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CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one?

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#1 jrbarnett

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 06:18 PM

I've read dozens of posts of new CGE Pro owners contending with numerous and various problems. This gives (me at least) a very negative perception of this product. It's Celestron's most costly mount and is offered in a $10k bundle; it should work perfectly.

What I would like to know is whether anyone has purchased one of these mounts, with or without an OTA, and had it (a) operate correctly out of the box and (B) continue to operate correctly for an extended period of time (at least 12 months) after purchase?

Thanks,

Jim

#2 Stew57

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 06:42 PM

Jim

Great question but you may want to give parameters to "correctly" as that is rather subjective at times. Something along the lines of PE, pointing accuracy, weight capacity for AP. Otherwise you will get "I have had mine 2 years and it works great" when in reality the mount can't land an object in less than a 30mm eyepiece and has a PE of 50 arc minutes.

#3 jrbarnett

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Posted 02 August 2012 - 07:52 PM

Good point. I'll clarify. I'm talking about free from malfunctions that prevent the mount from pointing the scope where directed and keeping an object in the field of view for an extended period (2+ hours). Foggetabout PE and other imaging related stuff. I'm looking for mounts on which both motors work (i.e., that aren't DOA) and haven't died for an extended period of time after arrival.

However, I note that even without the clarification no one has chimed in with a "happy story" about the mount. :thinking:

- Jim

#4 gosavich

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 01:48 AM

CGE Pro performance thread

Search is your friend when questions such as these arise.

#5 Tori

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 07:20 AM

Hi Jim,

If you disregard imaging, my 1 year old cge pro works beautifully. It keeps objects nicely centered for hours and hours, going quite a bit past the meridian. It points accurately and reliably - even though I remove my ota and power off the mount every night, restarting the scope and selecting "last alignment" instead of redoing the alignment starts, it rarely fails to put the desired object right in the center of my eyepiece.

I have design complaints, for sure (the person who designed and located the various knobs should be keelhauled) but for visual use it mine has performed flawlessly right out of he box.

#6 Alph

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 10:16 AM

(the person who designed and located the various knobs should be keelhauled)

+1.

#7 Jason B

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 10:23 AM

We have one club member that owns one that he paired with a AT 12" RC. Visually, the mount has been outstanding from the get go. Pointing accuracy and tracking for visual use has been perfect. The knobs/axis locks are a bit to be desired. Why anyone needs 4 knobs to lock an axis is beyond my understanding.

For imaging, it is working fine now. The DEC axis was very touch interacting with PhD at first. Lot's of research, setting changes, and some tension adjustments later, it works pretty good. He hasn't been as active lately imaging so I don't know if it is still working for him alright or not but he as shooting some shots of the moon last weekend and it seemed to track fine for him that night.

I have though about this mount many times as I love the Nexstar system but I just can't get past the goofy dec/ra/saddle knobs, etc.

#8 WadeH237

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 11:56 AM

I don't have a CGE Pro, but I did have the opportunity to help someone get their set up and working properly a few weeks ago.

They had a classic, orange tube C14 on it and I was very impressed with how effortlessly the mount carried it. Once we got it set up, it's visual performance was typical NexStar. It hit gotos dead on and did all of the other things that you would expect from a nice visual setup.

I would agree with the comments here about the knobs. It had a bunch of them, and they were all plastic with sculpted shapes that somehow managed to not let you get a good grip on them. I find it much easier to lock the axis clutches on my CGE than on the CGE Pro. As far as 4 axis locks, at least one other high end manufacturer (AP) also has 4 locks. But ones on the CGE Pro are much harder to use. The knobs are long and narrow and can be hard to reach, depending on where the axis is currently at.

Also, I noticed that with the C14 on it, I couldn't get the RA axis clutches tight enough to really lock down the mount. For example, when I was installing a dew shield on the C14, the RA axis slipped pretty easily. I have never had this problem with the CGE.

As well as it carried the C14, I did consider that it would be a good upgrade from my CGE for visual use with my C14. The deal killer for me, though, is the height of the mount. Even with the tripod legs fully retracted, the mount saddle is quite high off the ground. If they could find a way to move the electronic elsewhere and do away with the electronics pier (or maybe someone relocate the pier down between the tripod's mounting plate and spreader), it would be much more comfortable to use.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on several days of use of the CGE Pro.

