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Slow motion controls for an alt-az?

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#1 ziggarut69

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 03:13 PM

How important are slow motion controls for an alt-az? I'm looking at the Versago II mount and comparing it to a whole bunch of other low cost alt-az mounts, and anything in its class with slow-mo starts off at a hundred dollars more or so.

#2 stevenf

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 03:40 PM

I have a versago II and I don't miss the slo-mo controls, at least for what I use it for, low power, wide field viewing. For high magnification views of planets and the moon, I find the slow motions controls are a must have. So I guess my answer is, "they're kind of important?" :)

#3 ziggarut69

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 03:45 PM

How high mag are you talking? 200x? 300x? more?

#4 dpippel

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 04:01 PM

IMO slow motion controls are mandatory. Nudging works at low mags with relatively light loads on the mount, but becomes annoying beyond that in my experience. Having the ability to fine-tune the field of view without touching the telescope/mount makes observing much more enjoyable. For me anyway. ;)

Keep your eyes on the used market. Deals do come up fairly often. For example, I was able to score a brand-new Vixen Porta II with tripod for $200 shipped on eBay.

#5 stevenf

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 05:11 PM

How high mag are you talking? 200x? 300x? more?


It usually gets annoying to me above 100x, usually. But the Versago II is smooth enough that I don't have much trouble up to around 200x.

#6 Locoman

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 06:53 PM

The Orion Versago is a great mount for a 6 inch F/5 or less reflector or a wide field refractor around 120mm or less. For high power planet and luna viewing the slo motion controls are nice. You can get the Celestron Skywatcher AZ4 from Woodland Hills for $219.00 free shipping, same mount as the Versago. It's got a beefier mount.

#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 07:05 PM

How important are slow motion controls for an alt-az? I'm looking at the Versago II mount and comparing it to a whole bunch of other low cost alt-az mounts, and anything in its class with slow-mo starts off at a hundred dollars more or so.


I have both the Vixen Portamount and the Synta AZ 4 which is the same mount as the Versago two but with much heavier duty tripod.

I have come to point where I just won't use a small refractor on a Alt-az mount without slow motion controls, it's just so much nicer when I can center the target and track with a minimum of effort.

With Newtonian, manual tracking Dob style is my preferred mode of viewing but a Newtonian OTA represents a long lever and so fine control is easier.

One sometimes unnoticed advantage of slow motion controls is that they allow you to crank up the friction so that balancing a range of eyepieces is not a problem. I set my Portamount so that it handles eyepieces over 2 lbs without slipping.

Jon

#8 Rick M.

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 07:23 PM

What about alt-az mounts with handles? How are they as an alternative to slow motion controls?

Rick

#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 07:38 PM

What about alt-az mounts with handles? How are they as an alternative to slow motion controls?

Rick


My AZ-4 has a handle. Unfortunately it seems to be poorly positioned so that it's right where my head wants to be when looking through the eyepiece. :(

Jon

#10 johnnyha

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 08:29 PM

My DM6 has no slomo. The 6" bearings help keep things nice and smooth. I had a handle for awhile but I took it off, I preferred nudging the scope. I do however see where the locking slomo on the new NovaHitch would be nice... but I'm plenty happy with the sheer overall simplicity of the DM6 system.

#11 Eddgie

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Posted 20 August 2013 - 09:47 PM

crank up the friction so that balancing a range of eyepieces is not a problem


Yes, the only justification I need to prefer it over non-geared.

I had more nose dives using a Televue 101 on a Gibralter than I could stand.

Until I got used to locking the altitude axis when I changed eyepeices.

Which got very tiring very fast because then I would have to unlock and re-fiddle the tension.

I am sure that you can get a $1000 Alt Az mount that does not have this issue, but I'm to cheap to do that when you can get a good, lightweight GEM for $250.

#12 hottr6

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 07:18 AM

For some folk, slo-mos are not important. For me, they are essential.

When I view a target, I like to keep it centered in the FOV. With slo-mos, this is easy. Without slo-mos, one has to deal with the target moving across the FOV, which may demonstrate the eyepiece's "personality" such as pincushioning, field curvature, coma, edge distortion, etc. Furthermore, when you do nudge the 'scope to reposition the target, you have to deal with mount instabilities and wait a few seconds for the shakes to attenuate. All this interferes with my enjoyment.

Putting it another way, nudging your 'scope may lead you into the world of expensive and heavy ultra-wide angle eyepieces, because their wide AFOV entails less nudging. With slo-mos, simpler, lighter, cheaper, higher-def but narrower AFOV eyepieces are easier to use.

I have a slight tremor in my hands, so nudging becomes a hit-and-miss affair, especially at high magnifications.

Having said all of this, my preference is for driven 'scopes. Aim. Center. Forget. Enjoy.

#13 Lane

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 03:05 PM

Unfortunately, a lot of those small mounts tend to be sticky and jumpy when you try to move them slowly, that is the main reason I use slo-mo. But most well made dobs have butter smooth motion and a lot of leverage so slo-mo tends not to be needed even at higher powers. I used to use my 8" dob at 250x all the time with push-to only and never saw that to be a problem at all.

#14 dakota

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 04:48 PM

Have to agree here. I have a Half Hitch Mark II and the slo-mo is awesome to say the least.

#15 McUH

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 05:08 PM

Are they a must? No, if the mount is otherwise good. Are they nice to have? Definitely.

As mentioned above, if you need to keep target in centre of FOV with high power, you will need them, but you will need to adjust them constantly. Otherwise you just make a small nudge every few seconds and watch the target drift through FOV.

#16 EdTheEdge

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 08:02 PM

Yes. Absolutely. Definitely.

#17 ziggarut69

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 11:46 AM

Why is it that so many of the premium, expensive mounts lack slo-mo if it's such an issue?

#18 dpippel

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 01:02 PM

It's not an issue, it's personal preference.

#19 astrophile

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 10:04 PM

What about alt-az mounts with handles? How are they as an alternative to slow motion controls?


Nope. The handles I've ever used get in the way (of your head or of the tripod legs). But for full disclosure, I've never used a handle with a smaller refractor (<100mm).

#20 Eddgie

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Posted 22 August 2013 - 10:20 PM

Why is it that so many of the premium, expensive mounts lack slo-mo if it's such an issue?



The Discmount is a premium mount that manages to reduce the issues above by using a very sophisticated design with a very refined clutch which allows it to be precisely adjusted for tension.

I have not used one, so I don't know if it would handle of the imbalance between say a 31mm Nagler and an 11mm Nagler.

Most mounts without gears will struggle to do this change without a nose (or tail) dive and still move very smoothly.

The Discmount design though is supposed to cope with this kind of saturation and still allow smooth movement.

It is the price that makes it hard to want one for me when I can get a geared slow motion control for a fraction of the price.

I don't need gearing in azimuth. I need it in altitude only, and this is more to allow for eyepiece changes without nose dives than for the ability to move slow increments.

#21 skullpin

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 04:08 AM

I use a DiscMount 4 and love it. The nicest "feature" about this mount is how dead steady it is. I can focus at 300x without shake. I can even leave my hand on the focus knob and there is no shake. I can whack the tripod leg pretty strongly, and there is a tiny amount of shake that dies out immediately. It is zen simple.

Keith

#22 KarlL

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Posted 23 August 2013 - 11:01 AM

Locoman -

Which has the beefier mount, the Sky Watcher or the VersaGo II? I'm considering the VersaGo II for the C102 GT that's on sale at OPT right now.

Regards,

Karl






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