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jam1e1

Skywatcher Alt-AZ EQ6 GEQ First Thoughts

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Hi

Just received the new mount on Friday, thanks again to First Light Optics for speedy delivery! Previously had an EQ6 pro so comparing experience to that before.

Haven’t had a chance to use outside yet, setup yesterday and had a quick play, here are some brief thoughts:

Delivery

Comes in similar boxes to EQ6. Legs are same as before, also comes with 2x 5kg weights and the standard eyepiece holder. Also came with English instructions.

Mount head comes with a number of accessories – standard synscan handset, 2x standard cables, handset holder. In addition new accessories are 3x allen keys, cable clip to stick to legs, snap cable for DSLR cameras, additional mount head, counterweight extension bar.

Mount Head

First thing you notice is the lighter weight- will make mobile setup much easier.

Counterweight bar

The bar has a different finish but feels heavy and robust, after some use expect to show some level of wear, but does look like a professional finish. Skywatcher seem to have done away with a number of the old ‘clutch’ designs using the black handles, the new bar clamp is tightened using the metal bar shown in picture.

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Alt/Az clutches

The Alt clutch is shown in previous picture with counterweight bar, it’s the 3 pronged handle – in my view appears much more conveniently located and has a smooth gradual twist lock tightening feel – easy to find in dark if need to release the clutch.

The Az clutch is shown in this picture (with black handle by polar scope) it can be unscrewed and put in one of the other pre-tapped holes if need to tighten more or locate to more convenient position. Again another twist lock design. Both seem to be more robust than before and well thought out designs.

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AZ mode lock

This picture shows two knurled silver bolts – one in the arch and another below in a seemly random position. There are two bolts – one longer that the other. The long one is in situ in the arch and fits into a locking hole to keep the mount in Az position. If used in EQ mode, you just unscrew and switch bolts over. The handle above adjusts tension for when in EQ mode and adjusting height (one also other side). Only point to note here is can see someone potentially forgetting about this bolt and trying to adjust height – this could cause some damage.

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These other two pictures show the altitude adjuster for EQ mode – much more robust so no more potential ‘bendy bolt’ issues seen on previous mounts. Design is significant upgrade, really easy to use and again well thought out design. The handle also nicely slots into the inside of bolt to hide away out of sight which is useful. The black Az handles appear same as before, will see how they perform once get a chance outside.

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Secondary head

This fits on really easily in about 2 mins by attaching to end of counterweight bar – the black bolt in middle locks the head to the bar, the tension bolt shown on bottom secures the head in position (the counterweight bar does have a flattened groove for this). The upper two adjusters are for fine adjusting so can sync Altitude of the two scopes when attached.

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The jaws of both heads are spring loaded so again a good upgrade for grip and less marks on dovetail bars.

The next two pictures show two possible positions for mounting scopes.

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Mount in action

Powered up mount, first asked to select mode, only played with in Az mode. The sound of the natural slewing was really quiet, appeared more so than previous mount and appeared really smooth. The manual slewing had the usual sound to it but again quite smooth sounding, keeping in mind the new design.

Plugged in Skysafari unit (for those not aware this allows wireless control via IPhone or Android phones) and tested by slewing to a few objects, worked perfectly (note I mean no comms issues – straightforward to setup). My favourite feature was the dual encoders – I released both clutches, then moved the mount head. The position was seamlessly tracked in IPhone by the turquoise target shown in picture! As moved in Alt or Az the pointer moved to corresponding position – great for nights where you just want to wander through sky but keep track of position! The mount felt really smooth when moving around which was reassuring.

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Overall

The above points are only from a view of setup indoors and more of a usability and feature test.

To conclude really impressed with build quality, mount is lighter than before, also incorporates new designs that actually make it more user friendly and easier to use in field.

Being able to use 2x scopes at a time, and also keep track of exact position via encoders, are great new features.

Seamless integration with Skysafari was also pleasing, having not had to upgrade accessories also.

Really impressed so far and look forward to using in field. Will update findings as/when get a chance.

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Nice report. I am particularly interested in the reduced weight, as I am looking for a sturdy, but still portable mount. I hope you get to use the mount in earnest soon.

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Thanks for taking the time to review the mount - much appreciated.

I saw from the .pdf manual that the Synscan has a new polar alignment routine which places Polaris using a clock face-type indicator. Sounds a lot like the similarly priced iEQ45 which was on my shortlist, but that's now fallen by the wayside given the additional features of the AZ EQ6. Think I'll give this one a try!

Thanks again.

