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Just how good is an AP 1200 GTO

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#1 Timber

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:45 PM

Have to decide

Richard
 

#2 M13 Observer

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Posted 19 June 2009 - 11:51 PM

Not worth anything. Send it to me.

I am biased though.

Rick.
 

#3 Meiling

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 01:09 AM

Any mount which can place a given star exactly behind the crosswire when asked to goto that particular star is a very good mount.

I have only ever seen one which can.......go for it.
It's just that good.
 

#4 Chris Curran

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 07:58 AM

It seems that anyone serious about buying a 1200 would ask a host of different questions... but OK.

First, lets adjust expectations. No mount can put every object directly on the crosshairs without some help from something like TPoint. It'll be in the FOV (or on the chip as the case may be), but it won't be dead-center each and every time with each and every object. This has nothing to do with the quality of the mount.

AP mounts are made to extremely high levels of quality. Parts are milled, not forged. PE's are very low and very smooth. Support is second to none. These and other things are what sets AP apart from most other mounts.

You say you have to decide. Decide on what? A 1200 and a.... What is your intended load? Do you care about remote operation?
 

#5 David Pavlich

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:05 AM

Chris is right. Look at the various Pempro graphs seen for the 1200. Tracking just doesn't get any smoother. My MI250 will put objects near dead center every time its asked without T-point, just the old, decrepid Gemini pointing model. I did one last night with 3 stars west and 5 east. Everything near the center or on center with a 12.5mm reticle ep.

So...don't go by the goto capability. Heck, my CGE would do that, too. Look at the tracking graph. The 1200 is just plain scary!

David
 

#6 Timber

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:19 AM

OK Chris, what would your questions, and answers, be?

To start, a C-14, binos, a piggybacked FSQ-106, Camera

If 65 feet is remote, possibly

Richard
 

#7 LLEEGE

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:38 AM

The 1200 is one of the finest mounts made. If you are planning on imaging with a C14, you will need a robust mount with low PE. AP mounts are built to last a lifetime with little maintenance. They can be operated remotely but they are not fully "robotic". The Paramount ME's are and have the same high quality build and accuracy. They will require a little more PM then the AP's due to the belt drives and they don't come with a handbox, so a CPU is a must for GOTO operation. Not a big deal if you are talking fully remote because any mount would need one in that case.
The AP mounts are more portable.
Then there is the Takahashi EM500.
 

#8 LLEEGE

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 08:42 AM

PS
The ME and EM500's will be easier to acquire new as AP just finished there most recent production run. A new 1200 will be at least 7-9 months wait which is much less then 3-4 years ago now that AP has expanded their production facilities.
 

#9 rmollise

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 09:14 AM

Have to decide

Richard


The go-to is good. It's really no better than what you can get with lesser mounts, though, even humble Celestrons and Meades. The true value of the 1200 is its mechanical build quality. That results in a mount with incredibly low periodic error and at the same time able to handle very large loads.

If I weren't so dadgummed cheap, I'd own one. Since I am, I continue with my pore man's GEM, the Atlas, which works fine given my limited talent for imaging. :lol:
 

#10 Jaxdialation

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 10:13 AM

You need to quit analyzin' and git on with finalizin'.

The 1200 is a good mount, but "how good" depends on your intended use. As Rod said the GOTOs aren't that much better than significantly cheaper mounts.

The real differentiators are:
capacity, and
robustness for photography applications.
 

#11 Aquatone

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 10:19 AM

The AP1200's build quality is superb as has been mentioned - and not a trace of plastic anywhere. Most important to me though is that I never even have to think about my mount beyond telling it where to point - it just gets out of the way. It is is 100% reliable, 100% problem free, works in an extreme range of hot and cold climatic conditions (far more so than most other mounts) and is super rugged and yet still portable. The electronics and GOTO controller are industrial grade not consumer grade electronics.

Sure there are cheaper mounts - and they feel cheaper, but none have the weight capacity, build quality, or accuracy of the AP1200. Only the more expensive Paramount is in this league.

Chris
 

#12 Chris Curran

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 10:29 AM

Yea, that helps a lot. I just helped a (new) friend install a 1200 for use with his Meade 14" and his FSQ. How odd. With this rig there aren't a lot of choices in mount. Sixty five feet isn't really "remote". If you were way out remote (miles) you might want to consider the Paramount due to it's reset and homing features, but since you're not...

