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leemr

Talk me out of buying an Avalon Linear

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Hey guys,

I've had ongoing issues with my EQ6 and I'm considering the acquisition of a mount that requires less fiddling to work consistently. I'm purely interested in astrophotography, imaging at 1.17"/px, payload somewhere between 15 and 20kg I guess, haven't actually weighed it (SX674 camera, Celestron OAG, Orion Nautilus 7 position FW, Skywatcher Esprit 120, QHY5L-II mono, counterweights, electronic focuser weighing in around 0.5kg).

One thing I've struggled with is getting the gear meshing good on the EQ6. I'm not very mechanically savvy, and it's taken me nearly forever to get DEC backlash down to a level that it no longer has a significant detrimental impact on my guiding.

I live in Australia, and the cost of acquiring the Avalon Linear is significant to me. Freight, GST, import duty, exchange rates, customs and brokerage fees will end up costing me in the area of $7,500AUD to land this, which is already way above the amount my wife would be happy for me to spend (pretty sure that number is actually 0). I don't want to regret such a purchase, if I can actually convince the wife.

So I'm looking for a mount that is "plug and play", reliable, tracks and guides well, and is no more than the cost of the Avalon Linear.

Something that I find always happens is when I'm researching a purchase is that all I can find are the good things, or few bad things most of which seem tolerable, but after the fact I find out a bunch of things that would have changed my mind, so, I ask you.... for my purposes, and in my circumstances, why should I not buy an Avalon Linear?

Cheers,

Lee

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Hey guys,

I've had ongoing issues with my EQ6 and I'm considering the acquisition of a mount that requires less fiddling to work consistently. I'm purely interested in astrophotography, imaging at 1.17"/px, payload somewhere between 15 and 20kg I guess, haven't actually weighed it (SX674 camera, Celestron OAG, Orion Nautilus 7 position FW, Skywatcher Esprit 120, QHY5L-II mono, counterweights, electronic focuser weighing in around 0.5kg).

One thing I've struggled with is getting the gear meshing good on the EQ6. I'm not very mechanically savvy, and it's taken me nearly forever to get DEC backlash down to a level that it no longer has a significant detrimental impact on my guiding.

I live in Australia, and the cost of acquiring the Avalon Linear is significant to me. Freight, GST, import duty, exchange rates, customs and brokerage fees will end up costing me in the area of $7,500AUD to land this, which is already way above the amount my wife would be happy for me to spend (pretty sure that number is actually 0). I don't want to regret such a purchase, if I can actually convince the wife.

So I'm looking for a mount that is "plug and play", reliable, tracks and guides well, and is no more than the cost of the Avalon Linear. A bonus would be for it to be compatible with tripods/piers made for the EQ6, as my pier is DIY and might not be trivial to alter.

Something that I find always happens is when I'm researching a purchase is that all I can find are the good things, or few bad things most of which seem tolerable, but after the fact I find out a bunch of things that would have changed my mind, so, I ask you.... for my purposes, and in my circumstances, why should I not buy an Avalon Linear?

Cheers,

Lee

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Sorry, can't see how to edit a post here so I added some extra info about being compatible with EQ6 tripods/piers.

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Well, I nearly purchased one. It's a great mount but just a bit steep for my budget. Instead I got the AZEQ6 GT. It's belt driven, dual encoders and much better engineered than my HEQ5 pro. So, I'm not trying to stop you buying the Avalon, I wouldn't dream of it but for me there was another option. I'll be honest though I am living with my second iteration as the first was faulty and replaced no quibble.

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As an Avalon Linear user for over 2 years I can think of no reason why not to buy one!!!

I went from an HEQ5 to the Linear and I did this because it was the easiest plug and play changeover I could find from the Skywatcher. It plugged into EQMOD easily and works a treat. I can honestly say that it's not dropped a sub in all of the time I've used it (yes my stupidity and weather has disrupted stuff) but the mount itself......never. If I need 20 subs to complete a project then I dial in 20 subs with the full confidence that they will all be fine. That confidence in equipment is priceless for me.

The mount will fit on an EQ6 puck.

