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Full EQStar Pro Review


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So I've had the EQSTARPRO for about a month now.

I think it's time for a review.

I got the pro version for the EQ5. It comes in other versions.

You get the controller box (solid aluminium box), servos with mounts, cogs and belts, and all the cables you need.

You need to supply your own power supply (12v standard connector).

The manual is.. not great. It doesn't cover fitting, just using it. It's all pretty straight forward though - I'd already fitting a motor kit, so I just removed that and fitted this stuff.

I adjusted the tension on the belt to pretty right (about 2mm play). There is no tensioner, so it needs to be tawt.

Before you fit them you should probably take the opportunity to adjust your worm gears to eliminate any backlash from your mount.

Once fitted, the motors connect to the controller via standard ethernet cables.

I changed the DEC for for a curly spiral ethernet to keep things neat.

You get a little hand controller with it which plus into the ST4 port and lets you manually move it at different speeds.

It has a USB post, which has a built in serial chip so it basically looks like any other EQMOD mount when plugged in to a PC. It also has build in wifi which can be switched on and off. Initially I used it in the wifi mode and used the synscan mobile app.

To SW Synscan app it just looks like an EQ5 goto mount - and connects fine.

There is one quirk (well quirk for me coming from azgti), in that you must set home position and hibernate to home position at end of sessions if you want to avoid doing the following each time. This might be the same on EQ5 goto - I don't know.

Basically disengage the clutches and goto home on synscan - and the servos will start to move and will move for a few minutes. You need clutches disconnected as they will otherwise twist your mount round and round.

Once motors have stopped, manually set mount in home position, and then engage clutches. At this point app AND mount know they are in home position.

From that point on it just acts like the azgti really - you can do your 2 star or 3 star align, your PA, gotos, moon tracking, sidereal, etc. All works fine.

Out the box it's set to 80% of max current/torque. which was fine till I stuck my bug 200p on it. It struggled a bit with that, so I changed it to 100%. You do that via a config utility on a PC with the mount plugged in to USB.

A few weeks later I got an ASIAIR PRO. Initially I had some trouble connecting it, and to be honest I'm not sure why. I did nothing to fix it, and it just started working. I can't swear to it that I didn't get an ASIAIR update inbetween. Bottom line is, it will connect to mount fine either in direct USB/COM serial way or via wifi (though I won't go into that here as you need to know what you are doing to bridge wifi networks).

Again, once connected to ASIAIR it has full control. Again, like synscan you must first tell it to go into home position with clutches disengaged. Unfortunately ASIAIR has no 'hibernate' function so you do have to do this every single sessions, which takes a few minutes.

Obviously with ASAIR no alignment is required, just jump straight into PA, then goto somewhere and let it plate solve you into the target.

This works a treat.

Guiding wise, it also works as you'd expect. My EQ5 is a bit of an old dog, but I can tell get about 1.5" RMS from it.

Neither motors or controller gets hot. They don't use a lot of current, and seem rock solid stable - unlike the azgti for example which sometime won't let me connect to it.

Support wise, Alexander over at www.astro-gadget.com  has been great. He often replied to emails immediately. English is not his first language (they are based in Ukraine), but he got me through the bits I struggled with above (home position, etc).

So the only real quirk is the home position stuff - it will need someone to comment to find out if this is the same on the real SW EQ goto mounts or not.

Also, they are only available direct from Alexander or via ebay - both from Ukraine. Mine arrives in around 1 week, and not extra tax/duty was due. Your mileage may differ.

For the money - it is a fraction of the SW Goto upgrade kit, is ready to plug into a PC with USB AND has build in wifi. It's also servo/belt based rather than basic motors.

Provided you don't mind working stuff out yourself (and hopefully articles like this one will help future owners to not have to), it offers great value for money. I'm not sure it's worth trying to build your own now really imho.

disclaimer: I paid for this, I have no commercial interest in www.astro-gadget.com. This is just my own view.


stu

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Just to say I had an EQStar EQ5 from Alexander (I think bought in late 2019 IIRC) & would echo what you said.  He's v responsive.  And the product was perfect for what I needed (goto on a Vixen GP2) - worked w EKOS (important to go back to Park position at the end of the night, but that is the same w my HEQ5Pro too).  Sadly had to sell the GP2 in the end to upgrade due to weight of total AP kit.  But would definitely buy from him again if I needed s/t like that again.

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  • 1 month later...

One thing to add - the continuing to have to do the gome palaver every time is a pain. I'd love to know if this is normal or an eqstar pro quirk.

Additionally I've never got meridian flip to work. Whenever you goto something on the opposite meridian it never works and goes all the wrong way. the only way I've found around this is to manually (well..via controls) move it to the other meridian, plate solve and goto somewhere close a few times.

No idea what thats about.

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14 minutes ago, powerlord said:

One thing to add - the continuing to have to do the gome palaver every time is a pain. I'd love to know if this is normal or an eqstar pro quirk.

Additionally I've never got meridian flip to work. Whenever you goto something on the opposite meridian it never works and goes all the wrong way. the only way I've found around this is to manually (well..via controls) move it to the other meridian, plate solve and goto somewhere close a few times.

