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Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts

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#1 Ad Astra

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 02:37 PM

Hi Folks!

I'm looking for some advice, and I'm not sure I'm getting the best from some of the manufacturer's reps I've been chatting with on email. So, once again, I'm turning to my friends on CN to help with a little unbiased (and real-world) advice! :grin:

I have an Apomax 133mm f/12 refractor -- and it has been a :gve: relationship for over 10 years now! The views are spectacular, and I've never seen this scope's equal on planetary and lunar work. The problem is that this beast is BIG!! 1600mm f/l, about 20 Kg (42 lbs) and almost 190 cm (75 inches) from dew shield to eyepiece. It's a monster!

I do mostly visual work, but I'd love to do some astrophotography - I have the scope and a good camera, my problem has always been the mount! Currently the scope is mounted on a Celestron CGEM mount - very unsatisfactory! It tracks ok for visual work (unless it is very windy), but the motors strain when slewing anywhere above the slowest speed, and the clutches just can't hold my long green scope steady at all.

I've looked at, and rejected, many mounts, and I have my eye on just two - if there is a 3rd (or a 4th!!!) I haven't considered, please clue me in!
One is the CGE-Pro mount from Celestron. At about 5K including tripod, it is has plenty of payload capacity, and as this thing was designed for a 20" CDK, I figure it will hold my refractor. Downside? Very heavy lift to get the 25 Kg EQ head to the top of the tripod, and the mount is only marginally tall enough - at zenith, the eyepiece is less than 60 cm (24 inches) from the ground and very uncomfortable!

The second mount I'm looking at is the Mach1 GTO from Astro-Physics - just under 6K w/o any pier or tripod. Slightly lower payload (still well capable of handling the weight of my scope), and much better reviewed performance for photographic work. Downside? After purchasing a 60" pier or tripod for the Mach1, adapter plates, counterweights, etc. (all extra) I'm now approaching (if not over) $9K. Heck, for 10K, I can get an CGE-14-HD with all the trimmings!

Additionally, when I contacted A-P, the advice the tech gave is that the Mach1 won't hold a scope of my size steady - even for visual work!! I have to think that if the (by comparison) lowly CGEM will do the work, then a Mach1 certainly should. A-P tech claims that: "The scope is heavy and long, so it will not be stable on the Mach1 size mount. The long tube length requires a larger gearwheel in the two axes in order to hold the scope rigidly enough even for visual. It is a matter of torque transferred to the gearteeth." (My emphasis!)

So what is the 'real world' situation? I'm sure that Roland's standards of "acceptable tracking and steadyness" are quite a bit different from mine - could the Mach1 do the job? The A-P folks frankly recommended an A-P 900 GTO mount - nice, but Santa and the Easter Bunny just laughed at me. With a base price of about 9K (before tripod, adapter plates, counterweights, etc.) and waaaaay out of my reach!

Any help from the Peanut Gallery or the FWIW Bureau would be greatly appreciated! :bow:

Dan

#2 adamsp123

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 02:59 PM

Are you wanting to image the planets/lunar or DSOs, if it the latter I think you will get frustrated using that scope at F12, you would need incredibly long subs and a very big and expensive mount to be able (maybe) to do that.
Just as an example a 4 min sub with my F5.3 would mean you need a 20 min sub for the equivalent light capture of a DSO on the camera chip, now that is a big ask of any mount, even guided, with that size scope.

#3 Ad Astra

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:07 PM

Not really a scope for DSO's at all. The aperture is a little small and the f/l is incredibly long for that.

Most of the photographic work I've done has been on Luna (successful!) and Mars (meh!). Photographic work is really secondary for me - visual work is primary.

Dan

#4 jrcrilly

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:13 PM

One is the CGE-Pro mount from Celestron. At about 5K including tripod, it is has plenty of payload capacity, and as this thing was designed for a 20" CDK,


Although the mount originally proposed for the 20" CDK was designated CGE Pro, the model currently using that designation bears little or no resemblance.

#5 t.r.

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:19 PM

I think you would be just fine on a Mach 1 for visual and planetary imaging. For DSO imaging, okay maybe pushing it on a windy night. No reason it won't work for visual on the right tripod/pier. See here the size comparison to a CGE...

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#6 Ad Astra

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:37 PM

Although the mount originally proposed for the 20" CDK was designated CGE Pro, the model currently using that designation bears little or no resemblance.


Very sad... but I will take your word for it. Some others have said the same.

