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Vixen GP-2 question

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:08 PM

I'm looking for opinions of people who have recently purchased a Vixen GP-2 mount, regarding their current state of quality. When comparing a similarly equipped GP-2 with either a SkyWatcher EQ-5 or Orion SVP, the GP-2 is three times the cost. My questions are:
1.) Is the GP-2 really worth the difference today?
2.) Is the manufacturing/casting quality still any better?
3.) Is the bearing movement that much smoother?

I understand a few years back the answers would all be yes; but I'm not so sure today, especially reading 2 recent reviews.

Please forgive my question as nothing more than what I'm asking. I have no intention of bad-mouthing, nor do I want to start a debate. I've been searching the web for the last few weeks, and can't seem to find much for reviews, outside of some older ones here and by Ed Ting on his site. The only 2 recent reviews indicate poor manufacturing practices along with poor quality control, and a complete lack of customer support from either Vixen USA or Vixen Global.

Please, I'm only looking for input from someone who's bought one within the last year or two.

The configurations I'm comparing are GEM with single-axis drive, polar scope, and setting circles. No go-to or computers.

#2 Eddgie


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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:38 PM

My own personal opinion is no, they are not worth that price.

Vixen builds nice equipment, but it isn't THAT nice. I have owned a lot of Vixen made equipment, and while it is typically quite good as mass produced telescope stuff goes, it isn't THAT much better.

The one place that the Vixen still holds the lead though is that their Aluminum tripods are the best on the market.

The HAL-110 especially.. It weighs far less than the steel tripods on some of the newer mounts, and it is almost as stiff.

If weight saving is really high on your list, it could make a difference.

So, I think that they are indeed a bit better made and finished, but not THAT much better.

Good luck with your decision.

#3 Taylor


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Posted 02 September 2009 - 03:58 PM

I didn't have a GP-2, but I had a Sphinx SXW.
I agree with Eddgie on the tripod, it was excellent for both visual and AP on mid size SCTs and with smaller APOs.

The machining on it was top notch, the gears were excellent, tracking was smooth, slewing with high power EPs was smooth.

The reason why I no longer own it? I didn't like the Starbook controller that much. For the price their mounts command and the fact that they are being manufactured in today's era of equipment, they should have far more advanced features. The Starbook cannot save location, cannot save PEC data, is a pain to upload comets, the list goes on for the Starbook's shortcomings.

Their old SS2k PC for the GP-DX mounts had all of the above features and then some, that mount controller was outstanding and was made almost a decade before their Starbook.
I guess they're just not listening to what today's astro consumer wants from a mount.

I sold mine and bought a CGEM, as I have previous experience with Celestron's hand controller from a Nexstar GPS, which I loved. Huge database, stupid simple alignment that is quick, lots of good features.

Stability and machining were never a problem with my Vixen experience, it was the software. And the GP-2 comes with a smaller screen, B&W version of the Starbook. Considering how Vixen designed the interface of the Starbook system to be used, I could not imagine using that interface on anything smaller than the color version they sell.

If I were you after my recent equipment buy/sell spree, I would save your money and get the EQ5-Pro Astronomics has on sale for $550. If you decide you don't like it you can resell it much faster and much closer to what you paid for it too. People try to sell Vixen GP-2s and Sphinx's on Amart and they can sit there for over a month, unless it is aggressively priced.

Edit: Here ya go, EQ5-Pro sale, a great deal IMO. Can do same weight class of astrophotography work as the Sphinx and GP for less than half the price.
Also, search for stuff on EQMOD, something many AP users swear by and is free. The EQ5-Pro is compatible with it, the GP-2 has nothing similar.
Is there anything else I can say to sway you towards the EQ5-Pro from the GP-2? ;)

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 02 September 2009 - 07:46 PM

Thanks Ed, that's kind of what I was wondering. Seems like they're outpricing themselves. Couldn't figure out why I would want to build a GP-2 with DA drives, clutches, and polar scope for $1500 when I could get a GM-8 or an Atlas for the same cost.

For the rating, quality, and specs of the GP-2, one can get the SkyView Pro equipped with DA drives and polar scope for $550 shipped (and the SVP has better setting circles). And if you want go-to, get the CG-5. Either one about 1/3 the cost; again, unless the GP-2 is that much better.

I agree with you and Taylor about the tripods, but looking at the HAL130 clone AT uses on the Voyager, seems like the competition is starting to improve.

