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AP Mach 1 | 10Micron GM 1000 HPS | ASA DDM 60

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#1 tom63

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 02:57 PM

hello,

i'm thinking about to replace my tak em200 - the candidates i have in mind are ap mach 1, gm 1000 hps or asa ddm 60.

because i don't wanna build an observatory in my garden i need something that is easy to carry, setup in 15-30 minutes and allows images up to 20min unguided with my fsq85 or sdp105 (450 - 670 mm).

living in the south of munich baader and asa are nearby - so this is not a point in my decision between the three mounts.

in my opinion direct-drive mounts are the future and i guess ap and 10micron are working on new products with direct drive. but what i cannot understand is that they all do their software on unsexy windows and not for osx/ios. i would love to control it via macbook and use the ipad/iphone instead of a handbox...

what mount would you recommend to me?


kind regards
tom

#2 psandelle

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 03:45 PM

Didn't know AP & 10Micron were working on direct drive mounts. Did I miss something?

Thanks,

Paul

#3 korborh

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 05:12 PM

I don't believe AP is working on a direct drive mount.

#4 tom63

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 06:55 PM

nope - of course only asa is direct drive at the moment - i just wrote:
'in my opinion direct-drive mounts are the future and i guess ap and 10micron are working on new products with direct drive'

#5 andysea

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 07:23 PM

It would be interesting to get Roland's take on this. Direct drive does appear to have some advantages over a traditional gear system. I would post on the AP forum if I were you.

Andy

#6 snommisbor

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:34 PM

I am not sure on the 2 others you mentioned but the AP Mach 1 can be controlled with The Sky X which runs on the Mac. Bisque also make the Paramount MX which is their portable mount. The Sky X Pro has all kinds of add ons which help with pointing and camera controls. So that is a reason to consider going with the Mach 1 if you want to control with a Mac. I run my EM 200 with it and it is great.

#7 andysea

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 09:59 PM

The SkyX seems to be the only options for mac users.
I wanted to use Sequence Generator pro and also have Ascom capability so I ended up installing Parallels on my Macbook air and using Windows XP to run all my equipment. I wish they had Ascom for Mac...

#8 psandelle

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 10:23 PM

andysea - how's that work for battery life? I just asked the Parallels people that question the other day, and they said they thought having Windows open in Parallels would be a little like having two computers running. Not sure if that's right or not. Do you see a lot of difference in battery life on the Air with Parallels in use?

Thanks,

Paul

#9 andysea

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 12:38 AM

Paul,
When I am out in the field I have my Mac air hooked up to a 105ah battery that can power it for multiple nights. I have never done a battery life test with and without parallels. I have a 2012 model and the battery is pretty short lived with or without parallels. It works beautifully tho and like Tom said, it's waaay sexier than any PC ever :grin:

#10 psandelle

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 08:23 AM

andysea - don't tempt me!!! I'll have to figure some tests. They are the best laptops, in general, to me.

Now, for fastest setup, wouldn't the Mach 1, once you align its new polarscope to perfection, be the quickest setup for that focal length?

Paul

#11 korborh

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 10:20 AM

It would be interesting to get Roland's take on this. Direct drive does appear to have some advantages over a traditional gear system. I would post on the AP forum if I were you.

Andy


Roland has given his view on these sometime back on the ap-gto forums (I dont know when, you will have to search). It was clear he did not favor these.
There may be advantages but there are also disadvantages. With the performance of AP mounts, they don't need to fundamentally change especially if asking for significantly more complexity and failure points of DD.

#12 psandelle

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 10:55 AM

korborh - I thought I remembered something like that, now that you mention it.

I think when a geared mount gets so well-machined and with encoders added (like the AP's and the Software Bisques), there's not a lot of reason to change. Adding software to make best use of the encoders and machining (as AP is doing and Bisque has done for years) probably realizes a greater degree of improvement.

On the other hand, if I were creating a mount from scratch, I might start with direct drive. Just so dang cool!

It's all good...and expensive. But good. I'm still debating an ASA versus a PMX for unguided wide-field. It's not gears versus direct drive that's going to be my differentiater, though, but lots of other little things.

