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"smoothest guiding" mount for $2K, $3K, and $5K?

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#1 Bob D

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 08:54 AM

If you were looking for a mount that could carry at least a 20-lb. AP load and had the best PE behavior out-of-the-box (but, after PEC) for autoguiding, what would you choose at the <$2K, <$3K, and <$5K price points?

#2 Tim C

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 09:05 AM

Well, I went with the Tak EM200 in the 5K range. Haven't got much experience with it yet under the stars but can definitely see that it guides very well so far. I literally read years of posts on every forum i could find before purchasing it and couldn't find any noted issues that weren't very easily fixed (and only a couple of those easy to fix ones). Would have liked a mach 1 but that is even more expensive and you have to wait.

#3 lineman_16735

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 09:21 AM

Used:
$5k can usually get you an NJP
$5K maybe a MI-250
$4k a EM-200

New:
$5k EM200
$3K G-11/CGE

#4 Dean

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 09:35 AM

EM-200 Temma (GOTO) right at $5K
EM-200 USD (Non-GOTO) $4,200
EM-11 - $3,600 - 20lbs would be pushing it though

NJP if your willing to go used.

Pushing the budget - Mach1GTO $6K

A CGE or G11 would probably be a better fit for the budget though.

#5 jrcrilly

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 09:36 AM

New:
$5k EM200
$3K G-11/CGE


For the stated load, I'd also consider a $3000 EM-11.

#6 AlexDJ30

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 12:16 PM

Yes buy the EM-11 at 3,000 and the rest 2,000 you can give it to me for free LOL i will use it real nice..hehehe

#7 Phil Cowell

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 02:23 PM

$5K will also get you a CGE Pro with a good carrying capacity.

Phil

#8 Bob D

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 03:46 PM

Thanks to everyone for the advice so far. I've done a little reading on most of these mounts and get the impression that I would not be disappointed with the TAK EM-200 (goto version -- I forgot to add that to my original criteria). Of course, it is in the "highest price bracket" that I listed. So, purely in terms of ability to guide-out the error, which I assume means that you don't want high-frequency "jitter," how much would you give up in dropping down a price tier to the G11 or the CGE?

No one has yet mentioned a Vixen Sphinx SXD. Is that because typical samples tend to be inferior in guided performance to the G11 and CGE in that same price range?

I also note that the $2K (new) price range has not yet been addressed. Is that because mounts like the Atlas, CGEM, etc. are indeed significantly worse for AP than what you can get by spending another $1-1.5K?

#9 Phil Cowell

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 06:29 PM

I have the CGE Pro and I'm very happy with it. Have a couple Apo's on it at the moment but it's flexable enough to mount a 16" RC on (plan for later this year). The G-11 is in a much lower weight class than the CGE Pro (60# Vs 90#), if you want to compare the equivalent Losmandy to the CGE Pro you'd need to look at the Titan.
Phil

#10 Phil Cowell

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 06:32 PM

I also note that the $2K (new) price range has not yet been addressed. Is that because mounts like the Atlas, CGEM, etc. are indeed significantly worse for AP than what you can get by spending another $1-1.5K?


The Atlas and CGEM are also very capable mount if you search you'll find many people taking outstanding images using them.
The Atlas is stepper motor based and the CGEM is Servo based. You wouldn't go wrong with either of them.
Phil

#11 Bob D

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 07:15 PM

I have the CGE Pro and I'm very happy with it. Have a couple Apo's on it at the moment but it's flexable enough to mount a 16" RC on (plan for later this year). The G-11 is in a much lower weight class than the CGE Pro (60# Vs 90#), if you want to compare the equivalent Losmandy to the CGE Pro you'd need to look at the Titan.
Phil


Phil, I'm sorry -- Your post made me realize that I had accidentally written "CGE Pro" instead of "CGE" (Am I getting senile or what? :confused:) in my second post of this thread. Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience with the CGE Pro. It is one that I would consider in the $5K range, but is definitely more capacity than I can envision needing in my case -- at least for a few years :grin:.

Note that I have now edited my previous post to correct my typo about the CGE Pro.

