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Skywatcher AZ5 mount head


nightfisher
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I have both the AZ5 (with tripod) and the AZ4 (steel tripod). I love the AZ4 for stability, although when I moved to the 127 Mak, I found the stiction a bit of an issue at higher mags (just took some of the enjoyment out of it for me). 

I got the AZ5 and love the head, but hate the tripod - it really isn't that great, especially when extended. I did an experiment with damping times using the AZ5 with various tripod setups. Using the standard tripod, fully extended, damping time was something ridiculous like 7-8 seconds. With the legs collapsed it's something like 3 seconds to dampen down from a tap/knock/refocus. However....stick the AZ5 head on the 1.75" steel tripod and vibrations start to vanish within 1 or 2 seconds, with both my ST102 and Mak 127. I don't think the AZ5 would have any issues carrying an ST120.

The movement of the AZ5 head is very smooth and is less prone to balancing and stiction issues than the AZ4. I find that my ST102 on the AZ4 can be annoying to use sometimes - the short tube doesn't get a decent balance point (without modifying the dovetail or adding weight to the front end): this means that the alt clutch has to be done quite tight to stop slippage....and then I find stiction is more of an issue. Takes some time to find the sweet spot. I don't feel I have either of these issues with the AZ5.

The AZ5 with the steel 1.75" legs is a perfect combo for me - still light enough to move around fairly easily, quick to setup, solid and smooth movement. I'm really not a fan of the standard tripod that came with the AZ5 - I do still have it and it does get used sometimes when I'm wanting something light to carry for a short distance, however the legs never get extended and I have to sit on the ground or use a tiny stool. My AZ3 has sat in a corner, gathering dust since I got the AZ5....along with the standard AZ5 tripod. I've now picked up a set of aluminium legs for the AZ4, purely so I can have the ST102 and Mak 127 setup side by side. But if just using one scope....the AZ5 and steel legs are my first choice. 

In my personal opinion (with limited experience with other equiment/brands) the problem with the AZ5 is purely the choice of tripod that Skywatcher have chosen to pair it with. The mount head is very capable (expecially for shorter scopes) but the tripod really lets it down. If you're prepared to use either the 1.75" steel tripod, or even the aluminium one that comes with an AZ4/EQ3-2 then I would think you'll have a much better experience with the AZ5. 

If I could go back....I would just buy the AZ5 head and pick my own tripod....save myself some money. 

Good luck! 

 

Edited by davyludo
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While I have re-greased my AZ4 so it's probably a tad smoother than out the box, I can't say I have any sticktion issues. I admit I did when I first had it as it is kind of intuitive to think, the less tight the clutches are, the smoother it will move, but I actually found too loose and that's where issues arise. If the clutch is slightly tighter you may need a slight bit more force to move it over say a giro mount, but the action is dampened nicely and so it isn't sticky. I agree balance is key to any friction AZ mount and this isn't always easy accomplished with smaller scopes.

I have to say I always enjoyed using my AZ3 albeit for daytime solar (hopeless for night time observing above 55-60°) so I have no doubting the flexibility of slow motion control would win over many a manual mount, and if the AZ5 performs well on a beefier tripod then there is no competition. Sky watcher do seem to take customers comments on board so maybe there may be a version II come out with a better tripod or even M10 thread in replacement of the 3/8" in the future ?? Is there anyway to tap the thread out to M10 so it can drop straight on to a 1.75" tripod or are the bases hollow cast and there is a lack of meat on the threaded part ??

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16 minutes ago, spaceboy said:

While I have re-greased my AZ4 so it's probably a tad smoother than out the box, I can't say I have any sticktion issues. I admit I did when I first had it as it is kind of intuitive to think, the less tight the clutches are, the smoother it will move, but I actually found too loose and that's where issues arise. If the clutch is slightly tighter you may need a slight bit more force to move it over say a giro mount, but the action is dampened nicely and so it isn't sticky. I agree balance is key to any friction AZ mount and this isn't always easy accomplished with smaller scopes.