Paul

#13 Starhawk

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 01:42 PM

I have an AP Mach 1 GTO and have been trying out a 10 Micron GM1000HS for the past couple of weeks. Here are some observations:

(1) Control- the Mach 1 can be controlled from a Mac via The Sky, Sky Safari, or Equinox. Sky Safari is my own preference as it has a beutiful interface and has been worked on in cooparation with AP to be future-compatible (I bugged both sides to get them to do that, and they did).

(2) Operation- the AP Mach1 and GM1000 are very different from each other.

The AP Mach1 does its guiding off the drives, and has an interesting "Permanent alignment" behavior where it assumes a geometry for the system and relies on drive movement to find where it is based on a single reference from the user. The mount is therefore highly dependent on accurate polar alignment. However there isn't a strong software routine for polar alignment- all the tricks are up to you by carefully using movement and observations to true-up the alignment.

The motors on a Mach 1 GTO are quite powerful, and the mount is more tolerant of imbalance than most. The drive is a bit noisy when slewing, though. All performance is by a combination of direct mechanical precision and a buit in PEC following function. For long exposures, your polar alignment is key, and the AP polar alignement scope is the main shortcut.

A Mach 1 GTO on the Eagle 1 pier is light enough to carry in and out of doors. I highly recommend finding a spot you can put the feet in the same place every time for polar alignment simplification. Mach 1 owners really have one worry- accurate polar alignment.

(3) Mount livability- AP builds very solid hardware, and if you get the little tripod trays, it is a big help with the Mach 1 GTO. If you are going on travel, following AP guidelines will have you moving with a 39 AH 12V golf cart battery. This is perhaps overkill if you aren't observing from Minnesota in late January.

The Mach 1 GTO control system is a peculiar mix of brilliant simplicity and incomprehensible omissions. The always aligned behavior is really neat- you can set up and get initial alignement with a torpedo level. The handpad is quite stout, but in the interest of a cold weather capable display has one nearly impossible to read in daylight. There are also gotchas in the "Read the manual" (you have a stack of 5 of them with little addendums tucked in as well to digest) model. If you have transitioned from Celestron NexStar mounts, for example, there is a major danger because "Sync", the command one uses without a second throught on Celestron GOTO systems, changes a Mach 1 GTO's assumption about where the OTA is pointed and if you hit it at the wrong time, the next slew attempts and underhand pass. What's worse, most softare vendors assumed "Sync" meant the same thing for everyone, so it is possible a 3rd party application will send "Sync" and crash you. The scratch on my AP130 EDFGT revealed there is insufficient space for that maneuver, and started my campaign to get Southern Stars and AP to talk (They did- align on Sky Safari won't crash you, now). The lack of an onboard mount modeling polar alignment routine in this day and age is inconceivable, but there it is. They want to rely on a polar alignment scope, and have even gone so far as to write an iPhone App t tell you where Polaris should fit on the polar scope's reticle rather than writing the code to get the mount to point to a star's location where it would be if the mount were aligned so you could align it. They have special instructions for manually tricking the mount into giving up drift alignment data, and even with a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and 16 years designing and building spacecraft, I have yet to get that to converge to as good a polar alignment ast 20 minute images would need. Plan on manual drift alignment.

I won't be surprised if I get mail back saying if you're in an observatory, this isn't such a big deal, or the GTO controller wouldn't be able to track past the meridian if you did this, or all is well if you control an AP mount from a PC (or mac emulating one) so you can buld pointing models, fix your alignment, and so on. But being plain, AP's reliance on PC control for best performance is a no-kidding handicap they need to drop whatever else it is they think they should be doing in mounts and get after until they have it working from onboard control. And a more modern realization that everyone in the world is now surrounded by technological equipment with idiosycracies which have had to be designed to be mostly harmless because otherwise they don't work, because you can't force the user along with everyone else in the universe who might make something which could be used with your gear all read the manual.

Don't get me wrong- the Mach 1 GTO is a fantastic mount, but the things AP isn't listening about are exactly the things the mobile user will bump into every single time they set up. I've gotten to know the AP crowd a bit. Apparently they all have observatories, so the sorts of things I've been mentioning only make so much sene, since when they're on the road, it's typically visual only. I still hope for the breakthrough wth them.

