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Better than Argo Navis?

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#1 Jjones

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:01 PM

I'm considering an Obsession 12.5". Is there a less expensive alternative of digital setting circles than the Argo Navis?

Thanks!

#2 Fred1

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 05:59 PM

Sky Commander.

#3 wavelandscott

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 07:38 PM

There maybe some less expensive alternatives but it is hard to beat the Argo Navis for overall usability and performance it revolutionized my viewing.

#4 GeneT

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 03:26 PM

Sky Commander.


I recommend doing some serious comparisons between Argo Navis and Sky Commander. There are some strong opinions for both products.

#5 MDB

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 04:17 PM

Hello Jjones,

I noticed that you are from MN so I am assuming you may be doing some cold weather viewing, if so you may want to check on Sky Commanders cold weather capabilities. Argo Navis has a heated LCD screen and with DC power it worked very well for me this winter at -10F. Without heat the LCD would disappear in about 30 minutes at 25 or 30F. I am not familiar with Sky Commanders cold weather capabilities. Just something to consider.

Mike

#6 BKBrown

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 04:42 PM

Sky Commander has a heating element for the LCD that works off of adapter power, not the 9v battery. The manufacturer says in the manual that "external power must be used in cold weather, 10 degrees C and below". I believe them...

Clear Skies,
Brian

#7 Ed Wiley

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:36 PM

I may be telling you something you already know, if so, sorry. DSCs are basically encoders that reads the movement of the scope. The computer read the encoders. Either Sky Commander or Argo Navis can read the DSC encoders. I use Sky Commander on my 12.5" Obsession and used the same unit on my DSC equipped Losmandy G11 before I retrofitted Gemini II. You should do some price comparisons. How much would you save if you installed your own encoders and bought a SC?? What is the difference between a SC and a AN if you have Obsession install the encoders and you buy the computer? Is it worth saving a couple of hundred bucks given that lots of folks like the AN unit and you get to ask Dave questions? (I say this because I was observing next to a newbie with a 12.5" and the AN unit at a star party and Dave took the time to show him the basics of his AN unit.)

Soooo-- if you are handy you can buy an encoder kit and a computer from Sky Commander, install the encoders and you are in business. Or-- you can let Dave the whole thing for more $$. Or -- you can have Obsession install the encoders and buy the computer of your choice. I'm not handy but was lucky to get my 12.5" used with encoders factory installed.

Good luck with your choice.

Ed

#8 paul hart

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:53 PM

I've never used Argo Navis, but I do use Sky Commander on my 14". I'm quite happy with it. I use an external 12 volt battery to enable the LCD display heater to work.

#9 tezster

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:47 PM

DSCs connected to a tablet/laptop running a star atlas software like SkySafari would be much more user friendly and capable than the DSC alone, IMO. Using wireless devices that can connect to encoders directly (without a DSC) also work.

#10 jrbarnett

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:15 PM

We've had two dud Argo Navis computers in our club. In neither case did the manufacturer provide good support. In one instance the manufacturer even accused my clubmate (I was the original owner and he bought it for me) of using the computer with a Servo Cat. None of us has a Servo Cat, and besides, where does it say that Argo Navis can't be used with Servo Cat? My sense is that they have had plenty of failed units and look for excuses to get out of having to fund repairs. I've also heard that they no longer outsource manufacture of the electronics, though I don't know for a fact whether this is true. I'd never buy another AN as a result, and counsel my club mates and others against them. Sky Commander's are bullet proof. Heck, even Intelliscope is more reliable than AN in my experience. You can get an entire Intelliscope equipped scope for less than an AN. The quality is not up to the price. Great features. Nice design. Shoddy execution.

:shrug:

- Jim

#11 jrbarnett

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 10:16 PM

Sky Commander has internal heat and a thermostat, too. It'll eat a 9V quickly though, so for cold viewing an external larger battery is a better option, though I use 9V Lithium batteries in mine in cold and have had good luck.

Regards,

Jim

#12 wavelandscott

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 10:13 AM

We've had two dud Argo Navis computers in our club. In neither case did the manufacturer provide good support. In one instance the manufacturer even accused my clubmate (I was the original owner and he bought it for me) of using the computer with a Servo Cat. None of us has a Servo Cat, and besides, where does it say that Argo Navis can't be used with Servo Cat? My sense is that they have had plenty of failed units and look for excuses to get out of having to fund repairs. I've also heard that they no longer outsource manufacture of the electronics, though I don't know for a fact whether this is true. I'd never buy another AN as a result, and counsel my club mates and others against them. Sky Commander's are bullet proof. Heck, even Intelliscope is more reliable than AN in my experience. You can get an entire Intelliscope equipped scope for less than an AN. The quality is not up to the price. Great features. Nice design. Shoddy execution.

:shrug:

- Jim


I am sorry to hear of the problems that you have had with AN...I am quite surprised by your experience as it does not match the experience of others that I am familiar with. I had the opportunity to live in Australia for a number of years and came to know the owners of Wildcard Innovations (the manufacturer of AN) and found them exceptionally responsive and helpful to the Astro community...go figure?!?

