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Mount selection advice for 4" apo refractor

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#1 Simon D.

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:11 PM

Hello all, first post here. I'm looking to return to astronomy after a 9 year hiatus. I'm also looking to make a few purchases to make the "re-entry" a bit more pleasurable. One piece of technology that's right up my alley is the goto mount. I never did learn the sky very well and used to spend most of my evening finding things and little time observing.

My scope is a vixen fl102s fluorite f9 (still mint...I just ordered a moonlight focusser this week which should make a nice addition) I thought about selling it a few times during my astro-retirement, but I'm glad I didn't. I do mostly planetary, doubles, and clusters. Very little DSOs, and the only astrophotography I have planned is planets with my DSLR. My current mount is a Vixen GP.

My priorities are ease of setup, portability, and reliability. I'm not much a tinkerer so I'd like something that works well right out of the box. I don't mind paying a bit more for good quality if it will last longer and be more reliable. The crowd favourite seems to be the HEQ5, which I think might do. Alternatively, I do like the starbook concept on the Vixen SWX. What about the GM8? How portable is it and what is it's reliability reputation? I would like to leave the option of putting a 8-9 inch SCT on it in the future, in case I get one.

Appreciate the advice.

#2 terry59

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 05:26 PM

I have both the Sirius (HEQ5) and GM-8. Mechanically, the GM-8 is superior in all respects. It is easy to work on and parts are readily available. Gemini II is better than SynScan but EQMOD levels that field a lot. If cost isn't an issue for you I recommend the GM-8 with Gemini II.

Edit: I see this was your first post. Welcome to CN

#3 iluxo

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:10 PM

Hi, I've had a Vixen SXD and sold it quickly:

- I loathed the StarBook controller. It was either too bright or too dim, and I couldn't read it easily in a range of low-light situations. the lettering is hard to read, and the user interface is very clunky like an old 1970's arcade game.
- no integration with iPad/iPhone apps;
- once calibrated on a couple of stars, you must keep the axes clamped and slew electrically across the sky using GOTO - you can't move the scope manually. This is slow.
- it sounds like a coffee-grinder. I hate this.


I'd suggest instead you buy the Skywatcher AZ-EQ6 instead (or the Orion-branded version), this will easily carry either your 4" APO and/or an 8" SCT. It can carry BOTH side by side.

This is an incredibly versatile mount, and if you add a SkyFi box or similar, you can integrate it with any of several iPad/iPhone apps which frankly make any other controller look lame.

#4 jrcrilly

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:51 PM

If you are accustomed to a GP then all of the mounts mentioned above will disappoint you. I don't like the Starbook - but you can still find Sky Sensor 2000 setups for your mount. A GP/SS2K would be a terrific yet economical mount for the refractor - or for a C8.

#5 JMW

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:12 PM

For portability, easy of setup for your 4" APO, consider a push-to Discmount DM4. You could add digital setting circles for finding things. Easier than setting up a GEM.

#6 jrbarnett

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:32 AM

Skip the Vixen GOTO mounts. Expensive, modest capacity and really poor GOTO electronics (called "Starbook").

Were I in your shoes, I'd be looking at the new Celestron VX mount - the successor to the venerable CG5-GT. Nexstar, which is Celestron's GOTO package software, is excellent.

As a "Plan B" I'd consider an Orion Atlas EQ-G, for a little more capacity, or an Orion Sirius should the VX not be to your liking.

The Vixen fluorite is still a lovely, functional, competitive scope, though. Do it justice with a mount that has "kept up".

Welcome back.

Regards,

Jim

#7 Pat at home

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 11:32 AM

Hi,

My observing interests are pretty much the same as yours. I quite like binaries and both open and globular clusters. I bought my first setup about seven years ago. When discussing a mount choice I was concerned with reliability, functionality, adaptability, support and price. I settled on a EQ6-Pro now called NEQ6. I've acquired other mounts since then for specific purposes but my main mount is still the old EQ6. I use it with a 4 inch ED scope or with a 6 inch achromat. Sure there are more expensive well made and prettier mounts out there but my old EQ is still performing admirably with any of the scopes I own.

