Jump to content


Photo

Mount Upgrade Time! AP, SB, 10Micron, etc

  • Please log in to reply
186 replies to this topic

#151 EFT

EFT

    Vendor - Deep Space Products

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 2563
  • Joined: 07 May 2007
  • Loc: Phoenix, AZ

Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:41 PM

Since you are in US, you should consider the €/$ balance
and the local service/support.
Européens tend to go 10µ or ASA because of the same but reversed argument :
For example the AP mach one cost nearly 10000$ in germany
THe 4000$ difference are mainly transport and dealer profit/costs/fees (VAT) , +count 5% for import cost in EU for optical goods.


It is actually not too bad to import things from Europe (or elsewhere) to the US because, while there is the shipping cost to consider, the import duty is only 8% and there is no VAT so European items can actually end up less expensive in the US than in the EU. Going from the US to the EU is tough because of the 5% duty plus the 22% VAT. The fees on some of the items I ship to the EU are sometimes huge. The EU dealer is unlikely to make any more than the US dealer.

#152 GIR

GIR

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 138
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Finland

Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:42 PM

Dave
AP 1600 with encoders will be a fantastic mount, and the local service/support really is a valuable thing especially with mounts.

#153 WesC

WesC

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2173
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: La Crescenta, CA

Posted 13 June 2013 - 02:47 PM

Stick with the AP1600... you won't be sorry.

#154 psandelle

psandelle

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 695
  • Joined: 18 Jun 2008
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:03 PM

Dave - as long as the little voice doesn't tell you to go to the top of a water tower and throw your mount off...it's probably okay.

I think the AP is a great mount, and I'm not sure any of the choices will be a mistake.

Paul

#155 orion69

orion69

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 998
  • Joined: 09 May 2010
  • Loc: Croatia

Posted 13 June 2013 - 04:31 PM

..., and the local service/support really is a valuable thing especially with mounts.


For that reason (because they are both very close to me) I have 2 options and both are excellent. First is DDM60 (Austria) and second is GM1000HPS (Italy). I'll probably go with one that requires less time to start imaging since I don't have permanent setup.

#156 famax

famax

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 55
  • Joined: 01 Jul 2007

Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:45 PM

Since you are in US, you should consider the €/$ balance
and the local service/support.
Européens tend to go 10µ or ASA because of the same but reversed argument :
For example the AP mach one cost nearly 10000$ in germany
THe 4000$ difference are mainly transport and dealer profit/costs/fees (VAT) , +count 5% for import cost in EU for optical goods.


It is actually not too bad to import things from Europe (or elsewhere) to the US because, while there is the shipping cost to consider, the import duty is only 8% and there is no VAT so European items can actually end up less expensive in the US than in the EU. Going from the US to the EU is tough because of the 5% duty plus the 22% VAT. The fees on some of the items I ship to the EU are sometimes huge. The EU dealer is unlikely to make any more than the US dealer.



I do agree, moreover without the vat, the price you propose for 10µ mount are very attractive

#157 pbsastro

pbsastro

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 558
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2007

Posted 13 June 2013 - 06:28 PM


Second, AP made the encoders attached to the wheel rather than to the axis. This means if you unlock the axis, and move the scope by hand you lose all alignment. Roland stated that he prefers it this way because he wants to model the wheel as well, and it would not be possible if the encoder-wheel position would change.


Really? Do we have any first hand knowledge of this? Per AP's site: Absolute encoder knows the exact position of the gear angle of the mount when the power is applied.

So if you were aligned, manually moved the scope, the encoder should 'read" the marks on the ring and know it's offset down to a few microns.. Yes,No?


Note they say "gear angle", and gear is internal position, not output position.

From Roland himself (yahoo ap-ug 8-4-2013):
“The encoders are tied to the worm gear, not to the clutched shaft, so if you loosen the clutches and move it by hand, you will have to reset the encoder positions. However, this has the advantage of always having the encoder tied directly to the worm gear teeth, so when you build up a pointing model, it will always be valid because you are not changing the relationship between the worm teeth and the encoder.”

However I now found this a little ahead on the same thread. Roland says (18-4-2013):
“The absolute encoders are attached to the output shaft of each axis. So they know exactly where each axis is pointed at all times. Since they are absolute encoders, the output of the encoder sensor always knows the exact angle of the worm wheel position upon power-up.”

