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1 minute ago, alexbb said:

.....after a few months of waiting.

Exactly.    I'm wondering if anybody has ever had work done and completed within the stated 2-3 weeks. ?

The follow up question is the obvious one.......  is the 'tuning'  at whatever level you choose worth it   ??      Reading through the thread above, I realise this is a major bone of contention with you.    I don't want to raise your blood pressure unnecessarily but did it work out in the end or are you left with a bad feeling about the whole episode ??

Rgds,

Sean

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I hope this works out well for you, definitely worth trying. A few years ago I purchased a used driven CG5 mount with a view to doing some imaging. I already owned a very ancient manual CG5 so decided

Seems I have already stopped!  I still think I may set up for imaging but it just doesn't seem to happen.  Looks like I may have moved on already...

I think you just have a ton of other things to keep you occupied, Gina, which is a great thing to have.  I'm sure a couple of clear nights and some great results and the old bug will be reignited in t

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1 minute ago, Craney said:

Exactly.    I'm wondering if anybody has ever had work done and completed within the stated 2-3 weeks. ?

The follow up question is the obvious one.......  is the 'tuning'  at whatever level you choose worth it   ??      Reading through the thread above, I realise this is a major bone of contention with you.    I don't want to raise your blood pressure unnecessarily but did it work out in the end or are you left with a bad feeling about the whole episode ??

Rgds,

Sean

I don't see any improvement in tracking compared to before. Both worms in my mount have a high periodic error of ~60". I honestly trusted Dave to refigure my worm(s) to a higher precision, but I only lost 2 or 3 months and ~500 euros. Now I'm waiting for OVL to receive 2 worms from SkyWatcher and send them to me. Hopefully at least one of them is going to be better and, anyway, they were cheap. 35GBP or so, both.

Some people are happy with their tuned mounts though.

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Yes,  it is a mixed bag in terms of responses.   I really don't know what to think or what to conclude.  

If it works, then great.   If it comes back (eventually !!)  with no discernible  improvement, then what is going on ??    What have you paid for ??  Are there new parts, or have the old parts been machined...etc...etc...   Is there an inventory of the work carried out ??

I'm hoping a few more people will put forward their viewpoints and experiences.   As with astro-photography, more data is better.

This hobby is expensive enough without having 'wild goose chases'.  

I hope it all works out for you and that the new parts deliver new improved performance.   I would be interested to hear the results.

Rgds,

Sean

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7 hours ago, alexbb said:

Now I'm waiting for OVL to receive 2 worms from SkyWatcher and send them to me. Hopefully at least one of them is going to be better and, anyway, they were cheap. 35GBP or so, both.

I hope this works out well for you, definitely worth trying. A few years ago I purchased a used driven CG5 mount with a view to doing some imaging. I already owned a very ancient manual CG5 so decided to see if I could identify the best worms from both mounts for putting in the new mount. Having removed all four worms, I 'rolled' them along my glass kitchen table and could clearly see some were straighter than others. So, having identified the two best worms (very unscientifically) I put them in the new mount (which I also took the trouble to clean, regrease and de-backlash) and was managing to get exposures of several minutes unguided at 300mm fl with my DSLR without trailing. Not very scientific, and I can't tell you how it performed before, but the outcome was very good!

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  • 1 year later...

Apologies for  moaning but I can see that I am not alone in having a problem with Dave at Dark Frame Optics.  As has been previously stated,  very chatty prior to getting the mount in for servicing but seemingly being boycotted after the payment of monies.  I have a CGX that was Stellar tuned by him last year,  the mount was away for months and not the 3 weeks suggested on the website.  On return, in August, the tracking was initially fine.  Then in March of this year, less than 9 months after the tuning, I would get spikes in the RA of approximately 8 arc seconds seemingly at random.  Despite many attempts to take pictures, since then, I have had about 15 acceptable subs in the last 5 months.   I send him my guiding for review.   Statements of unguided pictures on website, lasting 20 minutes is not supported by my experience.  Statements that he will provide specific guidance on PHD2 settings is also not true.  Perhaps the most upsetting thing is the fact that he doesn't reply despite numerous requests to do so.  If he does, I have been given advice like move the counter weights 3 mm away, or  the mount is not balanced.  the guiding however remains as before - not adequate to take any photos.  So in summary I would be wary of what he promises.  If it seems too good to be true then ..............  If he had made an effort to engage then I wouldn't be here.  

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  • 1 month later...

