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Suggentions for Travel Mount

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#1 John Downing

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 11:33 AM

Greetings,
I am looking for a mount and tripod to use with my SV105APO while traveling. I will be primarily using this setup for car and motorhome. I would like for it to be airline capable but it would have to be a special event such as an eclipse in Fiji :shocked:. Where I wouldn't mind paying for an extra bag and/or weight fee.

So:
Must handle 15lbs considering the ota(12) & Camera(2).
Fairly decent tracking for short astro-photos.
GoTo capability.
Compact and light, incl. tripod.
Easy to set-up and polar align.

I spend 5-6 weeks a year on the Sea of Cortez beaches in Baja where despite being at sea level the skies too dark to be wasted! Not to mention our Ca. deserts.

Any suggestions? Mounts to consider, to stay away from? Got an 'experienced' mount you want to sell?

Regards,
John

#2 Luigi

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 11:40 AM

CG5ASGT. Fits into a bag assembled to the tripod and can be carried as unit. Works very well for my ~16 lb OTAs. It's one of my grab and go setups. For airline travel, stick it in a golf club case. :jump:

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#3 Patrick

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 12:29 PM

Must handle 15lbs considering the ota(12) & Camera(2).
Fairly decent tracking for short astro-photos.
GoTo capability.
Compact and light, incl. tripod.
Easy to set-up and polar align.



I hestitate to recommend the CG5, because the tripod is not light or compact. However, it's probably the lighest setup that meets all your requirements. The Vixen GP2 with Starbook or Sky Sensor (used) is also a possibility. The GP2's Hal 130 tripod is lighter and more manageable, plus the polar scope is accurate.

Patrick

#4 John Downing

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 08:11 PM

Thanks guys. I will take a look at your suggestions.
Patrick: Is there a problem with the CG5's polar scope's accuracy? Batteries: When in Baja and otherwise traveling with my motorhome dc power is not a problem. Otherwise I usually rent a car wherever I go. But on a Fijian island hauling a battery might be a problem. I will be sure to check out power options on each mount. Is one better than the other?

Any other suggestions or recommendations out there?

#5 Luigi

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 07:41 AM

>>>Is there a problem with the CG5's polar scope's accuracy?<<<

There is no need for a polar scope, especially for with the new polar alignment routine in the latest HC firmware. Just use a compass for north and latitude to set the alt axis. This alone is fine for visual but if you're doing AP, follow up with the polar align routine.

CG5ASGT weights:
Head 10 lb 14 oz
CW shaft 2 lb 1 oz
CW 11 lb 9 oz.
Tripod 16 lb 7 oz (2" dia legs)
Leg spreader 12 oz
HC 8 oz
Power cord 9 oz

Total 42 lb 12 oz

#6 Patrick

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 10:13 AM

Is there a problem with the CG5's polar scope's accuracy?



Well...the CG5's polar scope is not known to be that great. I had one at some point but could never figure out how to even mount the thing, let alone use it. I've since read that the Orion polar finder fits the CG5 and is actually better than the Celestron version. Having said all that, and as noted by Luigi, the latest version of the CG5-GT has a good polar alignment routine built into the hand controller. If you're running full goto then you can do your polar alignment with that routine. The difficulty comes in if you're out in the boonies with limited power and don't want to run full goto. That's when you'll have to rely on a polar scope or drift align.

For comparison:

Vixen GP2 Mount Head, including CW shaft: 9.4 lbs
Counterweight: 8 lbs
Hal 130 Tripod: 12 lbs
Hand Controller, Drive Motors, etc.. don't know, lets say 4 lbs total.
Battery...runs off 8 D-cell batteries...about 3 lbs.

Total approximate weight...36.4 lbs, which includes the power source for a nights worth of imaging or viewing.

I measured the periodic error on my Vixen GP2 last night...+/-5 arc-secs of PE. The best I've been able to get on my CG5 is +/-20 arc seconds. That difference will make it possible to image without a guide scope and guide camera at 300mm focal length for 2 minutes, possible 500mm for 1 minute. The best I could do with my CG5 unguided was 300mm for 1 minute. Where portability is a big concern, the last thing you want to have to do is take a mount that will require autoguiding to get good tracking (add second guide scope and camera, laptop computer, brackets, cables, etc, etc).

The big trade off between the Vixen GP2 and the CG5-GT is the cost. You can get a full goto CG5-GT setup for about $600. The Vixen GP2 with one RA drive motor, dual axis hand box, and tripod will cost about $1070. A full blown GP2 with Starbook goto costs $1600. If you're interested in a Vixen GP, look for a used one as they come up for sale on a regular basis on Astromart and here on CN's swap and shop. After using my CG5 for a couple of years and finding I don't really like all the work of guiding, I've decided the cost was worth it to me for shorter focal length imaging. For longer focal length imaging (800-2000+ f/l), then guiding is a necessity.

Regards,

Patrick

#7 gnowellsct

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Posted 12 September 2009 - 08:52 PM

I would get a used Super Polaris on a wooden tripod. GN






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