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OK, I've been tapped! Need help deciding!!

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#1 Bowmoreman

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 07:16 AM

OK, so I *just* got my "Daleen" email from AP on the Mach1GTO...

And, I'm SERIOUSLY torn here... I mean Seriously... Looks like with all the "stuff" I'd need to pier/permanent mount in WSO would be about $6600 before shipping. (no tripod/pier for now - just use my existing pier).

I'm currently mounted up with a Vixen R200CF (Converted R200SS to Carbon Fiber by Bobby McCourt!) - even with the Motorized Feathertouch it's weight is only about 14#. Not bad for a 200mm F4 scope.

The other scope is a TMB80 Signature f6.3 Triplet APO.

Currently, on my CGE they are mounted side-by-side. I'm NOT married to SBS setups, though it'd be nice to just replicate over on the Mach1GTO...

I would want to be able to have both of these scopes mounted, perhaps piggyback (the R200CF uses VERY solid Parallax Rings, so going on top there would still be rigid), as that might save some weight?

I also want to be able to use my STV eFinder for guiding, so that has to go on top of one of the scopes, or off to the side somewhere - when I'm NOT using it in one of the main scopes for guiding, anyways. (Right now its mounted on top of the Vixen Rings with a ADM plate, and the TMB is mounted to the side of the Vixen.

I'd probably mostly have the setup with my (soon coming) QHY8 in one scope, and my Mallincam in the other. This is NOT primarily a visual setup. Neither are seriously heavy (around a pound or so each).

So here's the questions:

1) For AP, do you all think this load would work? Right now I'm fully balanced using 36# of CW on the CGE about 1/2 way out, but I have a LOT of extra mounting hardware weight in the ADM CGE SBS Setup, etc... The Mach1GTO is rated to 45#... will this work for AP in your experience?

2) I already have TheSky, CCDsoft, @Focus, etc... those will all "just work" right? (I also have a 4 port Serial replicator)...

3) If I'm not planning on going "bigger/heavier" on scopes, is there ANY reason this would not be a killer "upgrade"?

OR

Should I buy Jason's MI-250 for slightly less money????

Any/all thoughts more than welcome!

Thanks in advance for your experience and advice!

clear enough skies

#2 David Pavlich

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 09:14 AM

Hey David...perplexing, indeed. I'm a bit prejudiced, but the 250 will give you a lot more fudge factor if you decided to get something like a 12" or 14" SC or a big refractor. The Mach I is arguably the best mount in its weight class. :confused:

For what you have now, the Mach I will be terrific. BUT...as we all know about human nature and astronomy, we are always looking for something different. As you've already discussed with yourself, it depends on future considerations. I'd go with the 250, but just remember who's recommending this. It's a very accurate and sturdy mount. It doesn't have the name recognition, but that's not why we buy this stuff.

Good luck! It's an enviable position, indeed!

David

#3 mnaf

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:38 AM

Although I'm partial to the Mach1 ;)...
Another way to look at it - if you get the Mach1 and then down the road decide you need more capacity, the resale/trade value will probably be to your benefit (despite reduced wait times in the future).
Admittedly, I don't know much about the MI250 though.

#4 f29pc

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:47 AM

" 1) For AP, do you all think this load would work? Right now I'm fully balanced using 36# of CW on the CGE about 1/2 way out, but I have a LOT of extra mounting hardware weight in the ADM CGE SBS Setup, etc... The Mach1GTO is rated to 45#... will this work for AP in your experience? "

I have followed the rule of thumb of using 1/2 of the rated weight for astrophotography (or at least try to). You are correct about the acc. weight adding up fast. I, like David own an MI-250, so I am biased. If you can get an MI 250 for a good price, get it and you wont think about a weight problem with your current setup (and it allows you to grow) Larry is now offering an upgrade to the latest mods for older mounts at a very reasonable cost, and the mount would be "as new". The Mach1GTO is a fine mount and AP is a great company, My MI 250 is a 2004 vintage, I bought it used and it is still rock solid. I have had up to a 70 lb imaging setup on it (don’t tell Larry, it was one of those, “hold my beer I’m going to try something” nights! ) and the mount purred along just fine with great results. I wouldn’t run it every night that way, but it was good to know what it was capable of.
Paul

#5 Bowmoreman

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 11:13 AM

Thanks for the first round of feedback, guys! Keep it coming!

