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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one?
      #5349225 - 08/02/12 07:18 PM

I've read dozens of posts of new CGE Pro owners contending with numerous and various problems. This gives (me at least) a very negative perception of this product. It's Celestron's most costly mount and is offered in a $10k bundle; it should work perfectly.

What I would like to know is whether anyone has purchased one of these mounts, with or without an OTA, and had it (a) operate correctly out of the box and (b) continue to operate correctly for an extended period of time (at least 12 months) after purchase?

Thanks,

Jim


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Stew57
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: Silsbee Texas
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5349256 - 08/02/12 07:42 PM

Jim

Great question but you may want to give parameters to "correctly" as that is rather subjective at times. Something along the lines of PE, pointing accuracy, weight capacity for AP. Otherwise you will get "I have had mine 2 years and it works great" when in reality the mount can't land an object in less than a 30mm eyepiece and has a PE of 50 arc minutes.


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
*****

Reged: 02/28/06

Loc: Petaluma, CA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Stew57]
      #5349316 - 08/02/12 08:52 PM

Good point. I'll clarify. I'm talking about free from malfunctions that prevent the mount from pointing the scope where directed and keeping an object in the field of view for an extended period (2+ hours). Foggetabout PE and other imaging related stuff. I'm looking for mounts on which both motors work (i.e., that aren't DOA) and haven't died for an extended period of time after arrival.

However, I note that even without the clarification no one has chimed in with a "happy story" about the mount.

- Jim

Edited by jrbarnett (08/02/12 08:54 PM)


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gosavich
member


Reged: 12/22/08

Loc: Tempe, Arizona, USA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5349678 - 08/03/12 02:48 AM

CGE Pro performance thread

Search is your friend when questions such as these arise.


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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gosavich]
      #5349853 - 08/03/12 08:20 AM

Hi Jim,

If you disregard imaging, my 1 year old cge pro works beautifully. It keeps objects nicely centered for hours and hours, going quite a bit past the meridian. It points accurately and reliably - even though I remove my ota and power off the mount every night, restarting the scope and selecting "last alignment" instead of redoing the alignment starts, it rarely fails to put the desired object right in the center of my eyepiece.

I have design complaints, for sure (the person who designed and located the various knobs should be keelhauled) but for visual use it mine has performed flawlessly right out of he box.


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Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5350043 - 08/03/12 11:16 AM

Quote:

(the person who designed and located the various knobs should be keelhauled)



+1.


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Jason B
Proud father of 5!!
*****

Reged: 06/21/04

Loc: Mid-Michigan
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5350051 - 08/03/12 11:23 AM

We have one club member that owns one that he paired with a AT 12" RC. Visually, the mount has been outstanding from the get go. Pointing accuracy and tracking for visual use has been perfect. The knobs/axis locks are a bit to be desired. Why anyone needs 4 knobs to lock an axis is beyond my understanding.

For imaging, it is working fine now. The DEC axis was very touch interacting with PhD at first. Lot's of research, setting changes, and some tension adjustments later, it works pretty good. He hasn't been as active lately imaging so I don't know if it is still working for him alright or not but he as shooting some shots of the moon last weekend and it seemed to track fine for him that night.

I have though about this mount many times as I love the Nexstar system but I just can't get past the goofy dec/ra/saddle knobs, etc.


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WadeH237
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Jason B]
      #5350166 - 08/03/12 12:56 PM

I don't have a CGE Pro, but I did have the opportunity to help someone get their set up and working properly a few weeks ago.

They had a classic, orange tube C14 on it and I was very impressed with how effortlessly the mount carried it. Once we got it set up, it's visual performance was typical NexStar. It hit gotos dead on and did all of the other things that you would expect from a nice visual setup.

I would agree with the comments here about the knobs. It had a bunch of them, and they were all plastic with sculpted shapes that somehow managed to not let you get a good grip on them. I find it much easier to lock the axis clutches on my CGE than on the CGE Pro. As far as 4 axis locks, at least one other high end manufacturer (AP) also has 4 locks. But ones on the CGE Pro are much harder to use. The knobs are long and narrow and can be hard to reach, depending on where the axis is currently at.

Also, I noticed that with the C14 on it, I couldn't get the RA axis clutches tight enough to really lock down the mount. For example, when I was installing a dew shield on the C14, the RA axis slipped pretty easily. I have never had this problem with the CGE.

As well as it carried the C14, I did consider that it would be a good upgrade from my CGE for visual use with my C14. The deal killer for me, though, is the height of the mount. Even with the tripod legs fully retracted, the mount saddle is quite high off the ground. If they could find a way to move the electronic elsewhere and do away with the electronics pier (or maybe someone relocate the pier down between the tripod's mounting plate and spreader), it would be much more comfortable to use.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on several days of use of the CGE Pro.


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BWAZ
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 11/21/05

Loc: CA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5350210 - 08/03/12 01:24 PM

Quote:

Quote:

(the person who designed and located the various knobs should be keelhauled)



+1.




You guys are cruel Admittedly, the designer must have a tiny but super strong hand to handle the slippery and tiny knobs. Seriously though, one just needs to make or buy a tool like this CGE Pro Knob Tightening Tool. I myself bought one from Doug in 2010 and couldn't be happier. It's an essential piece of tool for the CGE Pro users, IMHO. My mount arrived in late 2009 and I had the first light out in early 2010. It worked out of box and didn't cause me any headache I read about on CN or CGE Pro Yahoo Group. It had been serving me well till last Xmas when I upgraded it to an AP1200 for the heavier load. The second owner is happy with the mount too and made some good progress with astro-imaging with his C9.25.

BTW, my Pro didn't have the modified DEC but I hardly noticed any issue with it. The tracking at 600x plus power was smooth and there was no jittering motion I could discern which I some time noticed with my CGE mount if the balance was not perfect. I'd used my TEC160FL, C11 and TEC180FL with the Pro and it handled all the scopes without a hassle. I'm simply one happy CGE Pro owner. Actually if I was buying a back-up mount for my other scope, I'd choose the CGE Pro again. Before I sold the mount I'd been using the SkySafari and SkyFi with the Pro and it worked like a charm. There was some bug from time to time but nothing couldn't be resolved by re-calibrating the mount or a factory reset.


Oh, I'm a visual observer just like you. You should be happy with the mount.


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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: BWAZ]
      #5350242 - 08/03/12 01:51 PM

It's not just that the knobs are hard (sometimes impossible) to tighten. It's that they seem purposely designed to snag on cables. Forget imaging cables. I'm just talking about the DEC motor cable. It continually gets caught by the RA knobs and MASHED in between one of the RA knobs and the RA motor. Which in turn screws up that perfect pointing ability I was talking about earlier. I have to power off/restore last alignment every time that happens.

If you add in imaging/dew heater/focuser/etc., well, it's impossible. They all want to snag on the inappropriately large altitude/latitude adjustment knob.


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Alph
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/23/06

Loc: Melmac
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5350631 - 08/03/12 06:09 PM

Quote:

I'm just talking about the DEC motor cable. It continually gets caught by the RA knobs and MASHED in between one of the RA knobs and the RA motor.




That's interesting. I haven't heard this one before. This goes to show what little is known about the CGE Pro.
How is that elevation/altitude knob working for you?


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mikeinca
member


Reged: 10/05/11

Loc: North Bay Area, CA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5351040 - 08/03/12 11:19 PM

I've been using my CGE Pro for about 4 months now for visual observing and have no issues with tracking or pointing; it's been excellent in that regard. There also have been no problems as described above with the Dec cable. The knobs can be difficult to get a hold of; I may get one of those tools described in an earlier post.

One issue is that the elevation adjustment knob is very difficult to turn against the weight of the mount and 14" OTA. I have to either push up against the counterweights to take some of the load off the mount while turning the knob (not easy to do unless you're flexible) or get a spouse/friend to help. Fortunately, since my scope is pier mounted, I don't have to play around with this regularly.


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KDizzle
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/12/08

Loc: Woodinville, WA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5351061 - 08/03/12 11:34 PM

Here are my experiences:

I originally purchased one shortly after they came out. It worked great for imaging with my AT10RC. About three months later, it got very angry.
The audio is telling here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuEUiNuydTQ
With some guidance from the forum here, and discussion with my salesperson, we shipped the mount back to Celestron. It came back after a month or two.

--

It worked again briefly and then after about 10-15 more nights, I got the dreaded Error 16/17. I worked through support again and none of the easy things (i.e. power, cables etc) fixed it. With a bit of grumbling, Celestron and the vendor agreed to replace the mount (as opposed to try to fix it again). This was almost a year ago.

--

Since receiving the new mount, I've not had any issues. It is really delightful to use and is the mount that I had hoped for originally.
Furthermore, it was really nice to see they stood behind their product.

Would I have liked it to work the first time perfectly? Of course. I did pay shipping once (they did three times!)

Am I happy and satisfied they made it right? Yes.

Would I recommend the mount to others? Yes.


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wolfman_4_ever
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 07/15/11

Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KDizzle]
      #5351193 - 08/04/12 02:14 AM

I purchased my Celestron mounts for one reason only.. Celestron is about 6 miles away from me.

The gotos are excellent. Mine is perm setup in an observatory. Once polar alignment is achieved, (not all-star... bleh) the mount tracks great for astrophotography. I also have a TDM. You can see my PE numbers in another post.

I have had my mount into celestron twice now. The first time was a blown motor control board. This was my fault. I kick my hand controller into the pool which shorted out the MC board. Warranty Repair.
The Pro is currently at Celestron, for the second time, for a ground feedback I am currently experiencing in the mount. Since it is there, I am having them do a million mile checkup , Fixing the PE to be in the +-3 range they advertise, knobs I scratched up being replaced, hand controller issues.

I have to say.. Celestron Tech Support is awesome. The technician called me yesterday and spent an hour on the phone with me going over each item I listed on my RMA. Asking what I saw and asking for PE logs, etc. My first Celestron RMA was just as great as this one. From what I hear about the "other" brands tech support, I am so glad I went with Celestron Products.


Now other comments:

I have never once had my cge pro eat a motor cable...

Anthony at ADM is now selling a knob kit for the CGE-Pro and a tightening tool. The tightening tool is pretty sweet. Just got mine yesterday. The knob kit looks like it could have major hang up issues with cables but I don't have hands on experience so for all i know they might be great.

The Stock knobs i kinda like.. They work very will as standoffs for tying downs equipment/photo cables. You have to make sure you tie down on top of the knobs so the motor control housing won't catch the cables.

This message will self destruct..



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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: mikeinca]
      #5351306 - 08/04/12 07:22 AM

Quote:

One issue is that the elevation adjustment knob is very difficult to turn against the weight of the mount and 14" OTA. I have to either push up against the counterweights to take some of the load off the mount while turning the knob (not easy to do unless you're flexible) or get a spouse/friend to help.




Mine was darn near impossible to adjust, too, but since it was close-ish to all the way in, one day I decided to change the setting to the northern latitude setting so the bolt has more travel in either direction. My thought was if I go up to NH or Maine I wouldn't have to play with it later. But lo, the elevation adjustment became FAR, FAR easier to turn. I wonder if the knob end of the bolt isn't tapped correctly or something, or if the angle is just such that you have to exert more force.. I'll have to look closer. Anyway I can adjust mine easily with one hand, without touching the counterweights, even with my C14 and SV105 mounted SBS with all kinds of imaging gear. And I'm not that strong.

As far as the dec cable catching, I'll post a picture in a little bit. I'm glad that some of you aren't having that problem, it's really annoying.


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freestar8n
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/12/07

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5351336 - 08/04/12 08:10 AM

If you do a search on cable management in astrophotography you'll see this is a common issue with all mounts, and even very $$$ mounts can benefit from some efforts to keep the cables from contacting the mount in the first place. A simple approach is to have a rod sticking out the back of the OTA and having all cables attached there so that as the OTA swings around, the cables are kept away from the equatorial head in the first place. Even if there is no issue of tangling, this will reduce friction and resistance with the mount during guiding.

I did place a strap around the southern side of the eq. head to prevent any cables from catching on the knobs that are exposed there. It is a simple precaution that covers up the gap between the knobs and the rough edges of the knobs also so that if a cable did make contact it would have a smooth drag across it.

Regarding the polar alt. adjustment - make sure it is set up correctly for your latitude, with the extra spacer or whatever it is installed. As I recall it has two latitude modes and if you don't have it in the right mode it will be hard to adjust because the bolt is making a steep angle rather than perpendicular to its support. If anyone is in the wrong mode, switching it will make a huge difference.

When polar aligning, it is easier if you crank it up a bit too high at first so that during fine adjustment you are going down and it is easier to turn because it is not against gravity. With a big OTA and counterweights, lifting up is pushing against a lot of gravity no matter what.

