Hutech Motorized Alt-Az Mount
The mount arrived well-packed, with warranty card and instructions in English. The mount is made in Japan, and the quality of construction is very good. Although the mount’s motor housings and other external casings are plastic, it is heavy gauge and finished nicely. The alt and azimuth gears appear to be nylon, and well-lubricated. Power is 12V DC, and the mount comes with a cheap plastic battery pack, which holds 8 user-supplied AA batteries.
The hand control is small, but well-designed, and comfortable. The mount has two slew speeds, 1 degree/sec, and 0.2 degree/sec. The instructions state that the actual slew speeds depend on load. The controller cord is substantial, and plugs into the mount securely. It is about 4’ long.
To use the mount, you loosen the azimuth knob on the bottom of the mount and the altitude handle, move the mount much the same as you would a tilt & pan camera mount, center the target, then tighten the azimuth knob and altitude handle. From that point, you track the object using the buttons on the hand controller. The buttons are easy to locate by feel, and very intuitive to use.
The mount is very quiet when slewing at “high” speed, and almost inaudible at low speed. You won’t disturb your star party neighbors with this mount! Most importantly, no more vibration when tracking! Tracking quickly becomes almost subconscious, and your attention stays where it should, on the object being observed, not on manipulating the mount.
I do have a couple of tips:
1) The base plate of the mount appears to be made of relatively soft aluminum. It works fine as long as you don't screw the mount onto the tripod too hard. If you're like me, and always try to get it "just a little bit tighter", you run the risk of stripping the threads. I had a local machinist fabricate a new base plate from stainless steel after I stripped mine.
2) If you intend to use your scope at high magnifications (175x+), you are probably better off with a tracking mount. The Hutech is still better than trying to keep an object in the FOV manually, but in my opinion, a tracking mount would be much better for high-mag observing.
I am very pleased with the quality and ease of use of the Hutech Motorized Alt-Az mount, and I recommend it.
Click here for more about the Hutech Corp AZM-100 Motorized Alt-Az Mount. -Ed.
Update - July 23, 2004
Since I wrote the review I received a couple of questions about how much weight the mount would handle. To answer them, I decided to conduct a weight test.
I had sold my Lomo Astele 95 and acquired a Borg 76ED since my original review. The Borg, with rings, 1.25” diagonal, and TeleVue 8-24mm zoom, weighed in at 5.5 lbs. I also have three small counterweights I use for my SCT, one weighs 2.5 lbs, and the other two weigh 1 lb each. So with the scope and various combinations of weights, I was able to test the mount at loads of 5.5, 6.5, 7.5, 8, 9, and 10 lbs. I tested in balanced and slightly unbalanced configurations. I did not test a severely unbalanced configuration.
To make a long story short, the mount performed normally in all of the configurations.
I want to make it clear that I am not recommending that anyone exceed the manufacturer’s guidelines for maximum load on the mount. But based on my experience, the mount is easily able to handle the maximum recommended weight.
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