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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Peter in Reno
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Loc: Reno, NV
Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900
      #4460141 - 03/19/11 03:10 PM

Which do you prefer: Paramount MX or Astro-Physics AP900?

Paramount MX:

Weight: 50lbs
Carrying Capacity: 90lbs
Counter weights: Two 20lbs
Paddle or Hand Controller: Redesigned version of ME???
Ports: Two USB ports
Saddle: Versa-Plate. Will adapt just about anything including dovetails and tube rings.
Software: Complete package of Sky X Pro, T-Point Add on, Camera Add on
Web Site: http://www.bisque.com/sc/pages/ParamountMX.aspx
Price: $8500

AP900:

Weight: 54lbs
Carrying Capacity: 70lbs
Counter weights: None
Paddle or Hand Controller: Yes
Ports: Old style RS232
Saddle: None
Software: Pulse Guide and PEMPro
Web Site: http://www.astro-physics.com
Price: $8750

Seems like Paramount is a better buy. They even offer tripod but it looks wimpy and pricey at $2000. It's not clear if the carrying capacity for MX is for imaging or visual. MX web site says it comes with redesigned version of ME paddle but no pictures.

For those who have experience with Paramount ME and AP900, please give us pros and cons for both mounts.

Thanks,
Peter


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jmiele
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4460182 - 03/19/11 03:34 PM

AP support and performance are well documented.

1) if I can get parts in 15 years for an ME
2) will the MX perform as well as an AP900

Those 2 questions remain unanswered. While both are possible with SB, I'd like to see. That said, I did just purchase an AP so I'm bias.

Over the years I have found, for the most part, people love what they have purchased. So I'd like to see what the independent reviewers (i.e. didn't pay for it) have to say. But yeah, looks real nice.

Joe


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skybsd
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4460212 - 03/19/11 03:49 PM

Hi Peter,
I just concluded my own quandry over these two, and chose AP.

I had experiences with both AP1200GTOs, AP900GTOs and a Paramount ME - no experience with the MX - they're not shipping as yet anyways

Having a computer is a necessity for using a Paramount
The "native remote Internet connectivity" turned out to be "need a local computer connected to the Paramount, that you then connect to via the network"
Computer dies = no Paramount

Regards,

skybsd


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Alph
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Loc: Melmac
Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: jmiele]
      #4460256 - 03/19/11 04:13 PM

Quote:


1) if I can get parts in 15 years for an ME



The business owners of SB are much younger than the business owner of A-P


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jmiele
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Alph]
      #4460340 - 03/19/11 05:10 PM

Quote:

Quote:


1) if I can get parts in 15 years for an ME



The business owners of SB are much younger than the business owner of A-P




While I know there have been discussions about age and the ability for some companies to continue producing quality optics based on your statement, it does not apply to mounts. AP has many folks involved in mount making. While mount quality control does still focus on one individual (not entirely but to some extend) that person is not Roland. I was discussing and am know addressing mounts. Not optics. Since SB does not involve themselves in that business, it should not be fodder for the conversation. Joe

For the record - I don't agree your statement applies, or should be a consideration with regard to optics either. Age is not at issues here IMO. We could both get struck by lightening tomorrow, then who would continue this thread! ? Oh thats right, there are plenty of opinions to go around



Edited by jmiele (03/19/11 05:15 PM)


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Alph
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: jmiele]
      #4460361 - 03/19/11 05:26 PM

Quote:

We could both get struck by lightening tomorrow



Both unlikely, one of us - possible. Another argument for the Bisque brothers. If you spend $10,000 (that's a nice car!), you better factor in expected longevity of the business.


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BlueGrass
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Alph]
      #4460479 - 03/19/11 06:29 PM

By that argument, you can apply the same logic to any vendor of astro gear. The recent sale of SBIG gave a number of people pause. There are a ton of AP mounts out there, world-wide. Even if the current owners were to sell the business, I don't think the company's mount business would languish. Their optics production may be another story. There is a market and will continue to be a market for excellent astronomical equipment. Besides, the longevity of these class of mounts may outlast most of the current owners ....

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skybsd
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: skybsd]
      #4460494 - 03/19/11 06:34 PM

Folks.., We're already starting off on a tangent here - and drifting..,

Peter, I neglected to request that you perhaps try to clarify what usage parameters you had in mind as far as assessing each mount is concerned.

To that end, I should have mentioned that I am a visual-only observer - with no interest in photography.

Regards,

skybsd


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: skybsd]
      #4460518 - 03/19/11 06:54 PM

I'm experienced with neither, but empirical evidence tells us that the AP900 is a top flite mount. I haven't read a single review of the MX yet. No doubt it will also be a top flite mount, but if you can wait, I'd hold off until there's some press on the MX beyond the beta testing.

David


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jmiele
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: BlueGrass]
      #4460536 - 03/19/11 07:02 PM

Quote:

Besides, the longevity of these class of mounts may outlast most of the current owners ....




Can't disagree with that.