There seems to be a BIG gap between the $1,000 - $1,500 mounts and the 6K & up pricetag / performance of the next level.

Thanks!

Dan



#7 Ad Astra

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:45 PM

Hi T.R!

Thanks, your photo with the two side-by-side is a great help! :bow: I may wish to take up a large DSO reflector someday, but the big refractor is plenty for now.

I've never actually done an astrophoto with an exposure of more than a couple of minutes duration! I can't see doing long exposures with this refractor - entirely wrong instrument for that!

Plus if I stick with a Mach1, I might be able to afford a Pier-Tech-2 adjustable pier to put underneath it... nice not to have to lift all that glass onto a 60" high platform! That combo would still keep the total at about $9K - I can swing that if my bonus comes in!

Dan

#8 DeanS

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 03:48 PM

I moved up from a Mach1 to the AP900 when I bought my TOA-150. I was told it would work but I just felt the 900 would give me a little better stability.

Have yet to mount the TOA on it yet though :p I use my 1200 for imaging with it, and planned on using the 900 for visual use in the field.

I would highly recommend the AP900, for just a little more you get almost twice the payload. These mounts are something you will likely keep for life. And there is no comparison between an AP mount and a Celestron.

Good luck

#9 drksky

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 04:51 PM

Uh, the 900 base price is about 3K more than a Mach-1. Not sure I would call that a little bit.

A Mach-1 with accessories you might get away with 7.5-8K. For a 900, you're talking 10K+ for the mount, pier, plates, CWs, etc.

#10 DeanS

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 05:53 PM

Accessories for both will be about the same so that is a wash.

Yes it is more $$$ than just a little, but it has nearly twice the capacity. I have not looked at the cost lately. However if he is concerned about it then this might be a better option. Better too much mount than not enough.

Personally I would put the extra money into the mount before a expensive pier. That could be added later if really needed.

#11 zawijava

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 06:07 PM

I have not owned or used a Mach 1 but have owned/used both the 900 and 1200 AP's. I had my 6" f/15 D&G [about 30 lbs total] on the 900 and I feel comfortable saying it carried it very well. But if I rapped on the tube or if the wind was blowing I would have to wait for the image to settle down....definitely not "rock solid". My point being that I don't believe the Mach 1 would be up to the task of carrying your tube. The AP Tech is giving you some good advise :bow:

Tim

#12 gnowellsct

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Posted 20 January 2011 - 11:29 PM

Why not get a used AP900 and save $2k

greg N

#13 gdd

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:09 AM

How about a Titan? This info from the Losmandy site:

Photographic instrument weight capacity 100 lbs.
Equatorial Head weight 75 lbs. Breaks down into R.A. 37.5 lbs. & DEC. 37.5 lbs



Or, check out this thread for a large refractor mount:

http://www.cloudynig...5/o/all/fpart/1


Gale

#14 Ad Astra

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:51 AM

I moved up from a Mach1 to the AP900 when I bought my TOA-150. I was told it would work but I just felt the 900 would give me a little better stability.

I would highly recommend the AP900, for just a little more you get almost twice the payload. These mounts are something you will likely keep for life. And there is no comparison between an AP mount and a Celestron.

Good luck


Hi DeanS,

It's nice to hear from someone who has used both!
Yes, ideally, I would very much like to get an AP-900, but the difference is almost $3,000 - about 50% more than the Mach1. That is a very significant amount for me, hence the agonized comparisons!

Re: the pier, a Pier-Tech portable pier is about $2,800, any other folding triod, portable pier is at least 2K-$2,400. Pier-Tech represents being able to put the heavy scope on the mount at waist level, and still be able to get it up off the ground. Alas, 55-60" piers and tripods are not cheap. When I started researching this stuff, the prices took my breath away!

If I have an extra $500-800 to spend, I'm thinking the pier-tech might be better, and much cheaper than swapping up to an AP-900. Unless the Mach1 just won't do the job, and then it isn't in the running. I just haven't satisfied myself on that point yet!

Thanks for your help!

Dan

#15 Ad Astra

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 03:05 AM

I have not owned or used a Mach 1 but have owned/used both the 900 and 1200 AP's. I had my 6" f/15 D&G [about 30 lbs total] on the 900 and I feel comfortable saying it carried it very well. But if I rapped on the tube or if the wind was blowing I would have to wait for the image to settle down....definitely not "rock solid". My point being that I don't believe the Mach 1 would be up to the task of carrying your tube. The AP Tech is giving you some good advise :bow:
Tim


Thanks, Tim!
I really like the AP-900, but that leaves me with only one affordable option - the plain AP portable pier. The thing that makes me hesitate is my long tube needs a 60" tall mount, and putting a mount and tube up that high is difficult and dangerous for me and the equipment.