10 Micron GM1000HPS

I have been using this with the wood tripod, which I must say is nothing short of beautiful. It is quite stout and absorbs vibration to the point where I have been leaving my hand ON a C11 while focusing on a camera screen at high magnification.

The mount head is a bit heavy, so it goes out separately. The setup is relatively simple since the goal is just to assemble the parts and balance them, then put them roughly in park configuration. Unlike a Mach 1 GTO, the axes move freely, so precision balancing is easy. The drive is protected by clutches, so you really do need to balance it or else you can cause slips by touching the mount if it is under imbalance torque. The controller is over twice the size of the Mach 1 GTO's CP3 box, and it just has a momentary switch to start it up. The hand pad is also considerably larger, but the key placement makes it quite eady to use.

Unlike the Mach 1, the GM1000 operating system is less reliant on following a stack of 5 manuals to learn how their new car has the brake pedal on the right and the gas on the left, but rather has functions which typically work the way you'd guess and have been trained by other GOTO mounts. So, getting started is straightforward, and the mount's surprises tend to be pleasant ones.

The drive on the GM 1000 is extremely powerful, and the 15° per second slewing is surprisingly quiet and smooth. The only gotcha here is if you have a camera set up on the mount, make sure any cables have some room to move, because there isn't much time to adjust while it is moving. It's really fast, and the beeps the mount makes are about the only sound. About the only real oddness here is the power supply needs 24 volts with a special plug, so don't lose that.

The dedicated handpad speed control is very hellpful for centering. It has the ability to do a full mount model onboard, though the largest set I have done so far is a 3 star alignment followed by a polar alignment using the mount's polar alignment routine. Interestingly, the Mach 1 GTO has a tour mode and the GM1000 does not. The GM1000 does have a statellite tracking mode I am very eager to try out. This is another one of those things I have asked AP about...

The true position encoders are quite addictive- the mount just never gets screwed up. I've accidentally pushed the scope hard enough to move the mount. Unlike conventional drive based gotos, all I had to do was hit the enter key for it to drive back to exactly where it had cenered itself before.

So, I have about 4.7 GB of images I took with a C11 on the GM1000HPS, over an hour shot without any hand pad inputs. So, I am going to look at taking some of them and posting them so you can see how much drift the mount has with a simple quick alignment. The first blush looked like very, very, very little. I'm probably going to make a new thread of that.


As for the ASA mount, my impression so far is it is yet again highly reliant on PCs. I would be interested in experience with the newest control systems.

-Rich

#14 andysea

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 02:50 PM

When I got the RAPAS i just installed it without worrying about calibrating it.
So far it worked perfectly. I place polaris where my Iphone app tells me and start imaging (guided). The whole process takes a couple of minutes.
So far I checked after 7 hours and polaris was still where it was supposed to be. i.e. going around the center of the reticle. Only caveat the tripod must be within about one degree of level in the E-W direction.
I don't do unguided AP so I can't speak about that.
That's my practical experience, others may have differing opinions.

#15 Starhawk

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:06 PM

I thought you had to have the magic alignment before the RAPAS could be aligned, and then become useful. In that case, I may need to try that out. My previous life history with polar scopes has been significantly less than confidence-inspiring.

-Rich

#16 Peter in Reno

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:18 PM

A-P Quick Drift Alignment takes me less than 15 minutes to polar align and can image 30 minutes subs using OAG/Lodestar with C-8 EdgeHD at 2000mm focal length on Mach1GTO, no problem.

Peter

#17 korborh

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:31 PM

AP QDA is easy to forget though unless you keep practicing it regularly. It is not the easiest or most intuitive way to PA.
I think it is about time AP added mount modeling like Celestron in their controller. This would be extremely useful for visual users. The Celestron 2+4 and ASPA work amazingly well.