Understand that I am biased to AP mounts. I've owned various AP mounts for years - I have a 1200/CP3 now. Is your install going to be permanent or will you be traveling? If the latter, one of the really nice features of the 1200 is how the DEC axis can be separated from the RA axis for transport/setup. It turns a very heavy mount into manageable pieces.

Imaging... well, most of previous posts already point out how scary smooth the 1200 PE is - which is critical for those really great images. One thing you don't hear a lot about - all software that I've ever encountered works with AP mounts right out of the box. I've never had any problems with software and my AP mounts. Never.

It just works... I often hear from others about how much less they spent on their mount, and I often watch those same folks struggle mightly with all sorts of issues. I've been using AP mounts for a little more than 9 years now. Not once have I ever had to do anything other than supply power to the mount. No firmware upgrades, no sending it back to the vendor for something else yet again, no "lost" mount issues, no nuttin. It's like an old diesel engine - it just works and never complains.

Support... Two months ago I'm out for New Moon weekend. I get there Thursday, setup and my hand controller keeps rebooting. I assume the internal battery is dead since I've had this mount about 5 years. I unplug the hand controller, use my laptop to initialize the mount and continue the rest of the evening without issue (do that with any other mount). The next morning (Friday) I call AP and get Christine on the phone. I don't know if that's easy to do with support at other vendors, but I've always been impressed with how I can call up AP at most any time of the day and get a real person who actually knows how the product works. She has a few theories but is quite certain that my power supply to the mount is not putting out enough voltage. She tells me the mount will work with much less than 12 volts, but the hand controller can get grumpy if it falls to 11.4 or less volts. Well, it's a new power supply so of course I think she's wrong (but I don't say that!). I get out my meter and check it. Good grief - 11.4 volts! I punted and got decent power to the mount and the rest of the weekend was salvaged. Simply put, AP support ROCKS.
 

#13 Chris Curran

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 10:35 AM

Don't forget to check with Herb out at Anacortes. He sometimes has one in the queue...

PS
The ME and EM500's will be easier to acquire new as AP just finished there most recent production run. A new 1200 will be at least 7-9 months wait which is much less then 3-4 years ago now that AP has expanded their production facilities.


 

#14 Timber

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 11:48 AM

Thanks everyone for your comments, it really just boils down to cost, big bucks, but that would be the last of the mounts in my lifetime, it does mean that I will have to sell some other high end/high capacity mounts :( to keep from being overwhelmed and confused (somehow they seem to be blessed with some rabbit genes).

No queue problem, if I give Daleen the word on Monday it will be shipped from AP within the week :)

The mount will not be used for moving to other locations but it will be moved about 10 to 15 feet from inside one of my garages to an outside observing deck. I have a neat "portable" pier that is moved with a small fork lift, everything stays installed. I do have a problem that has to be solved though, the threshhold of the door into the garage is in the concrete floor and is raised about 1/4" above the rest of the floor which I think will be too much of an obstruction for the little hand lift truck to manage. I am going to have to find a concrete expert that I am able to get some advice from on how to put a skim coat of something on the concrete to make everything level. I think posting in the Observatory forum is the right place for this question.

Thanks to all, I still have a couple of days to agonize over this.

Richard
 

#15 Jaxdialation

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 02:10 PM

Your situation is similar to mine. I roll out my 1200 about 20 feet. The seam between my garage and driveway was fixed with a piece of heavy duty carpet which I lay out over the seam. Movement is easy.
 

#16 Steve Fisher

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 04:49 PM

If you would like to see what it looks like this was set up last Night at Bryce Canyon.

Never cleared enough to view through it.

Attached Files


 

#17 Tom and Beth

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Posted 20 June 2009 - 05:36 PM

I have a 17 year old Ap1200. It ain't GOTO, but still an incredible mount and used daily. Only reason why I replied is to mention CUSTOMER SUPPORT of AP. One of the handpad switches needed to be replaced recently, and AP did it in a week. No it wasn'y under warranty :p

You'll love your mount. It's that simple.

Attached Files


 

#18 Timber

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 01:11 AM

Hi Chris,

A side question, how many pounds of counterweights did your friend need for his Meade 14" and FSQ?

