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Titan vs. MX vs. 900GTO vs. EM-400 vs. CGE Pro

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#1 Sharkman

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:10 AM

I'm in the market for a high-quality mount. My application is minor planet photometry / astrometry. I'm leaning toward an EdgeHD 1100 or 1400, perhaps starting with the 1100 and going to the 1400 later on.

I was originally thinking about a G-11, but one downside there is that it can't support the 14" OTA (46 lbs bare) for AP -- which might be OK at first, but means that I would eventually have to upgrade. The more I read about it, the more concerned I am about the accuracy of the G-11, too, even when running TPoint. I also recently heard that Losmandy is now shipping their mounts without being tested after assembly.

So now I'm starting to think about going with a better mount. How would you compare the Losmandy Titan, Paramount MX, AP 900GTO, Takahashi EM-400 and CGE Pro? What are the big differences in features or capabilities from one to the other? Do they stack up neatly by cost, or does one stand out as a better (or worse) value than the others?

Reliability is a primary concern for me. I live in New Zealand, so shipping overseas for repairs is expensive. Accuracy / repeatability / stability is my next priority, followed by ease of use. Long-term resale value is also a factor. I don't care much about cosmetics. I'll be using computer control (still deciding on the optimal software), so the integrated go-to system is secondary to the issues above. Automation would be nice, but it would be "partially attended" (scope within a few hundred feet of operator, not across town). A mount that works well with a tripod (rather than a permanent pier) would be a plus.

#2 LLEEGE

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 08:49 AM

I'd start by taking the Pro off your list. It is not reliable and not in the same league as the others you mentioned.

#3 zawijava

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 09:34 AM

Though I'm very fond of Takahashi, and the MX looks promising.....in your situation, with your criteria, I'd go for the AP 900 GTO :bow:

Tim


Reliability is a primary concern for me. I live in New Zealand, so shipping overseas for repairs is expensive. Accuracy / repeatability / stability is my next priority, followed by ease of use. Long-term resale value is also a factor. I don't care much about cosmetics. I'll be using computer control (still deciding on the optimal software), so the integrated go-to system is secondary to the issues above. Automation would be nice, but it would be "partially attended" (scope within a few hundred feet of operator, not across town). A mount that works well with a tripod (rather than a permanent pier) would be a plus.



#4 WayneJ

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 10:28 AM

I'd start by taking the Pro off your list. It is not reliable and not in the same league as the others you mentioned.


As a fellow "pro" owner, I'd have to agree. Only get the CGE Pro if you NEED to hold a 40-50 lb optical tube and are limited to $5k for you mount.. or if you primarily plan to do visual observation or planetary photography.

Regards,

Wayne

#5 kbastro

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:20 AM

Seriously Sharkman;

Either the Losmandy Titan, Paramount MX, AP 900GTO, Takahashi EM-400 will do you fine..

Draw back on the Titan is that it is waiting on the gemini 2 which looks prommising, and the paramount mx is still a new born and requires a computer to run it...

All in all any of theses 4 mounts will do you good and the most problems you will have will be seeing conditions rather than mount tracking problems

kb

#6 skybsd

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:35 PM

Hello,
Good to hear from you..,

The more I read about it, the more concerned I am about the accuracy of the G-11, too, even when running TPoint. I also recently heard that Losmandy is now shipping their mounts without being tested after assembly.

So now I'm starting to think about going with a better mount. How would you compare the Losmandy Titan, Paramount MX, AP 900GTO, Takahashi EM-400 and CGE Pro? What are the big differences in features or capabilities from one to the other? Do they stack up neatly by cost, or does one stand out as a better (or worse) value than the others?


"photometry / astrometry"? Will you be performing these as part of a research or an educational organization? Or you undertaking this path as a personal, private endeavour? I only ask as it would help to know the equipment payloads that will be installed onto your mount and the associated usage profiles when deployed.

At first glance you see.., I have to wonder if you're really looking at the right models of these manufacturers' mount solutions here to begin with. For instance, at 46lbs (bare OTA dead weight) the C14 is already approaching 50% of the Titan's stated payload capacity, and already breaching 50% of the respective manufacturers' stated capacities for the AP900-GTO (75lbs), Tak EM400 (77lbs) and PMX (90lbs) - and you haven't even added dovetails / rings / imaging train, etc..,

I note you didn't mention the budget you have to work with - for some of these choices, accessorizing to set up readiness comes with additional costs.

Getting away from how you came about your information, if you're concerned about QA issues surrounding the Losmandy G11 ("I also recently heard that Losmandy is now shipping their mounts without being tested after assembly"), I'm curious why you'd still have the Losmandy Titan on your list of candidate mounts.., It is, after all, made in the same shop, made and QA'd by the same people as the G11, you see.

Have a think about what I've said here - particularly about your expected start up be end-game payloads as well as budget, okay?

I'd hesitate to comment further until we're both sure of the same things, really.