So it seems output shaft and clutched shaft are not the same thing. You may want to reactivate the question there and clarify with Roland.
To me, if you use absolute encoders in a way that moving by hand looses position, then they are really relative encoders, not absolute encoders. After all you could get the same result by using relative encoders and storing the last position in the mount controller flash memory.

Pedro

#158 GIR

GIR

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 138
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Finland

Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:55 AM

Couple of comments concerning the ASA direct drive mounts…

My main goal was to get a high quality mount that would also enable to do unguided imaging. And being able to do unguided imaging properly requires some things that might not be so important otherwise.

First of all, the mount has to be very solid technically (0 backlash, very small PE and preferably low frequency) and has to have high resolution encoders. All ASA direct drive mounts have 0 backlash and 0 PE with high resolution Renishaw encoders.

The other central issue is high quality software. I'm sure one can do unguided imaging with many high end mounts to a certain point. However, if you want to do it without getting some extra grey hair and spending time imaging rather than tuning your equipment, then the software is the key. So I would recommend anybody buying a mount for unguided imaging to compare the software of different manufacturers …the difference is huge.

ASA direct drive technology is very different from traditional worm/belt gear drive mounts, and will require some time to get used to it. E.g. when the power is off, both axis can move freely and there is nothing else holding the DEC and RA axis in place other than the perfect balance.
However, when you turn the power on, everything changes and both axis become very stiff. I'm not a technical person but it seems like there is some kind of strong magnetic field moving the axis. That would explain why the mount is completely silent to operate.

Anyway, even if the learning curve is a bit steeper in ASA direct drive mounts than in some "traditional" mounts, it's not too difficult to learn and very logical in the end.

#159 orion69

orion69

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 998
  • Joined: 09 May 2010
  • Loc: Croatia

Posted 14 June 2013 - 02:29 AM

GIR, I noticed you have permanent setup, but let's suppose that you don't, how long will it take from turning mount on to starting imaging (30 min subs @ 1000mm)?

Thx

#160 Per Frejvall

Per Frejvall

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 423
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2012
  • Loc: Saltsjöbaden, Sweden

Posted 14 June 2013 - 03:26 AM

The other central issue is high quality software. I'm sure one can do unguided imaging with many high end mounts to a certain point. However, if you want to do it without getting some extra grey hair and spending time imaging rather than tuning your equipment, then the software is the key. So I would recommend anybody buying a mount for unguided imaging to compare the software of different manufacturers …the difference is huge.


And best of all is NO software dependency and still unguided imaging ;)

I am all for direct drive technology and think that it is the future, but someone has to bite the bullit and move the motor control algorithms into the mount firmware. With today's high end micro controllers the performance is not an issue and the reliability of things in firmware compared to things in the PC environment is lightyears better. I am quite certain that ASA's mounts will function more or less flawlessly with their 100 percent PC dependency, but the scary part is USB communication and the not so real-time performance of Windows. Besides, I think an investment in a truly high-end PC is very important - the stuff will be as reliable as your PC.

Now, one can argue that you are software dependant anyway when it comes to imaging. But, and this is a big BUT, when you have your stuff on a remote site, or are asleep inside, and the scope won't park so that the roof can be closed when the rain comes, something unspeakable is going to hit the rotating air mover big time.

This, of course, is a highly personal comment as it involves many feelings and hunches, but I do believe it has some merit.

My ideal mount would be a direct drive technology one with total firmware control, no need for motor traing (should be done at the factory), no external PC or software dependency and electromagnetic axis locks that engage with loss of power.

The last part should be on anyone's short-list. Suppose you start a slew at 20°/s, the mount accelerates and *POOF* - power-out. Your equipment will hit the pier with a speed of just under 1 km/h. Unlikely, yes, but we regularly protect ourselves from many even more unlikely things.

Now that qualfies as genuine two-cent advice ;)

/per

#161 GIR

GIR

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 138
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Finland

Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:05 AM

GIR, I noticed you have permanent setup, but let's suppose that you don't, how long will it take from turning mount on to starting imaging (30 min subs @ 1000mm)?
Thx


Knez

You made a tough question because I've never tried it…

What takes quite a lot of time is to learn the different tuning/balancing methods in the beginning. There are many different ways to do it …automatically or manual fine tuning. However, the tuning/balancing itself has to be done only once. So even if you move the mount to a different place you can use all the previous (stored) settings. Of course the setup has to be exactly the same.

