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SimM

HEQ5 Pro mount buying advice required

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Posted (edited)

I want to get a GOTO mount for my newtonian scope. Originally I looked at a bigger Sky-Watcher EQ6 mount but I'm now thinking something smaller would be best. Otherwise it may be a bit too heavy to take out into the garden for me, so I'm looking at the EQ5 series and the HEQ5 Pro looks to be very good. I've compared it to the Celestron Advance VX which is priced about the same and like the specs for the Sky-Watcher.

Some questions, before I buy a new HEQ5 Pro in the UK - I think the spec has changed very slightly as changes get rolled out:

1. Is the supplied SynScan HC a V4 e.g. star base of 40,000+ objects e.g. used by all the other Sky-Watcher mounts, it has been described as 13,000+ which may be a typo in the on-line literature? For me a few 100 would be OK...

2. Is the polar alignment scope built in (included) and does it have red (adjustable) illumination of the reticle controlled by the HC?

3. Is there a D Type connector or is it now USB e.g. to control/update HC?

4. For visual use, is a 10kg scope within it's workable capacity?

5. Is there a supplied Vixen (green) dove bar included in the box? It comes with 4 bolts to attach a scopes rings? I'm assuming it's not possible to use a Losmandy (wide) dovetail saddle e.g. only a (narrow) Vixen mount e.g. it doesn't allow for both types?

6. Discussion about a PSU suggests Halfords 17A car charger @ £50 is a good way to remotely power it?

7. Can it also be used for "casual" astrophotography as well as visual e.g. reasonable tracking?

8. Is there anything not to like about it or that you should be aware of before buying?

Thanks
Simon 

 

Edited by SimM

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Simon,

Can't answer all your questions.... my HEQ5pro is now almost ten years old.

1. Current Synscan is V4

2. Yes, Yes

3. Don't know, but I'd "assume" it's still the ol' D type where you need a Serial>USB adaptor (I use and recommend the KeySpan)

4. For visual, just! I use my HEQ5pro with an ED80 (roughly 5 Kg) and If I ever double up ie 2 x 5Kg it feels at it's limit - still functional - short OTA's should be OK.

5. I think the dovetails have always been extra. The standard saddle is a Vixen style. I replaced mine with an ADM dual (Vixen/ Losmandy).

6. I use a couple of Golf Buggy 20Ah SLA batteries (you'll need a 3 stage trickle charger - mine are now over ten years old and still going strong!) I also added a car computer converter (Maplins) 120W, 12V to 15V. Never had an issue, always enough power.

7. Yes, with short focus instruments (ie ED80 etc)

8. As I said mine is almost ten years old, been around the world twice and works well for me - no issues.

Hope this helps.

Ken

 

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Thanks Ken,

Is the saddle the part that's attached to the mount and into this fits the dovetail that's attached to the scope rings? The "what's in the box" says with a vixen dovetail - but I wanted to be sure that one is provided.

I'm learning that Astrophotography is much easier with a low FL refractor. Is the ED80 still produced? Does ED mean it has three separate objective lens e.g. good colour alignment of rgb?

Thanks

Simon

 

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Simon,

Yes the saddle is part of the mount. According to FLO a dovetail is included...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-heq5-pro-synscan.html

 

The ED80 is still available AFAIK, it's a doublet with an FL-53 element. I find it gives acceptable performance, but I only do solar imaging and spectroscopy. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pro-series/skywatcher-evostar-80ed-ds-pro-ota.html

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Posted (edited)

While a saddle is included it is not that good. Most replace the stock saddle with a much higher quality one such as this one that acepts both Vixen and Losmand doetails. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-mount-accessories/adm-dual-saddle-upgrade-for-heq5-neq6-avx-zeq-ioptron.html

Edited by johninderby
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1 hour ago, johninderby said:

While a saddle is included it is not that good. Most replace the stock saddle with a much higher quality one such as this one that acepts both Vixen and Losmand doetails. 


I just changed the saddle on my EQ6 to the one that comes with the HEQ5 and it’s 100% adequate at its purpose of holding a telescope on a dovetail.

In my opinion @SimM Simon would be better placed using the £136 towards buying a Rowan belt modded HEQ5 if he wants to get into AP, or even the EQ6 which would hold a bigger scope better.

