Mounts and Drive Systems

EQ6Pro Mount The EQ mount I owned proved very reliable but not robust enough for long term use. The first EQ6 I had failed and stopped working at a mechanical level. when it failed it was clear that this would require a fix but i soon found out that i would have to do this myself and there was little information on the internet. My local supplier refused to help in contact with Skywatcher and another local supplier would fix it but they said that it would cost a lot to repair and probably be just as easy to purchase a new one. Begin happy with the mount I decide that this would be the best thing to do so I ordered a new one a EQ6NPro. The old mount still functioned as a very good mount just the PE was all over the place and the guiding would not fix the issue so I sold this second hand. The replacement came and out I went there should be no learning curve and all things should be up and running. But they were not the mount failed to function correctly and the guiding was really bad. After a series of communications between Skywatcher and myself – my local supplier washed his hand of me after the money had changed hands so I was on my own. In the end I complained so much that they agreed to take back the mount and refund me my money – they were not prepared to replace the mount.  This has now gone and replaced with a Losmandy G11 Gemini mount. Although not the most user friendly mount in the world the quality of the workmanship and also the raw functionality of the mount is just above and beyond anything I have seen before. Losmandy G11 Gemini. Having owned this mount for a year and a half it is time to write a little about this. When I received the mount after a long wait, I was like a giddy schoolboy. Everybody knows that the Losmandy build quality is incredibly good and the mount should be a strong performer. I was not wrong. The first impressions of setting up the mount were WOW what an excellent piece of engineering the metal finish and the workmanship looked just fantastic. It took a little time to mount the motors and the gear boxes and to plug everything together but when complete this was the best looking thing that I have seen in a long time. It came well packaged and was in fact very easy to setup and get to an initial working stage. The only issue, which I had, was with the cable that connects the hand controller to the Gemini control unit. This was a molded connector and it fit easily into the Gemini unit but it would not fit easily into the hand controller. After a little playing I noticed that the molding on the connector was too large for the space on the hand controller. The liberal use of a razor blade knocked the connector into shape and it easily plugged in after that. I spent the rest of that evening playing with the mount and just getting familiar with the controls on the Gemini and also how it moved and sounded. As I said I was like a giddy schoolboy…. I was a little wary of the Gemini controller as I had read and heard a lot about this controller in that it was difficult to use and not really very good. But I thought that as long as I could get it to point and go to objects that is all I needed it to do. However, to my surprise I was amazed at how easy it was to use. I had been used to the SkyWatcher EQ6 control which was very simple to use but I would put this controller on a par with that. My first night out saw me very easily align the mount on the pole star and set its location and “cold start” the mount. After that the quick sync with the night sky and then building a model for a few stars I was slewing around the sky with ease placing every object I wanted to goto directly into the eyepiece. I was amazed out how easy this was to use; admittedly I was not using the advanced feature like polar alignment assistance etc. The first night the mount worked flawlessly – I in the end hooked up the guider and started imaging that first night the PE guided looked amazing and the star movement was less than 1pixel for the complete imaging system. Since this first night I have had almost no issues that I can talk about the mount has worked flawless and the minor issues which I have had include the slew stops not being appropriate for the mount / telescope but this was a very quick fix. Also I had an issue where nothing worked for one night – this was due to the inability of me to check the correct cables had been inserted. Finally the issue which is more concerning is the mounts power cable / socket which appears to be failing and starting to cause concern that this may fail during an imaging run. But this should be a very quick fix. All in all I would give this mount a 10 or of 10 if not higher. It has worked with a number of telescopes mounted ontop and never failed to point / guide with ease.
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