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Premium mount - cheap scope?

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#1 NHRob

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 08:39 AM

I have put together a nice rig ... TEC-140 on CGEM. I love AP products and my dream is to eventually have an AP mount ... Mach-1 or 900. This got me to thinking ... I could put a much cheaper scope (6-8" newt) on an AP mount for almost similar dollars!
Of course the newt would be homemade, except for premium mirrors.

Anyone do this? Most AP mount owners seem to have resources to also spend on premium apos. Anyway, not planning on doing this just now .. just a thought experiment on a rainy day. For now I am enjoying my TEC.

Rob

:rainbow:

#2 LLEEGE

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 09:26 AM

You have the scope. Start saving. Good things come to those who wait. I doubt selling your TEC for a newt and mount will make you any more happy then you are now. But putting your TEC on a nice mount will. In the mean time, the CGEM should do you fine.

#3 RAKing

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 10:58 AM

I was taught that the mount was just as important (if not more so) than the scope in the overall observing experience. Thus I have tried to make sure I have a solid mount under any scope I own.

I do have a nice TMB 130SS apo refractor and it's my favorite scope. But I also have a very nice Orion 8 inch Newt. It runs about $300, plus another $300 for a decent Moonlite focuser. It works quite well on the Mach1 - as does "Old Faithful" - my Celestron 4 inch achromat. :)

A decent mount makes all of my scopes perform better - at least that's how they look through my eyes. :cool:

Ron

#4 NHRob

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 11:20 AM

I have no plans on selling the TEC anytime soon. I love it.
Rob

#5 Scott99

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 12:07 PM

I have put together a nice rig ... TEC-140 on CGEM. I love AP products and my dream is to eventually have an AP mount ... Mach-1 or 900. This got me to thinking ... I could put a much cheaper scope (6-8" newt) on an AP mount for almost similar dollars!
Of course the newt would be homemade, except for premium mirrors.

Anyone do this?


No, personally I've been chronically undermounting great refractors for years! I always get carried away lusting after a bigger refractor, and then all funds are spent on the refractor with nothing left for a mount.

Even when I have a decent mount I seem to continually upgrade the refractor until it's undermounted. That's how I ended up with the current Star 12/Teegul setup.

It was rock solid with the FS102, but I thought, hey, I can get another 20mm of aperture! Now when it's windy I can only point the scope in a direction that's parallel to the wind.

#6 NHRob

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 12:16 PM

Hey Scott,
That's me too. I sink all the money into the scope and then use an annoying mount. Hopefully this CGEM should work well.

Rob

#7 jrbarnett

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Posted 21 June 2009 - 08:54 PM

Rob:

I think you're doing things the way most of us end up doing them. Strap ourselves for the best scope possible within our budget and then worry about the mount as an afterthought. At least those of us that are primarily visual observers usually go that route. Imagers often do things the other way around. Great, accurate, smooth mount and inexpensive OTA while they save for premium glass.

I think the CGEM is about the best affordable option around for the TEC-140 for visual use. You'll be delighted.

Regards,

Jim

#8 KD5NRH

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 01:21 AM

I was taught that the mount was just as important (if not more so) than the scope in the overall observing experience.


Absolutely: I've seen more through a department store 60mm refractor refitted with a homemade heavy duty altaz mount than through much larger scopes with wobbly mounts. In fact, one of my next homebrew projects is likely to be a really overbuilt fork mount that I can slap my spare Tasco Luminova 60mm into. Just by cleaning it properly and bracing the heck out of its original pod I was able to get huge improvements, and since it's already caught up the the Meade on the aforementioned homemade altaz, I think I can get a lot more out of it with an even better mount.

After that, I'll have to see what can be done with the Powerseeker 127 to cut down on shake.

#9 DeanS

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 08:07 PM

I see little reason to get a high end mount for just visual use. Most mid range mounts will give decent enough gotos, just not as smooth PE.

#10 NHRob

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Posted 23 June 2009 - 06:06 AM

Logically I agree but possible reasons ....... reliability, ease of use, ergonomics, trouble free operation, features, pride of ownership, build quality, etc. ....

One could argue the extreme case also for the scope ... buy a LZOS triplet objective and mount it on a wooden beam (or sonotube) with a decent focuser ... why pay thousands more for a finished tube? As long as it holds col. and can focus.

Not trying to be a jerk but, there is something to be said for setting up, and using, a quality piece of equipment .... be it scope or mount. Just wish I could afford both.

Rob


I see little reason to get a high end mount for just visual use. Most mid range mounts will give decent enough gotos, just not as smooth PE.

