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AP-1200 or Tak EM-500

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#26 tim53

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 10:01 AM

I have an EM-10 and NJP, and last summer had the chance to pick up a used non-goto EM500 for $4K, so I snatched it as fast as I could.

I don't have any experience with the AP mounts, just comparing the Taks, so take that for what it's worth.

First, since I had no manual and I was on vacation at the time, I stupidly thought I could use my NJP's 24V inverter to run the EM-500, but since it's not 24V, I fried an IC on the EM-500. No worries, I thought, since I planned to upgrade it to Temma-II when I got home. But that turned out to be twice what was originally estimated by TNR to do, so I went with a Sidereal Technology servo kit instead (for about $800). Works GREAT now (and was surprisingly easy to do, and completely reversible if necessary).

One thing that surprised me is that the EM-500 isn't much harder to set up than the NJP, thought it's quite a bit heavier. Mine has the spun-cast pier, which is really heavy, and probably the primary reason I don't set the mount up as often as I would like.

But the EQ head isn't hard to set up. Maybe about the same as the NJP. I think that this is because it's smoother, so it doesn't hurt the ribs so much to cuddle it while moving it from my shop to the pier. The NJP is all angles and protrusions.

So far, I've only had my 12.5" f/23 Cassegrain on the EM500

It weighs about 45 or 50 pounds (I've never weighed it), so it's far from loading the mount. I'm hoping to piggyback a 6" f/10 Jaegers and maybe an edmunt 3" f/15 on it with no ill effects someday, but not until I've got an observatory enclosure for it.

Next to moving that pier, putting the OTA on the Cassidy saddle at head height is the lest fun part of the job - but that would be true with any mount.

Polar alignment is easier than for the NJP, because the head can be rotated on the pier through 360 degrees, so the only pier orientation you might want to worry about is getting one leg about north (for stability). Takes no more than a few minutes to polar align and get to viewing or imaging.

Tracking is fabulous, and I doubt I'll miss PEC with a 3" PE and autoguiding any more than I do with the EM-10 and NJP.

The Sidereal Tech goto kit has a bunch of cool features that I haven't had the chance to try out yet, including their PointXP and spiral search routines. I saved money and bought the tethered hand controller, though they do have a wireless option.

-Tim.

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#27 Timber

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 03:37 PM

Thanks all for the great info

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

FWIW

The cost of a new EM-500 is almost identical to the cost of a new AP 1200, and no wait

Richard

#28 LLEEGE

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 05:23 PM

Thanks all for the great info

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

FWIW

The cost of a new EM-500 is almost identical to the cost of a new AP 1200, and no wait

Richard

IDK, $2500 difference plus shipping? That's quite a bit to me.

#29 David Pavlich

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 07:18 PM

For those that bought a brand new 1200, how much does it cost after you get all the stuff that allows you to actually use it? If I understand correctly, when you buy that mount, that's what you get...the mount with nothing on it. I believe that there's other stuff that drives the cost up a bit, yes?

David

#30 Aquatone

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:44 PM

The extra costs include the counter weights (between $110 and $190 each) polar scope ($215) and rotating pier adapter ($295) The telescope mounting plate is extra also of course. (Say $100 to $200 approx) By far the most expensive additional item I purchased was a 10" ATS pier but you would not get a pier with the EM-500 either.

Chris

#31 DeanS

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:48 PM

That about covers it. If you get the AP pier then you do not need the rotating pier adapter since the pier has an adapter on it, although not rotating but it works fine.

i got a parallex pier for about the same $$ as the AP.

#32 JerryWise

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 08:05 AM

I'm pretty much a Tak fan (see sig.). I put a lot of thought into mounts over the last few years. The one determining factor for me in selecting a mount was imaging across the Meridian. While normally it is assumed this means starting the session with the mount "looking" East and tracking West with the scopes hitting the pier after passing Meridian. The AP mounts will let you setup with the mount "looking" West and backup over the Meridian to image through it. Something you can't do with hard stops. And the AP mounts let you do it using GOTO by setting a simple keypad parameter. With this you can track 2 hours through the thinnest part of the atmosphere. Very important in poor seeing areas.