#9 BWAZ

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 12:24 PM

(the person who designed and located the various knobs should be keelhauled)

+1.


You guys are cruel ;) Admittedly, the designer must have a tiny but super strong hand to handle the slippery and tiny knobs. Seriously though, one just needs to make or buy a tool like this CGE Pro Knob Tightening Tool. I myself bought one from Doug in 2010 and couldn't be happier. It's an essential piece of tool for the CGE Pro users, IMHO. My mount arrived in late 2009 and I had the first light out in early 2010. It worked out of box and didn't cause me any headache I read about on CN or CGE Pro Yahoo Group. It had been serving me well till last Xmas when I upgraded it to an AP1200 for the heavier load. The second owner is happy with the mount too and made some good progress with astro-imaging with his C9.25.

BTW, my Pro didn't have the modified DEC but I hardly noticed any issue with it. The tracking at 600x plus power was smooth and there was no jittering motion I could discern which I some time noticed with my CGE mount if the balance was not perfect. I'd used my TEC160FL, C11 and TEC180FL with the Pro and it handled all the scopes without a hassle. I'm simply one happy CGE Pro owner. Actually if I was buying a back-up mount for my other scope, I'd choose the CGE Pro again. Before I sold the mount I'd been using the SkySafari and SkyFi with the Pro and it worked like a charm. There was some bug from time to time but nothing couldn't be resolved by re-calibrating the mount or a factory reset.


Oh, I'm a visual observer just like you. You should be happy with the mount.

#10 Tori

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 12:51 PM

It's not just that the knobs are hard (sometimes impossible) to tighten. It's that they seem purposely designed to snag on cables. Forget imaging cables. I'm just talking about the DEC motor cable. It continually gets caught by the RA knobs and MASHED in between one of the RA knobs and the RA motor. Which in turn screws up that perfect pointing ability I was talking about earlier. I have to power off/restore last alignment every time that happens.

If you add in imaging/dew heater/focuser/etc., well, it's impossible. They all want to snag on the inappropriately large altitude/latitude adjustment knob.

#11 Alph

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 05:09 PM

I'm just talking about the DEC motor cable. It continually gets caught by the RA knobs and MASHED in between one of the RA knobs and the RA motor.



That's interesting. I haven't heard this one before. This goes to show what little is known about the CGE Pro.
How is that elevation/altitude knob working for you?

#12 mikeinca

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 10:19 PM

I've been using my CGE Pro for about 4 months now for visual observing and have no issues with tracking or pointing; it's been excellent in that regard. There also have been no problems as described above with the Dec cable. The knobs can be difficult to get a hold of; I may get one of those tools described in an earlier post.

One issue is that the elevation adjustment knob is very difficult to turn against the weight of the mount and 14" OTA. I have to either push up against the counterweights to take some of the load off the mount while turning the knob (not easy to do unless you're flexible) or get a spouse/friend to help. Fortunately, since my scope is pier mounted, I don't have to play around with this regularly.

#13 KDizzle

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Posted 03 August 2012 - 10:34 PM

Here are my experiences:

I originally purchased one shortly after they came out. It worked great for imaging with my AT10RC. About three months later, it got very angry.
The audio is telling here:
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=tuEUiNuydTQ
With some guidance from the forum here, and discussion with my salesperson, we shipped the mount back to Celestron. It came back after a month or two.

--

It worked again briefly and then after about 10-15 more nights, I got the dreaded Error 16/17. I worked through support again and none of the easy things (i.e. power, cables etc) fixed it. With a bit of grumbling, Celestron and the vendor agreed to replace the mount (as opposed to try to fix it again). This was almost a year ago.

--

Since receiving the new mount, I've not had any issues. It is really delightful to use and is the mount that I had hoped for originally.
Furthermore, it was really nice to see they stood behind their product.

Would I have liked it to work the first time perfectly? Of course. I did pay shipping once (they did three times!)

Am I happy and satisfied they made it right? Yes.

Would I recommend the mount to others? Yes.

#14 wolfman_4_ever

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 01:14 AM

I purchased my Celestron mounts for one reason only.. Celestron is about 6 miles away from me.

The gotos are excellent. Mine is perm setup in an observatory. Once polar alignment is achieved, (not all-star... bleh) the mount tracks great for astrophotography. I also have a TDM. You can see my PE numbers in another post.