#13 Fred1

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 11:41 AM

We've had two dud Argo Navis computers in our club. In neither case did the manufacturer provide good support. In one instance the manufacturer even accused my clubmate (I was the original owner and he bought it for me) of using the computer with a Servo Cat. None of us has a Servo Cat, and besides, where does it say that Argo Navis can't be used with Servo Cat? My sense is that they have had plenty of failed units and look for excuses to get out of having to fund repairs. I've also heard that they no longer outsource manufacture of the electronics, though I don't know for a fact whether this is true. I'd never buy another AN as a result, and counsel my club mates and others against them. Sky Commander's are bullet proof. Heck, even Intelliscope is more reliable than AN in my experience. You can get an entire Intelliscope equipped scope for less than an AN. The quality is not up to the price. Great features. Nice design. Shoddy execution.

:shrug:

- Jim


I am sorry to hear of the problems that you have had with AN...I am quite surprised by your experience as it does not match the experience of others that I am familiar with. I had the opportunity to live in Australia for a number of years and came to know the owners of Wildcard Innovations (the manufacturer of AN) and found them exceptionally responsive and helpful to the Astro community...go figure?!?


Likewise. The one problem I had with my Argo (the dial stopped working) was quickly remedied by Gary Kopf although it had to be shipped to Australia to fix, it was done so under warranty and returned very promptly. It's been working flawlessly ever since. Any questions on operating it are also quickly responded to on the Argo Yahoo Group, often by Gary Kopf himself, likewise with emails sent to him directly. There are several other Argo users in my club and I can attest that their experiences have been similar.

The OP asked for a less expensive alternative, which is the only reason why earlier I provided the link for the Sky Commander which is another good reliable unit with a different feature set.

#14 JMW

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 08:21 PM

I have both. The Sky Commander is a little simpler interface and needs external battery supply to work well with the 8-10K encoders. I use a 3 amp hour 12 volt gel battery for both to help with the run time in cold weather so it doesn't matter that much to me. Argo Navis supports a more complex pointing model if you take the time to read the manual. I like the interface a bit better when wearing gloves on the Argo Navis.

I have been using both with Sky Safari. Argo Navis has a 'From Planetarium' mode so the selected object in Sky Safari is used to set the alt/az arrow pointers. You could also just use a Nexus and Sky Safari and skip the DSC altogether.

#15 JoeM101

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 10:47 PM

why not just use any tablet or smartphone at this point with a Nexus or a Bluetooth DSC? There are tons of DSC capable apps and the quality of information is just really hard to beat.. these older Sky commander and Argo Navis computers just don't hold a candle to using say Sky Safari or DeepSky Browser..

I use a Nexus with an iPad mini with DeepSkyBrowser from the Nexus guys and Sky Safrai Pro...

Posted Image

this unit has so many capabilites, it even charges my iPad while connected... mind you i use a 5amp power supply but there's nothing like handing my kids the iPad, have them say "Dad, let's look at M57!", then have them push to and find it! then read all about it and be excited!! You can't get that with the others.. you also have access to all the info on the objects you could possibly ask for and hec, the iPad has a SIM card so, GPS,altitude, etc are all in the palm of your hands... you can even get the forecast and answer a couple of emails while your at it ;)

all joking aside, my point is, why spend the 4 to 8 hundred plus plus dollars on older tech.. my rig cost me 220 for the nexus, 100 for the encoders and 450 for the iPad... about what you would spend for an Argo Navis or full blown Sky Commander setup...

I don;t mean to knock em, but i am a programmer and have been in IT for over 20 years and my take on this is, get with the times.


just myho :whistle:
clear skies..

#16 rcdk

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Posted 18 March 2013 - 11:04 PM

Finding is great, but tracking is pretty awesome too. Nothing like sitting down, staring at an object that is staying dead center in the eyepiece to really bring out detail.

Finding lets you see more objects, tracking lets you see more in the objects.

+1 for Sky Safari.

#17 Rocketlawnchair

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:05 AM

We've had two dud Argo Navis computers in our club. In neither case did the manufacturer provide good support. In one instance the manufacturer even accused my clubmate (I was the original owner and he bought it for me) of using the computer with a Servo Cat. None of us has a Servo Cat, and besides, where does it say that Argo Navis can't be used with Servo Cat? My sense is that they have had plenty of failed units and look for excuses to get out of having to fund repairs. I've also heard that they no longer outsource manufacture of the electronics, though I don't know for a fact whether this is true. I'd never buy another AN as a result, and counsel my club mates and others against them. Sky Commander's are bullet proof. Heck, even Intelliscope is more reliable than AN in my experience. You can get an entire Intelliscope equipped scope for less than an AN. The quality is not up to the price. Great features. Nice design. Shoddy execution.

:shrug:

- Jim


I am sorry to hear of the problems that you have had with AN...I am quite surprised by your experience as it does not match the experience of others that I am familiar with. I had the opportunity to live in Australia for a number of years and came to know the owners of Wildcard Innovations (the manufacturer of AN) and found them exceptionally responsive and helpful to the Astro community...go figure?!?