It sounds like the people who complain about the knobs would be happier with just allen head bolts and an allen wrench instead - which would keep them out of the way but would require a tool to adjust. That shouldn't cost very much to make that change if someone really wants to - but otherwise for a tool-less operation the knobs have to be pretty big to get a good grip.

Frank


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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5351342 - 08/04/12 08:27 AM Attachment (76 downloads)

Attached is a short series of pictures showing how the dec cable gets mashed. You can even see how the cable is kinked slightly from previous mashing.

The first image shows how close the dec cable is to the knob when it doesn't catch. The second image is when the mount slews to the west side of the mount, then the third and fourth as it moves eastward.

The problem only occurs when the dec cable lays south of the RA cable. When the dec cable is to the north, there's plenty (1") of clearance and it doesn't catch. I move the dec cable to the north all the time, but when I slew the mount far to the west and then to the east the dec cable invariably ends up on the south side of the RA cable again.

Now that I watch for it and move the RA cable north when slewing from the west side to the east side of the mount, I can avoid the problem, but I have to actively remember to do it. Luckily it doesn't happen at all when the mount tracks across the sky, since it's moving west, so I can go to sleep while it's taking pictures all night. But when I get up and have to flip to the other side of the meridian at 2 AM, and I groggily forget to move this cable....


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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5351370 - 08/04/12 09:03 AM

Quote:

If you do a search on cable management in astrophotography you'll see this is a common issue with all mounts, and even very $$$ mounts can benefit from some efforts to keep the cables from contacting the mount in the first place. A simple approach is to have a rod sticking out the back of the OTA and having all cables attached there so that as the OTA swings around, the cables are kept away from the equatorial head in the first place. Even if there is no issue of tangling, this will reduce friction and resistance with the mount during guiding.

I did place a strap around the southern side of the eq. head to prevent any cables from catching on the knobs that are exposed there. It is a simple precaution that covers up the gap between the knobs and the rough edges of the knobs also so that if a cable did make contact it would have a smooth drag across it.




I've wrapped most of my cables in a plastic cable wrap thingy (technical term) as seen in the pics in my previous post, that's prevented most of my catching problems (but not the dec cable problem!). While I agree and understand it's a common issue with all mounts, this mount has clearly been designing a mount without any consideration to cable management. I mean, there are things about this mount that go out of their way to cause cable headaches.

Quote:

It sounds like the people who complain about the knobs would be happier with just allen head bolts and an allen wrench instead - which would keep them out of the way but would require a tool to adjust. That shouldn't cost very much to make that change if someone really wants to - but otherwise for a tool-less operation the knobs have to be pretty big to get a good grip.




I disagree. I don't need more bigger (particularly not longer!) to get grip, I need more leverage. Fatter would give more leverage, for sure, but length doesn't, and they just made their knobs long and skinny for no clear reason. I understand they can't go fatter with their current motor housing design. As it is it's already impossible to tighten these knobs without a tool, regardless of their length, when the knob is up against the motor housing, which at least one knob is 95% of the time, not by accident, but by design. The rounded-edge triangle knobs don't allow for maximum fingertip grip, they allow for maximum slip (just liked a stripped Philips head screw). Give me some purchase on the knob and make it small, imho. The knobs could be half or a third of their length if they made them an "X" instead of a triangle.

I complain about the knobs only because it feels like they picked the worst possible solution - long, narrow, and rounded. It feels like almost any other solution would have worked better. It feels like they went for form over function.

Please don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the mount, and I like having knobs. I just don't like THESE knobs. Further I'd like a rounded cover over the south end of the mount to cover the elevation adjustment knob - which I could do with a strap or tape, yes, but ideally it should be part of the mount. I don't need to adjust the elevation every time I use the mount, so it should be out of the way.

Edit: I understand that going longer gives more grip, but you need a lot more length to get the same amount of grip that a little fatter or less rounded would give without making the knobs stick out so far.

Edited by Tori (08/04/12 09:12 AM)


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freestar8n
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/12/07

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5351427 - 08/04/12 09:58 AM

Hi-

I thought you were talking about the big round knobs rather than the clutch knobs. With a c11 I just hand tighten those knobs and it seems ok and there is no need to crank on them. So for me they are ergonomically ok and haven't caught any cables. I guess with a c14 they would need to be tighter, but there are 4 of them and they all crank down on the clutch.

Thanks for providing a clear pic. of that dec. cable issue. I don't recall it happening with me but it does look like a problem.

I think the main thing about the knobs is they were trying to make it all tool-less. I would definitely want the clutch knobs to be tool-less since I tend to use them often. I'm not sure what shape would work best - but if you really want leverage and don't mind using a tool then I would just switch everything to allen head. For permanent setups there should be no need to adjust any of the knobs without an equipment change - so they could all just be tightened and forgotten.

Is your altitude adjustment set up properly to minimize the effort in polar alignment? That was the other thing I think you mentioned.

Frank


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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5351511 - 08/04/12 10:58 AM

My altitude adjustment is set up correctly now and has been for a while. It works great when it's set up correctly. I was just mentioning that it was hard before I made that adjustment because someone else said it was hard to turn for them too. Even if he's south of 40 degrees he might benefit from the northern configuration.

If I were not using the clutch knobs continually I probably would replace them with an allen bolt. But I add and remove equipment several times a night.


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freestar8n
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/12/07

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5351648 - 08/04/12 12:32 PM

Hi-

I took a look at how my dec. cable behaves and it really has no interest in getting snagged in there - but I can imagine that it depends a lot on how the "kinks" and bends in the cable are embedded. If it were twisted just the wrong way it might tend to go in there - but I think in most cases it wouldn't - which isn't to say it doesn't really want to in your case.

The cable motion only depends on RA because Dec. motion doesn't move the cable connection near the OTA. So just by going through the extremes of RA motion you can see the full range of what the cable wants to do. It seems like you could do something like attach a stiff wire to the cable itself or near the OTA connection so that it stays more clear of the "catch" near the eq. head.

I also tried loosening all clutch knobs and then gently tightening one of them, and the motion was pretty well locked. It's probably good to tighten them uniformly, but it doesn't take much torque to have them engaged. They are simple bolts with nylon tips so they could all be replaced, or just the one with a problem, if you have in mind a different handle shape that would work better. You could also shorten the handle on the problematic one, or all of them, with a hack saw and file the end smooth.

Frank


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mikeinca
member


Reged: 10/05/11

Loc: North Bay Area, CA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5351937 - 08/04/12 04:11 PM

Quote:

My altitude adjustment is set up correctly now and has been for a while. It works great when it's set up correctly. I was just mentioning that it was hard before I made that adjustment because someone else said it was hard to turn for them too. Even if he's south of 40 degrees he might benefit from the northern configuration.

If I were not using the clutch knobs continually I probably would replace them with an allen bolt. But I add and remove equipment several times a night.




Your point about the extension and angle of the latitude adjusting bolt made sense so I tried relocating the latitude plate to the northern config. At my latitude (a shade under 39 deg) however, this leaves just the nub of the bolt poking through the plate and the plate sides are very close to the mount. The range of adjustment is better in the southern position although the angle of the bolt is more acute. It seems that anyone with a latitude right around the 40 deg crossover point is going to have an issue with ease of adjustment using the latitude knob.

My previous experience was with my C8 where the equatorial wedge is easily adjusted with a latitude bolt, but there is obviously a lot less weight involved. I guess with the CGE Pro and C14, lifting the mount past your latitude and then backing it off with gravity helping the effort is the way to go. Better yet is having the thing mounted on a pier where you can set it and forget it.


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freestar8n
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/12/07

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: mikeinca]
      #5351961 - 08/04/12 04:44 PM

I'm at just over 41 degrees and there are about three threads showing, plus the nub - and it's good here. I agree it might not leave much headroom as you get to around 40 or below, at which point you need to switch over. I know that when I got the mount I set it up in the default mode and it was very problematic until I realized I needed to switch it around. So I was mainly concerned there might be people out there cranking on it who are actually in the wrong mode.

Frank


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gnowellsct
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/24/09

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: mikeinca]
      #5352428 - 08/04/12 11:05 PM

Quote:


My previous experience was with my C8 where the equatorial wedge is easily adjusted with a latitude bolt, but there is obviously a lot less weight involved.




IMO it's the design and execution of the adjustment hardware, not the weight. I've had the same rig on an AP900, a G11, and a Titan and all three are easier to adjust in altitude than the CGE Pros I have seen at shows. The threads are too coarse, maybe some lubrication would help; and jamming that altitude hand screw down on the RA housing, well, there has to be a better way. regards Greg N


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Tori
sage


Reged: 01/10/12

Loc: Somerville, MA/Warren, NH
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: mikeinca]
      #5352685 - 08/05/12 06:42 AM

Quote:

Your point about the extension and angle of the latitude adjusting bolt made sense so I tried relocating the latitude plate to the northern config. At my latitude (a shade under 39 deg) however, this leaves just the nub of the bolt poking through the plate and the plate sides are very close to the mount. The range of adjustment is better in the southern position although the angle of the bolt is more acute. It seems that anyone with a latitude right around the 40 deg crossover point is going to have an issue with ease of adjustment using the latitude knob.




That's really unfortunate because it's sooo much easier to adjust when the angle is less - I can adjust 75 pounds of gear with just two fingers when it's set in the northern setting, but I'm at a bit over 42 degrees.

Quote:

My previous experience was with my C8 where the equatorial wedge is easily adjusted with a latitude bolt, but there is obviously a lot less weight involved. I guess with the CGE Pro and C14, lifting the mount past your latitude and then backing it off with gravity helping the effort is the way to go. Better yet is having the thing mounted on a pier where you can set it and forget it.




My mama taught me to finish slews with up and right and focus by lifting the mirror. It seems natural (but not necessarily correct?) that it would be better to finish adjusting altitude against gravity. I suppose if the angle is too acute with a heavy weight that may not be practical but if it can be done it feels like it should be....


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jrbarnett
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5352797 - 08/05/12 09:51 AM

This is very helpful. It sounds like that for folks who did not have a DOA unit or a unit with major systems (motors, control boards, etc.) that failed, the biggest gripes are ergonomic ones.

Celestron has has a distressing tendency to either stubbornly ignore design flaws or to throw the baby out with the bath water. For example, when they introduced the CPC line, they did a couple of very silly things. First, they placed the power-in socket on the rotating portion of the fork mount, leading to persistent cord wrap issues. The prior iteration of the system, the Nexstar GPS, and the single fork Nexstar SE mounts both have the power-in socket on the non-moving portion of the fork base. Second, they put a glaringly bright red LED on the power switch which is directly below and to the right of where the user's line of vision natural goes when observing. Why a bright light in the line of sight on a device made to be used under conditions where darkness is key? Better still, why any light at all? The user knows if the unit has power because the hand controller illuminates anyway when the unit is switched on.

Despite having many, many years in which to address these items with a product refresh, Celestron hasn't bothered. More recently when they debuted the CPC deluxe units featuring the Edge HD OTAs and some improved motors, did they take the opportunity to clean up these design flaws? Of course not. It's very frustrating and to me signals a company run by accountants rather than engineers.

On the other hand, it could be worse. The CGE was a great idea. A mid-capacity (G-11 class) mount with modern GOTO firnware and electronics, made in the USA. I can understand Celestron moving the design or at least the concept to China for cheaper manufacturing, but to abandon the class entirely (a 65# mount is far more convenient and useful to more people than a 90# mount) and then try an backfill it later by slapping a light duty EQ head on an extra heavy duty tripod (from the Pro) is unfortunate. However, like the CPC mount, the CGE too suffered some design buffoonery. The biggie is the use of stiff RA and Dec cat 5 cables plugged into fragile soldered sockets that attach to control boards. Inevitably (even with softer Marty cables) the flexure of these sockets during ordinary use will break the joints and render the mount non-functional. It would have been a fix (altering the socket design) that cost pennies per unit over the production life of the CGE line, and yet the big C was missing in action on the engineering front. They then cancelled an otherwise very good (class leading, in fact) mount.

Even automakers who are notoriously cost sensitive (especially American ones!) refresh models to address design snafus between major redesigns. Why not Celestron? JUst because the other guy (Losmandy) innovates at a glacial pace, doesn't mean that investing in continuous product improvement wouldn't benefit you.

With that said, I hope Celestron mends its penny-wise and pound-foolish ways and refreshes the Pro to address the design (not QC) issues flagged in this thread.

- Jim


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wolfman_4_ever
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5353562 - 08/05/12 05:48 PM

*post deleted*

It's not worth it..