For guiding I run easily at under 1" per pixel all night. If I look at the EQMOD guide log and remove the dither as well, that can be as low as 0.6".  It's well built and Avalon are an innovative company always on hand if you have any questions. If you can have the choice between Synscan or StarGO (we can in the UK, but the US they have no choice) then I personally wouldn't get the StarGO system if it's going to cost you more. Synscan works fine..... as does StarGO, but I don't think there's any advantages over the Synscan having used both systems.

The only word of warning I would give is that the imaging weight is given as 20kgs (25kgs for visual) - I've had it near to that weight and it's coped fine..... but I am finding that weight limit a little low now and I'd love something with more capacity. If it had a higher capacity then for me it would be a mount for life for sure. If you are thinking that you may need considerably more than 20kgs capacity then I would suggest to look elsewhere.

Hope that helps :)

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I use one with an outfit not unlike yours, a TEC140 apo with heavy flattener and CCD rig as the payload. I'm at 1.8"PP with that.

A long refractor with considerable mass at both ends does tax the Avalon at its weakest point, the elasticity in the drives. The high mass a long way from the axes leaves the scope feeling 'springy' to the touch and the many experienced imagers who come here express scepticism and surprise that it works as a setup. The mount does inherently track and guide well as Sara shows using long focal length but physically short instruments. Mine also works well in practice despite the alarming feel of the scope when pushed by hand.

It is very difficult to move past the Avalon without one's passage being recorded on the guide trace. (By contrast I can focus one scope on our dual Tak-Mesu 200 by hand without affecting the trace or the image on the other scope. The Mesu is, therefore, orders of magnitude stiffer. There can be no doubt about this.)

For all that, I like the Avalon. I like its relative simplicity, its lack of worm and wheel, its low wear, low maintenance 'run dry' design, its exquisite machining. I strongly suspect that there is no mount available less likely to see you shipping it back to the northern hemisphere for attention. I get to see a lot of mounts in my line of work and, boy, they do seem to need to go back rather often! And they are often so complicated. Of the mounts I've owned the Avalon is second favourite to the Mesu. My only caveat would be that, if you image in windy or exposed conditions with a long refractor, you will be attacking the Avalon's only weak point. I guess I should help it by using an OAG!

In%20obs%201-L.jpg

Results:

M42%20TEC140%20LRGB%20V3-L.jpg

IRIS%20GHOST%20sRGB-L.jpg

Olly

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If it were me looking for a mount to carry the proposed 20kg instrument load I think I would prefer the larger capacity of the MESU200, that 20Kg is the quoted limit for the Linear FR. I don't know how the prices would compare at your end with taxes (the MESU is a little more expensive here but not by much) but the MESU has carrying capacity to spare (which you may need at some point in the future) and I believe you would find it reliable and tracks accurately.

ChrisH

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If you lived in the uk I could use the clear nights/mount cost (£ per session) arguement but as you live in the "sunshine state" you're just gonna have to bite the bullet and get one :)

Suck it up big fella and spend them $$$$ :D

where in qld are you? I livedin gladstone for a couple of yrs back in the early 80's

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I never look at the "more" expensive mounts but given your needs I would at least look around at any direct drive mounts that are available also those that use the same sort of encoding directly on each axis. I only visit this forum from time to time and am pretty sure that  a few people have owned mounts that use this style of encoding for some time now. Maybe some will comment.

I have no idea at all what these or the one you mentioned actually cost.

There are some technical details on direct drive here

http://planewave.com/technology/mechanical-design/

I expect this sort of thing especially the encoders may move down the range eventually.

John

-

Edited by Ajohn

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You need 50 posts before the EDIT button makes an appearance.

Dave

Ah, that explains that. Thanks Dave.

Well, I nearly purchased one. It's a great mount but just a bit steep for my budget. Instead I got the AZEQ6 GT. It's belt driven, dual encoders and much better engineered than my HEQ5 pro. So, I'm not trying to stop you buying the Avalon, I wouldn't dream of it but for me there was another option. I'll be honest though I am living with my second iteration as the first was faulty and replaced no quibble.

