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Newbie w/ 11" Edge HD and CGEM - need Mount advice

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#1 MadMan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:00 PM

I am 3 months into this great hobby and am getting a little better (see pics below) but am a VERY disappointed owner of certain products and VERY happy with others in just the 3 months and $10K I have put into it so far.

Specifically, I love the quality of the Explore Scientific, ADM and Baader products I have purchased. The quality of the Celestron products is not what I had expected. It takes all I can do to get my CGEM mount to track with nothing more than my 11" Edge HD, Canon 5D and a top mounted ED80 with a lodestar. That alone required me to purchase an extension counterweight system from ADM and hang 28 lbs way off into space. Forget pictures without the guidescope as the 11" weighs over 30 lbs alone and with the camera and (God forbid) a Dew Shield, it wouldn't track for a 25 second exposure.

Anyway, I am looking for suggestions for a new mount. I am very much into this and hate wasting time making cheap Chinese *BLEEP* that costs like it was out of Switzerland work for me.

I have seen (of course) that the CGEM DX was announced and am tempted to get one this March - but the QC on the product line concerns me. I am, however, addicted to using my Logitech Wingman and NexRemote setup.

Is there a mount that has the same remote gamepad and software slewing capability, truly CAN handle 40 lbs of equipment for photography, that itself doesn't weigh 200lbs and cost $5K out there? Sounds like a lot to ask.

Looking for advice and thanks again guys. I am here for the long haul.

Mike

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#2 MadMan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:02 PM

And some of my work after 11 weeks since I bought my first scope and with no experience with any camera per se, least of all my Dad's 5D which I have been borrowing. I am determined to get better.

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#3 MadMan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:02 PM

M42 - 19x30s - 1600 iso - DSS

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#4 MadMan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:04 PM

Crab nebula. Two hours of exposures under poor conditions. Tried my first curve work in photoshop and the Starizona levelizer/zonemask products.

Check out bigger pictures in my new dedication section to this hobby on my website.

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#5 Eddgie

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:25 PM

I am not at all surprised that the mount is not meeting your needs because it was probably designed for someone that needs less mount than you do.

Your load is not only heavy, the center of gravity is very far out due to the way you have mounted your ancillary components on top of the primary OTA.

Even if you get another mount, you might want to consider a side by side saddle setup.

Even a G11 I think is going to struggle with this particular load configuration. The more you raise the center of gravity, the more counterweights you need, and the more your stability suffers.

A G11 MIGHT do if you reconfigure your mounting.

Otherwise, you might want to go to a Titan or Astro Physics or something.

Seriously dude, your mount is overloaded in this configuration. Even if you reconfigured this particular mount with a side by side saddle, I think you would be pushing it.

Good luck.

#6 Eddgie

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:26 PM

Oh, and NICE pics!

#7 Scotty H

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:44 PM

I dont want to sound too harsh but the CGEM mount with the 11HD is already at the top end of the mounts limit with the OTA, when you start puting all your AP equipment on said mount it's going to have problems unfortunately. However the pics you have uploaded are in no way bad at all :)
And if money is no object then i'd go for a Paramount etc..... :bow:

#8 nemo129

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:23 PM

Mike,
Nice pictures! I agree with the posters above, you are just asking too much of the CGEM. I know that Celestron marketed your set up for AP...and well...it will work for lunar and planetary...not so good for long exposures for DSOs. I am about in the same boat as you...I have a CGEM and the 11" EdgeHD. I did a little AP with the EdgeHD...then put it in its case and started shooting with my 80mm APO refractor and an AT8RC...it is so much more fun. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will probably need an AP900GTO to fufill my needs for AP with the 11" EdgeHD, so I started a seperate savings account for that. I have seen AP900GTO's go for as little as $6K used and new you will be over $9K...but I firmly believe you get what you pay for! Yes it would be nice if you could get a premium mount like an AP or a TAK for under $5K, but right now it just will not happen. I wish you luck as it sounds like you really like astrophtography.

#9 bardo

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:40 PM

use your loadstar with an OAG and that will cut out a huge amount of weight.

#10 MadMan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 08:43 PM

Thank you gents. I tried to do as much homework as possible before I purchased, but I have too little time and patience plus couldn't really find too much out. And when you are a newbie, the 'name' you have heard all your life as the leader tends to get favored. Childhood's End - again - like so many other things ;)

From last to first reply:

Bardo, the OAG idea seems like a wonderful suggestion. Do you know if that has been done successfully and if so, would you rec the Celestron OAG product?