This message will self destruct...



Edited by wolfman_4_ever (08/05/12 06:02 PM)


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mikeinca
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5353740 - 08/05/12 08:17 PM

Quote:


My mama taught me to finish slews with up and right and focus by lifting the mirror. It seems natural (but not necessarily correct?) that it would be better to finish adjusting altitude against gravity. I suppose if the angle is too acute with a heavy weight that may not be practical but if it can be done it feels like it should be....




Your mama and the CGE Pro owners manual are in agreement about making the final adjustment against gravity. Unfortunately, it's just about impossible to do it that way at my latitude. When I was trying to make the adjustment for the first time per the manual's instructions I kept wishing for the Celestron engineer who designed the mount to be present so I could turn to him/her and say, "Here, sucker, you try turning this bolt to make a fine adjustment as described".


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: mikeinca]
      #5353858 - 08/05/12 09:50 PM

I'm surprised no one is jumping in on behalf of the cge pro. I posted a negative impression after seeing it at NEAF when it first came out and got an earful from its supporters. gn

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jrbarnett
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5353865 - 08/05/12 09:53 PM

Greg, that's because in the intervening months they actually purchased one and found out that you were right.

- Jim


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mikeinca
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5353924 - 08/05/12 10:42 PM

Don't get me wrong. I'm very pleased with the performance of the mount so far. It's easy to align, is very stable and the GOTO features work well. The altitude adjustment is the only thing I've had an issue with to date, and that's not somethng I'm having to fiddle with all the time.

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wolfman_4_ever
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: mikeinca]
      #5353945 - 08/05/12 10:57 PM

Talking with celestron, the altitude bolt knob has holes in the side to stick a bar or alan wrench in there for leverage..

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wolfman_4_ever
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5353949 - 08/05/12 10:59 PM



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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5353978 - 08/05/12 11:23 PM

Quote:

Greg, that's because in the intervening months they actually purchased one and found out that you were right.

- Jim




Well in the interests of amateur astronomy I'd rather be wrong. It's a big chunk of change. But honestly when the thing was on display I asked if I could adjust the altitude and I d-mned near broke my wrist trying. And if you use those holes to stick something in there for leverage I'd warrant that the knob would break under the strain.

While doing this I couldn't help but notice that the whole thing was bobbing up and down considerably. Now, at NEAF the floor of the gym is some kind of synthetic and it has some give. So I said that's it. But I went over and repeated the experiment on some kinda mount that someone had on a G11 HD tripod and no bounce, no wobble.

The mount struck me as too high and for what reason I don't know. But even the side mounting technique that I promote in my video might be hard on this mount because you'd have to get that adjoining stool up to the level at which the dec bar is horizontal to the ground.

I can't speak to the guiding and tracking accuracy but my concern is that if these other things are wrong then what issues might there be on that function. So all in all, it reminded me of the first generation of CG5s from China: It looked OK, but even though a Vixen clone, well, a Vixen clone it most certainly was not. "Shining without, but rotten at the core."

I mean look I'm not an expert on GEMs but I have used a wide variety of them and I know what I likes and what I doesn't. The impression I got from this mount was that it had been designed by someone who had no idea of what is involved in operating a serious optical instrument.

You know, smart people make mistakes. The altitude adjustment on the AP 900 and 1200 is a design mistake, which Roland fixed in the Mach 1. And ya know, it looks like a G11. Because that is one of many things Scott got right. So, he got it right, so let's do it that way. No more strained wrists. But the altitude adjustment on those two AP mounts is nonetheless do-able, and if you take the precaution of leveling every time you set up, your altitude will be so close that the adjustment process is easy (with the g11 it is so easy you don't need to level). So anyhow the mistake in the 900 and 1200 design is a mistake but not a huge mistake. If you think about what you're doing, you devise a work around. Level the mount. No brute force needed. And they even brought out a replacement fork that was reasonably cheap and helped by giving more hand room.

It is possible that the altitude design on the CGE pro would work comfortably *if* the machining of the threads was spec'd the way those functions are spec'd on a G11 or AP scope. But it's not. It's a coarse thread, very un-smooth metal so on top of the fundamental lack of available torque you are fighting the machining and the spec on the metal and it becomes an active obstacle to setting up.

Now, there were reports ten years ago about a c11/g11 that flipped at TSP in one of their dust devils. Even a very solid mount can flip, particularly since in any tripod design force exerted from an extended leg against the gap between the two opposite legs makes the system vulnerable. I guess a circular moving wind would be particularly likely to push against this vulnerable direction.

But I'm surprised we haven't heard of a CGE Pro that has flipped. The tripod leg straddle is pretty narrow and the mount being too high, I don't think it would be hard to flip in moderate winds. But so far no one has mentioned that so maybe my assessment is unfounded.

To my eye it looks like a German equatorial that was designed to be sold to people who don't have much experience with German equatorials. But it isn't really an entry level price and I'm not sure that it qualifies as "the low end of the high end." (where I put the G11)

The CI700 and CGE mounts before the pro were pretty good, I think. But I still think that the high point of Celestron's career in mounts was when they had Vixen mounts for the smaller apertures and G11s for the larger. For whatever business reasons, relationships were terminated with both.

Given the importance that a smooth reliable mount has for making astronomy into an enjoyable experience I hope that most users have gotten value out of their CGE Pros. I don't know whether my strong negative impression is sheer prejudice or the instincts of an experienced user. It would certainly be good for astronomy generally if a really smooth GEM were available from Celestron or Meade. In the meantime the used market is making the CGE Pro available for about $3500 and maybe that's about right. People get the $5k mount and decide to sell it and so for $1500 net have learned that it takes more than $5k to get a good new mount. A couple of the ads I just read on astromart mentioned sending the mount back for repairs and now anxious to sell. Unusual ad copy.

The used market sometimes sends interesting signals. For example that a used 9.25 goes for about 50% more than a used M10. Or the fairly steep discounts on Celestron mounts (even the CI700, which at $750 used is pretty danged cheap).

Make of it what we will, I guess.

Greg N


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Eric Gage
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5354235 - 08/06/12 03:42 AM

The more I read about Celestron mounts, the more happy I am that I sprung for a Takahashi.

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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5354250 - 08/06/12 04:16 AM

Quote:

My mama taught me to finish slews with up and right and focus by lifting the mirror. It seems natural (but not necessarily correct?) that it would be better to finish adjusting altitude against gravity.




This is because the mirror doesn't weight a lot and somewhat floats on the baffle tube when you focus with gravity rather than against it. This means it may continue moving a bit after adjustment. The up/right is specifically because it matches the final direction of goto's. If goto's ended down/left, you would do that instead.

The big difference with latitude adjustment is that the load is very heavy and responds promptly to adjustments that let it fall with gravity. And when you get it right you tighten the side bolts that lock it in place. So I don't think there is much benefit in pushing against gravity.

For my mount just above 41 degrees, with a c11 and imaging load, the adjustment is fine. Examples of guiding are on the MetaGuide page at around 2" fwhm in long exposures.

I agree the mount is on the tall side, but I guess that is for long refractors. The cables and connections are a big win over the cge, as is the ability to track past the meridian. I don't mind the knobs as long as they don't catch cables - and for me they don't and allow tool-less operation.

Frank


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5354381 - 08/06/12 08:16 AM

Quote:

Greg, that's because in the intervening months they actually purchased one and found out that you were right.

- Jim




Or not.

I know you were kidding (I reckon) but...

I am the owner of the CGE PRO Yahoogroup, and I have the straight poop on this GEM. For the record, while I own the group, I do not own the mount, since its size scares me a bit and I cannot observe from home at this time. Its price, compatively modest though it is, scares me too. Maybe someday. I have used several examples of it, and certainly have talked to more than a few owners.

In the beginning the mount had a few warts. Not bad, and certainly not like the early CGEMs, but a few. Celestron has continued to work on it and it is now a good performer. Which is not to say annoyances don't remain, mainly the placement of knobs, etc.

It is certainly more than competitive with its closest competitor, the Losmandy Titan. The Titan, if you'll recall, had a bumpy early period as well. The CGE Pro does have one thing the Titan and similar sized mounts don't: the excellent NexStar software.

NOW...we'll see how it stacks up to its forthcoming sister mount, the Synta EQ-8...


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5354386 - 08/06/12 08:28 AM

Quote:


This is because the mirror doesn't weight a lot and somewhat floats on the baffle tube when you focus with gravity rather than against it. This means it may continue moving a bit after adjustment.




Well sorta. The main reason to focus "uphill" is to make sure you don't leave the mirror in an off balance condition. Not so much to prevent focus drift, but flop, when the mirror is left in an off-balance condition, the OTA changes attitude, and the mirror moves to a balanced condition on the baffle tube. Main cause of focus drift in my experience? Too much or the wrong kind of lube on the baffle.



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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5354389 - 08/06/12 08:30 AM

Quote:

The more I read about Celestron mounts, the more happy I am that I sprung for a Takahashi.




Don't believe everything you read on the cotton picking Internets.

If nothing else, the mucho more expensive Tak mounts can't hold a candle to the much better software/HCs of the very cheapest Celestrons.


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5354486 - 08/06/12 09:30 AM

Quote:

Well sorta. The main reason to focus "uphill" is to make sure you don't leave the mirror in an off balance condition.




What you describe as "off balance" is exactly what I meant by "it floats" - and hence, to use your word, it can "flop" - which I described as - "continue moving."

Anyway - I agree. I guess you thought I was describing a strictly up/down motion of the mirror after focusing - but I would just say it is left somewhat loose on the baffle and can tilt and slide a bit when focused with gravity instead of against it.

Either way - a cge-pro with a heavy load is a lot different from a baffle focuser and I don't see it moving much after locking down the bolts. It might be a little more secure with the altitude bolt very snug up against it - but even adjusting with gravity it will be pressing down pretty hard due to its weight.

My main concern with people complaining about the tightness of the adjustment (not you, Rod) - particularly those who only found it tight when playing with it on a showroom floor - is that they did not first loosen the clamping bolts on the side. If they did not, then any impression they got of it being hard to adjust is a good thing - because it was locked in place. This is why it's good to go by people who have actually used the dang thing under the skies.

Frank


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5354511 - 08/06/12 09:47 AM

Quote:

This is why it's good to go by people who have actually used the dang thing under the skies.

Frank




Right on, Frank. It never fails to amaze me how much gear is tried, found guilty, and condemned to death by folks who've only read about it on the dadgum Internet.

In fact, I think the title of this thread will soon cause it to become common knowledge that "nobody has a good one."


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gnowellsct
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Reged: 06/24/09

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5354881 - 08/06/12 02:00 PM

There, the cavalry arrived in defense of the CGE Pro. Now things are more Internet-normal. But don't y'all go selling your Taks.

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Bowmoreman
Clear enough skies
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Reged: 09/11/06

Loc: Bolton, MA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5354940 - 08/06/12 02:35 PM

My MI-250 isn't for sale, either...



All that said, I had nothing but good experiences with my old CGE (purchased used for $2100, and sold several years later for, $1850 IIRC)... of course I did the "Marty Cables" upgrade (had to, otherwise couldn't image at/below 0F)...

Now, gimme an MI250 build/capacity/quality with NexStar controls... at the CGE Pro pricing, that'd be SWEET... and pretty unbeatable at that price/capacity!

Like others, I "experienced" the CGE Pro at NEAF... and found it too high for my situation, as well as I instinctually hated all those protuberances!


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Alph
Carpal Tunnel


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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Bowmoreman]
      #5354987 - 08/06/12 03:14 PM

Quote:

and found it too high for my situation



Yeah, this and the altitude knob was a show stopper for me. The price is attractive, however ergonomics are really bad.

I am curious to know if someone actually extends tripod legs on that already too tall tripod.


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WadeH237
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Bowmoreman]
      #5354991 - 08/06/12 03:16 PM

If the problems mentioned in this thread are the worst that people can come up with, I think that it speaks pretty well of the CGE Pro.

The knobs are inconvenient? Those are really easy to replace. There have already been references in this thread to some aids to make working with them easier. And if ADM doesn't have a complete replacement set available yet, I'd be surprised.

The altitude adjustment is stiff? For what it's worth, I did find this to be true of the one CGE Pro that I've used, even with the lock knobs loose. I found that applying a bit of pressure on the counterweight shaft with my free hand made the altitude knob turn much better. This certainly would not put me off from buying the mount.

The owner of the mount (who I was helping out) had been previously unable to get it polar aligned. I and the owner live near 47 degrees north latitude. Out of the box, the mount is set to work from 45 degrees and points closer to the equator. When I saw that the altitude bolt was bottomed out, it was pretty clear to me what needed to change to make it work. The owner simply wasn't that familiar with GEMs, so now he knows how it works.

