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Footbag
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AP Mach1 and general GEM questions...
      #4526979 - 04/18/11 05:25 PM

So I've had this inkling to upgrade my wedge-mounted CPC-800 to a GEM. I do 99% imaging, but at this point, I think I'm hitting the limitations of my mount. For example, I'd love to get another scope in the 900mm focal length range, but would have no way to mount it to my CPC. I have a WO66, rings and counterweights, but I know it won't handle a 10LB plus scope piggybacked. I'm also a bit frustrated with the corners of my fields on the CPC-800. Even when I use a FR@6.3 I get some coma. As well, I have the older Celestron wedge, and it is extremely poorly designed. I cannot adjust the mount in increments that would allow me to drift align.

So I went to NEAF and got to do some "research". I saw all of the offerings that could fit my potential future optics. I have to say that the AP Mach1 is what really caught my eye. It should be able to handle any optics that might come my way, and it really seems to be best in class.

Now I do have a guiding setup, and would probably use it on the Mach1. I don't know which OTA's I want yet, but would like to cover a few different focal lengths including a widefield scope, a mid FL and a long SCT or similar FL. This mount should be able to handle all of the above.

So my questions are...

Is a mount like the Mach1 capable of long exposures 5-10m unguided? I have a guiding setup, but could save some setup time if it was unnecessary.

Would a better GEM, like the Mach1 have a quicker setup time? It is currently extremely difficult to make the minor adjustments to my wedge to achieve perfect polar alignment. I'd say my off-site setup time is 45m. This is without a drift align.

With a guided setup, how important is the mounts accuracy? I PEMpro'ed my CPC and it has a resolution of 17 arcsec/pixel. 12 arcsec/pixel after I used PEC. This seemed to be better then most GEMs in the $1500 range and that is why I feel like it wouldn't be much of an upgrade to go to one of the mounts in the $1500 class(CGEM, IEQ45, etc...) Of course I would be able to drift align with them.

Now it's quite possible I could cheap out, and buy Celestron's new HD pro wedge. After seeing it in person, it looks much more stable then my wedge, and it also looks like it would put my drift align issues to rest, but doesn't allow me to add or piggyback a larger scope. For the $400, it's pretty cheap compared to my other options.

Coming from a fork mount, I've never had to meridian flip, and I like the idea that the Mach1 can track well past the meridian.

Sorry if this is dragging on, but to reiterate there are a few things I'd like to get out of the new setup.
1. Scalable - the ability to use different OTA's
2. Faster setup including an accurate polar alignment
3. Easily transportable - the Mach1 has a great capacity to weight ratio and breaks down to be lighter then my CPC-setup.

If anyone can help with some suggestions or push me in one direction or the other I'd appreciate it.


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Geo.
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4527316 - 04/18/11 07:33 PM

No mount can expose 5-10' unguided. A minute of two at best. Tom Mathis showed me PEC the chart of his MI-1250 with the optional high precision encoders. This is a $60K mount. He guarantees peak to peak error is less than 5 arc seconds. Anyone else that makes similar or better claims in a geared mount is blowing smoke. Think you'd be happy with the Mach1, but a GM-8 might do the job for less.

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Tim C
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4527331 - 04/18/11 07:40 PM

Hi Adam,

If you want to use different OTAs then you would benefit greatly by moving to a GEM. You can shoot a lot of wonderful stuff using a refractor in the 700 - 900mm range. You can't do better than a Mach 1 in that weight class and the microscopic PE of a Mach 1 will make a very noticeable difference vs. a mount with 20 to 30 seconds PE. For quick set up including polar alignment in a high end mount, I think the Tak EM200 can't be beat because of the super accurate polar scope (I used to own one). I was usually ready to image (polar aligned, guider calibrated, focused perfectly) before it was totally dark. However, the Mach 1 has an even lower PE even before periodic error correction is applied. If you can swing it, I don't see how you would regret a Mach 1.

One thing about an EM200 is that they don't hold their value vs. the new price quite as well as an AP mount and you can get one for around $4,200 used including all accessories. Something to consider if you might be interested in a middle ground.

Edited by Tim C (04/18/11 07:45 PM)


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Footbag
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Tim C]
      #4527368 - 04/18/11 07:52 PM

Thanks for the tips. I am also considering a G-11, I think I want a little more room to grow then the GM-8 can offer. Also, my club owns a G-11 that we are considering a Gemini II upgrade on. I would like to play around with Gemini II before I decide, but I think the club is waiting until there is a bit more out there about the new Gemini.

That 700-900mm range is what I'm really missing right now. That is really the reason for my desire to get a new mount.

How important a good PE is if I'm guiding anyways?


