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Ah criminy. Not again - Which Mount? (<$2000)

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#1 blave

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 09:57 PM

I just sold my trusty Celestron AS-GT (CG-5GT) mount to a friend. I got a lot of good use out of it both visually and for AP, but want to move up a bit. I *think* I want an Ioptron IEQ45 (with New Modified Clutch), but I'm very familiar with the Celestron hand controller logic, and yet another friend of mine is recommending an Atlas mount instead, so that I can take advantage of the "eqmod" ecosystem. I'm confused!

I want to do imaging of DSOs... Right now I have an Orion ED80 and Canon XSi DSLR, but might move to a bit more refractor aperture (e.g. 102mm or so). My guider setup will be the Orion 50mm scope with the SSAG camera, so that's pretty light.

My preferred imaging location is on the upstairs deck of my house (in suburban San Jose, CA -- yes it's very light-polluted), which has a rather precarious access door, making mount weight a concern so that I don't fall 10 feet and go boom 8^) . That, combined with having to set the mount up every evening I want to view/image, is what's pointing me at the IEQ45.

What say you? I welcome everyone's input on this!

thanks,

Dave B.
San Jose, CA

#2 Ranger Tim

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:00 PM

Imaging on a deck is an exercise in futility - unless you can get the building occupants, wind, your own heart rate, etc. to cooperate. Every slight tremor in the deck will manifest itself in the image.

#3 Patrick

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 11:15 PM

I can't speak first hand about the IEQ45, but I did a 3 month comparison between the Atlas and CGEM mounts. I still have the CGEM. In the end, I simply did not like the requirement of running a computer to get the functionality the CGEM has built into the hand controller. I also found EQMOD a PITA to use.

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#4 chboss

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:04 AM

I use an iEQ45, great mount, intuitive hand controller and much lighter than the CGEM or the Atlas. The original Tripod is not one of my favorites though, I use mine on a sturdy pillar instead.

With a narrow access door I would specifically look at size and weight .

best regards
Chris

#5 Midnight Dan

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:33 AM

I use the iEQ45 and love it. I have a bad back so weight is a concern and the iEQ45 is very easy to handle.

I too was familiar with the Celestron handset. While the iEQ45 is not quite as friendly as the Celestron, it is still pretty easy to use.

But ... I have to agree with Tim. If your deck is a wooden deck, imaging will be a serious problem. Way too flexible.

-Dan

#6 Phil Sherman

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:30 AM

I'm a "portable setup" Atlas/Canon user and can offer the following thoughts for you:

1. You'll be using a computer for imaging so there's no reason not to use it to control the mount. This eliminates all differences between hand controllers.

2. Your deck, if supported on posts, isn't the ideal base for an imaging scope but will definitely work better if you run the scope and camera(s) from inside the house. Vibration dampening pads under the tripod legs can also help here. A deck that's on top of part of the house (ie the garage) will probably have vibrations from people moving around inside the house.

3. EQMOD, a fabulous tool for running an Atlas mount, has an unbelievably accurate pointing mechanism that works best with a permanently mounted scope. If you're setting up every evening, then you'll need to build a new pointing model every night. I usually build mine as I image, with only two or three initial alignment stars. EQMOD's polar alignment routine, combined with the Atlas polarscope, should give you a good enough polar alignment that your guide scope and camera will easily give you 3+ minute exposures with the Canon camera. I'd expect that your light pollution will limit you to shorter exposures than that.

4. If you're not using your deck for other things, you could consider a simple waterproof cover for the mount and tripod and occasionally leave it out during the daytime. If you do this, you'll need a way to attach the tripod to the deck to prevent its being blown over in a high wind. I have a dark site in SW New Mexico and cover my scope this way when I'm there for a week or so.