Best wishes..,

Regards,

skybsd

#7 LLEEGE

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:41 PM

and already breaching that of the AP900, Tak EM400 and PMX - and you haven't even added dovetails / rings / imaging train, etc..,

???Huh???

#8 jrcrilly

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:43 PM

For instance, at 46lbs (bare OTA dead weight) the C14 is already approaching 50% of the Titan's stated payload capacity, and already breaching that of the AP900, Tak EM400 and PMX - and you haven't even added dovetails / rings / imaging train, etc..,


The Titan doesn't need to be derated as much as the G-11, and none of the others you mention require derating at all. A C14 and accessories would be no problem for any of those.

#9 TxStars

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:27 PM

Get a Tak EM-500 or a Ap1200 that will hold the C-14 and some extras and you wont need to upgrade.

#10 skybsd

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:28 PM

Hi John (+Luke),
The scope weighs what it weights - there's no getting away from this, and the manufacturer's stated payload capacity is what it is at present. The buyer can but only go with what the manufacturers themselves place in their product specification sheets, not so?

Don't get me wrong, having been through similar in the recent past, I am aware of the "unwritten" capabilities of these mounts, but even when I spoke to AP about the AP900GTO being a suitable video astronomy platform for my C14, there were a lot of questions that came back requesting additional details on what exactly are the additional component payloads that need to be added to the C14 bare OTA dead weight..,

And that's "just" for video astronomy - not imaging in the common sense of the term..,

At this point, I don't feel it wise to presume to know what exactly the equipment payload is likely to be, really..,

Regards,

skybsd

#11 skybsd

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:34 PM

Hi Luke,

and already breaching that of the AP900, Tak EM400 and PMX - and you haven't even added dovetails / rings / imaging train, etc..,

???Huh???


:)

I can see how in isolation that cut can be seen to be misleading..,

Here's the complete sentence I wrote:

" For instance, at 46lbs (bare OTA dead weight) the C14 is already approaching 50% of the Titan's stated payload capacity, and already breaching that of the AP900, Tak EM400 and PMX - and you haven't even added dovetails / rings / imaging train, etc..,"

In the above sentence, the that in "breaching that of the..," refers to the "50%" referenced earlier in the sentence..,

Hope that explains what I meant - I'll rewrite to explicitly say what I intend..,

Regards,

skybsd

#12 jrcrilly

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:47 PM

Hi John (+Luke),
The scope weighs what it weights - there's no getting away from this, and the manufacturer's stated payload capacity is what it is at present. The buyer can but only go with what the manufacturers themselves place in their product specification sheets, not so?


With SB, AP, and Tak (and a few others), yes. With most others one must derate the manufacturer's figures to guess what the mount can really do. If one of the listed manufacturers says their mount will handle 70 pounds, that means it'll perform to specs at 70 pounds.

My 60 pound-rated CGE will carry the bare C14 for visual use - just barely. My 65 pound-rated NJP carries the C14 and a full set of imaging accessories (around 65 pounds total) very well, indeed.

#13 skybsd

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 01:54 PM

Hi John,

Hi John (+Luke),
The scope weighs what it weights - there's no getting away from this, and the manufacturer's stated payload capacity is what it is at present. The buyer can but only go with what the manufacturers themselves place in their product specification sheets, not so?


With SB, AP, and Tak (and a few others), yes. With most others one must derate the manufacturer's figures to guess what the mount can really do. If one of the listed manufacturers says their mount will handle 70 pounds, that means it'll perform to specs at 70 pounds.

My 60 pound-rated CGE will carry the bare C14 for visual use - just barely. My 65 pound-rated NJP carries the C14 and a full set of imaging accessories (around 65 pounds total) very well, indeed.


Having seen photos of your rigs and set ups, no argument there..,

I'm curious to know what the OP's total expected equipment list and associated payload is like though..,

Regards,

skybsd

#14 DeanS

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 02:23 PM

I would suggest an AP1200GTO and there would be no question to capacity, and have room to grow. The additional cost is not too much.

The AP mounts have been around a while and have a proven track record, do not require a computer to operate in case you want to do visual or video. Service/support is outstanding in the event you need something. Bullet proof mounts in general, and since it will be used a long way from its birthplace, that would be important in my choice.

But just my opinion from someone who owns both a 900 and 1200.

Good luck with what ever you get.

Dean

#15 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:35 PM

Just to be clear:

The Titan has a 100 pound photographic instrument rating. From the Losmandy site: Photographic instrument weight capacity 100 lbs.

#16 DeanS

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:40 PM

My concern with any Losmandy mount at the moment would be the new Gemini controller. That is when it actually does get in the market.

I had the Gemini L4 and it was nice, but it also had years on the market, who knows how stable the new version will be at first?