Thanks,

Richard
 

#19 Chris Curran

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 06:29 AM

:D I just *knew* you were going to ask me that! If I recall correctly, he had 4 large and 1 small. However, we never mounted the FSQ while I was there - he had an issue with clearance in his dome at the time. I'll ring him later this morning to find out the exact cw numbers.

Psst: He also parked his 1200 on a new PierTech pier. Very nice. Very nice indeed...
 

#20 Alph

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 02:27 PM

I will have to sell some other high end/high capacity mounts



Hmmm? What are you hoping to accomplish with the AP1200 that you could not with the other high end/high capacity mounts? A lot of people who own very modest mounts churn out great images. It is about skills not as much about equipment. A common problem I see is the folks with deep pockets tend to overpay. Make your goals clear, measurable and verifiable otherwise you will make an uninformed decision.
 

#21 Timber

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 02:50 PM

Hi Alph,

Yep, right on, absolutely, the heart of the matter, still leaves me with my Monday morning decision.

Richard
 

#22 Chris Curran

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 04:25 PM

It is about skills not as much about equipment.

To a degree. However, no amount of skill can overcome what happens when you strap a 14" SCT to a low end mount...

A common problem I see is the folks with deep pockets tend to overpay

And where do you see this? Folks with deep pockets tend not to be fools...
 

#23 Chris Curran

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 04:33 PM

Richard,

A side question, how many pounds of counterweights did your friend need for his Meade 14" and FSQ?

He's using four 18 lb and one 10 lb. Note:
- His FSQ is not currently mounted due to height restrictions in his dome.
- The M14 is supposed to be a good bit heavier than the C14.

If you know the weights of your gear, use this to calculate your cw requirements.
 

#24 rmollise

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 07:07 AM

Hmmm? What are you hoping to accomplish with the AP1200 that you could not with the other high end/high capacity mounts? A lot of people who own very modest mounts churn out great images. It is about skills not as much about equipment. A common problem I see is the folks with deep pockets tend to overpay. Make your goals clear, measurable and verifiable otherwise you will make an uninformed decision.


You are absolutely correct that a high end mount isn't the only way to good results. _And_ lot of folks have found that you cannot buy your way into good images. Even with an AP (or an MI or a Bisque), the road to good images is a long one. Admittedly, the better your gear, the smoother and shorter that road may be, of course.

Me? I'd love to have an AP, but given that I might be able to image three-four times a year at the moment given work/weather, it really wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. My humble Atlas and CG5 basically do well enough for me. I don't expect nor need Jack Newton/Jason Ware quality. Small images up to about 8x10, mainly to use in illustrating my books and articles is good enough for me, and the Atlas and CG5 can deliver those without much fuss (relatively speaking...astrophotography is ALWAYS a fuss :lol: ) so...yeah...the thing to do is decide what you want/need. If it's big tricolor images of the deep, deep sky an AP might be the ticket.
 

#25 imhotep

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 07:37 AM

It just works... I often hear from others about how much less they spent on their mount, and I often watch those same folks struggle mightly with all sorts of issues. I've been using AP mounts for a little more than 9 years now. Not once have I ever had to do anything other than supply power to the mount. No firmware upgrades, no sending it back to the vendor for something else yet again, no "lost" mount issues, no nuttin. It's like an old diesel engine - it just works and never complains.


I'm one of those folks ;) All I wanted to say is, from my perspective, this has got to be in the top three reasons to own a mount in this class. I'm sort of biased in this area though, having spent the better part of a year wrangling with a hypertuned Atlas, EQMOD, PEC, the whole nine yards. It's AP or bust for me in the mount department. I've more or less vowed to quit imaging until I can afford a Mach1 with a clean conscience.

Rod, hopefully I don't sound like an Atlas basher. For the kind of imaging I routinely attempt (which is stupid at my skill level and equipment means) I had to pull the plug on my Atlas/EQMOD crusade. Since then my sanity seems to be returning. Anyway, I just wanted to qualify my feelings on this rather than make a blanket statement. My final imaging session with that setup had some 15-minutes subs that weren't making me happy.

A little while later I got to test-drive Chris's AP1200 and saw the light.

I probably added nothing to this discussion, lol.
 






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