Some additional questions that occur to me after doing some more research on the MI250...

How complex/difficult is it to integrate Gemini to TheSky, CCDsoft, @Focus, SBIG STV, etc... in other words what do I need to integrate my current HW/SW to it? Am I pretty much all set (I've got a 4 port Serial replicator if/when I need one)...

As long as I can:

1) control/auto-focus my FeatherTouch Digital Motor system
2) auto-guide using my STV
3) integrate with whatever software I'll end us using with the QHY8 (which I know uses Nebulosity and Maxim, but I would love to know from anyone if it could use CCDSoft - yeah slightly off topic, but...)

Then I'm "good to go" either way on this decision... I already know I can integrate the AP with CCDSoft and TheSky...

I'm a "Gemini noob" though...

Oh, the decisions!

clear enough skies and THANKS (again) and in advance

#6 RAKing

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:27 PM

Dave,

I love my Gemini, even though some people complain about having to push the same button multiple times, etc. You can download the manual here Gemini V4 and it should give you some of those connectivity answers. I have been told connecting a PDA is a snap, but since I don't have a PDA I haven't tried it. That's one reason I'm going to NEAF again. :lol:

I guess my question back to you is why a Mach1 and not a 900GTO? Your CGE has a lot more capacity and I would think a 900 is a better match. Saying that, I guess I would then tilt toward the MI250. There's no denying A-P quality, but MI is no slouch, either.

Tough call, but you win either way. :cool:

Ron

#7 EricCCD

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:35 PM

Hi Dave,

Nice position to be in!

I believe the Mach1's 45 pound rating is for imaging. Roland tested a Mach1 with an AP160 and STL-11000 on it (to answer a recent question on the ap-gto group regarding the Mach1's capacity), and it did so without breaking a sweat.

I have an AP1200 - okay, a different story on the capacity front <G>, but on the interface front, I had no learning curve to deal with as far as my software interfaces went (Maxim, TheSky6, FocusMax, CCDAutopilot - now, I don't think I have FocusMax interfacing with my mount...). This was from a Takahashi EM200. The only switching I had to do was in TheSky6, where I would tell it what mount I was connecting to.

Now... if you're thinking MI-250 anyway... I have no experience with them, but I have heard only accolades about it as well. It may be worth considering overall. Why?

While the Mach1 is rated at 45 pounds for imaging, I don't know how far you can stretch it for visual. While the general rule of thumb for medium to low end mounts is "imaging load is half the stated capacity", I have not heard of people with high-end mounts attempting to use their mounts at double the stated capacity for visual (e.g., 70 pounds on a Takahashi EM200).

So bottom line, with the Mach1 you are moving from a somewhat higher-capacity mount (CGE) to a lower one (arguable, but let's stick to stated capacities for now). With the MI-250, you will be set for future OTA "upgrades" <G>.

Let me put it this way: when I got my EM200, it was for imaging with an FS-102. And that was a stretch from an EM-10. Knowing the extra capacity of the EM200 had me dreaming about putting something heavier on that mount ;)

And the AP1200? Don't get me started on that as far as what I'd like to put on it. Hint: it's currently got a Mewlon 210 and a TMB130SS on it :D

Eric

#8 Doug Sanqunetti

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:52 PM

Hi Dave,

I am another MI-250 mount owner and I really enjoy the mount. I use most of the software you mentioned while imaging. Here is the list:

1) CCDCommander to automate image acquisition. Works with TheSky6, CCDSoft, FocusMax, Pinpoint, etc to automate the process of imaging. I don't have a permenant setup and this software really helps me be productive in the short time I have to image.
2) CCDSoft for camera control
3) The Pinpoint astrometric engine to do plate solving. CCDCommander works with Pinpoint to automatically plate solve after a slew to find the exact position and then do a final centering slew automatically. CCDCommander/Pinpoint puts the object in the center of the chip every time. This is important to me because I don't have a permenant setup and don't want to build a large pointing model every time I set up.
4) Focusmax to control a Starizona microtouch focuser. This unit uses the same feathertouch focus motors built by starlight instruments.
5) TheSky6 with the gemini ASCOM driver to control the mount
6) SBIG ST402ME as an autoguider. I am using the camera autoguide port connected directly to the mounts autoguide port. This should also work with the STV. Some older Gemini units may need an additional isolators (relays) in the connection.