Possibly replace the saddle in the future if deemed necessary! Thats just my view!

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Hmmm,

I disagree, being able to use either the Vixen or Losmandy dovetail gives opportunities to use various instruments with improved rigidity.

Even without the belt drive mod, the HEQ5 Pro is quite capable.

 

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17 minutes ago, Merlin66 said:

Hmmm,

I disagree, being able to use either the Vixen or Losmandy dovetail gives opportunities to use various instruments with improved rigidity.

 

It’s ok to disagree! But the clamp included with the HEQ5 does both vixen and losmandy so there is no real benefit to upgrading it 

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I started with Astronomy around 2 years ago and after a lot of advice from SGL bought a 2nd hand HEQ5 as my intention was at some stage to get into Astrophotography.

Over the two years I have modded the mount by adding the Rowan Belt mod and updated to a Geoptik Universal Dual Load Mounting Saddle Plate which does require a new puck as well. Both are great upgrades but not entirely necessary as the mount for the price is an excellent piece of kit and quite capable of decent tracking to take great images without any modification.

Personally I would buy the mount as it is and upgrade as you need to or can afford to.

The supplied saddle is fine although yes only handles vixen dovetails but clamps them securely. I only upgraded when I went to a much heavier scope that was supplied with a Losmandy dovetail.

Steve

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, tooth_dr said:

It’s ok to disagree! But the clamp included with the HEQ5 does both vixen and losmandy so there is no real benefit to upgrading it 

Are you sure, I admit my mount is a few years old but definitely only had a Vixen clamp before I modified it ?

Edited by teoria_del_big_bang
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Posted (edited)

The NEQ6PRO I bought had the dual SW saddle....the HEQ5 Pro was just the basic Vixen...maybe things have recently changed??

 

Edited by Merlin66
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46 minutes ago, Merlin66 said:

The NEQ6PRO I bought had the dual SW saddle....the HEQ5 Pro was just the basic Vixen...maybe things have recently changed??

 

Looking at the photo again it's hard to tell, but I think you are right, it looks like it only holds Vixen.  So apologies for that.

I still think that the upgrades are unnecessary at this stage.  I happily used vixen for 10 years, and only changed to Losmandy because I bought a scope that came with it.

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16 minutes ago, tooth_dr said:

Looking at the photo again it's hard to tell, but I think you are right, it looks like it only holds Vixen.  So apologies for that.

I still think that the upgrades are unnecessary at this stage.  I happily used vixen for 10 years, and only changed to Losmandy because I bought a scope that came with it.

Apologies not needed, I understand exactly what you were getting at and I would agree and I only changed the clamp due to upgrading to a new scope that came with a Losamandy.

Steve

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Says on Flo's site:

Payload capacity: 11kg for imaging, 15kg for visual.

Great mount, I use a dual rig on it, ED80 and WOZS71 plus the guidescope mount (which is heavy) to clamp them together.

Carole 

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Hi Carole

I have been debating which mount to get to replace my Super Polaris mount on my (super lightweight) newtonian telescope for about a week. I first looked at Celestron mounts but quickly decided I liked the Sky-Watcher mounts more. I convinced myself that I should buy an EQ6-R PRO - very capable and popular (but also quite expensive) and super big/heavy. I read the Nexstar and SynScan manuals. It's my impression that the Sky-Watchers are reliable and technically advanced but that Next may heave the edge on usability over SynScan.

So I looked at all the smaller models and searched for amateur astro imaging with Google and YouTube. I found some American influencers who get all their equipment given/discounted and wanted to find something closer to home. I was looking for evidence of successful use of the HEQ5 PRO. Perhaps you recognise this quote "An HEQ5 is also a good mount if you don’t think you will be buying a heavier telescope at some stage.   Although heavy I have been extremely pleased with the performance and accuracy of this mount and cannot praise it highly enough". I decided that the price and features matched how I eventually plan to use my scope 9again after 25 years "astro' vacation) e.g. will be mostly for visual observing and eventually with a v. casual interest in imaging. 

