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Old 06-06-2019, 05:46 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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iOptron CEM120EC2

My new mount arrived this afternoon.

The delivery was in 2 boxes. One was 26.6kg for 2 counterweights (10kg each) and the counterweight shaft (I guess about 5-6kgs itself). The other was 32.1kg for the mount itself and the "bits" (power supply, handcontroller, knobs, cables, etc).

The packing as you can see is very well done. The mount box is also "double-boxed" for extra protection.

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The only problem with the contents I have found so far was the power cord is a US one, not AU, but it's a minor issue as the adapter brick accepts the "standard" computer power supply style cord.

Getting the mount out of the foam was a little tricky. There's no specific handle points for lifting. With a bit of examination and testing, I found a way to lift it out without too much trouble. This mount is not a portable mount, which is fine as it's going into my observatory, not to travel around.

I had some help with the unpacking:

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This mount will be replacing my G11 (2013? model) so as I get to use it, I'll compare to it. The first thing to note is it's a monster compared to the G11. I suspect I will need to get assistance when putting it on a pier - not that it's too heavy but logistically it will be easier and safer to place and attach with help.

I'll get some unfair comparisons out of the road now: there's no exposed motors (I really disliked that on the G11), the knobs are much easier to use (and they're red! :p ) and ports available are well beyond the G11.

I have to get a pier built and this should be getting started next week. Until it's installed, I will do some testing inside the house. I should be able to see how it goes with the software and try a few connectivity options.

If you've got questions or to check/try something, ask away.
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  #2  
Old 06-06-2019, 10:03 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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To operate it inside without mounting the weights and a scope, the counterweight shaft weight exactly matches the mount head. So to ensure everything can move freely, I needed to get the mount off the floor and safely setup to allow proper movement. After some messing around I got it sorted so I can do more testing.

One of the big differences to the G11 is the gear switch and axle lock mechanism. On the G11, it was a relatively simple operation to release a knob and move the mount freely for that axle. For CEM120, it's a bit different. The 2 knobs per axis have to be in specific positions for certain operations.

To move the mount around (e.g. to install it on a pier, etc): Gear switch unlocked, axle lock locked (for both RA and DEC obviously).
To do balance on an axis: Gear switch unlocked, axle lock unlocked - you can freely move the mount head around on that axis.
Normal operation: Gear switch locked, axle lock unlocked. Gears are engaged and the axle isn't fixed in position.

The combination of Gear switched locked and axle locked is not valid. The manual states that this should never be done.

While I understand why it's been done this way (and I suspect it might not have been possible to do a similar system to the G11), I think the G11 had the more user friendly approach.

I plugged in enough to get the hand controller going. Since I'm not outside, the GPS module couldn't get my position, so I set it approx manually.

The first thing I had to do was to set the zero position, which is counterweight shaft down. Easy to do. At this point I got to here the slewing noise. It's a bit quieter than the G11, but I was never really bothered by the G11 noise level anyway.

I picked a target (Jupiter) just to see/hear it slew to it. Again, quieter than the G11, but still there's enough to be noticeable in quiet locations.

One thing that does seem noisier than the G11 is when it is tracking. There's a very soft ticking type noise - again in quiet environments you'll hear it easily. It's been a while, but I can't ever remember hearing the G11 tracking noise.

In the hand controller, you can go to the zero position, or a park position. You can define the park position you want or use some presets (e.g. horizontal, etc). My custom defined park position didn't seem to work, so I'll have to work out what is going on there.
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Old 07-06-2019, 02:38 AM
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Hi Chris,

Nice to see an iOptron CEM 120EC2 in Australia. I know there are some in New Zealand but have not read anything about CEM 120 in Australia.

Congratulations. I have two of them in case one breaks I have a spare just kidding

regards Rainer
Mexico
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Old 07-06-2019, 06:43 AM
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Hi Rainer. I have heard there's at least 1 other CEM120 in Australia (not sure if it's an EC version).

