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AP-1200 or Tak EM-500

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#1 Timber

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 06:18 PM

Nik Hodges has a thread going on the AP900 vs the EM400, this thread is very close to the same, but the EM500 is a slightly different animal than the EM400.

Are the comments being made in Nic's thread also the same for the next level of mount?

One seemingly different spec are the rated capacities; the AP at 140# and the Tak at 89#, however the powers to be at Texas Nautical assure me the Tak can handle 120#.

Any significant difference in these?

Richard

#2 gordianknot

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:56 AM

I don't claim to be world's expert on the EM500, but if it was me, it would be the AP-1200. The only real advantage the Tak mounts seem to have over APs is the polar scope which by all accounts is incredible. Otherwise, they are more expensive, require 24 V for full speed slewing, don't have a hand controller, don't have PEC and have worse documentation. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have either of these mounts, but if I could choose, it would be the AP.

#3 Dean

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:05 AM

TNR's website says it's rated at 89lbs but "can reasonably handle 120lbs". Given that, it sounds to me like the AP1200 will handle loads 100lbs and over better.

If it were me, I'd go with the AP1200. The main advantage of the EM500 is the polar scope, but I don't know how easy the EM500 is to set up. My NJP is about as heavy a mount that I'd want to carry out and set up every night. Assuming the EM500 weighs much more, the advantage of the polar scope wanes a bit for me. If you do set up and tear down often, you can align the AP1200 fairly quickly (~20 minutes) with Polar Align Max or PemPro (although they are more of a hassle).

Also, when you get to these class mounts, you are usually going to be using pretty long FLs in which case having PEC does help.

#4 GJJim

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:43 AM

I own a Tak EM10 and it is a fine piece of gear. That said, I just don't think the EM500 is in the same league as the newer mounts like the AP1200 or the Paramount. Takahashi is stuck in a time warp, using dated methods and technologies. For the price of an EM500, you can get an AP1200 or a Paramount ME that outperform the Tak in every measure except one -- they don't come with the world's best polar alignment scope. ;)

#5 HunterofPhotons

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 10:36 AM

I would second the comments of Gordianknot.
I would add that if you do imaging, the ability of the AP 1200 to cruise hours past the meridian is a big plus.

dan

#6 GJJim

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 10:47 AM

I would second the comments of Gordianknot.
I would add that if you do imaging, the ability of the AP 1200 to cruise hours past the meridian is a big plus.

dan


A "big plus"? Better hope the clutch gives way in the collision before the CCD camera or OTA... :shocked:

The lack of hard limits on the AP1200 is a double-edged sword. People sometimes make errors or forget to turn off equipment. IMO meridian flip is a minor inconvenience compared to the potential for expensive damage to equipment, the observatory, or both. In a remote or unattended observatory, lack of hard limits is just plain dumb.

#7 Strgazr27

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:30 PM

I would add that if you do imaging, the ability of the AP 1200 to cruise hours past the meridian is a big plus.


So does the TAK. The big issue is where is your equipment pointed. In certain areas of the sky the ability to image past the meridian can be useless. Does that mean that the Paramount (Which needs to do a meridian flip) is not as good? I think too much emphasis is put on that selling point. JMO's

#8 Strgazr27

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:34 PM

I own a Tak EM10 and it is a fine piece of gear. That said, I just don't think the EM500 is in the same league as the newer mounts like the AP1200 or the Paramount. Takahashi is stuck in a time warp, using dated methods and technologies. For the price of an EM500, you can get an AP1200 or a Paramount ME that outperform the Tak in every measure except one -- they don't come with the world's best polar alignment scope. ;)


Jim,

Although TAK does still do thigns the "Old Way" there is something to be said for that. I'm sure the EM500 could go head to head with the 1200 from a mechanical and tracking standpoint under almost any condition. Where TAK needs to update is in their controller and software. But in reality, most people who are going to purchase an EM500 or an AP1200 will 99% of the time be permanently mounted and most likely controlling the mount via software anyway so the poor HC'er/Software is a non issue.