From what I've read about astro imagine, it can be frustrating, expensive and very time consuming - there are many warnings that it's more about technique and lots of pricey equipment doesn't automatically guarantee success. I've scaled back my plans somewhat... I can't see myself diving too much into imaging. Anyway, it's now more about "walk before you run" time. I do have plans to eventually get something like an ED 80 which I think the HEQ5 PRO will be ideal for. The deal was done this afternoon. All being well I get it on Friday - it will be cloudy for another month now!

Hopefully I will enjoy the new mount as GOTO and computerised (not just tracking) is all new to me. One difference with SynScan appears to be how it handles across the meridian. I see an option to manage it automatically or control it before the next GOTO - I have no idea if this "works". Perhaps Nexstar have a better method? It's interesting that the hardware is not the same and firmware is so different when I know it's the same parent company.

Simon

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11 hours ago, Merlin66 said:

maybe things have recently changed?

 

The connection to motor for control and firmware updates is now USB (I'm told). If that's true then updating the firmware would be easier for me.

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On 08/01/2020 at 22:22, Merlin66 said:

The current SW Synscan manual still talks about serial connections....

I should change this from “buying” to “using“ because my new HEQ5 arrived today!

I would have been disappointed if it did NOT have USB because I checked with OVL before ordering it from RVO.

I would also have been disappointed if the USB couldn’t be used to drive the scope e.g. not just for firmware updates. My laptop and PC don’t have serial ports and I’m not wanting the unnecessary expense of a USB serial adapter cable.

The Sky-Walker website doesn’t contain the latest manuals so it’s not easy to see what you get. So my new HEQ5 is supplied with a HC SynScan V5 controller. The manual is SSHCV5-F-1708V2EN. The manual for the Mount is for HEQ5/EQ6. It is 130405V1. It has a 2nd part for the German equivalent.

There is also a single sheet update for the polar scope. The supplied one is the same as EQ6 e.g. it has 3 rings for setting the year and a pattern for Southern Hemisphere but no star patterns ( these wouldn’t match the field of view anyway). It also has 0 - 3 - 6 - 9 like the pattern representing a clock face.

The HC Setup confirms date/time/location and provides an “hour” for Polaris e.g. 09:25. This means that the polar mount alignment “calculation” using a slide ruler type setup is no longer required e.g. you simply line set the Mount with the declination set to zero e.g. weight is down and then use the hour of Polaris e.g. put the position of Polaris at 09:25. For 2020 that’s using the middle circle at 09:25. The traditional method of using the slide rule on the polar scope is also available or the SynScan has a polar alignment e.g. if Polaris isn’t visible.

The ports on the mount are for Auto Guider and Hand Controller. There is also 12V power input.

The ports on the Hand Controller are a Mount port used to connect the HC to the telescope mount and a multi port for a camera, GPS etc. There is also a USB port. The USB port is for connecting a computer. So no need to use a WiFi dongle or a PC link cable that connects to RS-232C (that most laptops no longer have). The USB port is also available to “talk” to the mount using the “PC Direct Mode” to drive the motor directly.

The USB cable is Type B e.g. like a PC uses with a computer into the PC and the square (peripheral) is provided on the HC.

The firmware of the HC can also be updated using the USB port when connected directly to a PC. Using the “PC Direct Mode” the same port can be used to update the motor firmware.

There is still the option to use either the mount or multi port for serial communication. For these I don’t have the cable or a laptop with the D type connector.

So to summarise the V5 HC keeps the Mount and Multi Port and adds a USB port that provides alternative methods of driving the mount or HC and for keeping the Mount and HC firmware up to date without requiring a serial cable. I don’t have a SkySense but it can be also directly plugged into the HC.

Simon

Edited by SimM
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Simon,

Sounds good!

All's well that ends well

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On 10/01/2020 at 20:52, Merlin66 said:

All's well that ends well

Yes - absolutely and it seems really good. My "intended" scope has a weight of 6.5kg - well within the spec. Initially I will use it with my large but lightweight "old" newtonian that has a weight of 10kg.

My current project is fixing my old mount to the Vixen mount - bought some M6 bolts and will be drilling and tapping the dovetail and scope mount plate tomorrow. First light with the new mount/old newtonian pending clear skies, of course!

