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First light: AVX. A NEWBIE'S PERSPECTIVE

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#1 Laminarman

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 06:56 AM

Well, I may have NO right to post here since I am a complete virgin to EQ mounts and the AVX is my first. Maybe this will help someone who is thinking of getting their first goto EQ mount?

I have a Stellarvue 102ED on my AVX. Folks may have seen that my first AVX arrived dead and wouldn't turn on. The replacement is just fine.

My goal was to try this out in my yard last evening on Saturn and a few double stars before the moon came up. I carried out my Autozone battery, my chair, my little table, my star atlases, flashlight..then the mount (heavy...) Then fetched the scope and mounted it. By this time I was sweaty as this was 75 yards from the house. Then I did chores until it started getting dark.

I put the mount down roughly facing north and set the lat to 42 which is where I'm at, as I'd read that polar alignment is not necessary with this mount and I wanted to try two star alignment. Upon firing up the unit, I did a solar system align as the ONLY thing visible was Venus at the time. It slewed to the general area of Venus and I thought that was very cool (remember I haven't even seen an EQ mount in action before.) I followed the procedure to align by aligning in the finderscope, then the EP. Then I tried to slew to Saturn, which was not visible yet, and left to change into warmer clothing, took a phone call etc and came back to see Saturn being tracked in my EP. By this time I'm thinking I'm a pro.

As I increased magnification things got tougher to keep centered so I decided to try a two star align as by this time it was getting dark. I couldn't figure out how in the world to do a two star align. It kept asking me to "cancel venus" or "unsync." I guess at that point I realized even though I read the manual 40 times, I should have read it 50 times. I figured the only way out was to shut the controller off, so I cut power for a minute or so and rebooted. To my dismay I had to re-set the time and go through the setup again (this was unanticipated and kind of a pain.) I did the two star align, but this time my total lack of star knowledge was apparent as I chose some cool sounding star, the telescope slewed and there in my finderscope were 30 stars. Which one was my alignment star!? I chose a more familiar star, aligned, then chose another familiar sounding star and the telescope slewed until it was pointing at the ground. Hmmm. Another star to align worked, I think Vega if I'm correct? Then two calibration stars which I had to use a star chart to confirm were the right stars. This was now getting frustrating but I think I was OK with it as I attribute it to the learning curve.

Then I did some of the "Sky Tour" which was neat. It found M110 which I'd never seen before, very, very faintly I might add. I went to a few more objects, then the greatest thing happened. My 11 year old son and 9 year old daughter came out and my daughter said "Woa!!!! Look at that!!! Was that like a million bucks Daddy?" I let them play with the hand controller and they thought it was the coolest robotic thing they'd ever seen, and both of them, my daughter especially, were floored looking at tiny Saturn. Even though they'd look briefly before in the telescope, they could sit on my observing chair and look at Saturns moons too while the scope tracked, which made their experience much better, and mine since I didn't have to "nudge" ever minute, which I ABSOLUTELY HATED DOING on an alt-az grab and go mount.

I had some real challenges getting objects to slew into the center of the EP. I think the illuminated reticle of the finder helped, but I think I might need a reticle EP to help?? I'm sure I'm off by doing something wrong otherwise. I'm not sure if I'm off center in the EP after a slew if I can use the arrows to center the object and does a series of these "corrections" add up to a very poor accuracy in slewing?

And finally, I'm just curious how some of you folks handle all this equipment! I'm physically fit and pushing 50, but man, that was hard work. I think tonight I'll carry the mount without the weight attached? Man, it's a lot of work. I may also pick up a grill cover so I can leave it out over night rather than haul it in in the dark. It was WET with dew quickly so my wet manuals and EP's and feet and chair kinda was a bummer.

As a wrap up, and I do hope some newbie finds something of value here, I would certainly recommend this mount especially at this price they're promoting it at. I have a lot to learn obviously, but the joy of finding objects with the controller, and the tracking of objects it well worth it to me. I had a grab and go, and while it was quicker, I hated having to keep nudging. I just need to figure out the logistics of getting all this gear out and keeping my spine intact.

As a final note, the AC adapter for this mount does not attach very securely as it doesn't have a screw collar like the 12V adapter. I'm lucky to have power out near the barn where I put the scope, but the plug fell out twice on my dry run in the basement so I chose the 12V connector. Even spreading the pin in the female end didn't help and inadvertently hitting the cord dislodged the AC cord. I'm using the 12V car starter for $49 from Autozone and it worked for 3-4 hours no problem. Time will tell if it will hold up all night long.