Nemo129, sorry about you having gone down the same road. I have been in RC helicopters and airplanes for many years and made a website that sold nothing but became popular for videos and brutally honest reviews back when the technology was starting. When I get into something I finish until I am either VERY good at it or beaten, and will document this experience on my website as time permits the same way I did my other interest - hopefully to benefit newbies. Does the AP900 or even the Celestron higher end mount provide any level of portability? I mean, less than 100 lbs with tripod or something one guy can setup by himself without wearing a hernia truss? If so, I am going to look into them because that is why I bought this CGEM/11" combo. I was new to the hobby and portability was required to bring the setups for use at dark sky locations during events i go to with my rc heli hobby. Money wasnt too much of a problem so much as the ability to transport the equipment away from my LP home location. I didnt even know those other manufacturers existed 12 weeks ago and getting the 200 lb hi end celestron mount didnt seem to fit the bill.

Eddgie, as i wrote in another post, i didnt mean to bad mouth the celestron product so much as their marketing. The cgem / 11" edge hd combo is pitched as AP ready and I even called to ask before i bought it. If it was sold as visual it would have been a little more honest thats all. I do have an adm sbs V system that i tried on the cgem with the 8se and ed80/lodestar and it was much better. I am not sure the additional 4 or 5 lbs the sbs system adds to the 11" ota doesnt break even on the current setup, but will try.
If there are any mounts that can be SUV portable that handle an 11" sct and guidescope, I will likely pay the price and add the cgem to my 8se and its mount to the 'sell at a loss' bucket (and never sell it). The price of not doing enough homework i guess.

Thanks Scotty. I am proud of them with only 6 weeks in the hobby and never even having used a hi end DSLR before (the one I am using is my Dad's I borrowed it permanently I suspect). Problem is the CGEM works ok about 25% of my setups. Not to be mean to celestron but this is a good product that is just oversold. I will keep trying and keep posting and building the AP section of my website or setup a new one to document the experience and help newbies/users get the straight skinny. Wish I spent more time on this great forum before I purchased, but that's why EBay was invented anyway! The forums in the RC heli business became controlled and you couldn't post an honest review. This one seems different. All for fun anyway but my time is precious and it is frustrating to have rooms full of stuff that i buy to get to the right setups.

Cost be damned, any suggestions for the best mount for AP with 35-50 lbs of equipment, that can be SUV transported and setup by one person, that is as computer / wingman remote friendly (I like Nexremote) as the CGEM - are all welcome and appreciated. Or recs like the OAG idea above!

Thanks again,

Mike

#11 bardo

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 09:12 PM

AP mach1...if costs be damned. as for an OAG i dont know. i use an orion deluxe and its alright. with the loadstar you wont have to do any hunting for guidestars, which is the reason many dont like an OAG. but for you any decent one should be just fine. also you could consider a kwiq guider or even adaptive optics.

#12 gdd

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 09:39 PM

Hi Mike,

The CGEM comes bundled with choices of C8, C9.25, and C11 which suggests the C11 will be at the limits of the mount's capabilities. As to whether the CGEM as suitable for AP with a C11 - that question can be answered yes or no depending what limitations you are willing to accept. For example, AP at the C11's native FL for hour long exposures with narrowband imaging and no OAG guide stars may be beyond that limit.

I looked at full sized pictures on your website. They looked really good to me. I noticed most astrophotographers do not seem to publish their images at actual size but at a reduced size to really sharpen them up and reduce star bloat.

So can the CGEM/C11 combo do AP? Yes it can. But if you want to take the C11 to the limit you may need a top-tier mount.

Other mounts for under 5K include used the used CGE and perhaps the G11 with a one piece wormblock upgrade. Another trick I saw one person do was to undersling the guide scope. You can also buy a more sturdy tripod or even a pier to increase the load capacity of your CGEM.

I am also a newbie, still in the R&D stage, so this is just of rehash of what I have read elsewhere.



Gale

#13 MadMan

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 11:38 PM

Bardo, thanks man. THe Kiwguider looks like something I can make with my extra Explore Scientific finder scope (got the ED127 coming in addition to the ED80 I have) by adapting the lodestar directly to it. Will have to see if that works and if I can get the back focus. On another note, glad I posted today because I didn't even know anything like adaptive optics existed and am now reading about it.

