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#101 Bob Abraham

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 04:13 PM

Hi Paul: I agree it's a pretty rudimentary joystick on the Paramounts. It seems to be a "nice to have for occasional visual use and in a pinch" sort of thing. I suppose the iOS app is intended to take things to the next level... be interesting to see how well it works.

Hi Alph: Try pricing telescope hardware from places like DFM. Both AP and Bisque make really good stuff at a level of precision and reliability which one may or may not need, but if you need it I think they are not overpriced. An AP3600 run by my department and by the National Research Council operates outside during winters in the Arctic no problem, and the Paramount ME we've been operating in New Mexico has been totally flawless (which is more than can be said for the software I wrote to run it). In my opinion both mounts have offered very good value.

#102 Ray Gralak

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 07:27 PM

The A-P is already 'list price' less expesive because A-P does not include counterweights or an attachment plate. Not including the H/C would I'm sure affect the price but then the point that it works as such out of box sort of falls apart, an odd rabbit hole to go down. But that is not what this thread is about, though it seems to have been shoehorned in an odd way.

Ray, I guess my plea to you as a programmer missed. Am I correct you supply a product that is shipped by A-P with their mounts? I don't believe the same product is supplied out of box with the SB/PMX? You supply a product that ships with A-P mounts and you are here talking about what? Seems to me that A-P is also making at least some assumption that a computing platform might be availble? Where else would your software and the rest reside? It can't be put into the HC as far as I understand?

Am I mistaken and your product is somehow integrated into the SB suite? Then I could understand you're not violating vendor TOS here. I have flagged the mod's here and they don't respond, so I'm asking here.

How it's possible you could not compliment the efforts of SB in a systems software and integration and approach is baffling to me. And it is exactly here in the supplied software that SB has been and still is light years ahead of A-P which ships with your product. This is not to knock your part of the software A-P ships in their box at all.

The 'laptop' point you make, I have to ask then though it is not a requirement to use an A-P mount they do ship software that does need one, to run PulseGuide? (They do credit you by name on their site) What that software is capable of and what the SB suite is capable of are quite different and I give very high marks to what the SB folks have pioneered with their offering. The point about USB/serial I think moot as there is an industry using it and that is what the software resides on. Hardware vendors either get on the bus or you buy the dongle for whatever $ they are going for. That the SB software works very well with the A-P products is even more a reason to compliment them IMO.

Um.. where to start!!

1) I am not an employee of Astro-Physics and, besides, I was not trying to push AP products. I was just trying to bring up the reasons why pricing is the way it is. That said, in additional to my full-time day job I am an independent software consultant. I have developed software for Astro-Physics but I do *not* get royalties for that software so pushing AP mounts does not financially benefit me.
2) I'm not violating TOS. By previous agreement with the CN moderators I am allowed to talk about telescope hardware of any type.
3) PulseGuide and the AP V2 ASCOM driver are free products. Anyone can download for free from my web site. That AP credits me for them is simply an honor. I didn't ask them to do that.
4) That AP includes PC software with their mounts doesn't mean a user NEEDS to use them. My point was that the AP hand controller is essentially a simple computer that can be used for GOTO control without the need of a PC. The controller is ruggedized so it will operate in environments that an Iphone/ipad/PC/etc. probably would not be able to operate. That is valuable to many people.
5) None of the PC software included with AP mounts tries to be a planetarium program so it's not competition to TheSky (nor was it intended to be). There are plenty of good free and commercial planetarium programs, including TheSky.
6) Any mount (not just AP mounts) can benefit from most of the Bisque Software Suite, so I think it's just a matter of dollars and cents difference in price. That's why I said if you took away the $1K cost of the AP ruggedized hand controller you could buy a similar suite of software... and maybe even with more capabilities.
7) USB is not as good as serial in the case of mounts. The limit of 15 feet without active extensions is not very good! Serial cables can be run for hundreds of feet without need of any other equipment. I've been running the same 100ft cable serial connection from a PC to my remote outdoor telescope for over a dozen years and it is still functioning. The only problem with serial ports is that they are a dieing breed. Rather than USB I think a much better choice for a hard-wired telescope connection would be Ethernet.

-Ray

#103 Mike Wiles

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:09 PM

I have never heard of using an AP mount without the handbox.. didn't even know that was possible...


It's not currently possible. I was just saying that if it was possible the mount's price might be less expensive.

-Ray


I have only plugged my hand controller into my AP900 once. Every single other time I've used it, I have connected it directly to the laptop. My hand controller hasn't been out of the box that it came in for 9 months at least.

  • I'll use a compass to roughly polar align in azimuth.
  • I'll use the first half of the daytime polar alignment procedure to get altitude close.
  • As soon as it's dark enough, I'll slew to a known star and plate solve. I'll sync the mount to that plate solve.
  • Next, I'll use PEMPro to polar align the mount and have the mount aligned within an arc minute well before astronomical twilight.
  • At this point, the mount has a slewing accuracy of about 1 arc minute anywhere in the sky without needing to create a pointing model.
  • Kick off CCDAutoPilot and go play with the 15" Obsession for the rest of the weekend.
I would argue that the hand controller is not at all necessary. It's nice to have though....and I think is perhaps the only shortcoming of the Paramount. But - as someone mentioned earlier, they're two very different products....equally good, but different.

To be fair - the only reason I chose an AP900 over the Paramount MX was availability. At the time, the AP900 was immediately available - the Paramount was a 4 month wait. If I had to do it over again, I'd choose the AP900 again without question. But let's face it - you can't go wrong with either mount.

Mike

#104 orlyandico

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:43 AM

It boggles my mind what you should expect for 10,000.

30 minute unguided at 3000mm? :shocked:

I can't speak for the SB, but my Mach1 has exceeded my expectations in most ways compared to my previous mounts. The only areas where it has fallen short are

1) the one-star alignment model is... rudimentary

2) I crushed my finger between a clutch knob and the DEC motor (although this is mentioned in the manual)


It is very easy to go wrong with both manufacturers if your expectations are too high. Those mounts are very good however they both fall short of what $10,000 should get you.



#105 WadeH237

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:47 AM

It is very easy to go wrong with both manufacturers if your expectations are too high. Those mounts are very good however they both fall short of what $10,000 should get you.


I don't understand this statement at all.

I see posts from people all the time with mounts in the under $2000 price range, where expectations may be out of line. I think that the typical buyer of a mount in the AP or Bisque price range does a bit more homework (or has a lot more experience) and has a pretty good understanding of what they are buying.

Regarding value, I have never spoken to an actual owner of an AP or Bisque mount that shared your opinion that they are not worth the price. In fact, I can't think of a time off the top of my head where I spoke with an owner who wasn't overtly happy with their AP or Bisque mount. Oddly, I cannot make the same statement for mounts in the under $2500 price range.

Regarding the actual topic of this thread, I think that the Paramount MX is a great mount, and at the sale price, it's a huge amount of value for the money.

#106 korborh

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:49 AM

It is very easy to go wrong with both manufacturers if your expectations are too high. Those mounts are very good however they both fall short of what $10,000 should get you.


I don't understand this statement at all.


I think I can guess where Alph is coming from. Precision manufacturing has come a long way due to huge advances in CAD and CNC. Other than two sets of precision worm/gears, these mounts are very simple technologically (including the circuitry that drives them). Over the years, the SB/AP mount prices have not really reflected the ease of manufacturing possible with modern CAD/simulation software/hardware.

#107 orlyandico

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:58 AM

If that is true, then why isn't Synta producing AP-class mounts today at the $1500 price range?

Heck why aren't they producing it at $3000?

For a while back there I thought iOptron was gonna challenge AP/Bisque with the iEQ75 and its built-in Renishaw encoder. But did that ever ship?

Not to mention Meade. They're not much lower than AP/SB.

#108 korborh

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:08 PM

Maybe the precision just needs to have so much cost. But CAD/CNC/software is improving exponentially so it ought to be a lot easier to achieve precision today than 5yrs ago. Maybe not at Synta's price point, but there is huge gap there. I hear CGE-pro worms are much more precise now than when it came out. And there was no price increase.

#109 Hilmi

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 12:57 PM

Fair point, but why lower the price if the market will accept it? It doesn't make any sense to lower the price.

#110 orlyandico

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:33 PM

... until somebody comes along with something just as good at a lower price. I don't think the CGE Pro is quite there yet. Celestron's own numbers reflect this.

maybe the LX850 will have that effect, if it truly lives up to its promise. then again maybe not.

i guess the LX850 will be the acid test of whether more modern techniques can match the AP/SB engineering at a lower price.

#111 korborh

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 02:25 PM

Fair point, but why lower the price if the market will accept it? It doesn't make any sense to lower the price.


SB just did. It makes sense if more will buy at reduced cost. Good to see SB trying this.

#112 WadeH237

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 04:53 PM

I think that there is more to the price than just the cost of machinine work.

I think that the biggest factor in price is probably the size of the market. The market is small enought that their is no way to get the economies of scale that you get with cars, lawn mowers, consumer electronics, etc. Both AP and Bisque are really small shops. You could exchange personal email with the respective owners of each company if you wanted to do so.

I don't think that materials have gone down in price. If anything, I think it's the opposite.

You are also paying for service. How many times have we heard people on these forums ask "Why doesn't this work out of the box?", "Why does it so hard to reach support?", "Why does it take months to get my mount fixed?", "Why did the save cost on this critical part?" etc. when talking about the most popular brands? Well, the answer is cost. With AP and Bisque, you never hear these questions.

And finally, and perhaps most telling, I don't see either AP or Bisque making their company owners fabulously wealthy.

Frankly, if the cost of an AP or Bisque mount reflects what it truly takes to provide the whole package that they offer, I hope they never go down in price. If I want a low cost mount (and sometimes I do), I will buy one.

#113 David Pavlich

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:13 PM

I think that there is more to the price than just the cost of machinine work.

I think that the biggest factor in price is probably the size of the market. The market is small enought that their is no way to get the economies of scale that you get with cars, lawn mowers, consumer electronics, etc. Both AP and Bisque are really small shops. You could exchange personal email with the respective owners of each company if you wanted to do so.

I don't think that materials have gone down in price. If anything, I think it's the opposite.

You are also paying for service. How many times have we heard people on these forums ask "Why doesn't this work out of the box?", "Why does it so hard to reach support?", "Why does it take months to get my mount fixed?", "Why did the save cost on this critical part?" etc. when talking about the most popular brands? Well, the answer is cost. With AP and Bisque, you never hear these questions.

And finally, and perhaps most telling, I don't see either AP or Bisque making their company owners fabulously wealthy.

Frankly, if the cost of an AP or Bisque mount reflects what it truly takes to provide the whole package that they offer, I hope they never go down in price. If I want a low cost mount (and sometimes I do), I will buy one.


Amen and amen!

David

#114 Matt Houston

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 08:20 PM

Does anyone know how long the sale price will run for? I saw one website that said that the sale runs through March 15th. I'm planning to purchase the MX mount in early March. Thanks.

#115 David Pavlich

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 10:21 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights, Matt! Give the gang at Astronomics a call. They'll know.

David

#116 RussD

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 11:20 PM

Anyone remember when the first Paramount came out in 02? Didnt they offer it for something like 9K as an introductory price? I cannot recall the exact number but it did not last that long before it jumped to 11 or 12K. I am sure the new MX will not stay at 8 (or 9K) for long.

I was shopping for an AP900 at the time and I think I paid around 6K for it.

The AP900 was a financial stretch for me but I am glad I made the investment. I paid what it cost and so do a lot of people. While I have had problems from time to time the issues are not anything like what is typically discussed in forums for less expensive mounts where modification, "supercharging", and mechanical tweaking are the norm just to get to a performance level I would consider *BLEEP*.

Cmon people, we are sounding like a bunch of snobs arguing about the best temperature for our tea. I just vote with my wallet and let the cards fall where they may.

I visited AP recently and there were about 20 modest cars in the parking lot. It was a busy place typical any small manufacturing company. I suspect Bisque is similar. No one is getting rich. These companies have got a lot of overhead and investment in these products and they are both succeeding. We are very very lucky and I am glad to shell out my hard earned bucks to support both of them.

Russ

#117 BlueGrass

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:25 AM

I suspect that the actual manufacturing, testing and support costs for these mounts are higher than most people think. They are not cast productions; all components are finely machined and assembled. Those that believe they're over-priced and would be glad to see a significant price drop or price war: Those cuts would come at the expense of support and quality. There are brand names in this crazy mixed up world that still mean something, that haven't sold out to find the cheapest manufacturing, aren't dedicated to flooding the market hoping to prosper just by quantity...

