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What can I say - A Mach1 and Eagle

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#51 nemo129

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:45 PM

So, to quote the most recent owner of a Mach 1 that I know of:

"making the jump to a Mach1 feels like a paradigm shift in how I perceive my equipment. It's that profound."

and

"It was one of those, "If you don't buy it now, you'll regret it later.." moments..."

If you really want the mount and you are not going to lose your house or something more valuable...your wife..I don't know if you are married so forgive any presumption, buy the mount!! It is very obvious that you really really want one and have given a good deal of thought to it. Anyway, life it far to short not to enjoy good things that are within your reach. Just my .02!

#52 drksky

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:51 PM

Just trying to be a responsible adult, and that is fighting with my inner-child :D

#53 nemo129

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:59 PM

One more quote and I am done ;) ...I am not sure if you are a Dr. Who fan or not...but the character once said: "There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." :)
BTW ...I just bought a G11, granted no where near the investment you are looking at, but for me it was a leap!

Now back to our regularly scheduled thread of "ooooing" and "ahhhhing" over George's new mount!

#54 mewmartigan

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:24 PM

Just trying to be a responsible adult, and that is fighting with my inner-child :D


My responsible adult won this battle for years.....but the wife's blessing gave my inner child the boost in needed :p

#55 BlueGrass

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 10:35 PM

Kirk,
You gave me a good chuckle, after a long day of commuting and fixing all those sad little computers we depend so much on .... :rofl2:

Mounts of this class (and much higher) are an investment. Not just in a money sense, since they do retain most of their value, but an investment in the hobby. For my goals and desires, I don't see myself out growing the Mach1. Maybe, someday, perhaps but that's so far in the future I can't even think that far ahead. I'm thinking the next 5 years, 10 years of use. This is a mount that I really won't tax anytime soon with my imaging plans. 4 - 5" APO? No problem. 8" SCT / RC? No problem. I'm sure others will chime in with their larger setups and performance info.
So, for everyone on the list, or thinking about getting on the list, all I can say is you have to make the decision. Don't let others sway your thinking. I've yet to have mine outside, hopefully this weekend.... this crummy weather can't last all Spring and Summer .. right? .... RIGHT? :foreheadslap:

#56 drksky

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 10:44 PM

this crummy weather can't last all Spring and Summer .. right? .... RIGHT


I'm starting to wonder. It's a good thing I don't have a mount right now or I'd REALLY be depressed.

#57 Duncan Kitchin

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 11:46 PM

Much the same thing here... I've only just got my Atlas back together - the one clear night of the year a week or so ago and the motor control board finally gave up the ghost (it's been making a funny noise for a while. I'm generally concerned when solid-state electronics makes noises). Orion came through very quickly and I got a replacement board...

Now, of course, the weather is back to type for this time of year in the NW.

Maybe I'll be in line to get a new mount by the time the clouds clear in, like, July?

:(

Regards & Clear Skies
Duncan

#58 BlueGrass

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 01:16 AM

Hopefully not that long .... Don't think I could take sitting in the house until July.... :help:

Frankly, at this point in time, I'm ready for a road trip. We're getting the camper out of storage at month's end and once it's serviced, I'll be looking at the southern deserts for relief, if that's possible ... if only for one or two blissful nights ...

#59 BlueGrass

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 12:49 AM

I've done some extensive testing and setup configurations. One item that I really like is the ASCOM driver and it's setup / monitoring features. I'm using Cartes du Ciel 3. The ASCOM driver reported a few COM errors using the lower RS232 port but none with the upper port.

There were two 10.7 x 1.87 CW shafts included in the boxes as well as the standard 14.5 x 1.12 shaft. The CWs are for the shorter shaft. The 10.7 shafts can be joined to give a 20" CW bar and allows me to mount any combination of gear I have. I can't seem to find the actual weight of this shaft but I'm estimating about 5 to 7lbs.

Although it looks a bit much with that length of CW shaft (20") and they don't completely mate together, anyone done something similar? This all goes back to the CW closer / CW farther away discussions that pop up here every few months. My original intent was to get another 10lb CW and use a single shaft but I'm thinking that a shaft extension would do just as well and be alot cheaper. Any thoughts on the CW distance question for these mounts? Based on what I've setup so far, this mount just doesn't seem to care ... :foreheadslap:

#60 RAKing

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 04:02 PM

The short shaft (M1053-A) weighs 7.7 pounds and was designed to stow inside the RA housing for travel.