#12 Mike Sandy

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 07:18 PM

I'd wait a few extra months and save another $1.5K - then buy a Mach1.... :jump:

#13 lineman_16735

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Posted 12 June 2009 - 09:05 PM

:ubetcha:

#14 Bob D

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 08:09 AM

I'd wait a few extra months and save another $1.5K - then buy a Mach1.... :jump:


Yes :D -- but then I'd have to delay my next camera purchase! :(

Actually, I was really hoping that there might be something in the $3K range. I'm beginning to think that there is a very large "gap" to the next level beyond an Atlas or CGEM. There should be lots of folks that don't need more than about an honest 20 lb. of AP load that would want a mount with a somewhat smoother PE curve than a typical Atlas or CGEM, which cost about $1.5K. So, it puzzles me that you need to spend three or four times that much to get significant improvement in this capability. Of course, the other route is to "re-build" an Atlas, but I made a previous post on this subject, and most replies said that "it wasn't worth it" unless you had an Atlas that was worse than average. Am I missing somthing here, or is there a "hole in this market"?

#15 Luigi

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 08:23 AM

Perhaps what you're missing is that most mounts nowadays are good enough out of the box to perform well with autoguiding. As long as the drives are reasonably smooth, autoguiding eliminates the need for accuracy. Many have done excellent AP with a 20lb load on an off-the-shelf CG5ASGT, and it doesn't have PEC. The Atlas is a real workhorse and it seems most agree that it's fine with autoguiding without any upgrades. Of course there are more expensive mounts, but will it show in your photos?

#16 Bob D

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Posted 13 June 2009 - 11:58 AM

Perhaps what you're missing is that most mounts nowadays are good enough out of the box to perform well with autoguiding. As long as the drives are reasonably smooth, autoguiding eliminates the need for accuracy. Many have done excellent AP with a 20lb load on an off-the-shelf CG5ASGT, and it doesn't have PEC. The Atlas is a real workhorse and it seems most agree that it's fine with autoguiding without any upgrades. Of course there are more expensive mounts, but will it show in your photos?


Luigi,
Thanks. So, I guess most people are getting the more expensive mounts in the Atlas load range because they want to do reasonably-short unguided, or for that last little bit of guiding accuracy/ease, or for appearance, and/or for that feeling of "exudes quality." I can resonate with all of those!

My original interest in this question was prompted by the MetaGuide page on astrogeeks.com. The author of MetaGuide achieves <2 arc-sec FWHM stars (so, typically almost "seeing limited") with a C11 on a CGE by using a very aggressive form of high-speed guiding to overcome the relatively high-frequency jitters from the mount. This prompted me to ask in this thread about which mounts in various low-medium price ranges might not have as much of this jitter to begin with, so that conventional guiding would be most effective.

Anyway, it looks like a CGEM or Atlas would be a reasonable starting point for going beyond "planetary with my CPC925."
However, those TAKs keep whispering in my ear! :grin: Then, as someone else noted it's only another $1.5K to get a Mach-1. Of course, there's also the waiting time, which is relatively more significant for us old guys! :(

#17 jrcrilly

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Posted 14 June 2009 - 06:02 PM

This deal can't be matched or beaten for $4000:

http://www.astromart...ified_id=632107

#18 chicot

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 07:27 AM

Have you tried your CPC on a wedge? From what I'm reading about the lower-end GEM's I'm wondering if they'd really offer that much better tracking than your existing fork mount.

#19 Patrick

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 09:59 AM

No one has yet mentioned a Vixen Sphinx SXD. Is that because typical samples tend to be inferior in guided performance to the G11 and CGE in that same price range?



Bob,

Vixen is well known to have very good tracking performance. I suspect it has more to do with load capacity versus cost, plus difference in the hand controllers...Starbook versus Gemini versus NexStar.

Vixen Sphinx SXD weight capacity 50 lbs.

G11 instrument capacity 60 lbs.

CGE payload capacity 65 lbs.

If you were looking for a mount that could carry at least a 20-lb. AP load and had the best PE behavior out-of-the-box



I wanted to respond to this because I noticed that you have the C9.25. If this is the scope that you're planning on using, I think once you get it fully loaded with AP gear you will find yourself more in the 35 - 40 lb range. I have a C6 SCT and AT66ED refractor and my gear weights 24 lbs with all total. You will probably want a CGE class mount or perhaps a CGEM class mount at the very least. Regardless of the mount, you should plan on autoguiding if you're going deep at the focal length your scope operates at. I think that's going to be true no matter which mount you use.