No idea what thats about.

So parking the mount at the end of the session doesn't work? You still need to do the strange startup sequence each time? Do you use EQMod? 

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i use asiair pro - there is no park. there is a 'goto home' but afaik this doesn't seem to do the same thing. it's not like in synscan where you have a hibernate/restore from hibernate.

For all i know it's an asiair issue, but its all I've got.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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  • 1 month later...

I got an EQStar a few years ago for my Losmandy G11S.  I tested it with both EQMod using ASCOM and Ekos using INDI.  No problems except the home or park position (see above), if I had worked a little harder maybe I would understand how to get it right. 

I never took it out under the stars not because of problems with the unit but more because of the G11S binding up - the EQStar motors did not seem to be strong enough.  More likely that was mostly a mechanical problem.  The G11S crown wheel was probably not round enough to run it with a tight worm setting, and temperature expansion also plays a role.  Most users run it a little loose with counterweighting.  Eventually I implemented spring loaded worms (3 different designs of my own) that totally fixed the binding-up problem while slewing.  By that time I had bought stronger motors that Alexander recommended (BTW Alexander is very responsive and supportive). 

Eventually I discovered OnStep and went that route in my confusion about motor strength vs mechanical issues.  OnStep offers a lot of choices for computer hardware, motors and stepper drivers and has a great support forum.  After the SLW, also adding 1:3 timing belts, I can track with a 12" F/4 Newt at 0.7" RMS total.  I just ordered a 12 to 24 DCDC converter to get more out of my steppers.  The problem with steppers is that the incremental torque decreases inversly proportional the microstep factor (which increases exponentially in powers of 2) - and you need a significant microstep factor to get sufficient resolution.  This is why the best results are obtained with timing belts and 24 V.

I don't know the EQStar tracking performance because I never got to that point.  I do recall that the EQStar slew speed was not impressive.  OnStep could slew at 4 degrees per second, unfortunately the timing belt reduced that by a factor 3.  Fortunately I don't spend much time slewing so the speed is not an issue for me.  If I would try EQStar again with the G11S problems fixed (SLW/timing belts) it would probably work fine.  But I ended up switching to OnStep, it works well and I enjoy having full control over hardware and software.

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I've no problem with slew speed. About same as my eq6-r.

I've just had a replacement Controller from alex. He fixed the home position issue but my controller was too old for firmware. I sent mine back to him for board replacement but got lost in post.

Alexander offered me a new replacement at discount, so bought that and got yesterday. Not used in anger yet.

Alexander is a top bloke, and if the home issue is sorted, it should be excellent. I never had over 1" rms guiding with the old unit, and that is with a tatty eq5 that has seen better days.

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  • 9 months later...

Here is a tip regarding the slewing speed of the Asto-Gadget GoTo kits.  They all work well but the Pro versions have the high speed slewing capability.  So a mount fitted with the EQStarProEQ5 kit will slew much faster than one with the regular EQStarEQ5. 
 

I ordered mine online directly from the Astro-Gadget and Alexander was fantastic from ordering through technical support.  

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  • 5 weeks later...

Old thread but I have been considering the EQStarProEQ3 (for my CG4) as I can't afford a new mount. I currently have the dual motor Celestron kit that looks like it came from wish. 

So I was curious how everyone is doing with theirs today and if they are still happy with it? Also it's mentioned the guy is shipping out of Ukraine... I wonder how that's currently working out.

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On 08/11/2022 at 14:29, Trippelforge said:

Old thread but I have been considering the EQStarProEQ3 (for my CG4) as I can't afford a new mount. I currently have the dual motor Celestron kit that looks like it came from wish. 

So I was curious how everyone is doing with theirs today and if they are still happy with it? Also it's mentioned the guy is shipping out of Ukraine... I wonder how that's currently working out.

 

I've just today received an EQStar Pro for my old Vixen Super Polar is mount, directly from Astro Gadget. It's taken about 3 weeks to get here from Kharkiv in Ukraine. Quite frankly I'm amazed it's even got here at all given the troubles in Ukraine at the moment. Hats off to Alexander from Astro Gadget for carrying on in the face of all the challenges.

Obviously I haven't tried it outside yet, but I'm looking forward to the first clear night to give it a go. The kit is well made and easy to install, taking me about half an hour. There were no printed installation instructions with it, but if you know your way round a mount then it's pretty straight forward and intuitive. So far I've only connected to the EQStar Pro using the Synscan App to ensure the motors are working. Tracking motion seems to work fine and it's pretty fast when it comes to slewing. The only thing that's a concern (and hence the reason I've just been searching for posts on this topic) is the very loud variable whining noise from the stepper motors. I knew that all stepper motors were noisy even when idling, but hadn't quite expected this. For astro-photography it won't be an issue as I'll be inside anyway, letting the mount do its thing (and hoping it won't wake up the neighbours). But I'm not sure I could stand next to it for any length of time doing visual work.

If anyone can comment on how noisy their EQStar Pro stepper motors are, I'd love to hear your experiences.