I had even worse problems with them. He just keeps fobbing you off with story after story and promise after promise.  My mount was not tuned properly the first time which he owned up to and second time when it was finally returned after months of being told it would be coming "the next week" it was missing the Azimuth adjustment bolts and was seized in RA. Shocking for a company that big themselves up on quality. There were so many inconsistencies in the explanations he gave each time the mount didn't arrive that I don't think he actually does much to these and it's a big con. I was promised progress photos and test graphs but these never appeared despite repeated promises to send them. The warranty is a joke. I ended up getting my mount fixed myself at my own cost. Please think carefully before trusting your mount to him, you'd probably do better having it serviced by some of the guys at your local astro club and it will save you a lot of money, time and stress. Clear skies everyone.

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Wow, returning to this thread has been a blast. A year later and the exact same complaints from others, so obviously my experience wasn't a one off.

On 30/07/2020 at 16:40, sterec said:

Apologies for  moaning but I can see that I am not alone in having a problem with Dave at Dark Frame Optics.  As has been previously stated,  very chatty prior to getting the mount in for servicing but seemingly being boycotted after the payment of monies.  I have a CGX that was Stellar tuned by him last year,  the mount was away for months and not the 3 weeks suggested on the website.  On return, in August, the tracking was initially fine.  Then in March of this year, less than 9 months after the tuning, I would get spikes in the RA of approximately 8 arc seconds seemingly at random.  Despite many attempts to take pictures, since then, I have had about 15 acceptable subs in the last 5 months.   I send him my guiding for review.   Statements of unguided pictures on website, lasting 20 minutes is not supported by my experience.  Statements that he will provide specific guidance on PHD2 settings is also not true.  Perhaps the most upsetting thing is the fact that he doesn't reply despite numerous requests to do so.  If he does, I have been given advice like move the counter weights 3 mm away, or  the mount is not balanced.  the guiding however remains as before - not adequate to take any photos.  So in summary I would be wary of what he promises.  If it seems too good to be true then ..............  If he had made an effort to engage then I wouldn't be here.  

Your experience matches mine almost perfectly with regard to the advice given. My mount was much harder to balance after I got it back. Before being "stellartuned" the dec and RA axis were quite sensitive. Shifting the scope or the weights in either direction even just by 1-2mm would cause one side to start dipping. When I got it back it was like there was a huge dead zone of more than the full width of a 5kg weight where I would shift the weights and nothing would happen. I could no longer get it the mount to complete the calibration routine in PHD2 as it would not complete the movements in dec. I reported all of this to Dave who just gave me balancing advice, told me to buy a different power supply, space the weights out differently, run the mount at a higher voltage (13.8v instead of 12v), etc. None of which made any real difference, and the mount was running considerably worse than before it was sent to him the first time. I never had balancing issues before it was sent to DFO.

One other thing that really annoyed me... My mount had to be sent back because it was damaged in transit. Now obviously that's not DFO's fault, but since they booked the courier the onus was on them to submit a warranty claim within a certain timeframe... which they didn't, despite me providing them with photographic evidence of bent saddle bolts and plastic knobs that were cracked in half. It was pretty clear there was something wrong the first time I ran it, so back it went to be fixed under the DFO warranty and they paid for the shipping. While messaging Dave and speaking to him on the phone he was very apologetic and promised to give it a very thorough examination and servicing to get it to peak performance, so I was initially happy with him taking as long as he needed. When it was received back in his workshop again I was told the mount would be test under clear skies in real world conditions, so I felt pretty confident that the issue would be resolved. When I checked in a month later, I was again told there were clear skies coming up that weekend to fully test it.

Now here comes the kicker... My mount eventually comes back 11 weeks after sending it in and it's EXACTLY THE SAME as it was before it was sent back. The very first thing I ask Dave is for him to send me the mount calibration data. And guess what? He admits there is none. The mount was never tested under clear skies at all. It never made it off his workbench and was never tested in real world conditions. There was ZERO performance data provided from either time it was in his workshop. It also sat in a box untouched for a month before it was finally sent back, apparently due to Dave's health issues which he never alerted anyone about to give heads up that there was a delay.

To top it all off, there was no replacement for the bent saddle bolt so I had to borrow one off the second AZ-EQ6 GT saddle for running two telescopes in alt-az mode. I was never supplied with the Stellardrive branded caps despite asking and being promised several times. I never saw any performance data at all. They failed to send me the latitude adjustment lock on both occasions it was sent back, leading me to request a refund which was also a painful experience.

The last time I spoke to Dave I had messaged him to let him know that I'd just had one good night of imaging with performance that was close to what I'd had before sending it to him. The next night it went back to being terrible and I just gave up on the mount. Haven't touched it since.

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that's awful. yes i think there are a lot more of us out there than we know. my original post was deleted without explanation, I'm surprised this one has stayed up tbh but pleased you took the time to add your experience. My mount too had a dead zone and was hard to balance but was told it was normal and would need running in. that was obviously just a delaying tactic as it never loosened up and in fact got even tighter in use. I have managed to get it adjusted to where it no longer seizes up but I still have trepidation when using it that it will fail again. I havent done any guided long exposure with it yet, it seems to track ok for planetary so hopefully it is now sorted. it's just been a colossal waste of time and money.

