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#1 myshkin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:22 PM

I have been doing a lot of research the past week for my first telescope purchase. I got great info in another thread but had some follow up questions.

I had a cpc 800 lined up but it got sold before I was able to go check it out. I have since done more research and I am now wondering about going in another direction.

I have recently been looking at a Advanced VX mount setup. I have interest in AP and this would mean I wouldn't need to deal with a wedge. After looking at all the equatorial mounts I am curious why they make the fork mount at all. What is the advantage of the fork mount if any? I am debating between a cpc or the vx mount.

Here's a couple deals I am considering.

CPC 800 new $2000(would love to find used)

VX mount and 8" edgeHD new $2000
VX mount and 9.25" XLT new $2100
Meade 10" LX200GPS THis is used and comes with a ton of stuff. JMI Case, MEade Wedge, focuser, 6.3 reducer, eyepieces, guider and plenty more.I wouldn't need to buy anything else except a tring for nikon Package is $2500

The meade deal seems excellent but I am unsure of the size and dealing with fork mount with wedge. I plan to take it car camping.

Out of the vx setups, do you think the 8" hd would be better then the 9.25 XLT?

Thanks in advance for any guidance

#2 Tony Flanders

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:27 PM

After looking at all the equatorial mounts I am curious why they make the fork mount at all. What is the advantage of the fork mount if any?


It is extremely compact and lightweight. Note that essentially all modern professional telescopes are on fork mounts.

#3 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:33 PM

It is extremely compact and lightweight. Note that essentially all modern professional telescopes are on fork mounts.


True, but I don't know any modern professional telescopes that will ever, ever be packed up and moved. :lol:

#4 myshkin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:34 PM

Maybe I am misunderstanding but thats not the impression I have gotten. All the cgem, cge and vx mounts don't appear to be fork and they seem easier to deal with. Just put the OTA on them, which is lighter then say a 40-60 pound fork mount.



It is extremely compact and lightweight. Note that essentially all modern professional telescopes are on fork mounts.



#5 jgraham

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:34 PM

Fork mounts are more compact, easier to use visually, work equally well in equatorial and altaz modes, and they don't have a problem crossing the meridian. However, they tend not to be as stable as GEMs for imaging. You can certainly image with a fork mount, GEMs just tend to be a tad better. Soooo, for visual I prefer a fork, for imaging I use a GEM, for imaging & visual I can go both ways.

#6 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:39 PM

After looking at all the equatorial mounts I am curious why they make the fork mount at all. What is the advantage of the fork mount if any?



For visual observation, alt-az fork mounts are more comfortable, easier access to the eyepiece and they are simpler. EQ mounts have some awkward positions and there is always the counterweight to deal with.

The advantage of the GEM though is that you are not married to a single scope. For astrophotography, a slow, long focal length scope is a real challenge, slow translates into longer exposures, the long focal length means more precision in tracking is necessary. If one is starting out in astro-photography, a small, short focal length refractor is a good way to go.

Jon

#7 BlackBirdCD

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 12:49 PM

I was able to borrow a fork-mounted Celestron C8 last Fall so I could try it out. My impression was that it was at least as awkward as a GEM, but for different reasons.

The fork-mounted C8 was definitely better for visual use than my GEM-mounted, 80mm refractor. You can get to the Meridian visually with the fork mount, but if you had any photo gear hooked up it would interfere with the mount assembly pointing straight up. Of course that would depend on how bulky your photography setup was - in my case I was using a Canon40D on the appropriate T-ring and adaptor.

The fork-mounted C8 was an older model, so for me it was a bit awkward to do manual slewing/aligning. RA and DEC locks were tricky to use. My guess is that newer forks have improved controls.

On a GEM, an SCT scope would appear to me to have more range of motion than the long refractor I'm using now, allowing for easier visual and photo access.

Polar Alignment with a fork requires a wedge, unless you wish to rely on the abilities of an electronic/motor-driven fork.

