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johnturley

Flashing Power Light on Skywatcher AZ-EQ5

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I was finding that within about one hour's use, and with a fully charged power tank, the power light on my AZ-EQ5 started to flash. According to the manual this indicates that the power voltage is low, and that continuing to operate the mount may damage the battery. I thought that it should not discharge this quickly, and when I put the Skywatcher power tank back on charge, in no time the fully charged light came on.

Originally I thought that the power tank might be faulty, so I took in back to Rother Valley Optics, and they changed it for another, the second one appeared to be slightly better, but after about 1hr 15 mins the same problem occurred again.

Has anyone else experienced this with their AZ-EQ5 or similar mounts, the mount continues to function with the flashing light, but its a bit off-putting.

John .

Edited by johnturley

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It will depend upon what drain current is being taken by the mount, what the battery size is in ampere hours, how long your power lead is to the mount, what cross section area your power leads are and lastly what temperature your battery is operating at. Are you slewing often or just occasionally? Tracking takes much less power than slewing. You may find that in the first instance keeping the battery in a warm enclosure extends the battery life before the mount led starts flashing.

A flashing LED does indicate a low voltage, but more to worry about is the mount electronics. A circuit designed to work at say 12 volts and taking 2 amps equates to 24 VA or watts. the same circuit if supplied with 11 volts will take more current to achieve the same power. 24/11= 2.182 amps. So the circuit heats up more. It is not unknown for circuit components to burn out for this very reason.

If the LED flashes STOP. If all fails resort to a larger battery to test how things go.

But you should check what current the mount is drawing. If larger than the manufacturers specifications get the mount checked out!

Derek

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6 minutes ago, Physopto said:

It will depend upon what drain current is being taken by the mount, what the battery size is in ampere hours, how long your power lead is to the mount, what cross section area your power leads are and lastly what temperature your battery is operating at. Are you slewing often or just occasionally? Tracking takes much less power than slewing. You may find that in the first instance keeping the battery in a warm enclosure extends the battery life before the mount led starts flashing.

 

Derek

I'm just using the mount for tracking, the power supply is the Skywatcher 7 Amp Power Tank.

John 

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Flashing lights are indicative of low voltage to the mount.  'Powertanks' I have owned have been as useful as a chocolate fireguard.  It's quite common according to conversations on this forum for the units to fall well short of ideal.  Use a mains power converter capable of 4 amps at 12V - 14V or get a decent battery type such as a deep cycle leisure battery like those used in boats and caravans.

Edited by Owmuchonomy

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The power tank is too small. You may get longer from it without the LED flashing if you can keep it away from the cold; keep it off the cold ground, keeping wind off it etc may help, but fundamentally it’s too small.
 

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Problem with lead acid batteries is in the charging !!! Safety safety safety.......

There are far too many accidents whilst charging because either people forget that these batteries emit hydrogen gas once the battery voltage goes over around 12.4 volts. Don't forhet they require the bartery voltage to rise to between  14.4/8 volts on average to be fully charged, it depends upon type of lead acid.

It  is far safer to use a totally sealed lead acid or  a LiFePo4 type  battery. There are plenty of discussions here on SGL about costs of the different types and the merits/problems of each type.

To give an idea:--

 

To me it is safety first.

Lead acid, heavy, unsafe if not looked after properly, but cheap. Rated Ah  is not accurate and gets less as the temperature drops, so poor in cold climates, about half the rated capacity.

Sealed lead acid, slightly more costly, but much safer. Rated capacity is same ordinary as lead acid.

LiPo4 costly but not as safe as LiFePo4. LiPo4 these are the type that can go on fire, ( water will not put them out but will make the fire much worse, possible explosion). But you will get virtually the full  rated capacity in current.

LiFePo4 very safe but very costly. You will get almost the full rated capacity in current. ( down to about 5%)

Lastly lead acid current capacity will deteriorate with use quickly if not kept on trickle charge at all times. You cannot use a car  battery in place of the leisure type as they will fail much sooner. Expect only 3/5 years out of a lead acid on average.

LiFePo4 types can be charged up to several thousand times, averaging say between 1200 to 2500 charges depending upon make. Some even more times. Expect hopefully 10 plus years! They do not require  to be charged after each use unless almost fully discharged.

In the end it come down to available funds, what lifetime you will get in reality and how safe you wish to be.

Derek

 

Edited by Physopto

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3 hours ago, jambouk said:

The power tank is too small. You may get longer from it without the LED flashing if you can keep it away from the cold; keep it off the cold ground, keeping wind off it etc may help, but fundamentally it’s too small.
 

 

3 minutes ago, Physopto said:

Problem with lead acid batteries is in the charging !!! Safety safety safety.......

There are far too many accidents whilst charging because either people forget that these batteries emit hydrogen gas once the battery voltage goes over around 12.4 volts. Don't forhet they require the bartery voltage to rise to between  14.4/8 volts on average to be fully charged, it depends upon type of lead acid.

It  is far safer to use a totally sealed lead acid or  a LiFePo4 type  battery. There are plenty of discussions here on SGL about costs of the different types and the merits/problems of each type.

To give an idea:--

 

will get in reality and how safe you wish to be.

Derek

 

I actually have two 7 Amp Power Tanks one badged Celestron (which I purchased at the same time as my CPC in 2014), the other badged Skywatcher (which I purchased recently with my AZ-EQ5) , but otherwise they appear identical, so almost certainly originate from the same factory, and appear to be of the sealed lead acid type.

I purchased a second power unit  so that I would be able to use both my 9.25 CPC and my ES 127 at the same time, and It looks like its a good job that I've got two power units, but I probably won't be using either scope for long periods at a time, so can manage without having to buy a higher capacity power unit, plus also have a mains adaptor which fits the CPC (but not the AZ-EQ 5 which has a different plug fitting on the power input). 

Incidentally the CPC unit although it has a power on light, it doesn't flash to indicate low voltage, it would appear to flash on the AZ-EQ5 when the voltage is only marginally down on that when fully charged.

John 

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I could never figure out why the NEQ6 that I had, did not have a power protection circuit. When I first bought the mount it failed the very first time it was connected to its own mains power unit. I had it repaired and then it never failed again. But I was always aware that it could happen. The instructions only said that the LED would flash at different rates depending upon what was happening, i.e. low voltage or at the point of dire failure. Poor design really.

The newer mounts obviously are slightly different but the Flashing LED,  would for me, be a serious warning to be heeded.  I use LiFePo4 batteries now but on a different setup. As I said very expensive, but I need the lower weight and greater Ah capacity. If your system works OK on the mains adapter, you could check the voltage and current when the mount is working. That way you can establish a starting point to work from.

You can buy at a reasonable cost an in line current and voltage meter. https://www.amazon.co.uk/VIPMOON-Analyzer-Precision-Digital-Battery/dp/B01M05Q1U4.

Then you can test everything to see what is happening to the voltage and current whilst you mare running the mount. So when the LED starts flashing you will have a visual indication of the exact voltage and currents being supplied. This may give an indication if the mount is at fault or that the battery unit is failing too early.

Derek

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