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Coming Back Home to the Nexstar SE Mount

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#1 John Miele

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:03 PM

Hi Everyone,

Well I guess it's that circle of life thing...I’m coming back home to a Nexstar mount! :jump: I just ordered a Nexstar8SE mount for the incredible price of $399 from highpoint scientific. Should get here in a week or so. It’s not my first Nexstar. I used many scopes over the years. One of the very best was an incredibly good Nexstar8SE a few years ago, but imaging fever struck me and I sold it to help fund a new mount and imaging gear, cameras, etc. I had a bad feeling letting that Nexstar go and wish I never had. Fast forward to today, and I am longing again for the simplicity of the lightweight Nexstar mount setup. I just can’t bear to lug out the massive G11 to a dark sky again and I have had my last battle with filter wheels, and autoguiders, and tracking and computers. :p Imaging was a heck of a fun ride for a while but it’s over. I want to just look at the sky when it’s clear and I want a lightweight scope and mount to carry out back with a simple EP case and that's it. I do have a very nice Edge 8 OTA these days, and after a lot of thought I decided to mount it back on a Nexstar mount. I love the alt-az mounts and no longer want an equatorial of any kind. The new Meade LX80 tempted me for a bit, but I have read of far too many echanical problems with that mount and it is too heavy for easy moving around the backyard. Minitowers were also in contention, but a used one makes me nervous due to their own QC issues and the new ones have some software bugs that apparently are not being addresses and they are a bit pricey. So the Nexstar is the choice. Now I do remember the old tripod was a bit shaky at high power, but with VSPs and a focus motor I think I’ll be fine. I can’t wait to get the mount and rejoin the Nexstar community. As a user of the Ioptron controllers, the Geminii controllers, and the Nexstar controllers, I can say without a doubt the Nexstar controllers are my favorite. After I get the mount, I’ll post many reports I’m sure of how well the Edge 8 rides on it and also how I plan to adapt it to a wood pier I built out back. Talk to you all later…cs…John

#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:17 PM

Hi John & welcome aboard!

I have both the 8SE and the iOptron iEQ45. I really appreciate the solid ride of the iOptron, and the spot-on gotos. The 8SE just can't compete in those areas.

But, when a clear night strikes, I find myself reaching for the 8SE far more often than the iOptron. It just takes too long to set up a GEM and deal with all the astro-photo related gear. I'm getting a SkyShed POD to house the iEQ45 this summer and that will definitely make things easier.

BUT ... there's a lot of charm to the light weight and ease of use that comes built in to the 8SE. I'm not getting rid of it! In fact, you'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands! :grin:

-Dan

#3 herrointment

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 07:46 PM

I sold my 8SE for a CPC 1100 HD. Two weeks later 8SE was back home. It will always see more use than its big brother. The wood pier sounds like a winner and with a motorized focuser the mount reaches its potential.

Have fun!

#4 ben2112

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 08:12 PM

Ease of use and portability were the main things that made me get the 8SE. In about 5mins, I can have all my observing stuff in the front yard and aligned. :D

#5 donnie3

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 09:27 PM

I love my se mount. ive had other mounts and just recently bought a cg5 goto, its ok but the setup and fiddling with this and that can get old. the se mount is the easiest goto to setup and align. I have a se6" and a meade 8" I use on it. im really interested in the 8" hd but not sure spending the extra $ just for a flatter field would satisfy me, I might be wrong. donnie

#6 Peter9

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 04:09 AM

Hi John and welcome back.

I enjoyed reading your post and much of what you say matches my own take on things.

Maximum enjoyment and complete relaxation is what a hobby, in my option, is all about. The ease of set up and, for the most part, trouble free operation of the s.e mount, goes a long way in making that a reality.
The motor focuser goes a long way towards eliminating the shakes.

Regards. Peter

#7 novalad

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 05:39 PM

I hope all goes well with your plans:)
I'm also getting a Nexstar SE 6/8 mount and will put a C8 Edge HD OTA on it. I was considering the iOptron Mini Tower but because I am familiar with Celestron's software I recently decided to keep it simple and go with the SE mount.
I don't think the little extra weight of the Edge OTA should be a problem as I have heard of others using a similar setup. Just want something simple for visual and use it with my set of "light" Brandon eyepieces and a barlow.
------------------------------------------------

Skywatcher ED Pro 120 f/7.5
Astrotech 66ED
Set of Brandon Eyepieces
Meade 2X 140 APO Barlow
Antares Variable Polarizer 1.25"

#8 John Miele

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 08:19 PM

Hi Novaled,

Sounds like you and I and a few others had a very similar thought process. Let's hope it works out well for both of us!

John

#9 labmand

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 09:49 PM

"Coming back home" I know the feeling, I've been busy trying
several vintage and some newer refractors on various mounts,
Was about to order a GEM Goto or clocked manual GEM, but
thought I would pull out the 6se the other night, It was
such a pleasure to use that I thought I'd put a dovetail on
my C8 Ultima sct and try it on the 6/8se goto mount. I
quess I had forgotton how nice it was using the Nexstar.
Now if the clouds would only clear.

#10 John Miele

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 01:46 PM

The mount has arrived! Everything in perfect condition thank goodness. I have been soo busy at work and with a home construction project, I still have not used it under the stars yet. Here are some random observations...

1. Man is it light! I can pick up the entire scope and mount and easily carry it. Just like I remembered it...

2. There are three rubber pads on the bottom of the mount base. Are these new? I do not remember that on my last Nexstar.

3. The motors were slewing very smoothly and quieter than I remmbered. Very nice.

4. I was shipped an updated HC. The buttons are different. The scroll keys are slanted for easy feel in the dark. Nice touch. I hope the functionality is still good.