I have to say I always enjoyed using my AZ3 albeit for daytime solar (hopeless for night time observing above 55-60°) so I have no doubting the flexibility of slow motion control would win over many a manual mount, and if the AZ5 performs well on a beefier tripod then there is no competition. Sky watcher do seem to take customers comments on board so maybe there may be a version II come out with a better tripod or even M10 thread in replacement of the 3/8" in the future ?? Is there anyway to tap the thread out to M10 so it can drop straight on to a 1.75" tripod or are the bases hollow cast and there is a lack of meat on the threaded part ??

Totally agree with this - I regreased my AZ4 and it did make a massive difference (especially with the Mak). But still had issues with the ST102 - like you say spaceboy more down to balance. You can find a sweet spot, but it does take some playing and adjusting. The AZ5 is a bit less sensitive to incorrect balance (well, in my opinion anyway).

I think FLO did mention that they'd head that there was a "heavy duty" version of the AZ5. I think the AZ5 user manual may mention it as well....although I don't have it to hand, and wouldn't stand up in court to say that....

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10 hours ago, davyludo said:

I don't think the AZ5 would have any issues carrying an ST120.

The AZ5 with the steel 1.75" legs is a perfect combo for me - still light enough to move around fairly easily, quick to setup, solid and smooth movement. I'm really not a fan of the standard tripod that came with the AZ5 - I do still have it and it does get used sometimes when I'm wanting something light to carry for a short distance, however the legs never get extended and I have to sit on the ground or use a tiny stool. My AZ3 has sat in a corner, gathering dust since I got the AZ5....along with the standard AZ5 tripod. I've now picked up a set of aluminium legs for the AZ4, purely so I can have the ST102 and Mak 127 setup side by side. But if just using one scope....the AZ5 and steel legs are my first choice. 

@davyludo Thanks for sharing your first hand experience, that is really helpful! Just a couple of questions:

Firstly, what exactly is stiction? :)

Secondly, when you talk about the 1.75" Steel tripod, do you mean the one they sell with the HEQ5 mount? Based on a rubbish picture online there seems to be a deepish inset in the centre of the tripod top designed for the HEQ5. Is that not a problem with the AZ5 that has a flat under-surface that links straight to the standard mount? I'm tempted to buy one if I can be sure it's a good fit. It sounds like the AZ5 is fine but 1) the standard tripod is not good for a heavier 'scope and 2) I didn't even try to balance it and it was fairly front heavy which will almost certainly have contributed to the severe shake at high mag when trying to focus.

It has been around ten years since I last used a Refractor on a mount. I've been using a Skyliner 200p Dobsonian with its customary rock solidness. It sounds like I don't need to return the AZ5 which is a relief, I just need a better tripod and balancing.

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Does anyone think the AZ5 head if mounted on the 1.75” steel tripod would take a C6 ota?  I have the steel tripod already, bought it cheap but just been waiting for an AZ head. Just want something quick and easy for when I can’t be bothered with the setting up and powering up of the SE mount. 

I notice there is an AZ5 on Astro Buy and Sell. If anyone was interested. I not ready to buy anything just yet.

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10 hours ago, Phil73805 said:

@davyludo Thanks for sharing your first hand experience, that is really helpful! Just a couple of questions:

Firstly, what exactly is stiction? :)

Secondly, when you talk about the 1.75" Steel tripod, do you mean the one they sell with the HEQ5 mount? Based on a rubbish picture online there seems to be a deepish inset in the centre of the tripod top designed for the HEQ5. Is that not a problem with the AZ5 that has a flat under-surface that links straight to the standard mount? I'm tempted to buy one if I can be sure it's a good fit. It sounds like the AZ5 is fine but 1) the standard tripod is not good for a heavier 'scope and 2) I didn't even try to balance it and it was fairly front heavy which will almost certainly have contributed to the severe shake at high mag when trying to focus.

It has been around ten years since I last used a Refractor on a mount. I've been using a Skyliner 200p Dobsonian with its customary rock solidness. It sounds like I don't need to return the AZ5 which is a relief, I just need a better tripod and balancing.

Hi Phil, 

Glad my comments were of some use to you. 