Likewise. The one problem I had with my Argo (the dial stopped working) was quickly remedied by Gary Kopf although it had to be shipped to Australia to fix, it was done so under warranty and returned very promptly. It's been working flawlessly ever since. Any questions on operating it are also quickly responded to on the Argo Yahoo Group, often by Gary Kopf himself, likewise with emails sent to him directly. There are several other Argo users in my club and I can attest that their experiences have been similar.

The OP asked for a less expensive alternative, which is the only reason why earlier I provided the link for the Sky Commander which is another good reliable unit with a different feature set.




I've sent many emails to Gary at Wildcard, both before and after purchasing my Argo Navis, and I always get a quick and very detailed response. I would rate Gary as one of the best at offering support for his product. I've also met several others who own an Argo Navis and have never heard a bad word from anybody. Shoddy execution? First I've heard of this.

I've never used a Sky Commander, but I am very happy with my AN and would recommend it to anyone.

#18 Chucky

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 06:13 AM

<< these older Sky commander and Argo Navis computers just don't hold a candle to using say Sky Safari or DeepSky Browser.. >>

But for me.....and I'm sure many, many others, sometimes I want to go with the 'low tech' approach.....sans ipad, SF.....especially when it's cold and I'm tired. Having a bullet proof and easy to use Sky Commander is nice at times and offers another option for me. But I do enjoy my Mini with Sky Safari. Yes, technology is changing quickly. I'm sure the folks at Argo Navis are concerned. Sky Commander too, but probably less so. As the saying goes 'Innovate or die'.

#19 Dick Jacobson

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 07:58 AM

My pet peeve with both Argo Navis and Sky Commander is that they don't have a 10-key pad like the systems used by Celestron, Meade, and Orion. To me, the menu-based system (turn the dial, hit enter, turn the dial again to find a digit, hit enter, turn the dial again to find another digit, hit enter, etc, etc) is slow and clumsy.

#20 JoeM101

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:51 AM

When I want tot go low-tech, I use my iPhone ;) connects via wifi to Nexus and I'm ready to go

#21 Fred1

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:51 AM

why not just use any tablet or smartphone at this point with a Nexus or a Bluetooth DSC? There are tons of DSC capable apps and the quality of information is just really hard to beat.. these older Sky commander and Argo Navis computers just don't hold a candle to using say Sky Safari or DeepSky Browser..

I use a Nexus with an iPad mini with DeepSkyBrowser from the Nexus guys and Sky Safrai Pro...

Posted Image

this unit has so many capabilites, it even charges my iPad while connected... mind you i use a 5amp power supply but there's nothing like handing my kids the iPad, have them say "Dad, let's look at M57!", then have them push to and find it! then read all about it and be excited!! You can't get that with the others.. you also have access to all the info on the objects you could possibly ask for and hec, the iPad has a SIM card so, GPS,altitude, etc are all in the palm of your hands... you can even get the forecast and answer a couple of emails while your at it ;)

all joking aside, my point is, why spend the 4 to 8 hundred plus plus dollars on older tech.. my rig cost me 220 for the nexus, 100 for the encoders and 450 for the iPad... about what you would spend for an Argo Navis or full blown Sky Commander setup...

I don;t mean to knock em, but i am a programmer and have been in IT for over 20 years and my take on this is, get with the times.


just myho :whistle:
clear skies..


I've found that repeatedly looking at an iPAD or Smartphone screen, even in their dimmest display settings with a rubylith type cover on it prevents me from getting fully dark adapted. I avoid all lights of any sort whenever possible, unless I'm setting up or breaking down. In that respect the Argo and SkyCom are totally dark adaptation friendly. For star parties and impressing the young the iPAD, etc. are admittedly, very useful, but for serious observing at dark sites I use what helps me see more detail at the eyepiece.

#22 JoeM101

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 08:56 AM

nightmode works extremely well for dark adaptation.. the iPad auto dims anyways and with the software in nightmode, the brightness is just right... no need for rubylith covers

#23 Fred1

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:00 PM

nightmode works extremely well for dark adaptation.. the iPad auto dims anyways and with the software in nightmode, the brightness is just right... no need for rubylith covers


Point taken... but it's not for all observers. I keep the lights out to see more at the eyepiece. It maximizes the performance of my expensive optics and my eyesight.

#24 Joe G

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 12:57 PM

JoeM101,

I have two reflectors: one with Argo Navis and an Orion Intelliscope. Personally I like the Intelliscope better because of the keypad.

Can I replace the Argo Navis with the Nexus and use the existing encoders? Will it work with the Intelliscope encoders too?

I have an iPhone and an Android tablet. Do you know what apps work with the Nexus and Android system?

Thanks.

Joe

#25 Chucky

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Posted 19 March 2013 - 02:58 PM

<< When I want to go low-tech, I use my iPhone connects via wifi to Nexus and I'm ready to go >>

When I want to go low-tech, I make sure my $ 12.00 Samsung flip phone is on vibrate, turn on Sky Commander and I'm ready to go. But I know what you are saying. Many ways to skin a cat. And to think not too many years ago, we had only star hopping without any electronic help!






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