iOptron

iOptron SmartStar MiniTower Pro User Manual

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SmartStar® MiniTower ProTM

Instruction Manual

Table of Content

 

Table of Content .............................................................................................................................

2

1. MiniTowerTM Overview..............................................................................................................

4

1.1. MiniTowerTM Features.........................................................................................................

4

1.2. MiniTowerTM Components ..................................................................................................

7

2. MiniTowerTM Assembly .............................................................................................................

8

2.1. MiniTower Assembly ..........................................................................................................

8

2.2. OTA Mounting and Balancing...........................................................................................

10

2.3. Operate a MiniTower on Batteries.....................................................................................

11

3. GOTONOVATM 8401 Hand Controller....................................................................................

12

3.1. Key Description .................................................................................................................

12

3.2. The LCD Screen ................................................................................................................

13

3.3. Connection to a Computer .................................................................................................

13

4. Getting Started ..........................................................................................................................

14

4.1. Level and Align the Mount................................................................................................

14

4.1.1. Level the Mount..........................................................................................................

14

4.1.2. Initial Positions ...........................................................................................................

14

4.2. Setting Up the Mount.........................................................................................................

14

4.2.1. Set Up Time Zone.......................................................................................................

15

4.2.2. Set Up Daylight Saving Time.....................................................................................

16

4.2.3. Set Mount Type...........................................................................................................

16

4.2.4. Set Anti-backlash........................................................................................................

16

4.2.5. Go to the Moon ...........................................................................................................

17

4.2.6. Initial Star Alignment .................................................................................................

17

4.3. Turn Off the Mount............................................................................................................

17

5. Use the MiniTower ...................................................................................................................

17

5.1. Manual Operation of a Telescope ......................................................................................

17

5.2. Slew to an Object...............................................................................................................

18

5.2.1. Planets, Sun, Moon .....................................................................................................

18

5.2.2. Deep sky objects .........................................................................................................

18

5.2.3. Comets ........................................................................................................................

18

5.2.4. Asteroids .....................................................................................................................

18

5.2.5. Stars: ...........................................................................................................................

18

5.2.6. Constellations..............................................................................................................

18

5.2.7. User Objects................................................................................................................

18

5.2.8. Enter R.A. DEC ..........................................................................................................

19

5.3. Sync to Target....................................................................................................................

19

5.4. Electric Focuser .................................................................................................................

19

5.5. Set Up Controller ...............................................................................................................

19

5.5.1. Set Up Local Time......................................................................................................

19

5.5.2. Set Up Site ..................................................................................................................

19

5.5.3. Set N/S Hemisphere....................................................................................................

19

5.5.4. Set Display Contrast ...................................................................................................

19

5.5.5. Set Eyepiece Light ......................................................................................................

19

5.5.6. Set Backlight...............................................................................................................

19

 

2

5.5.7. Set Anti-backlash........................................................................................................

19

5.5.8. Set Key Beep...............................................................................................................

19

5.5.9. Set Mount Type...........................................................................................................

19

5.5.10. Reset All....................................................................................................................

19

5.5.11. Update Firmware ......................................................................................................

20

5.5.12. Set gear ratio .............................................................................................................

20

5.5.13. Set Language.............................................................................................................

20

5.6. Align ..................................................................................................................................

20

5.6.1. One Star Align ............................................................................................................

20

5.6.2. Two Star Align............................................................................................................

20

5.6.3. Three-Star Align .........................................................................................................

20

5.6.4. Dis R.A axis error .......................................................................................................

20

5.6.5. Test Anti-backlash ......................................................................................................

20

5.6.6. Polaris Position ...........................................................................................................

20

5.7. PEC Option ........................................................................................................................

20

5.8. Set Up Tracking .................................................................................................................

21

5.9. User Objects.......................................................................................................................

21

5.10. Auto Guide.......................................................................................................................

21

5.11. Park Scope .......................................................................................................................

21

5.12. To Park Position...............................................................................................................

21

6. Maintenance and Servicing.......................................................................................................

21

6.1. Maintenance.......................................................................................................................

21

6.2. Troubleshooting .................................................................................................................

21

6.3. iOptron Customer Service..................................................................................................

