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Nova Hitch arrived yesterday > awesome!

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#1 swsantos

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 10:38 AM

So did the clouds of course, but its been great playing with it in my basement!

As a firm believer in fluid balanced motion along with slow motion controls for those times when nothing else will do, I decided to replace my Half Hitch with the Nova Hitch. The Half Hitch was nice but with the TV102 and 8" Edge HD I was at the HH's maximum capacity so if I ever wanted to get a larger scope I would need a more robust mount therefore the Nova Hitch.

The two mounts could share only their brand and basic design appearance they could not be more different as far as solid robust use goes. Like comparing a Toyota Prius to a Toyota Tundra they share brand name more that anything but from there they differ substantially. The Half Hitch relies of perfect balance for a light fluid touch and when the scope is balanced it operates as if its floating on air. As such eyepiece changes and while-observing cheek bumping was something one had to deal with with the Half Hitch and perhaps underlayed some of the HH's finicky reputation.

Enter the Nova Hitch and exit the finickiness. It is essentially perfect in all the ways the Half Hitch was not! It easily handles my 8" Edge and TV102 though all its paces and eyepiece changes. For example, I balanced the Edge with my mid weight eyepiece per Charles' instructions in my case a 17mm Ethos. You can remove that eyepiece and replace it with anything from a 31mm Nagler to a 6mm Ethos without rebalancing and without losing fluid manual control as well as light touch slow motion control. For giggles I but in an 11mm plossl and is was still as fluid as had been with the 17mm Ethos .. it IS that forgiving of weight change. Also while observing the system holds the OTA more robustly so you are unlikely to bump it off target.

I had mine made with encoders but did not order Sky Commander as I use Astro Devices BETI bluetooth wireless control and an Android tablet with Sky Safari to observe. That combination was magic with Half Hitch, and trying it out in the basement with the Nova it seems to work as well too albeit in a virtual sense.

My feeling is that, having a mount that is so fluid that slow motion controls are rendered unnecessary is nice, but there are truly some times when there is no substitute for slow motion controls. Investing in a mount that has no slow motion controls possible at all by design, to me, takes some potential pleasure out of it and saddles you with a mount that is missing a very useful attribute. With the Nova Hitch you have that no-slow-motion-control-needed manual control as good as can be, but in addition has actual slow motion controls when you want them. Certainly better to have them as desired for use than not to have them at all. The slow motion controls also make it possible for there to be motorized tracking if desired and indeed that feature is coming in the near future further adding to the Nova Hitch's overall ability.

To me the Nova is an obvious choice. I did not want to settle for a mount without slow motion controls and there is no reason to settle with the Nova. I plan on making a video showing some of these attributes stay tuned. It is remarkable.

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#2 rigel123

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 11:55 AM

Looks like something out of Transformers! Lovely mount!

#3 swsantos

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 12:22 PM

It is in fact a thing of engineering beauty. That it is mechanical art to be used for quiet stargazing somehow its fitting use for such a thing.

#4 Mike E.

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 04:47 AM

Its awesome indeed Steve!

I felt the same when we acquired our Half/Hitch awhile back. I believe you have to see or own one of Charles mount's in order to appreciate the quality and flawless workmanship. Personally I would have liked a bit more adjustment for friction in the brakes, as once balanced, movement is so smooth you could "almost" breathe on the mount to move it. Being an amateur Machinist, I can appreciate owning such a fine piece of engineering. :bow:

From your signature line I see you also have a Half & Mini Hitch. If you could, it would be great to see side by side photos for size, and comparison.

#5 Quintessence

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:34 AM

Just to clarify as background information: As Steve has aptly tried to describe from a user perspective, the Nova Hitch is a completely different mount from the older Half Hitch mounts. It has a completely different architecture for drives and braking -- which result in its own unique character. It is really a new design which only shares some conceptual aspects with the earlier mounts.

I will leave it to users to describe the characteristics of the Nova Hitch since I am not permitted to comment on such things. But I want to confirm that, indeed, the Nova Hitch is profoundly different than its predecessors and must be examined on its own merits.

Charles

#6 chboss

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 08:48 AM

Looks too complex for an Alt-Az mount.
And I wonder about transportability...

regards
Chris

#7 riverlaw

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 09:58 AM

Hi chboss, I guess it depends on what you want in a mount. I like the freedom of a alt-az mount and will use the Nova Hitch with a 102mm and later with a 140. I tend to buy things once and keep them for life, so spending a bit more options and quality of this mount makes sense to me. It looks soo nice. I am waiting for a tripod and pains me to see it being unused right now.

Yes, It is a somewhat heavy mount at more than 17 pounds. But it is a very capable mount, check out videos on the halfhitch website of the NH easily handling and 155mm and more. I am thinking half wooden box to store the mount in, with straps as handles.