That said, I think an AP-900/basic pier combo still costs $2,500 more than a Mach1/Pier-Tech adjustable pier combo.

Maybe I should look into a Losmandy Titan?

Thanks for the help!

Dan

#16 Ad Astra

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 03:13 AM

Why not get a used AP900 and save $2k

greg N


Do you happen to know where one could get ahold of such an item? A PM would be highly appreciated!

From everything I've been able to determine, they are never produced in great numbers, acquiring one is akin to a grail quest - cherished heirlooms which are passed on to close family members and such. Tales of used AP mounts and scopes are like unicorns and chupacabra -- you hear a lot about them, but you never actually seem to see one for yourself! ;)

Dan

#17 Paul G

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 07:50 AM

There's a photo with the Mach1 and the 900 GTO side by side on the AP GTO users group.

Posted Image

#18 gillmj24

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 08:28 AM

Simple.

Place a wanted ad here in shop and swap or on Astromart.

If you are new to Astromart (also referred to as "AM" in various forums including here) then it will cost you $12. You'll save more than that on your first purchase though, I'd bet.

#19 rfic1

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:25 AM

My ApoMax rides on a older AP800 mount and is a nice match. If you are looking for Goto capability I would rec a used Tak NJP. You would need to get the long legs in view of the length of the ApoMax. I second your opinion on the views with this scope. I think it is the finest 5" for lunar,planetary and double star work.

#20 Markls

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:44 AM

Have you considered a Losmandy G-11. Installing the one piece Ovision block gives very good, not excellent tracking. That package will cost only $4k new, including the HD tripod. You have to be willing to tweak the mount to get great tracking. If you are not a mechanical person, you might want to look at a different mount. The AP class mounts work perfect, right out of the box.

Have you looked at the new Paramount MX? This is a brand new mount and it looks to be in the class of the AP900. They will start shipping them out soon.

You appear to be looking at all the angles. So, if I were you, I would also go onto AstroMart. Pay the $12 entrance fee. Check out all the mounts they have listed. There have listings for all the AP and Losmandy mounts. Every mount I have purchased there (along with my Mach one) has been well taken care of. Some of these mounts come with a custom case and a lot of necessary accessories. A used AP900 over there, with all the accessories, would cost you about $8k.

After the mount, the accessories for imaging are what REALLY ADD UP $2k - $4k (or more) for Camera(s), guidescope, hardware, connectors, dew heater/straps, battery(s), filter wheel/filters (if you go with a mono camera), software, computer, etc.

There is a very steep learning curve to imaging. It takes a lot of time and patience to grow up this hobby. Half the fun is all the learning/sharing with everyone here on the forums. The other half is when all things work right and the images come out looking like you want them to. That gives you bragging rights!

I hope you find everything you want (need?) and have a good time doing it!



Mark

#21 rfic1

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:01 AM

Hi Mark,
The G-11 is undersized for the Apomax. I think one would be disappointed using that mount with a ApoMax.

#22 dawziecat

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:04 AM

Post deleted by dawziecat

#23 gillmj24

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:28 AM

AP has increased mount production quite a lot the last few years. In the past year they've done a run of Mach 1, 900, & 1200 with a 3600 run thrown in for good measure. The Years of waiting for a mount are over and you could have a used one in a few weeks if you ask for one. There's always someone upgrading downsizing or just going in a new direction. They just finished a 900 run recently and the next batch of new 1200's will ship in the next couple months.

Wait times for refractors are still years but don't let that discourage you from getting a mount from them.

#24 CounterWeight

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 11:53 AM

Hard to imagine anyone not recommending the 900 :) !!

I love my Mach1 GTO but it's not magical. For reference it holds my TEC APO 160ED (with piggybacked Onyx80edf and all imaging gear)just fine even in winds [yes even for long exposure imaging] on my re-inforced concrete pier. Anything I say may sound a bit fanatical, but A-P mounts are IMO a relative bargain if you 'need' all or even most they are capable of. Sure it's an expensive bargain, but I'm not wealthy enough to buy these things (mounts) more than once, and no desire to go broke saving money (which sort of happened).