Stiction.....don't actually know where the term comes from. I imagine it's something like "sticky friction". Anyway, when using the AZ4 you sometimes find that to get it to start initially moving, you need to apply a bit more force than is required once it is already moving. So what happens is you push a bit harder, which means you over shoot your target. This is what spaceboy was getting at when talking about having the clutch done a bit tighter - if you can balance the force needed to initially overcome the friction between the surfaces, with the force required to move once already in motion, then it's all happy days. 

Google has given me the following definition: the friction which tends to prevent stationary surfaces from being set in motion.

Hope this makes sense. I am in no way saying the AZ4 is a bad mount, it's a great piece of kit. But when using a short frac (like an ST102 or ST120) stiction can be a bit more noticeable due to not being able to easily obtain perfect balance. 

Yeah it's the same 1.75" tripod that is used on the EQ5/HEQ5 and AZ4 (I believe). I had to take a hacksaw to the little alignment peg and then buy a 3/8" bolt (fully threaded). I have some pictures somewhere that I could put up if that would help? 

Cheers, 

Davy

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1 hour ago, Fredster1970 said:

Does anyone think the AZ5 head if mounted on the 1.75” steel tripod would take a C6 ota?  I have the steel tripod already, bought it cheap but just been waiting for an AZ head. Just want something quick and easy for when I can’t be bothered with the setting up and powering up of the SE mount. 

I notice there is an AZ5 on Astro Buy and Sell. If anyone was interested. I not ready to buy anything just yet.

I believe the AZ5 states a load weight of 5kg with the standard tripod. However, I think the manual mentions that the "heavy duty" variant (which looks like it has a steel legged tripod) has a load weight of 9kg.

https://teleskop-austria.at/information/pdf/AZ5_AZ-5.pdf

Edited by davyludo
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4 hours ago, davyludo said:

Google has given me the following definition: the friction which tends to prevent stationary surfaces from being set in motion.

I think, dredging my brain for old physics lessons, sticktion is possibly referring to Static Friction, rather than Dynamic Friction ie the difference between the starting friction and that when it is moving.

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4 hours ago, Stu said:

I think, dredging my brain for old physics lessons, sticktion is possibly referring to Static Friction, rather than Dynamic Friction ie the difference between the starting friction and that when it is moving.

So not sticky friction then...slightly embarrassed now :tongue2:

It's one of those things, you know it when you feel it/experience it. But personally, I stuggle to find the words to explain what it is. 

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14 minutes ago, davyludo said:

So not sticky friction then...slightly embarrassed now :tongue2:

It's one of those things, you know it when you feel it/experience it. But personally, I stuggle to find the words to explain what it is. 

Well sticky friction sounds quite logical so no need for embarrassment :) 

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3 hours ago, davyludo said:

I believe the AZ5 states a load weight of 5kg with the standard tripod. However, I think the manual mentions that the "heavy duty" variant (which looks like it has a steel legged tripod) has a load weight of 9kg.

https://teleskop-austria.at/information/pdf/AZ5_AZ-5.pdf

Brilliant, the C6 is comfortably inside that weight. It will only be for low to low/medium power sweeps of the sky anyway. Thanks for the link. :)

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7 hours ago, davyludo said:

I believe the AZ5 states a load weight of 5kg with the standard tripod. However, I think the manual mentions that the "heavy duty" variant (which looks like it has a steel legged tripod) has a load weight of 9kg.

https://teleskop-austria.at/information/pdf/AZ5_AZ-5.pdf

Thanks. So retailers' AZ5 'mount only' specs should state max payload 9kg rather than 5kg.

Edited by SpaceBass
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Is this the heavy duty version of the AZ5 mount?

https://www.365astronomy.com/365astronomy-az5-tripod-only-compatible-with-eq3-eq5-and-skytee-mounts.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiA5t7UBRDaARIsAOreQticWYa9nFzfzwPNwUTenJg1uIVRYvw7fdbQVTB6EwQIScr4AzKegssaAn7kEALw_wcB

Edit: It turns out that it is the heavy duty version of the AZ5 mount and that it increases the payload of the mount to 9KG. So I bought it, fast! Woohoo!!! :D

Edited by Phil73805
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2 hours ago, Phil73805 said:

Is this the heavy duty version of the AZ5 mount?