Patrick

#20 tim53

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 10:13 AM

I presume that the CPC is similar to the Nexstar. I have a NS 9.25 and though the PE is around 20 arc seconds, it's pretty rough. Still, most autoguiders can deal with it, so it makes a decent AP platform if mounted solidly on a good wedge (avoid the Celestron wedge, if you have druthers, or modify one if you already have one).

-Tim.

#21 Bob D

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 11:22 AM

Have you tried your CPC on a wedge? From what I'm reading about the lower-end GEM's I'm wondering if they'd really offer that much better tracking than your existing fork mount.


I haven't yet tried the CPC on a wedge. From what I've read, you need a very good wedge, which means that an Atlas or CGEM wouldn't be a huge additional investment. However, what I'm mainly thinking about is getting an EQ mount for longer exposure deep-sky with a refractor. Initially, I would probably just start with a 600mm f/8 camera lens on the EQ mount, while deciding on a "bigger refractor." :D

#22 chicot

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:27 PM

Ah, I didn't know that. Yes, if you're going for multiple ota's then a GEM is the way to go.

#23 Bob D

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:28 PM

Vixen is well known to have very good tracking performance. I suspect it has more to do with load capacity versus cost, plus difference in the hand controllers...Starbook versus Gemini versus NexStar.

Vixen Sphinx SXD weight capacity 50 lbs.

I had seen several old threads on CN and Yahoo that seemed to conclude that the "SXD 50 lbs." included counterweights -- so I was thinking maybe about 20 lbs. for "not pushing it" AP gear. Unfortunately, the Yahoo group also has a lot of posts about mechanical issues with SXDs.

I wanted to respond to this because I noticed that you have the C9.25. If this is the scope that you're planning on using, I think once you get it fully loaded with AP gear you will find yourself more in the 35 - 40 lb range. I have a C6 SCT and AT66ED refractor and my gear weights 24 lbs with all total. You will probably want a CGE class mount or perhaps a CGEM class mount at the very least. Regardless of the mount, you should plan on autoguiding if you're going deep at the focal length your scope operates at. I think that's going to be true no matter which mount you use.

Patrick


As you can see from my just-prior reply, I wasn't initially thinking of using the EQ mount for the CPC925 -- just reserving that scope for whatever it could do reasonably well in alt-az, like visual and solar-system AP. So, my thinking was to get a separate scope+mount better optimized for >1-min exposure. If such an EQ mount turns out to be relatively light, then it would also be good for travel to darker sites. However, if the only way to get smoother guiding turns out to be a "heavier mount" anyway (with around twice the 20-lb, capacity), then it would also become a candidate for carrying a de-forked C925 at some future date.

#24 jrcrilly

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 01:52 PM

I had seen several old threads on CN and Yahoo that seemed to conclude that the "SXD 50 lbs." included counterweights -- so I was thinking maybe about 20 lbs. for "not pushing it" AP gear.


The confusion you mention is unfortunate. The "not pushing it" load for the SXD must be greater than 20 pounds, though. The straight SXW is conservatively rated at 22 pounds for imaging (no derating required). The SXD is probably good for 30 pounds (which would make sense, as the usual rule of thumb calls for counterweights about 2/3 the actual load - that would put it at 30 pounds load and 20 pounds CW).

#25 Bob D

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Posted 15 June 2009 - 03:42 PM

The confusion you mention is unfortunate. The "not pushing it" load for the SXD must be greater than 20 pounds, though. The straight SXW is conservatively rated at 22 pounds for imaging (no derating required). The SXD is probably good for 30 pounds (which would make sense, as the usual rule of thumb calls for counterweights about 2/3 the actual load - that would put it at 30 pounds load and 20 pounds CW).


Perhaps the SXD is the "best compromise" for what I've been thinking about.

Does anyone have comparison experience with guided AP on an SXD vs. an Atlas or CGEM? Does the SXD have less of the "second-to-second jumpiness" which is harder to guide out? Also, does it seem that the higher price of the SXD is partly justified by better QC?

Note that I saw an excellent review of the SXD in Astronomy Technology Today a few months ago. I then joined the Vixen Sphinx Yahoo Group and saw a number of owners discussing "DEC noise, gear mesh", etc." problems. Of course, I know that you typically get more posts from the "unhappy," but I couldn't help but think that the Vixen QC might not be any better than the Synta.






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