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New CGE Pro - First Run Tonight!

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#1 Ad Astra

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 02:27 AM

Hi Folks,
The sky was very hazy, but my favorite weather site said "clearing after dark" - so we decided to set up the CGE pro on the patio and give it a first run. The Mrs. & I look on this mount as a long-term investment - committing to a piece of equipment this big isn't something to do lightly - but the rewards are amazing! We look on set up and take down to be a physical skill - improved by thinking before you grab, making checklists, and practicing the movements so you can do it with some grace and safety in the dark. Hefting the EQ head means lifting 55 lbs of awkward iron up well over head-high, and then placing it delicately on the saddle. Dropping it - especially on oneself (or your spouse! ) would ruin your whole day! :tonofbricks:

We decide to break down the entire mount and set it up from scratch - literally 15 ft away - on the front patio. We start before dark to do this for the first time in the light. Dissassembly of the mount in the living room takes 15 minutes, carefully removing cables (and four clutch knobs! ) from the EQ head so we can lay it safely on its side while breaking down. We put a piece of carpet on a chest in the entry and put the head on that - not having to lift it from ground level is important and saves back strain! Off comes the electronics pier and saddle, then the tripod can be moved outdoors. Tripod is no lightweight, but very rigid and well balanced and moves easily. Setting up on the tile patio and getting level takes a few minutes. We are trying to keep metal tripod feet nice, and not to scratch the patio tile floor, either. Normally, this will be just wheeling in the dolly - but we don't have a clear space in the garage yet - so we for-go the wheels tonight!

With tripod level - out comes the pier - easily bolts on (have to change to knobs later!), then the EQ head. Up she goes! Team lift with Mrs. Astra spotting me on the last bit. It goes in easily when done right and all the correct fittings properly loose. Re-attaching the head securely and setting latitude takes just a few minutes, and reattaching the cables and hand control go quickly with keyed cable heads and screw-on connectors. Nothing will pop-off unexpectedly here! :grin: Now on with the dove tail plate and rings. Even 6-inches lower than before (no wheels!), the dovetail and ring clamps are too high in the air for Mrs. Astra to reach easily. We must really abandon the 'over the top' mounting style and practice and perfect mounting it from the side. This will be a project for the weekend, I expect!

Once the scope is secure, balancing in RA and then Dec is easy - the scope moves weightlessly and balances without any clutch tension at any attitude we choose. This mount is really lovely mechanically! A little clutch tension, and you can easily use the mount manually without any power and it will track perfectly when you put just a bit more tension on Dec than RA - very nice! (I don't always use the computer!)

We have set up the tripod and mount with our compass rose and eyeballed the latitude by sighting through the rings! We did not attempt a full alignment - just asked the mount to 'accept last align' which it did without problems. We slew to Capella in Auriga for 'first light' with the 27mm Edge-on eyepiece. Clean image - perfect Apomax views! - excellent diffraction rings pre and post focus. We try the hand control out at rate 5 - first thing to note is that there is NO slop or backlash in this mount. response is immediate - and effortless, and the scope stops on a dime. The Apomax - all 7 feet of it - was too much for both a Losmandy G11 and a Celstron CGEM. Slewing the scope on these mounts was like watching a drunk in an old jalopy with bad springs and bald tires. G-11 was by far the better of the two, but both were clearly overwhelmed by the long moment arm of this refractor; the scope was all over the place and centering a target was often a matter of patience an luck. Not so for the Pro - highly precise, no problems. The software compensates digitally to take backlash out of the system - I must say I am very impressed with it, it performed flawlessly without any tuning. The manual says you need to tune and calibrate the mount, - I'm looking forward to seeing what it is like after I 'tune it up'!

Saturn is amazing!!! I'll post a report on that later - tracking is really wonderful considering the casual way I set up - no problems and rock solid for over an hour until the clouds came in again.

We'll have another go later in the week! This thing is a blast! :jump:

Dan

#2 skybsd

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 02:39 AM

Hi Dan,
Congrats on first light!

Glad to hear everything worked right out of the box for you :)

You'll soon work out the routine needed for efficient breakdown and set up, I'm sure

I noticed that you kept referring to "we", there. How did your wife enjoy the new monster's performance? Have you worked out where its gonna live, yet?

