Finally, everything is unboxed.
As you've figured out by now, I got a new mount.
I started imaging back in 1998 with a Celestron Ultima 2000 and ST-237 camera. I tried it with Fastar, at F/6.7 and F/10. I wasn't very good at it.
In 2003, about the time I was getting a serious case of aperture fever, Celestron released the CGE. I made the jump to a CGE-1400 and was a very happy visual camper.
When I first got the CGE, I was thinking about stepping up my imaging game. After a couple of years of visual with the C14, I got serious about it. I ripped the C8 off of the Ultima 2000, switched to a Canon 10D and went for it again. The results were really promising, but I needed to get a guiding solution. The ST-237 worked perfectly as a guide camera.
Anyway, after a couple of years of this, I ended up with a couple of CGEs (one for imaging, while the other one carried the C14 for visual) and lots of other gear.
I discovered Astro-Physics while studying what other people were using. I decided then that I wanted one. Specifically, I wanted an AP1200.
Finally, after years of saying "someday", I put my name on the notification list in October last year, around the time of AIC.
Earlier this year, Astro-Physics pulled a fast one and discontinued the AP1200. I came very close to buying an AP900, but figured that it would be better to step up than to step down.
It took AP a while to switch over from the AP1200 to the AP1600 - and they seem to have lots of projects going on right now, which isn't making things quicker.
Anyway, back to those two boxes.
I opened the "smaller" of the two boxes first:
Of course, this was the declination axis, shown here on the bench:
This is the first time that I've ever kept photos of unboxing new equipment, and I almost got it done at every step. In my excitement to get it all unboxed, I forgot to get a picture of the RA axis packed in the box. Here it is on the bench:
And finally, all put together on the pier:
Everything made perfect sense in how it goes together. I made it almost all the way without consulting the manual. I say almost because the through the mount cabling threw me a bit. The cable for the declination drive runs through the RA axis and connects inside of the dec housing. I could not figure out how to get my hand into the dec axis to plug it in.
I got a bit concerned because when I opened the manual package, it said that the AP1600 manual is not ready yet, so they included the AP1200 manual, which does not have this cable routing. They are going to email me the new manual when it's ready and follow it up by sending me a bound manual. I had a bit of a panic at this, but it turns out that they did send an addendum that covers the key differences between the AP1200 and AP1600, including the cabling. It turns out that the end of the dec housing (the part where the counterweight shaft attaches) itself unscrews, leaving a large opening into the dec housing.
I've connected everything and powered it up. I went through many of the options in the keypad, sent it on some imaginary gotos, slewed around and such. I haven't actually found the off switch yet...
In the next couple of days, I am going to get everything installed on my laptop so that I can configure my automation software to work with it.
I'm hoping to get a first light someday, but between normal Seattle weather and new mount curse, it could be a while. Actually, it would be more cruel to have good weather over the weekend. AP did not have the dovetail mount that I ordered available to ship with the rest of the stuff. It will be coming in a separate shipment on Monday.
If you made it this far, I hope that you enjoyed sharing the fun of opening new toys.