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Review of Nova Hitch Mount

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#1 Charlie Hein

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 06:33 AM

Review of Nova Hitch Mount

By Kelsey Golden

#2 Scott in NC

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 08:15 AM

Nice review, Kelsey--thanks for sharing that! I'd also be interested in hearing any follow-up comments that you may have after you've had a few more months' experience with this mount. :waytogo:

#3 D.Briden

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 10:44 AM

Great review Kelsey.... good to hear that it exceeds all of your expectations - even with a bigger scope than your own.

We have similar interests as I too am more into the photography side (FSQ106ED/Tak EM400), but also wanting a matching quality visual set-up to compliment a nice 10" Dob that I 'look after' for my local astro club with my own range of Ethos eyepieces and my own (at the moment), mountless TSA102s.

Looking forward to receiving my Nova soon (with the encoders/Sky Commander etc and then the tracking to follow...)

Can I enquire further....? You never really got into the performance with your own (lighter) WO scope? Did you feel the tripod was acceptable for this instrument, or 'only just' - what were the dampening times like? Of course, I ask in relation to my smaller Tak - although she is still a rather long (f/8) and heavy 4" unit!

The tripod for me is also the 'weak link' issue at the moment. Perhaps I will go with Charles' new creation or a Berlebach Planet or Sky - my only concern with this would be their rather large head base that may encumber zenith performance but I also have on order his 'quick release' unit that would add a further 3" to the height so offering additional clearance.

Thanks for taking the time to write up a review whilst the rest of us wait for ours... sounds like I shall be in for an awful amount of 'new equipment cloud'!

Clear skies,

Damian

#4 lcaldero

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 07:38 AM

I am curious about your comments regarding pricing. The current price of the Nova Hitch is comparable to mounts like the Trex-- actually the trex price includes encoders so that makes it a bit cheaper than the Nova hitch similarly equipped. A lot of discussion about how innovative the mount is but not much about performance under the stars?

#5 kcgolden

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 09:43 AM

Great review Kelsey.... good to hear that it exceeds all of your expectations - even with a bigger scope than your own.

We have similar interests as I too am more into the photography side (FSQ106ED/Tak EM400), but also wanting a matching quality visual set-up to compliment a nice 10" Dob that I 'look after' for my local astro club with my own range of Ethos eyepieces and my own (at the moment), mountless TSA102s.

Looking forward to receiving my Nova soon (with the encoders/Sky Commander etc and then the tracking to follow...)

Can I enquire further....? You never really got into the performance with your own (lighter) WO scope? Did you feel the tripod was acceptable for this instrument, or 'only just' - what were the dampening times like? Of course, I ask in relation to my smaller Tak - although she is still a rather long (f/8) and heavy 4" unit!

The tripod for me is also the 'weak link' issue at the moment. Perhaps I will go with Charles' new creation or a Berlebach Planet or Sky - my only concern with this would be their rather large head base that may encumber zenith performance but I also have on order his 'quick release' unit that would add a further 3" to the height so offering additional clearance.

Thanks for taking the time to write up a review whilst the rest of us wait for ours... sounds like I shall be in for an awful amount of 'new equipment cloud'!

Clear skies,

Damian


RE: Tripod and my own scope:

I would call the gibraltar tripod "usable" is about the best I can say with my 110 - and more or less the same with the 140. "Usable" meaning, It wouldn't be on a short list of things about my setup to improve, but it would nonetheless be something I'd wish was more suited to the task. If I spent the $5,000 on a TEC 140, the tripod probably would be on the short list of next 5 things to replace/buy.

The key thing I notice with the tripod is vibration when focusing. It isn't incredibly disruptive but it definitely slows me down. You may notice those wood braces on the tripod legs pictured in my review (Installed correctly on the TEC 140 picture, incorrect with the 110). I borrowed those from Charles and I believe they help a little but I'd say if you don't already have a tripod and it's therefore already on your "list" of things to buy, get something better than the gibraltar. If you already own one, wait and see if you can tolerate it before dropping another 1000 - 2000 on a tripod.

#6 kcgolden

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 09:59 AM

I am curious about your comments regarding pricing. The current price of the Nova Hitch is comparable to mounts like the Trex-- actually the trex price includes encoders so that makes it a bit cheaper than the Nova hitch similarly equipped. A lot of discussion about how innovative the mount is but not much about performance under the stars?