Polar alignment is pretty fast because you can get a quite accurate alignment with only 3 stars when using the Autoslew software assistance. After the polar alignment is done, building a model is quite fast also. As said before it'll take 15-20 minutes to build a new 50-60 point model (which is very accurate) or you can actually use an existing (stored) model somehow with the help of Autoslew but I've never tried it myself.

One of the most useful tools especially if not having a permanent setup is the new MLPT tool. It creates a kind of local pointing file that enables to track one object very accurately. Creating a MLPT model for a single object takes 2-3 minutes.

#162 GIR

GIR

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 138
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Finland

Posted 14 June 2013 - 04:16 AM

And best of all is NO software dependency and still unguided imaging ;)

I am all for direct drive technology and think that it is the future, but someone has to bite the bullit and move the motor control algorithms into the mount firmware. With today's high end micro controllers the performance is not an issue and the reliability of things in firmware compared to things in the PC environment is lightyears better. I am quite certain that ASA's mounts will function more or less flawlessly with their 100 percent PC dependency, but the scary part is USB communication and the not so real-time performance of Windows. Besides, I think an investment in a truly high-end PC is very important - the stuff will be as reliable as your PC.

Now, one can argue that you are software dependant anyway when it comes to imaging. But, and this is a big BUT, when you have your stuff on a remote site, or are asleep inside, and the scope won't park so that the roof can be closed when the rain comes, something unspeakable is going to hit the rotating air mover big time.

This, of course, is a highly personal comment as it involves many feelings and hunches, but I do believe it has some merit.

My ideal mount would be a direct drive technology one with total firmware control, no need for motor traing (should be done at the factory), no external PC or software dependency and electromagnetic axis locks that engage with loss of power.

The last part should be on anyone's short-list. Suppose you start a slew at 20°/s, the mount accelerates and *POOF* - power-out. Your equipment will hit the pier with a speed of just under 1 km/h. Unlikely, yes, but we regularly protect ourselves from many even more unlikely things.

Now that qualfies as genuine two-cent advice ;)

/per


Per

I know that 10Micron makes excellent mounts but I'm a bit puzzled why you seem to criticize the ASA mounts and their way of doing things so much in different forums. The critique seems to boil down to couple of things …using a separate computer for operating the mount and the encoders not being absolute but relative.

Don't really understand the separate PC critique at all. I've been using a mid priced laptop in my (back yard) observatory with W7 and operating it remotely from the house using a lan connection all winter, and have never had problems with it. What comes to power issues and backup systems when doing things remotely has nothing to do with just ASA mounts and are a completely different topic. However, there are several ways to make sure that the horror scenarios you've described can be avoided.

All I can say about the high resolution Renishaw encoders ASA is using that they'll find the absolute homing position in few seconds and after that it really doesn't matter if your encoders are absolute or relative.

What comes to the 10Micron GM1000HPS software, if I've understood it correctly you've been writing a lot of extra scripts yourself to fix the deficiencies, including a proper ASCOM support ?

#163 jjongmans

jjongmans

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 183
  • Joined: 11 Feb 2012
  • Loc: The Netherlands

Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:19 AM

ASA is working on a gyroscope so that the homing can be completely automatic, even in a remote setup without being able to see it.
I'm using my DDM with a cheap mini laptop, dedicated for controlling the mount (and CCD, focuser, weather, SQM, etc.)

Balance is critical and needs to be very good, in that case the setup won't move if the motors aren't engaged.

PID tuning is always necessary because that depends on the load you put on the mount. The ASA software has an autotune feature and that works great, so tuning isn't an issue.

#164 coz

coz

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 242
  • Joined: 25 Aug 2010

Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:45 AM

Thanks for the comments I never realized you had to balance the ASA so well. Right now I have to use a portable setup and so the Astro-Physics mounts make more sense for me. i.e. balance doesn't matter and I can use the keypad only for quick use. If I had a permanent setup I would really consider ASA.

#165 Per Frejvall

Per Frejvall

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 423
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2012
  • Loc: Saltsjöbaden, Sweden

Posted 14 June 2013 - 06:32 AM

Gir,

It is all personal opinion. I have 20 years of working experience designing a nd programming different radio and control systems so I guess I am damaged by that.