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  • 2 weeks later...

In fairness, Dark Frame Optics have now contacted me and reviewed the problems that I had.  It seems that my guiding parameters were too aggressive, auto guide speed now reduced by 5%, and the mount that was noisy has settled to the original post Stellar tuned state. I accept that this is the correct answer since my PEC curve had remained identical just after the original tuning and just prior to toning down the guiding parameters.  Much to my relief, my CGX will run an 10" SCT mount and produce images that I am happy with.

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  • 1 month later...

Hmmm well I hadn't seen any of these comments/reviews prior to my contact with Dave on Friday last week and the collection of my mount this morning by DHL. I have been told that as its a new HEQ5 Pro (six months old) and already has the Rowan Belt Mod he will turn it around in 2 weeks. 

Dave seemed a really nice guy on the phone and I will save judgement at this stage. Sometimes you can be a victim of your own success and take on too much work, which results in delays and errors. I am sure he has things under control now and I eagerly await my mounts return, as its only been gone 4.5hrs now and I'm sweating 😀 

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4 hours ago, knobby said:

Any news on this ? seems like a decent bloke on that video 😀

If the question is for me, no, nothing new.

I remember that Dave agreed that the mount was performing poorly, he agreed that we should agree on a time frame until he can fix it and that was it. He didn't reply anymore.
He told me before this that he doesn't really care about customers, he cares about the mounts. I somewhat doubt that too.

I was pretty sure that the original worm was a crooked one. The reason I send the mount for tuning was that I understood that he can rectify the worm with a higher precision. Watching the video, I now even higher doubt that :)

I bought 2 worms from OVL (with help from FLO after an unfortunate event caused by Royal Mail). I replaced the original (or tuned?!) worm with one of the received ones and the new one, even if the periodic error seems higher, at least is smoother so the mount can guide easier. I get sometimes figures <1" total RMS, sometimes >1". I didn't test the other worm yet as I mostly used until recently the EQ6-R for longer FL and heavier payload.

Last year I bought an iOptron GEM45 which guides 0.5" - 0.7" total RMS consistently even with a dual setup of 102/714 refractors. I sold then the heavy EQ6-R.

I'm not sure yet what to do with the AZ-EQ5. I should try the other worm too, maybe it's an even better one. I keep saying for about an year that I'll replace it over the weekend, but it doesn't seem to happen.

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1 hour ago, alexbb said:

If the question is for me, no, nothing new.

I remember that Dave agreed that the mount was performing poorly, he agreed that we should agree on a time frame until he can fix it and that was it. He didn't reply anymore.
He told me before this that he doesn't really care about customers, he cares about the mounts. I somewhat doubt that too.

I was pretty sure that the original worm was a crooked one. The reason I send the mount for tuning was that I understood that he can rectify the worm with a higher precision. Watching the video, I now even higher doubt that :)

I bought 2 worms from OVL (with help from FLO after an unfortunate event caused by Royal Mail). I replaced the original (or tuned?!) worm with one of the received ones and the new one, even if the periodic error seems higher, at least is smoother so the mount can guide easier. I get sometimes figures <1" total RMS, sometimes >1". I didn't test the other worm yet as I mostly used until recently the EQ6-R for longer FL and heavier payload.

Last year I bought an iOptron GEM45 which guides 0.5" - 0.7" total RMS consistently even with a dual setup of 102/714 refractors. I sold then the heavy EQ6-R.

I'm not sure yet what to do with the AZ-EQ5. I should try the other worm too, maybe it's an even better one. I keep saying for about an year that I'll replace it over the weekend, but it doesn't seem to happen.

Oh ... Sad story ... Hope you get it sorted one day 🤞🏻

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8 minutes ago, knobby said:

Oh ... Sad story ... Hope you get it sorted one day 🤞🏻

Thanks! There's not much to sort out for me though :)

I'm not investing anymore in that mount. For me, Darkframe tuning was just a scam. Dave didn't seem to understand even the basic figures and graphics. Or maybe he did, but he just didn't bother.

There seem to be plenty of happy people with their (hyper)tuned mounts, but there are also many upset people too.

My advice for anyone is not to send their only mount for tuning. Many people wrote me, mostly on Facebook, telling me that they didn't receive their mounts back for far longer than a couple of months.

I had a few bad or weird experiences over time with astro gear, but, by far, this one made me feel the foulest.

I understood from a forum member that only some consumer legislation applies when there's a mixture of goods and services. This might have been the case for me as I ordered an OIII filter too. However, Dave offered me in the beginning a clover-weight (counterweight with cans) as a gift - which I refused as I had all the needed counterweights. I wonder if that wasn't on purpose to make the refunds demanding harder.

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