GDD, you are doing some smart R&D and thank you very much for your compliments about the photos. The R&D takes a lot of time as I am sure you are finding out - especially if you don't know much about the hobby.

FYI - and based soley on my experience over about 20 trial nights, the C11 ability to get exposures regardless of how well the CGEM is balanced along all axes without a guidescope/camera is VERY limited - and I mean like 30 seconds. With a guidescope and camera, and I mean a GOOD one like I have with the lodestar, it is hit and miss due to approaching 40 lbs and very dependent on which side of the meridian you are on vis-a-vie tail or top heavy balance and all sorts of other conditions. I am running about a 25% hit rate with balance and the pictures you see are the 3 that were pretty successful out of over 20 attempts and multiple hours of wasted time. The longest exposure I have gotten (and it had SOME star trailing in it) with perfect conditions and luck was 10 minutes.

GDD, you seem to really be doing your homework. Do you know anything about the weight of the CGE and can you point me at any articles or links regarding the G11 with the wormblock upgrade, the undersling trick or info on 'piers' or tripod adaption of the CGEM? WOuld be VERY appreciated.

#14 Peter in Reno

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 12:08 AM

OAG is the best guiding method because it eliminates flexure. With a guide scope, there will always be flexure between guide scope and imaging scope no matter how tight.

I used to have a guide scope guiding an SCT and I had nothing but problems. I replaced the guide scope with OAG and problem quickly disappeared.

I also have Lodestar and I never have problems finding a guide star with CPC0800 thanks to high sensitivity Lodestar.

I highly suggest you to try out OAG. My OAG is Hutech OAG and it's one of the best. It costs more than Celestron OAG but worth every penny.

http://www.sciencece.../mitsub/oag.htm

Peter

#15 gdd

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 04:28 AM

Hi Mike,

You will find a lot of links about CGEMS at the Yahoo site "CelestronCGEM". For the G11 there is the LosmandyUsers and GeminiUsers Yahoo sites. You will find lots of threads articles on piers, tripods, reducing periodic errors. Of course there is a lot of info here at CN also.

The consensus seems to be a pier is the most stable platform on which to place your mount. A heavy duty tripod like the Berleback Planet is also frequently mentioned.


The PemPro software is used to measure the period error of your mount, find what part of your mount is mechanically deficient, and measure flexure. It will help you decide what corrections you need to make. Flexure tends to magnify the effects of period error.

For unguided tracking (no autoguider) you need low periodic error. For that you need smooth bearings and and a precision worm. People attempting to take their CGEM mount to the limit will use a hypertuning service to make mechanical improvments. A popular service is
http://www.deepspace...4226_8661.html. They recently added a high precision ring gear/worm replacement for $500 for each access. This is the ultimate and most expensive upgrade for lowering periodic error, so carefully consider whether you really need it.

The Off Axis Guiders (OAG) are best because they add little weight and allow you to remove your guide scope. It's limitation is the need for relatively bright guide stars, hard to come by when imaging at F10 like you are. If you later get into narrowband imaging the guide stars will be many times dimmer, so OAG would not work. This is where you need to lower your periodic error so you can minimize the work your autoguider needs to perform.

I will look around for that underslung guider. I remember it needed to be small (a 50mm finder scope I think) that was mounted on the underside of the the mount saddle.


Gale

#16 nemo129

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 08:17 AM

Does the AP900 or even the Celestron higher end mount provide any level of portability?



Mike,
I bought the "C" setup over a year ago before I had done enough research (I was then new to GEMs)...so my fault! As far as the AP900 being portable, I have seen personally and read reports here on CN from lots of folks using it as a portable mount either on tripods or portable piers. I have done better research on this one. Painful Le$$on learned!

#17 MadMan

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:05 AM

Thank you guys. Very useful informtion. I think the best approach initially while I research my next mount will be to get a good OAG. Peter, I am going to look into the Hutech today.

Mike

#18 gdd

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:28 AM

Another option when for high resolution AP is to upgrade the camera from a DSLR to a SBIG A08. With normal autoguiding the mount motors must move the entire mass of the mount, telescope and all the photographic equipement. The A08 uses adaptive optics, only a mirror in the camera moves.

Gale

#19 bobhen

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:58 AM

If you are serious about imaging and producing quality images with repeatable results and the least amount of frustration (and it sounds like you are) then the most important part of your set up will be the mount. And as you are learning, it’s not an area where you want to skimp.