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gillmj24
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4527703 - 04/18/11 09:49 PM

At low focal lengths and a light tube the mach 1 can do unguided subs for perhaps longer than 10 minutes. What little PE the AP mounts have is really smooth. That's what you're getting (among other things) with the top end mounts.

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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: gillmj24]
      #4527750 - 04/18/11 10:06 PM

I don't know about how long you can go unguided, but the Mach 1 is a premier mount. The G11 is a good mount, but not in the same class. Hind sight being 20/20, I should've opted for the Tak EM400 which was my other choice. I chose the MI250 because of Larry's reputation and the MI250s excellent track record. However, now MI250 is no longer a viable entity.

At any rate, AP is in for the long haul and will serve you well. There is also the used route. I've seen a Tak NJP pop up from time to time. Arguably, the best 70lb rated mount out there. It's discontinued, but Tak is, as is AP, in for the long haul.

For a mount junkie like me, this is my kind of thread.

David


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lightyear44
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #4527803 - 04/18/11 10:31 PM

Adam. While you were at NEAF you likely noticed the ASA mounts. They are capable of 15-20 min. unguided shots. I've seen images on CN, and had chats with a couple of users who have done it, imaging with Newts. The set-up is a bit long at first, but with practice, it's not too bad. But also a big learning curve at the start. I suspect in 5 years, they will be more beginner friendly. -David.

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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Geo.]
      #4527924 - 04/18/11 11:23 PM

Quote:

No mount can expose 5-10' unguided. A minute of two at best. Tom Mathis showed me PEC the chart of his MI-1250 with the optional high precision encoders. This is a $60K mount. He guarantees peak to peak error is less than 5 arc seconds. Anyone else that makes similar or better claims in a geared mount is blowing smoke. Think you'd be happy with the Mach1, but a GM-8 might do the job for less.




Really? How about an AP3600? 5 arc-sec peak to peak out of the box - mechanical precision - guaranteed. Add on the firmware PEC and it can easily get into the sub 1.5 arc-sec range or less. A friend has one, fully loaded with all the accessories. Very nice mount with incredible tracking. And yes, he routinely runs it without tracking for 3 to 10 plus minute images. My AP1200 was stated as 5 arc-sec or less from the factory. It routinely gives me under 1.6 arc-sec peak to peak without PEC enabled. Maybe this is an anomaly but it is what it is. I generally run 20 or 30 minute subs but I guide. Atmospheric refraction makes this necessary. My AP900 isn't quite as good. It gives me about 4.3 peak to peak without PEC. One of these days maybe I'll record some PEC correction curves for it, or maybe not. I just guide with it too. At any rate, there are high precision mounts that can do exactly what you say they cannot. I am certain that there are some of the Takahashi mounts capable of the same. No BS and no smoke.


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jmiele
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Geo.]
      #4528017 - 04/19/11 12:11 AM

Quote:

No mount can expose 5-10' unguided. A minute of two at best. Tom Mathis showed me PEC the chart of his MI-1250 with the optional high precision encoders. This is a $60K mount. He guarantees peak to peak error is less than 5 arc seconds. Anyone else that makes similar or better claims in a geared mount is blowing smoke. Think you'd be happy with the Mach1, but a GM-8 might do the job for less.




Thats some statement to make. A Mach I and GM-8 are not even close to being in the same league.

1) 5-10 minute un-guided subs would depend on FL used. However, very possible on ANY AP mount thats well polar alinged and PEC corrected.

2) As to a 60K mount vs. a 10K mount - incremental improvment shows up big time as you move from 1k-10K mounts. From there on up the gains are small, very small.

Making such bold statements, in this case I think is inappropriate.You are entitled to your opinion, however, I know many here and elsewhere have done 5+ minute un-guided subs. The ME mounts do it everyday.

BTW, you can go to Arnie Rosners site "Grass Roots Telescope Rentals" and do 5 minute unguided subs tonight with a 300 Mewlon and get sub arc second accuracy.

Smoke Blown.......... Joe


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D. Perry
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #4528051 - 04/19/11 12:27 AM

Hi Adam,

The Mach1GTO is the premier mount for its class. As long as you come in with the right expectations, you can't go wrong.

Speaking of which, you should never buy a mount with the expectation of not guiding. It can be done with mounts like the ASA DDM60/85, but those are even more expensive, large, and robust mounts that require a computer and special software to run. It can also be done with mounts like the Mach1GTO, AP900/1200, Paramount ME, MI-250, MI-500, etc., but never out of the box. It requires extremely accurate polar alignment, lots of PEC training, correction for atmospheric refraction, and even then you won't always be able to get away with 5-10 minutes at long focal lengths.