Cheers

Edited by UKRoman
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22 minutes ago, UKRoman said:

 

I've just today received an EQStar Pro for my old Vixen Super Polar is mount, directly from Astro Gadget. It's taken about 3 weeks to get here from Kharkiv in Ukraine. Quite frankly I'm amazed it's even got here at all given the troubles in Ukraine at the moment. Hats off to Alexander from Astro Gadget for carrying on in the face of all the challenges.

Obviously I haven't tried it outside yet, but I'm looking forward to the first clear night to give it a go. The kit is well made and easy to install, taking me about half an hour. There were no printed installation instructions with it, but if you know your way round a mount then it's pretty straight forward and intuitive. So far I've only connected to the EQStar Pro using the Synscan App to ensure the motors are working. Tracking motion seems to work fine and it's pretty fast when it comes to slewing. The only thing that's a concern (and hence the reason I've just been searching for posts on this topic) is the very loud variable whining noise from the stepper motors. I knew that all stepper motors were noisy even when idling, but hadn't quite expected this. For astro-photography it won't be an issue as I'll be inside anyway, letting the mount do its thing (and hoping it won't wake up the neighbours). But I'm not sure I could stand next to it for any length of time doing visual work.

If anyone can comment on how noisy their EQStar Pro stepper motors are, I'd love to hear your experiences.

Cheers

Wow... it's that loud? I wonder if that's normal... did you reach out to AP and ask?

Glad to hear it seems well made and easy to use. I contacted him about the Ukraine situation and he said his company was located far away from the chaos. 

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 It seems pretty loud to me. I understand all stepper motors are noisy, so I don’t  think this is a specific problem with the EQStar kit. I haven’t reached out to Alexander yet as I only received it today. More experimentation required first 👍

Edited by UKRoman
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2 hours ago, UKRoman said:

If anyone can comment on how noisy their EQStar Pro stepper motors are, I'd love to hear your experiences.

I bought a used Vixen GP with the same EQStar Pro motors (orange?) last year... I've only used it a few times, because I'm primarily Alt/Az and don't image... they are very loud indeed, such that I found it wasn't suitable for visual, mainly because it took away some of the pleasure of observing in (relative) silence. I would be ok with loud whilst slewing fast, but this occurs at idle too 😮

Maybe, there is a fix/adjustment for them, but nothing I could find 🤔

I'm keeping the mount, primarily because it is possible I may look at using it for imaging one day, but also I might convert it back to manual again 😬

Edited by HollyHound
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48 minutes ago, HollyHound said:

... they are very loud indeed, such that I found it wasn't suitable for visual, mainly because it took away some of the pleasure of observing in (relative) silence. 

Ah ok, thanks. At least I now know it’s not just my drives. Unfortunately, I had intended to use this mainly for visual as well, but like you I don’t think I can cope with the noise; it sounds like a washing machine. This was a project to get my 31 year old Vixen SP mount back into service with my old Vixen 4 inch refractor, employing the latest goto capabilities. It’s a pity as the kit itself seems great and from what I‘ve seen ticks every other box. 
 

I’ll keep the kit anyway as I could use it for photography, as a backup in the event that my main rig is out of service. Plus I’m happy to support businesses in Ukraine. 
 

Cheers 👍

Edited by UKRoman
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Not sure this’ll be useful, but here is a video with sound, for reference. Even if the volume isn’t reproduced it might give an idea of the type of noise. Worth saying again, this isn’t a fault, it’s just the nature of stepper motors. 

Edited by UKRoman
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I've just exchanged emails with Alexander and he acknowledged that stepper motors are generally noisy. He suggested that I try reducing the motor current in the settings panel to 50-60% as that may reduce the noise a bit. I've tried that and it does indeed reduce the noise level slightly, but I think the neighbourhood cats will still be heading for the hills after short while. I did try setting the motor current down at 25% and although that reduced the noise quite significantly, the motors started to slip when I had a 2 inch diagonal and a 22mm Nagler eyepiece installed in the focuser. I've put it back up to 50% and the motors seem to handle the load without issue. So I think it's still going to be a case of using this mount for astrophotography going forward. 

Edited by UKRoman
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1 hour ago, UKRoman said:

I've just exchanged emails with Alexander and he acknowledged that stepper motors are generally noisy. He suggested that I try reducing the motor current in the settings panel to 50-60% as that may reduce the noise a bit. I've tried that and it does indeed reduce the noise level slightly, but I think the neighbourhood cats will still be heading for the hills after short while. I did try setting the motor current down at 25% and although that reduced the noise quite significantly, the motors started to slip when I had a 2 inch diagonal and a 22mm Nagler eyepiece installed in the focuser. I've put it back up to 50% and the motors seem to handle the load without issue. So I think it's still going to be a case of using this mount for astrophotography going forward. 

 

I planned on only using mine for AP also, but then again I will be outside near it. What sucks is that there are no other options outside of the Celestron branded one (I have the dual axis). It's so silent that I have to touch it to make sure it's running. I am going to assume those are not step motors?

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