After using both, I'm now looking at a GEM-mounted Celestron EdgeHD for my own astrophotography setup. But that'll depend on my budget more than anything else. If I found a great deal on a wedge/fork setup, I'd probably pull the trigger.

#8 Kevdog

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:37 PM

Fork mounted is much easier/quicker to set up.

I take my C11 out and set it anywhere on my driveway and at any angle (I don't have a flat surface anywhere closet to my garage). Then I just turn it on and a do a 2 star align. I don't have to worry about point the tripod a certain way, don't have to worry about balancing the mount/tripod. In fact I don't even take my scope off the tripod. I just carry the whole thing in and out. Since it's in my garage, I can do "grab and go" low power viewing with a C11 :D

And as mentioned the viewing angles are nicer. And for my imaging setup, it can fit through the fork of my C11, so no worries about bumping. But if you do have a system that will bump, you can set the slew limits so it won't go all the way to zenith.

Once you put it on a wedge, then it's bulky and awkward just like a GEM, but you do have the option of doing either.

#9 jrcrilly

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 01:45 PM

Forks are inherently more economical; you will always pay more for a GEM of equivalent capacity and performance (even after adding the cost of a wedge). Forks are easier and faster to set up (place the tripod, drop the telescope onto it) than a GEM (place tripod, install mount, install C/W shaft, install counterweights, install OTA).

Most imagers are willing to pay the higher price and setup complexity in exchange for flexibility - a GEM will accept a variety of optical tubes. The potential trap happens when a GEM of similar price is selected over a particular forkmount; lesser performance is delivered than expected.

#10 jerwin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:07 PM

I own a CPC1100, and I also own a C6R on an Advanced VX mount. A refractor is a beast in its own way to get a comfortable view, but in my opinion the nice thing about the fork mounted CPC's is my observing chair only ever has to move a little bit depending on what I'm looking at. And all of those positions are pretty comfortable. On an EQ mounted refractor, or less so on a EQ mounted SCT it sometimes takes some maneuvering to get the eyepiece into a comfortable spot. With my refractor I'm often almost sitting straight on the ground. I'm moving the star diagonal around trying to get a good spot. The CPC, unless I have a really short kid viewing, I don't touch the diagonal except to switch eyepieces.

Another nice feature of the fork mounted scopes is the hand controller is always in the same spot. On the EQ mount it's here, it's there, the only place it's not is within reach when I just got seated.

Another benefit of the fork mount is setup time. My cpc takes me about 5 minutes to setup (if I'm not talking), and another minute or two to align. My Advanced VX takes must longer, but maybe after I've used it more I'll get quicker, though I don't think I'll ever be quicker than the CPC.

Having said all that, if AP is a focus, I'd go with an EQ mount in a heartbeat. Even on a wedge, the CPC (in my opinion) has some trouble. you can put weights on the top and bottom, but those are only aligned along the meridian. As soon as I would point at something off to the side, the weight would be completely off. I know there are some people out there that get great pictures on a wedge mounted CPC, but I wasn't one of them.

my 2 cents.

#11 Escher

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 02:37 PM

No EQ for a first scope - its an exercise in frustration and pain for a beginner.

Go the CPC route. I have the CPC1100 and couldnt be happier. You can find a used 11" under $2k - usually around $1800. Thats what mine was.

The only reason to go EQ is if you plan to do long exposure AP... but if you buy a hyperstar ready CPC (which they all are now), the Hyperstar III makes that a non-issue.

I had a CG5 ASGT - nice mount, but I had a heck of a time with polar alignment... It was always pretty close, but never dead on... my cpc is dead on with 2 star align...

I can't speak the the newer Meades - but older models I didnt have the best of luck with their alignment routines... This is 2-3year old models and earlier. I did have luck with LX200 classics.

The Edge line is awesome... but once again - its about what you want to do... the standard line is fine. If you are a serious visual observer, it may be worht it for edge... if you plan to do AP, edge is a waste if you go Hyperstar... since you take the rear cell corrector elements out of the equation with the hyperstar.

I'd recommend buying a used 9.25 or 11" standard XLT scope - CPC or Nexstar and get your feet wet... see how you like it..

If you are like most folks, it wont be your only scope and you will want to swap for one reason or another. No reason for you to take the hit on depreciation when there are so many used scopes to be had.

#12 RussL

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:06 PM

Fork mount works fine for my old Celestar 8 SCT. But it's also on a wedge that's connected to the tripod (what Celestron calls a "wedgepod"). The best thing is, although it only has one motor drive, it runs on one 9v battery which provides about 50 hours of tracking. I'm only visual, though, so all I have to do to set up is have my latitude already set and then generally aim the whole shebang north. I usually have to tweak the dec axis a bit to keep things centered, but that's ok since it tracks for a good while before needing to.

#13 myshkin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:27 PM

SO why do people consider EQ mounts bad for beginners? Is it only because you have to find true north fore alignment or is there something more to it?

#14 JoLo

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:34 PM

If you take the time to research what you are getting yourself into - which anyone seriously considering AP should do - an EQ is not an exercise in frustration and pain, anymore that a wedge mounted SCT. The short focal length refractor more than compensates any advantages the ease of setup for fork mounts when the beginner confronts a 2000 mm focal length at f/10, or even 1600 at f/6.3 And Hyperstar?....has its own set of , and does not make long exposure AP a "non-issue". A 80-110mm refractor on a GEM is the most intuitive and easiest entry point for AP.

#15 JoLo

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:37 PM

Yes, fear of alignment. Like anything in AP, it takes research and practice. With software assisted polar alignment - I use Alignmaster - I am precisely polar aligned for 10 minute guided subs on an Atlas.....in less than 10 minutes.

#16 Escher

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:39 PM

SO why do people consider EQ mounts bad for beginners? Is it only because you have to find true north fore alignment or is there something more to it?


Trees... 'nuf said.. If you can't visualize polaris... forget it.

EQ mounts are fine.. I just prefer Fork mount - its easier for me.. to each his own..

#17 Escher

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:46 PM

If you take the time to research what you are getting yourself into - which anyone seriously considering AP should do - an EQ is not an exercise in frustration and pain, anymore that a wedge mounted SCT. The short focal length refractor more than compensates any advantages the ease of setup for fork mounts when the beginner confronts a 2000 mm focal length at f/10, or even 1600 at f/6.3 And Hyperstar?....has its own set of , and does not make long exposure AP a "non-issue". A 80-110mm refractor on a GEM is the most intuitive and easiest entry point for AP.


We will have to agree to disagree here.

But yes - in my case - hyperstar made it a "non-issue"... Its my experience.. how can anyone say that another person's experience is incorrect?

If you dont care for hyperstar or fork mount thats fine... But these are our opinions... what works for you is different than what works for me..

I'm just saying that as a beginner, if I had obsessed about polar alignment I would have given up. I nearly did several times with wedge mount SCT's, and with EQ's... It was when I tried the CPC that I found what works for me.

Maybe the OP is patient enough and methodical enough for polar alignment... thats awesome.. if he wants to just throw the scope on the tripod and go, then it may be worth looking at other options.

#18 munchmeister

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:48 PM

SO why do people consider EQ mounts bad for beginners? Is it only because you have to find true north fore alignment or is there something more to it?

In my humble opinion, it is FAR more difficult to get polar alignment for astrophotography than most will admit to. It is not too big a deal for just keeping, say, Jupiter in the eyepiece for 30 minutes. Tracking for long exposure astrophotography really requires very precise (thus very time consuming) alignment and most will tell you that it requires additional autoguiding equipment(e.g a small video camera, attached to a computer, running obtuse software, etc.) That just gets you started. Then you have to shoot dozens of long exposure images before you spend hours and hours of time mucking about with "wavelets" and photoshop. Not for the faint of heart. Certainly can be done, as evidenced by the many, many great photos you see here and elsewhere. But those folks are dedicated, to say the least. If that is you cuppa tea, then EQ might be for you. I will sell you mine. Really. (CG-5).