There have been some suggestions that the tripod is too narrow for the mount height. I will say that I did not get this impression using it. With a C14 mounted, it was very solid. (The same owner also had a CGEM DX, and had set it up with the counterweight shaft situated between two legs. I had to show him how to move the azimuth adjustment pin to get the shaft over one of the legs. This seems like a much bigger deal to me than the width of the tripod legs.)

The two bigger issues that I see with the CGE Pro are how tall it is, and the price.

My first impression when the CGE Pro came out is that it was over priced - primarily because it's getting pretty close to the low end of the premium brands. To some degree, I still think that it makes more sense as a $4000 mount. But after watching it handle the C14 like a CG5 handles a C8, I am a believer in its capacity. And if recent reports of 3 arc seconds of smooth periodic error are to be believed, this mount may be for real as a solid imaging platform.

The one thing that I cannot get over is the height thing. With my CGE/C14 pointed above 45 degrees altitude, I can see into the eyepiece from my observing chair. With the CGE Pro and C14, you pretty much have to stand.

No mount is perfect, and this thread mostly zeros in on the things that I noticed when I used one. But honestly, these are pretty minor things. And for imagers, there may be a very good story to tell that's not represented here at all.


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wolfman_4_ever
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Reged: 07/15/11

Loc: El Segundo, Ca, So. Cal
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5355226 - 08/06/12 06:01 PM

Quote:

I'm surprised no one is jumping in on behalf of the cge pro. I posted a negative impression after seeing it at NEAF when it first came out and got an earful from its supporters. gn




I'm done responding..

If I had a 3600GTO and slapped a celestron logo on the side of it, and called it the new CGE-Pro, someone would have some issue with it cause it says "celestron"

These are the same comments made about "my refractor is better than your SCT's!" "my Tak is better than that Celestron APO octilet that see's not into the past but into the future!" If it says meade or celestron, it has to be sh|t! Someone made a comment about the auto industry.. Ford or chevy? Chevy or ford?? Toyota!!! I really love the video astronomy bickering from the still folks too... I can just stack my stills to make a movie..

Most issues with any mount or tele or any product for that matter comes down to user error..

It's all just lame... Just like me.. I'm a lamer too..

This message will self destruct...



Edited by David Pavlich (08/06/12 06:20 PM)


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5355783 - 08/07/12 12:21 AM

Quote:

But after watching it handle the C14 like a CG5 handles a C8, I am a believer in its capacity. And if recent reports of 3 arc seconds of smooth periodic error are to be believed, this mount may be for real as a solid imaging platform.




Maybe the CGE Pro chased Astro-Physics out of the 900/1200 end of the market????

Greg N


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Reged: 02/28/06

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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5355801 - 08/07/12 12:37 AM

"Most issues with any mount or tele or any product for that matter comes down to user error..."

You must've been asleep for the CGEM launch, then.

- Jim


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jrbarnett
Eyepiece Hooligan
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5355817 - 08/07/12 12:48 AM

"To some degree, I still think that it makes more sense as a $4000 mount."

I'd concur. It's getting there; just under $5k currently on sale. The problem is, for visual use a Mach 1 will have little problem with a C14 OTA. For a grand and a half more, you can have A-P quality and reliability, albeit with a reduced capacity, and you don't need to rely on what C says about periodic error improvements, you'll know that for a lighter OTA you have an accurate smooth mount.

What attracts me about the CGE Pro is its height, actually. It should be able to handle the moment arm of a long achromat. The height is a plus with a 8-foot OTA, for example. I'm thinking that it makes a slowish 8" doublet a real possibility. I'm just up to my ears in Celestron mounts (CG5 (second one; first one died of old age), CGE (waiting for socket failure death), Nexstar SE (sounds HORRIBLE in altitude (thump, thump, thump), CPC), and they all feel a little like ticking time bombs. There's something to be said for a mount that you can take out into the bush for a week without once thinking about failure and taking along a Plan B alternative mount.

Dunno, I'm still on the fence over the Pro. If I had an observatory it'd be a no brainer; I'd go for one, but given its size and heft, and my uneasiness in having too many eggs in the Celestron mount basket, and my lack of a permanent location for it, I'm still puzzling.

- Jim


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5356031 - 08/07/12 07:38 AM

Quote:

"Most issues with any mount or tele or any product for that matter comes down to user error..."

You must've been asleep for the CGEM launch, then.

- Jim




Maybe he was and maybe he wasn't. Actually, quite a few CGEM problems _were_ pilot error.


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5356256 - 08/07/12 10:37 AM

Quote:


Dunno, I'm still on the fence over the Pro. If I had an observatory it'd be a no brainer; I'd go for one, but given its size and heft, and my uneasiness in having too many eggs in the Celestron mount basket, and my lack of a permanent location for it, I'm still puzzling.

- Jim




Look at all you've spent Jim. Penny wise and pound foolish. A 900GTO would have blown away all the mounts you mention (except the Mach 1) and total cost would have been the same or less--and you'd still be using it, no corpses.

The Parmount MX also looks sweet when you compare it to $5k for a mount that will last five years. Looking over your inventory and as your un-invited financial advisor I'd say sell every mount you have on hand and get a 900GTO while still available, or a Mach 1, or an MX. Any one of those will leave you light years ahead. And they're all portable as well as observatory class. Once you have one you will look at your post and shake your head in disbelief.

Greg N

Edited by gnowellsct (08/07/12 10:40 AM)


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5356277 - 08/07/12 10:51 AM

Thought: Nothing in astronomy beats the transition in terms of improving quality of life/equipment/field experience from the comes-with packaged mounts to the premium boutique shops. Getting a 5" apo vs a 9.25 is only a gain in some dimensions. Selling the C14 for an RCOS will gain you some capabilities. But nothing makes astro life sweeter than the transition to a premier mount. And a premier used mount from ten or fifteen years ago will do the trick.

I was also thinking, Jim, that as far as refractor height goes, you can just get the CGE Pro tripod. But refractor height is a known issue. For example you can get the Losmandy HD tripod with the refractor extension and put the AP adapter on it for your GTO and you're in business for both long refractors (with extension) and SCTs (without extension, legs full up) and Newts (minimum leg extension). The HD tripods come up on AM fairly often.


Greg N


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jmiele
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5356317 - 08/07/12 11:27 AM

I've use a C-14 on a Mach 1 and it's fine visually. I do agree with Greg, a 900 or Paramount MX would be a lifetime mount for you Jim. For the same money as the 9000, the PMX comes with two weights. It very portable and accurate. However, given your lack of desire to bring anything more than an IPad (don't blame ya) the AP900 would be the way to go. If fact, as you don't need the enhanced capabilities of the "potentially" too be added absolute encoders on the replacement 900....wait until they announce a replacement and grab a mint used 900 at a bargain price.


Joe


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5356602 - 08/07/12 02:39 PM

I should just sell all my stuff right now and forget about GEM's entirely and get a monster DFM fork mount with a 24" CDK on it. All this money spent on GEM's is a waste when you can bounce around the sky at high speed with 0.5" precision - and no meridian flips. One example is the one at Clay Center Observatory. They have done great work with it. Why settle for less?

But if we actually are talking about finite sums of money, and in particular the CGE Pro, which is the subject of this thread, apparently they are on sale now for $4499. You can get one with a C11HD for $7199.

I have no idea what criteria visual users have for a mount - since people are happy with everything from a push-to dobsonian to a giant AP with a little refractor on it. Imaging has more well defined needs, usually measured by the quality of images in long exposures. Somehow this has been morphed into the "PE" of a mount - but you can get excellent results from mid-range mounts such as the CGE and CGE-Pro if you guide right.

For me, in terms of imaging, the biggest change from CGE to CGE-Pro is tracking past the meridian - which has a big effect on productivity and effort involved. The cables are much better (though I never changed the cables on my cge, and it is an early one), the motors are more powerful, and it is much more massive. But it still can be set up pretty quickly by one person - by breaking down into more sub-components than the cge.

For imaging you can guide very well with these mounts and get with them a large aperture, flat field SCT for less than the low side of the high end mount price range. That pushes the priority of expense into the ccd itself - which can grow to match the available field. But prices for big ccd's have come down also - so you can have an entire imaging setup, with a high payload mount, all for less than a high end mount.

Frank


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Duncan Kitchin
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5356635 - 08/07/12 02:57 PM

Quote:

I'd concur. It's getting there; just under $5k currently on sale. The problem is, for visual use a Mach 1 will have little problem with a C14 OTA. For a grand and a half more, you can have A-P quality and reliability, albeit with a reduced capacity, and you don't need to rely on what C says about periodic error improvements, you'll know that for a lighter OTA you have an accurate smooth mount.




I think you're understanding the price difference quite a bit; the price for the CGE Pro includes a bunch of things that are not included in the Mach 1 base price. Of course, you can configure the thing how you want, but the cost for my Mach 1 once I had all of the pieces (the standard pier, a set of counterweights and so on) was around $7500. OPT currently lists the CGE Pro at $4500 including the (mostly) comparable items.

Don't get me wrong: the Mach 1 is a fantastic mount, and I certainly wouldn't trade mine, but it's actually significantly more expensive than the CGE Pro when you include everything.

Regards & Clear Skies
Duncan


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snommisbor
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Duncan Kitchin]
      #5356657 - 08/07/12 03:13 PM

I have considered the CGE Pro especially with the sale going on, but it just scares me in regards to the horror stories of months without a mount due to backlogs. Now with that said I have a CGEM and it has been great. I have some guiding errors but I think it has been a fantastic mount for a first mount. But now I think I need to increase my payload capacity and I like the 90 lbs of the CGE Pro, but I have heard that the Mach1 which a friend of mine has says it can go maximum payload and not miss a beat. But man an extra 3K for that. Or the G11 which s 60 lbs payload, always hear good things about it and it is cheaper. But I do love the Nextstar controller of Celestron, that is their shining star. Just awesome.

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bilgebayModerator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5356720 - 08/07/12 04:05 PM

When I decided to move up from CG5 Goto mount to a high capacity one I was very close to getting a CGE Pro. However, following the complaints in the forums I was not very comfortable with the idea. Then I suddenly noticed Vixen New Atlux with Starbook. Vixen Optics was and still is publishing the Maximum loading weight as 75 lbs. This was less than CGE Pro's 90 lbs. but Atlux had much smoother and smaller PE compared to CGE Pro and the capacity would be good enough for my purposes.

I flew to US, picked the mount and some other stuff and came back to Turkey. The moment I started reading the manual all the blood in my veins rushed to my brain the manual stated that the maximum payload capacity was 45 lbs. only.

As far as I know, no one, but no one, including Vixen Japan themselves, advertise a payload capacity including the counterweights. So this was shock number 1! It took me a few weeks to compromise with this disappointment.

Then shock number 2 arrived when I discovered that that attractive looking Starbook was a very stupid controller which wouldn't even take care of the cone error. The result was awfull gotos. My 6 year old CG5 had near perfect gotos all the time. It took me lots of communications with Vixen US, which was no help to me at all, and 6 months to develop a method of my own to overcome this problem.

However, the mount was designed very robustly and beautifuly and running like a Swiss clock. Tracking was near perfect as promissed So I was a happy camper in spite of the points I have shared above.

Not a single cable was laid outside the mount body. All you had to connect is the power and autoguider cables. Even a cleaner design than A-P. Altitude and Azimuth adjustments are very easy indeed.

Below are some photos of the Atlux next to a A-P 1200.



Larger photo



Larger photo



Larger photo



Sky Safari connection via my iPhone through ethernet (Vixen board allows comms on ethernet) added a great value to the mount. No more was I to enter comets or other objects manually. Sky Safari was doing all for me.

Then, the guys in Spain, who have been building NexSXD cards for Vixen Sphinx mounts produced a similar card for the New Atlux as well. These boards are replacing the Vixen control boards and running the Vixen mounts with Nexstar protocol with Celestron Hand Controller or NexRemote. I did immediately purchased one and replaced the Vixen board on the mount. The mount, now, believes it is a CGE Pro

Since then, I am the happy owner of the best mount in its class. Wonderful mechanics from Vixen and a great and smart controller from Celestron. I am using it upto its full capacity for astrophotography and it never fails me. I believe Vixen, like A-P, is very conservative regarding the payload capacity of their mounts. After all, maybe Vixen USA was right in their capacity assessment

I believe the New Atlux can be purchased for approx $4K these days and can be upraded to NexAtlux for approx $350 including the Celestron HC. Woodland Hills are listing one for $ 3599 but I suspect this is less the tripod --> http://telescopes.net/store/3609u-atlux-mount-with-dp95-tripod-and-starbook.html

So, why did I tell you all this ? I believe the purpose of the thread is to find reliable mount. Here is one albeit with a slightly less capacity.