The autonomous mount thing is a crucial design factor and I think ASA has taken a wrong turn there. USB is a very flaky communications system and, as I said, Windows may be a wonderful and stable operating system in all respects but real-time. The mount is a unit and it could controlled in terms of slewing, changing parameters etc from whatever type of system the user desires, be it hand controller, a computer or whatever. Putting the time-critical motor control loop in a PC is not the way to go. And that is MY opoinion made from the experience I have.

I bought my first 10Micron mount (GM2000HPS) on the hunch that it just had to be good. The only thing it lacked at that time was a proper ASCOM driver and that prompted me to write my own instead. Since then 10Micron has released their own dedicated as a replacement for having to rely on the AP driver or the LX200 driver.

Building a model with 10Micron mounts has always been possible with the aid of the handset. That is, however, not a pheasable way to do it so I wrote an automated plate solving model maker that sort of rose out of a specific need.

Niether of these two "products" have provided anything that cannot be done with other drivers or the handset, but I think they make life better and easier.

I love the fact that the model resides in-mount and is always available. But again, that is me, a crazy, 55-yearold technically interested person that stumbled upon modern astrophotography just a few years ago and love every second of it.

/per

#166 GIR

GIR

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 138
  • Joined: 02 Jan 2010
  • Loc: Finland

Posted 14 June 2013 - 07:54 AM

Per

I’m not qualified to say if ASA has taken a wrong turn (like everybody else except 10Micron ?) by choosing to use a separate computer controlling the mount. But I know that I haven’t had any problems using the system so far. And I’ve been using it in -27 C (-16 F) without a hint of problems, so it looks like a pretty solid system even for a cold weather.

I also know that the ASA software package can do a lot of things fully automated, including building all kinds of models, and tuning and balancing the system. It’s quite an experience to push a button and see the mount start slewing across the sky with an amazing speed, taking pictures and plate solving them …and everything happens in a complete silence.

On top of everything there is of course the direct drive technology which is something that makes me smile every time when using the mount. And as you said yourself, direct drive is probably the ideal technology for building a high end mount.

So I do understand what you’re saying and we’re all just expressing our personal views and experiences here. But it would be fair to point out that the only thing that 10Micron mount is doing “better” (in your opinion) is having the very basic operations included and integrated into the mounts own “mini computer”. How much of an advantage that might be in reality, will probably depend a lot on how the mount will be used.

#167 Per Frejvall

Per Frejvall

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 423
  • Joined: 28 Sep 2012
  • Loc: Saltsjöbaden, Sweden

Posted 14 June 2013 - 08:23 AM

GIR,

I'll definitely agree to that. 10Micron has, in my opinion taken a right turn, it is all opinions and, top top it off, I really think the ASA mounts are amazing products ;)

/p

#168 pbsastro

pbsastro

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 558
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2007

Posted 14 June 2013 - 10:36 AM

Per,
I know that 10Micron makes excellent mounts but I'm a bit puzzled why you seem to criticize the ASA mounts and their way of doing things so much in different forums. The critique seems to boil down to couple of things …using a separate computer for operating the mount and the encoders not being absolute but relative.


GIR,
You should take Per criticism in a positive and constructive way. After all Per is saying his ideal amount is a direct drive mount with built-in controller.
So, who do you think is in better position to achieve that soon? ASA of course. ASA has most of the work done: mastered direct drive technology and developed all the software algorithms to control it, which is not easy, and took them some time to refine it, but they have done it. Now all is missing is the easy part, transport that software to a controller, but that is easy, as the algorithms are already developed.

So what I think everybody should do (especially if you are a ASA supporter and want all the best for ASA) is shout loud that ASA ***must*** do that final step (move the SW to a built-in controller), and show ASA that many potential customers are waiting that final small step to buy a ASA mount. Just praising a product is not the best way to make it better.

Note I have decided this week to order a 10micron, but that did not stop me to criticize it for their poor load/weight ratio compared to AP. AP users should follow the same route and criticize AP for their shortcomings, but AP has reached a religious status that makes that difficult to happen.

The best part for ASA and its customers is that that controller seems to me to be possible to easily add to existing mounts already sold.