Thanks mate. I actually did consider the AZEQ6. I've actually modded my existing EQ6 to be closer to that, by doing a belt mod and also getting a thicker counterweight shaft that doesn't flex.

The latter part of your post highlights my problem with mounts at this level though: the chances of having issues seem much higher, and I'm sick of losing clear nights to mount issues.

As an Avalon Linear user for over 2 years I can think of no reason why not to buy one!!!

I went from an HEQ5 to the Linear and I did this because it was the easiest plug and play changeover I could find from the Skywatcher. It plugged into EQMOD easily and works a treat. I can honestly say that it's not dropped a sub in all of the time I've used it (yes my stupidity and weather has disrupted stuff) but the mount itself......never. If I need 20 subs to complete a project then I dial in 20 subs with the full confidence that they will all be fine. That confidence in equipment is priceless for me.

The mount will fit on an EQ6 puck.

For guiding I run easily at under 1" per pixel all night. If I look at the EQMOD guide log and remove the dither as well, that can be as low as 0.6".  It's well built and Avalon are an innovative company always on hand if you have any questions. If you can have the choice between Synscan or StarGO (we can in the UK, but the US they have no choice) then I personally wouldn't get the StarGO system if it's going to cost you more. Synscan works fine..... as does StarGO, but I don't think there's any advantages over the Synscan having used both systems.

The only word of warning I would give is that the imaging weight is given as 20kgs (25kgs for visual) - I've had it near to that weight and it's coped fine..... but I am finding that weight limit a little low now and I'd love something with more capacity. If it had a higher capacity then for me it would be a mount for life for sure. If you are thinking that you may need considerably more than 20kgs capacity then I would suggest to look elsewhere.

Hope that helps :)

Thanks Sara. It was actually your recent posts to the Disciple of the Dark Arts that had me thinking about these mounts again. Glad to hear such a positive review from someone who's used the mount for over two years.

When you say that you run easily under 1" per pixel all night, is that RMS, and if so, is that peak RMS? When my EQ6 wasn't throwing random 30-40" spikes every few minutes, and suddenly decided to just track poorly in general, I'd see 0.7-0.8" RMS (not peak) when facing east, and I'd see much better than that facing south. If I was getting close to 1" (not peak) I'd be worried.

Thinking about the weight thing, the Esprit is about 10kg, and I did recently weigh my camera/oag/fw etc in at only 1.75kg I think it was, so I should be closer to 15kg than 20. in my continued pursuit of actually doing imaging instead of fiddling with things, I'll be sticking to refractors and the budget won't stretch to anything bigger than what I already have (well, at least not for a number of years), and I'm quite happy with the Esprit now so that shouldn't be an issue.

I use one with an outfit not unlike yours, a TEC140 apo with heavy flattener and CCD rig as the payload. I'm at 1.8"PP with that.

A long refractor with considerable mass at both ends does tax the Avalon at its weakest point, the elasticity in the drives. The high mass a long way from the axes leaves the scope feeling 'springy' to the touch and the many experienced imagers who come here express scepticism and surprise that it works as a setup. The mount does inherently track and guide well as Sara shows using long focal length but physically short instruments. Mine also works well in practice despite the alarming feel of the scope when pushed by hand.

It is very difficult to move past the Avalon without one's passage being recorded on the guide trace. (By contrast I can focus one scope on our dual Tak-Mesu 200 by hand without affecting the trace or the image on the other scope. The Mesu is, therefore, orders of magnitude stiffer. There can be no doubt about this.)

For all that, I like the Avalon. I like its relative simplicity, its lack of worm and wheel, its low wear, low maintenance 'run dry' design, its exquisite machining. I strongly suspect that there is no mount available less likely to see you shipping it back to the northern hemisphere for attention. I get to see a lot of mounts in my line of work and, boy, they do seem to need to go back rather often! And they are often so complicated. Of the mounts I've owned the Avalon is second favourite to the Mesu. My only caveat would be that, if you image in windy or exposed conditions with a long refractor, you will be attacking the Avalon's only weak point. I guess I should help it by using an OAG!

Results:

<snip>

Olly

Thanks for the detailed post, Olly! That's actually pretty amazing that you can focus one scope by hand while not affecting the other on the mesu.

I have to admit having had some concern about the belts and the lack of rigidity, but I've not seen a report where anyone claims to have had problems with it.

My imaging site is my backyard (5 acres in semi-rural area, nice dark skies), which rarely gets windy. There are the odd times where it's blowing a gale, but I don't try to image now when it's like that anyway.

If it were me looking for a mount to carry the proposed 20kg instrument load I think I would prefer the larger capacity of the MESU200, that 20Kg is the quoted limit for the Linear FR. I don't know how the prices would compare at your end with taxes (the MESU is a little more expensive here but not by much) but the MESU has carrying capacity to spare (which you may need at some point in the future) and I believe you would find it reliable and tracks accurately.

ChrisH

Thanks Chris. I'd love the mesu. Well, actually, I shouldn't say that as I know nothing about the software/electrical side of the mount, but a true friction drive mount is very appealing. Unfortunately the price point is too high for me. While the Avalon would cost me about $7-7.5k, the mesu will cost $9k+ to land :(

If you lived in the uk I could use the clear nights/mount cost (£ per session) arguement but as you live in the "sunshine state" you're just gonna have to bite the bullet and get one :)

Suck it up big fella and spend them $$$$ :D

where in qld are you? I livedin gladstone for a couple of yrs back in the early 80's

haha thanks Scott :-)

I'm not so sure about sunshine state, so your argument may well hold. It's been a wet winter (that never happens!) and a wet summer. The rare break in the weather over the past year has usually given me enough time to find what other thing is now broken in my gear.

I'm in the south east near a little town called Woodford, about 1-1.5hrs drive NW of Brisbane itself.

I never look at the "more" expensive mounts but given your needs I would at least look around at any direct drive mounts that are available also those that use the same sort of encoding directly on each axis. I only visit this forum from time to time and am pretty sure that  a few people have owned mounts that use this style of encoding for some time now. Maybe some will comment.

I have no idea at all what these or the one you mentioned actually cost.

There are some technical details on direct drive here

http://planewave.com/technology/mechanical-design/

I expect this sort of thing especially the encoders may move down the range eventually.

John

-

Thanks John. I didn't know Planewave were making direct drive mounts. Knowing what I know about their scopes though I'm pretty confident they would be miles out of my budget, though it does look very nice indeed.

Thanks again to everyone for their input. Looks like I've convinced the wife in principle, we just have to "compromise" on the timeline apparently. That's ok, I need to build a new mini-obs anyway, so that'll give me some time to do that so that the Linear has a better home to live in when it arrives.

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Thanks Sara. It was actually your recent posts to the Disciple of the Dark Arts that had me thinking about these mounts again. Glad to hear such a positive review from someone who's used the mount for over two years.

When you say that you run easily under 1" per pixel all night, is that RMS, and if so, is that peak RMS? When my EQ6 wasn't throwing random 30-40" spikes every few minutes, and suddenly decided to just track poorly in general, I'd see 0.7-0.8" RMS (not peak) when facing east, and I'd see much better than that facing south. If I was getting close to 1" (not peak) I'd be worried.

I've just had a look at a guide log and the peak RMS figure is about 1.5" in RA and DEC and the total RMS on that log over a 3 hours guiding session was 0.47". 

I would say that in all honesty, as much as I rate the Linear it would be a tenuous upgrade from the EQ6 ......... It is after all just an EQ6 in red clothes!!! Is there somewhere /  someone in your part of the world that services mounts? Would that be an option? Or to get it belt modded? People really do say that after they have belt modded their Skywatcher mounts it makes a real difference. 

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I've just had a look at a guide log and the peak RMS figure is about 1.5" in RA and DEC and the total RMS on that log over a 3 hours guiding session was 0.47". 

I would say that in all honesty, as much as I rate the Linear it would be a tenuous upgrade from the EQ6 ......... It is after all just an EQ6 in red clothes!!! Is there somewhere /  someone in your part of the world that services mounts? Would that be an option? Or to get it belt modded? People really do say that after they have belt modded their Skywatcher mounts it makes a real difference. 