5. The tripod is indeed "marginal" looking as I remmber. But that is the tradeoff for portability. Just need to get it outside and see how it does.

6. My Edge 8 with a vixen dovetail does not slide all the way forward. I now see the interference that was discussed. I'll post pics. I beleive I can easily make some spacers/standoffs to solve the problem. But the scope is close to a good balance point as-is, so I don't have an immediate problem.

7. Purely asthetic, but I think the Edge 8 on the nexstar mount look really cool! I know, pics as soon as I can get them!

More later...John

#11 mclewis1

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 02:29 PM

John,

Congrats on the new mount.

You have the NexStar+ hand controller so if sometime in the future you need to re flash the firmware or upgrade you'll need the CFM software and not the original HCUpdate.exe app.

AFAIK there simply isn't a complete upgraded manual for the latest SE scopes/mounts with the NexStar+ hand controller ... there's just a NexStar+ addendum which is nothing more that a 2 page overview of the new hardware. For a more complete description of the hand controller functionality you can use the NexStar Hand Control Version 4 User's Guide on Mike Swanson's website - this is based on v4.18 firmware which currently still matches up well function wise with the 5.21 firmware. http://www.nexstarsi...sion4UsersGu...

This plus the original 6/8SE manual will be the complete documentation on the mount.

#12 Midnight Dan

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:23 PM

Hi John:

glad it arrived safe and sound! The rubber pads are not new. I have them on mine and it's several years old.

The mount head can actually be used as a table-top model without the tripod, and the rubber pads are feet so that does not slip around. To be honest though, an 8" SCT on that mount is pretty top heavy and I wouldn't want to use it in table-top mode ... too tippy! But I have used my 5SE in that mode and it works quite well.

-Dan

#13 John Miele

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 04:36 PM

Thanks for the tips on the new HC Mark.

I guess I just forgot there were rubber pads then...I agree Dan, the 8" would be too tippy to use in tabletop mode. I will only be using the tripod or my homebuilt wood pier in the backyard as soon as I can drill a matching hole pattern into it for the Nexstar base.

#14 UncleMossy

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 12:40 AM

Hi John, welcome back to the NexStarians.


When you are attaching the mount to your pier there is some very important information you will need to know.

The azimuth drive gear passes directly over the threaded holes in the base of the mount.

If the bolts you use are too long you will have a "What was that?" moment on your first slew.
(please don't ask me how I know)

If you power up and slew the mount until you can see the gear through the one of the holes you can then test the bolts for clearance.

Then put in an extra washer to be safe.

I hope this saves you from a possible headache.

Cheers
Jim

#15 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:52 PM

Hi Jim,

Thank you! :bow:I will for certain keep on the bolt lengths. I can only imagine the awful sound you heard...argh! Here is a pic of my pier and one of the mount sitting on top...

Note: this pier extends 3 feet into the ground (about as deep as it is tall) and is anchored with concrete. The top plates are 1/4 inch steel and can be adjusted a few inches up or down and for levelling..it is solid...

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#16 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:55 PM

Here the mount is only resting on top of the pier and is not attached. I have to remove that round spacer which was needed for my G11. The Nexstar mount will eventually sit flat on the square top plate after I drill the mounting holes...

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#17 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:57 PM

For tonight's observing and finally first light for the new mount, I will be in this configuration withthe stock tripod and a comfy chair :grin:...

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#18 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:58 PM

I ditched the red dot and installed my green laser pointer. I like using these a lot better...

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#19 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 05:59 PM

You can see there is plenty of room between the Edge 8 OTA and the mount using the ADM dovetail...

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#20 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:04 PM

But you can also see I have it slid as far forward as it will go. Any further and it will interfere with the dovetail radius block. I am slightly tail heavy the way it is (used the pencil balance test this afternoon to find the CG). But I can make a spacer from a piece of 1/4 thick aluminum that will stand the dovetail rail up further from the radius block and allow me to slide the scope as far forward as I want. Just need the time!!!

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#21 Midnight Dan

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 06:36 PM

Nice photos! Slightly tail-heavy is the way you want it anyway.

-Dan

#22 John Miele

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:53 PM

Just finished a short first light. Overall...very good. Tried the all star alignment and it worked the first try. Slewed to M3, M104, and Saturn and each object landed in the field of my 17mm Nagler. Tracking was good but the backlash was very noticable. Need to adjust that out. Focusing was not an issue. It's a little shaky, but a light touch achieved focus with no problem. I do not like the idea of having to enter the date and time every time you tur on the mount. Hard to beleive an internal clock could not be incorporated into the Hand Control.

Here is my only real issue. The text on the HC display was very difficult to read due to low contrast. I tried to adjust the contrast and after reaching a value of about 6, the contrast increase stops even though the setting goes all the way to 30. Not sure if this is a software bug or not. Any tips on getting better visibility on the HC?

Thanks...John

#23 coinboy1

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 11:14 PM

Enjoyed reading this posting. It reminds me that even though astrophotography is very rewarding and awesome, a simple setup can also be equally rewarding and definitely less time consuming. I really like your setup. The Nexstars are pretty cool for their ease and lightweight setup.

#24 donnie3

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:42 AM

here's my table top.

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#25 donnie3

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 02:53 AM

another photo, this is a 6" model. with the sale going on im thinking about purchasing the se 8". I had a chance to get just the ota from highpoint but I guess they ran out but at $1079 the mount would only be around $230, I would have a spare. the 8" hd is very tempting, not sure witch way to go. thanks, donnie

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