The Ioptron mount is quite a bit lighter than the Atlas. Its high weight limit is most likely a visual use limit. The Atlas, also known as an EQ6, has a number of weight limits depending on who is selling it. Orion's 40lb is at the lower end of the weights. The general weight rule for imaging with these mounts is to image at not more than 50% of the mount's maximum limit. In all cases, good balancing of the mount is critical to obtaining good images.

The Ioptron is still a relatively new mount, only a few years old. The Atlas has been around for a much longer time and there's been a lot more time to get its kinks worked out.

I suspect that whichever mount you get, you'll have a learning curve to climb before you become somewhat happy with it. Like many things, you'll always suspect that the grass was greener on the other side of the hill and you should have gone there first.

Phil

#7 jsines

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 02:19 PM

I just upgraded from an EQ-3 with RA motor. I narrowed my options down to the Atlas, the Sirius, and the iEQ45. I went with the Sirius because the iEQ45 hasn't been out as long, the Sirius has the same internals as the Atlas, and I am transporting the mount inside/outside each night I image. I'm imaging with an ED80T and a Canon 1000D, and even if I move up to a 100mm+ refractor, the weight won't be an issue (guided/unguided).

I'm very happy with my Sirius so far, and it runs great. Of course, I'd probably be saying the same thing about anything higher than an EQ3.

#8 oo_void

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 09:52 AM

Either an Atlas or CGEM would be a good choice. It's more of a SyncScan vs. Nexstar decision; What's your patience with technology?

SyncScan lacks some of Nexstar's cooler features. As Patrick pointed out, what really makes the Atlas shine and closes that functional gap is EQMod, but that means you almost always have a computer dependency. Sometimes though, it's just nice to go out without the computer and simply enjoy the views. With a CGEM you have the option to go simple and just rely on the hand controller, or full blown computer aided with gamepad, etc.

Edit: One more thing, since you're in San Jose you have the option of buying your mount at either the Orion shop in Cupertino, or Scope City in San Francisco. Mounts in this class are still mass produced. Most are great, but there are always a few that slip through the QC cracks. Buying through traditional retail will make dealing with any returns / replacements much easier should any issues arise.

#9 rmollise

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 12:27 PM

Well, lots of folks put down the poor old SynScan HC. But it does very well on those very things, casual viewing with no fuss and muss. With a middling good polar alignment, and a 3-star in the HC it will put anything in the C8 from horizon to horizon.

#10 Raginar

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 01:07 PM

Find an old GM-8 or a non-GOTO G-11.

#11 rmollise

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 01:10 PM

Well, with an old GM8 or G11 non-go-to, you don't have go-to, which is a downer for most folks these days. ;)

#12 BWAZ

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 01:52 PM

Wait for the new AZEQ6, a better mount than either the Orion Altas (NEQ6) or CGEM.

#13 rmollise

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 05:31 PM

MAYBE it will be a better mount. I assume you have not used one yet...and have not talked to anyone who has...I certainly have not.

#14 BWAZ

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 06:48 PM

MAYBE it will be a better mount. I assume you have not used one yet...and have not talked to anyone who has...I certainly have not.


Actually, I've talked to a buddy who has used the mount, take a look: new AZEQ6

#15 rigel123

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 08:25 PM

Well, lots of folks put down the poor old SynScan HC. But it does very well on those very things, casual viewing with no fuss and muss. With a middling good polar alignment, and a 3-star in the HC it will put anything in the C8 from horizon to horizon.


I've never used anything but the Synscan HC and I have no issues finding whatever I want to image. I do a 3 star alignment after doing my PA with the PA scope (pretty much what Rod describes) and the Atlas nails anything I tell it to point to. One night earlier this year I decided to have fun and just used the Night Sky Tour and did some quick shots of 14 different DSO's from one side of the Meridian to the other. Each one was placed right where I needed it. I've never tried EQMOD but can't imagine it pointing any better than what I get just using the HC. I'm sure it's a great program, I simply don't need it.

Just for fun, here was that 14 DSO evening.