Thanks again Sara :-) 0.47" is about as good as I ever got out of the EQ6, and I've already belt modded it myself. If I was able to achieve that consistently, I'd be very happy. Do you know where in the sky you were pointing when you achieved that and would you say that's about average?

In actual fact, when the EQ6 is working well, it's totally fine for my use in terms of guiding. I can get 1.8" FWHM stars with it, and do 40min narrowband exposures no probs, which is fine by me. I'm just sick of having issues with it and having to tweak it. I couldn't use it for two months due to a broken focuser, when I finally got that sorted one of my favourite subjects is high up in the sky, and what do you know it, 30-40" spikes one day, constant 3-4" the next. I have no doubt I can get it back to being well behaved, I'm just sick of losing months of imaging time trying to do it. We've had pretty poor weather here and there's nothing more frustrating than sorting out one hardware issue, waiting for a clear night and then finding your mount is playing up, again. I just want something that works reliably.

Two more things come to mind. It's hard to tell from the photos, but do you (or anyone else) know if this mount can be adjusted for use at -27 latitude? I'm not sure if it's just the angle, but in the photos I've seen I'm not sure if it can reach that while still being able to access the front altitude adjustment.

Which brings me to my next question: how are the altitude adjustment knobs? And can you easily adjust that without unloading the mount? The EQ6 is terrible here and very difficult to adjust accurately. It was yet another mod I was considering making to my EQ6. While I will have my mounted on a pier, I have found it necessary to make minor adjustments fairly regularly, and when I have to make altitude adjustments it's a big PITA.

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I'm sorry Lee, I have no idea where that was pointing as it's a guide trace from a while back. I've not got the Linear on at the moment to test again so can't give you any other figures either. 

The adjustment bolts are fine and really very easy to use. Big plastic knurled knobs to turn...... Not sure about the latitude figures that you give though. Perhaps you could ask Avalon themselves, I've found them really helpful.

I can see inconsistency is your issue - I had that in my HEQ5 prior to changing over to the Avalon. I think if you are realistic in your expectations you'll be fine. I doubt it will give you a massive difference in guiding accuracy, so don't expect that, but it will give you confidence and consistency. If you feel that alone is worth the price you will pay then that's good :)

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All good Sara, thanks again for all of your help! As long as the guiding accuracy is on par (hey it'd be nice if it was better) I'm fine with that, as long as I can do it consistently and it just works.

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I've just had a look at a guide log and the peak RMS figure is about 1.5" in RA and DEC and the total RMS on that log over a 3 hours guiding session was 0.47". 

I would say that in all honesty, as much as I rate the Linear it would be a tenuous upgrade from the EQ6 ......... It is after all just an EQ6 in red clothes!!! Is there somewhere /  someone in your part of the world that services mounts? Would that be an option? Or to get it belt modded? People really do say that after they have belt modded their Skywatcher mounts it makes a real difference. 

Oh Sara!  :eek:

No no no!! The Avalon has the motors and, in the case of the earlier ones, the motherboard and handset from the EQ6 and it can sit on an EQ6 tripod.  But the EQ6 has very crudely machined casings housing rather grotty bearings for both axes. The Avalon is machined from solid with high precision and comes with excellent bearings and shafts. The EQ6 has a backlash prone primary drive by gear leading to backlash prone worm and wheel of indifferent quality and rustic manner of adjustment. The Avalon has a backlash free (though slightly elastic) toothed belt drive which has three advantages. It is backlash free, it has multiple points of contact to average out drive-induced tracking error and it is self tensioning so potentially adjustment-free over a long working life. The most important thing in any mount is the drive mechanism and here there is not one atom in common between the Avalon and the EQ6.

Does this sound very anti-EQ6? It isn't meant to. I have five mounts here which can, at their best, all run about 0.5arcsecs. That's two EQ sixes, an Avalon, a Tak EM200 and a Mesu. They all have the same payload bar the Mesu, which can carry a motorbike and sidecar. The difference is how often and how consistently they do it. The Mesu is totally consistent, the Avalon very consistent but seeing-dependent since I find it needs short guide subs, and the EQ sixes pretty inconsistent. Sometimes, for no reason that I can fathom, the EQ sixes will only run an arcsecond or so.