JM2Pennies

#9 Timber

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 12:38 PM

I would second the comments of Gordianknot.
I would add that if you do imaging, the ability of the AP 1200 to cruise hours past the meridian is a big plus.

dan


A "big plus"? Better hope the clutch gives way in the collision before the CCD camera or OTA... :shocked:

The lack of hard limits on the AP1200 is a double-edged sword. People sometimes make errors or forget to turn off equipment. IMO meridian flip is a minor inconvenience compared to the potential for expensive damage to equipment, the observatory, or both. In a remote or unattended observatory, lack of hard limits is just plain dumb.


Is there a "fix" for the lack of hard limits?

Richard

#10 GJJim

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:26 PM

[/quote]

Jim,

Although TAK does still do thigns the "Old Way" there is something to be said for that. I'm sure the EM500 could go head to head with the 1200 from a mechanical and tracking standpoint under almost any condition. Where TAK needs to update is in their controller and software. But in reality, most people who are going to purchase an EM500 or an AP1200 will 99% of the time be permanently mounted and most likely controlling the mount via software anyway so the poor HC'er/Software is a non issue.

JM2Pennies [/quote]

Look at the size of the bearings used on the AP1200 or the Paramount and compare them to same on the EM500. Similarly, look at the size of the base and the latitude adjustment mechanism. Tak just scaled-up the design used in its smaller, portable mounts and the result is less than optimal. They are constrained by the investment casting process used to make the housings, and the quaint notion that polar alignment requires a telescope that looks out a hole in the polar axis.

#11 GJJim

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:31 PM

Is there a "fix" for the lack of hard limits?
Richard


AP offers homing and hard limits as options on its 3600 series mount, but I don't know if the same options are available for the 1200. These capabilities are standard on the Paramount.

#12 Dean

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:33 PM

IMO meridian flip is a minor inconvenience compared to the potential for expensive damage to equipment, the observatory, or both. In a remote or unattended observatory, lack of hard limits is just plain dumb.


If you're operating remotely/unattended then chances are you are using an automation software package like CCDAP in which case you'll set up the the software invoke a flip when needed. Of course there's the possibility you'll forget or set it improperly.

#13 Strgazr27

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:37 PM

Jim,

The AP1200 is a scaled up 900 so I fail to see what relevance the EM being scaled up has to do with it. These images here show poor performance? TAK mounts have long been some of the best performers money can buy. I won't argue the AP's are works of machining artistry and impeccable attention to detail but does that make them that much better, all else being equal?

I'm not arguing but to say the 1200 is a far superior mount to the EM 500 is a stretch I think. That's all :shrug:

#14 GJJim

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:38 PM

If you're operating remotely/unattended then chances are you are using an automation software package like CCDAP in which case you'll set up the the software invoke a flip when needed. Of course there's the possibility you'll forget or set it improperly.


Murphy's Law is the prime directive in my observatory. :grin: I need all the backup help (software + hardware) I can get!

#15 Dean

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:48 PM

(...) and the quaint notion that polar alignment requires a telescope that looks out a hole in the polar axis.


AP has the same quaint notion as well.

#16 GJJim

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 01:50 PM

Jim,

The AP1200 is a scaled up 900 so I fail to see what relevance the EM being scaled up has to do with it. These images here show poor performance? TAK mounts have long been some of the best performers money can buy. I won't argue the AP's are works of machining artistry and impeccable attention to detail but does that make them that much better, all else being equal?

I'm not arguing but to say the 1200 is a far superior mount to the EM 500 is a stretch I think. That's all :shrug:


The EM500 costs quite a bit more than the AP1200, yet its capacity is lower, and IMO its mechanics are inferior. A better direct comparison is the Paramount ME which sells for the same price as the EM500. In this comparison, the Tak is inferior by every measure.

All of these mounts can be used with good results, and none are poor quality. The Tak design philosophy is showing its age compared to the more modern and capable mounts available today.