Clear skies

Sedat


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bilgebayModerator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5356735 - 08/07/12 04:17 PM

Quote:

I should just sell all my stuff right now and forget about GEM's entirely and get a monster DFM fork mount with a 24" CDK on it. All this money spent on GEM's is a waste when you can bounce around the sky at high speed with 0.5" precision - and no meridian flips. One example is the one at Clay Center Observatory. They have done great work with it. Why settle for less?






Frank-

Here is a versatile fork mount you can buy with finite amount of money ( Less than Euros 10K IIRC) --> http://www.astronomy.hu/ENG/mofod_eng.html


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5356773 - 08/07/12 04:52 PM

Thanks for the pointer - I hadn't seen that one before. Good thing there is a 'D' on the end of MoFoD.

If I had a high end setup in a permanent observatory I really would prefer a fork if possible - but for anything that gets set up and taken down I would use a GEM.

Frank


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orion69
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5356895 - 08/07/12 06:33 PM

If I buy this mount it will be used for imaging only.
I'll use HC only when turning on and hibernate, for everything else I'll use notebook and probably Maxim DL.
I really don't care if goto is not really dead on, what I care is CGE Pro tracking and guiding.
So how about CGE Pro as imaging mount?

Knez


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KDizzle
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5357274 - 08/07/12 10:30 PM

Quote:


So how about CGE Pro as imaging mount?





It's awesome. 6.5hrs of 30 min exposures:
http://www.astrokev.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ic342-driz3.jpg


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KDizzle]
      #5357285 - 08/07/12 10:42 PM

Quote:


It's awesome. 6.5hrs of 30 min exposures:
http://www.astrokev.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ic342-driz3.jpg




Those are round stars indeed. Autoguider? And what focal length were you shooting at? thanks GN


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5357300 - 08/07/12 10:51 PM

Quote:


I have no idea what criteria visual users have for a mount - since people are happy with everything from a push-to dobsonian to a giant AP with a little refractor on it.
Frank




If you touch the focuser and the OTA bounces so much that it interferes with the focusing, it is undermounted for visual.

If you are buying an an aftermarket electronic focuser gizmo because you want the image to stay steady while you focus, you're undermounted.

If you have a cat on a gem and it become unusable at the same wind threshold as the shrouded dobs in the neighborhood, it is undermounted. You should be observing when the dobs are having problems. You have a very small sail area and the mount should be up to the task IMO.

If you're pouring sand or cement into the hollow legs of a flimsy aluminum tripod to stabilize it, you're wayyyyy undermounted.

Greg N


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5357333 - 08/07/12 11:10 PM

Quote:

I've use a C-14 on a Mach 1 and it's fine visually. I do agree with Greg, a 900 or Paramount MX would be a lifetime mount for you Jim. For the same money as the 9000, the PMX comes with two weights. It very portable and accurate. However, given your lack of desire to bring anything more than an IPad (don't blame ya) the AP900 would be the way to go. If fact, as you don't need the enhanced capabilities of the "potentially" too be added absolute encoders on the replacement 900....wait until they announce a replacement and grab a mint used 900 at a bargain price.


Joe




I received word today from Software Bisque that they intend to have a wi-fi unit that will work with iOS which apparently means iphone operating system. Maybe ipad too (?? I surmise this, I was not told).

Don't ask me how, where, or when, but they are cognizant that their portable MX will attract more visual observers if they have some kind of hand unit.

While I understand the irony in recommending a 24" fork mounted elephant to Jim, the more serious point is that Jim is on this group a lot and has gone through a lot of lower end mounts. Given his heavy involvement in astronomy the encouragement to go for the option that costs maybe $3k more (such as the Mach 1) or a beauty like the MX or 900GTO is I think reasonable and not pie in the sky. He would immediately fall in love with the equipment and it would greatly enhance his enjoyment of his scopes, and might even operate to enhance his options in terms of OTA, which is good, because there is merit in our spending his money in order to help the economic recovery and provide a steady demand to support the manufacturers so they will be around when we in turn are ready to feed our addiction.

But leaving all that aside there is the question of his soul, his immortal soul, which will learn humility about the powers of the Creator when at last Jim is face to face with the revealed truth of first class CNC machining. His salvation is at stake, and it is a sorry thing to urge a man to hell fire and damnation in order to save a mere three thousand bucks.

Greg N


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5357338 - 08/07/12 11:16 PM

Quote:



Then, the guys in Spain, who have been building NexSXD cards for Vixen Sphinx mounts produced a similar card for the New Atlux as well. These boards are replacing the Vixen control boards and running the Vixen mounts with Nexstar protocol with Celestron Hand Controller or NexRemote. I did immediately purchased one and replaced the Vixen board on the mount. The mount, now, believes it is a CGE Pro

Since then, I am the happy owner of the best mount in its class. Wonderful mechanics from Vixen and a great and smart controller from Celestron.
Clear skies

Sedat




That sounds terrific, I have heard that almost everyone tries to come up with an alternative to the Vixen controller, you'd think they would wake up. Maybe it sells well in Japan.

Generally speaking I like Vixen products--I use one of their refractors a great deal. But they are not a major contender in the U.S. mount market so far as I can see and their controller is definitely one of the reasons.

Greg N


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KDizzle
scholastic sledgehammer


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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5357364 - 08/07/12 11:36 PM

Quote:

Quote:


It's awesome. 6.5hrs of 30 min exposures:
http://www.astrokev.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/ic342-driz3.jpg



Those are round stars indeed. Autoguider? And what focal length were you shooting at? thanks GN




Orion Starshoot Pro v2 color, Orion SSAG through Orion OAG, AT10RC @ 2000mm, CGE Pro.


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KDizzle]
      #5357380 - 08/07/12 11:49 PM

Quote:


Orion Starshoot Pro v2 color, Orion SSAG through Orion OAG, AT10RC @ 2000mm, CGE Pro.




30 minutes at 2000 mm and round stars is very good. What's it like unguided?

GN


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5357533 - 08/08/12 03:23 AM

This is a narrow band image at 0.8" per pixel made from 15m sub-exposures that had round stars around 2.2" fwhm. Standard C11 with reducer at f/6 Guided with OAG and MetaGuide on CGE-Pro from a sea level suburban site north of Manhattan.



Examples of raw, unprocessed sub-exposures for the image and others with cge-pro and cge are at the MetaGuide site.

More images with HD11 and HD14 on cge-pro (also guided with OAG and MetaGuide) can be found here.

Frank


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5357544 - 08/08/12 03:37 AM

Quote:

If you touch the focuser and the OTA bounces so much that it interferes with the focusing, it is undermounted for visual.




That helps because I think all your points relate to just the stability of the mount and how steadily it holds the image when you touch the ota or when there is wind. Nothing about usability, polar alignment, setup time, back pain, ergonomics, cable catching, and general robustness. And cost-effectiveness for someone on a budget.

I found the c11 on cge to be extremely solid but I guess it is under-mounted for a c14 for imaging. Many people would say a c14 is "ok for visual" on a cge - but that would depend on the tolerance people have - which varies and is harder to pin down than achievable fwhm in long exposure images.

The cge has a hidden flexure mode when the bolts at the top of the tripod are slightly loose - which can give it the impression of not being solid - but when they are tight it makes a big difference. The cge-pro next to the cge is even more solid - and much better for a c14 or long refractor.

Frank

Edited by freestar8n (08/08/12 04:02 AM)


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5357885 - 08/08/12 11:42 AM

So in answer to Jim's question, there are some good ones. GN

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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5357912 - 08/08/12 11:57 AM

Quote:

What's it like unguided?




Why does that matter? I'm just curious because if a mount performs very well guided, why should you care how it performs unguided. I mean, if the mount has relatively high native PE that is easily and well guided out and allows you to take good images, who cares about unguided performance, particularly in a not-very-transportable mount?


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Alph
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5357932 - 08/08/12 12:10 PM

Quote:

I mean, if the mount has relatively high native PE that is easily and well guided out and allows you to take good images, who cares about unguided performance



I think We've heard that from Meade


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5357938 - 08/08/12 12:16 PM

And it is still true, even if the DREADED Meade did say it.

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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5357939 - 08/08/12 12:16 PM

good one Alph.

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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5357978 - 08/08/12 12:37 PM

Quote:

Quote:

What's it like unguided?




Why does that matter? I'm just curious because if a mount performs very well guided, why should you care how it performs unguided. I mean, if the mount has relatively high native PE that is easily and well guided out and allows you to take good images, who cares about unguided performance, particularly in a not-very-transportable mount?




It's in the category of interesting-to-know. For example, let's say you have an ED doublet refractor which shows NO in focus color. Why is that triplet owners are so happy when their scope shows no *out of focus* color? Who cares?

But we ask anyhow.

Greg N


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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5358001 - 08/08/12 01:01 PM

Quote:

I think We've heard that from Meade




Seriously. I don't care about the current Meade situation as that is not the point here. What I care about is how everyone wants a magic bullet to decide what mount is the best without regard to how well it actually does its job. Wouldn't two mounts that provide identical results for imaging be worth the same relative amount regardless of whether one had higher native PE than the other? For that matter, why would a mount with low native PE but poor overall performance be worth more than a mount with higher native PE but better overall performance. For many people it is ease of use that is even more important than the PE numbers. A good example is a friend of mine who, having gone through a number of mounts in search of good performance, jumped up to a very high quality mount that turned out to be so difficult to use that he switched back to a mount of presumably lesser quality but greater ease of use.

I don't think the question is quite the same for most refractors, but Greg is correct in regards to paying more for a triplet that performs every bit as good as an ED doublet (if that is in fact the case and all other things like f ratio are the same).

There is a certain amount (maybe a lot) of snobbery involved here (e.g., my triplet's better than your doublet, my PE is lower than your PE) that completely ignores the end result. Everyone is looking for the easy answer in regards to equipment but in the end is forgetting about the actual performance of the equipment (i.e., can't see the forest for the trees).

Other than the current Meade issue (because the native PE has not been shown to be the root of the problem), I want to hear why people think the difference is important if the end result is the same.


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wolfman_4_ever
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5358417 - 08/08/12 04:49 PM

If we were to all believe all we read on the internet, i doubt any of us would have any equipment at all.

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Alph
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5358470 - 08/08/12 05:22 PM

Quote:

I want to hear why people think the difference is important if the end result is the same.



It depends on what the end result is. Some reasons for a low PE were discussed in the past e.g. in the context of the TDM. It looks like more and more mount manufactures will be installing high resolution encoders. Put that question to Astro-physics.


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5358499 - 08/08/12 05:44 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I want to hear why people think the difference is important if the end result is the same.



It depends on what's the end result is. Some reasons for a low PE were discussed in the past e.g. in the context of the TDM. It looks like more and more mount manufactures will be installing high resolution encoders. Put that question to Astro-physics.




The servo mounts already have high resolution encoders which divide a circle into more than two million tics. I think you mean automatic PE compensation via encoder measurements of the speed of rotation...or something like that. I don't know whether TDM style control can be done in the drive servos. Greg N


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5358614 - 08/08/12 06:55 PM

Contrary to what I read someone on one of the CN fora, the AP900GTO is not going away. Apparently though people who want a 1200 GTO will have to settle for the 1600. GN

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KDizzle
scholastic sledgehammer


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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5358660 - 08/08/12 07:19 PM

Well, to be honest, I don't run it unguided. It is so easy to set up and start imaging with either OAG, 80mm guidescope, or the AOL that I can even do alignments half the time using just the finder and get great results. Yes I said that. Alignment with the 50mm finder.

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WadeH237
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5358955 - 08/08/12 11:07 PM

Quote:

Contrary to what I read someone on one of the CN fora, the AP900GTO is not going away.




Yes it is. Astro-Physics has been very clear that the stock of AP900s that they have on hand are the last of the line.

There was a post today in the AP users group where someone asked if AP was going to continue to offer a mount between the Mach1 and the AP1600. Roland answered that, yes, they would continue to offer something.

What he did not say in this instance (but has said in the past) is that the continued offering will not be the AP900, but something new. In the same way that the AP1200 was retired in favor of the 1600, the AP900 is retired in favor of some new, as of yet unnamed mount. The new mount will have the same basic features of the AP1600 (ie. through the mount cable routing, optional encoders, etc.)

-Wade


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jrbarnett
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5358999 - 08/08/12 11:59 PM

"Look at all you've spent Jim. Penny wise and pound foolish. A 900GTO would have blown away all the mounts you mention (except the Mach 1) and total cost would have been the same or less--and you'd still be using it, no corpses."