Right now opinions on better mount on the market are split, some say AP, some say ASA, some say 10micron. If ASA completes that, it can be quickly the undisputed king (queen?) of high-end mounts. Other competitors will take ages to come on par with ASA again, as ASA has it almost ready, and others have not started on direct-drive nor are likely to start soon.


#169 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5711
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:08 PM

"AP has reached a religious status that makes that difficult to happen."

Funny, ha ha!

I didn't know ASA put the motor control loop in the PC. I'm with Per on this. I am disturbed by the concept. Motor PID control is a really, really basic feature, and to have it offloaded to an external PC.... I haven't seen that kind of "outsourcing" since Mel Bartels' SCOPE.EXE where even generating the stepper pulses gets relegated to the PC.

But then again SCOPE.EXE has a ton of features that most stand-alone GoTo controllers, even today, can't match - and Mel has an asteroid named after him, so what do I know... :confused:

Heck SB mounts will track without the PC, they just won't do PEC or GoTo. That points to the fact that motor control should reside in the mount firmware.

Of course if ASA came up with a strap-on box that contained a mini-ITX PC with the same Windows software, maybe that would qualify as "mount firmware."

#170 saadabbasi

saadabbasi

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1135
  • Joined: 23 Aug 2009
  • Loc: 29N

Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:10 PM

Heck SB mounts will track without the PC, they just won't do PEC or GoTo.


I believe SB mounts store their PEC curve in the MKS5000 system so I'm quite sure the PEC is being applied without being connected to PC - though I could be wrong.

#171 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5711
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:16 PM

Saad, I stand corrected if so. Am not really an expert on those. In fact was surprised SB mounts actually worked without a PC - I thought they were totally dependent.

That said, SkyVision - http://www.skyvision...-mount/?lang=en and Astelco - http://www.astelco.c...cts/ntm/ntm.htm also have direct-drive mounts. ASA isn't the only game in town here.

I admit that based on Roland's past comments on the AP mailing lists, that he is skeptical of the benefits of direct drive, and floats some of the same arguments that Per does about the payload banging into something if you lose power.

I see things this way - SB and AP are the pinnacle of traditional, worm-driven mount technology. We're at an inflection point where newer technologies such as direct drive, harmonic drive, and roller drive are becoming cost-competitive enough with the 100+ year old worm drive technology, to be interesting.

And direct drive has been used for years and years for things like GRB searches, where fast slewing is a necessity.

But today - I would still say worm-drive technology is the best-known, best-understood, and well-proven technology. And good worm drive mounts, while they still suffer from things like backlash and periodic error, keep these issues under very good control that they simply aren't relevant, unless you need that 100-degree per second slew.

#172 Craig Ballew

Craig Ballew

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 24 Mar 2007

Posted 12 August 2013 - 05:58 PM

Well, now my head hurts. I too am getting ready to purchase a new mount and assumed it was obvious that the best decision was going to be between these two options:

AP1600 w/encoders option
Bisque MEII w/encoders option

Then I read this thread. Very little to no support for the SB MEII which surprised me. Is it the quality, features or pricing that has turned people away?

#173 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5711
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 12 August 2013 - 07:11 PM

SB mounts are actually very well priced for the payload you're getting. They also bundle some stuff like weights and a versa-plate which for AP you have to buy separately.

Me, I want to have the ability to use the mount "bare" with no PC, so that's what turned me off SB. Also the smallest SB mount (PMX) is still much more mount than I need or can lift. So...

#174 wolfman_4_ever

wolfman_4_ever

    Apollo

  • -----
  • Posts: 1245
  • Joined: 15 Jul 2011
  • Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal

Posted 12 August 2013 - 08:48 PM

Me, I want to have the ability to use the mount "bare" with no PC, so that's what turned me off SB.


That and the difference in tech support....I guess...

#175 frolinmod

frolinmod

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1925
  • Joined: 06 Aug 2010
  • Loc: Southern California

Posted 12 August 2013 - 09:58 PM

In my experience Software Bisque technical support for their line of Paramount mounts is excellent. It is online forum (www.bisque.com) based support, not telephone support. If you create a user account there (anyone can), you can read through the threads and post there.

CN certainly does have many outspoken A-P mount fans. Paramount mount users on CN are comparatively less outspoken. I don't see this as a reflection on the companies, their employees or their mounts. It appears to me to be a difference in user personalities and not anything sinister or derogatory. I don't fault A-P for that.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics