iOptron Cube Pro Mount - New Version with Go2Nova 8408!
Hello to everyone, since I believe to be the first one in Italy and probably one of the first in Europe to be able to test this mount, I felt it would be useful to report my impressions. I'm talking about the new Cube Pro version, which equips the latest Go2Nova 8408 not the old one with 8401. No European reseller seemed to have this version in stock yet so, being in urgent need before going to vacation, I contacted iOptron, who promptly sent me one (only the head) directly from their factory in China. IOptron's customer service is amazing: immediate responses and top level problem solving.
The mount's new features do not stop at the controller only: the old thread on the base has been replaced with a much more comfortable 3/8" thread, so now you can" screw "the mount to any photo tripod, which I quickly did. The old and inexpensive nylon washer that tended to tighten the height lock, was replaced with a much better brass washer. The electronics were renewed, solving a couple of problems in the previous version. The mount is almost entirely made of metal, except for the gray plastic shell, all the rest is made of aluminum. The same applies to the main gears/wheels that transmit the movement. Secondary gears are still in plastic.
I really needed an extremely grab & go mount to be able to carry along with the whole family in my travels, because it had become impossible to carry my instrumentation: I can never use it! (HEQ6, 90 Apo, batteries and everything else: impossible). The Cube Pro, kept screwed to a Manfrotto MT190x3 tripod, fits comfortably into the 80cm manfrotto tripod bag: so tiny! The scope I use on it is a Lacerta ed-apo 72/432, practically a WO Megrez clone, but with fpl-53 glass. Quite heavy it is, 2.8Kg without diagonal and eyepiece: with them it exceeds 3Kg widely. For that, I decided to use the bar and counterweight equipped with the Cube Pro. Once balanced, the Frame / Tripod / Telescope / Counterweight whole is solid and stable. But everything can still be carried with one hand: A MUST FOR THE GRAB & GO AMATEUR. In my opinion there is nothing better, for that purpose.
Let's jump to the mount test: Installed the 8 batteries (Amazon rechargeable), connected the handpad, leveled CAREFULLY the tripod+mount thanks to the embedded level bubble, put the telescope in upright position, turned on the mount, and the GPS immediately recognized time and location: 30 seconds all over. Launched the one star alignment procedure: Arturo (two and three stars is also possible, as well as an EQ mode). The mount misses the target by some degrees (I think it's quite normal for a mount like this), once centered the star the mount begins tracking properly. No other type of alignment is required, because you can always synchronize the next pointed stars on the fly, and the accuracy increases accordingly. After a couple of sync, the mount is very precise, objects always in the field of a 16mm eyepiece. After half an hour the objects are still in the eyepiece. While focusing there are considerable vibrations, but they get dimmed within a few seconds, just get used to it: after all my tube and counterweight are almost at weight limit (5Kg). However, with a true astronomical tripod (eq5), the vibrations are no more, but it's also "no more portability" wink.gif so the tripod is my choice. Compromise is the word here.
In short: if you have young children, and your car is always full, the Cube Pro + photo tripod (a solid one!) Is the best solution for not have to give up the pleasures of astronomical observations guaranteed by a good GoTo mount. In my opinion, it is the best compromise possible. And so, paradoxically, while the HEQ6 and the Apo triplet continue to be covered in cobwebs, the Cube Pro and the Lacerta 72 are always with me: two small bags, nothing more...
Just be sure it's the new version!