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Old 09-12-2020, 06:34 PM
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aiming for 2nd Halley's

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premium and heavy duty AP mounts?

Hi all, I've recently bought an ioptron CEM40 mount which is nearly half the weight of my Saxon AZEQ6 but with almost the same carrying capacity (well claimed anyway, 18kg versus 20kg).

Claims aside, the CEM40 separately handles even my larger refractor rig the fairly weighty Espirit 100ed (with Eagle PC and other odds and ends) well so no point keeping the AZEQ6 and so I'll be selling the AZEQ6 off with the aim of picking up a higher end, higher capacity (25kg min), AP mount for a future scope upgrade (with a total payload weight between 15 and 18kg, thinking a 5 to 6 inch F7 apo with all the trimmings). Nothing wrong with the AZEQ6 and it might handle such at a stretch just no point keeping it as well as the CEM40 and better to get something that can more than easily handle the next size up in scopes.

This is a wide open question, really more an invitation to share experience, for thoughts and outcomes from those who have dived into the world of acquiring more premium AP mounts into Australia; mounts such as AP Mach 1, Paramount MYT, Avalon Linear or Uno, 10 Micron 1000, Losmandy G11, Mesu 200, versus more available mounts like the EQ8 R or RH, or even I-optron CEM70 or 120. Hard or easy to import, performance met expectations or, etc?

I'm comfortable with guiding so the ability to do prolonged non-guided exposures is not a big deal to me; and I get the impression a lot of what you pay for with premium mounts is for the performance to do more non-guided AP. More important to me is performance with guiding so minimal negligible backlash is particularly important. I'm strictly a backyard AP'er and only need to bring mount out and back from under back deck, not travelling; and if I did travel would use the CEM40 anyway.

thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

Last edited by Robert_T; 13-12-2020 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 09-12-2020, 08:47 PM
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gregbradley
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AP Mach2 GTO would be awesome.
You want a mount with low periodic error. Autoguiding on a rough mount with high PE will still give eggy stars.

Mach GTO has built in encoders and can be run also with autoguiding giving unheard of low PE. It also has a fairly large capacity. Of course there is a price tag that goes with all this.

AP mounts are very reliable and trouble free.

I have had 2 Software Bisque mounts - a 2nd hand PME which is very reliable and a high performer and a MX mount which at first was troublesome then SB gave me a replacement worm and it was a lot better.

The most important part of your setup is the mount so keep that in mind.

Greg.
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Old 09-12-2020, 10:29 PM
glend (Glen)
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Look no disrespect to those high end ( and expensive) mounts you mentioned, but the Celestron CGX covers your requirements at a more reasonable price with local sourcing and support.

https://www.bintel.com.au/product/ce...v=322b26af01d5

I have had mine for four years and it has performed without drama, and can easily image with 25kg and more. Belt drives, spring loaded worms, completely internal cabled, mechanical hard stops and soft limit and programmable home settings (It can image across the Meridian by up to 20 degrees). Good software pc control with the Planewave developed app. Advertised image limit of 25kg (which is really the stock tripod mounted limit) but realistically the head unit can handle more and has when pier mounted. You can also upgrade to the CGX-L tripod, or buy a CGX-L and get 34kg of image capacity on its stock tripod.
Worth looking at imho.
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Old 10-12-2020, 08:51 AM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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From my "Low to middle end" experience. The ioptron CEM mounts seem to be quite good mounts mechanically, it was a toss up between the CEM70 that I eventually bought and an EQ8-R.