I'm working my way through it all. One thing I believe I'm going to need to do is get a lighter counterweight to do my initial testing. I think the 10kg weight might be too heavy for the refractor. I'll probably need more anyway as I load it up with all the gear eventually.
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Old 07-06-2019, 03:46 PM
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Last night I couldn't get the park to work correctly. I discovered that there was a firmware upgrade available and among the bug fixes listed was something that indicated it should fix the problem.

Doing the firmware upgrade was easy. I followed the instructions here: http://www.ioptron.com/v/firmware/CE...areUpgrade.pdf using a USB to RS232 converter. I upgraded the hand controller and the mount firmware. After that was done, I did the recalibration of the RA and DEC encoders, and did the search to zero position - all good.

After selecting the parking position I wanted, I did a test and now it's doing the park as expected.
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Old 07-06-2019, 04:06 PM
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Congratulations Chris, and thank you for sharing your initial impressions and experiences with the mount.
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Old 07-06-2019, 04:45 PM
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Thanks, Suavi. Hopefully it will help others in the future.

Since the last post, I did some more testing. I installed the ASCOM driver and the iOptron Commander software.

I then did 3 connection tests: USB, Wifi and Wired Ethernet.

USB was straightforward - connect the cable and the Commander software found the mount.

Wifi was nearly as easy - connect the laptop's wifi to the mount's wifi, and once again the Commander software found the mount. This connection type means that the laptop is disconnected from other networks/internet, unless it also has a wired connection.

Wired required some more work - enter the IP Address and Port - both info can be found in the hand controller - the mount gets an IP address from the router, so it should be possible to set a static IP address if desired (I'll do that sometime).

There's a 4th option for connecting which I didn't bother with: RS232.

The Commander software was easy to use, although I believe it doesn't cover all functions that the hand controller can do. I haven't checked it closely though.

One thing I noticed during this testing - if I changed the connection type, I had to either restart the mount or use a restart option in the hand controller for it to be happy again. Not a big deal since what I am doing is a bit unusual.

For my final test, I powered up my Linux box with kstars/ekos. I decided to try connecting via wifi, so I connected to the mounts wifi. I fired up INDI (ekos) and chose the iOptron CEM120 driver. In the config I had to switch it to ethernet connection and enter the IP address and port to use. It then connected no problems and in the brief testing I did seemed to work.

I did have a problem with the park function - it didn't do anything. Thinking back I remember having similar issues with the G11 as well. I think the UI switch sometimes get confused about its state and then doesn't work properly. I'll look into that later.
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Old 07-06-2019, 11:24 PM
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Hi Chris,

Good to hear that everything is going more or less smooth.

Quote:
There's a 4th option for connecting which I didn't bother with: RS232.
That is the only connection I use.

Quote:
I did have a problem with the park function - it didn't do anything.
Yes that seems to be a finicky behaviour of this mounts. I had it at the beginning many months ago and the latest firmware v190318 did solve it.

I would recommend start with the preset parking positions and test them.

For a custom parking position drive to mount to the position you want to have it. Open the Park menu and tell the mount that is your parking position. Then power down the mount. Power it up again and it should be in the memory. Then the next park just tell initialize parking and it should go to the position you chose last time.

I am not at my mounts at the moment but if you still have problems let me know and I can test it for you.

regards Rainer
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Old 08-06-2019, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsbfoto View Post
That is the only connection I use.
If I used RS232, I'd just have to use the USB to rs232 adapter on the laptop anyway, so it felt no point to do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rsbfoto View Post
Yes that seems to be a finicky behaviour of this mounts. I had it at the beginning many months ago and the latest firmware v190318 did solve it.

I would recommend start with the preset parking positions and test them.

For a custom parking position drive to mount to the position you want to have it. Open the Park menu and tell the mount that is your parking position. Then power down the mount. Power it up again and it should be in the memory. Then the next park just tell initialize parking and it should go to the position you chose last time.