I referred to the USB port on the hand controller *** I upgraded it easily on my Mac (Bootcamp) with Windows 10 ***

I used it with a printer cable to upgrade the firmware to latest level - so no need to have a serial cable to make an update.

One small surprise was the RA setting circle. The Declination circle is easy to understand - set the latitude and adjust it and lock it.

I can't figure out the RA setting circle - it can be locked on one side (so isn't too stable unless the polar scope cover is kept tight).

When it's locked at 0 RA, it can be screwed in firmly but it can also be locked at any RA. However it doesn't rotate with the RA movement. Perhaps there is a reason for this, but I expected the setting circle to rotate so that it could be used to star hop.

If I release (or remove) the locking bolt then it rotates with the RA movement - but it also slips so it can't be relied upon.

The instructions (I read everything) uses it for calculating Polaris but the SynScan computes this angle anyway so it's not needed for normal use. Perhaps all Sky-Watcher mounts are like this?

Am I right unthinking the operation of slewing the scope is independent of how the locking bolt is used e.g. no harm can come by leaving it tight, locked or loose/removed?

Simon

Edited by SimM

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IMHO the circles are only cosmetic....

I’ve had and used the HEQ5 and the HEQ6 for over ten years and never used them.

Just use the software for general use.

 

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Simon

Welcome from Land Down Under

I have a ED80 on a EQ5pro mount, and had now about 10 years, and running latest version 3 on the SynScan

Have recently got the WiFi adapter, and download the SynScan App

I also use a jump start battery pack to power the EQ5pro mount

Some might say weight issue with EQ5pro mount, takes up to 10kg, and used with Canon 600D attached as well

The attached pic taken at a recent club solar viewing day, and in background is a ED80 on HEQ5 mount, with camera attached 

John

 

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

SynScan wifi adaptor.jpg

Screenshot SynScan APP.jpg

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On 14/01/2020 at 03:10, cletrac1922 said:

Welcome from Land Down Under

I have a ED80 on a EQ5pro mount, and had now about 10 years, and running latest version 3 on the SynScan

Have recently got the WiFi adapter, and download the SynScan App

I also use a jump start battery pack to power the EQ5pro mount

John - Greetings from up top!

I was originally looking at an Alt/Az mount e.g. an 8SE or Evolution 8. But I realised that although I don't particularly like equatorials, this is the way to go for any type of in-depth photography. My dislike of equatorials comes from a misunderstanding. My old mount can be setup as Alt/Az by removing the wedge but I tried to point the equatorial mount like a Dobsonian and it (obviously) just didn't work. I now want a mount that has GOTO so the complexity of driving the equatorial has been removed. Also with modern astronomy Apps and at least half an hour and a cup of tea, one can see how things work and it's no longer the mystery it was.

When I was comparing scopes, I include WiFi to compare like with like e.g. adding it to an 8SE and having it on an Evolution. Now that I have a new mount HEQ5 and an OTA EdgehD 800 I'm not so bothered by not having WiFi. My HEQ5 has USB on the HC and a Direct PC mode that allows a computer to control the motor directly. This means I can update the HC (already done this) with my PC. Also many programs can talk through either Serial (but now USB) to the scope.

With the WiFi adapter - if you use an iPhone or iPad - isn't there a restriction that you can only talk to it one App at a time so it require two devices (so I read) but not for  Android.

I was planning to use Sky Safari to control the scope. But as I work out what my workflow will be, I may use Sky Safari to setup an observation list, but it's not much trouble to instruct the HC to move through my list. I like having the App with the compass enabled or AR to see around the sky whereas a few decades ago I would have resorted to a planisphere. So aligning to a particular star isn't a challenge because I can see the constellations and brighter stars in real time. Waiting for a clear sky is more of a challenge though.

I also have a jump start battery. I bought one and it's a low cost option. I have a 17 Ah battery in a plastic case. It's important that the scope is driven with a good power supply that's well regulated and doesn't dip out. The starter unit gives this because the battery output is directly accessible.

My SynScan allows 2 or three star alignment and then a Polar alignment without needing a polar scope/. I have the polar scope and know what to do, but for folks standing on their head e.g. down under I understand the stars you look for are dim and it's not so easy to find them. So this method must appeal to you.

Simon

PS if we have all the clouds then you must be having excellent night skies?

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