Ah, but the difference is that if I had just one costly mount rather than a half-dozen inexpensive ones, I could only use one OTA at a time. Multiple mounts allow not only the redundancy/fail-over option, but also the simultaneous fielding of a plethora of different OTAs.

And actually, all of my mounts together don't add up to the cost of a single A-P 900 once I factor in the required ala carte accessories on the A-P (counterweights, shaft, tripod/pier, etc.). I do think about consolidation sometimes, but I'd probably also need to downsize on the OTA front a bit if I did that.

So, I guess what I really need are a pair of A-P 900s and a pair of Mach 1s.



- Jim


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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5359017 - 08/09/12 12:13 AM

Quote:

So, I guess what I really need are a pair of A-P 900s and a pair of Mach 1s.



- Jim




Don't we all.


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tjay
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5359045 - 08/09/12 12:30 AM

Quote:

"Look at all you've spent Jim. Penny wise and pound foolish. A 900GTO would have blown away all the mounts you mention (except the Mach 1) and total cost would have been the same or less--and you'd still be using it, no corpses."

Ah, but the difference is that if I had just one costly mount rather than a half-dozen inexpensive ones, I could only use one OTA at a time. Multiple mounts allow not only the redundancy/fail-over option, but also the simultaneous fielding of a plethora of different OTAs.

And actually, all of my mounts together don't add up to the cost of a single A-P 900 once I factor in the required ala carte accessories on the A-P (counterweights, shaft, tripod/pier, etc.). I do think about consolidation sometimes, but I'd probably also need to downsize on the OTA front a bit if I did that.

So, I guess what I really need are a pair of A-P 900s and a pair of Mach 1s.



- Jim




I'll keep your spares at a secure location at a distance from yours, tested and ready to go...


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jrbarnett
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5359050 - 08/09/12 12:36 AM

I love your patio. What a great view. It seems like our climates and tastes in stonework are not all that different.



I concur that the Vixen US practice of stating capacity with CWs included is a bit misleading, especially since the mother ship in Japan does not rate the mounts that way. Though I will say that Losmandy states capacity both ways - with and without CWs, so it's not entirely unprecedented. And Starbook is stupid. I wish the Starbook mounts were Sky Wire compatible. Still, if it tracks smoothly it's not all bad.

- Jim


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5359060 - 08/09/12 12:48 AM

Quote:



Yes it is. Astro-Physics has been very clear that the stock of AP900s that they have on hand are the last of the line.

There was a post today in the AP users group where someone asked if AP was going to continue to offer a mount between the Mach1 and the AP1600. Roland answered that, yes, they would continue to offer something.

What he did not say in this instance (but has said in the past) is that the continued offering will not be the AP900, but something new. In the same way that the AP1200 was retired in favor of the 1600, the AP900 is retired in favor of some new, as of yet unnamed mount. The new mount will have the same basic features of the AP1600 (ie. through the mount cable routing, optional encoders, etc.)

-Wade




You are correct. A "900 size mount," not the 900GTO.

Greg N


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bilgebayModerator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5359079 - 08/09/12 01:15 AM

Thank you Jim. Your place is beautiful too. When I visited Berkeley, Napa Valley, Point Reyes and many other places last year, I came to the same conclusion. I felt very much at home in your country.

Quote:

I wish the Starbook mounts were Sky Wire compatible.




Starbook is compatible with SkyFi. I have used my mount with Sky Safari (then Sky Voyager) in that configuration like 8-9 months prior to switching to the NexAtlux board. The subject was discussed here. You would only need a wireless router, preferably an Airport Express, for connecting Starbook to your home network. However, any router, if you already have one, should also work.

I am not sure if I was able to use it with Sky Wire as well..but I don't think so. It requires a serial connection IIRC whereas Starbook connects through TCPIP protocol.

If you need any help just let me know.

Clear skies

Edited by bilgebay (08/09/12 01:29 AM)


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5359089 - 08/09/12 01:21 AM

You cannot do TDM-style control from the drive servos.

Because it doesn't take into account gear backlash in the drive, backlash from the servo gearhead and the worm, some cable dragging on the OTA, wind.....

All of which can be compensated by a TDM (or SiTech tick management.. or Littlefoot Encoder-Assisted PEC) because these solutions are reading the RA axis directly.


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5359195 - 08/09/12 04:00 AM

Quote:

There is a certain amount (maybe a lot) of snobbery involved here (e.g., my triplet's better than your doublet, my PE is lower than your PE) that completely ignores the end result. Everyone is looking for the easy answer in regards to equipment but in the end is forgetting about the actual performance of the equipment (i.e., can't see the forest for the trees).




I think a related question is - why aren't more people asking the same question you're asking - and with the same clarity of thought?

I think there are many factors involved, but mainly it is an issue of massive groupthink in which autoguiding amateurs have latched onto sub-optimal methodology coupled with a lack of appreciation for good performance metrics that keeps them in a rut of contented mediocrity.

There are several compounding factors:

1) Good results *can* be bought in the form of a high end mount with expensive bearings and gearbox - coupled with low PE. This leads to a strong correlation between good results and low PE - which gives the impression that lowering PE in a mid-range mount will dramatically improve results - but correlation is not causality.

2) "Experts" in autoguiding usually graduate to high end equipment that yields good results and gives an impression they have also acquired expertise with mid-range equipment - but unless they have actually demonstrated good results with mid-range equipment, their advice and methodology are unverified. Thus, much of the theory and craft advocated on the web is simply bad advice not backed by relevant results. This same advice is ok for high end equipment simply because it is more forgiving and can even yield good results with no guiding at all.

3) There is a normal "photography" mode of assessing astrophotography results - just by qualitative assessment of appearance and sharpness of processed images and saying, "That's a great image! Good guiding!". But in astronomy all the objects are at infinity and moving at the same rate - so you can have objective measures of sharpness - mainly fwhm in arc-seconds. People can't differentiate a good result from a bad one, and therefore can't distinguish methods that work well from those that don't.

4) There is a lack of any sense of proportion of all the errors involved - mainly centroid accuracy, periodic error, gearbox error, bearing noise, and seeing. Somehow the centroid error is considered negligible while periodic error dominates - but there is no empirical basis for this and simple calculations show that typical periodic error between guide exposures is a small fraction of an arc-second - and would not explain the measured bloating of the star fwhm.

5) There is a fundamental lack of interest in emulating good scientific and engineering practice by trying different approaches and empirically comparing results by relevant objective metrics.

I don't expect a change to happen easily and it may never happen because it would require such a paradigm shift. But I see people switching to OAG more and more since the improvement in results is dramatic and immediate, although it does require more effort. It is easier to be content with a little guidescope, thinking there is no need to try harder because everything is already optimal.

I do occasionally see people asking questions like the one you asked - and that is encouraging.

On the topic of cge-pro vs. high end - the difference in price is dramatic - but the results obtained by good guiding are not. Most high end results with sct's are guided with oag or dual-chip anyway - so there is little difference in that regard.

Frank


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bilgebayModerator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5359217 - 08/09/12 04:30 AM

I agree with you and Ed Frank. For me what matters is the transparency of the mount. In my case, I don't even know that my mount exists at all. It does its job perfectly in co-operation with the OAG or guidescope plus the guide camera and the guiding software. I would notice the mount only when it doesn't do its job properly, ie elongated stars or off gotos.

When we go out and spend our time in the cold or hot and sleepless nights, our main goal is to concentrate on observing or imaging, not taking care of a certain problem with one of the equipments we deploy.

So, I really don't care what brand or make the mount is as long as it is reliably doing its job.

By the way, I have a question that I have been delaying to ask for a very long time:

How on earth is a mount able to (or, is expected to) track both a star close to the celestial equator and a star in near polar regions ? Does the mount controllers have an algorithm and calculate the speed required for that certain declination ?

Am I missing something here ? Because if such a speed adjustment is not made, we shouldn't be able to track precisely no matter how perfect the gears are how small the PE is. Maybe this is a stupid question but here is me, asking it


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5359236 - 08/09/12 04:50 AM

hi Sedat,
all stars whether close to the equator or near the pole, rotate at the same (angular) rate.

so the sidereal constant rate is fine. it is true that the (arc distance) is less closer to the pole - but since the declination is also greater, the distance traversed is cosine (declination). so there's no mount algorithm at all, it's just that as the declination axis moves to greater declination, the arc traversed through the sky is also less.


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bilgebayModerator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5359257 - 08/09/12 05:42 AM

Was a stupid question indeed Thank you Orlando

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orion69
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/09/10

Loc: Croatia
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5359335 - 08/09/12 07:33 AM

So, can we agree that CGE Pro would be good for 30 min subs with refractor up to 6", <900mm FL, max 20-25 kg weight(OTA + rest gear)?
Never mind cables and other less convenient stuff, I'll deal with that.

Knez


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Alph
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5359726 - 08/09/12 11:38 AM

Quote:

I'll deal with that.



Like shipping it to Celestron across the pond just to adjust gear meshing. Are you serious? Why would anyone in Europe consider the CGE Pro is beyond my comprehension.


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Peter in Reno
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5359738 - 08/09/12 11:50 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I'll deal with that.



Like shipping it to Celestron across the pond just to adjust gear meshing. Are you serious? Why would anyone in Europe consider the CGE Pro is beyond my comprehension.




What mount would you recommend to people living in Europe?

Peter


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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5359785 - 08/09/12 12:20 PM

Quote:

Like shipping it to Celestron across the pond just to adjust gear meshing. Are you serious? Why would anyone in Europe consider the CGE Pro is beyond my comprehension.




There is a risk with every mount that it might have a problem that requires shipment to the manufacturer. Gear mesh adjustment should not be one of those problems but for some people it is. You can usually find someone more local or at least information on line to take care of adjustment issues. But repair issues are another matter.

How many telescope/mount companies do you know of that have authorized service centers, domestically or internationally? None that I know of. For the big companies I think that this is the wrong way to do things, but for the small companies it is simply a fact of life due to logistics and costs. You are probably always best to buy from a company that is local enough that you can return the equipment for repair, but if that was your only choice, you might be severely limited in what you could buy. There are some good mount manufacturers in Europe, but they are all high end, high cost, without large numbers of units in the field. There are risks associated with that of course.

I know of one person outside of the US that has been forced to send a CGE Pro back and forth to the US for repair and that was not pretty and that is a risk that you have to contemplate. But that was one person and where he was located meant that anything he bought would have the same problem if a repair were necessary. A repair might be less likely with a higher end mount and some companies are more willing to simply send replacement parts than others, but there is nonetheless a risk in any equipment that you buy. The potential risks have to be balanced with the potential costs in each case.


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KDizzle
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 09/12/08

Loc: Woodinville, WA
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5359897 - 08/09/12 01:12 PM

When my CGE Pro went back (twice), despite the inconvenience, Celestron paid the shipping three ways and I paid once (the first time). I don't know if anyone else will have a similar experience esp. in Europe, but there's at least some indication they stand by their product even if there is an issue.

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orion69
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/09/10

Loc: Croatia
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5360162 - 08/09/12 03:37 PM

Quote:


Like shipping it to Celestron across the pond just to adjust gear meshing. Are you serious? Why would anyone in Europe consider the CGE Pro is beyond my comprehension.




Alph, when I asked if CGE Pro is good for AP I didn't meant defective mount.
Also, there was similar comments (I should say biased) like yours when I was buying CGEM...

Knez


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5360329 - 08/09/12 05:25 PM

Quote:

So, can we agree that CGE Pro would be good for 30 min subs with refractor up to 6", <900mm FL, max 20-25 kg weight(OTA + rest gear)?
Never mind cables and other less convenient stuff, I'll deal with that.

Knez




No we can't. Among the other intangibles on which we have no data is variability in production. When you buy AP or Paramount you get very tight production specs with very little variance: in English, one is pretty much as good as another.

Lower quality does not mean that there is no good quality in the line. It means that there is wider variance in the units produced. In English, getting a "good one" becomes more of a kuhrap shoot.

Greg N


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Eric Gage
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5360364 - 08/09/12 05:40 PM

Quote:

Quote:

The more I read about Celestron mounts, the more happy I am that I sprung for a Takahashi.




Don't believe everything you read on the cotton picking Internets.

If nothing else, the mucho more expensive Tak mounts can't hold a candle to the much better software/HCs of the very cheapest Celestrons.




Perhaps not, but once you're committed to a laptop (AP), the HC becomes irrelevant. I bought my mount because of its hardware quality, not its software, and it has never disappointed. It's an amazing performer.