The sign of a quality mount isn't just the total amount of PE. It's also the regularity, smoothness, and "slowness" of the PE. Fork-mounted SCTs from Celestron and Meade are difficult imaging platforms because their tracking errors are not only large, but also abrupt and fast. You can get some great images from those scope/mount combos but, generally speaking, a much higher percentage of subexposures must be discarded due to tracking errors (if you're looking to create really high quality images) compared to images taken with a high quality GEM.

The beauty of a GEM is that it's easy to change scopes. On the Mach1GTO, you can carry anything from a small refractor to a 10" RC.

You've probably heard this a million times but it's worth repeating... the mount is the foundation on which everything else rides. If you start with a solid, accurate mount, everything else is sooooo much easier. It fades to the background and just works, which lets you focus on the other aspects of imaging. If you spend more money on trying to improve the fork mount, you'll just be wasting money that could be better spent on a real solution.

HTH. Just my 2 cents.

Best,


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: D. Perry]
      #4528116 - 04/19/11 01:19 AM

Quote:

Hi Adam,

The Mach1GTO is the premier mount for its class. As long as you come in with the right expectations, you can't go wrong.

Speaking of which, you should never buy a mount with the expectation of not guiding. It can be done with mounts like the ASA DDM60/85, but those are even more expensive, large, and robust mounts that require a computer and special software to run. It can also be done with mounts like the Mach1GTO, AP900/1200, Paramount ME, MI-250, MI-500, etc., but never out of the box. It requires extremely accurate polar alignment, lots of PEC training, correction for atmospheric refraction, and even then you won't always be able to get away with 5-10 minutes at long focal lengths.

The sign of a quality mount isn't just the total amount of PE. It's also the regularity, smoothness, and "slowness" of the PE. Fork-mounted SCTs from Celestron and Meade are difficult imaging platforms because their tracking errors are not only large, but also abrupt and fast. You can get some great images from those scope/mount combos but, generally speaking, a much higher percentage of subexposures must be discarded due to tracking errors (if you're looking to create really high quality images) compared to images taken with a high quality GEM.

The beauty of a GEM is that it's easy to change scopes. On the Mach1GTO, you can carry anything from a small refractor to a 10" RC.

You've probably heard this a million times but it's worth repeating... the mount is the foundation on which everything else rides. If you start with a solid, accurate mount, everything else is sooooo much easier. It fades to the background and just works, which lets you focus on the other aspects of imaging. If you spend more money on trying to improve the fork mount, you'll just be wasting money that could be better spent on a real solution.

HTH. Just my 2 cents.

Best,




+1


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BlueGrass
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4528172 - 04/19/11 02:19 AM

I agree. I spent over a year working with my CGEM, trying to get it to accurately and repeatedly guide well. I've had some success but was always working out balance issues when I changed setups or trying various settings in Phd to improve it's guiding performance. Once I got my Mach1, the problems simply disappeared. So far, its performance has been as expected. It truly just moves into the background and lets you concentrate on what you're imaging not on how the mount is performing. I've yet to run a PemPro PEC session or to use the factory PEC data. Once I gain more experience with the mount, I'll do this. For my first few nights of imaging though, I've simply done a 3 to 4 star polar alignment, calibrated Phd with its default settings and that was it. Pretty simple, quick and for a basic alignment, very accurate. These mounts give you something lesser mounts have to be trained to do, if possible. Repeatable, excellent performance and guiding out of the box.

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skybsd
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4528219 - 04/19/11 03:20 AM

Hello,

Quote:

Thanks for the tips. I am also considering a G-11, I think I want a little more room to grow then the GM-8 can offer. Also, my club owns a G-11 that we are considering a Gemini II upgrade on. I would like to play around with Gemini II before I decide, but I think the club is waiting until there is a bit more out there about the new Gemini.

That 700-900mm range is what I'm really missing right now. That is really the reason for my desire to get a new mount.





Of late, there are more and more folks in this same dilemma concerning the unknowns and uncertainties of the Gemini-II. The merits of the AP Mach-1 GTO are well known and much data is out there that speaks to its capabilities - as well as its PRICE.

Make no mistake about it - There is no free lunch!

If your budget / financial comfort requirements are such that you need to make savings on this purchase, by looking at alternatives like the G11 - you may consider reaching out to the Yahoo Losmandy Owners' and Gemini Users' groups to keep abreast of progress and feedback from ongoing software testing. Then (if you're like me) you'd probably want to wait to see reviews from early adopters who get shipped first-run code before making a decision.

Question for you, though - does a software upgraded G11 match an AP Mach-1 GTO or Tak for your requirements?