22

Appendix A. Technical Specifications .........................................................................................

23

Appendix B. GOTONOVATM 8401 HC MENU STRUCTURE..................................................

24

Appendix C. GOTONOVATM Star List........................................................................................

26

Appendix D. Set Up USB-PC Connection ...................................................................................

31

Appendix E. Firmware Upgrade...................................................................................................

38

Appendix F. Use a PC to Control an iOptron Mount ...................................................................

41

Appendix G. RS-232 Command Set.............................................................................................

42

IOPTRON TWO YEAR TELESCOPE, MOUNT, AND CONTROLLER WARRANTY ........

47

WARNING!

NEVER USE A TELESCOPE TO LOOK AT THE SUN!

Looking at or near the Sun will cause instant and irreversible damage to your eye. Children should always have adult supervision while observing.

3

1. MiniTower ProTM

Overview

1.1. MiniTower ProTM Features

MiniTower ProTM is the perfect combination of capacity and portability.

33 lbs of Payload

Born out of the popular iOptron CubeTM, The MiniTower ProTM is the ultimate observing

solution for people who are searching for a capable and portable GOTO telescope mount to counter light pollution in their backyards and for travel convenience. With a standard payload of 33 lbs, a rock solid 2” stainless steel tripod, metal worm and gear and two dovetail adaptors, The MiniTower ProTM is capable of handling various optical tube assemblies (OTAs). A 10-lbs counter weight and a secondary dovetail holder are provided for balancing an OTA weights more than 10 lbs, or for a secondary OTA.

Figure 1. MiniTower Pro Mount and Tripod

Extremely Portable

With all the standard components (excluding the tripod) fitted in an aluminum alloy metal case, The MiniTower ProTM can easily travel in a car or taken as airline

luggage. The system takes about 10 minutes to assemble. This unlimited portability combined with the internal GPS gives amateur astronomers real flexibility in selecting an observing site.

Figure 2. MiniTower Pro in an aluminum case

Accurate GOTO and Tracking

Equipped with our SmartStar® GOTO technology, the MiniTower ProTM is one of the most powerful and accurate GOTO mounts available on the market. The standard 8401 hand controller offers a superb navigation experience with an 8-line LCD backlit display, a 130,000-object database, and a USB port for easy

connection with ASCOM compliant PC planetarium programs. With a typical GOTO accuracy of 1 arc minute and the SmartStar® precision auto-tracking, The MiniTower ProTM will consistently bring the celestial object of your choice to the center of the eyepiece and keep tracking for hours.

5

Additional Unique Features

Equipped with additional features such as automatic over-current protection, automatic clutch protection for both axes, easy 3-point

level adjustment, dual scope setup with two dovetails and more-- The MiniTower ProTM is one of the most user-friendly GOTO mounts available today.

Figure 3. MiniTower Pro with dual scope setup

6

1.2. MiniTower ProTM Components1

Figure 4. MiniTower Pro Components

Shown in the picture:

1.

Tripod Lock

10.

Primary Dovetail Holder

2.

Tripod Support

11.

Azimuth Clutch Lock

3.

Tripod Knob

12. South Alignment Mark

4.

Tripod Rod

13.

Altitude Clutch Lock

5.

Level Adjustment Lock (not included

14. Counter Balance Shaft Lock

 

with MiniTower Pro)

15. Secondary Dovetail Holder Lock

6.

Level Adjustment Screw

16. Secondary Dovetail Holder

7.

Tripod

17.

Secondary Dovetail Lock

8.

Mount Base

18. Retractable Counter Weight Shaft

9.

Primary Dovetail Lock

19.

Bubble Level Indicator

Not shown in picture:

• 8401 Hand Controller

• Controller Cable

• AC Adapter

• 12V DC Adapter with Car Lighter Plug

• USB Cable

• Counter Weight

• Counter Weight Lock Pin

• Counter Weight Lock

• Hard Travel Case

1 The contents may vary slightly by generation.

7

2. MiniTower ProTM Assembly

There are two shipping boxes. One box contains the hard case and mount components. The other box contains the tripod and counterweight.