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wolfman_4_ever
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5360582 - 08/09/12 07:48 PM

So AP's and Paramounts don't have an issues because of QA and production specs?

Last I checked people were still po'ed that Bisque makes them buy replacement MKS boards... That are always blowing..


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Tori
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5360636 - 08/09/12 08:25 PM

Since the OP mentioned liking the fact that the mount's tripod is a bit tall, I remembered one more thing about the mount's tripod that I haven't seen mentioned anywhere. While it's true you can extend the legs if you're 12 feet tall or are mounting a huge refractor, I ought to mention that the legs, at least on my tripod, do not remain like to extended. This can be a problem very quickly if you're mounting 130 pounds of gear and counterweights. I had once raised the mount by 6 or so inches (long story on why) and when I went to put the OTA on the mount the pressure of me sliding my C14 into the dovetail became too much and the northern leg just slid down and the whole thing fell over. As luck would have it, the mount fell onto my bed, as it was a dry run and my gear was in my bedroom... no damage done. But I will NEVER extend the legs again.

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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5360640 - 08/09/12 08:28 PM

Quote:

No we can't. Among the other intangibles on which we have no data is variability in production. When you buy AP or Paramount you get very tight production specs with very little variance: in English, one is pretty much as good as another.

Lower quality does not mean that there is no good quality in the line. It means that there is wider variance in the units produced. In English, getting a "good one" becomes more of a kuhrap shoot.

Greg N




In my opinion, it is the consistency in quality of more expensive mounts that you really are paying for and is worth paying for, not the level of PE. If someone produces a mount that consistently performs well regardless of the PE or at least performs very consistently in light of the PE, then that mount should be worth more than a mount that is highly variable in its performance. Low PE and consisten production and performance may often be seen together, but as suggested by freestar8n, they are not necessarily related and one cannot guarantee the other.


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5360649 - 08/09/12 08:33 PM

There's a +- 3" PE CGEM on a-mart. While Mark / stew57 has a famous arc-minute PE CGEM. So that variability can be good.. or bad.

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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: wolfman_4_ever]
      #5360700 - 08/09/12 09:15 PM

Quote:

So AP's and Paramounts don't have an issues because of QA and production specs?

Last I checked people were still po'ed that Bisque makes them buy replacement MKS boards... That are always blowing..




Of course they have issues. What you are buying is a lower probability of an issue. If you ask around a lot you can find people who have owned Toyota lemons. They are harder to find than people who have owned GM lemons.

There is a well developed literature on qc/qa in manufacturing and tolerance controls are one of the first things that were introduced in my stat textbook.

The standard deviation is denoted by the greek letter sigma and six sigma production standards is the dream goal of most manufacturing. In some situations even six sigma may not be enough if you have a massive interplanetary probe with 5 million parts made at six sigma standards then you are going to have some parts failures. Furthermore there are many variables such as the whether a component will work at all just off the production line, and, a different matter, whether the components that *do* work will meet the target specification for durability.

read more here

Now both Astro-Physics and Software Bisque are craft production shops and they do well in comparison to Fordism. If you want my guesstimates, I would say that AP and Software Bisque are probably operating at or near a 3 sigma and Celestron and Meade are probably operating more on a 1.5 sigma. On this link, think of AP and Paramount as the red distribution and Celestron and Meade as the blue.

You will find far more dogs in the blue population but some of them will be very good. The tighter production standards implied by the red distribution mean that very few examples of the produced units fall outside the desired specs, even so, some will probably have something like 3 arc seconds error peak to peak, and others will have 8 or 9. Among refractor lens makers the problem is well known and that's why they don't like people getting into a frenzy over whether the apo is 96 strehl or 98 since both values are excellent and within the targeted spec.

So if you go to the AP show room and twenty mounts on display maybe one will have issues. Twenty celestron mounts might have five to eight with issues.

The best way to go to get to six sigma is through what is called lean production where every worker is intimately involved in the qc/qa process. There is a very good analysis of production techniques and history in the automobile industry which lays all this stuff out: it is Womack et al's Machine That Changed the World.

Lean production requires larger production runs than craft production so you can get really tight production specs on such things as cameras and camera lenses; and eyepiece lenses (sold to the whole population of telescopes) can be made to tighter specs than the scopes that they are used on.

Greg N


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EFT
Vendor - Deep Space Products
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5360711 - 08/09/12 09:21 PM

Quote:

There's a +- 3" PE CGEM on a-mart. While Mark / stew57 has a famous arc-minute PE CGEM. So that variability can be good.. or bad.




Thankfully, Mark/stew57 is finally past that problem, but it was not an easy journey.


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5361070 - 08/10/12 03:15 AM

Quote:

can we agree that CGE Pro would be good for 30 min subs with refractor up to 6", <900mm FL, max 20-25 kg weight(OTA + rest gear)?




This is a hard question to answer without more details on what "good" means and how the image is captured, but I would say the following:

1) In terms of payload and torque it should be no problem.

2) A refractor like that can do well on a high end mount with long, unguided shots if the mount is very carefully aligned - i.e. in a permanent setup. Otherwise guiding would be needed.

3) Unguided long exposure images with a high end mount on a permanent pier would probably have higher fwhm (worse) than well guided images in a system quickly setup and aligned with a cge-pro. This is not just due to mount imperfections but changing atmospheric refraction, flexure, etc.

4) Well guided images with a small guidescope on a high end mount would be worse than tightly guided OAG images on a cge-pro.

5) Tightly guided OAG images with a high end mount would not be much different from those on a cge-pro, and would require about the same effort to acquire. The main difference would be the optimal update (correction) rate on the two mounts.

Frank


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alrosm
professor emeritus


Reged: 07/27/10

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5361087 - 08/10/12 03:55 AM

When I bought my Titan, I saw few posts or reviews for the CGE-Pro, today 1.5 years later, I got the same feeling.
I see this mount available online everywhere but not that many reviews.


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orion69
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/09/10

Loc: Croatia
Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5361093 - 08/10/12 04:06 AM

Quote:


This is a hard question to answer without more details on what "good" means and how the image is captured, but I would say the following:

1) In terms of payload and torque it should be no problem.

2) A refractor like that can do well on a high end mount with long, unguided shots if the mount is very carefully aligned - i.e. in a permanent setup. Otherwise guiding would be needed.

3) Unguided long exposure images with a high end mount on a permanent pier would probably have higher fwhm (worse) than well guided images in a system quickly setup and aligned with a cge-pro. This is not just due to mount imperfections but changing atmospheric refraction, flexure, etc.

4) Well guided images with a small guidescope on a high end mount would be worse than tightly guided OAG images on a cge-pro.

5) Tightly guided OAG images with a high end mount would not be much different from those on a cge-pro, and would require about the same effort to acquire. The main difference would be the optimal update (correction) rate on the two mounts.

Frank




I meant of course OAG guided images. By "good" guiding I mean like this:



This was shot with CGEM, while this mount guides perfectly, it has limited AP weight capacity and because I'm thinking about upgrading to larger and much heavier refractor, CGE Pro seams like a nice option so far. Another would be ASA DDM60...

Thanks for info.

Knez


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gnowellsct
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: alrosm]
      #5361491 - 08/10/12 10:52 AM

Quote:

When I bought my Titan, I saw few posts or reviews for the CGE-Pro, today 1.5 years later, I got the same feeling.
I see this mount available online everywhere but not that many reviews.




How's the Titan and the folding HD working out. When you say folding HD do you mean a folding version of the Titan tripod or a folding version of the G11/HD tripod.

Greg N


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jmiele
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5361587 - 08/10/12 11:53 AM

Knez, IDK what FL you shot that at, but it is nicely done..

Best, Joe


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orion69
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5361931 - 08/10/12 03:10 PM

Quote:

Knez, IDK what FL you shot that at, but it is nicely done..

Best, Joe




Thanks, it was shot at 765 mm (Equinox 120ED, 900mm with 0.85x FF/FR)

Knez

Edited by orion69 (08/10/12 03:13 PM)


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jrbarnett
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5363133 - 08/11/12 10:42 AM

I think that there's maybe an easier way to describe the scenario. If having as smooth a mount as possible didn't matter, why would manufacturers bother to invest the time and effort required to make mounts as smooth as possible? Why experiment with novel gear-less drivetrains at great R&D expense to get away from PE altogether?

I don't think "snobbery" explains why such manufacturing investments are made, nor why folks pay a huge premium to get them. Instead I think some manufacturers take pride in their quality and workmanship, and some consumers value quality. I'm the Synta mount poster child, and I don't have a single Synta mount that I do not believe to be a ticking time bomb. These mounts are built to a price in every respect. It's only a matter of time before it's going to die and require diagnosis and repair. They're almost built to be "disposable". Now granted, they are cheap, cheap, cheap for their capacities, and if you get a good one the useful life will be long enough that when it does give up its ghost, you'll have extracted reasonable value out of the mount, but the opposite is also possible - you could get a problem mount that requires many trips back to the manufacturer.

"Did he fire six shots or only five?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?"

I've repeatedly felt lucky and gone for the cheaper mount, and been right for the most part (I got 7 years out of a CG5 before it blew a board; my Atlas is still kicking after 7 years). On the other hand, several club mates have not been so lucky with their Synta mount purchases, in one case even after after-market hypertuning. As Greg says, some folks aren't gamblers and don't want to take the kuhrap shoot.

- Jim


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Alph
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Tori]
      #5363464 - 08/11/12 02:58 PM

Quote:

I ought to mention that the legs, at least on my tripod, do not remain like to extended.



This is also a problem with the CGE tripod. I suppose making the tripod very tall was the Celestron's answer to the problem.


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5363488 - 08/11/12 03:17 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I ought to mention that the legs, at least on my tripod, do not remain like to extended.



This is also a problem with the CGE tripod. I suppose making the tripod very tall was the Celestron's answer to the problem.




No doubt! And that old CGE Pro probably has COOTIES too, right?


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5363507 - 08/11/12 03:33 PM

Quote:


I don't think "snobbery" explains why such manufacturing investments are made, nor why folks pay a huge premium to get them. Instead I think some manufacturers take pride in their quality and workmanship, and some consumers value quality. I'm the Synta mount poster child, and I don't have a single Synta mount that I do not believe to be a ticking time bomb.




I used to worry about that, but one of my Syntas has now been ticking for seven years and the other is going on five. If one of them detonated, I'd just hop out and get another one.

AP makes mechanically wonderful mounts and so does Tak. BUT... Most folks' requirements would be just as well served with a Synta or a Losmandy. But then it wouldn't say "Tak" or "AP" on it, would it? Like me, most of us don't have the skies, the telescope, and the skills that require a 10K and up mount. Not that I have anything against the dude next to me and my Atlas with his EM500. If they are having fun, well, that's what it is all about.

I do think some of the folks around here spend more time worrying about what might or might not work than actually getting out and working it, however. My recent philosophy has been that if the Atlas wouldn't do what I needed it to do, I would upgrade. A testament to my laughably modest skills and needs is that that has yet to happen.


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Eric Gage]
      #5363528 - 08/11/12 03:44 PM

Quote:



Perhaps not, but once you're committed to a laptop (AP), the HC becomes irrelevant. I bought my mount because of its hardware quality, not its software, and it has never disappointed. It's an amazing performer.




What if you don't want to use a laptop, or run t-point every time even if you have a laptop with you? The Taks may be machanical marvels, but they need a decent HC or a laptop program that makes up for the lack.

Edited by rmollise (08/11/12 03:45 PM)


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5365143 - 08/12/12 06:01 PM

Quote:

If having as smooth a mount as possible didn't matter, why would manufacturers bother to invest the time and effort required to make mounts as smooth as possible? Why experiment with novel gear-less drivetrains at great R&D expense to get away from PE altogether?




Smooth mounts are great - but the issue in this thread is that "PE" is not a measure of smoothness - it's a measure of the amplitude of the slow and repeatable motion associated with the worm/gear.

A high end mount is "smooth" because it has high grade and expensive bearings, a beefy and expensive gearbox, and an expensive worm/gear set. Only the last component plays a role in "PE", while the others contribute smaller but faster terms in the 1-20s realm. No one is talking about those terms when they either compare one mount to another, or when they take steps to lower "PE."

But as long as these faster terms can be corrected quickly enough with low latency guiding and an accurate OAG centroid, the more expensive and higher grade components need not be essential to obtaining small fwhm.

Putting it all together, lowering PE may not improve guiding because it leaves the faster terms unchanged; comparing mounts based only on PE ignores these faster terms; high end mounts are easier to guide well because you can be more casual about it since they truly are smoother; but even if a mid-range mount isn't smooth to the level of a high end mount, it may still provide similar guided results if the guiding is good.