#8 swsantos

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:10 PM

I leave it attached to my Berlebach UNI24 tripod and will carry it into the back yard as a unit when observing its not heavy even on the tripod and at 5 foot 6 inches tall it is not only an easy load for me but for certainly most anyone. I do not disassemble it but it it easily removed from the tripod and it would not be difficult to find a carrying case for it.

It looks complex compared to a simple cube but it can do so much more. Also some of its complex look are adjustments to accommodate a wide variety of scopes that once set do not need to be touched again. Slow motion controls and the ability to add tracking also adds to its complex look but it is very simple in use.

I personally cannot imagine being settling for anything lacking slow motion controls and even though I only use them for high power observing slow motion controls are an essential component of a mount in my opinion but that's just me. It one thing to be able to track at high power manually its another to be forced to do it that because your mount affords no other alternative.

#9 swsantos

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 10:27 PM

You will notice my Nova has the cam lock levers on the saddle and they make a world of quick work difference compared to turning a knob to lock the dovetail in the saddle. For all those interested in the Nova, they are well worth the small upgrade for them. Their instant lock/unlock like throwing a switch state change lessens the time to attach and remove the OTA to about a quarter the time it takes to do the same thing with knobs. Very significant in the dark, cold, humid evening, putting away at the end of the night etc. very quick positive and powerful system.

#10 nicklane1

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 08:43 PM

Steve,
Why did you go with bluetooth and android instead of WiFi and IOS for sky safari? The Sky Safari web site says that it is a little slower on Android than on IOS. Do you notice any latency?

thanks

#11 Kunama

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 04:40 AM

Very impressive looking bit of kit !

#12 wormstar

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 03:38 PM

Looks good. Mine should be here in a couple of weeks.

#13 WesC

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 04:24 PM

That thing is a freakin work of art!

#14 Chucky

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 05:47 PM

This mount looks so complicated compared to my simple looking Discmount.

#15 johnnyha

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 05:55 PM

This mount looks so complicated compared to my simple looking Discmount.

That is exactly my thought, as well as the dovetail/saddle that is incompatible with my EM200's Losmandy-style Casady saddle. I'd be tempted if starting from scratch but I am extremely happy with every aspect of my DM6 including it's stark simplicity.

#16 wormstar

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 06:39 PM

Discmounts are nice too, just different. The Nova has slow motion controls and optional electronic tracking.

#17 swsantos

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 10:42 PM

Because I would rather bring my 7" android tablet outside at night instead on a much more expensive and impossible to hold in one hand 10 inch iPad.i bought the 7" android Toshiba Thrive before there were mini iPads. The Tosbiba has a rubberized back that makes it very easy and sure to hold in one hand in the dark much easier to hold that my wife's mini iPad. That made it necessary to use Bluetooth as the Android only supported Bluetooth therefore the Bluetooth BETI instead of wifi Nexus. No there is not any latency it works great. Astro devices tells be the Bluetooth also has better battery life. I understand now that the current wifi Nexus supports Android's wifi, but I am content with the Bluetooth connection and see no reason to change.

#18 swsantos

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 10:47 PM

Slow motion controls require less stark simplicity but make the mount more capable and enjoyable in my opinion. My wife's flip phone is starkly simple. My Galaxy S3 eats it for lunch.

#19 nicklane1

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 10:09 AM

Because I would rather bring my 7" android tablet outside at night instead on a much more expensive and impossible to hold in one hand 10 inch iPad.i bought the 7" android Toshiba Thrive before there were mini iPads. The Tosbiba has a rubberized back that makes it very easy and sure to hold in one hand in the dark much easier to hold that my wife's mini iPad. That made it necessary to use Bluetooth as the Android only supported Bluetooth therefore the Bluetooth BETI instead of wifi Nexus. No there is not any latency it works great. Astro devices tells be the Bluetooth also has better battery life. I understand now that the current wifi Nexus supports Android's wifi, but I am content with the Bluetooth connection and see no reason to change.

Thanks for the detailed explanation. Looks like that setup works great for you. So you'd recommend an Android mini and Beti over Ipad mini and Nexus?

#20 swsantos

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 10:27 PM

I think the iPad mini is more slippery and harder to grasp in one hand than my Toshiba Thrive which is rubberized in the back for easy sure one handed grip. When I bought my BETI the Nexus at the time did not support wifi with Android but it does now. if I was buying it today maybe I would by the Nexus now that it supports Android. I would have to weight the now universal comparability of the current Nexus with both iOS and Android vs the better battery life of the BETI.

#21 ehallspqr

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Posted 20 September 2014 - 02:31 PM

Steve this is an older thread so sorry to resurrect this Zombi but I have a couple questions. Saw your excellent YouTube vid review of the Nova which led me here. I am looking at picking up a Nova but would prefer it have the Robotic Tracking Drive. Last I heard Half Hitch was still developing the hand controller and moved onto the user field testing phase. Did these ever become available? I asked about them on Half Hitch's Yahoo user group and was told that the motor upgrade kits and controller where not being sold at this time. No ECD given. I could probably live without the motor tracking initially but would hope these would be offered in the future. I also checked into making my own motor kit and it looks doable but more expensive than buying the ready made kit.