Regards,

skybsd


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Paul G
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Geo.]
      #4528317 - 04/19/11 06:17 AM

Quote:

No mount can expose 5-10' unguided. A minute of two at best. Tom Mathis showed me PEC the chart of his MI-1250 with the optional high precision encoders. This is a $60K mount. He guarantees peak to peak error is less than 5 arc seconds. Anyone else that makes similar or better claims in a geared mount is blowing smoke. Think you'd be happy with the Mach1, but a GM-8 might do the job for less.




I want some of your smoke. Both the AP 1200 and the 3600 are guaranteed better than 5 arc seconds peak to peak without PEC, most are better than that.


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Footbag
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Paul G]
      #4528495 - 04/19/11 08:53 AM

Wow. Lots of great info here. Thanks.

I see a used Mach1 tempting me on astromart, but I don't think I could jump in that quickly. Plus, I haven't even considered what the primary optics would be for this mount.

I live in a red zone, so what I'm really looking forward to is taking it on the road to darker skies or attempting some narrow-band imaging from my driveway. When I read about these narrowband guys getting 30 minute subs on their AP, I just think "how?". But I can see that it is in a class of its own.

Is it possible to get that type of performance on one of the wooden piers? OR is the upgrade to the portable pier or Eagle a must?



I am a member of the Losmandy group and have been watching the G-11 GII for a few months now. Like I said earlier, I think my club is going to go ahead with one. I will definitely wait to really consider the Mach1 until after I spend some time on the new G11.


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coz
sage


Reged: 08/25/10

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4528556 - 04/19/11 09:31 AM

I'm thinking about PWT's Pinnacle portable pier as an alternate to AP's. They look awesome and very portable.

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jmiele
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: coz]
      #4528819 - 04/19/11 11:26 AM

The AP Pier is VERY stable but takes some breakdown and setp time. It also needs a pretty much level surface to setup on... Joe

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Footbag
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: jmiele]
      #4528878 - 04/19/11 11:48 AM

Quote:

The AP Pier is VERY stable but takes some breakdown and setp time. It also needs a pretty much level surface to setup on... Joe




That is the one with the cables right? I watched someone setup one and he had a bit of difficulty on an unlevel surface. That may pose a problem.


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vahe
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4528967 - 04/19/11 12:13 PM

Speaking of Mach 1 does anyone here have the Eagle Fording Pier designed specifically for this mount?
Impressions, comments, stability and anything else about this pier would be appreciated.

Vahe


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skybsd
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: coz]
      #4529068 - 04/19/11 12:41 PM

Quote:

I'm thinking about PWT's Pinnacle portable pier as an alternate to AP's. They look awesome and very portable.




The PWT Pinnacles are great - but getting one seems nigh on impossible!

Regards,

skybsd


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drksky
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: vahe]
      #4529097 - 04/19/11 12:51 PM

Quote:

Speaking of Mach 1 does anyone here have the Eagle Fording Pier designed specifically for this mount?
Impressions, comments, stability and anything else about this pier would be appreciated.

Vahe




Here is a thread from a couple months back from Bluegrass who bought a Mach-1/Eagle combination. He seemed pretty happy with it. I'm betting a PM to him would get the information you're after.


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Duncan Kitchin
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4529757 - 04/19/11 05:24 PM

Quote:

Quote:

The AP Pier is VERY stable but takes some breakdown and setp time. It also needs a pretty much level surface to setup on... Joe




That is the one with the cables right? I watched someone setup one and he had a bit of difficulty on an unlevel surface. That may pose a problem.




Thanks for that - I hadn't thought about the level surface issue. Does anybody have any impressions of the AP wooden tripod?

Regards & Clear Skies
Duncan


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RAKing
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: drksky]
      #4529775 - 04/19/11 05:30 PM

I also have an Eagle pier under my Mach 1 and it works as well as advertised.

I got my Mach 1 a couple years ago and used it on an A-P Portable Pier, then a Losmandy tripod. These worked fine and I never worried too much about the 'uneven' ground under the Pier. I finally saved enough pennies to get the Eagle early this year and it works as well as either of its predecessors. The Eagle is light, easy to move, easy to setup, and it's just as stable. I use it for visual astronomy under my C11 and it can easily handle a C8/AT6RC combo side by side with an AT72 on top.

I don't want to sound like an A-P fanboy, but everything I have ever purchased from them has looked great and worked well, right out of the box.

Ron


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skybsd
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: RAKing]
      #4529799 - 04/19/11 05:37 PM

Quote:

I don't want to sound like an A-P fanboy, but everything I have ever purchased from them has looked great and worked well, right out of the box.