I apologize for not covering that aspect of the performance in more depth. A lot of this relates to normal use vibration, smoothness, slow motion controls, performance at high powers and balance which I did cover - and those things work quite well. If those aspects are solid, performance under the stars is also or at least, that's what I was trying to convey by focusing on what I did so much. However, in reviewing my article, there's probably some specifics I could've elaborated on.

The one thing that might be of concern to anyone considering an Alt-Az mount is ability to view the Zenith as this is a shortfall of many alt-az mounts and the Nova too, cannot reach the Zenith. I'm just estimating here but it's probably 5 to 10 degrees off from the Zenith at maximum altitude (anyone who knows the exact cutoff can correct me and I will edit this comment). This compared to my skyshed pod which cuts off about 20 degrees. Comparing the two, I have yet to find a situation where the Nova cuts off something I want to see and even if I did, it wouldn't be that long before I could point my scope at it whereas my Skyshed pod often cuts things off and it's several hours before I can see them.

I did mention that we viewed Jupiter at 300x with the TEC 140 using an ethos eyepiece if I remember correctly (so even heavier). At that power, the slow motion controls were really put to the test and despite the Gibraltar tripod, a light touch on the slow motion controls made it very easy to keep Jupiter centered. I also spent some time star hoping around the messier clusters in Auriga (M36, M37, M38). This was mostly with a large panoptic eyepiece and in this case, I was mostly pushing the scope from target to target while looking through the eyepiece the entire time. This too was easy to do and there were no problems with jerkiness or instability which could make such a task impossible with other mounts.

#7 lcaldero

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Posted 28 April 2013 - 10:19 AM

Thanks Kelsey, helpful info.

Laura

#8 kcgolden

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 05:56 PM

I am curious about your comments regarding pricing. The current price of the Nova Hitch is comparable to mounts like the Trex-- actually the trex price includes encoders so that makes it a bit cheaper than the Nova hitch similarly equipped. A lot of discussion about how innovative the mount is but not much about performance under the stars?


Also, I'm not sure the price difference between the Nova and the T-Rex should be the consideration - the two mounts are relatively close in price. I have not used or seen a T-REX so cannot comment on whether or not it should be picked over the Nova but I note a few differences that may sway the decision:

1. The encoders on the Nova have twice the resolution
2. The Nova has dual-axis balancing - the T-Rex just has one axis on which to balance.
3. Aside from the nuts and bolts, pretty much every part of the Nova is CNC machined and Anodized. Even the dovetail is CNC machined. I have no idea what is CNC-Machined on the T-REX but it isn't marketed as CNC-Machined nor hand-made and verified - and I would hope they would brag about both of those things if it was.

Right now, the Nova is being sold without a tripod so comparing the price to the T-Rex, the nova with encoders and sky commander is $2270.00. The T-Rex with the same 2335.00 - so actually a little bit more. The price difference being only about 2% right not, I'd say the price shouldn't really be a big consideration when comparing the two mounts.

This isn't to say I want to give any bad impressions about the T-REX since I haven't tried it but given what I know to be true about the Nova and the way the T-REX is currently presented, I would still pick the Nova even if it was several hundred dollars more.

#9 crazyqban

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 12:15 AM

Also, the Nova has a digital racking option that I don't think that the T-Rex has.

#10 kcgolden

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 02:57 PM

Also, the Nova has a digital racking option that I don't think that the T-Rex has.


Do you mean tracking?

#11 crazyqban

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:12 PM

oops, yes, tracking.

#12 riverlaw

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 06:57 PM

Hi Kelsey, Would you mind making a video on how to balance your scope in the nova? I am waiting for one and am very interested in how this is done. Thank you, Scott

#13 issdaol

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 04:29 AM

great review. what are the features of the tracking option?? i did not see any detail on this

#14 riverlaw

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Posted 24 May 2013 - 07:22 AM

The tracking feature are not completed yet. That is the reason most likely that they he did not go into detail on that feature. It is looking like that feature will be completed before the end of the summer.

#15 Doug D.

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Posted 02 June 2013 - 01:53 PM

Hi Kelsey, Would you mind making a video on how to balance your scope in the nova? I am waiting for one and am very interested in how this is done. Thank you, Scott


I'd sure be interested in this myself if somebody had the inclination - especially with a TEC 140 or comparable in the cameo role.