#118 orlyandico

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:14 AM

... which is pretty much what I meant when I said I don't consider them overpriced.

My AP is the first mount I've had that exceeded my expectations. Would I be happy if it was $4K? yes, but if the quality went down then I would be one unhappy camper.

I don't think AP or SB can get the price lower without sacrificing on something. And if you're sacrificing on something, there's the CGE Pro and G11 to pick up the slack :)

That said.. there are mounts "out there" which cost less and promise comparable performance. The Mesu 200 is one. 100kg capacity at less than the price of a Mach1. Also the Gemini G53f.

The ASA mounts cost more. The Tak mounts cost more (compare EM200 to Mach1, or EM400 to AP900). I am really convinced the price can't go any lower if you want that level of quality.

Yes the PMX is 8k now. I believe there also was a sale on the PME II, it actually is less than the list of the PME. I don't expect that pricing to last.

#119 psandelle

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:24 AM

Yeah, when I used to own Ferrari's people would come up and say things like "But my Honda does the same thing," or "My Porsche's just as fast," or "Wow, they're so expensive!" I'd just smile and nod and know that I was buying something of superior quality that took time, effort and artistry to make. Also, anyone who complains about price on a Ferrari (or one of these top end mounts) can't afford one, so they shouldn't bother. :)

No one gets rich on these, but if you want that "extra" that makes it better than the rest, it's not a linear price hike. Same goes for top-end apo's or any other piece of equipment that's top of the line. Bang-for-buck? You have to figure that out for yourself, but the best costs and you have to decide if it's worth paying for (and that includes ASA's, etc.). You want to know what REALLY costs? Try pricing a custom mount that does all the things an AP or a SB mount does.

Paul

#120 RussD

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 09:49 AM

When you compare these products to other "luxury" items such as boats, snowmobiles etc. it is tempting to say that AP and Bisque products are overpriced. After all a GEM is a relatively simple machine and there is not a lot of materials there. But these folks are producing precision products in small numbers unlike the other to companies like the Yamaha, Polaris who have high volume and diversified operations.

Russ

#121 Starhawk

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:07 AM

What boats are you looking at that even an AP 3600 doesn't look hilariously cheap next to? The mounts are a one-and-done. A boat is proverbially the hole in the water to pour money into. How about Harleys? Astronomy is the cheapest midlife crisis you can get into.

The market is small and all, but what AP boils down to isn't some business guy trying to squeeze every dime out of astronomy; it's about making what Roland wanted for himself available to others. I've talked to him about this-this IS his retirement. All he's trying to do is cover expenses.

Try and buy a high end mount from the folks who really are trying to do it for profit, like Newport or Contraves. That should correct your interpretations on the cost of precision equipment.

-Rich

#122 psandelle

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:21 AM

Yeah, but with a Contraves, you can track missiles as well. There's a certain sense of security in knowing you can grab some good Ha data AND nail an incoming North Korean ICBM as well.

#123 orlyandico

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:46 PM

I think a better analogy is the Japanese observatory class mounts, like the big Taks (EM-3500) and the Goto's.

When you compare the price of an EM-3500 to the AP3600 with a similar capacity, the 3600 is hilariously cheap in comparison.

#124 RussD

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 10:42 PM

Rich,
Ok maybe my analogy was not perfectly on. But where I am from (the land of 10,000 lakes) you can get a pretty nice fishing boat for the cost of an AP3600. So to the average joe a thing that tracks the stars is way over priced when you can get a fishing boat for the same amount. I can just hear it now..."You wanna try tracking something really tough, try going after a walleye....that sort of thing." :)

I think we are agreeing on this and you may have taken what I said in the opposite way I intended. We are all very very thankful that Roland runs his business the way he does. I now own three of his mounts and a telescope of his making. He could sell a whole lot fewer mounts for a whole lot more if he wanted to. So could Bisque. But they both are in it for us. And I am glad for that. The 3600 is the ONE product in recent memory that had a price so low that it shocked me. That is probably the biggest steal in astronomy right now.

Russ






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