Modification and Customisation of mounts is also available, as we have our own in-house CNC milling and lathe facilities for one-off customised parts in a range of materials. We also have access to anodising and powder coating companies locally so we can provide custom mounting plates or adapters with a great finish! Please enquire for more details regarding our capability. We have also been involved in the film industry on a number of custom projects, including filming distance shots using telescopes, as well as props, and more recently motion control platforms.
We also offer Collimation services, telescope Crayford Focuser servicing and adjustment as well as repairs out of warranty. Further details of our services and tuning can be found on the respective pages on this web-store.
Repairs Take Longer!
Most of our repair work and there experience is with Sky-watcher mounts. As we are gaining more familiarity with other brands and mount architecture, so does our ability and speed of repairs. Where as a tune rebuild takes typically between 10-18 days, a repair can and has run into months on some rarer mounts, or highly tricky fixes. There are a number of reasons for this, usually obtaining parts or diagnosis, testing of a mount requires clear nights to evaluate and to diagnose an issue. Of course we will try and provide a reasonable timescale, but this can be a movable feast. Some 'official' repair centres can take several weeks to effect an repair. They have high workloads too, and have you checked to see how many telescope/repair places there are worldwide?
We don't just fix, we make better. It's an obsession.
We have previously also spent a lot of time validating our mount rebuilds at customers requests, because their PHD graphs showed some issue they claimed we were unable to remedy. In 99.81% (yes, you read right) of cases the mount was operating in the parameters of existing datasets, and it was down to the way they were being controlled and driven. There's better things we could be doing at 2am, like sleep. We have recalled a very small number of mounts (see above percentage) over the past three years because they didn't perform as we expected. If it's mechanical, then it's our domain. We really do know our stuff. If we don't, than that's the fun we have finding out.
Before we tune or modify any mount we check the mount prior to any work and video its current operation. There is no point enhancing a mounts performance if it is not to a workable standard of operation from the outset. We have recently been taking in mounts for tuning that have been attempted to be adjusted by the customer without disclosure, or the mount arrives seized due to a locked worm-gear because of over-adjustment by the customer in an attempt to remove backlash. Belt kits need to be installed correctly so that they function as designed, but any misalignment of components during installation can and does affect performance.
With EQ6/NEQ6 belt-kit installs, a proper standard Gen 0 hypertune usually corrects everything if it's been running poorly, and it's an ideal opportunity to install our Hybrid-Ceramic bearings that almost eliminate worm gear end-float, and also provide a tighter feeling mount. For mounts that are over 7 years old, like the EQ6, we now recommend replacement of the 6 axis bearing and the two cone bearings for less than a £100. Even though these bearings are lubricated for life, and only turn at most 270º, the greases will breakdown over time resulting in a less than fluid movement that contributes to tracking performance.
Our total return rate since we started offering serviced, tuned or repaired mounts worldwide is less than 1.0%. This is because every repair and rebuild is documented, with 25-75 photographs, and notes. This is for our benefit, and we may send you some images to demonstrate progress. Add in the sometimes detailed communications we have to do either by phone or email, this contributes to the extra time needed to work on a mount repair or special build. Please be patient. We are ALWAYS seeking a solution or working on your mount. If we do not send a timely email, phone call or image it is because of our high workload and the attention to detail we spend on your mount. Time is a finite resource.
So, just to make sure we are clear...
We never ship an untested or un-validated mount.
We never ship a mount that has not been photographed or videoed before or after fix
We never ship a mount that has not been repaired as described.
We never rush a mount, and will spend time getting it better than new.
We will only ship a mount once we are happy with it.
Extra charges will be incurred, for any work, parts or time required to put the mount back to a workable standard before any tuning is carried out. Tuning a mount will only highlight any defect that is already there, or worse still we cannot tune the mount to a better standard of performance.
We have received a growing number of mounts with undeclared faults and this will impact the schedule. If it fails to meet a factory level minimum standard of operation during power-on test, then we reserve the right not to tune it, and you will be offered a full refund less shipping costs.
Any repair work will also fall outside of our tuning schedule and will therefore take longer to do. It is also for a fixed cost. However, once restored the mount does perform as it should, after validation.
If you have a mount that is need of repair then please give us a call or e-mail so we can do our best to help you. If it falls within a cure of a rebuild, then there is no extra charge. If it doesn't or can't be, then charges will apply. But you will be informed at the outset.
All our work is guaranteed for 12 months for servicing/repair and 24 months for tuning. For belt drive kits & new fitted bearings and lubricant, it's 24 months. This applies to all new builds supplied after 1st December 2016, to Build Types 6.3.x and 5.5.x (Bonneville).
For all Gen 0-2 mounts before this date it 12 months from date of collection (Build Types 6.9.x and 5.9.x Himalaya/SouthDown to 6.5.5/5.7.5 Flat Earth).
We constantly review our 'control' servicing and Hypertune methodology and none of these mounts have shown any issues or degradation of performance over the past three years. With our enhanced lubrication platform, we are so confident of its sustained operation which is why we can now offer a two year warranty, even with existing bearings (if not found faulty).
Ok, so what's not covered?
Anything that came with the original mount on or after the original point of sale. This includes:
Handset (HBX), cables, control boards and ports, Stepper Motors, Voltage Regulator and Power supply, Mount case, fasteners, tripod and spreader. Any damage to the mount due to misuse as laid out by the manufacturer is also not covered. Nor are we liable for component failure whilst under rebuild or after, unless directly our fault because they are aged products.
Sometimes, tuning work may require some readjustment as the mount settles down after use, which we do for free within the first 30 days, on a return to base basis, at customers cost. The mounts are designed to be adjusted. However, if it is found the the mount has be tampered with to undo any tuning work we have carried out, or disassembled after tuning (!) then costs will be incurred to restore the mount. Workshop charges are at £50 per hour, inc VAT.
In the case of axis repairs and tuning we carry out a a validation load test on every mount with either an 8 inch reflector or 100mm f9 refractor - or 70mm refractor for smaller mounts, and adjust so to ensure the mount is performing as it should under real-world conditions. Sometimes, where required we wlll also perform PHD or TDM tests to gather data to validate the mount. This will add to the time as guiding is weather dependant! We are working on a reliable day system for timing.
Modifications to new mounts such as belt-drive kits or custom parts will invalidate the existing Manufacturers warranty.
However, if you buy a new mount from DarkFrame Ltd and we perform the upgrades then we will honour and support that mount for 24 months to equal and beyond the manufacturers original RTB warranty.
Please note: All DarkFrame Ltd warranties are non-transferable unless agreed by us in writing.