No-one ever got called a fanboy for telling the truth, Ron

Regards,

skybsd


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JimP
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: skybsd]
      #4529866 - 04/19/11 05:54 PM

How about eyepiece height using a refractor and the Eagle mount? Anyone have any experience with that?

Jim


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RAKing
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: JimP]
      #4529944 - 04/19/11 06:24 PM Attachment (24 downloads)

Quote:

How about eyepiece height using a refractor and the Eagle mount? Anyone have any experience with that?

Jim




Yes - I have the 8 inch extension and it allows me to use the 6 inch f/8 achro with a minimum of kneeling and NO crawling.

Ron


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mewmartigan
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/02/08

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: RAKing]
      #4530003 - 04/19/11 06:51 PM

I drooled over the Mach1 at NEAF and it had the 8" extension on top of the Eagle. I think without the extension, its probably too low for comfortable visual use.

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Scott99
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: mewmartigan]
      #4530379 - 04/19/11 09:50 PM

I'm usually taking the mach1 to remote dark-sky areas for visual use w/ 6 inch refractor. I like the Berlebach Planet wood tripod best for this sort of use.

It only weights about 20 pounds for transport, you can adjust the mounting height easily every time you set up the tripod, very easy to level on uneven ground as well. I found it to be more stable and better quality than the AP wood tripod. very user-friendly, has huge tray for eyepieces & keypads, etc.


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BlueGrass
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: vahe]
      #4530454 - 04/19/11 10:32 PM Attachment (41 downloads)

As Ron says, for visual you really do need the extension tube. The standard Eagle is fine for AP. After the startup alignment, not much need to look through an eyepiece anyway. There are a number of nice tripods and piers for the Mach1, most if not all of them, cheaper. The Eagle is strong, relatively light weight, adjustable and very stable. It was designed with some serious thought to its engineering and functionality. The various add-on trays simply slip on and off their attachment points. The servo controller attaches very quickly to its bracket. All in all, I can't think of anything I'd improve other than for the price, AP could have included the extension ... ... but that's just me ...

This is a quick setup picture taken before it got all messed up with cables, cameras, and stuff ...

Edited by BlueGrass (04/19/11 10:48 PM)


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Starhawk
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: BlueGrass]
      #4531152 - 04/20/11 09:43 AM

I love the prayer-rug ground cloth. It looks a lot better than a tarp from walmart.

-Rich


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Footbag
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Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Starhawk]
      #4531202 - 04/20/11 10:03 AM

I personally loved the look of the Eagle pier, and I think I'd go without the extension. I rarely use my setup visually, and I'd rather not lift any scope higher then I have to.

If all of the planets line up, I may try and pull the trigger for my birthday in June. It looks like the Mach1 on astromart sold.

LOL. I use an oriental rug under my setup as well.


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: RAKing]
      #4531355 - 04/20/11 11:32 AM

Quote:


I don't want to sound like an A-P fanboy, but everything I have ever purchased from them has looked great and worked well, right out of the box.

Ron




If that isn't a reason to be a fan then I don't know what is. I have a LOT of AP stuff. Yes, I AM an Astro-Physics zealot! I have been into astronomy for a long, long time and went through all the stages. For years I could never really understand the AP fans, right up until I started buying a few accessories such as quick release finder mounts, 2 inch adapters, extension tubes, etc in the late 90's to use on the Dobsonians I was using and building. One day I decided to convert my 16 to a Newtonian and put my name down for an AP1200 and I added my name shortly thereafter for an AP400 and AP600 as well. A couple of years later I received my AP1200. Magnificent. There are not enough words available to describe how it just disappears and works. Since then I have become far more than an AP fan.

The one item I never liked were the AP portable piers. While very effective, transportable and rigid, they just have far too many parts to keep track of when transporting.

Over the years I have been looking at tripods and piers and I have gone through a lot of them as well. Tiffen, Berlebach, Gitzo for the smaller lightweight gear, ATS, PWT Monolith for the heavyweight gear, but I was never overly happy. Some of the lightweight stuff is just way too lightweight and turns out to be shake and vibration prone. Some of the slightly medioum stuff such as the Berlebach was more rigid but at 22 plus pounds I was always looking for something lighter for my AP400 or Mach1.

The really heavy stuff was just that, really heavy, but the Monolith is a work of industrial art and is almost worth keeping just because of that. Shahin was going to make a lightweight tripod/pier and I waited for close to forever for a Pinnacle or Monolith LT from PWT but after 4 or 5 years, with delay after delay, re-design after re-design, I knew it just wasn't going to happen.

In the meantime, AP came out with their Eagle pier/tripod. I don't know why, but I never did like the looks of it (so much for being an AP zealot) so the search continued.

