#21  
Old 29-03-2019, 06:14 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Might as well drag this thread out of hiding...

I finally got around to ordering a new mount since I've done the house shift and the dome is almost functional again.

I chose the iOptron CEM120EC2 - https://www.ioptron.com/product-p/7302.htm It should be here in 2 or so weeks.

I spent a long time researching mounts, but in the end, even though this is relatively "new", it's been getting good reports overall, and significantly it's a lot cheaper than any of the alternatives that offer similar features. It works for both ASCOM and INDI, so I can use either as I require.

I had considered picking up a 2nd hand AP, but they are rarer than hen's teeth. In fact, during this last year when I've been preparing for this, I haven't seen any up for grabs here, although I admit there were times I could have missed it.

I've got a pier to sort out as well, but I have someone local who can build that for me. We're in the process of sorting that out.

The dome won't be 100% ready when the mount gets here, but I should be able to work around the unfinished bits to get the mount and gear running a few tests soon after the pier is installed.

Is it a coincidence that we got our heaviest rainfall here in sometime on the day I did the order?
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  #22  
Old 29-03-2019, 07:58 PM
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AP make a super product, but the software integration of the PMEII or PMX+
is rather unique and very mature (and while you might want to be contrarian with Linux,
I'd suggest you simply go with the Bisque Windows suite...plus it's free with the mount).

No other mount offers the same level of machining precision (which, to be blunt, excludes everything from China IMHO)
plus T-Point/Pro track integration, plus a seamless interface to track everything from low-earth orbit to the Oort cloud with a single mouse click.
(e.g.Slew Comet McNaught, Right click: set tracking rate Comet McNaught. Done)

I also put my money where my mouth is on this. I still own a G-11 (the best field/luggable bang-for-buck mount out there)
and looked long and hard at AP, 10Micron etc. but still the PMEII offered that little bit more.

Not cheap...but unless I win Lotto, buy several acres in the Southern Highlands and put in a 24" Alluna, I'll still be using the PMEII
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  #23  
Old 29-03-2019, 11:23 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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And with a starting price of at least $15K USD (without encoders) for PMEII. Yeah, that compares well. I see the PMX+ is $9K USD (no encoders).

I can't talk to any machining precision level because that's not my skillset - and besides I just don't have access to all the gear to compare it anyway.

I remember history. I remember when people used to complain about Japanese electronics quality, and how things changed over time. I have lots of problems with China and the way it does some things, but you just can't make sweeping statements like yours these days. Apple gets their products made there, and so do many other companies. It's not possible to just dismiss it any more. Times change.

Note: I'm not saying with the above that the iOptron gear is going to be better machined than SB or AP. Absolutely no idea. But, if the mount is made such that it works as advertised, what does it really matter how it looks in the dark of the observatory?

As for Linux, I don't fear and dismiss it like many seem to do. There's a lot of capability there that many are unaware of - I can make an automated unattended system with it (like others have done) without the need to pay exorbitant amounts for software.

Not that I'm against paying for software though, since I have bought some for Windows. And I will also make my system work automated and unattended under Windows as well - although that will cost more to do. I am investigating alternatives to "traditional" choices here as well.

I am disappointed that this was the first response to my post. I guess I should have expected it since I'm not falling into line and buying something "traditional".
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  #24  
Old 29-03-2019, 11:34 PM
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Logieberra (Logan)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazjen View Post
... I am disappointed that this was the first response to my post. I guess I should have expected it since I'm not falling into line and buying something "traditional".
You have many replies (above) including Peterís. You asked for thoughts, and anything else to consider. Members took the time to provide that. Why so sensitive about your final decision/purchase? We look forward to your reports/results, and outcomes of dealings with iOptron service.
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  #25  
Old 29-03-2019, 11:44 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Because I obviously did take those posts into consideration BEFORE I did my purchase (and I am grateful for those posts because it did have a big impact on what I eventually chose). My post then announced that I had DONE the purchase, so obviously it's too late to change to anything else. Why bother bringing up other mounts in this thread at that point, especially when the price point and capabilities don't even match what I am getting?

