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G11 over-achiever

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#1 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 11:47 AM

I have a vintage G11/Gemini v4 mount. Prior to this mount I had a CGEM. I really liked the CGEM, and it's wonderful All Star Polar alignment. I purchased a used G11 to get more capacity and lower PEC since I do Mallincam video astronomy with exposures up to 112 seconds. My goal was to be able to do 112 second unguided exposures. It has served well in this role with an 8" F/4 Astrotech Newt.

I recently received an Astrotech 12" F/4 Newt which weighs 52 lbs with rings, dovetail, telrad, camera, etc. I knew the G11 has a 60lb instrument capacity, but with the rule for all AP mounts being 1/2 rated capacity for AstroPhoto, I knew it would be over limit. Plus, it's a long tube so a long moment arm. In addition, I had to up my counterweights to be able to balance it.

I've had two nights with the new tube on the mount and I'm happy to report that it carries the load just as gracefully as it did the 8". The motors don't sound any different or like they are struggling. It's delivering great images across all parts of the sky including zenith. I detect no star trailing with 112 second exposures.

There are relatively few times that I find a product that meets and exceeds my expectations, but the G11 is one. You hear the adage, "you get what you pay for", but in this case, the G11 just seems to be a great bargain. I'm very pleased with this mount.

Steve

#2 skybsd

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 01:01 PM

Glad to hear that you've got a great, working set up there!

Congrats!

Regards,

skybsd

#3 nemo129

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 01:45 PM

I'm glad to hear it as well, as my G11 will be shipping next week and I should have it by next Friday. I guess it is a vindication thing, but it is always nice to hear about positive experiences in regards to you latest purchase, astronomy or otherwise. I just hope the clouds do not catch wind of the imminent arrival! No pun intended. :)

#4 gdd

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 02:28 PM

Hi Steve,

Glad to hear the G11-Gemini-1v4 is working out so well. I have a G11-Gemini-2 on order.

Did you upgrade your G11. Like the OPW or Ovision?

I assume you are using PEC. Did you train the PEC manually or with an autoguider or webcam?

Thanks,

Gale

#5 Bowmoreman

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 03:28 PM

Welcome to the "Gemini" family... I too made the transition from CGE to Gemini (albeit in the form of my MI-250).

It took a few nights to "master" the interface (read the manual SEVERAL times!), but once I did, I find I strongly prefer it to Nextstar... you can do everything you need w/o looking at it! No button fumbling.... all tactile

Note: this is not the new Gemini II setup...

I had a G11 for about two months; I had to buy a used G11/Gemini to "salvage" it's Gemini controller while mine was getting fixed at HGM due to a lightning strike... Once it was repaired, I then swapped it back and sold the G11; never having used it.

BTW: you may want to consider the Maxon Motor upgrade with your load; you'll be glad you did.

#6 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 03:28 PM

Thanks for the comments folks! Skybsd, I ordered the case for my counterweights that you recommended in my other thread. Thx!

Kirk, Gale, congrats on the new mounts. I hope you really like them. I'm anxious to see the Gemini II in action. The lvl4 is functional, but I really miss some things from the CGEM like the All Star Polar alignment. Lvl4 has the Polar Alignment Correction, but it's more time consuming and not as polished as the Celestron All Star alignment. I hope Gemini II has features like this. You'll like the polar scope though, you'll get very close by using the polar scope before you ever turn the mount on.

This has probably been addressed in the new mounts / Gemini II, but one thing that drove me nuts when I first got the mount is that my initial gotos were way off. Several degrees off. The next was a little better, and so on. Then someone pointed me to an article by Mike Dodd about a 'Magic Counterweight Down' position. On my mount the correct starting position has the counterweights a few degrees off center. If I start the mount with the counterweights in this position, the 1st goto is close to spot on, and the subsequent goto/aligns improve. Coming from the CGEM this seemed crazy. Anyway, heads up just in case. Yours probably won't have the issue. Mine mount is ~ 10 years old.

My bubble levels in the mount aren't accurate. I use a carpenters level or an iphone bubble level app in scopetools and it gets it spot on. Verify it on your new mount. Yours probably won't have the issue. Mine mount is ~ 10 years old.

My mount came with a scopeguard case that is custom fit to the mount head. It has space for the counterweight arm, the DUP, and the hand-control. They are $349. Scopeguard makes top-notch stuff. I highly recommend it.