For beginners, I'd recommend a double or single fork (Celestron SE6,8) with a mounting adapter for wide field photos piggybacked on your scope. Get the hang of it and an idea of what the post processing involves. Then, if you like it, trade up.

Unless, of course, you are dedicated :bow:

#19 myshkin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:49 PM

I appreciate hearing both sides. A week ago I was planning to spend $1000 on a nexstar 8SE and within a week it has jumped to 2500. I am selling my nikon 24 1.4 to help pay for this but I think 2500 is about my limit. Those hyperstars are really appealing but with their price tag I will have to hold off on that if I go the fork route.

#20 myshkin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:51 PM

I'm going to check this out today. Part of me just wants to jump on this deal but the weight scares me alittle and I some reason feel more comfortable with celestron after reading a lot of poor comments on meade service.

Here's what it includes:

- Supercharged Meade 10" LX200 GPS
- JMI hardshell case for the 10" LX200
- Autostar II hand-controller
- Motorized focuser for fine focus control
- Diagonal for visual observation
- Meade Ultrawedge, allows scope to be used in equatorial mode for photography
- Meade heavy-duty tripod
- Accessory tray
- Losmandy piggy-back rail system for guide scopes (DM10-Meade 10 dovetail plate)
- Losmandy guide-scope rings (DR108-108mm ring set)
- Losmandy bracket for mounting camera onto piggy-back rail (DCM1-Dual axis camera mount))
- Losmandy counter-weight rail (V-series weight slide)
- Two Losmandy counter-weights (V-series)
- AC adapter for LX200 (~50' cord)
- Car cigarette lighter DC adapter for LX200
- Finder scope
- Orion 40mm Plossl eye piece
- Orion 10mm Plossl eye piece
- Orion short tube 80mm (used as guidescope)
- Orion StarShoot AutoGuider
- Orion shorty Barlow (2x)
- Two dew shields for the LX200, one metal and one flexible
- Dew zapper for the LX200 (needs controller)
- T-ring for Canon EOS mount
- Celestron f/6.3 SCT reducer/corrector. Allows shorter exposures and sharper images.


All of this for 2500

#21 Escher

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:54 PM

Definately dont plan to do AP right out of the gate - whichever way you go... Learn the scope and enjoy it first...

Hyperstar seems pricey - but when you compare it to JoLo's $1500 Atlas mount its all relative. ;)

Seriously though - you will find very pasionate folks here... heated at times - but we all have OUR way that we SWEAR is right...

I recommend you take a good hard look at what you want to accomplish - and how much time you are willing to spend... and finally, what kind of person are you.

If you get frustrated easily and jump from hobby to hobby - AP is NOT for you.

If you are very interested and stick with things, but really dont want to learn a ton... I'd go for the fork mount

If you are Interested, Dedicated and meticulous - Then go for the EQ mount...

I fall into category 2.. :)

#22 Escher

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:56 PM

That Meade sounds pretty sweet... And its been to Doc.. That's hard to argue with...

#23 myshkin

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 04:29 PM

I don't plan on jumping into AP right away. I want to learn the tele first. I will jump into piggybacking right away but this is pretty straight forward. I am a pretty good photopgraher and have always wanted a tracker anyways so thats something I look forward to playing with right away.

The wedge and serious AP work I will hold off from for a bit.

#24 JoLo

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 04:33 PM

I am not saying anyone's opinion was correct or incorrect, or what works for one works for another..only giving another side for consideration. I think Mr. (or Mrs.) Munchmeister summed it up nicely. Polar alignment is difficult, but can be mastered; some folks don't consider the time that must be dedicated to AP to master it...it is more than significant. But, if you want to get good at long exposure, deep sky AP, it is the price you pay (along with $$, frustrations, false starts, etc). It's all good.

#25 BlackBirdCD

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 04:33 PM

Looks like a great setup, I think you'll have a ton of fun with it.

Escher - thanks for the thoughts on the Edge vs. Standard SCT. I hadn't considered Hyperstar eliminating the updated (and expensive) rear cell gadgetry.






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