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  #1  
Old 11-10-2007, 06:39 AM
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iceman (Mike)
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Review: Vixen Atlux German Equatorial Mount

Hi all

Matthew Kendall (g__day) has written a review of the Vixen Atlux German Equatorial Mount.

You can read the review on the IceInSpace Equipment Reviews page, or directly by clicking on the link below:

Vixen Atlux German Equatorial Mount

Thanks to Matthew for writing the review. If you'd like to contribute a review or article to IceInSpace, please contact me.

Thanks

Last edited by iceman; 12-10-2007 at 05:04 AM.
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  #2  
Old 12-10-2007, 05:05 AM
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iceman (Mike)
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Review uploaded.
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  #3  
Old 12-10-2007, 08:08 AM
Stephan
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Great review !

Once I had a New Atlux too and I can say its all spot on, exactly what me experience was. If I only had space for a permanent backyard observatory I would have kept the mount...

Maybe one day I can buy one again...
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  #4  
Old 12-10-2007, 08:24 AM
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okiscopey (Mike)
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Matthew, a good read and an excellent review.

Now you've sorted out the mount, it's time for you to write the "missing manual"!
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  #5  
Old 12-10-2007, 01:03 PM
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g__day (Matthew)
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Thank you! I'd say the mount / hand controller is 80% under improved management. There is a real way to go still - I don't know the limits of this gear but I sense I am yet to achieve the best of what it can do.

Last edited by g__day; 12-10-2007 at 07:23 PM.
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  #6  
Old 15-10-2007, 09:05 AM
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sejanus (Gavin)
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Quote:
Tell the mount you are in polar unaligned mode, goto three well dispersed stars – centre them well and press align and you wake a very intelligent beast. I did three to five minute unguided shots in this fashion (without PEC enabled) and got shots with very round stars – when I was initially 2-3 degrees off the SCP. The scope adjusts and runs both motors to counter for polar misalignment and the airs refractive index at any given elevation – wow! The tracking rate also accommodates object with different orbital rates to stars – planets, comets, satellites or the Moon – sophisticated!
how cool is that!!!!!
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Old 15-10-2007, 10:19 AM
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g__day (Matthew)
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I agree completely! The two big limitations with this mount are:

1) The hand controller's operation for advanced use is not well documented, only its basic features - not how to tune or operate it to leverage its advanced features for a particular goal in mind.

2) Although the Hand controller can be computer controlled, it suffers even more from the above lack of documentation and how to get past constraints. Example - pointing accuracy under ASCOM seems less than issuing a goto from the hand controller or using say Software Bisque's proprietary drivers. Example - ASCOM doesn't currently reveal pulse guiding through Software Bisque's telescope interface.

There are days I feel like I am struggling to interact with a Zen master - who knows what I want, has all the knowledge and capability I need, but unless I phrase and approach my challenge in exactly the right way all I get is cryptic glances and a serene smile!

Other niceties - put the mount in unaligned polar mode - goto three stars and align on each. On the last star whilst it is centred, change the mode to polar aligned and then press goto - the star should move to indicate your polar mis-alignment. Re-centre the star using only the alt/azimuth screws and you should be in much closer polar alignment. Change mode to polar unaligned and repeat the process for even better alignment and you should really be close. I wish this data could be passed to a program like the Sky6 to help leverage all of the mount's very significant capabilities.

Last edited by g__day; 15-10-2007 at 12:14 PM.
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  #8  
Old 15-10-2007, 02:22 PM
Dennis
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And don't forget that the SS2K hand controller could do all of this back in 1997 when I first purchased my unit at Version 1.07 with my GPDX.

Cheers

Dennis
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  #9  
Old 15-10-2007, 04:02 PM
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g__day (Matthew)
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Dennis,

I get the sense the Japanese just abandoned the software side of something that is remarkably powerful.

For example - resume on wake pointing accuracy. You might be aware I wish to utilise this mount / hand controllers ability to recall all alignment settings on power on. Basically power on then wait 5 seconds and press Esc. When you do this the mount is supposed to recall all its last point configuration data. At present the mount is slightly off polar alignment even thought I have told it that it is correctly polar aligned. So to check pointing I generally slew to Rigel Kentarus to see how well it recalls its alignment. To start with it was 1/2 a degree off - on all three alignment stars. Then MaxPoint told me my polar alignment was 1/2 a degree out. So I am trying a new trick.

On power I slew to the first of my three alignment stars Rigel Kentarus, then I manually adjust the Alt / Az on the mount base. Then I go to two other stars and just correct pointing error. I have done this two days in a row and the pointing error on the initial goto is getting much less and less each day. I'd estimate its gone from 30 arc minutes on day one to 20 arc minutes on day two to less than 10 arc minutes off today. So on my camera's viewfinder the star is just a fraction outside the box surrounding the very central focal point on my DSLR's 9 focal points - meaning if I shot now the star would be very, very close to dead centre.

That's a whoopee function to me - it means from power on I am basically ready to go. Given that my main OTA is carbon fibre with its extremely low thermal expansion coefficient - I have only adjusted focus once in two months. So there is the beauty of a well calibrated, correctly aligned mount - switch it on and I only have to re-calibrate PHD and I'm good to go.

How good were the Japanese fab if basically a 10 year old design is basically power on and use for astro-photography day after day after day? There is real pleasure in owning this rig!
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  #10  
Old 15-10-2007, 05:48 PM
Dennis
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Hi Matthew

I understand that the chief design engineer behind the SS2K left Vixen (and Japan) and this may have contributed to the premature decision to halt development on the software?

Cheers

Dennis
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  #11  
Old 31-10-2007, 11:33 PM
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Brilliant review. Thanks for an enjoyable read.
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  #12  
Old 01-11-2007, 03:03 PM
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My pleasure - its interesting to see the new Atlux about to arrive - with a (questionable what is the real limit) higher carrying capacity - but powered by a later version star book which some folk seem to say is an elegant toy - versus the SS2K which was a powerful brute.
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  #13  
Old 01-11-2007, 03:04 PM
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citivolus (Ric)
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Can't you bypass the starbook via the network interface using an Ascom driver?
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  #14  
Old 01-11-2007, 06:15 PM
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g__day (Matthew)
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You should be able to - using the ASCOM driver that some guy in Norway did. Trouble is the ASCOM driver doesn't reveal even half of the power of the SS2K.

SkySensor2000-PC vs StarBook Comparision - very enlightening!

http://www.groupeastronomiespa.be/SSvsSB_V1.02.doc.pdf

Last edited by g__day; 08-11-2007 at 03:26 PM.
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