Posted Image

#16 Raginar

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 05:46 AM

Well, with an old GM8 or G11 non-go-to, you don't have go-to, which is a downer for most folks these days. ;)


Funny Rod :lol: I guess I just had buyer's remorse and think I should've bought a more-quality mount from the get-go. Not that I didn't appreciate my CGEM for what it was good at. :bow:

Want to image? Go big :grin:

#17 rmollise

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 08:59 AM

MAYBE it will be a better mount. I assume you have not used one yet...and have not talked to anyone who has...I certainly have not.


Actually, I've talked to a buddy who has used the mount, take a look: new AZEQ6


IF his experience is going to be typical, it will indeed be what I've hoped for. ;)

From the pictures and the graph, anyhow. Hard to tell much from the text, which appears to be a cotton-picking Google translation. ;)

#18 rmollise

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 09:04 AM

Well, with an old GM8 or G11 non-go-to, you don't have go-to, which is a downer for most folks these days. ;)


Funny Rod :lol: I guess I just had buyer's remorse and think I should've bought a more-quality mount from the get-go. Not that I didn't appreciate my CGEM for what it was good at. :bow:

Want to image? Go big :grin:


Or not. PLENTY of people are doing excellent work without going big (and expensive and heavy). The CGEM can take good pictures. So can the Atlas. Hell, so can the CG5. You get a somewhat jaundiced view reading the posts on these boards...what STILL matters most is the man or woman behind the camera, not the cost or pedigree of the dadgum mount.

As for go-to? One of the best astrophotography aids to ever come down the pike. I'd never buy a mount without go-to nor would I advise anyone else to do so, whether for imaging or visual use. :gramps:

#19 EFT

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 10:38 AM

Wait for the new AZEQ6, a better mount than either the Orion Altas (NEQ6) or CGEM.


I'm not sure why you would think this when all it will be is an EQ6 with a different base and a slightly modified motor housing. It is obvious from the pictures that none of the fundemental components (like worms and ring gears) will be changed. In addition, they have gone to the network style plug for the hand controller that everyone hates on the Celestron mounts. All the AZEQ6 will be is an Atlas/NEQ6 with an Alt/Az configuration available. That doesn't make it better than the CGEM/Atlas, just different.

#20 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 11:03 AM

It doesn't matter which mount you get. Due to the light pollution you won't be getting any pictures you like. This is something you learn after you get the mount and start taking pictures, or you SHOULD learn by advice from Cloudy Nights members. I'm surprised nobody had mentioned this yet.

If you're not willing or able to drive to a dark site then save yourself the grief and money and get a much cheaper mount.

#21 gillmj24

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 11:05 AM

No you can do long exposure narrowvand photography in a full moon let alone light polluted skies. You'll need longer exposures and a mount that can handle that.

#22 orlyandico

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 12:07 PM

Agreed. So long as it's clear (which where I am, its not) aggressive filtering will let you pull in a lot of emission nebulae even with massive light pollution.

Prepare for REALLY LONG exposures though (20 minute subs should be a minimum, and you'd need lots of them). Or get a really fast optical tube like a hyperstar or powernewt.

#23 Namlak

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 04:24 PM

Hard to tell much from the text, which appears to be a cotton-picking Google translation. ;)


Odd, Google Translate works wonders when I use it to read your blog! :p

(Love the blog, BTW)

#24 rmollise

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 05:03 PM

Not strictly true. Bob Gendler has taken blow-you-away images from his less than perfect driveway. Not that all of us or any of us are going to approach his work, but it is possible to get good results from imperfect locales. ;)

#25 pfile

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Posted 20 October 2012 - 11:20 PM

yeah - i live in oakland and the LP here is horrendous. maybe i am a glutton for punishment but i have no problem going up to 8, 10, 12 hours, both RGB and narrowband, and i'm pretty happy with my images.

i know i could do much better in a much shorter amount of time if i went to a dark site, but i'm still enjoying AP here in the soup.






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