I have had my mount into celestron twice now. The first time was a blown motor control board. This was my fault. I kick my hand controller into the pool which shorted out the MC board. Warranty Repair.
The Pro is currently at Celestron, for the second time, for a ground feedback I am currently experiencing in the mount. Since it is there, I am having them do a million mile checkup :p , Fixing the PE to be in the +-3 range they advertise, knobs I scratched up being replaced, hand controller issues.

I have to say.. Celestron Tech Support is awesome. The technician called me yesterday and spent an hour on the phone with me going over each item I listed on my RMA. Asking what I saw and asking for PE logs, etc. My first Celestron RMA was just as great as this one. From what I hear about the "other" brands tech support, I am so glad I went with Celestron Products.


Now other comments:

I have never once had my cge pro eat a motor cable...

Anthony at ADM is now selling a knob kit for the CGE-Pro and a tightening tool. The tightening tool is pretty sweet. Just got mine yesterday. The knob kit looks like it could have major hang up issues with cables but I don't have hands on experience so for all i know they might be great.

The Stock knobs i kinda like.. They work very will as standoffs for tying downs equipment/photo cables. You have to make sure you tie down on top of the knobs so the motor control housing won't catch the cables.

This message will self destruct..

:dabomb:

#15 Tori

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 06:22 AM

One issue is that the elevation adjustment knob is very difficult to turn against the weight of the mount and 14" OTA. I have to either push up against the counterweights to take some of the load off the mount while turning the knob (not easy to do unless you're flexible) or get a spouse/friend to help.


Mine was darn near impossible to adjust, too, but since it was close-ish to all the way in, one day I decided to change the setting to the northern latitude setting so the bolt has more travel in either direction. My thought was if I go up to NH or Maine I wouldn't have to play with it later. But lo, the elevation adjustment became FAR, FAR easier to turn. I wonder if the knob end of the bolt isn't tapped correctly or something, or if the angle is just such that you have to exert more force.. I'll have to look closer. Anyway I can adjust mine easily with one hand, without touching the counterweights, even with my C14 and SV105 mounted SBS with all kinds of imaging gear. And I'm not that strong.

As far as the dec cable catching, I'll post a picture in a little bit. I'm glad that some of you aren't having that problem, it's really annoying.

#16 freestar8n

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 07:10 AM

If you do a search on cable management in astrophotography you'll see this is a common issue with all mounts, and even very $$$ mounts can benefit from some efforts to keep the cables from contacting the mount in the first place. A simple approach is to have a rod sticking out the back of the OTA and having all cables attached there so that as the OTA swings around, the cables are kept away from the equatorial head in the first place. Even if there is no issue of tangling, this will reduce friction and resistance with the mount during guiding.

I did place a strap around the southern side of the eq. head to prevent any cables from catching on the knobs that are exposed there. It is a simple precaution that covers up the gap between the knobs and the rough edges of the knobs also so that if a cable did make contact it would have a smooth drag across it.

Regarding the polar alt. adjustment - make sure it is set up correctly for your latitude, with the extra spacer or whatever it is installed. As I recall it has two latitude modes and if you don't have it in the right mode it will be hard to adjust because the bolt is making a steep angle rather than perpendicular to its support. If anyone is in the wrong mode, switching it will make a huge difference.

When polar aligning, it is easier if you crank it up a bit too high at first so that during fine adjustment you are going down and it is easier to turn because it is not against gravity. With a big OTA and counterweights, lifting up is pushing against a lot of gravity no matter what.

It sounds like the people who complain about the knobs would be happier with just allen head bolts and an allen wrench instead - which would keep them out of the way but would require a tool to adjust. That shouldn't cost very much to make that change if someone really wants to - but otherwise for a tool-less operation the knobs have to be pretty big to get a good grip.

Frank

#17 Tori

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 07:27 AM

Attached is a short series of pictures showing how the dec cable gets mashed. You can even see how the cable is kinked slightly from previous mashing.

The first image shows how close the dec cable is to the knob when it doesn't catch. The second image is when the mount slews to the west side of the mount, then the third and fourth as it moves eastward.

The problem only occurs when the dec cable lays south of the RA cable. When the dec cable is to the north, there's plenty (1") of clearance and it doesn't catch. I move the dec cable to the north all the time, but when I slew the mount far to the west and then to the east the dec cable invariably ends up on the south side of the RA cable again.

