I wanted to share my thoughts and experience with the iEXOS-100, and provide a little feedback as well to ES. So I have to start first with my "I Thought Turkeys Could Fly" moment. As the first stars started showing I went to polar align. I removed the cap in front, but could not see anything. I shrugged it off as I intended to use Sharpcap. It wasn't until the next day I had a feeling I was missing something, then realized I forgot to loosen and rotate DEC.
First issue I encountered was difficulty in polar aligning via Sharpcap. A lot of this was due to inexperience, especially with this mount. However the adjustment for azimuth was difficult regardless. Something I would love to see implemented in future mounts would be a fine tune adjustment knob akin to what I have on my ED 80. Problem was I kept going to far to the left, or too far to the right. I ended up getting a "Fair" alignment according to Sharpcap, and proceeded to accept that and move on.
The glow marks on the mount & mount legs come in handy, and it is a neat little feature of these mounts. Prior to this I realized I could not use the provided counterweights with my setup, and I verified after I received the mount. I ended up getting help at work where we have a production shop with all the tools, and co-worker was kind enough to bore through my Celestron 127eq counterweight which worked perfectly. Now I have 0 issue balancing with the counterweight. I do have somewhat of an issue balancing in DEC, that is due more to my setup. I did reverse the dovetail on the ED80 which improved, but still not 100% perfected.
Connecting to the mount was a breeze, though I do want suggest using the terms "USB cable" in place of "Serial/USB" as I believe that can and will confuse some regarding this specific mount. Personally I think its great feature having moved the serial function internally, especially since I have a good number of USB Mini to A lying around. Anyways switching to use ASCOM was simple, and I was connected to POTH in just a minute or two. Special thanks to Chris Moses for his PMC-Eight Configuration Manager, without that utility I could have a much different experience.
Once connected to POTH, I was unable to use ASCOMPAD. I did not spend much time diagnosing this, it showed connected but never moved. However connected to Cartes du Ciel was a breeze. Backyard Nikon provides some slewing capability, so I not too hung up at the moment about ASCOMPAD, more a curiosity as to why it did not work. Speaking of curiosity, I did try to connect to Stellarium and Stellarium scope. While it did show connected, never did a thing. I do have a ZWO ASIAIR which amazingly connected right up to my guide cam (well duh, it is a ZWO), my Nikon DSLR, and instantly identified and connected to the mount. That was nice to see, though ultimately I was going to use my laptop and PHD this first night out.
So on my first night out, with a "Fair" polar alignment, I can't really say I experienced problems with PHD. I was kind of expecting I would, well the whole point of this evening was to test, learn, and get experience. In a sense it would have been helpful to experience some kind of problem with PHD. In the end I took 20x 3 minute exposures and never encountered a problem (just prior I did do around 20x 2 minutes for testing with the camera, but no issues with guiding at that time either). I had a focal reducer, so 384 focal length may have help as well, but I ended up with a photo I was quite pleased with in regards to having something decent to start learning DSS. For the image below I quickly stacked this with Sequator, but intend to continue learning DSS.
Finally, I couldn't get Astrotortilla functioning (turns out I needed to re-install Cygwin). I anticipated this first night as a learning experience, just did not expect that the mount to perform this well for me. Prior to purchasing I based my decision partly on the complaints and gripes people were having with this mount. My take away was that the issue had nothing to do with the mount, but rather their expectations being unrealistic. I know I am not ever going to mount a 23lb AR152, and that is OK. Because by the time I ever move to telescopes of that size and focal length, I will move to a new mount and continue to use this mount with smaller scopes & DSLR lenses. For $399, my expectations with this mount have been exceeded!
As for feedback to Explorer Scientific: Future models with a finer tuning of the azimuth would be extremely helpful. The glow marks really do make a difference, strongly support continuing to use these on future mounts. I had a few people give positive comments when seeing my mount. I read a while back that in future ES may release a DSLR dovetail adapter for this mount, I fully support that.
Lastly, I would strongly encourage posting more videos on Youtube showing different aspects of the mount, more in-depth tutorials on stuff like balancing, connecting, aligning, etc. One takeaway from last Saturday in talking to a number of fellow beginners, they were all like me a couple months back; just did not know where and how to start. This is one suggestion that would really separate from the competition.
Scopes: ES ED80
Cameras: Nikon D5300, Sony A6000
Msc: ZWO 60mm guide, ZWO ASI120MM, ZWO ASIAIR
Software: Backyard Nikon
I really enjoyed your comments on the iExos 100. I have had one for some time, and really enjoy it. I am
particularly interested in your comments and experience using it with the Asiair. Please keep us posted as you
use the Asiair in the future. Regarding the azimuth adjustments, I added a washer to the inside of the mounting
knob, and that allows me to adjust/tighten the azimuth easier. See attached pic. I also added an additional 7 inch
dovetail bar below the factory dovetail, to increase the balance range. See attached pic.
I have a ED 80CF, and use it visually and with my Nikon D600. It is a rather heavy DSLR, and now I can use the mount either way. I also tried reversing the factory dovetail, and went back to the original setting.
Vero Beach, FL
Scopes: ES AR102, Meade ETX 90 EC (Deforked)
Mounts: ES iExos 100-PMC Eight, ExploreStars IPAD & Fire HD8,
Oberwerk 5000 Tripod, Binos: Oberwerk 15x70, 8x40