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Skywatcher AZ-EQ5 First Impressions.


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Picked up the mount from Rother Valley Optics on Saturday, and had it up and running on the sun (with a Seymour Solar Filter) for the first time today. The mount was purchased to provide a portable mount for my Explore Scientific 127 Refractor, which used to be mounted piggyback on my 14in fork mounted Newtonian (but has recently been replaced by a Skywatcher Esprit 150), and enables me to move the scope to view parts of the sky which are blocked off by trees from my observatory shed, and will be invaluable for upcoming transit of Mercury.

I was initially a bit torn between the HEQ5 and the AZ-EQ5, but a couple of contributors on another thread suggested that for quick grab and go, the latter would be the better choice, plus it cost only £40 more than the HEQ5 with the Rowan Belt modification. Price however was not the deciding factor, I could have afforded the larger EQ6-R or AZ-EQ6, but thought that these would have been much less portable, and my experience with the AZ-EQ5 suggests that this is indeed the case.

Although some have suggested that for quick grab and go it would be better to set up the scope in AZ mode, I have for now set it up in EQ mode, but after setting the angle of the RA axis to 53 degrees (my latitude), I have so far skipped the alignment procedures, and gone straight into ‘Easy Tracking’ (Solar Rate). After pointing the scope and mount in a rough north-south direction, I found that using a medium power eyepieces the sun would remain in the field of view for some 5-10 minutes, similar to what I used to get with my 1970’s Fullerscopes Mk3 equatorial on which I mounted a 10in Newtonian, and for which there was no means of accurate alignment. The rough alignment I have done so far could be substantially improved by setting the angle of the RA axis more accurately by purchasing the optional Polarscope (someone suggested that the angle scale on the mount may be 5 degrees out), and marking out the north- south direction more accurately utilising the shadow of a pole at local midday. The drives appear smooth and quiet in operation, unlike I gather the unmodified versions of the HEQ5. 

As can be seen from the attached photo, I needed to utilise the counterweight bar extension tube to balance the scope with the included 2 x 3.5 kg weights, I could probably dispense with using this if I was to purchase a single 5 kg weight, to replace one of the 3.5 kg weights, but would make the mount that bit heavier to carry, and it is currently no lightweight to carry with the 2 x 3.5 kg weights. The stated capacity of the AZ-EQ5 mount is 15 kg for visual, but I consider that using it with the ES 127, which weighs around 8.5 kg with accessories, including star diagonal and finder, it is near its comfortable capacity, and an additional 8 kg of balance weights would make it heavy for me to carry even after removing the scope.

As can also be seen from the photo, when used with a refractor the eyepiece can end up quite low down, so ideally I may need to consider the optional 16in extension tube to lift the mount higher up, however this would make it somewhat heavier and less portable. Incidentally this was the first time in over 30 years that I have used a telescope on a German rather than a fork equatorial mount, and I forgot how awkward a position the eyepiece can end up in with the former, so the rotatable focuser on the ES scope is invaluable, when mounted piggyback on my fork mounted reflector this was largely redundant.  

ES 127 on AZ EQ5.JPG

Edited by johnturley
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Curious to know whether you feel any significant backlash in the drive gearing? My own AZ-EQ5 was 2 years old when I bought it and had a bit of slop about equal in both axes until I tweaked them (and lightly greased them). Very happy now. The Alt scale is just a piece of printed black self adhesive tape several mm from the pointer, so may suffer from being inaccurately placed. However if you put the head in AZ mode, which is rather accurately preset in the factory, the pointer should indicate 90° which will give you a clear idea of the likely error in the tape scale position.

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Interesting report John - thanks for posting it :icon_biggrin:

I have considered the AZ EQ5 as a possible mount for my 130mm F/9.2 triplet refractor but I think that scope might just be too much for it. The scope weighs around 1kg more than your ES 127 and (probably more critically) is that much longer being F/9.2

The mount looks great with your ES 5 incher on board :icon_biggrin:

 

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I have been struggling with what mount to get.  I have to say the AZ EQ5 has been on my list, I read a great deal about “slop” in the dec axis both here and other boards.  I have also looked at the AZ EQ6 which looks like a good mount but as was mentioned it is not as portable as the 5.

I have looked at the Vixen SXD2 and the SXP2 , the SB 10 controller looks great, but it is strictly and EQ mount.  I have heard great things about Vixen’s quality and ease of use right out of the box.  My question is would I be missing out on alot of quick viewing sessions with strictly an eq mount?

 

I am assuming that the advantage of AZ mode is quick setup when you just want a quick view or do some EAA?