2.1. MiniTower Pro Assembly

Figure 5

Washer

#11

Figure 6

#6

1. Setup tripod. Extend tripod legs to full extension. Then lock legs using the lock knobs on sides.

Next expand the legs out to their maximum position.

2. Assemble the three prong washer and azimuth clutch lock (#11) onto the mount base

3. Carefully position telescope mount onto the tripod by aligning the three holes on the bottom of the mount base (#8) to the three level adjustment screws (#6) on the top of the tripod (#7), hold the mount with your hands.

Adjust level adjustment screws (#6) to level the mount using the bubble level on the base.

Figure 7

8

#4 Rod

#3 Knob

#2

#1

Figure 8

#10

#9

Figure 9

Figure 10

#14

#18

#13

Figure 11

4. Secure the mount to the tripod by using the long tripod rod (#4). Hand tighten the rod into the bottom of the mount by turning the tripod knob (#3).

Next, slide tripod support (#2) onto bottom of rod (#4). Position the three edges to fit against the three tripod legs. Then hand tighten tripod lock knob (#1) to secure the tripod support in place.

5. Attach an OTA to the primary dovetail holder (#10) using the primary dovetail lock (#9).

Tighten both the azimuth clutch lock (#11) and the altitude clutch lock (#13)

6. Plug one end of supplied 6pin RJ-11 cable into either one of the two HBX (Handbox) sockets on the mount; plug the other end into the GOTONOVA 8401 hand controller. Plug in 12V power cable.

Turn on power. Now you are ready to observe. Use the 4 Arrow keys (▲▼◄►) to rotate the scope Up, Down, Left, and Right. Use the number key to change the slew speed from the slowest (1:1X) to the fastest (9:MAX).

The other HBX is reserved for accessories, such as electronic focuser, laser pointer and autoguider adapter. DO NOT plug non-iOptron accessories into the unit to avoid damaging the mount or accessories.

7. This step allows you to attach the counterweight or a second scope. (note: if you have a light scope less than 10 lbs. on the primary side, then attaching a counterweight is optional).

First, make sure the altitude clutch lock (#13) is tight. Loose the counter weight shaft lock (#14), pull the counter weight shaft (#18) out and tighten the counter balance shaft lock (#14).

9

If you are attaching a second scope, do not add the counterweight. Instead, skip to Step 10 to add a second scope.

8. Slide the counterweight onto the counterbalance shaft (#18). Next, insert the brass pin into the hole on the counterweight.

groove

Figure 12

9. Secure the counterweight by tightening the lock knob.

Lock

Counter weight is heavy. Please handle with care to avoid injury!

 

Figure 13

 

#17

#16

This step is for attaching a second scope.

 

 

10. Attach Secondary Dovetail Holder (#16) by tightening the holder lock (#15) onto the counterweight shaft (#18).

After sliding your scope into the dovetail holder—secure the scope by tightening the secondary lock (#17)

#15

Figure 14

2.2. OTA Mounting and

Balancing

The iOptron MiniTower Pro™ can handle various OTAs. A dovetail plate is needed to mount an OTA onto the MiniTower Pro mount. The width of the MiniTower ProTM dovetail holder is 1.75”.

Most telescopes come with a dovetail plate installed on the bottom of the telescope. If the size of dovetail plate does not match unscrew the plate and install an appropriate

dovetail plate that matches the holder. 1.75” dovetail plates are available from iOptron at www.iOptron.com (part number #8422) or visit an online or local camera store.

Some telescopes may not have screw holes on the bottom. In this case you may need compatible mounting rings to attach the dovetail plate. The size of the mounting rings should match the aperture of your OTA.

The counter weight (CW) is always helpful to balance the OTA in order to have smooth

10

and accurate GOTO and tracking. The heavier the OTA, the more necessary it is to use a CW. For lightweight OTAs, i.e. 5-6 lbs, however, the CW may not be necessary.

If you have a secondary OTA on the secondary dovetail holder, make sure you align it with the primary OTA. This alignment is done easier during the daytime. Point the primary telescope to a target at a remote building or flagpole and center the target in the eyepiece. Loosen the secondary dovetail holder lock (#15). Rotate the secondary OTA around the counter balance shaft (#18). Center the object in the eyepiece of the secondary OTA. If the secondary OTA is tilted, it can be adjusted by two tilting adjustment screws as shown in Figure 15 (M6 x 12mm Allen set screws, not supplied).