Now that I watch for it and move the RA cable north when slewing from the west side to the east side of the mount, I can avoid the problem, but I have to actively remember to do it. Luckily it doesn't happen at all when the mount tracks across the sky, since it's moving west, so I can go to sleep while it's taking pictures all night. But when I get up and have to flip to the other side of the meridian at 2 AM, and I groggily forget to move this cable....

Attached Files



#18 Tori

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 08:03 AM

If you do a search on cable management in astrophotography you'll see this is a common issue with all mounts, and even very $$$ mounts can benefit from some efforts to keep the cables from contacting the mount in the first place. A simple approach is to have a rod sticking out the back of the OTA and having all cables attached there so that as the OTA swings around, the cables are kept away from the equatorial head in the first place. Even if there is no issue of tangling, this will reduce friction and resistance with the mount during guiding.

I did place a strap around the southern side of the eq. head to prevent any cables from catching on the knobs that are exposed there. It is a simple precaution that covers up the gap between the knobs and the rough edges of the knobs also so that if a cable did make contact it would have a smooth drag across it.


I've wrapped most of my cables in a plastic cable wrap thingy (technical term) as seen in the pics in my previous post, that's prevented most of my catching problems (but not the dec cable problem!). While I agree and understand it's a common issue with all mounts, this mount has clearly been designing a mount without any consideration to cable management. I mean, there are things about this mount that go out of their way to cause cable headaches.

It sounds like the people who complain about the knobs would be happier with just allen head bolts and an allen wrench instead - which would keep them out of the way but would require a tool to adjust. That shouldn't cost very much to make that change if someone really wants to - but otherwise for a tool-less operation the knobs have to be pretty big to get a good grip.


I disagree. I don't need more bigger (particularly not longer!) to get grip, I need more leverage. Fatter would give more leverage, for sure, but length doesn't, and they just made their knobs long and skinny for no clear reason. I understand they can't go fatter with their current motor housing design. As it is it's already impossible to tighten these knobs without a tool, regardless of their length, when the knob is up against the motor housing, which at least one knob is 95% of the time, not by accident, but by design. The rounded-edge triangle knobs don't allow for maximum fingertip grip, they allow for maximum slip (just liked a stripped Philips head screw). Give me some purchase on the knob and make it small, imho. The knobs could be half or a third of their length if they made them an "X" instead of a triangle.

I complain about the knobs only because it feels like they picked the worst possible solution - long, narrow, and rounded. It feels like almost any other solution would have worked better. It feels like they went for form over function.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the mount, and I like having knobs. I just don't like THESE knobs. Further I'd like a rounded cover over the south end of the mount to cover the elevation adjustment knob - which I could do with a strap or tape, yes, but ideally it should be part of the mount. I don't need to adjust the elevation every time I use the mount, so it should be out of the way.

Edit: I understand that going longer gives more grip, but you need a lot more length to get the same amount of grip that a little fatter or less rounded would give without making the knobs stick out so far.

#19 freestar8n

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 08:58 AM

Hi-

I thought you were talking about the big round knobs rather than the clutch knobs. With a c11 I just hand tighten those knobs and it seems ok and there is no need to crank on them. So for me they are ergonomically ok and haven't caught any cables. I guess with a c14 they would need to be tighter, but there are 4 of them and they all crank down on the clutch.

Thanks for providing a clear pic. of that dec. cable issue. I don't recall it happening with me but it does look like a problem.

I think the main thing about the knobs is they were trying to make it all tool-less. I would definitely want the clutch knobs to be tool-less since I tend to use them often. I'm not sure what shape would work best - but if you really want leverage and don't mind using a tool then I would just switch everything to allen head. For permanent setups there should be no need to adjust any of the knobs without an equipment change - so they could all just be tightened and forgotten.

Is your altitude adjustment set up properly to minimize the effort in polar alignment? That was the other thing I think you mentioned.

Frank

#20 Tori

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 09:58 AM

My altitude adjustment is set up correctly now and has been for a while. It works great when it's set up correctly. I was just mentioning that it was hard before I made that adjustment because someone else said it was hard to turn for them too. Even if he's south of 40 degrees he might benefit from the northern configuration.

If I were not using the clutch knobs continually I probably would replace them with an allen bolt. But I add and remove equipment several times a night.