Regards,

skybsd

#3 Ad Astra

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 11:33 AM

Hi Dan,
Congrats on first light!

Glad to hear everything worked right out of the box for you :)

You'll soon work out the routine needed for efficient breakdown and set up, I'm sure

I noticed that you kept referring to "we", there. How did your wife enjoy the new monster's performance? Have you worked out where its gonna live, yet?

Regards,

skybsd



Hello Skybsd,

Yeah, it's definately 'we'! :grin: The Mrs. and I both enjoy observing - she is a bit more casual about it than I am, but it is something that we like doing together. I think I'm a lucky fellow in that respect!

Right now, the mount is living in the living room - pieces all over the coffee table from last nights breakdown after observing Saturn. We have discussed 'where the monster will live' - rather like a kid with a new puppy, I'd prefer 'at the foot of my bed', but Mrs. Astra and I agreed that it will live in the garage most of the time instead.
This will require some preparation - I must clean out the garage and make a suitable space (this weekend's Job #1), and then I'm going to get a dust shroud made for it - probably out of some vinyl table cloths with the soft flock backing. Mrs. A was very adamant that we were NOT spending that kind of dough on something that would get dusty and beat up with neglect! (I'm 100% behind her on that one!)

The plan is to keep the mount assembled and on the dolly, so that we can literally just roll it out to the patio, then mount the tube and go. Take down would be just as easy. This means only one lift, and setup and take down should be reduced to just minutes. Heck, call the Guinness book of Records, it's the world's largest 'grab-n-go'! :roflmao:

We still plan to take baby to remote sites and public viewing, so practicing the set-up and take downs are important. We are taking it easy, learning as we go and trying very hard not to make any critical mistakes... oh yeah, we're enjoying the heck out of the scope, too! One nice thing about the session last night, we found that we don't need the scope as high as we thought in order for it to be comfortable at the zenith. This means that we can probably go for a slightly lower tripod height on the dolly, which along with lower CG, should make the whole rig more stable and convenient. I'm also studying how to fix the tripod more rigidly to the dolly to reduce vibration etc. It is all a learning process, isn't it?! :grin:

Dan

#4 skybsd

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 01:43 PM

Hi Dan,
Good to hear from you..,

Hi Dan,
Congrats on first light!

Glad to hear everything worked right out of the box for you :)

You'll soon work out the routine needed for efficient breakdown and set up, I'm sure

I noticed that you kept referring to "we", there. How did your wife enjoy the new monster's performance? Have you worked out where its gonna live, yet?

Regards,

skybsd



Hello Skybsd,

Yeah, it's definately 'we'! :grin: The Mrs. and I both enjoy observing - she is a bit more casual about it than I am, but it is something that we like doing together. I think I'm a lucky fellow in that respect!


VERY lucky, indeed :) She sounds like a keeper ;)


Right now, the mount is living in the living room - pieces all over the coffee table from last nights breakdown after observing Saturn. We have discussed 'where the monster will live' - rather like a kid with a new puppy, I'd prefer 'at the foot of my bed', but Mrs. Astra and I agreed that it will live in the garage most of the time instead.
This will require some preparation - I must clean out the garage and make a suitable space (this weekend's Job #1), and then I'm going to get a dust shroud made for it - probably out of some vinyl table cloths with the soft flock backing. Mrs. A was very adamant that we were NOT spending that kind of dough on something that would get dusty and beat up with neglect! (I'm 100% behind her on that one!)



Hard to disagree with that.., If push comes to shove, you can always check various classifieds for a Telegizmos or other scope cover or something..,

Is your garage heated? If not, then it'll definitely be better in terms of your set-up truly being ready to go.


The plan is to keep the mount assembled and on the dolly, so that we can literally just roll it out to the patio, then mount the tube and go. Take down would be just as easy. This means only one lift, and setup and take down should be reduced to just minutes. Heck, call the Guinness book of Records, it's the world's largest 'grab-n-go'! :roflmao:



That's a great plan, there.., I know a few folks with that same set-up plan. Really the next best thing to having an observatory, for sure :waytogo:

Only, make sure to check for inclines, or bumps on the route from inside to outside and back again. Did you get the heavy-duty wheels on your dolly? You need to make sure you understand how the set-up's tendency to tilt is, there.