M6 set screws

Figure 15. Secondary Dovetail and set screws

A combination of a light OTA and a CW can be used to balance a heavier primary OTA.

2.3. Operate a MiniTower Pro on Batteries

To install batteries open the battery compartment door. Pull the battery holder out from the mount carefully making sure not to pull the wires loose. Insert 8 AA batteries (not included) according to the diagram on the holder. Replace the battery holder back to the battery compartment and replace the cover. (See Figure 16)

Figure 16. Battery compartment for MiniTower Pro™

The mount will draw a significant amount of current when performing GOTO and slew operations. The battery operation time varies depending on the battery quality and operation conditions. It could last from couple of hours to tens of hours. Use only fresh batteries and do not mix fresh and old batteries. Insufficient battery power may cause error messages.

11

3.

4. GOTONOVATM 8401 Hand Controller

HBX USB

Port Port

Figure 17. GOTONOVA 8401 Hand Controller

GOTONOVATM 8401 hand controller (HC) is the standard controller for a MiniTower Pro, as shown in Figure 17.

4.1. Key Description

MENU: Press “MENU” to enter the Main Menu.

BACK: Move back to the previous screen, or end/cancel current operation, such as slewing.

ENTER: Confirm an input, go to the next menu, select a choice, or slew the telescope to a selected object.

Arrow (▲▼►◄): Press ▲▼ buttons to move a telescope along the DEC direction, ►◄ to move a telescope along the RA direction. Brows the menu or move the cursor in operating menu.

Number Keys: Input numerical values. Also used to adjust speeds (1: 1X; 2:

12

2X; 3: 8X; 4: 16X; 5: 64X; 6: 128X; 7: 256X; 8: 512X; 9: MAX)

Light Key(☼): Turns on/off the red LED reading light on the back of the controller.

? Key: For help or extra information.

STOP/0 Key: Stop/Start tracking.

HBX (Handbox) port: connect the HC to MiniTower Pro mount using a 6-wire RJ11 cable.

USB port: connect the HC to a Computer via a USB cable.

4.2. The LCD Screen

The 8401 HC is designed to use for both iOptron’s equatorial (EQ) mount, such as the SmartStar®-PR GOTO German Equatorial Mount and the GOTONOVATM Equatorial Kit, and AltAzimuth (A/A) mount, which includes all SmartStar® GOTO mounts and telescopes. It consists of a large 8-line LCD screen, which displays all the information as shown in Figure 18. The user interface is simple and easy to learn.

Figure 18. 8401 HC LCD Information Screen

GPS status: When the power is turned on, it shows “GPS ON”, which means a GPS receiver is connected. When the GPS receiver finds the satellite and receives GPS signal, it shows “GPS OK”. The “GPS OK” may turn off after few minutes.

Slew speed: It has 9 speeds: 1X, 2X, 8X, 16X, 64X, 128X, 256X(1º/sec), 512X(2º/sec), MAX(4º/sec).

Tracking speed: It has 4 speeds: Cel (celestial), Sol (Solar), Lun (Lunar), Def (user defined)

Mount Type: EQ is equatorial and A/A altazimuth.

4.3. Connection to a Computer

The GOTONOVA hand controller has a USB port which can be connected to a computer. This will allow Firmware Upgrading, Database Updating, or Planetarium application. A USB2COM driver is needed to simulate the USB port to a RS232 serial port. (see Appendix D)

The MiniTower ProTM can be controlled by a number of popular astronomy software programs. For astronomy software that does not have an embedded iOptron mount driver, an ASCOM driver and related platform are needed. Please refer to Appendix F for more information.

13

5. Getting Started

In order to experience the full GOTO capability of GOTONOVA technology it is very important to set up the mount correctly before observation.

First, loosen tripod rod (#4) and tripod lock (#1) a little. Then loosen azimuth clutch lock (#11) half turn. Check the bubble level indicator (#19), adjust the level adjustment screws (#6), and center the bubble in the indicator. Turn the mount by a hand and make sure that the mount is leveled on all sides while turning. Adjust the level adjustment screws again if the bubble is not centered while turning.