If you forget what planet you are on and let the AP track into the pier the clutches slip and nothing gets hurt (in my experience forgetting 5 or so times). Hasn't hurt the mount or the equipment. The knobs on the clutches are designed to hurt your fingers before you can tighten enough to hurt the mount or equipment.

How does the AP-1200 compare to the NJP after using both for a couple years? These are the important points to me:

NJP positives:
1. Tracks perfectly
2. Capacity is underrated
3. Perfect polar scope. Still best to drift align for long exposures.

NJP negatives:
1. No handbox and GOTO
2. Threaded rod counterweight system yucky and CWs rust
3. Slews slower than a big tax refund. You have to see it to believe.
4. Tak 24v power supply designed with significant safety exposure (bare 110v wires).
5. Never autoguide with the slewing switch in "turtle" position. (The mount switch box has two slewing speeds, turtle and dead.) Start autoguiding in turtle and you lose the object alignment as the mount runs away. You must autoguide in "dead" switch position (x1 sidereal). With no GOTO to reacquire the object this really stinks.
6. Price. The build quality is up there but the automation is non-existent. Yes, you can compensate with "theSky6" and computer. No comparison to the extra features and GOTO built in to the well thought out AP hand controller.

AP-1200 positives:
1. Tracks perfectly
2. Capacity is underrated
3. Good polar scope. Still best to drift align for long exposures. If you are seriously playing in this league, optical alignment won't cut it for either mount.
4. Awesome GOTO with almost no setup after it is aligned. Find a star, hit sync and let her rip. When it doesn't work perfectly look in the manual where Roland tells you why (orthogonal mismatch).
5. Everything works with it. Plates, software, OEM CWs, etc.
6. Serious solid and well thought out construction by people that really care about Astronomy. That company is in the game for Astronomy and the customer. One of the few not in it with profit as the primary motivation. Most any product they make can be sold for more than you paid for it the day after you get it. Hello.... expensive, yet cheap and under priced for what you get.
7. Most of all, I never notice the mount anymore. It knows more about what I need than I do, does it and gets out of the way.

AP-1200 Negatives:
1. Availability
2. Trying to think of more......

So yep, I love my Takahashi equipment. Those scopes are awesome and the NJP was fine. But the AP-1200 is, to me, in a different class.

#33 lineman_16735

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Posted 20 March 2009 - 05:44 PM

Well said Jerry. These are my feelings as well. I went from an NJP to a AP 900 though.

#34 tim53

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 02:23 PM

The NJP is a smaller mount than the AP1200.
There is a goto handbox available for Tak mounts, but I don't own one.

Also, they come with their Pegasus software which, although rather basic, works very well on my 7-yr old HP laptop. I just resync on a bright star near my target DSO to deal with imprecise optical axis alignments between my OTAs and the mounts.

Then I also have 3rd-party software like TheSky6 (PC), Voyager 4.5 (Mac and PC), and EquinoX 6 (Mac) that all control the Tak mounts very well.

My NJP came with a Cassidy counterweight shaft, but no weights. Screwing the Tak weights on and off is somewhat of a pain (and noisy if they chatter), but the mount came with 4 of them, and I can deal with that in setting up and tearing down for the savings over replacing them with Cassidy weights.

My NJP is a Temma PC, pre Temma II. While it might not slew at "Meadegrinder" rates, it sounds like a starship going to warp when you hit the button!

There are something like 6 guide speeds, set via button combinations on the handpad. Yes, you do need to remember to switch from slew to guide, but I think I have to do that with my Nexstar GPS as well.

-Tim.

