Review of EQ6 Pro

by   Dave  Dev

July  2013



I bought an EQ6 Pro in 2010 based on the urging of various astrophotographers.  Imagers regard this as the Honda of mounts in that its reliable and a gold standard for intermediate astrophotographers.  The EQ6 Pro is time tested, and KW Telescope carries all the parts needed for maintenance.  In Canada, this mount has a well established reputation in astrophotography, for good reason.  The same mount is also sold in the USA under the Atlas name, in black.  The newest iteration is called the NEQ6 Pro, which is the same as the EQ6 Pro, but with a slightly thicker counter weight shaft.


I bought mine used and discovered it needed some TLC once I became familiar with the mount.  I've described the tune up I gave it under "DIY Projects" on this website.  Basically, I took the RA axis apart, cleaned it up, re-greased it, and put it back together.  Thereafter, it was silky smooth.  The mount itself is mechanically quite simple.  Cast metal housing, gears, 2 motors, some bearings and a circuit board.  The mount itself has no "brain".

The "brain" is located in the hand-controller.  But despite the simplicity of the

mechanics, Skywatcher has done a great job in putting this thing together.


Its intuitive to use, and a new user can be aligned and tracking in less than

10 minutes.  For me, the hand-controller's 40,000 object database is sufficient.

If that's not enough for you, get rid of the hand controller and run the mount

from a laptop planetarium program.  I upgraded the flash memory on the hand

controller last year to version 3.28.  This allows for a new kind of polar

alignment, if you can't physically see polaris from your location.  I assume this

can be helpful in a pinch.


One odd thing about firmware 3.28, is that there is no option for slewing

to the sun.  Unless I missed it totally, I could not find any way to slew to

the sun for solar imaging,  My solution was to control thru a laptop, but I

found it strange that the hand controller firmware would allow you to change

the tracking speed to Solar rate, yet not give you a way to find the

sun.



What's cool about it :

  • Elegant, sleek lines, with a classic white powder coat. 
  • It has easy access ports on the interface.
  • It can be operated from a laptop with one of the biggest freeware operations on this side of the hemisphere : EQMOD.
  • It has an ST4 autoguider port.


What I like :

  • The counterweight shaft slides into the housing when not in use.  Very nice feature when transporting it.
  • Absolutely reliable service with very good pointing accuracy after 3 star alignment.
  • Slewing is quiet and smooth.  Some have described the slewing sound as musical in quality.
  • Firmware can be updated.  With v. 3.28, the scope can be aligned even if Polaris is not visible.  Its a bit of an oddball method,  but Celestron mounts have been offering this for years, and apparently it can work.
  • Responds to autoguiding very nicely.
  • The heft of the mount helps to dampen vibration quickly.
  • The mount can be opened and re-greased easily, with many photo documents on the internet highlighting the process.  One such photo document is on this website under DIY projects.  Others can be found at www.astrobaby.com
  • The polarscope is illuminated with just the right amount of light.
  • A 10" riser column is available as an accessory to raise the mount far above the tripod.  Useful if you need to keep your scope high up to prevent collisions with the mount.


What I don't like :

  • The tripod has pointed tips on the feet.  The pointed tips help to dig into the ground for stability.  But if you're standing on granite (e.g. - Torrance Barrens), the pointy feet don't do much for stability.  In the event you're on granite or hard ice, a cheap solution to gain stability is to put hockey pucks or rubber vibration dampeners under the feet.  Generally however, I would prefer that Skywatcher offered flat feet for greater stability.  The leg levellers sold by TPI offer a flat foot design, and I have been using them for some time with great results.‚Äč 
  • The altitude adjustment bolt should be redesigned.  The housing that supports the bolts is subject to thread stripping because the bolts are fighting against much resistance.  Fortunately, one doesn't need to change the latitude adjustment often.  
  • The power plug has average 'grabbing power', and can become disconnected if the cord is pulled or caught on something.  A cheap fix is to loop the power cord to offset the tension.  A more elegant fix is to solder new interlocking plugs onto the circuit board and faceplate.
  • The dovetail mounting bracket is for Vixen only.  If you want to hold Losmandy plates, you have to upgrade the saddle clamp for an extra $40.  I use a rectangular ADM dual saddle (around $130).  This is a very nice accessory.


Bottom Line :

Despite some changes I would make in its design, the mount itself is a reliable workhorse.  There are dozens of variables one has to consider when imaging, and I'm pleased that I don't have to give a second thought to my mount when I'm under the skies.  It connects, it fires up, it tracks - all without any hassles.  I have no hesitation recommending it highly for imaging or visual work.  I would suggest searching the used markets first.  There's usually one listed somewhere.  A mount that's been used for 4-5 years would sell for about 60-70% of the new price.  The fact that it holds its value so well is verification of its utility in astronomy.



Dev's rating for the EQ6 Pro

8 Stars out of 10