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I'm not sure this is the right forum to post this but I can't see where else to post it so here it goes (quite long but given the awful weather)...
I used to do a lot of astro-imaging in the past, years ago. As such I had a number of mounts collected in 20 years of activity. Be it because of intense use, be it because they used to sit outside in all (foul and otherwise) over the years the started to show sign of aging and some started to act up more times than not. As I retired from the astro-turf, so to speak, for the past few years (let's say 😎 I left the stacked away in the shed. Last year I decided to pick up astronomy once again, just to feel if I still got the bug. One the mount that I tended to use most often for small instrument and for forays to dark locations was my trusty Vixen GP-DX. Over nearly 20 years of service it became increasingly difficult to operate (for a number of reasons too boring to enumerate here). Bottom line is that either I got myself a new portable mount capable of proper guiding and good enough for imaging at 1.5"/px with a lightweight imaging kit or I tried to resurrect the trusty GP-DX.
Not trusting myself enough with the DIY required I enquired (googled) if anyone would service the mount and stumbled upon the DarkFrame website that offered what seemed to what I was looking for; on the 14th of August 2019 I sent an email to the owner enquiring if they offered that king of service for my Vixen and asking for a quote. After a little while I got a replay In the positive and a quote suitably followed. I find the price a bit steep (£350 plus shipping) but hey, either that of at least 3x times for another mount of similar capabilities. Besides, I really liked the GP-DX. I decided to go for it and duly paid the £195 deposit (on the 29th of August) and waited for the shipping box to arrive. Few days later it did appear at the door. To say I was unimpressed by the box would be an understatement as I was expecting a proper heavy-duty shipping BOX rather than some sort of recycled crisp cardboard box with a lot of odds and ends as fillers to be used as packaging material. Yet I had the proper return label and the mount plus controller were light enough anyway. Bit disappointed but the money was already gone so I might as well bite the bullet and risk leaving it to the tender mercies of the courier. Nagging doubts notwithstanding, the 4th of September I was advised by the customer manager that the mount arrived at destination on good order.
I was lead to believe, by the conversations with the DarkFrame owner, that the lead time was in the order of 4 weeks, so I was properly impressed when one month later I was advised by the customer manager that the mount was in the final testing phase after being repaired and to pay up the outstanding dues, which I duly did (via Paypal) the day after. I was also expecting to receive the results of the stripping, repairing and fixing but that didn't happen. Enquiring about it with them I was told that the mount was running over the weekend as per the following quote from them:
"We photograph every stage of a mount rebuild (especially on older mounts), so as promised will be sending some before and after shots. I’m letting her run in over the weekend, then will take an RA track test on our rig. I’ve also started on the Starbook so that should be much better too."
So I was in my right to expect to receive something for all the money I paid, but, alas nothing was forthcoming. Nearly 3 weeks after being told that my mount was "about" to be shipped I email them to ask about my mount status re shipment and such and received exactly no answer. After few other days I called them directly and the customer manager (or whatever) told me that someone or other was on holiday (nearly 1 month after they said the mount was ready to be shipped! ) but the mount was to go out at the end of that same week or next Monday at latest (that would have been Monday the 28th of October).
The 4th of November I send another email asking what the heck was going on. No replay. No answer to my calls either. I got better things to do in my life than chasing after some xxxxxxxx. As the Paypal buyers' protection was due to elapse the 25th of November I decided to pull the plug on them and initiated a claim procedure (on the 20th) that was duly ruled in my favour. By the 25th of November, as they were forced by Paypal to refund, non unexpectedly they chose to contact me by email offer a reduction of costs (waiving the shipping back cost) as long as I paid the monies!
As I had not trust left I counter-offered to pay it all upon receipt of confirmed shipment. Nothing was ever heard of them nor of my mount to this date, 4 months after the facts. I could write it off as lost cause or simply as a lost mount and consider myself lucky I didn't send my way more expensive mount to them to be "retuned". They are too far away from me to drive to their place, assuming that it still exists and besides, with current lock-down not something I can do anyway. In all my dealings (going back 20 years+) with dealers in the "astro" business I was never let down so badly so much.
As they say: buyers beware!
I have a nexstar 6se and I love it. I've only had it about a year and it's my first proper telescope. Every opportunity I'm out in the garden both looking through it and attaching my dslr to the back for fainter objects.
I'm noticing I'm getting movement in the longer exposure photos and after a bit of googling I think it's the mount.
So I'm looking to upgrade. I'm thinking something a little future proof but I'm not made of money so decent, reliable, cheaper end but good enough for astrophotography and with the possibility I might continue to add bits and pieces.
What do I need and how much am I looking? Help thanks in advance.
Lots of astro kit for sale! Payment via bank transfer or PayPal (buyer to pay fees). Reasonable offers considered.
1. Sky-Watcher Evostar 80ED DS-Pro Outfit with auto focuser upgrade -- £350
Comes with diagonal, 28mm 2” eyepiece, 2" to 1.25" eyepiece adapter, dovetail, tube rings, SkyWatcher Auto Focuser, HitecAstro DC Focus Controller USB, metal case. Approx. cost new: £562. Buyer to collect from central Bristol, or buyer to arrange for a courier. Note: doesn’t come with a finder / guider, but I have some available (listed below).
Main items similar to:
2. Sky-Watcher .85x Reducer/Flattener for ED80 -- £120 inc. recorded delivery to mainland UK
3. Sky-Watcher Skymax 150 PRO -- £300
Comes with diagonal, 28mm 2” eyepiece, and dovetail. Note: doesn’t come with a finder / guider, but I have some available (listed below). Buyer to collect from central Bristol, or buyer can arrange for a courier.
It's an earlier version of this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-150-pro.html
Works well with items 7, 8, and 9.
4. Sky-Watcher 9x50 and QHY5 mono guidescope -- £150 inc. recorded delivery to mainland UK
Includes T thread adapter attaching the QHY5 to the finderscope. Also includes kit to convert into a regular optical finderscope.
5. Sky-Watcher 9x50 Finderscope -- £30 inc. delivery to mainland UK
6. Sky-Watcher EQ3 PRO mount -- £220
In pretty good condition, and includes the handset for full goto functionality. Unboxed. Buyer to collect from central Bristol, or buyer can arrange for a courier.
It's an earlier version of this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-eq3-pro-synscan-goto.html
7. Astrozap Dew Heater Tape, 6" 'scope -- £30 inc. delivery to mainland UK
8. Astrozap Flexible Dew Shield for Skymax 150 -- £20 inc. delivery to mainland UK
9. StarSharp Bahtinov Focus Mask 150mm Maksutov -- £10 inc. delivery to mainland UK
Items 1 and 4:
Items 3, 5, 7:
I'm looking to get a reasonably portable astrophotography set-up, using a 60-100mm refractor, with a suitable goto mount. I spotted the Explore Scientifice exos2-gt with pmc-eight goto system, which looks like quite an elegant solution, and wondered if anybody in the forum owns this mount, and what they think of it's performance & usability?
I asked a few weeks ago about charging two batteries from one solar panel. I’ve now got a solar controller which can do this, see below, but I’m confused by the instruction manual, especially how I should set the “charging priority”. I assumed the unit would charge battery 1 until full, then move on and charge battery 2 until full, then go back to 1. I’m not sure what this charging priority is - image of the relevant page from the manual below. I’d be grateful to hear what you think it means.