#35 Timber

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 04:03 PM

Thanks all for the great info

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

FWIW

The cost of a new EM-500 is almost identical to the cost of a new AP 1200, and no wait

Richard

IDK, $2500 difference plus shipping? That's quite a bit to me.


You are just shopping at the wrong store, check around. Cost new, difference is $100

However I solved my problem, I just bought a Byers Series II

Richard

#36 Jaxdialation

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 06:44 PM

Which problem did you solve with the Byers II mount?

#37 Timber

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 06:57 PM

Which problem did you solve with the Byers II mount?


My decision of which big mount to buy

#38 Mike Clemens

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 08:04 PM

> I just resync on a bright star near my target DSO to deal
>with imprecise optical axis alignments between my OTAs and
> the mounts.

I do this with my AP1200. I made a MaxPoint pointing model about a year ago and it has "aged" a bit with the building flexing through the Winter. Still, pretty good and it gets me generally within 3 arcmin on the first goto of the night lately.

During meridian flips lately though I have to do a "3 point turn" with some halfway stars sync'd, or the final target is sometimes too far off to find.

I'll make another pointing model but the skies are clear so infrequently I havent wanted to.

#39 JerryWise

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 09:51 AM

The NJP is a smaller mount than the AP1200.
There is a goto handbox available for Tak mounts, but I don't own one.

..........


Tim, this is correct. It is an HP pocket PC with theSky pocket edition on it. Functional but not a dedicated Tak product. I used a Dell Axiom on mine with OK results. Tak hand controller.

#40 Jeff Young

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 04:03 PM

Like Jerry I've got some Tak scopes and some AP mounts, so I guess my bias is clear. On the other hand, I'm visual-only, so that provides a bit of a different slant to it.

I got such a kick out of Jerry's "turtle" and "dead" speed settings that I spit all over my keyboard. You owe me one, dude....

Cheers,
-- Jeff.

#41 JerryWise

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 07:28 PM

On the slew speeds, you know of what I speak. Matter fact, you and Dean were the ones that talked me into going all the way to an AP-1200. Thanks again.

On the "owe one", if I could ever get to your country I'd pay you big bucks to walk through that house. (Folks, Jeff is remodeling a timeless classic.)

#42 tim53

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 08:20 PM

The NJP is a smaller mount than the AP1200.
There is a goto handbox available for Tak mounts, but I don't own one.

..........


Tim, this is correct. It is an HP pocket PC with theSky pocket edition on it. Functional but not a dedicated Tak product. I used a Dell Axiom on mine with OK results. Tak hand controller.


The one I was referring to is made by Takahashi. It's expensive, and since I use the computer to run a camera or cameras anyway, I haven't felt a need for one.

-Tim.

#43 Dean

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 11:10 PM

The NJP is a smaller mount than the AP1200.
There is a goto handbox available for Tak mounts, but I don't own one.

..........


Tim, this is correct. It is an HP pocket PC with theSky pocket edition on it. Functional but not a dedicated Tak product. I used a Dell Axiom on mine with OK results. Tak hand controller.


The one I was referring to is made by Takahashi. It's expensive, and since I use the computer to run a camera or cameras anyway, I haven't felt a need for one.

-Tim.


Tak quit making their own hand controller and replaced it with the PDA Jerry mentions.

#44 Dean

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 11:13 PM

(The mount switch box has two slewing speeds, turtle and dead.)


:roflmao:

Hi Jerry - I'll have to remember that one!

#45 Jeff Young

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 03:42 PM

On the "owe one", if I could ever get to your country I'd pay you big bucks to walk through that house. (Folks, Jeff is remodeling a timeless classic.)


Come on over; we'll even put you and the Mrs up for a night or two. (18thC four-poster bed and all.)

There might be a spot of digging in the garden or weeding the flower beds, though.... :whistle:

Cheers,
-- Jeff

#46 JerryWise

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 08:39 PM

Cool Jeff. One day.






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