Tighten the azimuth clutch lock (#11). Tighten the tripod knob (#3). Tighten the

5.1.2. Initial Positions

Each time the Mount is turned on, the default position is Parking Position, i.e., altitude is 90º0’0” and azimuth is 180º0’0”,

Face the South. Align the Mount to south by turning the South mark facing south. An additional compass is needed. There are two ways to do so. One is loosen the azimuth clutch lock (#11) a little and manually turn the Mount to face south. Then tighten the azimuth clutch lock again. The other is turn on the mount. Turn the mount facing south using hand control. Then turn off the power. Note: Do not put the compass directly on top of the mount. The motor parts of the mount could affect the pointing accuracy of the compass.

Point to Zenith. Unlock the altitude clutch lock (#13) and rotate the telescope to point up directed at the Zenith. A torpedo level may help.

5.1. Level and Align the Mount

5.1.1. Level the Mount.

Leveling is critical for a good GOTO and tracking accuracy.

tripod lock (#1). Make sure the mount is always leveled.

Figure 19

which means the “SOUTH” mark is pointing to south and the telescope is pointing straight up at the zenith. To set the Park Position, you can:

(2) Up

#13

(1) South

Figure 20

Once it is straight re-tighten the altitude lock to make sure OTA is secure and will not spin.

14

5.2. Setting Up the Mount

A MiniTower Pro is equipped with a GPS receiver, which will receive the local time,

longitude and latitude information from satellites after the link is established. However, manual input is still needed for time zone and Daylight Saving setting.

A clear sky outside is needed for GPS to communicate well with the satellites.

5.2.1. Set Up Time Zone

Press MENU button, from the main menu, scroll down and select “Set up controller

Select and slew

Sync. to target

Electronic focuser

Set up controller

Align

PEC option

Set up Tracking

User objects

Press ENTER. Scroll down and select “Set up site

Set up Local Time

Set up site

Set N/S hemisphere

Set display contrast

Set Eyepiece light

Set Backlight

Set anti-backlash

Set Key Beep

Press ENTER. The longitude and latitude coordinates will be updated when the GPS picks up satellite signals. “W/E” means west/east hemisphere; “N/S” means north/south hemisphere; “d” means degree; “m” means minute; and “s” means second.

Set up site info:

Longitude:

W071d27m47s

Latitude:

 

 

N42d15m40s

UT

300 Min.

behind

If for any reason your GPS can’t pick up a signal you can manually enter the GPS coordinates. Press ◄ or ► key to move the

cursor and using ▲ or ▼ key to toggle between “W” and “E”, “N” and “S”, using number key to change the numbers. It is always a good idea to do your home work to get the GPS coordinates before traveling to a new observation site.

The site coordinates information can be found from internet, such as GPSVisualizer (http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/geocode), by entering the city name or address. In case you only find the site information in decimal format you can convert them into d:m:s format by multiplying the decimal numbers by 60. For example, N47.53 can be changed to N47º31'48”: 47.53º = 47º +0.53º, 0.53º=0.53x60'=31.8', 0.8'=0.8x60"=48". Therefore, 47.53º=47º31'48" or 47d31m48s. Same as N47º31.8’: 31.8’=31’+0.8’, 0.8’=0.8x60”=48”.

Press ◄ or ► key, move the cursor to the bottom of the screen to set the time zone information (add or subtract 60 minutes per time zone). Enter minutes “ahead of” or “behind” UT (universal time).

New York City is 300 minutes “behind” UT

Los Angeles is 480 minutes “behind” UT

Rome is 60 minutes “ahead of” UT

Beijing is 480 minutes “ahead of” UT

Sydney is 600 minutes “ahead of” UT

All the time zones in North America are behind UT, as shown in the following table. So make sure it shows “behind” instead of “ahead of” UT.

Time Zone

Hours behind

Enter Minutes

Hawaii

-10

600

Alaska

-9

540

Pacific

-8

480

Mountain

-7

420

Central

-6

360

Eastern

-5

300

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+ 32 hidden pages