#2 cn register 5

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:40 AM

Nice to hear from someone new to this, it's a good report.

First the AVX has a real time clock. It seems to need turning on and once it's on you don't need to set the time. The control is somewhere in the menu system.

A simple planisphere is a good idea to help with working out which stars are currently visible. At present I'd start with Arcturus in the early evening as it's obvious and bright, then maybe one of the Ursa Major stars or Rasalhague. It may be different for you, I'm in the UK so at a different latitude.

I think that a reticle EP helps a lot with aligning, I use a home made one which doesn't have illumination.

I have seen all sorts of little trolleys for moving things about, from things such as the scope buggy that allows the mount to be moved fully assembled to the sort of trolley you can get from a DIY store.

Chris

#3 ohata0

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:56 AM

when doing alignment, it is important to make sure that you are centering the correct star. i should know because that was one of the big problems i had at first. that and setting the wrong time zone.

if you have a computer, you can download a free program called stellarium and add virtual telescopes and eyepieces to simulate the view through that. you can also flip the image horizontally and/or vertically if needed. i am using my 50mm guidescope with a 32mm eyepiece as a finderscope, so it's easy for me to verify the star i'm looking at by confirming what i see through the eyepiece is what i see on the screen.

i use a laptop, so it's easier for me to "look up" new stars. if you use a desktop it might be a little harder, but as you use the same stars for alignment, you'll be able to memorize the patterns around your commonly used stars.

you can also use stellarium to see the star positions when you think you'll be viewing (you can set the time), so you can plan ahead and see what stars you can use for alignment.

anyway, enough about stellarium. you can probably do the same thing with star charts (i bought a large star chart, but i haven't really looked at it yet).

as for re-alignment, you can do a new 2 star alignment stars by replacing your aligned stars/planets. you select and slew to a named star first, then go to align->aligned stars, and replace. you can use the up/down buttons (6 and 9, not the slew buttons) to cycle through the stars you want to replace (so you can add a 2nd star for alignment if you only started with one. it'll ask you to center the star like you did in the alignment process. the only thing that it doesn't do is give you that list of the brightest stars. and you can't hit the back button to cycle through the list to the next brightest one. if you want that, you have to power down and select 2 star alignment.

for the time, if you go into the settings and turn the RTC on, you shouldn't have to re-input the time; just hit enter. if the time is off, you can hit back to edit it. your location data should be saved already.

when you use the hand controller to center objects in the eyepiece, i don't think it updates the sky model in the mount or anything like that. the only way it updates it is if you add/update alignment or calibration stars. maybe also if you sync.

an illuminated eyepiece will definitely be good for the scope as it will help you center your stars accurately and consistently (although you're initially centering it in the finderscope, that's just to get it in the fov of the main scope. the important thing is to center it well in the main scope).

oh, and about the AC adapter. there are 2 different AC adapters. the cheaper one celestron "recommends" is for visual use. it doesn't have the screw collar. there is another AC adapter that does have the screw collar, and can be used on the VX (it's the 5 amp adapter for the CGEM and CGE PRO). That one is the one you should get if you plan on doing astrophotography, although both will work according to celestron. if you are just doing visual, then it may not be worth it to spend another $60 just for an AC adapter.

just hang in there...i think things should get easier as you get used to using the mount and familiarizing yourself with the night sky

#4 Laminarman

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:24 AM

You guys are awesome, thank you. I was using a Nagler 11mm most of the time, one of my favorite eyepieces, or my 24mm Hyperion (Bader) which is another favorite. I think a reticle EP to get me aligned is in the future. I can't use a scope buggy, too hilly and rocky unfortunately. I am only planning visual so don't see the need for the other AC adapter but thanks for pointing that out. And I think my real time was off, because my location data was OK but the time kept going off.

Do you folks leave your scope out after a late night and cover it or carry the whole shebang back in??

#5 CharlesW

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:34 AM

The Meade Illuminated Reticle is nice for around $50. Also, if you can attach a Telrad to your scope it will help a lot getting pointed at the right star.

#6 dragonslayer1

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:43 AM

Sounds like your ready to teach NASA some tricks,,, :jump: You might want to look at something like this if you want to leave set-up out overnight and is in a safe place.. Also the time set is under utilities in handset I think http://www.scopestuff.com/ss_t365.htm
Kasey

#7 dragonslayer1

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 09:46 AM

A PS on time, I think the battery in mount may just need a good charge, you can leave it plugged in and let it charge up,,, I believe is same principal as GPS battery in a CPC, Kasey

#8 Starhawk

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:19 AM

You just need to turn the clock on in the utilities menu. My only guess at why Celestron ships them with the clock defaulted to off is to make you think through what time you are setting into it.