:rainbow: :rainbow:

#11 KD5NRH

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 02:38 AM

One could argue the extreme case also for the scope ... buy a LZOS triplet objective and mount it on a wooden beam (or sonotube) with a decent focuser ... why pay thousands more for a finished tube? As long as it holds col. and can focus.


As long as it has a solid mount, it should be fine. OTOH, go too cheap on the mount, and it'll jiggle across half the cosmos every time you touch the focuser or breathe nearby, and/or be so hard to aim that you'll just give up. A good number of scopes out there are proof that you can cut corners pretty much everywhere else as long as you can point it where you want and have it stay there.

#12 Ian Robinson

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Posted 24 June 2009 - 03:08 AM

I'm reverse of whats been said here.

I want my mount to be quite oversized for my telescope and to have excellent tracking capability.
I don't much care about GOTO precision, never used GOTO and so long the mount gets me within cuey of where I want look or image , I'll do the rest the old fashioned way.

My current configeration (once I revamp the OTA and reassemble it) will be a Stormwater Drain Tube based 10" f4.66 newtonian mounted on my "newly bought" (12 months ago , not used yet) Vixen New Atlux.

My long term plan is to upgrade to a carbon fibre tube 14" to 15" f3 newtonian to go the Atlux. But that's a long way off in the future which will bring the Atlux close to reasonable capacity I suspect , hence the use of lightweight materials to keep mass down.

Other astro priorities will come before this ie building my roll off roof observatory (shed) in my backyard and coming to grips with digital astro-image processing.

#13 gnowellsct

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 01:18 AM

I have to disagree with the general sentiments here. A cheap mount degrades optical performance. You can easily lose 1/2 wave of quality on vibrations from whatever source. This was brought home to me rather strongly by comparing image stabilized binoculars to regular binoculars. The samller aperture IS binocular showed more detail than a larger aperture non-IS.

I have seen pictures in S&T of people who have Meade starfinder OTAs on their paramount MEs. I think these folks clearly know what they are doing. Ultra high quality aperture has its place, but frankly you're better off with a c8 on an AP900 than a TEC 140 on an ASGT.

Even for visual observing I have grown increasingly unhappy with bouncing mounts. I like the "plastered flat" effect. The stars are like diamonds holding rock still in the field of view. You're not aware of any movement. You touch the focus and there's no vibration or damping.

I think if I had already purchased a TEC 140 I'd be unhappy to get rid of it, but a good mount is not out of the quetion. Incidentally a TEC 140 is well matched with the G11 stepper or Gemini versions. The TEC 140 is similar in weight to the FS128, and a bit shorter, reducing moment arm. My FS128 is "rock solid" on the G11. With G11 mounts selling used (stepper version) in the $1500 to $1800 range, seems to me you're missing the obvious choice. (If you buy a used stepper G11 make sure it has the SAIA stepper motor, but you cvan buy one for $50 if it's the older Hursts.)

Good luck
Greg N

#14 gnowellsct

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 01:29 AM

As an addendum you don't have to go totally cheap on your optic. You can get a used FS128 for $3k and gain $1k on your TEC. You lose a bit of aperture, still have a quality refractor, and gain $1k for a mount.

But no, i'd keep the TEC 140. But I do follow my own advice: I've got a G11 and an AP900QMD, and an FS128 because in this overall scheme of things it's cost efficient way to enjoy precision optics. The FS128 is not noticeably more stable on the AP900QMD (ATS pier) than it is on the G11, which leads me to think that the $10k a GTO 900 will cost you may not be the right path. Again, I'm going on the fact that at 15 lbs or so the FS128 is very close to a TEC 140 in weight, the TEC may weigh a bit more but is shorter and has less moment arm.

AP mounts cost a lot more than you think from the catalog. By the time you get a saddle plat, counterweights, extended counterweight shaft, and other options (including a pier), you're looking at $10k for an AP900, and that $6k Mach 1 is going to be around $2k more as well. Mind you the APs are good mounts. But you can hold the tube very steady for a lot less.

Good luck,

Greg N

#15 Mike Clemens

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 04:59 PM

$$$$ for optics outweighs $$$$ for mounts in visual astronomy.

Similar to buying a nice $$$ lens for a cheap camera body. It will outperform a lame lens on an expensive camera body every time.

#16 Scott99

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Posted 29 June 2009 - 06:33 PM

I have to disagree with the general sentiments here. A cheap mount degrades optical performance. You can easily lose 1/2 wave of quality on vibrations from whatever source. This was brought home to me rather strongly by comparing image stabilized binoculars to regular binoculars. The samller aperture IS binocular showed more detail than a larger aperture non-IS.

