FAQ: Cube and MiniTower

Mount Set-up
» Why do I need to make the mount horizontal?

There are two reasons that you should keep your tripod horizontal. The first one is that the horizontal position helps you to balance the payload (your telescope tube) on the mount.
The second is that aligning your telescope is simpler and more accurate when the tripod is horizontal. If you are working in altazimuth mode then you are using the horizontal plane as one of your reference planes. When the mount is horizontal, you have a good reference plane. Since all the coordinates of the celestial objects are defined relative to the reference planes, making the mount horizontal helps locate stars more accurately. More details can be found in the alignment section of the manual.
» How to make the mount horizontal

Extend the tripod to its fullest length. Locate the bubble on the mount. Adjust the length of each leg until the bubble is centered in the black circle. If you are working in a rough terrain, be careful not to let the telescope tip. Using an additional torpedo level on the cube will also help assure a horizontal plane.

Park Position
» What is Park Position?

Park Position is level-south-vertical.

First, level the mount using the bubble on the side of the mount. Adjust the tripod legs until the bubble is in the middle.

Next, Position the scope so it is pointing to zenith (the ceiling). Loosen the alt lock to re-position the scope. Then tighten the alt lock to secure the scope in position.

Lastly, position the entire system so the "S" (on the side of the mount) is facing south. You don't need to be perfect here. But a compass can be used also. Just pick up the entire unit and move it around so the "S" faces south.

Now you can turn on the unit. After your viewing session -- press "menu" -- then "Park Position" This will bring your telescope back to the original Park Position. As long as you don't move your telescope-- you can simply turn on the unit the next time you use it. Otherwise, just go through these steps again.

Star Alignment
» After one-star or two-star alignment, why can't I find the object I want to GOTO in my eyepiece? How do I improve this?

Start with lower power eyepieces first. This makes finding the object easier. Center your objects with your lower-power eyepiece then change to the higher-power eyepiece. A leveled reference plane is essential for accurate GOTO. Make sure the leveling bubble on the mount is centered. Some people have had much better alignment after using two or three torpedo levels placed on the mount when levelling their mount and tripod.
» Why is my telescope pointing to the ground? How do I fix it?

Before you do any kind of alignment --the mount may be pointing in an arbitrary direction, either toward the sky or toward the ground. However, after you follow the alignment steps your telescope will point in the correct direction. The manual contains more information on alignment.
» How do I use the finder scope?

Your finder scope is a lower powered scope mounted on top of your main scope, you use the finder scope to “take aim” and locate stars. It is very important that your finder scope is aligned with your main scope so that when a star is centered in your finder scope, you can also find it in your high powered main scope. For newbies, the finder scope alignment is easier during the day time using land objects instead of stars in the night sky. Simply pick a land mark, for example, a flag pole, and center it in the finder scope, then locate it in the eye piece of your main scope, adjust the alignment between the finder scope and the main scope, make sure the target is centered in both scopes, lock the position. Double check with another land mark. When you are sure the alignment is perfect, lock the position permanently.
» I followed all the steps and my telescope is pointing to the star I want to see. Why can’t I see anything in my eye piece?

Check that the lens covers are still not on. You also may need to manually tweak your telescope tube. See “manual alignment” section of the manual.
» I’ve done the alignment, but when I selected a star in the database and pushed ENTER I still can’t see the star in my eye piece. Why?

This can be caused by one of several factors. First, after your initial alignment, you may have bumped your tripod accidentally so the alignment is off. You will need to redo the alignment. Second, your initial alignment information may not be as precise as possible. The visual field of your eye piece is narrow. Small errors can leave your target outside your narrow visual field even though it may be very close by. Be sure to input accurate local time and location. And always double check your initial alignment with several bright stars you are familiar with. Check to see if those stars are centered in your eye piece. If not, check your input and fine tune your alignment. Check appropriate chapters in the user’s manual for further information on manual and automatic alignment.

» OK, I’ve located my target star and centered it in my eye piece, why is it shifting away?

This is because your tracking is not on. Use ENTER button on your hand controller to switch to “Cele” mode instead of “Land”. In Land mode, the tracking is turned off, in Cele mode, the tracking is turned on.

Controller Set-up
» I'm new at this... basically what do I need to do?

First, walking through the Quick Start Guide is the best help. It provides pictures for each step.

But, briefly, here is what you need to do:

1. Put telescope physically in park position (see other FAQ)
2. Turn on unit. Press "menu". Press "set up controller".
3. Next, you'll need to enter the following information:

  • Latitude and Longitude (Google Map or http://www.gps-coordinates.net)
  • minutes "behind" UT (ex. East coast is 300 behind UT. West coast is 480 behind UT)
  • Daylight Savings Yes or No (some models use "X" for no and a check for yes)
  • Time should be entered using military format (ex 8pm is 20:00)
» When I select stars from the database using the handheld controller why are some stars automatically skipped?

Those stars are skipped because according to the time and location you input into the controller, those stars are below your current horizon. By shortening the list to available stars it makes scrolling down simpler.
» How do I change the slew speed on the #8401 controller?

To change speeds on the 8401 controller press the number keys 1 through 9 (1-low, 9-MAX).
» How can I find my latitude and longitude?

You can find your coordinates online at websites such as http://www.gps-coordinates.net/. Remember to convert decimals to minutes and seconds. Ex. 40.5 degrees is equal to 40 degrees and 30 minutes.
» What is my "time zone"?