I have the one piece worm block from Losmandy. I also have the McLennan Gearbox mod from Bakersfield Biker. I purchased the mount with the older precision worm. The chronological order of worms from Losmandy depending on age was steel worm, precision steel worm, brass worm, and now brass worm with optional one piece block. My mount came with a steel worm, and the previous owner upgraded it to precision steel. Now it's Brass with Losmandy one piece blocks.

I used Pempro with an Orion ST80 and a Orion SSautoguider to program PEC. My main OTA at the time was an AT8in reflector with an 800mm focal length, so I used a 2x barlow on the ST80 autoguider to increase it's focal length from 400mm for PEC training. The final programmed PEC was RMS error 0.993, and +1.1/-0.7 with a peak amplitude of 0.265 arc-seconds.

#7 nemo129

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 04:10 PM

Steve,
Thanks for all the great info. I did not order the OPWB with the mount as I was trying to keep initial costs down (that and there are little things I had to pick up like the polar scope, better clutch knobs, extra counter weights...it seems to never end!). I will probably add it within another year. I hear they are the best thing since sliced bread as far as getting PEC down on these mounts so it is a no-brainer. Once again thanks for the advice!

#8 asesino

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 11:03 PM

I'm glad to hear it as well, as my G11 will be shipping next week and I should have it by next Friday. I guess it is a vindication thing, but it is always nice to hear about positive experiences in regards to you latest purchase, astronomy or otherwise. I just hope the clouds do not catch wind of the imminent arrival! No pun intended. :)


Hi. Kirk I also ordered a G11 about 3 weeks ago, I wish I would have known of the opw upgrade altough I did order it with the maxon motors, how do you find out when your mount is shipping, do you call the store where you order it from?
Jorge. :question:

#9 gdd

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 11:45 PM

Hi Jorge,

You probably have time to modify your order and request the OPW be installed.

Gale

#10 asesino

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 01:25 AM

Thank you Gale I am going to call them tomorrow, also I am going to check on the delivery time, it would be nice to know about how long is going to take, I hope is not 2 to 3 months, that would suck :(

#11 nemo129

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 10:04 AM

Hi. Kirk I also ordered a G11 about 3 weeks ago, I wish I would have known of the opw upgrade altough I did order it with the maxon motors, how do you find out when your mount is shipping, do you call the store where you order it from?



Jorge,
Actually, they called me to let me know it was in and they would be shipping it! :jump:

#12 nemo129

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 11:09 AM

BTW: you may want to consider the Maxon Motor upgrade with your load; you'll be glad you did.



Dave or anyone familiar with the Losmandy mounts,
I have seen a couple of references to the "Maxon Motor upgrade". I guess I assumed, incorrectly, that a G11 G with Gemini II should come with Maxon motors. :question: I have searched the Losmandy site for that particular upgrade and do not see it. Can someone shed some light on this. My mount is already shipping so it is too late if that is a purchasable upgrade like the OPW, but it would be nice to know for the future. Thanks for any info anyone can provide.

#13 asesino

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 04:49 PM

BTW: you may want to consider the Maxon Motor upgrade with your load; you'll be glad you did.



Dave or anyone familiar with the Losmandy mounts,
I have seen a couple of references to the "Maxon Motor upgrade". I guess I assumed, incorrectly, that a G11 G with Gemini II should come with Maxon motors. :question: I have searched the Losmandy site for that particular upgrade and do not see it. Can someone shed some light on this. My mount is already shipping so it is too late if that is a purchasable upgrade like the OPW, but it would be nice to know for the future. Thanks for any info anyone can provide.




Losmandy mounts are like animal fries at in & out burgers, the are are not in the menu, but if you ask they can do it, I was also looking for that upgrade online and I could not find it, altough I did noticed that if you ordered the gemini upgrade with maxxon motors it was only 200 bucks more, so I asked the salesman at the store and he said "let me look here, ahhh yes no problem" I guess all you got to do is ask, contact your vendor maybe it's not to late. By the way how long did you waited for you mount? :question:I like to know more or less how long is it going to take for mine to ship.

Regards... Jorge

#14 nemo129

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 05:16 PM

Thanks for the info Jorge. I placed my order for the G11 G on March 7th. They called me on Thursday (3/24) to say the mount was in. I wanted to pay cash, so I sent out a check on Thursday afternoon. I guess they must use Telecheck or something, as the owner said they would ship it as soon as they got my check, which should be Monday or Tuesday at the latest. It should take 2 or 3 days ground shipping to get here as they are only about 275 miles away. My mount might be coming quicker as I am purchasing a stock G11 G with Gemini II. If I had wanted the OPW and the upgraded motors, I can see how it might take a bit more time.