I have seen pictures in S&T of people who have Meade starfinder OTAs on their paramount MEs. I think these folks clearly know what they are doing. Ultra high quality aperture has its place, but frankly you're better off with a c8 on an AP900 than a TEC 140 on an ASGT.

Even for visual observing I have grown increasingly unhappy with bouncing mounts. I like the "plastered flat" effect. The stars are like diamonds holding rock still in the field of view. You're not aware of any movement. You touch the focus and there's no vibration or damping.

I think if I had already purchased a TEC 140 I'd be unhappy to get rid of it, but a good mount is not out of the quetion. Incidentally a TEC 140 is well matched with the G11 stepper or Gemini versions. The TEC 140 is similar in weight to the FS128, and a bit shorter, reducing moment arm. My FS128 is "rock solid" on the G11. With G11 mounts selling used (stepper version) in the $1500 to $1800 range, seems to me you're missing the obvious choice. (If you buy a used stepper G11 make sure it has the SAIA stepper motor, but you cvan buy one for $50 if it's the older Hursts.)

Good luck
Greg N


Greg - we under-mounted folk aren't necessarily happy with the way it works - we just couldn't stop ourselves from buying a bigger scope.

Now the only thing to do is use it and complain on windy nights.

#17 crazyqban

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Posted 04 July 2009 - 05:48 PM

Rob, you have a nice scope already and a mount that will get you by. Save up for that AP and before you know it you will have the funds to acquire one...

Sergio

#18 chupacabra

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 12:12 PM

I think the responses are interesting. It looks like a pretty even split between optics first and mount first. I'm in the optics first camp despite doing probably 60% astrophotography. With careful balance and fine tuning of the autoguiding, I get decent results. I get more star bloat than I want, so I am giving up some sharpness (even then, probably only on nights with excellent seeing). But the stars are round and the images can be pleasing. I prefer that any day over coma, secondary vane diffraction spikes, chromatic aberration, or weird star defects that I might get with lesser optical quality or a less expensive optical design. So even photographically, it comes down to priorities.

Where you would go from scratch and where you would go from where you are can be two different things. I don't see how you can own an AP mount with *any* optics and be near the same cost now. For a Mach1 plus pier/tripod, counterweight shaft, counterweights, polar scope, saddle, etc. you're probably looking at $7,500 or more. Obviously an AP900 would be higher. How much is your TEC140/CGEM worth used? AP mount values are holding solid, but optics and budget mounts are generally not. You'd be on the wrong side of the economics here.

Perhaps another option would be to sell the CGEM and pick up a used CGE. There are some things about the CGE that I don't like for unattended astrophotography (mainly the inability to track past the meridian). But it would likely be a rock for something like a TEC140. They can be picked up used for just over $2k. So for perhaps a net $900 difference from where you are now, you could have top notch optics on a stable mount. Sure it isn't an AP, but you'll have the same visual performance.

I use my AP140 on an Atlas. I've come so close to pulling the trigger on an AP mount, but it just isn't the right time for me financially. Do I like the jiggles while focusing, heck no! But once I get it focused, it settles down and is solid. You mention the pride of ownership factor, but I'd be awful proud to have a TEC140. I think that works both ways. It almost sounds like you've fallen under the AP mount spell. So there may be no saving you. Believe me, I understand the draw, I have to fight the urge every couple of months. But I agree with those suggesting that you hang onto your excellent scope and plan for the mount.

I don't think either approach is "flawed".

#19 NHRob

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Posted 05 July 2009 - 12:32 PM

Kevin et al,
Thanks. The TEC is such a nice scope it would be hard to trade down. I'll run with the CGEM for awhile and see how it goes. Still, this question will remain in my mind ..... unless I win the lottery!

Rob

#20 Eddgie

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 11:50 AM

Sure, you could do that. For less than $1000 you could build out a magnificent 8" Newt. You could buy an 8" dob off of CL for $200 to $300 and have someone refigure the mirrors. You could buy a curved vane spider and even put on a Crayford focuser. Toss in a Paracorr and you are still in the sub-$1500 range. And you could have a KILLER scope.

Add some rotating rings though. You won't like using the big Newt without them. That is going to push up the price maybe $500. I would never mount another Newt on a GEM without a set of true rotating rings. They are SUCH a pleasure to use as compared to trying to turn the scope in clamsshell rings.