#21 freestar8n

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 11:32 AM

Hi-

I took a look at how my dec. cable behaves and it really has no interest in getting snagged in there - but I can imagine that it depends a lot on how the "kinks" and bends in the cable are embedded. If it were twisted just the wrong way it might tend to go in there - but I think in most cases it wouldn't - which isn't to say it doesn't really want to in your case.

The cable motion only depends on RA because Dec. motion doesn't move the cable connection near the OTA. So just by going through the extremes of RA motion you can see the full range of what the cable wants to do. It seems like you could do something like attach a stiff wire to the cable itself or near the OTA connection so that it stays more clear of the "catch" near the eq. head.

I also tried loosening all clutch knobs and then gently tightening one of them, and the motion was pretty well locked. It's probably good to tighten them uniformly, but it doesn't take much torque to have them engaged. They are simple bolts with nylon tips so they could all be replaced, or just the one with a problem, if you have in mind a different handle shape that would work better. You could also shorten the handle on the problematic one, or all of them, with a hack saw and file the end smooth.

Frank

#22 mikeinca

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 03:11 PM

My altitude adjustment is set up correctly now and has been for a while. It works great when it's set up correctly. I was just mentioning that it was hard before I made that adjustment because someone else said it was hard to turn for them too. Even if he's south of 40 degrees he might benefit from the northern configuration.

If I were not using the clutch knobs continually I probably would replace them with an allen bolt. But I add and remove equipment several times a night.


Your point about the extension and angle of the latitude adjusting bolt made sense so I tried relocating the latitude plate to the northern config. At my latitude (a shade under 39 deg) however, this leaves just the nub of the bolt poking through the plate and the plate sides are very close to the mount. The range of adjustment is better in the southern position although the angle of the bolt is more acute. It seems that anyone with a latitude right around the 40 deg crossover point is going to have an issue with ease of adjustment using the latitude knob.

My previous experience was with my C8 where the equatorial wedge is easily adjusted with a latitude bolt, but there is obviously a lot less weight involved. I guess with the CGE Pro and C14, lifting the mount past your latitude and then backing it off with gravity helping the effort is the way to go. Better yet is having the thing mounted on a pier where you can set it and forget it. ;)

#23 freestar8n

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 03:44 PM

I'm at just over 41 degrees and there are about three threads showing, plus the nub - and it's good here. I agree it might not leave much headroom as you get to around 40 or below, at which point you need to switch over. I know that when I got the mount I set it up in the default mode and it was very problematic until I realized I needed to switch it around. So I was mainly concerned there might be people out there cranking on it who are actually in the wrong mode.

Frank

#24 gnowellsct

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 10:05 PM

My previous experience was with my C8 where the equatorial wedge is easily adjusted with a latitude bolt, but there is obviously a lot less weight involved.


IMO it's the design and execution of the adjustment hardware, not the weight. I've had the same rig on an AP900, a G11, and a Titan and all three are easier to adjust in altitude than the CGE Pros I have seen at shows. The threads are too coarse, maybe some lubrication would help; and jamming that altitude hand screw down on the RA housing, well, there has to be a better way. regards Greg N

#25 Tori

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Posted 05 August 2012 - 05:42 AM

Your point about the extension and angle of the latitude adjusting bolt made sense so I tried relocating the latitude plate to the northern config. At my latitude (a shade under 39 deg) however, this leaves just the nub of the bolt poking through the plate and the plate sides are very close to the mount. The range of adjustment is better in the southern position although the angle of the bolt is more acute. It seems that anyone with a latitude right around the 40 deg crossover point is going to have an issue with ease of adjustment using the latitude knob.


That's really unfortunate because it's sooo much easier to adjust when the angle is less - I can adjust 75 pounds of gear with just two fingers when it's set in the northern setting, but I'm at a bit over 42 degrees.

My previous experience was with my C8 where the equatorial wedge is easily adjusted with a latitude bolt, but there is obviously a lot less weight involved. I guess with the CGE Pro and C14, lifting the mount past your latitude and then backing it off with gravity helping the effort is the way to go. Better yet is having the thing mounted on a pier where you can set it and forget it. ;)


My mama taught me to finish slews with up and right and focus by lifting the mirror. It seems natural (but not necessarily correct?) that it would be better to finish adjusting altitude against gravity. I suppose if the angle is too acute with a heavy weight that may not be practical but if it can be done it feels like it should be....






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