From what I understand, you need to always make sure that you've got hands on the rig when moving and to always pull / push from higher up rather than the bottom. I should imagine, that once it starts (for whatever reason) tilting, there's not a lot you can do to prevent over a hundred pounds of mount, scope and counterweights from cooperating with gravity :grin:

Best of luck there!

Regards,

skybsd

#5 Ad Astra

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 02:48 PM

Hi Skybsd,

Yeah, we have checked the rolling part - there is only one small bump - just as we enter the garage. I think I can put in a 'micro-ramp' to help with that bump, other than that, it is smooth sailing.

I did get the heavy duty 5" wheels on casters to help align the mount more easily. I have experience with another dolly with 10" pnumatic wheels, - easier to roll, but no casters - so much harder to align the mount to north in a small space. (lots of backing up - like parallel parking in a small space!) The plan is to firmly attach the mount to the dolly to help prevent tipping - and yes, it is a "two man roll" from the garage to the patio.

Dan

#6 Andrev

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 04:54 PM

Dan.

I'm happy for you. Like you I really enjoy this mount especially to carry the 90 pounds load I have on it. I didn't check about calibrating the mount. I have to check that tonight as the sky is full clear.

Congrats for your new toy.

Andre.

#7 Ad Astra

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 10:02 PM

Hello Andre!

90 pound payload, eh? Whew! you must have a large scope, guide scope, and camera stuff all on there. Or are you running a tandem rig?

I have a 80mm Celestron Fluorite that I'm going to eventually hook up as a guide scope, but that still won't put me over 60 lbs, even with a big DSLR on the back! The nice thing is - it doesn't feel like my 42 lbs is anything close to capacity, even with its huge lever arm.

This thing is a blast!

Dan

#8 Andrev

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 10:29 PM

Dan.

You didn't see my setup yet... Go there.

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

Andre.

#9 Ad Astra

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 01:45 AM

Holy Cow, Andre!
That C-14 in the little dome looks fantastic. I suppose you actually get in there with it? It looks a bit crowded to me, but I may be looking at something similar in a few years. Can you go fully robotic from the house?

What is the astrograph you had mounted beside the C-14? Looks like 150 - 180mm with a very short focal length - it must give wonderful images!

I am originally from Southern Wisconsin area, not usually as cold as Canada, but I understand about snow and wet! Glad to hear your elevated pod is working - looks like the entire North East US and Canada are getting pounded with more snow again! :(

Clear skies!

Dan

#10 Andrev

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 06:34 AM

Dan.

The other scope is the Lunt LS152 solar scope. I got the C14 last february and the Lunt last march 8th. All this is really new to me and I'm experimenting. As I'm a visual observer, I really want experiment the sketching as this installation as a flaw. With 90 lbs payload, if I want to add a camera, I would have to remove a scope and the tandem plate. Sketching for me is the way to go as I would really prefer reproducing what I see at the eyepiece than getting beautiful images.

And to answer you question, NO its not remote controlled. I go there every clear day and I simply love that. The dome offer a so nice comfort. Just read my signature for more info.

Andre.

#11 Ad Astra

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:07 PM

Man - that Lundt is really nice! I would love to put a nice solar filter on my refractor - it is plenty long enough to give good views, but I can't afford it just now. (and my wife would kill me after just spending so much on the new mount I have! :grin: )

If you like sketching - I put a nice sketching guide up on the beginner's forum for Saturn. It helps you keep your observations in good order and well documented. :)

Dan

#12 Bart

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 03:58 PM

Dan,

Can you post a few pics of the mount with someone standing by it so we can get some perspective of how big it is?

Thanks

#13 Andrev

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:03 PM

Bart.

Go in my album, I placed a new pic showing my telescope's history. You will see the mount and my father standing by. Its the picture including my POD and all my telescopes.

My setup

#14 Andrev

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Posted 31 March 2011 - 05:11 PM

Dan.

I have big problem finding something with the search tool on this forum. I would appreciate if you would give me the link of your tutorial. I'm really interested to read it.

Yes the Lunt LS152 is quite big and impressive. It weight 33 lbs.

Andre.






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