Stellarium is also available in idevices. For free, it's pretty awesome. If you want to control the mount wirelessly, SkySafari is the way to go- but I would hold off on that.

The real benefit of GOTO is the ability to look at many more objects in an evening than you otherwise could have.

As for leaving the mount out, that depends on the security of where you are and what the weather is. The mounts are made to survive dew. The scopes need to dry out. The basic reason the home observatory exists is the problem you have just found with carry-out and retrieve. Your kids may be just the right size to move a dolly, thought.

-Rich

#9 Starhawk

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:23 AM

By the way, I also suggest using all star align- you don't need to know what they are- just pick three really obvious bright stars and go. I have an Orion 12.5 mm reticle which works well for this- just make sure you're in the basket when you press Align.

-Rich

#10 orlyandico

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 10:55 AM

Also, when doing both the finderscope alignment and the final align, only use the up and right buttons. If you can't do this, overshoot with the other buttons so that the final approach is only done with up and right.

#11 nodalpoint

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:35 AM

My AVX arrived this morning so this is a timely thread! Man was that box heavy, glad it can be transported in sections. I got it assembled and it powered on without problem, let's hope it stays that way. Hope to have it out in the dark tonight.

I also ordered the AC adapter with the screw mount. Pricey but I wanted to be safer than sorry.

#12 oo_void

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:43 AM

Don't worry, you'll learn the stars soon enough. In most cases, it's just the brightest object in the area in which the scope is pointing. I've also found that a GLP on a finder mount is a great addition to simplify the initial alignment process.

#13 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 04:56 PM

You're in Deposit? Why not bring it to Kopernik Observatory on one of their public nights (Friday)? It's a bit of drive for you, but you're likely to find someone able to help you with any issues you may have.

#14 frolinmod

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 05:42 PM

If you don't want to carry everything the 75 yards, you might consider purchasing a wagon or cart. I have one of those three way folding carts from Costco that can hold a ton of stuff.

#15 Jeff2011

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 08:12 PM

I don't find the AVX heavy if I move it with the counterweight removed. If you find the AVX heavy, then an Atlas would have really caused you a problem.

For a power supply, I use car jumper that I got as a gift from O'Reilly Auto Parts. I can run for 3 or more sessions before charging. I never an AC adapter for the reason you have already found out. I image with mine and can't afford the power coming loose when I am imaging or aligning the scope.

A reticle eyepiece is a must for accurate alignment. The only time I don't use a reticle to align is when I use a DSLR with backyard EOS to replace the reticle.

It took me a few sessions to get the 2 stars + 4 calibration stars + polar alignment down. After a few times it should become second nature. To help identify some of the obscure stars during alignment, I use Sky Safari on my Iphone.

I am glad your mount is now working for you. Have fun with it.

#16 nodalpoint

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Posted 24 August 2013 - 11:22 PM

Sitting outside at my new AVX right now. Swan nebula is in the viewfinder. What a difference a nice mount makes.

#17 LThomas

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 03:28 PM

My AVX arrived. I put it together in like 20 minutes. No tools needed. Didnt even have to read the instruction manual and Im a noob. Turned it on. It worked.

Learned quickly to move the avx around without the OTA or weight. When I do that even I can lug it around without needing to join a Gym.

Nice mount. Now all I need to learn is the stars so that when it slews to an alignment star I know which one its wanting out of 30-40 stars in the FOV.

All in all I like mine but then I am a noob so.......

#18 ratskrad

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:11 PM

One of the two AVX's we ordered arrived yesterday. (ordered different days). Put it all together in the basement and put my C6R on it and fired it up and did a few fake alignments. Now I just have to get the monsoon we have been experiencing since the end of June to leave us and I will get it outside.

#19 Dr.Don

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 12:05 PM

Real time clocks do not use rechargable batteries. The power requirements are so tiny that the typical 'button' battery can power it for years.

#20 dragonslayer1

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 01:14 PM

thank you Dr john, does the CG-5 ASGT come with a clock? could not find settings in utilities for it, thank you
Kasey

#21 SkipW

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 06:52 PM

CG-5 ASGT does not have an RTC.

#22 SkipW

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 06:54 PM

CG-5 ASGT does not have a RTC.






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