On a more positive note, I do intend to report how I go. No doubt I will face issues when I go through this process with all the elements I want to achieve.
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  #26  
Old 29-03-2019, 11:51 PM
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You’re not alone. You have a friend, here: https://youtu.be/86X5w275Id4
Watched this vid a few weeks back. Clutch system looks cryptic, but like all gear - just need to get used to the new...
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  #27  
Old 30-03-2019, 09:03 AM
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Congrats Chris, it's always exciting to get a new mount. I'm sure yours will serve you well. The CEM120EC2 looked to be getting a lot of attention in the US, but I have to say I haven't really followed it. Certainly good bang for buck if the specs are anything to go by.

Last edited by h0ughy; 01-04-2019 at 08:01 AM. Reason: Removing comments to stop personal attack
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  #28  
Old 30-03-2019, 09:52 AM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Logieberra View Post
You’re not alone. You have a friend, here: https://youtu.be/86X5w275Id4
Watched this vid a few weeks back. Clutch system looks cryptic, but like all gear - just need to get used to the new...
I've been following the discussions on CloudyNights and I also joined the Google Groups for the mount to track issues. Like almost all new systems there's issues to be sorted out, but from what I can see that's happening.

The G11 was my first mount and I feel if I can work through using it, I can probably handle anything else. After I get it setup in the dome I'm not sure how much I'll have to touch the clutch system anyway. Time will tell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by codemonkey View Post
Congrats Chris, it's always exciting to get a new mount. I'm sure yours will serve you well. The CEM120EC2 looked to be getting a lot of attention in the US, but I have to say I haven't really followed it. Certainly good bang for buck if the specs are anything to go by.
Indeed. If it does live up to the specs (and so far it seems to be doing so), then it's going to be a disruptor in the market. It's got to get past the "new kid on the block" stigma first and of course the Made in China comments.

Last edited by h0ughy; 01-04-2019 at 08:02 AM. Reason: Removed to stop personal attack
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  #29  
Old 30-03-2019, 11:19 AM
cwjohn (Chris)
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Hi Chris

Congrats on your purchase. I am sure with your expertise you will get it running in no time.

I will be interested in dropping by and seeing this mount. Unfortunately, its load carrying capacity is insufficient for my purposes but should work well in your case provided the specs hold up.

I am still strongly of the view that AP offer the best mounts at a 100Kg+ carrying capacity despite the investment involved.
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  #30  
Old 30-03-2019, 12:00 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Originally Posted by cwjohn View Post
Hi Chris

Congrats on your purchase. I am sure with your expertise you will get it running in no time.

I will be interested in dropping by and seeing this mount. Unfortunately, its load carrying capacity is insufficient for my purposes but should work well in your case provided the specs hold up.

I am still strongly of the view that AP offer the best mounts at a 100Kg+ carrying capacity despite the investment involved.
Don't worry, there will be "viewing hours" once I'm up and running.

I've seen reports that the weight specs are on target. Some people are loading it up to near max and having no difficulty.

I think if it gets to the point where I can afford the scope(s) that weigh more than 52kg (the payload limit not including counterweights)... I can probably seriously consider the expense of the mount necessary to carry it.
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  #31  
Old 30-03-2019, 06:33 PM
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Hi Chris, just noticed this thread, must have missed it before in Feb 2018. Good choice on the CEM120. It should do everything you want but is a bit heavy compared to equivalent AP mounts. Great value.
On a different note (and the main reason for posting) if you are still looking for an Astrophysics mount I can at least confirm that (AP1100) it works well with KStars/Indi/EKOS. Using the Indi Astrophysics experimental driver I had no problems with connecting and using the mount with Indi/EKOS. The only quirky thing was that it insisted on parking with the DEC at 90 degrees to the usual pole pointing park (Park 3). I just had to accept it and set up at this position which is easy as there are alignment marks for this position.
So if you do get a Mach 1 or AP 900 to complement your CEM120 etc your Linux set up will work well.
I have no experience with the CEM120 and linux (KStars) but driver support is there and lots of help on line in the INDI support forums.
Cheers
Mike
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  #32  
Old 30-03-2019, 06:58 PM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spartacus View Post
Hi Chris, just noticed this thread, must have missed it before in Feb 2018. Good choice on the CEM120. It should do everything you want but is a bit heavy compared to equivalent AP mounts. Great value.
On a different note (and the main reason for posting) if you are still looking for an Astrophysics mount I can at least confirm that (AP1100) it works well with KStars/Indi/EKOS. Using the Indi Astrophysics experimental driver I had no problems with connecting and using the mount with Indi/EKOS. The only quirky thing was that it insisted on parking with the DEC at 90 degrees to the usual pole pointing park (Park 3). I just had to accept it and set up at this position which is easy as there are alignment marks for this position.
So if you do get a Mach 1 or AP 900 to complement your CEM120 etc your Linux set up will work well.
I have no experience with the CEM120 and linux (KStars) but driver support is there and lots of help on line in the INDI support forums.
Cheers
Mike
Thanks Mike.