Just within the past year I have discovered Rob Miller's line-up of tripods. Now this is NICE stuff. I would strongly suggest looking into the TRIxxL where xx is the leg length in inches for the Mach1 or the TRIxxM for the Mach1 or AP900/1200. Incredibly lightweight, solid, they look great and work extremely well.

I have owned a TRI36L for about six months and use an AP400 or Mach1GTO with it; I have also had a TRI36M for about two months now and use the Mach1 or AP900 with it. Both are right up there with the absolute best there is. Two versions of the feet (a regular and a precision) are being made with the same foot design and size to fit on all three of the main mount types, the light, medium and heavy. The feet are essentially finished and off for anodizing as I write this and should be finished up and in my hands for review within a month. Pier extensions are designed and on the mill being made. I might have them at the same time or just a bit later than the feet. Rob does superb machining. Get in touch with him through the Catamount Systems website. He knows he has to get web pages up about all this but he is so busy designing, machining and building that he has no time for it. He wants to have the parts ready to go, off the shelf with a proper webpage ordering system before he does any more significant advertising. If you want one of the very best tripods there is available right now, check his stuff out! Did I mention how light these tripods are? The TRI36L is just over 9 pounds. The TRI36M is just over 13 pounds. I AM a fan! FANtastic gear at fantastic prices!


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skybsd
Post Laureate
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Reged: 02/01/08

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4531383 - 04/20/11 11:45 AM

Hello,
Just wanted to mention that I too am intrigued by Rob Miller's tripods..,

I've been in touch with him over the past few weeks and am planning on ordering one for my AP mount too.

The only thing I'm a little concerned about is the somewhat continuous development on the leveling feet designs.., I did also have a flag over the lack of a "proper" website for pricing and specification data, but I'm aware that he's super busy there - again with design and tripod builds.

Will hope to order from the next production run if he's got his designs and product lines set.

Which colour scheme(s) did you get for your AP mounts?

Regards,

skysbd


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Peter in Reno
Postmaster
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Reged: 07/15/08

Loc: Reno, NV
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: skybsd]
      #4531417 - 04/20/11 12:00 PM

I found Rob Miller's tripods at:

http://www.astromart.com/classifieds/details.asp?classified_id=717189#photos

I can't figure out how to level their tripods on a uneven surface. It says it will accommodate up to 4" of uneven ground.

Peter


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coz
sage


Reged: 08/25/10

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4531461 - 04/20/11 12:15 PM

I think I'm going to try the PWT Pinnacle. I believe they are ready now and I like the design and strength.

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Footbag
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/13/09

Loc: Scranton, PA
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4531468 - 04/20/11 12:18 PM

Quote:

I found Rob Miller's tripods at:

http://www.astromart.com/classifieds/details.asp?classified_id=717189#photos

I can't figure out how to level their tripods on a uneven surface. It says it will accommodate up to 4" of uneven ground.

Peter




I was looking at the same thing. The price and weight is very tempting, but I cannot figure out how you would level it.

Maybe this?

Seems like it won't have as many increments of adjustment as would be necessary.

Edited by Footbag (04/20/11 12:26 PM)


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skybsd
Post Laureate
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Reged: 02/01/08

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #4531477 - 04/20/11 12:20 PM

Hi Peter,

Quote:

I found Rob Miller's tripods at:

http://www.astromart.com/classifieds/details.asp?classified_id=717189#photos

I can't figure out how to level their tripods on a uneven surface. It says it will accommodate up to 4" of uneven ground.




I spoke to Rob at length about this tripods.., as I have a requirement for individual tripod leg height adjustability myself.

Basically, the native adjustment his tripod has is the ability to move the tripod legs closer / further away in order to accommodate uneven terrain.

As I'm not keen on this as a solution, we then moved onto his plans for the leg levelers of which there are two designs.

After my own experiences with PWTEC, I prefer to wait to actually see these products in general release before committing though, but you may want to reach out to him as he's quite accessible, really.

Hope that helps..,

Regards,

skybsd


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Geo.
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4531574 - 04/20/11 01:04 PM

Quote:

Really? How about an AP3600? 5 arc-sec peak to peak out of the box - mechanical precision - guaranteed. Add on the firmware PEC and it can easily get into the sub 1.5 arc-sec range or less.



I'd hope that a $60K mount would perform well. but as you admit ("Atmospheric refraction makes this [guiding] necessary."]. There a several factors that come into play in AP from optical tube flexure to wind pressure. Mount accuracy can't deal with these alone. Yes, SBIG will sell you a cam without a guiding chip, but that doen't mean they don't expect you to guide.

As for the AP1200, I'd be in line for one the 80 AP1200s now in production except I had to send half the price off to the IRS!


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mewmartigan
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/02/08

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Geo.]
      #4531617 - 04/20/11 01:17 PM

I have also ordered a tripod from Rob Miller for my upcoming Mach1. The tripod fits very nicely between the AP portable pier and the Eagle for price and portability. I am expecting mine in the next few weeks.

For those of you that were at NEAF, I noticed that the Bisque guys had their Paramount MX on one of Rob's tripods.

Edited by mewmartigan (04/20/11 03:29 PM)


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: skybsd]
      #4531894 - 04/20/11 03:07 PM

Quote:

Hello,
Just wanted to mention that I too am intrigued by Rob Miller's tripods..,

I've been in touch with him over the past few weeks and am planning on ordering one for my AP mount too.

The only thing I'm a little concerned about is the somewhat continuous development on the leveling feet designs.., I did also have a flag over the lack of a "proper" website for pricing and specification data, but I'm aware that he's super busy there - again with design and tripod builds.

Will hope to order from the next production run if he's got his designs and product lines set.

Which colour scheme(s) did you get for your AP mounts?

Regards,

skysbd




I have an all black TRI36M and a two-tone black and silver TRI36L.

Rob is extremely busy. I have problems getting to speak with him as well so I tend not to bother him. He is busy building this new business and I really don't need to take up his time. Not a big deal though. I send him pictures, sketches, and thoughts via e-mail and he responds when he gets an opportunity - usually via a phone call, but sometimes with sketches, CAD drawings, and photos via e-mail when necessary. Rob said he is currently starting his second run of all three types, concentrating on the TRI36L and TRI36M to keep them in stock and building parts for custom height orders. He did a run of 60 total initially, 20 of each type which have been sold except for a couple of remaining TRI36H set up for the Bisque Paramount. He is working on some custom height models right now while designing and building the foot-pad leveling parts and the pier top extensions. Next run is for another 60 tripods primarily of the L and M models.

The design of the footpads has changed slightly from the first planned types as he figured out new and better ways to both make them and make them work. The extensions have also changed quite a bit from the first designs, and all for the better as far as I can see. Like he says though, he wants to do them right the first time so that he can just concentrate an getting them made and in stock. He doesn't want to have a bunch of slightly different modifications to have to deal with in the future. Right now I can tell you that the leveling footpads look superb on paper.

As always, other things get in the way of plans too, so the timing has been delayed a bit here and there. Closure of a couple of the anodizing shops he was using and changes at the remaining shop are making for delays. What used to take as little as several hours now takes 10 days or more. The weather isn't the best either. While he hasn't been hit with tornadoes, there have been some pretty vicious storms giving the area grief which impacts everything in some way.

Why am I pushing these tripods? Because they are the best innovation in the astro biz lately in my opinion. The design is not new, in fact they are quite old designs, see the Catamount web page; but they are newly executed with a lot of thought into how to make it work properly and yet be as light as a feather. When a portable pier is required, I don't really see that there is any real choice other than one of these.


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4531934 - 04/20/11 03:24 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I found Rob Miller's tripods at:

http://www.astromart.com/classifieds/details.asp?classified_id=717189#photos

I can't figure out how to level their tripods on a uneven surface. It says it will accommodate up to 4" of uneven ground.

Peter




I was looking at the same thing. The price and weight is very tempting, but I cannot figure out how you would level it.

Maybe this?

Seems like it won't have as many increments of adjustment as would be necessary.




Yes that is how they are adjusted. It has plenty of adjustability for the average observing site, about 4 inches of leveling difference overall using the pin lock to adjust spacing followed by the knobs to tighten up and lock the tripod.

The different footpads are under development right now and will be out in test versions withing a short period of time. The regular version has about an inch or a touch more of adjustment available, and the fine or 'precision' version has a little over a half inch. This could still change slightly but the final versions will likely be very close to that. I personally don't know why one would require the precision version, but the design is very interesting and totally enclosed to keep dust and dirt out.


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Footbag]
      #4531945 - 04/20/11 03:30 PM

Quote:

Quote:

The AP Pier is VERY stable but takes some breakdown and setp time. It also needs a pretty much level surface to setup on... Joe




That is the one with the cables right? I watched someone setup one and he had a bit of difficulty on an unlevel surface. That may pose a problem.




They are not actually cables but turnbuckles made of stainless steel. As such they are rigid pieces which tighten and loosen via the double ended nut or 'turnbuckle'.

The AP portable pier can be adjusted by about a half inch from level. Not much, but sufficient for very minor adjustment. Any major adjustment should be taken care of with a shovel or leveling bricks, boards, etc.


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: coz]
      #4531956 - 04/20/11 03:36 PM

Quote:

I think I'm going to try the PWT Pinnacle. I believe they are ready now and I like the design and strength.




Be sure to let us know how that works out. Shahin is a wonderful person to speak with. Full of incredible ideas and enthusiasm. A perfectionist when it came to his Monolith mounts.


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Peter in Reno
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Reged: 07/15/08

Loc: Reno, NV
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4532000 - 04/20/11 03:54 PM

Take a look at this link:

http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ap-gto/message/31458

It looks like Mach1 GTO is being slightly redesigned.

Peter


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Duncan Kitchin
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 12/16/04

Loc: Beaverton, OR, USA
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4532063 - 04/20/11 04:24 PM

Great information from everybody! I'll probably look at the Rob Miller tripods once I actually get a production allocation on the Mach 1. Hoping to get in on the next run...

Regards & Clear Skies
Duncan


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vahe
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 08/27/05

Loc: Houston, Texas
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: Duncan Kitchin]
      #4532157 - 04/20/11 04:58 PM

My name came up last year with a phone call from AP for a Mach 1, but I had to decline until I could sell my 900 mount, now I am ready and AP is telling me that my name is on the next run of Mach 1 scheduled for the summer of 2011, that is the mount with improved azimuth adjustment just announced by AP’s Howard on AP Yahoo group.

I am downsizing to something more portable, I still have my old “Celestron” G11 with 42” non adjustable legs, it is tall enough for my 6” F/9 refractor without resorting to any pier extension. The Mach 1 is primarily for my larger Maks where lower overall height makes for a more comfortable viewing position with these fat Cats.

Mach 1 is currently the most expensive AP mount when factoring all its attributes compared to 900 & 1200 mounts.
I am not sure about the tripod/pier, need to do more research on that.

Vahe


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BlueGrass
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/25/09

Loc: Wasatch Front, UT
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: vahe]
      #4532891 - 04/20/11 10:00 PM

Peter,
Thanks for the update post. The changes to the forth coming Mach1 run and an upgrade kit for previous runs is good news. Although there is some slight shift when tightening the knobs, it's fairly easy to compensate for. Increasing the precision of the adjustment and eliminating the shift will make the PA setup much quicker ...

... and I don't think anyone can fault someone for being an AP enthusiast (fanboy)... There is a point in this hobby when your level of expectations begins to be met when you realize that precision gear requires a bigger investment. That doesn't translate into world class images. The AP'r still has to garner the knowledge and skills to use it properly. Better optics, mounts and cameras give you the tools necessary to develop and improve your skills. There's no magic formula that says buy this and that, plug it all together and Bob's your uncle. Just wanted to put this out there for those reading this thread, thinking along these lines. Some of the work done by folks with an Atlas and 8" Newt amazes me. Some day, I hope to do as well...


Edited by BlueGrass (04/20/11 10:40 PM)


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frolinmod
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 08/06/10

Loc: Southern California
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4532997 - 04/20/11 10:40 PM

Quote:

When a portable pier is required, I don't really see that there is any real choice other than one of these.



The Astro-Physics portable piers are much more rigid and massive. If you have very level ground, then an AP pier is a better choice.


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M13 Observer
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 12/09/06

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: frolinmod]
      #4533093 - 04/20/11 11:28 PM

Quote:

The Astro-Physics portable piers are much more rigid and massive. If you have very level ground, then an AP pier is a better choice.




I'll give you that AP portable piers are more massive. Actually I can't think of a single portable pier/tripod that isn't significantly more massive than the equivalent Rob Miller tripod. Massive does not impart stability.

I still have one 10" AP portable pier. I had two once upon a time, a shorty for the Newtonian and a tall one, which I still own, for refractor use. Yes it is massive. Yes it is stable. It is also a pain to herd and transport all the parts. It basically requires a surface close to perfectly flat and hard to set up on. It resides outdoors in my back yard all the time and is going to stay there until the observatory is finished. I'll take the Rob Miller TRI36M tripod for my Mach1GTO, or AP900 over it any time I travel to a remote observing site.


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korborh
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 01/29/11

Loc: Arizona
Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: M13 Observer]
      #4535561 - 04/21/11 10:53 PM

I am anxiously awaiting the Tri36M tripod. It is en-route arriving Monday
...now if I only could know when the AP1200 will be shipping for this production run.


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jmiele
Patron Saint?
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Reged: 12/04/10

Re: AP Mach1 and general GEM questions... new [Re: korborh]
      #4535631 - 04/21/11 11:52 PM

It will be worth the wait rest assured From what I hear so is the tripod.. Joe

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