I am not at my mounts at the moment but if you still have problems let me know and I can test it for you.
I upgraded to the latest released firmware and the problem went away completely. I set the custom park point I wanted, and did some tests. Worked well for me.

Chris

Last edited by lazjen; 08-06-2019 at 10:19 AM. Reason: formatting
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Old 08-06-2019, 10:35 AM
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This morning I thought I'd do more testing on the other connections on the mount. Especially the USB3 through the mount, and the DC provided power.

It mostly ended up as a shopping list though to get more cables.

While the USB worked through the mount I have not been able to do a proper USB3 speed test to check, especially as I want to connect the ASI1600 this way. I need another USB3 type B connector to do proper testing. Ebay order underway.

For the DC power I did discover something that is obvious from reading the manual, but not so obvious if you just play with the mount.

The main input power to the mount is 12V 5A from the supplied brick (and there are 3 output points on the mount to connect devices that can take 1A). However on the mounting plate at the top there are 2 more output points that take 5A each (I'll need one to take 2A to the camera, the other will go to the focuser/dew heater system). To power these though you need to supply a separate 10A DC input (connection on the mid mount panel).

So now I need to either get another power brick for the 10A connection, or one that can handle 12v 15A plus and maybe some form of splitter cable.

I'll count the above as a minor negative - I should be able to solve it, but realistically, iOptron could easily have provided a USB3.0 cable and a suitable AC power supply that could split to the 5A / 10A 12V DC input.
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazjen View Post
This morning I thought I'd do more testing on the other connections on the mount. Especially the USB3 through the mount, and the DC provided power.

It mostly ended up as a shopping list though to get more cables.

While the USB worked through the mount I have not been able to do a proper USB3 speed test to check, especially as I want to connect the ASI1600 this way. I need another USB3 type B connector to do proper testing. Ebay order underway.

For the DC power I did discover something that is obvious from reading the manual, but not so obvious if you just play with the mount.

The main input power to the mount is 12V 5A from the supplied brick (and there are 3 output points on the mount to connect devices that can take 1A). However on the mounting plate at the top there are 2 more output points that take 5A each (I'll need one to take 2A to the camera, the other will go to the focuser/dew heater system). To power these though you need to supply a separate 10A DC input (connection on the mid mount panel).

So now I need to either get another power brick for the 10A connection, or one that can handle 12v 15A plus and maybe some form of splitter cable.

I'll count the above as a minor negative - I should be able to solve it, but realistically, iOptron could easily have provided a USB3.0 cable and a suitable AC power supply that could split to the 5A / 10A 12V DC input.
Hi Chris,

There are some connectors on the saddle plate which are powered by the mount itself and other can be powered by the user as he wishes.

Where the saddle plate is marked with voltage and amperage those are the connectors powered by the Mount and the ones only marked with amperage those can be powered with any voltage by the user.

The AUX port with the DIN connector has 4 pins. You can use the 4 pins and supply then with anything you want or just interconnect the pins and use them as one pin for higher amperage.

I assume you got in the mount a bag with 2 AUX DIN connectors.

Yes USB 3.0 is finicky. I more or less solved my problems using a lot of powered cables and Hubs. BTW. Take out the black round cover of the back of the RA axis and look into there. If the PCB has a round hole it is an old one and that has no booster chip on it. The new board has an elliptical hole and that board has a booster chip. If you have the old board tell iOptron to send you a new one.

I made two special power cables. One with the AUX DIN connectors for my main camera and that one I power separately by a power brick from my box and then I made another cable cable using 5 mm / 2.5 mm plugs and that I also power with 12 V for my focuser and other consumers.

regards Rainer
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:07 AM
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Yes, your diagrams show the power connections, and I was perhaps a bit harsh in my previous post. The 10A input can take different voltages, e.g. 12V or 24V which could be useful for some people. I've got all my stuff based off 12V, so I didn't consider that at the time.

I did some ebay orders yesterday and I'll have a 15A 12V power supply coming, plus a 5525 splitter cable to go to both inputs. I can then draw 2A for my camera off the top left connection and however many amps for the focuser/heater with the other connection there. That will work for me.

Yes, I got the AUX DIN connectors, but I'd prefer not to mess around with those for now.

As for the USB, that's another ebay order for the right type of connector. I've got 1 which means I can connect to the mount ok, but I need another for the camera.

At least I'm getting all of this sorted out while I wait for the pier, and the weather here hasn't been clear anyway, so I'm not losing nights for testing/usage.

EDIT: I should mention that I'll be able to test with the pier even if the cables haven't arrived as I'll just connect things direct. I just wanted to avoid dangling/dragging cables with the setup.
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Old 16-06-2019, 10:06 AM
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I've got another proper powered USB 3 cable now, so I can go laptop - mount - camera.

I've did some testing this morning with the ASI1600. Seems to be no problem running it at full speed, i.e. I did not have to drop the USB limit in the ASCOM driver config.

So as far as I can tell right now, the through the mount USB3 is working well. For my setup this is important to reduce cables and the need for an external hub. The filter wheel is USB connected to the camera. The focuser can work off USB 2 ok, so I'll use another port on the mount for that.

The pier construction is underway, with a rough ETA of 3 weeks or so. I have no way of doing "under the stars" testing until then.
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Old 17-06-2019, 03:10 AM
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Hi Chris,

Good to hear that your USB 3.0 communication is working troublefree.

Saludos Rainer
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Old 14-07-2019, 03:58 PM
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It's been a while since the last update because it's been a matter of just waiting.

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The metal pier is now here and in place. The base of the pier onto the concrete appears to be perfectly level (well, the bubble was in the centre when I checked). The top plate is almost the same, although one corner is about 1mm out. One washer there sorted it out, and the mount is now level.

The above picture is before I put the counterweight shaft back on. Tip for this: wipe it out and put some lubricant before hand. The shaft goes back in much easier then.

Currently my dome is without the rotation motor and control - we're trying to sort out a technical issue (or two) there.

While that's underway, I reconnected to the mount to try the GPS, since I was now outside. Hand controller showed it was on, but it wouldn't go to "OK" (i.e. lock on to the satellites). My phone showed there was up to 32 satellites available, so it should have worked. On a whim I took off the GPS antenna and put on the wifi antenna instead - 60 secs later, GPS locked on and all was well. Obviously as a permanent setup I could do without the GPS, but if it's fixed at least I don't have to enter the details.

I've submitted a support request today with iOptron to get the GPS module fixed/replaced. They've already responded, requesting the necessary details from me to proceed (i.e. proof of purchase, etc).
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Old 14-07-2019, 05:01 PM
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Thank you for keeping us updated Chris. The obsy with the new pier and mount on top look real good I still have to set up and down for each session, so I'm quite jealous!
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Old 14-07-2019, 05:10 PM
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Yes, the dome is coming up nicely. I still have a few hours of painting to go, so I'll be glad when that's done. Making the lighter coloured lower walls all black like the top is great - it reduces the glare so much during the day.

I hope to get the scope out tomorrow if we get the dome operations sorted. That will allow me to start on PA and see how that goes.

I did consider it for tonight, but I wasn't in the mood for manually rotating the dome.
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Old 15-07-2019, 06:28 PM
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I just ordered the CEM120EC with the RA encoder. Ordered it though Sidereal Trading so I have full Australian warranty on the mount. I should have it in about 3 weeks. I also got 4 counterweights and the permanent pier.

This is going along with all new gear, including a 14" RC with a G4-16000 camera with filters.

Cant wait to set everything up.

Ben
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Old 15-07-2019, 07:24 PM
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Hi Ben,
I thought you had ordered a JTW OGEM, did that fall through?
Cheers
Bill
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Old 15-07-2019, 07:33 PM
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Hi Ben,
I thought you had ordered a JTW OGEM, did that fall through?
Cheers
Bill
Hi bill

Yeah, it fell through. More delays so the release date is still unknown, and I couldn’t hold off any longer.

Ben
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