#5 titan7


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Posted 03 September 2009 - 01:33 AM

The are a bit overpriced for the $$ new compared to what's out there but the quality is much better IMO. I have had 2 CG5s (non-Goto) and now I have a Vixen, I would never go back. I did get an insane deal on a NOS Mount. Had I not stole this with drives and half pier, and Ash tripod, I woul have gone with a Losmandy GM-8. The

#6 Patrick


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Posted 03 September 2009 - 03:47 PM

1.) Is the GP-2 really worth the difference today?

Hi Steve,

I recently purchased a GP2 Photo Guider which is essentially a standard GP2 head with just an RA axis sitting on a small tripod. It did come with a polar scope, RA motor, and a dual axis controller (the single axis controller is no longer in production). It's kind of a specialty mount comparible to the Kenko Skymemo. With the little I've used it so far, I am very pleased with the unguided PE I'm seeing. The polar scope works great, too. IMO, it is much better than the CG5.

Regarding your question though, I know where you're coming from...believe me. I priced out a full GP2 setup with drive motors, controller, polar scope, etc and it is about the same price as a Losmandy GM8. The GP2 is only rated to about 20 lbs load compared to 30 lbs for the Losmandy. I have to think quality wise they're pretty similar. So, if you're comparing a GP2 to a GM8, I think it's pretty much a no-brainer...with the possible exception that the GP2 is probably a little more portable.

However, if you're comparing the mount to a CG5-GT I think things get a little less clear. If you're looking for portability, excellent unguided tracking accuracy, versatility, and a mount that will last you a lifetime, then the GP2 has more going for it. I know guys in our club who've been using GP mounts for years and they continue to perform outstandingly. On the other hand, the CG5 type mounts have a lot of plastic on them, the gears are not as accurate, the hand controllers have a cheap feel, etc, and they are less portable with their heavy steel 2" legs. My CG5-GT DEC axis lock lever rubs against the plastic DEC motor cover and is putting a nice wear pattern on it. It still works fine, but little things like that just show a lack of quality control.

The configurations I'm comparing are GEM with single-axis drive, polar scope, and setting circles. No go-to or computers.

It's getting pretty hard to find that configuration in a quality mount. Even the Orion Atlas and Sirius mounts are all goto now...no more dual axis setups. Same with the CG5's. The only one I know of are the Vixen's. :smirk: Simplicity and quality has it's virtues, which is why I like the Vixen. I can't afford a new one, but I like them. :grin: (I am in the process of buying a used GP mount...head only. You can find some good deals on used gear if you look long enough).

For the rating, quality, and specs of the GP-2, one can get the SkyView Pro equipped with DA drives and polar scope for $550 shipped (and the SVP has better setting circles). And if you want go-to, get the CG-5. Either one about 1/3 the cost; again, unless the GP-2 is that much better.

The GP2 is better than the budget mounts, IMO. But again, it depends on your goals. If you're imaging and autoguiding, don't care about the weight, get an Atlas or Sirius mount. If you want a cheap mount with goto and aren't putting a lot of weight on it, get a CG5..also good for short focal length guided imaging. If you want to do unguided imaging with 500mm or so focal lengths and easy setup and tear down, or want to use a 4" refractor for star parties, etc, take a hard look at a GP2


#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 03 September 2009 - 11:30 PM

Thanks Patrick, that was about the most inclusive and detailed explanation I've found yet. And if I'm reading your post correctly, your new GP2 Photo Guider arrived fine without defects too, which answers my question concerning rumors of bad QC. Sounds like Vixen is still a viable alternative, but mainly for those looking for absolute portability and desiring to do AP work, not so much for visual only types like me.

Guess for me the SVP with single-axis drive is still the best choice, since i just can't break with the cash for a GM8. And since my AT Voyager takes care of any lightweight quick G&G needs, guess I'll have to pass on the GP-2. Thanks everyone.

#8 Patrick


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Posted 04 September 2009 - 06:51 AM


Right now I'm working towards getting a 4" APO (AT102ED would be nice) and putting it on a GP mount. We seem to be running a parallel path. :grin: But I'm still interested in doing AP, unguided if I can get there. I don't want to sink a lot of money (let's say much more money) into gear either when I can only get out a dozen times a year. The wife may not think I really mean that, but I really do. When I get out, I don't want to waste my time with star trailed images, and difficult to use stuff. It's hard enough lugging all the stuff around to do AP and then you have to work in the dark when you're tired. It needs to be easier so that's where I'm trying to get.

I also enjoy star parties and out reach work, and a 4" refractor on a small mount makes a nice setup for that.

Best regards,


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