x, yet the motors are so quiet they sound like they are barely trying. The handset is a lesson in logical layout and user-friendlyness. I instantly felt like i knew my way around, it is soooo easy to use. The handset has an RJ11 port for PC connection but no suitable cable is supplied (my only gripe). Once connected to some suitable planetarium software, the EQ6 should be recognised as a Celestron Nexstar 5. Can't confirm this though as i've yet to try out this feature.

So all in all, i'm over the moon!!!!!!

More in-depth review to follow once I get some decent time at the controls.

Russ

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Hi Gaz,

It appears to be just the sync function from what i could find on the web. Perhaps Steve will know a bit more?

I'll be quiet on the kit front for quite a while now. Have everything i ever wanted. :clouds1:

If you ever get the chance Gaz I highly recommend it. And I really see the appeal of GOTO as well. After 20 years of star hopping i'm totally ready for GOTO :sunny:

Russ

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It slews across the at 800x
:shock: You can go off people you know russ :clouds1:

That sound an awsome upgrade Russ gota be one of your better choices matey cant wait to read more from you soon! As to the Crab piccy it isnt bad at all because thats the object that gives astrophotographers more gip than anything else M31 inc.

Glad you have got something you are pleased with russ :clouds1::clouds2:

Nice one!

James :clouds1:

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Whats the difference between Skyscan and Synscan? Is it the 'sync' function we talked about a few months ago or are there other improvements?

I will get all the details when I am back at work Friday and let you know. 

If I had to guess, I would say that the recent GOTO activity from Synta (Skywatcher) is as a result of them having bought Celestron.  And, as a result of Celestron having recently lost their long running court battle with Meade over who actually invented GOTO.  (This is also why you will see Synta/Celestron moving away from the AltAz fork mount to the GEQ style mount, because it infringes less on Meade's GOTO patents). 

The above is, of course, only my opinion :clouds1:

Steve.

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The EQ6 goto is a humdinger alright Russ!

Synscan is just a name change from Skyscan, no other difference that I know of.

The sync function isn't implemented yet but should be when the handset firmware is revised.

The level north issue is what made Celestron adopt "Skyalign" which just uses three bright objects (could be planets, moon etc), you don't even have to know what they are, easy for anybody :clouds1:

bern

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Didn't the 'level north' thing kill Celestron? Do Synta still have to pay the royalties?

Yes, Level North is what Meade and Celestron were fighting over.  (Having won, Meade are now rolling out their new improved LNT GOTO and Celestron are using an alternative). 

Anyone using the Level North method must pay Meade. 

Still looking into the Synta question...

Steve :clouds1:

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Tom.

Russ' is the upgrade rather than the new mount and he seems pretty happy with it. I'd thought about which way to do it myself , if you sell the EQ6 for £350 secondhand, it works out to cost you around £250 extra to get a new EQ6 Skyscan rather than the kit.

Gaz

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  • 1 month later...

Russ/Steve,

I'm all set to order one of these in the next 3 weeks or so, I think I'm going to go for a completely new mount and sell my existing EQ6 (it was at least secondhand before I bought it and for peace of mind I'd like to start from scratch when spending this sort of money).

Steve,

I am right in thinking I should make sure its a SynScan rather than a SkyScan? Is there anything else I should look out for?

Russ,

Easy one. :clouds2: Are you still happy with system? :clouds2:

Cheers

Gaz

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Hi Gaz,

Can answer both for you. Skyscan has gone, just Synscan now.

Yes very happy with it i think. Only put in 2 hours with it since i bought it 9 weeks ago, so it's hardly used.

I thought about replacing my EQ6 and getting a complete system. Then worked out the difference in cost. Get about £350 for the EQ6 which leaves £650 to find for the EQ6 Skyscan Pro. But you can buy the kit for £450 or push it close to £400 with some haggling.

Plus there's been a few stories of the Skyscan Pro's arriving with no grease on the gears.

Besides which Gaz, fitting the upgrade kit is the easiest thing you'll ever do. I'm a complete idiot when it comes to DIY but even I found it easy. My only regret was using the supplied grease and not buying some high quality synthetic grease.

Regards

Russ

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Like you Russ I'm a bit useless on the DIY front but I think I'll be OK with replacing the motors my worry is that "something" in the mount may not be in AI condition. I've checked the gears that the motors rotate and they seem fine, is there anything else further "in" the mount that may be suspect? I'm not entirely sure how these mounts work...

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Hi Gaz,

I was pretty happy with the way the EQ6 was working before the upgrade. It seemed to have a good PE and could churn out quite lengthy unguided images with few tracking errors. Also didn't suffer with the jitters at high magnification. So was reluctunt to give away a good mount in return for a lemon.

If you think your current EQ6 is half decent, I would go with the upgrade. You just never know what you'll get next.

Russ

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Well that'll do for me, theres no point asking advice if youre not going to take it. :clouds2:

My mount doesn't get the jitters at high mags, so I guess I'll quit while I'm ahead!!

Just to muddy the waters theres a new version on the way from Synta with the same motors and panel but a simple control handset that you can upgrade to GOTO later.

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Gaz, i would have been mighty tempted with just the simple handcontroller but beefier drives. The one thing that really got on my nerves with the original mount was the painfully slow 16x max slew. GOTO is okay but not what it's cracked up to be, still can't beat finding an object via star hopping. It's the 800x max slew that's real impressive. No reason to manually move the mount anymore.

I suppose it all depends on the cost difference.

Russ

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I've just had the wind taken out of my sales.....I thought I was up for new mortgage deal and I was going to free up a couple of grand for some toys, I've just phoned the mortgage company and I've got another 10 months to go!! Arrghh!! :clouds2:

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