Thats my image of the CGE/Mach1 comparison Tim posted above - and my experience with the Mach1 is still under a year - but it has 'blown the doors off' the other mount pictured on every metric. A-P customer service / after sale support same thing comparatively. There really is no comparison. (this with same scopes and requirements)

The mount (Mach1) looks pretty 'tiny' relatively speaking under my TEC and that would only be more so under the scope you are using, smaller aperture but longer OTA. If my understanding is correct the 900 is a more physically massive mount using the same motors / control as the Mach1. (folks will correct that if needs be) Perhaps what the folks on the phone were saying is that you'll be 'on the edge' of what they like to recommend, and additional mass of the 900 will be a certainty for rock solid stability.

If you see the Mach1 as a possible choice - as Joseph mentioned look or place a 'wanted' add and maybe patience will reward. After trying for yourself you'll know the answer and if you need to go up to the 900 there'll be no doubts.

Good luck in your efforts.

#25 M13 Observer

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:05 PM

AP has increased mount production quite a lot the last few years. In the past year they've done a run of Mach 1, 900, & 1200 with a 3600 run thrown in for good measure. The Years of waiting for a mount are over and you could have a used one in a few weeks if you ask for one. There's always someone upgrading downsizing or just going in a new direction. They just finished a 900 run recently and the next batch of new 1200's will ship in the next couple months.

Wait times for refractors are still years but don't let that discourage you from getting a mount from them.


I think that this is a bit optimistic but is said with the correct intentions. The used market for AP1200 and Mach1GTO is still quite restricted. There seem to be a few more AP900 mounts popping up lately though as people either downsize to the Mach1 or upsize to the 1200. As well, with new buyers, the price difference between the 900 and 1200 is not that great and buyers continually decide more on how much they are getting of something for a dollar amount rather than fitting what they are getting to their actual needs. I can tell you from experience that a 1200 is NOT really a portable mount. I consider it luggable at best with the heaviest portion when disassembled weighing in at around 50 pounds. That's not bad you say - until you put it in a box or other rigid or semi-rigid container with sufficient padding to protect it, etc. All of a sudden it is an awkward 60 pounds and you start to think that maybe I should have gone for the 900 after all! Now, the 900 mount is quite portable indeed. Even before disassembly, the 900 mount weighs in at nearly the same amount as the largest disassembled section of the 1200 - and it comes apart into two quite small lightweight chunks.

The Mach1GTO doesn't really come apart. It does, but it doesn't unless you want to be fiddling around with some long bolts, hex keys, etc. A set of hex keys and a multi-bit screwdriver are highly recommended to have on hand if you are going remote but to have to rely on them to take apart and put together a mount I wouldn't recommend. Now, the Mach1GTO is quite light as is and quite strong for it's size. It will certainly be adequate to hold up the mount and work with if there is absolutely no breeze, but the scope you are mounting on it is long and long scopes have big moment arms in the wind. The Mach1 definitely won't be the best mount in that case. AP suggests up to a 45 pound load but has limitations based up the length of the OTA. It only makes sense. With that long focal length, it is past any design limits of a small mount. I use a 36 pound 7 inch instrument on my Mach1 from time to time and it is definitely at the limits of what the mount can handle. AP has suggested the AP900 and I would heartily concur. It is probably the best you can get in this application. If you want something quite a bit less portable then the AP1200 will do admirably as well.

Since I am an AP bigot I would also suggest that you have a look at the new baby Paramount. I know the capacity is there but I don't know whether it disassembles and therefor can truly be called portable, and I think it requires an external computer to control and use it. A G-11 is too lightweight, the Mach1GTO is far more substantial and if isn't enough then the G-11 is of no use to you in this application. A Titan is a maybe but what is the status of the Gemini system and/or its replacement, and is the Titan a truly portable mount as well? I have heard stories of a definitely love - hate relationship with the Titan as well over the years.

Now I know a lot of what I said above relates to portability and since you are thinking about a Pier Tech pier you are thinking a non-portable setup. At the same time you haven't said whether the pier stays put, or the pier and the mount stays put, or the pier mount and telescope stay put in one place. If you are planning on assembling and disassembling most nights then you had best be considering portability as well.

You might also want to consider a new tripod manufacturer. His name is Rob Miller of Catamount Systems. Very reasonably priced, made in America, high quality goods. I hope he decides to get more involved with CN as well but he is really just getting started in this latest venture. I am not associated in any manner. Just a really happy customer.






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