Were I in the market for another GOTO scope in that range and based on my experience with Skywatcher products I would not hesitate to purchase an AZ-EQ6. For me, a good capacity alt/azm goto with dual scope mounting would be a good solution for the type of hobby astronomy me and my daughter like to do.

#8 Chucky

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:30 PM

For ease of use, quick setup, and computerized with an Ipad Mini, Sky Commander, SkyFi, here is what I use. It's a Discount DM-4. Shown is an 80 Stellarvue.

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#9 Chucky

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 12:42 PM

Another view of my DM-4.

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#10 AlienRatDog

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 02:06 PM

Celestron VX mount would be ideal I think. The Atlas-class mounts are nice but heavy. They will diminish the portability.

#11 Orionis91

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 06:00 PM

Atlas, would be a bit too heavy, I would SERIOUSLY consider the Celestron VX, looks to be a real sweet-spot.

#12 Simon D.

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 07:41 PM

That DM-4 looks pretty neat. Is that a goto or push-to?

#13 Lane

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Posted 11 February 2013 - 08:27 PM

The DM-4 is push-to and has no slo-mo controls. You can get the optional sky commander for it and that lets you find objects easily. GOTO or PUSHTO really makes little difference, but you have to track the object manually and at high power with no slo-mo knobs that may not be what you want. There are other alt-az mounts that can use the sky commander and have slo-mo controls, I would suggest one of those, like the T-Rex or the DSV-3.

I have the Orion Sirius (HEQ5) mount and it does work very nicely with a 4" APO and is relatively quiet too. But it is pretty pricey compared to the new Celestron VX. If I was buying right now I would get the VX.

#14 Chucky

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 06:44 AM

<< but you have to track the object manually and at high power with no slo-mo knobs that may not be what you want. >>

DM-4 -- properly balanced and tensioned, manually tracking at high power is no problem at all.

#15 neptun2

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 09:53 AM

I have HEQ5 Pro mount and am verry happy with it. It is relatively light and carries my 5" apo doublet with ease.

#16 PJ Anway

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 04:32 PM

The DM-4 is push-to and has no slo-mo controls. You can get the optional sky commander for it and that lets you find objects easily. GOTO or PUSHTO really makes little difference, but you have to track the object manually and at high power with no slo-mo knobs that may not be what you want. There are other alt-az mounts that can use the sky commander and have slo-mo controls, I would suggest one of those, like the T-Rex or the DSV-3.


I would agree, not a mount for high-power viewing. Once it gets moving it's fine, but there a tiny starting friction that has to be overcome and at high powers the view jumps at the start and I couldn't get used to that. It makes centering movements difficult. Slow motion controls eliminate the problem and I would recommend them on an any non-motorized mount.

#17 JMW

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 09:31 PM

Most of my viewing is DSO's and wide field objects. I tend to use 100 degree apparent field of view eyepieces so I don't have any problem using the Discmounts for planetary viewing at 200-300 magnifications. I do public outreach and only have to adjust the view after a couple of people look. I use a TEC-140 on the DM6 and a SV115T on a DM4.

When using the rear handle of my DM6 I can use my C11 EdgeHD at higher planetary powers. The tripod and mount are rigid enough for me to enjoy the view while nudging the handle to move the scope as needed.

The smoothness and ease of the Discmount's motion make for a very pleasant viewing experience. I tend to only use my AP900GTO for imaging and the occasional observing. I like how an alt/az push-top mount works and I don't have to wait for motors to slew over to the objects of interest.

There are some Half Hitch mounts that could handle in the 4 inch APO. I see them used sometimes. They can be pushed like a Discmount plus they do have slow motion controls. There is a Half Hitch II available used on the A*mart for a good price compared to original cost. It comes with accessory mounting hardware and encoders for DSC. Sky Commander as an option. I see a review of it supporting a AP130GT so a 4 inch APO shouldn't be a problem.






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