I have the longer 1.87" shaft (M9404-A) and use it with two 14.5 pound Casady counterweights for my heavier scopes. My personal preference is to use the standard Mach1 shaft with a few 9 pound A-P weights and a couple Casady weights. I don't have a permanent setup so the thinner CW shaft is much easier to grab and carry with my arthritic hands. :cool:

To answer your other question - I don't think the mount cares. It's so robust and smooth, I have accidentally set it up way off balance and the mount never whined or complained. :bow:

Cheers,

Ron

#61 BlueGrass

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Posted 14 March 2011 - 07:10 PM

Ron,
That's what I'm finding out about the Mach1. It seems to be very underrated for its class, the 40lb limit listed by AP being conservative. Given that I'll probably order the 1.87 extension so that it mates with the short shaft properly and another 10lb CW, that should balance my current OTA AP setups nicely. If the standard short shafts would join properly, there would be no need for the extension but there is about a 1/4" gap.

#62 RAKing

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 12:05 PM

I wondered what was wrong. The M12675 shaft extension should mate perfectly with the short shaft.

The 45 pound capacity is given for imaging loads. I've seen much greater visual loads on this mount.

If your sig line is representative of your imaging gear, you will be very happy with the Mach1. I use a C8 with an SV80S riding piggyback and the mount doesn't even break a sweat. When I come home from NEAF, I expect to have an 8 inch R-C in the trunk. :roflmao:

Cheers,

Ron

#63 BlueGrass

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 12:48 PM

Ron,

The short shaft threaded end is what keeps them from joining without the small gap. I'll probably sell the second shaft to help fund more weights.

Yes, an 8" RC is what my next imaging scope will be too. The AT8RC is a perfect package, just have been waiting a bit in case the price drops after NEAF. And of course, there have been 'other' expenses ... ROFL ....

Finally, had first light last night for 4 hours ... I'll post more later this evening with some Phd graphs .... It's been said, but needs to be said again... This is an impressive mount.

#64 BlueGrass

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:48 PM

Mach1 first light –

Well, I’ve had the mount for almost two weeks now and finally had a chance to get it outside last night. The skies began to clear around 6pm but it looked like more clouds were coming in from the West. I thought: Right, there goes the CSC forecast….

After a brief nap and reading email, I checked the sky again around 8:30. Wow! Clear as a bell. I was tired after working all day but just couldn’t pass up this chance. If the forecast held, I should have at least 4 hours of cloud-free skies.

Looking over all the gear I wanted to setup and use, I decided to setup on the deck instead of in the yard. It had rained during the day and the grass was wet and cold. I’ve always had problems aligning and using my CGx mounts on my deck because of vibration and the deck boards flexing but really didn’t want to spend the evening in the mushy cold yard …

I was leery of how difficult setup and alignment would be, with the added instability caused by the deck. Just do it, I said … you have to get this puppy outside. You can’t let it sit in the den for another 2 weeks and then decide to do the initial setup away from home at a dark site with maybe something left behind ……

First off, let me say that the Mach1 and Eagle are easy to carry compared to my CGEM and its stock tripod. The Eagle is heavier than the CGEM tripod but is still easy to transport because of its design. The legs are held in-place by the center braces and don't flop around or bang into each other. The real advantage is the mount head itself. The CGEM head is heavier than the Mach1, probably due to it being rough cast instead of machined. It has always been a pain to pickup and carry. The Mach1 is lighter and stiffer in the axis so even if the clutches are loose, it doesn’t flop around in your arms ... :-)

I thought over the various ways given in the GTO manual for polar alignment or trying to use the Losmandy polar scope that came with the mount, but decided to try the first method listed in the manual. This involves sighting Polaris through the DEC bore hole and then using a sequence of slews and star alignments to adjust the mount's AZM and ALT settings to incrementally reduce the PA error. One very important point about this method. There is no initial GOTO slew to the first star that most of you who've used the Celestron firmware are familiar with. Instead, you manually move the OTA to the first alignment star and then the mount slews to where it calculates Polaris should be. This means that it's critical that you identify and know what star your using for the initial calibration slew to Polaris.

From a suburban sky, this is not a problem, but from a dark sky site where there are thousands and thousands of stars you can't see at home, it will be harder. So, for the initial alignment star, pick one that you can easily identify. I used Aldebaran. With this method, you can pick and choose what stars you want, until the mount begins to put Polaris in the cross-hairs of your reticule. On my first slew, the star was just slightly off center. I was amazed. I used another 3 stars just to check and refine the alignment and the final slew put Polaris dead in the center.