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I stopped by the Widescreen Centre yesterday and had a look over the mount. I have to concur with Jam1e1 - it does look really well made, very nice quality indeed. I lifted the mount quite easily and it did feel much lighter than that quoted 15.4kg, also per Jam1e1's experiences. Definitely easier to lift than the EQ6, even although the weight of that is listed as 16kg. Something about those weights there doesn't add up. The AZ model is definitely more than half a kg lighter.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I've just bought one and it's being delivered on Thursday. If anyone's looking for availability, the Widescreen Centre still has two left ... and don't believe the price they quote on their website :-)

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Really impressed so far and look forward to using in field.

Excellent :grin:

The Skywatcher AZ EQ6 GT is a new mount and you were an early adopter so thank-you for taking the trouble to post your thoughts :icon_salut:

Steve

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Ooops! I missed this review (been a bit busy this last week or so :)). Sounds very interesting indeed. I'm especially liking the new altitude adjuster. Do we have any word on EQMod compatibility yet?

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Alistair the EQ6 and HEQ5 bothe have a polaris cloxk poisution read out via there synscan handsets.

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Alistair the EQ6 and HEQ5 bothe have a polaris cloxk poisution read out via there synscan handsets.

Ahhhh! Thanks for that. Oh well, too late to buy them now, the AZ-EQ6 arrives today!

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Just a thought. Would it be possible to use the mount in EQ mode, and use the additionnal head for the guide scope when shooting ?

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no in eq mode the counterbalance weights are required also the scopes could clash with legs

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I've picking mine up on Monday, courtesy of RVO. Can't wait. Hopefully this is the mount i've spent the last 4 years looking for :smiley:

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Hi all,

Update: First Light using AZ mode from back garden

Synscan: V3.31 (As per supplied by manufacturer)

Took opportunity to have a quick play before moon got too high up, so took mount and scope out and setup in back garden.

Counterweights - point to be aware

Point to be aware of that didnt immediately pick up on before - the counterweight bar is much thicker than previous EQ6 / EQ5 / Skytee2 mounts - hence older counterweights will *not* work with this mount - be aware before ordering counterweights if you need more than the supplied 2!

Tried the new counterweight on SkyTee2, worked ok but did go on at slight angle hence not quite a flush fit, but not really an issue being horizontal mounting.

Would not advise using new counterweight on previous model EQ mount, whilst it will tighten onto bar, will not sit flush hence if it slips down, will go straight over the end locking nut so say goodbye to whatever is below :eek:

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Alignment Setup and use

Setup similar to EQ6, although when turn on asked which mode to select (Az or EQ). Once setup (time/location etc) alignment has 2 options - brightest star or 2 star alignment.

Brightest star

Selected this, gives option to select portion of sky which is good (east,north etc), I selected East and got given 3 stars to choose from, selected Jupiter (apparently a star!). It asks to slew to this, did this, then asked to centre object which thought was strange as just slewed to it. Either way just pressed enter again, then handset went on to ask for 1st star to align to - again this didnt seem right. Appears to be a bug in software. Either way followed it through using 2 stars capella and dubhe, handset read alignment successful. Then went to slew to jupiter from handset, unfortunately was quite out (distance of Capella to Elnath). Thought I may have done something wrong so did again, same questions asked by handset, used different stars but once again was way out. To conclude appears this feature may not work at present, unless I have done something wrong, happy to be corrected if so.

2 star alignment

Went on to try out this only other alignment option, in hope could get aligned. Selected Capella as 1st star and manually slewed and centred on this, then selected Polaris as second star, mount slewed to near this then had to manually slew to it. Upon completion handset read 'alignment successful', unfortunately again similar result whereby Jupiter was way out.

At this point gave up and went in as was hungry for tea and moon was rising. Ive tried to so a search on skywatcher website, appears there is v3.32 beta firmware, but reading release notes no fix or amendments appear in for Az mode.

On the positive side slewing does feel quite smooth and robust, hence works fine at present for manual slewing.

To conclude, appears at present the firmware may require an update on accuracy in order to track / goto in Az mode - again happy to stand corrected if this is not the case and have made error myself in setup.

If anybody else has any similar or alternate experiences happy to hear from you.

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Similar reports of inaccuracies in Alt-Az were reported here ... http://www.astroshop.com.au/guides/sky-watcher-azeq6gt.asp (very last lines of the review) ... so probably not just you. I'm sure Skywatcher will be working on a fix. I had my AZ EQ6 out last night as well in Alt Az mode, but never got around to aligning it so I can't confirm the problem. I will just add though that the mount really is top notch. Slewing is just so quiet, I'll have to look elsewhere now for a coffee grinder. And the mount really does feel very well made - very robust adjustment bolts - but not at the expense of weight. It really is very manageable.