 

Mike

 

 

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On 03/11/2019 at 23:50, rml63 said:

I have been struggling with what mount to get.  I have to say the AZ EQ5 has been on my list, I read a great deal about “slop” in the dec axis both here and other boards.  I have also looked at the AZ EQ6 which looks like a good mount but as was mentioned it is not as portable as the 5.

I have looked at the Vixen SXD2 and the SXP2 , the SB 10 controller looks great, but it is strictly and EQ mount.  I have heard great things about Vixen’s quality and ease of use right out of the box.  My question is would I be missing out on alot of quick viewing sessions with strictly an eq mount?

 

I am assuming that the advantage of AZ mode is quick setup when you just want a quick view or do some EAA?

 

Mike

Hi Mike

I haven't noticed any slop in the dec axis, the dec motor appears to operate quite smoothly, but then I haven't used it at high magnification. I would imagine the Vixen mounts you refer to are a cut above the Skywatcher ones,  as looking at the specs they utilise brass worm gear with 180 tooth RA and Dec wheels, but then cost considerably more (note: for comparison my 14in Astro Systems Newtonian has a 720 tooth brass RA wheel, and a 360 tooth Dec wheel, but predates any GOTO system)

Regarding the weight issue, the AQ-EQ5 mount head weighs 7.7kg, I have 2 x 3.5kg of counterweights, and the tripod 5.6kg, making a total weight of around 20kg, which I'm reasonably comfortable about moving around, but with the scope on the mount this brings the total weight to nearly 30kg, which I find difficult to move and anyway best avoided in case of accidents, so I move them separately. In the case of the EQ6-R and the AZ-EQ6 the mount heads weigh around 16kg, and the heavier tripod 7.5kg, so the total weight with counterweights would be over 30kg. So with this set up I would probably have had to remove (and subsequently replace) the counterweights from the mount to move it, adding to the set up time. Of course someone younger and fitter than me would probably have no problem in carrying this, I remember in the 1970's, when I was in my 20's, I used to have a Fullerscopes 10in Newtonian with fiberglass tube (wonder why this material is no longer used, I suppose that it has been replaced by carbon fibre) on their Mk 3 equatorial mount with pillar stand. I used to carry the mount and OTA out separately, I guess that even with the fiberglass tube the OTA must have weighed at least 15kg, and the mount and pillar stand with counterweights at least 30 kg. 

I was looking at the sun again yesterday, and after possibly improving the north-south alignment, the sun at medium power was staying in the field of view for 10-15 minutes (which I as good as my Celestron CPC achieves using solar system align), and will probably be better still if I can set the angle of dec axis more accurately using a polarscope. So I am thinking along the lines that for quick grab and go, I did not really need the dual equatorial/altazimuth facility, although I've not yet tried the daytime quick alignment method in altazimuth mode to see how it compares, and anyway as mentioned there was only a £40 difference in price between the AZ-EQ5 and the HEQ5 with the Rowan Belt modification. 

One slightly annoying thing in set up is that although the mount memorises my latitude, longitude, and time zone, it does not memorise the time, and you have to enter it every time you switch it on, presumably because it has no built in clock, and unlike the system on the Celestron CPC, does not obtain the time from a GPS signal, I gather GPS module is an optional extra on this mount. 

John 

 

Edited by johnturley
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Hi John, 

Thank you for the detailed information re: your AZEQ5 with my sw 130mm reflector the 5 would easily handle that no problem.  When you mentioned that you thought you did not need the dual eq/altaz functions of the mount it really got me thinking in an entirely new direction.   

What if the ultimate in ease of use   and weight could be found in a separate alt/az mount and eq mount.  If you say had a string of nights where by chance or design you could only view for short periods your alt/az mount is out and ready to go.  With your preferred visual scope permanently mounted .

 

The eq side of the equation has some obvious benefits , ie: scope, auto-guider and camera in a permanent setup .  Maybe even a specific spot in the backyard (not an obsy per say but just a spot you know you can polar align easily) you could do an imaging run and still have your az mount for visual or EAA.

 

The question becomes what alt/az mount to purchase, your az/eq5 really only has one competitor in that price point which is the Ioptron AZ mount pro.  The overall impressions of that mount are about 50/50 in getting one that does not need tinkering out of the box.  The eq side of the equation has several offerings from sw ioptron and the like all of which I am a sure you are well aware of.

I realize having 2 mounts is more money , but just putting that aside for a minute, having separate tools dedicated to one job certainly does sound appealing.

 

Mike 

 

 

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