Given their history I'm sure the MX will be an excellent mount both visually and from an AP standpoint. The AP 900 "is" excellent. Either one can do the job so buy an MX and tell us all about it It will cost less given some of the additional weights you don't need to purchase. One question is can you live with the difference in load capacity. I know for me the TOA-150 with finder and TAK rings flirts with 50 lbs.... So a could never go with an MX.

Joe


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Peter in Reno
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: jmiele]
      #4460704 - 03/19/11 08:41 PM

My interest is astro-photography. If my CPC mount ever fails for good beyond repair or I get tired of poor tracking and huge Dec backlash, I am looking for high end GEM mount that will last my lifetime. I have seen fantastic images taken with AP and larger Paramount ME and I would also like the best bang for the buck as well. For comparison purpose between AP and MX, I was basically asking owners of Paramount ME to compare to AP900 because MX is not yet ready for delivery and MX is very close if not identical to ME.

I didn't realize that Paramount mounts cannot work without a computer. What is the purpose of MX "paddle"? Can the "paddle" work without a computer?

Portability is also important to me.

Peter

Edited by Peter in Reno (03/19/11 08:49 PM)


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frolinmod
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Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: skybsd]
      #4460734 - 03/19/11 09:03 PM

Quote:

Computer dies = no Paramount



The Paramount is primarily a rock solid imaging platform, hence the need for a computer is not usually any sort of problem. Since a computer is needed for imaging, if you lose the computer you're not going to be doing any imaging anyway, so it's usually a moot point.

Note that I myself would not want to operate a Paramount without at least some sort of supported imager for doing the polar alignment and some minimal data collection and modeling for improved pointing accuracy. Sure you can do it by eye, but it goes much faster and easier when automated.

Anyone purchasing a Paramount MX for field use had best remember to save a little money for a small laptop computer to run it. Not an old laptop computer either. A modern laptop computer, at least a Core I5 with non-Intel graphics, is required to run TheSkyX well. The older less cpu and graphics intensive TheSky6 software cannot be used to run a Paramount MX. Or you can use a MAC, but alas I'm not familiar with MAC hardware. Shame on me.

I'd advise anyone looking to purchase Software Bisque's new $2000 tripod to at least take a look at Rob Miller's excellent series of tripods at about half that price (see his ads in the tripods classifieds area on Astromart) before making a final decision.

Past performance may not be an indicator of future performance, but when it comes to support, the Bisque brothers have gone above and beyond for me on numerous occasions over the last two decades. They have never let me down. Those guys deserve a medal for outstanding support. I'm not sure if or why anyone would be thinking negatively about them in that regard.


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frolinmod
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Loc: Southern California
Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4460747 - 03/19/11 09:10 PM

Quote:

What is the purpose of MX "paddle"? Can the "paddle" work without a computer?



The paddle on the ME is just a simple resistive joystick. A little too simple if you ask me. The internals rust too easily and it's an expensive part to replace. The ME joystick can be used to home the mount and to manually slew the mount. It also has a little red LED on it and a switch to turn the LED on and off. I very rarely use it. In my experience, the ME is best used without its joystick because if the joystick isn't centered or gets out of calibration, it'll cause you headaches. (It's easy to calibrate though.)

I've read that the MX paddle is redesigned, perhaps it uses a hall effect joystick and maybe it's better weather sealed. I don't know.


Quote:

Portability is also important to me.



The MX is highly portable. Heck, the ME is portable. The MX is just even more portable.


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Peter in Reno
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Loc: Reno, NV
Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: frolinmod]
      #4460775 - 03/19/11 09:25 PM

What does the joystick do? Do you have images of the paddle? What does the paddle do? Does it have buttons and display in addition to joystick? Does it still require a computer?

Thanks,
Peter


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skybsd
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4460790 - 03/19/11 09:27 PM

Hi Peter,
Good to hear from you..,

Quote:

My interest is astro-photography.





Excellent - thanks for clarifying this.., much appreciated..,


Quote:

If my CPC mount ever fails for good beyond repair or I get tired of poor tracking and huge Dec backlash, I am looking for high end GEM mount that will last my lifetime. I have seen fantastic images taken with AP and larger Paramount ME and I would also like the best bang for the buck as well.





Well., the "forever mount quest" is a path that we tend to set off on at some point in this hobby.

What I found absolutely important for mine, is to focus solely on my requirements, rather than product - awful hard to do, I know - but I found that once I drew up a prioritized list of requirements, it became very easy to just let the numbers do the talking - without sentiment and emotion., if that makes sense.

If you haven't done so, as yet - you'd want to establish first of all THE BUDGET - it helps prevent the inevitable wishful dreaming that really only inhibits and delays your impartially arriving at a decision


Quote:

For comparison purpose between AP and MX, I was basically asking owners of Paramount ME to compare to AP900 because MX is not yet ready for delivery and MX is very close if not identical to ME.