You can find your "time zone" information online at websites such as http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/.

Upgrading Controller/Firmware
» Can the #8403/#8405 hand controller firware be upgraded?

The #8403/#8405 hand controller does not have a USB port and so it cannot be upgraded via a local computer.
» OK. So what’s the difference between the #8402A (8402) and #8402G hand controller?

They have slightly difference in the MENU structure. The 8402A/8402 can also be used for an EQ mount or a wedged A/A mount, such as a SmartStar-A mount. The 8402G has 50,000 objects, whereas, the 8402A/8402 has 80,000 objects.

If “#8402G Ver[sion]….” is shown when the hand controller is turned on, it is an 8402G. Otherwise, it is an 8402A/8402 controller. (The 8402A does not say “8402A” on the opening screen.)

8402A/8402 hand controller is obsolete for some time.
» Do I have to upgrade my firmware?

No, if your unit works fine upgrading is not necessary.
» Why do I need to upgrade my hand controller?

  • To fix bugs and improve operational performance.
  • To update the data base.
» What do I need to upgrade my hand controller?

  • A computer running on Windows
  • USB cable
  • iOptron Downloader for firmware upgrade
  • USB to COM port driver (VCP driver)
  • Appropriate Firmware Upgrade
» How do I upgrade my hand controller?

Please refer to product page or Firmware/Software page for detailed instruction.
» What can I do if the firmware upgrade was interrupted, or after download the screen is blank or does not respond?

  • A correct version of USB to COM converter is installed; a COM port number is located (such as COM4)
  • An iOptron Downloader is installed
  • A correct version of Firmware is downloaded-- such as 8401_Ver090701.bin
Follow the procedures below:
  • Turn on the mount to power on the hand controller (the key pad should be lit)
  • Click on the iOptron Downloader
  • Change the Serial Port to the corerct COM port in the pull-down menu (example: COM4)
  • Click on Open Data File(O) button to select the right Firmware for your hand controller. (here is: 8401_Ver090701.bin)
  • DON’T click on Start Download (D) button yet. Turn the mount power off.
  • Turn the mount power back on. When you hear the “beep”, click on Start Download (D) button. The downloading process will begin
  • When the download is successfully finished, turn the mount off and back on to check the hand controller. You should have the newest firmware
You may need to try several times to make it work. The timing is very critical.

Error Messages
» "Cannot communicate with DEC/RA motor"

(1)Check the hand controller cord. Unplug it and re-plug into another HBX port.
(2)Check the power supply, which includes:
  • Using the battery? Is the battery fresh? How long it has been used? (frequent slew and GOTO will deplete battery power very quickly)
  • Using AC or DC adapter? Check the plugs to the mount and to the power outlet.
  • Using extension cord? Make sure the cord is in good condition. Power drop along the extension cord was known to cause the problem. Also check all the plugs and connections.
(3) Contact your local dealer for assistance or contact iOptron directly via e-mail: support@ioptron.com, or telephone 1.781.569.0200 9-5pm EST.
» “Warning! RA/DEC Motor Driver Overcurrent!”

(1)Check if the mount or OTA is blocked by any obstructions;
(2)Try to operate the mount without an OTA;
(3)Check the power supply. This is a common reason for this message and unexpected slew behavior or movement, which include:
  • Batteries: Are the batteries fresh? How long have they been used? (frequent slewing and GOTO will deplete battery power very quickly)
  • AC or DC adapter: Check the plugs to the mount and to the power outlet.
  • Extension cord: Make sure the cord is in good condition. Power drop along the extension cord has been known to cause this error message. Also check all the plugs and connections.
(4)Check the hand controller cord. Unplug it and re-plug into the other HBX port;
(5) Contact your local dealer for assistance or contact iOptron directly via e-mail: support@ioptron.com, or telephone 1.781.569.0200 9-5pm EST.

» Will my OTA work with an Cube/MiniTower mount

Our GOTO mount is compatible with most OTA's with a standard Vixen or Losmandy dovetail. Please refer to payload information of individual product. Please note that the size and length of an OTA will play an important role in the performance.
» I don’t have a dovetail connector. What should I check for before installing one?

If your telescope tube does not have a dovetail connector do some measurements before you purchase one. Usually the dovetail is attached to the tube via rings, which are purchased together with the dovetail. Make sure the dovetail matches that on the mount. You also need to make sure the dovetail is not too long. If it’s too long, it may block the rotation in certain positions.
» How do I balance my telescope tube if the tube is relatively large and heavy?

When you have a relatively large and heavy telescope, you should spend a little more time balancing your telescope tube to make sure that it can rotate freely without being blocked by the mount and that it won’t shift out of balance when rotating.

» My controller says “GPS ON”. Is it working?

No. You need to wait for the controller to say “GPS OK”. When it says “GPS OK” a satellite signal connection has been made and the correct time will appear.
» I just bought a Cube/MiniTower mount. How come the GPS isn’t working?

If you are experiencing trouble with your GPS please try waiting for a clear day. Some users have gotten satellite connection only after waiting for clear skies. Once this first connection is made the GPS signal connects normally.

Another problem may be a loose GPS plug connection with the circuit board. Simply reconnecting the plug firmly has solved this problem. Contact your local dealer for assistance or contact iOptron directly via e-mail: support@ioptron.com, or telephone 1.781.569.0200 9-5pm EST.