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excellent review!! with more options then my brain would know what do with at present lol

but very awsome to have the choice of AZ and EQ in the same mount, wow not cheap tho, how you finding the beast of a mount so far? :) not that im jelous one bit lol

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Thanks, to be honest the weather has made it one expensive ornament at the moment!

from limited use so far impressed with hardware build and look forward to using again when clears up. May have a play in eq mode to see how performs, although expect will be equivalent to eq6 in terms of accuracy.

The encoders are a great addition, as well as az mode for visual observing so EP stays in one position! nice to have both options , so if do get more into imaging will have the capability to do so.

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Accuracy problems can be found in EQ mode also. Whenever I do a 3 star alignment and slew to an object for shooting, no matter how good my setup is prepared (PA,...), I ALLWAYS get the object out of my DSLR's frame. That is with the beta versions of the new SW software. I reverted to 3.27 but didnt get a chance to check it out again.

I end up doing a 1 star align very near to the target, and I get the object dead centered on the sensor.

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I'm sure Skywatcher will be working on a fix.

Indeed they are. I sent a link to this thread to OVL who relayed it to Skywatcher. Here is their response:

"During the Brightest Star Alignment process, if the first star happens

to be a planet, the SynScan hand control will need to align to another

two "real" stars. This is because the SynScan hand controller cannot

always calculate the RA/Dec of a planet very accurately (The high

precision algorithm is too complex for the hand controller and a

simplified one is used instead.)

We will test the version 3.32 firmware ASAP to see whether there is any

problem. We will check whether there is any problem in the calculation

of the coordinates of Jupiter."

I will just add though that the mount really is top notch. Slewing is just so quiet, I'll have to look elsewhere now for a coffee grinder. And the mount really does feel very well made - very robust adjustment bolts - but not at the expense of weight. It really is very manageable.

That is good to hear and appears to be the general consensus from early adopters. The mount is very well made but the firmware might need an update.

To be fair most manufacturers consider planets unsuitable for use as alignment stars.

HTH,

Steve :smiley:

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Hi All - brand new to the site so be gentle with me! ....

I have also just taken delivery of an AZ-EQ6 GT and like everyone else am VERY impressed with the build quality, quiet slew etc.

My only beef is that the mount did not come with a manual for the Synscan controller....

Not a problem I thought - just download one from the Skywatcher web-site - did that but the latest manual is version 3.0 and it doesn't have any of the new functionality for the AZ-EQ6 GT in it. So right now, I don't even have an idea how to align the scope in ALT/AZ mode....

Can anyone tell me how I get hold of the manual for my version of SynScan (v3.31) please?

Many thanks

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Can anyone tell me how I get hold of the manual for my version of SynScan (v3.31) please?

Skywatcher are releasing the manual for the AZ EQ6-GT handset next week so you won't have to wait long :smiley:

It will be available as a pdf download.

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I wait nearly 2 years to get the mount of my dreams...then they go and bring this out......nnoooooo.. :eek: ..Great review on it though,especially for a novice such as myself to make sense of it all.......so now do i get the NEq6 pro or the suped up bad boy best of both worlds new 1.......decisions decisions....... :icon_rolleyes: i think i'll settle for the NEQ6 pro.....not going to have that little bit too much scope for my basic needs then!!.....now where's my bank card.........

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Great review thread, thanks for putting it together. Very interesting to read about SW's new mount.

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Hi All - brand new to the site so be gentle with me! ....

I have also just taken delivery of an AZ-EQ6 GT and like everyone else am VERY impressed with the build quality, quiet slew etc.

My only beef is that the mount did not come with a manual for the Synscan controller....

Not a problem I thought - just download one from the Skywatcher web-site - did that but the latest manual is version 3.0 and it doesn't have any of the new functionality for the AZ-EQ6 GT in it. So right now, I don't even have an idea how to align the scope in ALT/AZ mode....

Can anyone tell me how I get hold of the manual for my version of SynScan (v3.31) please?

Many thanks

Don't worry about it - I didn't get the mount manual either, but thankfully FLO had put a copy on their website! From what I can make out, just follow the instructions on the handset to align in Alt-Az mode. When you switch the mount on, it will ask you whether you are in EQ or Alt-Az mode. Select the latter then just follow the instructions for aligning. Post #13 above explains the two alignment options you have. All quite straightforward, I think. Unfortunately I don't know the names of many stars, so I have a hell of a time looking around with my iPhone and SkySafari or Skywalk, etc, trying to identify the names of the bright ones that I can see above me so I can slew to them!

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