I forgot to mention that I changed my mind a bit from the original post. The CEM120 is staying in the observatory and won't go mobile at all - it's going to be far too heavy for that for me. I think for now if I go mobile I'll be doing some wide-field stuff only and not lugging around much gear. At the most I'll take my G11 out.

I had read of people using AP under INDI hence it was on my original list. Assuming all goes well with this mount, the next likely upgrades will be around either scopes or cameras. So, probably no AP anywhere in my future - for a very long time if at all.

I've obviously yet to check this, but my understanding is that iOptron mounts have a similar command set, so the INDI driver should be fine given there's a fair amount of use for the other mounts out there.
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  #33  
Old 30-03-2019, 07:28 PM
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Slawomir (Suavi)
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Congratulations Chris - it looks like a great mount and I look forward to seeing your new even sharper astro images taken with this mount
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  #34  
Old 30-03-2019, 09:15 PM
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Congrats on your new purchase. I look forward to your review.

Greg.
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  #35  
Old 30-03-2019, 10:11 PM
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Thanks Suavi and Greg.

I will review it, but I can only compare the usage to a G11 since I haven't used other mounts.

Although the real success will be in the hopefully sharper images.
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  #36  
Old 31-03-2019, 08:34 AM
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The real test of any mount is can you get round stars at 10minute exposures at a decent focal length. If you can its a winner.

Other things help but are not essential. That's the guts of it.

Also with a good mount round stars are not guaranteed. A good PEC and accurate polar alignment are pretty important. I use Sky X Tpoint for getting perfect polar alignment. Its an amazing tool and you see the results immediately in the very low autoguiding errors.

Greg.
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  #37  
Old 31-03-2019, 09:42 AM
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lazjen (Chris)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregbradley View Post
The real test of any mount is can you get round stars at 10minute exposures at a decent focal length. If you can its a winner.

Other things help but are not essential. That's the guts of it.

Also with a good mount round stars are not guaranteed. A good PEC and accurate polar alignment are pretty important. I use Sky X Tpoint for getting perfect polar alignment. Its an amazing tool and you see the results immediately in the very low autoguiding errors.
If I have all the necessary base plate bits here right now, I'm going to start with the refractor at 700mm (F6.54) - I think I'll need to change it from the narrow V to the wider D as it looks like the CEM120 accepts the wider plate only. I'll look into this soon. EDIT: Well that was easy - got a base plate adapter that I can use so I can mount the refractor in the same way as if it was on top the RC10.

At some point though I will be using the RC10 at either 2000mm (F8) or with the reducer at 1340mm (F5.36) to go further. I'd like to jump to this straight away but I suspect I may need to recollimate it first. Don't want to deal with that right now if I can avoid it.

There's no PEC on the encoder versions of the CEM120 (i.e. the CEM120EC and CEM120EC2), therefore I won't need to worry about that. (Manual, pg 31: http://www.ioptron.com/v/Manuals/730...nstruction.pdf)

The manual lists some supplied alignment options (pg 26). I might try some out for the sake of reviewing to see how they go. Won't be a completely fair or proper test though as I will have this installed in the dome permanently so I expect that each test is likely to refine the last result. Eventually though I will try/review those results with tools I've got and then refine further if required.
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Old 31-03-2019, 10:25 AM
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Thank you Chris for sharing a link to the manual. Both RA and DEC worm wheels seem to have larger diameters than in AP 1100 GTO, plus you have encoders so it should be a solid performer. I will certainly follow your experiences with this mount with a great interest
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  #39  
Old 31-03-2019, 10:46 PM
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Suavi, the race is on to get everything ready for some (hopefully) clear nights in the next few months and see how it all goes!
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  #40  
Old 01-04-2019, 04:01 PM
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Ah...apologies as I missed the fact you had already gone with the Ioptron.

That said, if the specs are accurate, then it looks like it will serve you well. I wait with interest to hear your impressions on how accurately it positions and tracks.
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