In terms of the probability of getting a good night's imaging over a long period of time I would consider the Avalon a very significant upgrade on the EQ6. The latter remains a bargain mount and I'm very pleased with mine because of the value for money but the OP wants consistency and 'just workingness'* and I'd back the Avalon to deliver that. Plus the after sales from Luciano, of course. He sets the industry standard!

Olly

*Didn't I once teach English???

Edited by ollypenrice
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:D :d Olly, you know that I love the Linear .............. I guess that the point I was making (and I do not dispute what you have said) is that of you have an EQ6 working well, then you will not see a massive guiding improvement on the Linear in my opinion. If the EQ6 is inconsistent, then yes you will get consistency with the Avalon of that there is no doubt.

If you want 10 subs, you ask for 10 subs ........ whether that consistency alone is worth a number of thousand of dollars is a decision to make.

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"Thanks mate. I actually did consider the AZEQ6. I've actually modded my existing EQ6 to be closer to that, by doing a belt mod and also getting a thicker counterweight shaft that doesn't flex.

The latter part of your post highlights my problem with mounts at this level though: the chances of having issues seem much higher, and I'm sick of losing clear nights to mount issues.

Thanks again to everyone for their input. Looks like I've convinced the wife in principle, we just have to "compromise" on the timeline apparently. That's ok, I need to build a new mini-obs anyway, so that'll give me some time to do that so that the Linear has a better home to live in when it arrives."

Yes I think you are spot on. I did almost buy the Avalon after corresponding with Sara but I needed other kit and to be honest I do as much observing as imaging with friends and neighbours. The AZ EQ6 in Alt Az mode is great for paired observation evenings so I went that route. I'm very happy with my second iteration. I just wish more folk would send stuff back and get manufacturers to really attend to their QC. I'd happily pay a bit more for something that was consistently good and reliable.

Edited by Owmuchonomy

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In terms of the probability of getting a good night's imaging over a long period of time I would consider the Avalon a very significant upgrade on the EQ6. The latter remains a bargain mount and I'm very pleased with mine because of the value for money but the OP wants consistency and 'just workingness'* and I'd back the Avalon to deliver that. Plus the after sales from Luciano, of course. He sets the industry standard!

Olly

*Didn't I once teach English???

That's good to hear. I sent him an email a little while ago confirming that the mount can be used here (which it can), and received a response within minutes which was pretty impressive!

Yes I think you are spot on. I did almost buy the Avalon after corresponding with Sara but I needed other kit and to be honest I do as much observing as imaging with friends and neighbours. The AZ EQ6 in Alt Az mode is great for paired observation evenings so I went that route. I'm very happy with my second iteration. I just wish more folk would send stuff back and get manufacturers to really attend to their QC. I'd happily pay a bit more for something that was consistently good and reliable.

That's a good point, for visual use that's a definite advantage. And let's face it, the cost here is a big difference, maybe it's not worth it for a lot of people. I do wonder if I'd bought the AZ EQ6 I had originally wanted instead of the EQ6, whether I'd be now looking at an Avalon Linear.

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Yep. Looks like you would need another £2000 for direct drive or even direct encoding..

This video might interest you

He explains why there is the odd bump in tacking. He has a pretty good review of the entire mount in these

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPd7bXRv2QGeMAKHZvG1PsA/search?query=eq8

It seems to be a direct drive from a stepper to a worm wheel with no other gears in the way. Pity all mounts don't use large worm wheels to obtain all of the speed reduction. There are a number about that do use large worm wheels as it improves the accuracy of the drive. Astrophysics for instance lap them  to make them even better  and also program PEC directly into the mount.

Might be worth checking that it is done like that if the mount interests you.

John

-

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Edit - looking around a bit more the EQ8 uses a toothed belt to drive RA and direct by the look of it for DEC.

:icon_biggrin: Can't help being curious. Just in case I move house and area and build an observatory.

John

-

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I don't particularly like recommending people should "buy this" or "buy that", because in the end it is your decision and it is a fair chunk of money.

Now although I don't have the Avalon Linear Reverse I do have the Avalon M-Zero, but bear with me. Prior to the M-Zero I had the AstroTrac and a brief stint with an iOptron ZEQ25-GT. The AstroTrac is a mighty fine piece of engineering and can really punch well above its weight, it really is a quality piece of work. It didn't come for free, I had to do a fair bit of work to get it to work as well as I did, figure out its limitations and know where I could push it. It was however my first foray into astrophotography and it led me.

The iOptron was an experience I would rather want to forget, especially the fanfare (that has now been subtly dampened). During the time I had it not once did I have the feeling that it was me that was the problem, there was always something up with it, something that needed tweaking, it was just generally shoddy and I built no confidence in it whatsoever. On the contrary the AstroTrac always made me feel that it was me that was the issue when things weren't working or that I was pushing it too hard (which I was), never did I feel that it was the problem.

When I saw an Avalon M-Zero come up 2nd hand I dithered initially due to cost but eventually went for it. It is in the same league as the AstroTrac or possibly better, extremely well engineered. It has its foibles but once understood it has been a great performer. I have hopefully figured out my differential flexure issue, something that was impossible with the iOptron, because I just couldn't trust it, I can only describe it as being random.

Now back on to the Linear Fast Reverse, I'd say that Sara has mentioned it already, it won't perform miracles and it might not outperform an NEQ6 by much when that said NEQ6 is having a good day but it will probably always be having a good day.

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I don't particularly like recommending people should "buy this" or "buy that", because in the end it is your decision and it is a fair chunk of money.

Now although I don't have the Avalon Linear Reverse I do have the Avalon M-Zero, but bear with me. Prior to the M-Zero I had the AstroTrac and a brief stint with an iOptron ZEQ25-GT. The AstroTrac is a mighty fine piece of engineering and can really punch well above its weight, it really is a quality piece of work. It didn't come for free, I had to do a fair bit of work to get it to work as well as I did, figure out its limitations and know where I could push it. It was however my first foray into astrophotography and it led me.

The iOptron was an experience I would rather want to forget, especially the fanfare (that has now been subtly dampened). During the time I had it not once did I have the feeling that it was me that was the problem, there was always something up with it, something that needed tweaking, it was just generally shoddy and I built no confidence in it whatsoever. On the contrary the AstroTrac always made me feel that it was me that was the issue when things weren't working or that I was pushing it too hard (which I was), never did I feel that it was the problem.

When I saw an Avalon M-Zero come up 2nd hand I dithered initially due to cost but eventually went for it. It is in the same league as the AstroTrac or possibly better, extremely well engineered. It has its foibles but once understood it has been a great performer. I have hopefully figured out my differential flexure issue, something that was impossible with the iOptron, because I just couldn't trust it, I can only describe it as being random.

Now back on to the Linear Fast Reverse, I'd say that Sara has mentioned it already, it won't perform miracles and it might not outperform an NEQ6 by much when that said NEQ6 is having a good day but it will probably always be having a good day.

I totally agree.

As for iOptron, I think they need a CEO who walks in and says, 'Right, team. From now on everybody calms down, stops promising the earth, stops inventing new products, and we make one product which works. We engage a large number of beta testers and we pay attention. We make a Mk2 and we send it out to the same testers. We do this until we succeed or until the money runs out and we fall on our swords. I go first.'

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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:hmh:  There are only 424 images taken with an Ioptron 25GT on astrobin. Clearly they  must have been lucky. Or were they? I'd guess it's more a case of what some one mounts on it. Just like others. More powerful drive might work out on very short scopes.

Edit anyway iOptron isn't the subject of this thread.

John

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Edited by Ajohn

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:hmh:  There are only 424 images taken with an Ioptron 25GT on astrobin. Clearly they  must have been lucky. Or were they? I'd guess it's more a case of what some one mounts on it. Just like others. More powerful drive might work out on very short scopes.

Edit anyway iOptron isn't the subject of this thread.

John

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'Talk me out of buying an Avalon' does imply '...and maybe float a few alternatives.'

Olly

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