I am also using a AirCable bluetooth wireless serial adapter to control the mount. This frees up a serial port if you need it. I have a serial port on my laptop but don't use it becuase I have the bluetooth adapter. Everything is better with bluetooth! :-)

http://www.dougsastr...pment/MI250.php

Best Regards Doug

#9 LLEEGE

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 12:54 PM

The Mach 1 will handle your current load, no problem. The MI250 will give you room to grow. Tough choice. All AP gear includes shipping so no added costs there. Your current pier/tripod for the CGE will carry it. The Mach1 will be much more portable. If it were me, I'd consider the MI250 and buy a CGEM for a portable rig.

#10 Peds

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 01:52 PM

I recently received Daleen's email as well... but I had to pass! :(

P.

#11 hersey0308

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 07:33 PM

hi gang - I have seen these issues first hand and bowmoreman is going through his "exponential growth" phase. the prescription calls for the MI-250 to carry that honking RC that is right around the corner. try not to worry about the gemini system. there are lots of us here who would be happy to help.
i love these mount dilemmas.
david

#12 bdjeep

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 08:48 AM

Dave,

I tend to agree with the other posters. It sounds as if the software/connectivity problems with the MI-250 are solvable. It comes down to capacity and quality. Mach1 may edge out on quality, but will you be able to resist that super deal on a used C14/hyperstar, "honking" RC, or whatever else pops up? If not, then get the MI-250 and sleep better at night.

#13 Bowmoreman

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:40 AM

Thanks for all the guidance AND valuable MI250 info, guys...

Thursday, we closed a good sized SW sale to a customer in England (we hadn't closed a deal since December and I was feelin - conservative)... But now I'm worrying a tad less...

So...

I've decided to go for the MI250... I just can't see spending an incremental 5K for LESS capacity, no matter the quality. With the MI250 its only an incremental 3K depending on what I get for the CGE rig...

And the MI250 has similar PE and quality to the AP... and a lot more capacity.

Since eventually this WSO setup is going to be a C14 Hyperstar ;)... it just makes sense to go this way.

Told Jason last night I was going for it.

You'll see an ad for a CGE + stuff shortly :lol:

(maybe I'll find a buyer what wants it delivered at NEAF and then I'll HAVE to go - "message to wife") ;)

I'm SO excited... I feel like a kid.

clear enough skies

#14 David Pavlich

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:53 AM

You made the right choice! :grin: I was going to PM you to discuss this decision further, but....no need! And, as Paul pointed out, you can always send it back to Larry and have the upgrades made to bring it up to 2009 specs and that includes the new 85lb capacity. :bow:

David

#15 LLEEGE

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:54 AM

Congrats. I think you made the right choice.

#16 Jason Glass

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 11:19 AM

Hi Guys,

Thanks a million for sharing your opinions on the MI-250 here. Dave and I have been in touch via email and I'm looking forward to chatting with him on Monday.

I have a question about the load capacity. I've followed the developments on the new version, and I was confused when Larry wrote that the capacity has increased to 85 lbs. When I did my research on the mount before buying it from Bobby, all the references that I found at that time said that the mount handles 85 lbs. I've put 55 lbs. on it and it slewed it around like a feather.

So, what is the actual rating for the 2003 version? Anybody know? :question:

#17 David Pavlich

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 12:33 PM

Hey, Jason...Larry used to have a sort of variable weight limit according to the OTA. with 70lbs being the median. Then it was 70lbs. Now it's 85 due to a new base.

This mount will easily handle 70lbs of imaging gear. It's just a very robust piece of hardware.

David

#18 Rusty

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:12 PM

Dave, you'll be delighted with that mount - that was what I intended to get (I know three imagers who are very pleased with theirs) until the NJP, whose prior owners I know, showed up locally.

#19 Bowmoreman

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 09:33 PM

Thanks, guys... I've wanted something "of that class" ever since I started with my Sphinx (no slouch, mind you, but NOT in that weight or PE class obviously)... been on the AP list for 3 years now...

came up last year, just wasn't in any position to act...

came up this year... and, well Jason's MI250 was available...

Sometimes I guess in this hobby we have to be patient (patience? really?? tell me it ain't so!)...