Have you thought about any mount accessories? The CKS clutch knob set and knobs to attach the tripod to the mount without an Allen wrench were among the first extras I bought. I also got the locking levers for the HD tripod as well as the knobs for locking the altitude adjustment without an Allen wrench. The polar scope is a must, so I got that as well. It starts to add up quick. I looked at the Robin Casady weights, but those will have to wait until I sell my CGEM.
I hope you get your mount soon. If you have not done so you should join the Losmandy and Gemini II Yahoo groups.

#15 asesino

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 07:53 PM

Thank's Kirk, i got all the accesories minus the altitude locking knob and the tripod lockin levers, for what I have read the knobs provided for the legs are of very good quality so I am going to wait on those, also I have joined the gemini 2 and losmandy groups I have been getting some info from there too, I am still looking for a way to power the mount, 500 bucks for the kendrick power pack, it is really nice and apparently very well made but 500 bucks is some pretty penny, that is going to have to wait, what are you going to use to power yours?

#16 nemo129

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 11:09 AM

Jorge,
I got the altitude locking knobs from Bob's Knobs, they were pretty cheap..about $21 shipped.
Currently for trips away from home I was using a deep cycle marine battery(that was for a CGEM). At home I use a Pyramid PS-15KX PS that puts out 13.8V. I am going to give that a try first for backyard work to see how it goes. I saw someone talking about step up voltage adapters to get to 18V using the Pyramid, but I will wait to see how the Pyramid does with the 13.8V. For field work, I am still looking. I agree the Kendrick unit is nice, but I wish it was no so expensive. So, I'm still looking!

#17 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 05:35 PM

For power, I have the Pyramid PS-15KX PS at home, and in the field I have a group 31 battery in a Minn Kota Trolling Motor Box.. It has 4.5 out of 5 stars with 42 reviews on Amazon. It has a 4 LED meter and a test button to show capacity, two cigarette lighter type accessory plugs (one on each end), and two circuit breakers. Lot's of folks on cloudy nights make their own similar boxes, but I don't have the electrical skills and this fit the bill really well. I highly recommend it. I purchased a Group 31 deep cycle from Costco to go in it. I purchased two more of the same that I use in our RV for dark sky nights. They were cheap and have a 3 year warranty.

I also purchased a Kendrick inverter to take the 13.8 volts from the Pyramid PS or the battery to 18v. Kendrick is a Canadian company and the accessory plug that plugs into the accessory outlet is really thin vs. what I'm used to. I wonder if Canada has a different standard. It was always loose, and prone to falling out. It also died after 6 months or so. I've been using the mount for a year or more since it failed with the supplied 13.8v power from the Pyramid or from the battery to power the mount and the camera and it works like a champ. I've never seen the mount and the Mallincam drop the capacity of the battery out of the green LED capacity. I have a second one to power a small monitor, inverter, and laptop, and it drops a great deal overnight. I would guess the Group31 battery to power just the mount and Mallincam would go several days without a charge. Maybe more.

Steve

#18 skybsd

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 05:58 PM

Hi Kirk,


BTW: you may want to consider the Maxon Motor upgrade with your load; you'll be glad you did.



Dave or anyone familiar with the Losmandy mounts,
I have seen a couple of references to the "Maxon Motor upgrade". I guess I assumed, incorrectly, that a G11 G with Gemini II should come with Maxon motors. :question: I have searched the Losmandy site for that particular upgrade and do not see it. Can someone shed some light on this. My mount is already shipping so it is too late if that is a purchasable upgrade like the OPW, but it would be nice to know for the future. Thanks for any info anyone can provide.


The Maxons are not really a G11 upgrade - although one can order them as after sale FRU components for owner installation. The same is the case for the OPW.

As and when you reckon you want either, you can simply order then online at Losmandy like any other component you would buy from them.

One thing - on a G11, you need to recheck and set new safety limits as the Maxons stick out further than the stock G11 motors and will get slammed into if the safety slew limits are not changed and set.

Hope this helps..,

Regards,

skybsd

#19 nemo129

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:19 PM

Hi skybsd,
That would explain why Scott does not list the upgrade on his site. I did like Jorge's analogy of the "animal fries". Since I do not intend to go much over a 35 lb. payload, I will try the stock motors first and see how that works. As with all things, little steps are the best way to understand new gear. I know you had a G11 before you stepped up to the AP900. Were you satisfied with its performance? If I recall you are mainly a visual observer and I tend to lean toward the astrophotgraphy side, but any comments would be appreciated!
Thanks!