The refractor bigots would say that you are crazy, but I would not be in that camp. A superb quality 8" f/6 reflector with a Paracorr can be a dazzling telescope to view through.

So, figure $1500 to make a really killer 8" f/6 with a good focuser, Paracorr, and maybe $500 for rings.

Keep it cheap and just do the mirrors and Paracorr, and go with solid rings, and you could keep the pricetage below $1000.

Powder coat it if you want. For a couple hundred bucks, you could make it LOOK like it belongs on an AP mount.

And you would get to do it on your AP mount.

#21 gnowellsct

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 11:54 AM

Greg - we under-mounted folk aren't necessarily happy with the way it works - we just couldn't stop ourselves from buying a bigger scope.

Now the only thing to do is use it and complain on windy nights.


Well y'all got a serious problem here. I understand because I was counseled against putting a C14 on a G11 and went ahead and did it anyway. And the truth is I did fine for five or six years.

When I wanted to mount the C14 with a refractor, that got to be too much, and I got a bigger mount. So now I have the G11 for my small scopes like the FS128 and the AP900 for the C14. Incidentally astro-physcis told me the AP900 was too small for the C14. Sigh. There's never enough mount, it seems.

But the general point I'm making is that with the c14 on the AP900 and my smaller scopes running on the G11 I have discovered what it is like not to be undermounted. So I hope you get yourself a nice solid mount, you'll love it, and I hope you resist the temptation to put a bigger OTA on the mount than it can handle.

good luck
Greg N

#22 chupacabra

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Posted 06 July 2009 - 12:00 PM

The refractor bigots would say that you are crazy, but I would not be in that camp. A superb quality 8" f/6 reflector with a Paracorr can be a dazzling telescope to view through.


I don't disagree with that (except the "bigot" part). But the transition to an 8" Newt on an AP mount will not be done without a serious outlay of cash on top of liquidating his current gear. My recommendation was based on him already being started down this path.

#23 Scott99

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Posted 07 July 2009 - 10:56 AM


Greg - we under-mounted folk aren't necessarily happy with the way it works - we just couldn't stop ourselves from buying a bigger scope.

Now the only thing to do is use it and complain on windy nights.


Well y'all got a serious problem here. I understand because I was counseled against putting a C14 on a G11 and went ahead and did it anyway. And the truth is I did fine for five or six years.

When I wanted to mount the C14 with a refractor, that got to be too much, and I got a bigger mount. So now I have the G11 for my small scopes like the FS128 and the AP900 for the C14. Incidentally astro-physcis told me the AP900 was too small for the C14. Sigh. There's never enough mount, it seems.

But the general point I'm making is that with the c14 on the AP900 and my smaller scopes running on the G11 I have discovered what it is like not to be undermounted. So I hope you get yourself a nice solid mount, you'll love it, and I hope you resist the temptation to put a bigger OTA on the mount than it can handle.

good luck
Greg N


Greg - thanks for your concern - don't worry, like you I have an "A" team setup and a "B" team - the Teegul is playing in the minor leagues, I also have a Mach1 that can easily handle all my scopes, when I have the inclination to load it all up in the car - thanks to your advice it rides on a Berlebach Planet which, as you know, is rock solid.

#24 JumboFlex

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 12:28 AM

I generally placed optics ahead of mounting although arguments could be and have been made for doing it in reverse and I might now be in that camp. I am much more willing to accept a less then premium optic than a mount that is workable but constantly reminds me of its presence or needs consistent tweeking.

Thats why when I decided that I was interested in expanding my scope collection I put myself on the AP list for a mount as I wasnt going to put $$$ into optics and then simply find something to put it on afterwards. In other words, I put the mount first and once I got the AP notification I went in search of a scope to put on it. I am really happy I did it that way and I now have a TEC 140 on a Mach1 GTO and I am not sure which part of that combo I am more happy with. The caveat, and its a rather large one, is that you have to be willing to wait (20 months for the Mach1, but only 10 days for the TEC!!!) and also have the money to do it.

If I were to go back in time with my current experiences intact, I for sure would spend more money on mounting than I did previously and would forego the purchase of a scope or two to do it if needed.

#25 DeanS

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 08:26 AM

Well I just went ahead and put a deposit on a new AP900 :shocked:

I have a TOA-150 and was concerned about using it on the Mach1 since it would max it out capacity wise, just for visual let alone imaging. I do have a 1200 for imaging but want something semi-portable for quicker local trips. The Mach1 was perfect for that until I got bit by the refractor bug.

So if anyone is waiting for a Mach1 I will have a perfect one up for sale shortly. Can never have too much mount :watching:






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