Software wise, while it is third party, EQMOD for the Skywatcher mounts seems to me to be better developed than the ioptron provided ASCOM driver.
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Old 10-12-2020, 02:09 PM
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aiming for 2nd Halley's

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thanks, some good observations; the local support argument is important to me. I'll have to add the CGX into the mix. Having the CEM40 and the AZeq6 though if I were going something more mainstream, I'd probably go with something from either of those brands for familiarity.
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Old 10-12-2020, 02:11 PM
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aiming for 2nd Halley's

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Quote:
Originally Posted by glend View Post
Look no disrespect to those high end ( and expensive) mounts you mentioned, but the Celestron CGX covers your requirements at a more reasonable price with local sourcing and support.

https://www.bintel.com.au/product/ce...v=322b26af01d5

I have had mine for four years and it has performed without drama, and can easily image with 25kg and more. Belt drives, spring loaded worms, completely internal cabled, mechanical hard stops and soft limit and programmable home settings (It can image across the Meridian by up to 20 degrees). Good software pc control with the Planewave developed app. Advertised image limit of 25kg (which is really the stock tripod mounted limit) but realistically the head unit can handle more and has when pier mounted. You can also upgrade to the CGX-L tripod, or buy a CGX-L and get 34kg of image capacity on its stock tripod.
Worth looking at imho.
thanks for this...how do you find the CGX for backlash and arc-second tracking accuracy?
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Old 10-12-2020, 03:13 PM
glend (Glen)
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thanks for this...how do you find the CGX for backlash and arc-second tracking accuracy?
Rather than my raving about my CGX, which has been carefully tuned, I suggest you plug "CGX" and "backlash" into Google and read the search results, there will be good and bad as with any mount, as setup is everything. When the CGX was first released in late 2016 there were some early factory setup QA issues, and as I have one of the first five CGXs that Bintel imported, I did have some issues, and you may see my posts related to tuning, mostly on CN. Having the capability to adjust all aspects of belt adjustment, worm engagement, spring tension, pull back range, centering etc gives you the ability to perfect it, but understanding how the mount works, and how to tune it, and having a mount that permits it is important.
Any mount is only as good as its setup permits.
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Old 10-12-2020, 03:46 PM
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What sort of tracking accuracy are you getting with your CGX Glen? Celestron don't state what the PE range is. Usually that is stated with mounts.

For example Software Bisque state 7 arc seconds which in practice is fairly conservative.

A Mach 2 GTO mount from AP with autoguiding is sub 1 arc sec accuracy so essentially perfect.

But of course it would cost $12-14K imported if you are able to order one at all at the moment. But its probably quite portable and would be a lifetime mount unless you got something very heavy.

2nd hand AP mounts like an AP1200 or 1100 go for around US$5500 on Astromart.

These prices may be outside of the budget but if it were my choice and you wanted a premium mount and were willing to spend the money then I think AP is currently making the world's best mounts. It would also almost certainly work out of the box as well.

But different markets, different costs. Depends on the budget really.
It does seem that there are a lot of good choices these days at quite reasonable prices.

Greg.
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Old 10-12-2020, 03:57 PM
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Peter Ward
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IMHO the best bang for buck portable mount on the market at the moment is the Losmandy G-11

All machined, precision gears and a robust and mature GoTo system that has features normally reserved for PC software rather than its nifty touch screen hand paddle and Gemini 2 controller.

If money is not object the AP Mach2 has better specs, but at twice the price is hard for many to justify.

Due the risk of offending some punters, all I'll say about the ROC stuff is that it's build to a price with many resorting to EQ mods or similar to get acceptable results.

G-11's occasionally come up on the used market, but not often.
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Old 10-12-2020, 05:54 PM
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Robert_T
aiming for 2nd Halley's

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Ward View Post
IMHO the best bang for buck portable mount on the market at the moment is the Losmandy G-11

All machined, precision gears and a robust and mature GoTo system that has features normally reserved for PC software rather than its nifty touch screen hand paddle and Gemini 2 controller.

If money is not object the AP Mach2 has better specs, but at twice the price is hard for many to justify.

Due the risk of offending some punters, all I'll say about the ROC stuff is that it's build to a price with many resorting to EQ mods or similar to get acceptable results.