#16 kcgolden

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Posted 08 June 2013 - 01:05 AM

Hi,

It's been a while since I've visited this thread. Regarding a balancing video, I'll gladly do so when I next get time to observe again. It's been pretty much since I wrote my article that I've been able to though. Hopefully in the next month or so, that will change.

As for the tracking option, all I know is that it is an offered feature. I did not order it though. I have tracking on my permanently mounted EQ mount and didn't see the need to do it in a visual-only mount that I intended to be portable and quick to set up and break down.

I'm sure some people that ordered their mounts with tracking will have more to say about it but since I don't have it nor want it, I'm probably not the one to ask.

#17 SteveH

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Posted 10 June 2013 - 01:41 PM

Hi,,
Good review, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is helping push me to upgrading my Giro IIs. I'd be curious if anyone here has any experience with the Nova and the DM6 with a physically large scope like a TEC 140.

Thanks

#18 riverlaw

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:25 AM

Hi Steve, You live in TX. You shouldn't need any hard assessments and should go with the local guy! I am only half kidding of course.

Here is a some impressions of the nova with a large scope. Not a comparison but still good to see more opinions on the new

nova.http://www.chesmontastro.org/node/9915

#19 SteveH

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 05:27 PM

Well, I guess by Texas standards they aren't too far away (~3hrs), so perhaps I could just run over there and see one up close and personal. 8^)
My dilemma is I think that a DM6 and the Nova comparison while both being alt az are two different beasts, almost apples and oranges; and I am trying (without the luxury of trying them out) to decide if I want an apple or an orange.

#20 nicklane1

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 09:11 AM

What a beautiful mount!
I know it is hand made and all (like Porsche 911s and Aston Martins) and that its market is for grab n go. But, with a Nova Tripod, it costs more than a Losmandy G11 with gemini and tripod.

#21 kcgolden

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 09:57 AM

What a beautiful mount!
I know it is hand made and all (like Porsche 911s and Aston Martins) and that its market is for grab n go. But, with a Nova Tripod, it costs more than a Losmandy G11 with gemini and tripod.


I've been in this hobby for about 15 years now. When I started, I wanted the biggest aperture and the best EQ mount. I wanted to image every time I brought out my scope. Several years and tens of thousands of dollars later, my favorite scope is a 110mm refractor and my nova setup and maybe two good eyepieces.

I don't need to get into the journey it took to get me here nor am I saying that everyone will arrive at the same point as me. But I will say this, the G11 would fulfill a completely different need than something like the Nova.

When I'm imaging, sure, I want the biggest and best EQ mount... and for the most part, I have everything I need in that arena. But I'm not going to take my EQ mount to a one night star party - half my night would be setup and break down. And sure, if I went to that trouble, I would have a pretty stable setup to use for the remaining 50% of my time.

EQ mounts like the G11 are great for imaging but when you're talking just visual use, it's overkill. So, I would say that comparing any EQ mount to a truly "grab and go" setup is really apples to oranges, even when it comes to price.

As far as grab and go mounts are concerned however, I do believe your sports car analogy is correct. The Nova is very much on the higher end in terms of performance and quality. There are mounts in the "visual only" arena that would barely qualify as mopeds and then there is the other end with highest quality, most attention to detail, ect, ect. But I'm not really in to cars. I drive a Honda Civic, actually. When I have money to spend, I buy astronomy gear and though my preferences in terms of what type of gear has changed, I still want the best I can buy - so just as anyone who is really into cars would love to be behind the wheel of a porshe, lotus, ect, I'm very satisfied with a high end visual mount as opposed to one of the more mass produced ones, some of which actually cost more.

So I'd say in response to your comparison about the G11 vs the Nova, that you're probably making a somewhat valid point if your goal is to own one mount and you're interested in both imaging and visual astronomy. In that case, sure - get the G11 or spring for an AP or Paramount. But if you can own a mount for imaging and a separate mount for visual - or you don't care for imaging at all, you do have a few high quality "visual only" mounts to choose from and the Nova is certainly one of them.

#22 Quintessence

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Posted 19 June 2013 - 10:18 AM

In way of clarification, the Nova Tripod is NOT required for use of the Nova Hitch. The Nova is designed to work with ANY tripod having a standard 3/8-16 screw or stud. Tripods from Berlebach are very popular with my customers. Others use tripods from AP/Baader; Tele Vue; Davis & Sanford; Losmandy; and many other sources. Some even use converted surveyor tripods.

Charles






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