The next mount you should seriously consider is one of mounts from Astro-Physics. They are designed with the imager in mind. Just chose the mount that fits your load, portability needs, and budget. Oh, and you can actually call them and tell them what you are trying to achieve. They will be more than happy to make a mount recommendation. Take their advice and you will see an improvement from the first night out.

Bob

#20 Peter in Reno

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:09 AM

The Off Axis Guiders (OAG) are best because they add little weight and allow you to remove your guide scope. It's limitation is the need for relatively bright guide stars, hard to come by when imaging at F10 like you are. If you later get into narrowband imaging the guide stars will be many times dimmer, so OAG would not work. This is where you need to lower your periodic error so you can minimize the work your autoguider needs to perform.


You can put any filter BEHIND the OAG so guide camera will not be filtered. In other words, place the filter in between OAG and imaging camera.

I have imaged at f/10 with C-8 and never had problems finding a guide star with Lodestar.

Astro-Physics Mach1GTO should easily handle a C-11. It has a 45lbs imaging capacity.

Peter

#21 gdd

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:38 AM


Quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Off Axis Guiders (OAG) are best because they add little weight and allow you to remove your guide scope. It's limitation is the need for relatively bright guide stars, hard to come by when imaging at F10 like you are. If you later get into narrowband imaging the guide stars will be many times dimmer, so OAG would not work. This is where you need to lower your periodic error so you can minimize the work your autoguider needs to perform.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



You can put any filter BEHIND the OAG so guide camera will not be filtered. In other words, place the filter in between OAG and imaging camera.

I have imaged at f/10 with C-8 and never had problems finding a guide star with Lodestar.

Astro-Physics Mach1GTO should easily handle a C-11. It has a 45lbs imaging capacity.

Peter



Hi Peter,

I was thinking about the placement of the filter after I posted my comment, I may not have been accurate but was confusing OA with AO. Isn't the AO device doing its own guiding independently of the autoguider (if you are using one) and also doing the imaging, therefore filter placement would be important?

Thanks for the information on the LoadStar capabilities with slow optics.


Gale

#22 gillmj24

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:41 AM

Seeing these pictures reminds me of the movie Mr Baseball when hotshot Tom Selleck's character first gets to take batting practice in front of his new japanese manager. hitting most of them out of the park too.

Uchiyama-san: "You have a hole in your swing."
Jack Elliot: "Ball can't seem to find it."


You seem to be doing a fine job even with a maxed-out mount!

#23 Peter in Reno

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:46 AM

Hi Peter,

I was thinking about the placement of the filter after I posted my comment, I may not have been accurate but was confusing OA with AO. Isn't the AO device doing its own guiding independently of the autoguider (if you are using one) and also doing the imaging, therefore filter placement would be important?

Thanks for the information on the LoadStar capabilities with slow optics.


Gale


I have never use AO but I have seen pictures of SX AO with OAG and you can still put filters behind OAG.

http://www.starlight...o.uk/SXV-AO.htm

Peter

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#24 MadMan

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 10:47 AM

GDD, have thought about the AO8 but probably after I get stability and weight down in general.

Bobhen, they have a PHONE number and someone ANSWERS? Will wonders never cease :). AP is first on my research list from the feedback so far. Right after I get an OAG which is the first thing to do to put to bed any question about the CGEM and likely useful in any setup down the road regardless.

Peter, good to know. Does Hutech provide any help in selecting the proper equipment for my setup and is the OAG 'portable' between, say, the visual back on my C11" SCT and the ED127 refractor tube I will be using as another AP platform option?

Joseph, thank you but have a long way to go. Going to take years I suspect - and lots of cash :(

#25 Peter in Reno

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 11:08 AM

Hutech has all the necessary adapters to work with their OAG. Mine is OAG5 which is a little smaller than the more expensive and larger OAG6. Hutech will be more than happy to help you select the right components to meet your needs. They have the right parts for both of your scopes. Also, the OAG replaces the visual back and threads directly to the rear cell of C-11 to eliminate flexure. For your refractor, Hutech offers 2" nosepiece to adapt to refractor focuser.

Hutech OAG6 might be better because your C-11 has a wide 3.25" opening but it may be too big for your refractor. There are limited number of adapters for OAG6 and will be pretty expensive.

This is my OAG setup with SXVR-M25C camera and focal reducer. The 2" IDAS LPS filter is hidden inside and right before the camera.

Peter

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