#17 David Pavlich

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:13 PM

[quote name="jrcrilly"][quote]Hi John (+Luke),
The scope weighs what it weights - there's no getting away from this, and the manufacturer's stated payload capacity is what it is at present. The buyer can but only go with what the manufacturers themselves place in their product specification sheets, not so? [/quote
]

With SB, AP, and Tak (and a few others), yes. With most others one must derate the manufacturer's figures to guess what the mount can really do. If one of the listed manufacturers says their mount will handle 70 pounds, that means it'll perform to specs at 70 pounds.

My 60 pound-rated CGE will carry the bare C14 for visual use - just barely. My 65 pound-rated NJP carries the C14 and a full set of imaging accessories (around 65 pounds total) very well, indeed. [/quote]

What John said. A used NJP would work well, but if you want to buy new and the budget is there, either the EM400 or the AP900. And you can always watch the used market, although used 400s and 900s are fairly rare.

David

#18 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:19 PM

I agree with you Jim. Let alone effective integration with all the other equipment like auto-guiders, laptops, planetarium software, programming PEC, etc. I hope they have minimal problems and meet with great success, but I wouldn't want to be the one on the bleeding edge.

#19 D. Perry

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:57 PM

Neither photometry nor astrometry require much in the way of long exposures and perfect tracking, so any of the stated mounts will do. But if you end up going with a 14" SCT and intend to do long-exposure astrophotography, I'd remove the CGE Pro from the list, as has been mentioned.

Titan: A very capable mount but not currently available due to the Gemini's hiatus. They should start becoming available within a couple months.

MX: Not currently available and won't be for a couple months, but probably the best option due to the quality of support and reputation of its bigger brother.

AP900GTO: Available now through AP. They have some units on hand ready for shipping in February. An excellent all-around choice regardless of your application. Proven quality and support.

EM-400: Another great mount but a little on the "niche" side of the market, meaning adapters and parts are a bit more difficult to find than the more mainstream Losmandy, AP, and Bisque mounts.

Good luck in your research and shopping!

#20 wz2

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:35 PM

This is such a cool forum.

Until I buy a scope, I remain,

The most boring astronomer in the universe....


Chris

#21 Sharkman

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 04:37 AM

"photometry / astrometry"? Will you be performing these as part of a research or an educational organization? Or you undertaking this path as a personal, private endeavour?

Personal / private, though in coordination with the MPC and other similar groups.

I note you didn't mention the budget you have to work with - for some of these choices, accessorizing to set up readiness comes with additional costs.

Well, I was originally hoping to keep mount + scope under $11K or so, but I'm willing to increase that if the benefits are significant. A more expensive mount would for sure keep me with the 11" EdgeHD.

Getting away from how you came about your information, if you're concerned about QA issues surrounding the Losmandy G11 ("I also recently heard that Losmandy is now shipping their mounts without being tested after assembly"), I'm curious why you'd still have the Losmandy Titan on your list of candidate mounts.., It is, after all, made in the same shop, made and QA'd by the same people as the G11, you see.

I've mostly heard bad things about the G11; I'm not sure if the Titan has the same problems, hence its inclusion on my list.

Have a think about what I've said here - particularly about your expected start up be end-game payloads as well as budget, okay?

In addition to the OTA and the stock finder scope, the only other things I anticipate needing are a dovetail, perhaps a Robofocus, and camera (leaning toward the ST-8XME); the latter weighs about 2 lbs.

I should add that the source for my info about Losmandy, as well as for a positive recommendation for the CGE Pro, was Dr Clay Sherrod (the Supercharge guy). He also doesn't like the Gemini controller, and pointed out that the Paramount requires the TheSkyX.

If I rule out the Pro, the Titan and the MX, that leaves the AP and Tak. The AP is $8750 vs. $9195 for the Tak, plus appx. $1300 for a tripod -- so more than twice the cost of the CGE Pro.

#22 LLEEGE

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 07:48 AM

And more then twice the performance. :)

#23 DeanS

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:32 AM

AP and TAK are in a different league altogether from the others. Either one is worth the $$$ The titan is a good mount but everyone agrees the electronics is the weak link right now.

AP can be used without a computer if you want to, I like not depending on a computer if I don't want to. AP can have PEC programed, but my errors are so smooth I don't use it when I am guiding. Many adpaters available for different pier/tripod mounting options. Price for accessories are reasonable, and most ship immediately.

Tak is suppose to have a better polar aligment scope, although I never have problems with my AP polar scopes. Tak parts are expensive, at least here.

I think you will find that owners of each mount are pretty loyal, and happy with their choice. Can't go wrong with either.

#24 Mirzam

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:01 AM

I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the Mathis Instruments fork mounts. Or do we need portability here?

Fork mounts allow tracking through the meridian without flipping--which is useful for photometry for a variety of reasons.

JimC

#25 Mirzam

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:07 AM

If portability is required, why not just get a CPC-11 with a wedge? Put the rest of the budget into an SBIG self-guiding camera.

JimC






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