Friday, May 28, 2010

First Impression of the iOptron SmartStar-G

The first impression is that, it's smaller than I imagined! If you know, astronomical gears are usually bigger than it's otherwise in picture. It's also lighter than I once thought, but it's heavy enough to give a feeling of serious stuff. Not exactly toy indeed.

I don't have a tripod for it, and my existing tripods do not work since it has a M8 screw in its base which is hard to match, I will need to find some additional hardware in order to use it. I have tried to put my Ranger on it, but it fails to balance unless I put a small counter weight on top of it. Slew the Ranger around shows zero problem, very precise and it looks good.

Tracking will begin once you slew to any object in the sky. The little cube assumes that you're starting from your home position, so it knows where it's pointing with the help of the GPS and the real time clock. Slew is quick and quiet - remember it's a relative term, so my reference point is my LXD55 and also a Nexstar mount, as well as a couple of Meade DS mounts which I've tried before.

The GPS is pretty quick, it puts itself in a correct location position before I realize that it might take time for the GPS to engage. Another plus.

I just did some general observaton by slewing to the sun, slewing to the moon at night, as well as some planets. They're supposingly in correct orientation in general, I've no way to tell since I cannot really mount a scope on it yet, and it's also cloudy outside, just as what you would expect when there's any new instrument coming in!

The only downside which I've found so far is that, given its home position, it will place the telescope side on the right, that means, it's the far side from my home window. That said, solar imaging would become harder. Of course, since this mount can be placed closer to the window, maybe it still viable? I shall test it soon.

So far, my impression is that, it's pretty portable but still solid enough. More portable even than my Takahashi TG-SP II, and its 8 * AA batteries compartment should be handy, a local folk tested that by using 8 * 1600mmAh rechargeable, the mount can run for over 6 hours! And that's more than enough for me as I usually stay around only 3 hours at most in a single observation session.

Finally, my mount arrives with a cracked screen. Luckily, it's insured:

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