The next test I wanted to perform was guiding using PhD and my 9x50 SSAG setup. This was an important test since it's the lightest guide setup. All my ring assemblies and the C8 have a Vixen dovetail mounted on top to use this guider or to carry the AT65Q. If the 9x50 and PhD worked well, that means I could use it as the guider and piggyback it atop the AT65Q that would ride the AT106 or C8. The 65 and 106 or C8 could then be used strictly for imaging and not have to exchange roles to guide. Some mount their 9x50 in a finder bracket. I prefer to simply use a V clamp and rail that keeps it firmly inline with the imaging train. No flexure. I reset PhD to its default settings, picked a star in the west and began calibration. PhD ran through 15 steps W, E and then 15 steps N, S. Locked onto the star and that was it. Coming from the trials and tribulations of having to watch PhD during guiding with my CGEM, I sat there for some time. Here's a sample of the guiding:

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#65 BlueGrass

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Posted 15 March 2011 - 11:51 PM

So for its first night out, the mount has met my expectations. Given AP's reputation, I expected nothing less. To be honest, it has exceeded my expectations in every respect. This is the guiding graph an hour and 30 minutes later. All tracking was done to the west since my house blocks the eastern sky. I don't think there will be much if any change in its performance tracking east. Balance is not that critical with this mount so having to balance heavy east may not even be a factor. My first dark site trip will answer my remaining questions. Until then, I'll have to content myself with lunar or cluster images since DSO imaging in the valley is disappointing.

I have yet to use the copy of PemPro I purchased to download and save the factory corrections for future use or to refine the mount's performance. At this point, given the guider setup I used, I don't see much point unless the performance changes over time.

I won't have any clear weather for the next few weeks to make a dark site trip worthwhile but by then I should have everything configured, balance settings made and the various equipment boxes and bags redone. The mount fits perfectly in the Pelican I used for the CGEM so that saves me that cost of a new case. Last weekend, I packed my CG5 and CGEM back into their factory boxes and stacked them in the basement. At some point, they'll be sold to help pay for the Mach1. I don't think they'll see much use from me, from this point on.

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#66 BlueGrass

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 12:27 AM

Oh and to expand on the problems of imaging off the deck. This mount and tripod handle and dampen vibrations very well, much better than the CGEM. I had learned to walk on the deck much like Kwai Chang Caine on rice paper, hoping to keep the vibrations to a minimum while moving back and forth during focusing or when changing the angle of the CCD. The Eagle, with its weight, low center of gravity and wide leg splay make this much less necessary. I used to have to wait for 3 or 4 loops during focusing for the vibrations to settle. Now, they're almost negligible.

#67 mewmartigan

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 09:38 AM

After reading this I really can't wait until those notifications go out for the new round of Mach1s. :praying:

I am also glad to hear you had a good experience on your deck. This is where I will do my first few imaging runs to familiarize myself before I travel somewhere.

#68 RAKing

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 11:26 AM

I guess I should mention that I also set up my stuff on the back deck. :cool:

My deck is very sturdy, but I still walk carefully when the camera shutter is open.

BTW - nice graphs. :bow: I have never bothered to check mine, but I can start up the mount, sync it up, go eat dinner, and come back to find the selected star right next to the crosshairs. That is good enough for me.

Cheers,

Ron

#69 BlueGrass

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Posted 16 March 2011 - 10:01 PM

Ron,

I saw your deck in your excellent picture above and was wondering how it performed. This pier does seem to be a very stable platform. I don't think you'll find a better solution for a Mach1 unless of course you use a permanent pier, but that means no portability.

As for the graphs, next night out I'm going to try and capture the mount's unguided performance with the basic alignment procedure I used above. Obviously, it's not as accurate as a drift alignment, but if I can plot its uncorrected performance, this should give me a baseline on which to build. I think PhD can do this, just turn on Manual guiding and let it plot the uncorrected movements? I've never done this before and don't know if it'll work. If someone else has used PhD this way, please chime in ... :question:

I don't think the weather will improve enough over the next few weeks to try and use PemPro to do any PEC testing or training. I'd want very good to excellent skies before attempting it. There appears to be a periodic bump in the RA graph above that PemPro should be able to smooth out. Just have to wait patiently for the weather to clear ... :4






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