#17 lineman_16735

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:04 PM

These mounts in my opinion are in different classes. The 500 is not nearly as robust as the 1200. I would go as far as saying the EM-500 is closer to the AP 900 than the AP 1200. FWIW you can set software controlled limits on the AP mounts.

#18 Jaxdialation

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:15 PM

I think the Tak 500 is a closed loop system. That is kind of neat. I think all the stuff like casting and imaging past the meridian, and even weight wash out between these two mounts, and you are left with capacity being higher in the AP and setup being faster with the Tak. And of course, cost.

I had a similar decision to make last year, and I decided to go for the capacity of an AP1200, which I roll out on a JMI Wheely Bar. A Wheely Bar will take care of the weight problem.

Here is a two picture image of my set up. Total set up time is about 30 minutes including PA with PemPro. I would bet a Tak 500 could be done in 10-15 minutes.

Attached Files



#19 Dean

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:23 PM

If you're operating remotely/unattended then chances are you are using an automation software package like CCDAP in which case you'll set up the the software invoke a flip when needed. Of course there's the possibility you'll forget or set it improperly.


Murphy's Law is the prime directive in my observatory. :grin: I need all the backup help (software + hardware) I can get!


I use an alarm clock :smirk:

It usually works, but sometimes I don't. I have had the CCD run into the pier a time or two - the clutches slipped and no damage done.

#20 Dean

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 04:10 PM

The EM500 costs quite a bit more than the AP1200 (...)


In the US true, but I suspect it's the other way around in Japan and much of Asia. You can't ship something that big and heavy half way around the world (literally) for nothing!

Off the top of my head I can think of maybe a dozen or so people with an AP1200, but I draw a blank when I try and think of who has an EM500 (I do know a few with EM400s though). However, most of the people I know about in this hobby live in the west but very few live in Asia.

#21 EddWen

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:04 PM

Both the A-P 900 and A-P 1200 have clutches which prevent damage if someone does something dumb, like forgetting to turn the power off after a viewing session (how would I know that?). In fact, you might be better off if the equipment does move into something and stops. I've heard that someone forgot the power and wrapped up and damaged the cables.

#22 Strgazr27

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 09:44 PM

The EM500 costs quite a bit more than the AP1200, yet its capacity is lower, and IMO its mechanics are inferior


Last year at NEAF Steve Roffo had his 500/FRC300 Combo setup. He routinely images with 115 lbs of equipment at what most would consider "Silly" focal lengths. When I had my NJP I messed around 1 night and put about 90 lbs on it and you know what? The tracking was no worse than the usual 50 lb load I would usually run. TAK are notoriously under rated, a known fact. Are they inferior?? To each his own they say.

And with that I'm done :)

#23 Jaxdialation

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:23 AM

Where I really notice the capacity differences between my 400 and 1200 is when it is gusty, when my load can't be balanced closely, and after Meridian Flips.

The last two are pretty much a way of life with automated and roll-out (no obs.) imaging. In return for my "over mounting", I feel like I get more imaging time, longer exposures, and fewer rejects. Since my skills are weak, I need all the help I can get :)

Other people may have other considerations.

#24 Mike Clemens

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 12:55 AM

Isn't the Tak being "left behind"? I am pretty sure I can download controller updates for my AP controller off the web. Ray Gralak is making a new AP mount control center app which looks excellent. Gralak's PemPro can practically eliminate any periodic error. The ASCOM stuff is being kept current. Is this all true for the Tak side as well?

#25 Jaxdialation

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 09:12 AM

There does seem to be more energy behind advancing AP mounts. AP themselves improves them all the time mechanically. Frequently the upgrades are field-installable for current owners. The firmware gets tweaked, then, as you said the software of all sorts seems to advance regularly.

Tak has an ASCOM driver, which does get tweaked, but that's about it.

With my AP I get a warm fuzzy feeling regarding support. With the Tak, I worry a bit. But they are both reliable.

I'm not Joe the Plumber, but the AP is made in the good 'ole USA too. In some respects it is a shinning example of what we can do with a little passion for excellence and the intellectual where with all to execute it. :usa:






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