 

How is the Beti BT working out? I checked out a Nexus wifi using Sky Safari running on a iPad at a star party this year and it worked flawlessly except as you pointed out it eats batteries. Coming from a full-up, push button goto background I'm a bit nervous going to push-to with digital setting circles. If the Nexus equipped Nova Hitch works as advertised I would be happy with that and use the excellent manual slo-mo controls to compensate for drift.

 

I have an 8" EdgeHD OTA same as your using. It appears that you attach the Nova rail to the rail on the OTA? Is there a recommended rail size that directly fits the clamp on the Nova? My Edge has a Vixon rail. After better than a year of ownership and use is there anything that comes to light? These look to be built to high standards so I assume that they don't breakdown from normal use. How are they for maintenance and care? Any insight would be appreciated.

 

PS: How do you like those Edge HD optics. Great aren't they? Mounted on a Nova Hitch that setup looks to be the ultimate easily transportable, visual system. 



#22 swsantos

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 10:14 AM

The drive unit is not yet available for distribution according to Charles at this time so I too am waiting for it. The BETI works very well and generally I get about 4 or 5 sessions out of a pair of AA batteries. I use rechargeable ones and keep an extra pair in my eyepiece case so that I can do an easy field swap. It is so fast and easy to use SkySafari, BETI and the Nova that when my batteries die mid observing session I am re-batteried and realigned within a minute and a half no problem. I had an LX-200 goto before this setup and I find push to much quieter obviously and more sublime than the whirring go to and there is much more of a connection to the night sky with push to that go to in my opinion. When the motors become available for the Nova I will probably only use them for high power planetary work as the slow motion controls of the Nova work so well I hardly miss the tracking to be honest. The BETI-digital setting circles-push to-SkySafari setup as far as finding objects in the first place is MORE accurate and reliable than the LX-200 was and is much easier and much faster to operate I was very surprised to discover. I thought I was giving up accuracy and speed but I have given up literally nothing except high power touch free tracking of planets but even that is frankly not a big deal with the manual controls using an Ethos eyepiece 8mm or 10mm for planets.

 

I do love the Edge HD optics and rarely if ever use my TV102 anymore although I like owning a nice Televue refractor and it also rides very well on the Nova. Refractor-like is an accurate way of describing the Edge's optics and I marvel over and over again how nicely pinpoint and sharp objects look even in the peripheral field of view using my Ethos eyepieces. I also have the Edge focal reducer for it by the way which is a great add-on to the system when I want to go for the maximum field possible. Focal reducer + Nagler 31 or Ethos 21 is awesome.

 

I have the Nova rail attached to a custom made ADM Vixen rail and radius blocks. I have had no maintenance issues with the Edge. It is star collimated and holds collimation very well and all the mechanicals fit and finish aspects are first rate. I did replace the stock focuser with the Feathertouch microfocuser love the look and feel of those microfocusers not that the stock one was not fine just wanted the Feathertouch.



#23 ehallspqr

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 09:53 PM

Steve thank you for all the great info. and feedback. Your posts account for at least 50% of the information on the web concerning the Nova Hitch. Not much out there that I can find. I did end up buying a Nova from a fellow CN member. What a magnificent piece of astronomy gear. I have i-devices so bought the Nexus wifi computer from Astro devices. Excellent followup service from Serge. He made sure what mount and encoders I was using so everything was setup correctly, then shipped it from Australia to the US in just a few days. Played around with it and it seems to work as advertised.

 

Too bad about the drive kit and controller not being available. I am going to rig up something so this mount can at least motorize track. I agree the slo-mo controls are buttery smooth and I'm sure you can manually track with them no problem. I see people are good at nudging but I like the slow motion knobs for keeping the target centered. Especially at high magnification.

 

The 8" Edge is just about the perfect travel scope. Enough aperture and crisp views for a Cat, flat field and tack sharp to the edge just like a refractor or Mak. I've looked through some pretty high dollar refractors like 130 Takahashi and 5" AP, also a Questar 7" Mak. The 8" Edge HD with it's larger aperture is very close to the performance of those scopes and so much easier to setup and use. The slight gain in performance of a big $ refractor is not worth the extra money and effort for me. I was pleasantly surprised by the Edge series OTA's. I think the combination of the 8" Edge and Nova mount along with the Nexus running Sky Safari will be a winner.

 

I will check to see if Nova rail will bolt up to the Edge's Vixen rail that came with my CPC 800 Edge. It looks like it might, otherwise I will get a ADM Vixen rail like you have on yours. My CPC Edge actually came with a Feathertouch focuser so I didn't have to upgrade. I put those on all my Celestron scopes. Besides working better than the stock focuser, they look great and add the finishing touch!

 

Evan


Edited by ehallspqr, 29 September 2014 - 09:57 PM.







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