https://www.365astronomy.com/365astronomy-az5-tripod-only-compatible-with-eq3-eq5-and-skytee-mounts.html?gclid=Cj0KCQiA5t7UBRDaARIsAOreQticWYa9nFzfzwPNwUTenJg1uIVRYvw7fdbQVTB6EwQIScr4AzKegssaAn7kEALw_wcB

Edit: It turns out that it is the heavy duty version of the AZ5 mount and that it increases the payload of the mount to 9KG. So I bought it, fast! Woohoo!!! :D

Unfortunately, that is the tripod for the "365 Astronomy AZ5", which is a different mount to the "Skywatcher AZ5". The compatibility of that tripod with the Skywatcher EQ3, EQ5 and Skytee suggests it has an M10 bolt while the Skywatcher AZ5 uses a 3/8" thread. Unless it is supplied with adaptors you may need to make some modifications to fit a 3/8" bolt through it in place of the M10.

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2 hours ago, Ricochet said:

Unfortunately, that is the tripod for the "365 Astronomy AZ5", which is a different mount to the "Skywatcher AZ5". The compatibility of that tripod with the Skywatcher EQ3, EQ5 and Skytee suggests it has an M10 bolt while the Skywatcher AZ5 uses a 3/8" thread. Unless it is supplied with adaptors you may need to make some modifications to fit a 3/8" bolt through it in place of the M10.

Damn! I even called and asked and they said it was! I should have known it was too easy. 

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I spoke to the nice people at 365Astronomy this morning and cancelled my order. However, the very nice man called his European Skywatcher distributor and told me that they will have the Skywatcher AZ5 Heavy duty tripod in three months time!

@FLO will you be stocking this?

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23 hours ago, Ricochet said:

Unfortunately, that is the tripod for the "365 Astronomy AZ5", which is a different mount to the "Skywatcher AZ5". The compatibility of that tripod with the Skywatcher EQ3, EQ5 and Skytee suggests it has an M10 bolt while the Skywatcher AZ5 uses a 3/8" thread. Unless it is supplied with adaptors you may need to make some modifications to fit a 3/8" bolt through it in place of the M10.

This is what I have.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/alt-azimuth/berlebach-38-photo-adapter-for-heq5.html

It is very solid.

I do not understand people selling a Giro (apart from balancing issues)

http://www.apm-telescopes.de/en/mounts-tripods/alt-azimuth-mounts/tele-optic-giro-ercole-alt-azimuth-mount

to replace it with a Skywatcher AZ. :huh:  :dontknow:

Much more expensive, but reassuring, is the Vixen APZ

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/vixen-mounts/vixen-advanced-polaris-altazimuth-apz-modular-mount.html

if I could only choose one......

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7 hours ago, m4sh said:

Do you think this mount is suitable for skywatcher ed 80/600 with the included tripod or should I wait for the heavy-duty version?

Personally I would wait, or just buy the head and get a separate tripod.

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23 minutes ago, m4sh said:

Do you think a standard tripod for EQ5 would work or I wouldn't be able to attach the head?

The EQ5 tripod uses an M10 bolt to attach the mount, whilst the AZ5 head takes a 3/8" bolt that you normally get on photo tripods.

You an get a really nice M10 to 3/8 adaptor from Berlebach but it aint cheap.

Edited by CraigT82
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6 hours ago, m4sh said:

Do you think a standard tripod for EQ5 would work or I wouldn't be able to attach the head?

That's the tripod I used (But from my AZ4). I had to cut the alignment peg off and then buy a 3/8th bolt. 

In my opinion, it's a MASSIVE improvement over the standard AZ5 tripod and totally worth the effort of modifying the steel leg tripod.

As Craig mentioned, there in an adaptor. But I think it's around £50. At the time I couldn't justify the extra money - but it's probably a better solution because you can still use the leg spreader with the adaptor.... where as I can't :-( 

 

 

Edited by davyludo
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10 hours ago, 25585 said:

You can buy at photo shops an adaptor to screw over a M10 bolt to reduce to 3/8. Or ebay. 

If you're thinking of these type ones (image) they don't work.... add too much length to the bolt. At least, that was the problem when I was trying to fit my star adventure to an eq5 tripod.  Ended up buying the bullet and buying the berlebach one.

20180505_094116.jpg

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