#18 George9

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:42 PM

Sorry for the potentially naive question, but on AP polar alignment, why doesn't AP's basic polar alignment routine work well enough? You set the mount approximately north, you position the scope with a star, it slews to where Polaris should be, and you adjust the alt-az; why doesn't that get you there? Is it because the mount should really be aligning on two stars and THEN pointing to Polaris? Or because adjusting the alt-az is too insensitive? Or because you need to account for a scope that is not perfectly squared to the mount?

I know that I have to go back and forth many times between the star and Polaris to get reasonable alignment, but once I am done it is quite accurate (I am actually using an AP600EGTO).

I am not taking images, so I don't star drift.

George

#19 andysea

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 03:52 PM

My Rapas was fine out of the box and I know two other people who had the same experience. I suspect that you won't need to do any magic adjustment. As far as I can tell it's just as accurate as the polarscope in my Tak NJP.
I don't like to spend more than 5 minutes on polar alignment so that works perfectly for me. In the end it's just about what works for different people.

#20 tom63

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 04:21 PM

wow wow wow - i'm completely overwhelmed - so much feedback in 24 hours :) it was a really busy day over here in germany for me - so sorry for answering so late.

especially many thanks to rich/starhawk for his detailed post!!!
i now have to read all this first.

kind regards
tom

#21 PGW Steve

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 04:49 PM

I used a T Point model to get my Mach 1 polar aligned. I then set the RAPAS to have Polaris in the correct spot. Now when I go out, polar alignment takes less than a minute. I've run a T Point model after aligning with the RAPAS and have seen values of around one arc minute in ALT/AZ. I routinely do 30 minute guided exposures with NB filters and see no rotation in the corners.
A properly set up RAPAS is a HUGE asset to mobile astrophotography with any A-P mount.

#22 psandelle

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 05:20 PM

Really? No drift-align and then tinkering with the RAPAS? Just stick it into the mount and it works? (I'm spoiled by my iOptron polarscope, supposedly very Tak-like.) Hmmm...I have to rethink things, maybe.

Paul

#23 tom63

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 06:42 PM

@paul
we run windows 7 in our office natively (with bootcamp) on mac pro 8cores and macbook pro - just because solidworks isn't availible for mac.
this way power consumption is a little bit (maybe 20% or so) higher than with osx.
we also run virtual machines with windows 7 (vmware fusion 6) - battery life on the notebooks this way goes down to 1/2 or 1/3.

@andy
i have theskyx since a couple of years but do not like it so much, now will give a try to equinox.
they say it works together with starmappro on ipad/iphone with some mounts - did you already check out this equinox thing?
ap unguided up to 20 minutes and 600mm for me is the only reason to maybe spend the money for upgrading from tak em 200 to a new one ...

@rich
again - thanks so much for spending lots of your time and write all this down to help me with my decision!
what i read from your post is: both mounts are good ones and the 10micron is a little bit easier to setup and use.
the bad thing is - i like the look of the mach 1 so much (found a blog from a really humorous canadian guy and he has such a beauty: http://www.flickr.co...otos/astroporn/)
i'm lazy - so lazy that maybe sell my brandnew 105sdp and go for a second fsq85 - just because the weight and handling.
so reading your post 3 times - it says to me - go for the 1000hps - this is the best for lazy guys (despite it weights over 10 pounds more than the mach 1) ...

time to go to bed - it's 1:30 in the morning over here
kind regards
tom

#24 andysea

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 07:05 PM

A properly set up RAPAS is a HUGE asset to mobile astrophotography with any A-P mount.

Yep

#25 psandelle

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Posted 15 October 2013 - 07:47 PM

tom63 - good to hear it's only about a 20% hit on Bootcamp. I did think of partitioning half the laptop drive to Bootcamp/Windows and the other to OSX (I never contaminate my astro laptops with anything BUT astro, but this way the astro would be totally separate), but half the goodness of Mac laptops is the software helps with the battery life, and I was afraid I'd lose too much. I can live with 20%. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have a 20ah LiFePO4 battery JUST for the laptop...but I'm paranoid. What if my battery is stolen by aliens? Would my laptop have enough juice to get through the night?

A lot of people swear by the 10Microns because all the modelling and polar stuff is complete within the HC, no computer necessary for that if you don't want it.



Paul






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