I can't wait to really get serious with imaging... the Mallincam has really whetted my appetite... but I just always found the ST237A too narrow (and slow on the downloads) for my relative lack of patience (and optics/mount at THAT time)... then got the MCHP and just go so lost in the coolness there (with the CGE and the R200CF) that never went back to trying AP...

Now, though, with a mount that is +/- 3arc sec PE... and a large chip CCD; it should be a lot easier and more fun. I'm suffering NO delusions, though...

but 800mm f/l (or 600 on the TMB) and f4 (or f6) guiding with an STV and using an MI250... has got to be far easier than it was trying the old f9/900mm Vixen with an ST237A on a Sphinx - :lol:

I'm pretty excited by this upgrade, frankly.

clear enough skies

#20 David Pavlich

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Posted 04 April 2009 - 10:11 PM

Thanks, guys... I've wanted something "of that class" ever since I started with my Sphinx (no slouch, mind you, but NOT in that weight or PE class obviously)... been on the AP list for 3 years now...

came up last year, just wasn't in any position to act...

came up this year... and, well Jason's MI250 was available...

Sometimes I guess in this hobby we have to be patient (patience? really?? tell me it ain't so!)...

I can't wait to really get serious with imaging... the Mallincam has really whetted my appetite... but I just always found the ST237A too narrow (and slow on the downloads) for my relative lack of patience (and optics/mount at THAT time)... then got the MCHP and just go so lost in the coolness there (with the CGE and the R200CF) that never went back to trying AP...

Now, though, with a mount that is +/- 3arc sec PE... and a large chip CCD; it should be a lot easier and more fun. I'm suffering NO delusions, though...

but 800mm f/l (or 600 on the TMB) and f4 (or f6) guiding with an STV and using an MI250... has got to be far easier than it was trying the old f9/900mm Vixen with an ST237A on a Sphinx - :lol:

I'm pretty excited by this upgrade, frankly.

clear enough skies


Heck, I'm guiding with an SSAG through a homemade guider made from an 8X50 finder scope. I haven't tried it at f10, but it works just fine at f6.8. You will have NO problem once you get 'er polar aligned.

David

#21 Bowmoreman

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 08:17 PM

I'm like a kid in the candy shop... or the night before Christmas..

I spent all day today measuring, thinking about the mounting on my pier, etc...

frankly...

Can't WAIT...

Yikes, is it always like this? ... a world class mount, world class waiting and anticipation?

Guess, I'm answering Daleen's email tomorrow, huh? :lol:

That would be good news for those below me on the Mach1GTO list, I guess...

clear enough skies

#22 Bowmoreman

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 08:42 PM

So...

I have a Dan's Pier plate for my CGE (to adapt to my Pier)... what is needed (from those of you w/ MI250) to connect from a pier to the base...

I've browsed Larry's site, but am hoping I don't have to "drill" my pier top surface... anyone else upgraded from CGE to MI-250? Thoughts?

clear enough skies

#23 Jason Glass

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 09:52 PM

Hi Dave,

I'm including a spare MI-250 azimuth plate (courtesy of Bobby from our deal), so all you have to do is drill it to match the holes in your Dan's plate and bolt them together, swapping it with the plate that's on the mount right now. You can leave your Dan's plate and the plate that's installed on the mount unaltered and factory-fresh for resale. ;) You could alternatively drill the spare MI-250 plate to engage your j-bolts directly.

Call me in the morning! :jump:

#24 Jason Glass

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 10:12 PM

Hi Dave,

I just found the technical drawings at Dan's Pier Plate website. Just give the word and I'll precisely drill and counterbore the spare plate in my machine shop. It will only take a couple of hours to do it right and you'll be all ready to rock, right out of the box.

#25 Bowmoreman

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 03:21 AM

Cool Jason! Talk about service!

Note: I have the "CGE Adapter Plate" from the CGE Adapter Kit only ... I.e I do NOT have the 8" Pier Top Base Kit (i.e. that bottom plate they show...)

My Pier holes are arranged in an equalateral triangle around that center hole you see in the diagram

So, my current pier top is a 12" square steel plate with holes arranged for Meade pattern, and the holes precisely align to the 4 needed for that CGE Adapter Plate...

Ideally, I'd be able to either:
a) re-use it - not sure how THAT would work, or
B) sell it when I sell the CGE...

I'll drop you a line this AM at some point (after 8:30 and hopefully before noon!)

clear enough skies






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