#20 skybsd

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Posted 27 March 2011 - 06:50 PM

Hi Kirk,
Good to hear from you..,

Hi skybsd,
That would explain why Scott does not list the upgrade on his site. I did like Jorge's analogy of the "animal fries". Since I do not intend to go much over a 35 lb. payload, I will try the stock motors first and see how that works.



Can't see how you can go wrong with this approach.., I know that there are a few that are fans of the Maxon upgrade for their G11s, but to be honest, its not really necessary if you're staying within the payload limits of the mount - this is first hand from Scott Losmandy to me on the phone.


As with all things, little steps are the best way to understand new gear. I know you had a G11 before you stepped up to the AP900. Were you satisfied with its performance? If I recall you are mainly a visual observer and I tend to lean toward the astrophotgraphy side, but any comments would be appreciated!


Without getting into a thread-hijacking fork, I'd say that my G11 was okay. As you rightly said, I'm a visual-only observer, so my priorities were correspondingly different to that for anyone interested in photography.

Basically, for my usage - as a primarily mobile, hand-controller driven (that is, zero computer dependency) GoTo mount, Gemini was not as repeatably consistent and "non-fiddly" as I wanted.

I'd suggest that once you get your G11 that you make sure to really make sure you take the time to review the manual, and test-drive the mount in daytime. The Yahoo Losmandy Owners' and Gemini user groups are your friends. Hopefully the Gemini-II software and documentation will be finalized and available soon.

As I said, I don't want to take away from the OP's thread here. Feel free to PM me if you want..,

Best of luck!

Regards,

skybsd

#21 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 05:36 PM

I used the AT12in from a dark sky site in Western Arizona for two evenings this weekend. I was using a Mallincam video camera exclusively. The views were bright, but the stars were elongated. I collimated, re-collimated... ... but no joy. The next day, one of the members of my club, came and looked at the scope with me. I had installed some collimation knobs from Scopestuff on the secondary, and had changed the distance of the secondary to the primary. He correctly identified the issue and we addressed it and re-collimated it.

The second night, the stars were pin-point...but the winds were high. Gusts of 15mph+. I use 10 4x5.5 foot dark sky panels at the dark sky sites to keep my stray light from annoying the other observers, but even these couldn't keep the scope from being blown around. It's a 52 pound scope, it's long, and it's stretch the capacity of the G11 anyway. It just couldn't keep up with the wind.

I have 18" extensions that fit on top of my dark sky panels, but I didn't have them with me this time. I will in the future. Also, I'm going to make it a habit to keep a shorter, lighter scope with me as a backup. No need to ruin a dark sky weekend over a little wind.

Steve

#22 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 09:58 PM

Update: I've continued to use the scope with my G11 and my Mallincam. When there's any wind, the scope moves and ruins the view. I have some dark sky panels to help shield it from the wind but even that isn't always enough. I've come to the conclusion that it's just too much scope for the mount for Astro Photography use. When it's calm it does a good job though.

#23 gdd

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Posted 25 April 2011 - 11:35 PM

Hi Steve,

Do you thing the G11 could handle handle the AT12in in the wind if it were a double truss OTA?

Gale

#24 ZRX-Steve

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 12:01 AM

Gale:

Because I use Mallincam, I also have a monitor and laptop which give off light. So if I were using a truss design, I'd have to use a shroud to block the monitor/laptop light which would duplicate the surface 'sail' area. If the weight and length were similar, I'd expect the results to be similar.


Steve

#25 vahe

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 08:12 AM

There are relatively few times that I find a product that meets and exceeds my expectations, but the G11 is one. You hear the adage, "you get what you pay for", but in this case, the G11 just seems to be a great bargain. I'm very pleased with this mount.Steve


I have one of the earliest G11’s made, this one is almost 18 years old and was marketed as “Celestron” mount, came with non adjustable 42” legs, its very tall and I just right for my 6” F/9 refractor. The ride is pretty bumpy and it shows it at high powers despite new steppers, upgraded gears and all.

But it is a solid mount, the 60 lbs payload capacity is not realistic, the weakest component that impacts the payload is G11’s marginal clutch design, those clutches simply can not safely hold out of balance loads and there is very little that can be done to improve their performance.
And, it is true that you get what you pay for, to put things in perspective and in automotive terms G11 compared to Astro-Physics mounts is like comparing Jeep Wrangler to Mercedes.

Vahe






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