Sky-Watcher EQ3 PRO

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Magazine Verdict: 
84%
Sky-Watcher EQ3 PRO

Vital Stats

Price: 
£399.00
Weight: 
7.5kg
Supplier: 
Optical Vision Ltd
Telephone: 
01359 244200
Website: 
www.opticalvision.co.uk

This mount could perhaps be described as the Sky-Watcher EQ5’s little brother. The plain white finish is the same, as is the polar finderscope and SynScan hand controller. Communication with the mount is made via a second black box, specific to the mount, which translates the commands to suit the gear ratios for each product.

The controller and handset are provided with clips to keep them from dangling. Curiously, we also found a set of slow-motion knobs in the box – perhaps for use in the event of a power failure! The styling of the EQ3 motor casings is different from the larger EQ5, but they are just as quiet as those on the EQ5, while slewing and tracking seemed smooth and accurate.

Setup routines for each Sky-Watcher mount are identical. We noticed while viewing through the polar finderscope that the declination shaft doesn’t run right through the head. Although this put the bearings quite close together, and the diameter of declination and right ascension axis housings are smaller than the others on test, we were impressed by the lack of play and the smooth movement.

The quoted load capacity is only 5kg, but that could still support plenty of small Newtonians and refractors. It also doesn’t weigh much itself and, if you wanted to, you could carry the whole mount for some distance. It would make a great platform for wide-field astrophotography with a DSLR camera.

Much of the weight saving is down to the tripod, which is the only extruded alloy example in our test. It extends from a diminutive 100cm to a generous 150cm in height (measured to the centre of the dovetail clamp), but at the full height there was far too much lateral wobble at the joints; realistically it should be used in lower positions. At minimum height – which is where you’ll no doubt want to use it if you have a reflector – the pressed steel tray held the whole structure acceptably rigid. With a well balanced telescope, we noticed no unwelcome movement.

Bang on target
When we set the scope off on sky tours, it found all our targets without fail. Surprisingly we found it hard to choose between this mount and the EQ5 when we set them tracking the same star; even after an hour had passed. Unlike many Go-To mounts, the EQ3 PRO doesn't come with any software supplied, but there is an RS232-compatible port for connection with a computer as well as an ST4 port. The latter enables an autoguider to be added for super-accurate tracking.

For an introduction to Go-To, the EQ3 represents an upgrade worthy of consideration, especially when you take in to account the fact that its light weight and compact size make it very portable.

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This review appeared in the July 2010 issue of Sky at Night Magazine

 

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