G-11's occasionally come up on the used market, but not often.
thanks Peter a G11 was something I lusted after 10-15 years ago. I wondered how the mechanics have aged in the modern range of belt drives etc...I guess if worms are precision enough backlash isn't a problem needed belt drive a anyway? For me I am solely AP now and use an Eagle PC for mount control so don't really need or even want the hand controllers or internal software, just something that i can control via NINA or APT via the eagle.
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Old 10-12-2020, 09:19 PM
keller60 (Bill)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert_T View Post
thanks Peter a G11 was something I lusted after 10-15 years ago. I wondered how the mechanics have aged in the modern range of belt drives etc...I guess if worms are precision enough backlash isn't a problem needed belt drive a anyway? For me I am solely AP now and use an Eagle PC for mount control so don't really need or even want the hand controllers or internal software, just something that i can control via NINA or APT via the eagle.
There is nothing "modern" about a belt drive. They simply are a less-expensive solution to otherwise having a precisely machined gear housing.

A precision gear will beat it every time...and not stretch or need replacing for decades.

The G-11 has undergone refinements for decades. The new G-11's have no backlash due spring loaded worm gears,
which BTW are centreless ground with very precise lead angles...something you won't find in a Chinese mount.

Gemini from the get-go conformed to the Meade LX200 instruction set, hence ASCOM and third party software has supported them for many years.

As for having a hand controller...my PMEII (yes, I know it has belts...) can perform magic with a PC and TheSkyX, but I still find I use the hand paddle more often than not. I'd certainly miss it not being available.
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Old 10-12-2020, 10:51 PM
DJT (David)
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I have an AP900 and an AP Mach1 from a really early run. Itís possible to upgrade the Mach 1 to a certain extent to the after runs but canít retrofit absolute Encoders. Having said that I havenít really felt the need to have them. Itís not often either mount loses its way.

Both were bought pre-loved fortunately which is part of the deal as far as this hobby goes, or so says the CFO, and they donít miss a beat. The 900 is in an observatory and the Mach1 is used at a dark site and is largely left out in the field.

I get excellent service from AP. Plenty of technical support and documentation that is actually useful.

The mechanics are solid, thereís not much to do in terms of service apart from greasing bearings every so often.

The battery in the handset has died once in 8 years but itís straight forward to deal with if you are able to follow clear instructions. Thereís not much that can go wrong to be honest.I also upgrade the chip on the Controllers for both mounts take advantage of some new features that was straight forward to do

Both scopes will let you image past the meridian quite happily.

Neither mount is being pushed to the limited with a 10ĒRC on one and a 106mm refactor on the other though both with big fat heavy CCDs on them, filters wheels, MOAG etc. The Mach1 will happily take the RC imaging setup when needed with room to spare and I ran the 900 with refractor and RC for a while.

For laughs I tried unguided and had good results on the very well aligned mount in the observatory but I do guide and as I said, they never miss a beat. Much easier but I would imagine not having to guide and make correcting adjustments can only be an advantage for the imager.

No experience with other mounts other than HEQ5.
I hope this helps.

David
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Old 11-12-2020, 08:34 AM
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aiming for 2nd Halley's

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Quote:
Originally Posted by keller60 View Post
There is nothing "modern" about a belt drive. They simply are a less-expensive solution to otherwise having a precisely machined gear housing.

A precision gear will beat it every time...and not stretch or need replacing for decades.

The G-11 has undergone refinements for decades. The new G-11's have no backlash due spring loaded worm gears,
which BTW are centreless ground with very precise lead angles...something you won't find in a Chinese mount.

Gemini from the get-go conformed to the Meade LX200 instruction set, hence ASCOM and third party software has supported them for many years.

As for having a hand controller...my PMEII (yes, I know it has belts...) can perform magic with a PC and TheSkyX, but I still find I use the hand paddle more often than not. I'd certainly miss it not being available.
fair points Bill and good to hear the ongoing refinement on the G11.
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Old 11-12-2020, 08:36 AM
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aiming for 2nd Halley's

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJT View Post
I have an AP900 and an AP Mach1 from a really early run. Itís possible to upgrade the Mach 1 to a certain extent to the after runs but canít retrofit absolute Encoders. Having said that I havenít really felt the need to have them. Itís not often either mount loses its way.

Both were bought pre-loved fortunately which is part of the deal as far as this hobby goes, or so says the CFO, and they donít miss a beat. The 900 is in an observatory and the Mach1 is used at a dark site and is largely left out in the field.

I get excellent service from AP. Plenty of technical support and documentation that is actually useful.