I didn't realize that Paramount mounts cannot work without a computer. What is the purpose of MX "paddle"? Can the "paddle" work without a computer?

Portability is also important to me.




The SB Paramount ME Documentation Resources provides a lot of information about the ME / MX and how it works - its important that you review these to ensure that you understand what the Paramount can do, the requirements for using a Paramount mount and what the Paramount can NOT do.

The joystick included with Paramount mounts is used only to home the mount and slew the mount - that's pretty much all it does - see The Paramount ME Users' Guide, Pages 35, 36 for more information - that's a 7.6MB download, by the way.

The paddle does not have a display that shows a list of available mount operations like a traditional hand-controller (like a G11, AP, or Celestron) and the joystick cannot be used to, for instance, "tell" the mount to execute a GoTo operation to a specified object, or anything like that..,

The software supplied to operate the Paramount are: -
TheSky6™ Professional Edition
CCDSoft™ CCD Astronomy Software (includes Direct Guide™)
TPoint™ Telescope Pointing Analysis Software (includes ProTrack™)
Orchestrate™ Scripting Software
IAClient™
IAServer™
MKS 4000 USB Driver Installer (Must join and sign in to the Software Bisque Web Site to access this resource.)

The above list requires the use of a computer.

But I don't want to give you the wrong impression here.., the Paramount ME is a top quality mount that is used in lots of facilities around the world - its just that it was not designed to primarily meet MY requirements.

The deal-breakers for me were: -

Computer is required for mount operation
Previously advertised native remote connectivity was in reality, not the case - Product documentation no now longer use this description, now its simply called a robotic mount

I see you mentioned portability as a factor for you - you therefore need to make sure to read up on the Paramount's power requirements, okay?

Hope that helps..,

Regards,

skybsd


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frolinmod
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: skybsd]
      #4460822 - 03/19/11 09:42 PM

Quote:

make sure to read up on the Paramount's power requirements, okay?



Both the ME and the MX come with an AC to DC adapter which accepts 110/220VAC and outputs 48VDC. So you need a small inexpensive inverter to run it off a 12V battery. The actual wattage requirements are minimal. No big deal really.

Note that the MX comes with a totally different software suite than the ME comes with (or came with). You don't get the older "legacy" stuff with the MX.


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Peter in Reno
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: frolinmod]
      #4461055 - 03/20/11 12:39 AM

48V is a very strange power requirement. If the power supply breaks, it costs a whopping $125 to replace.

http://www.bisque.com/sc/shops/store/paramount-me-power-supply.aspx

Peter


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jmiele
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4461105 - 03/20/11 01:46 AM

Just a note - the web site states 90 lbs capacity for the MX. I thought someone said it was 50 lbs earlier in the thread. So it would carry the TOA-150 and gear with easy. I stand corrected It says nothing about the hand control other than it's backwards compatible with the ME paddle.
Joe


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Peter in Reno
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 new [Re: jmiele]
      #4461135 - 03/20/11 02:16 AM

Thanks for the clarification. The mount weighs 50lbs which is not too bad for portability.

I am curious. After the mount and scope is setup and ready, for an experienced Paramount mount user, what would be a typical time to take from polar alignment to star alignments/pointing model to start of imaging and autoguiding?

I currently own a CPC0800 and I have been fairly successful imaging (see my images in Gallery in my signature) despite pretty high light pollution in my area. After the scope/tripod is setup, it typically takes me up to 30 minutes from start of star alignments to polar alignment using Celestron's cool All Star Polar Alignment to start of imaging/autoguiding. Can I do this quickly with Paramount ME/MX assuming I am an expert with Paramount mount for portable setup?

Peter


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skybsd
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Re: Paramount MX vs Astro-Physics AP900 [Re: frolinmod]
      #4461247 - 03/20/11 06:04 AM

Hi,
Good to hear from you.,

Quote:

Quote:

make sure to read up on the Paramount's power requirements, okay?



Both the ME and the MX come with an AC to DC adapter which accepts 110/220VAC and outputs 48VDC. So you need a small inexpensive inverter to run it off a 12V battery. The actual wattage requirements are minimal. No big deal really.





I take your point that inverters are available, but my advise to the OP to make sure to be aware of the power requirements are based on the fact that portability is important to them.

Running power off a battery via an inverter always comes with a cost during conversion and this needs to be borne in mind when planning power capacity for use in the field. That's all..,


Quote:

Note that the MX comes with a totally different software suite than the ME comes with (or came with). You don't get the older "legacy" stuff with the MX.




Ahh.., thanks for reminding me..,

Peter: SB Do intend for a different hand controller for the MX - the fact that they're calling it a "hand paddle" (rather than a joystick) is significant.

That said, I did try to get more details from SB about what this new hand paddle's capabilities are in relation to whether or not a computer will be necessary to full operate the PMX - and all I got back was "the supplied TheSkyX Professional Edition" will still be needed to operate the PMX".

frolinmod, perhaps you have more inside information?

Thanks.

Regards,

skybsd


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