The mechanics are solid, thereís not much to do in terms of service apart from greasing bearings every so often.

The battery in the handset has died once in 8 years but itís straight forward to deal with if you are able to follow clear instructions. Thereís not much that can go wrong to be honest.I also upgrade the chip on the Controllers for both mounts take advantage of some new features that was straight forward to do

Both scopes will let you image past the meridian quite happily.

Neither mount is being pushed to the limited with a 10ĒRC on one and a 106mm refactor on the other though both with big fat heavy CCDs on them, filters wheels, MOAG etc. The Mach1 will happily take the RC imaging setup when needed with room to spare and I ran the 900 with refractor and RC for a while.

For laughs I tried unguided and had good results on the very well aligned mount in the observatory but I do guide and as I said, they never miss a beat. Much easier but I would imagine not having to guide and make correcting adjustments can only be an advantage for the imager.

No experience with other mounts other than HEQ5.
I hope this helps.

David
thanks David, it does help. What software do you use for capture and guiding with these mounts?
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Old 11-12-2020, 09:11 AM
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multiweb (Marc)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert_T View Post
thanks Peter a G11 was something I lusted after 10-15 years ago. I wondered how the mechanics have aged in the modern range of belt drives etc...I guess if worms are precision enough backlash isn't a problem needed belt drive a anyway? For me I am solely AP now and use an Eagle PC for mount control so don't really need or even want the hand controllers or internal software, just something that i can control via NINA or APT via the eagle.
Mine is a 2000 model. I still get +/-5" peak to peak without PEC and got it on a good night under 1" peak to peak. I recently upgraded it to the new RA/DEC coupling. I also have OPWs on both RA and DEC and 50:1 gearboxes. The great thing with Losmandy is that they are modular (like lego blocks) and when you think there is also an upgrade path for a mount that's 20 years old it says it all as far as support goes. As Peter said they're all machined from solid aluminium. No casting at all. Even the gemini box housing the electronics on mine is machined. There have been a few of these gems going for sale in the ISS classified for well under $1.5k and that makes me cringe. They're worth a lot more than that. I wouldn't consider anything south of $4k or $5k depending on the configuration.
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Old 11-12-2020, 02:55 PM
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My experiences with AP are very similar to Dave.

I have a Mach 1 personally and run a school observatory with two 1100s. The latter have encoders - very useful for remote, autonomous operation. We run the rigs unguided, one with a 14inch planewave imaging at over 2500mm focal length. Stars aren’t perfectly round, but not too far from it - it’s a balance between reliability of guiding in an autonomous setup vs yield for students.

AP have been excellent for after sales service.

DT
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Old 11-12-2020, 09:17 PM
DJT (David)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert_T View Post
thanks David, it does help. What software do you use for capture and guiding with these mounts?
Hi Robert
I use Maxim DL for guiding and imaging with focus max for focus..
I might change that as I have an opportunity to do some more automation but it works for now. Havenít really decided what software path I end up for full automation..something else to learn.

David
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Old 12-12-2020, 05:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidTrap View Post
My experiences with AP are very similar to Dave.

I have a Mach 1 personally and run a school observatory with two 1100s. The latter have encoders - very useful for remote, autonomous operation. We run the rigs unguided, one with a 14inch planewave imaging at over 2500mm focal length. Stars arenít perfectly round, but not too far from it - itís a balance between reliability of guiding in an autonomous setup vs yield for students.

AP have been excellent for after sales service.

DT





I have heard that using an OAG is very difficult with a robotic mount
and that adaptive optics at say 10hz is nearly impossible
or too costly for a robotic mount?
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Old 13-12-2020, 08:57 AM
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aiming for 2nd Halley's

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I've added the Mesu 200 mount to the mix so would love to hear on it as well.

A few additional points on my situation/wants. I'm a setup and tear down in backyard imager, I don't have a permanent setup and if I want to stay married that won't be changing anytime soon.

Most important to me is that I can drive the mount with NINA...it's been hard to make the switch from APT and don't fancy doing it all again.
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Old 13-12-2020, 01:46 PM
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