Frank


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KDizzle
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5365210 - 08/12/12 06:44 PM

Every time these PE discussions come up, AO never seems to enter the discussion. Doesn't it make sense to move a tiny refractive element super fast without a giant pile of weight on it? Or still everyone thinks it's best to move a huge mass ever-so-slightly while combating the manufacturing challenges of pi?

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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KDizzle]
      #5365660 - 08/12/12 11:37 PM

I was gonna bring that up... seems that a fair-to-middling mount with an AO unit should be able to outperform a high-end mount, at least in the roundness-of-stars category.

Of course reliability would be another ball of wax entirely. All the folks who rave about AP's and Tak's (and Paramounts?) must be at least partially singing the praises of reliability and predictability.


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Jared
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KDizzle]
      #5365794 - 08/13/12 01:40 AM

Here is the disadvantage to AO... You need a bright guide star in the field of view. If you really want to adjust things on the order of 2-5 Hz or even faster, that requires either an extremely fast scope or a very short focal length scope (in which case even a moderate quality mount can probably handle things without the help of AO).

Does it work? Sure. I had an AO7 that I used with great success with a 110mm refractor on a Losmandy GM8 for a while. It was wonderful with that combination. The Losmondy had some rough spots in its tracking that the AO unit was quick enough to take out where an ordinary autoguider couldn't. But as the focal length grows, the number of bright guide stars begins to shrink. When I switched to a 1,600mm focal length scope, the number of objects where the AO unit was an improvement on a traditional autoguider began to shrink since I couldn't find guide stars that would allow a fast sampling rate. Now I'm imaging at 2,000mm+ and I just don't see how to make AO work.


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orion69
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Jared]
      #5365833 - 08/13/12 02:36 AM

Quote:

Here is the disadvantage to AO... You need a bright guide star in the field of view.




Also, how much of improvement AO brings over mount that guides correctly <1000 mm? Is that even visible on pictures?
There is one more problem with using AO and that is backfocus. In my case backfocus for FF/FR I use is 55mm and there is no way I could squeeze AO with FW and camera.
Don't get me wrong, I would like to use AO, I just can't.

Knez


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KDizzle]
      #5365872 - 08/13/12 03:53 AM

Quote:

Every time these PE discussions come up, AO never seems to enter the discussion. Doesn't it make sense to move a tiny refractive element super fast without a giant pile of weight on it? Or still everyone thinks it's best to move a huge mass ever-so-slightly while combating the manufacturing challenges of pi?




I consider AO to be proven technology that will make a mid-range or even lower grade mount perform, in terms of fwhm, like a high end mount - but it has many disadvantages.

Results from AO provided evidence for me many years ago that tighter guiding was possible with low latency and a good centroid. AO for amateurs was originally intended (I believe) to help correct seeing in the 10-20Hz range, but the benefits with mid-range equipment were obvious even when used at around 1 Hz, and much slower than seeing. I could tell from images I saw on the web whether an lx200 shot used AO or not - even when it was correcting at 1 Hz or slower.

If you go from a small guidescope to AO you are not only getting the lower mechanical latency of a small moving element - you are switching to OAG and low latency corrections without a shutter. But there is nothing that prevents a mount from responding in less than one second. So - as long as the autoguider feedback is prompt, a mount can achieve similar tightness of guiding without the need for added complexity of AO.

AO has several flavors nowadays - reflective or refracitive; guiding before the filters or after. But for correcting mid-range mounts (not seeing) I think you can get nearly the same benefit in the 1 Hz range with tight guiding and OAG.

Unfortunately there are "expert" web pages on autoguiding that say you should make as few corrections as possible because each correction introduces "noise." I would say instead that you should make corrections at the optimal rate - whatever it is - that is needed for your mount. If you steer a cruise ship across the Atlantic you probably don't want to jerk the steering back and forth rapidly - but if you are off-roading in a jeep you had better keep your hands on the wheel.

Also unfortunate - many people using OAG are not dialing in the brightest guide star available and instead they just expose longer - perhaps 5 seconds - until they can see a guidestar that happens to fall on the chip. This is fine for high end mounts because they are truly smooth over this time frame - but for mid-range mounts it will prevent prompt corrections to faster terms. I recommend dialing in the brightest guidestar available with OAG. This points out the inherent benefit of high end mounts, in that such details and added care may not be needed. But similar results can be obtained when added effort is made in directions that actually yield smaller fwhm.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5365881 - 08/13/12 04:18 AM

Frank - using an OAG is tough. Finding guide stars is really hard because of the tiny pick-off mirror.

I have actually gone back to finder guider from OAG, in spite of the obviously superior results from OAG, because it is simply less hassle to use a finder guider.

The Innovations Foresight ONAG should help here as you can pick guide stars from the center of the field where the stars aren't shaped like bananas and are much brighter. It is rather pricey though. I am going to try building my own ONAG using a cold mirror... updates if ever I get that working.


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5365905 - 08/13/12 05:17 AM

There are good oag setups and bad ones, and the main problem I see is a small mirror far away from the guide chip - often with spacers inserted to push it even farther back. It's important to have the guide mirror be as large as possible and for the guide chip to be as close to it as possible - because the size of the mirror as seen by the guide chip places a limit on the effective f/ratio of the guider setup - regardless of the f/ratio of the OTA. I think many OAG setups are at f/30 or something due to geometry alone.

The second issue with OAG is to pre-plan the guidestar and select the brightest one available using a planetarium program and a field of view indicator. This, combined with angle readouts on the OAG, lets you dial in the guidestar ahead of time and find it easily. Examples of my setup can be seen here.

Even people with high end setups would tend to pre-plan the best guide star - partly because some people with dual chip setups are guiding through the filter, which may be narrow band, and they really need a bright guidestar. With OAG you are in front of the filter, but there is still benefit in using the best available guidestar.

I prefer the straight-through geometry of OAG rather than mounting the imaging camera off-axis and having an additional reflective element in the imaging path.

Although this is all specific to OAG technique - comparing one mount to another is less meaningful when one of them is not guided by techniques that realize its true capabilities.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5365912 - 08/13/12 05:23 AM

because the size of the mirror as seen by the guide chip places a limit on the effective f/ratio of the guider setup

thanks for that information. no wonder i was having such problems with OAG.

i was always wondering why the exact same camera, with the exact same OTA, needed shorter exposures when "straight through" than with the OAG. It is the same objective right? so I thought the focal ratio was the same.


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orion69
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5365943 - 08/13/12 06:45 AM

Quote:

There are good oag setups and bad ones, and the main problem I see is a small mirror far away from the guide chip - often with spacers inserted to push it even farther back. It's important to have the guide mirror be as large as possible and for the guide chip to be as close to it as possible - because the size of the mirror as seen by the guide chip places a limit on the effective f/ratio of the guider setup - regardless of the f/ratio of the OTA. I think many OAG setups are at f/30 or something due to geometry alone.





I'm not sure that is true because mirror is not lens. Also not sure that larger mirror would produce brighter stars on guiding camera chip, it would simply cover larger surface of the chip. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me.
More important is quality (sensitivity) of guiding camera, get Lodestar and all problems with finding guiding stars are gone (depending of FL, of course). That said I never had problems finding guiding stars with same configuration using Alccd5 (Qhy5).
I think main problem with new OAG users is that they give up too soon, guiding with OAG is actually NOT difficult.

Knez

P.S.

orlyandico, what scope (configuration) are you using?


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5365947 - 08/13/12 06:52 AM

I'm using a Meade DSI as my guiding camera. This is a pretty sensitive camera, but I am forced to go to 5-second (!) exposures to get decent guide stars. OTA is an Orion 100ED (f/9).

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orion69
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5365958 - 08/13/12 07:01 AM

Quote:

I'm using a Meade DSI as my guiding camera. This is a pretty sensitive camera, but I am forced to go to 5-second (!) exposures to get decent guide stars. OTA is an Orion 100ED (f/9).




With Equinox F7.5, 900mm I was guiding 1-2 sec with Alccd5 (Qhy5), with FF/FR 0.85x and Lodestar I could go <0.5 sec, but always guiding at 1 sec with plenty of stars available (almost like with separate scope).
Don't you use FF/FR?

Knez


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5365972 - 08/13/12 07:16 AM

Quote:

I'm not sure that is true because mirror is not lens. Also not sure that larger mirror would produce brighter stars on guiding camera chip, it would simply cover larger surface of the chip. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me.




It is definitely true as long as the guide mirror is only accepting part of the light from the OTA. Often, as in my case with an SCT, the allowed light is restricted by a mixture of the guide mirror size and the secondary obstruction or the full aperture. Either way - the guide chip is only seeing part of the entrance pupil, and making the guide mirror larger would let it see more.

The geometry of f/ratio is simple - it is defined by the maximum cone of light arriving at focus from a star - which in this case is defined by the size of the mirror and its distance from the guide chip.

Another factor determining guide star brightness and quality is the presence of aberration in the outer part of the field. This is where field correction in the OTA has a second benefit by improving the guide star quality - and therefore the guiding. I was able to guide with a normal c11 at f/10 but the guidestars are better with the 6.3 reducer. I expect they would be even better with EdgeHD.

Many people say the shape of the guidestar doesn't matter and you can even guide on a star shaped like a line - but I would say that centroid accuracy is best when the star is small and round and the guide pixel scale is < 1". This also lets you use shorter exposures and react to errors promptly.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5366003 - 08/13/12 07:52 AM

I am using an FR/FF, but its spacing requires that it sits after the OAG (I am using a Vixen OAG, not one of those low-profile TS ones).

So I am seeing the edge of the f/9 light cone. and yes the stars look like lines!!! (an f/9 refractor should have a decently flat field, so I think the star shape is due to the shape of the pick-off mirror).


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orion69
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5366037 - 08/13/12 08:45 AM

Quote:

I am using an FR/FF, but its spacing requires that it sits after the OAG (I am using a Vixen OAG, not one of those low-profile TS ones).





This is not good, OAG should be placed between FF/FR and filter wheel if you have one. If you can't place OAG after FF/FR you'll have to buy new OAG.

Knez


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5366052 - 08/13/12 09:06 AM

D'oh. I suspected as much, because my DSI Pro would not reach focus unless I added a 1.25" diagonal to the guide port! Guess I'll try putting the reducer in front and see how bad things get.

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Alph
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orion69]
      #5366287 - 08/13/12 11:42 AM

Quote:

Also not sure that larger mirror would produce brighter stars on guiding camera chip, it would simply cover larger surface of the chip. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me.



You are correct. A larger pick-off prism will not produce a brighter guide star. Otherwise, a larger CCD would produce brighter stars too.


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5366396 - 08/13/12 12:44 PM

Quote:

You are correct. A larger pick-off prism will not produce a brighter guide star. Otherwise, a larger CCD would produce brighter stars too.




Things sure are different up there on Melmac. Go ahead then - make the prism 1mm square and see how much light you get when it is 100mm from the guide chip. At best it would be operating at f/100 even if the OTA is f/2. At the same focal length, of course.

The minimum possible f/ratio seen by the guide chip is the distance to the prism divided by the prism width. If that number is greater than the f/ratio of the OTA, then increasing the prism size will increase the brightness of guide stars, by decreasing the f/ratio. Once the prism is large enough that it is not clipping the available cone of light - then a larger prism will not help anything and the f/ratio will equal that of the OTA.

Most people are operating in a regime where the prism is greatly limiting the cone of light - and therefore the effective f/ratio of the guide system. You can decrease the effective f/ratio by increasing the prism size and/or moving the guide chip closer. The difference can be dramatic.

Frank


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5366424 - 08/13/12 01:00 PM

Frank - bingo.

I think this is why my OAG experiences have been really bad. I put the flattener behind the OAG, which requires a lot of in-focus, so I actually needed a 1.25" diagonal at the guide port so the guide chip would come to focus.

What this means is... the guide chip is very, very, very far from the prism. Which accounts for my needing 5-second exposures.


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David PavlichAdministrator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5366446 - 08/13/12 01:11 PM

A good topic, OAG, but if we could, get this back on the CGE Pro topic? Thanks!

David


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James Cunningham
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5366562 - 08/13/12 02:15 PM

A friend just purchased a 14 inch SCT on the CGE Pro mount. The instructions say nothing about how to get a Polar alignment. It just says pick the all star and let the scope slew to the first star. The manual also says nothing about where to orient the scope. It does not even mention the Polaris star. How do you srart to get an alignment with the CGE Pro mount? Thanks.

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Alph
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5366584 - 08/13/12 02:28 PM

Quote:

Frank - bingo.



Unfortunately he is wrong about the effect of the pick-off prism size on the guide star brightness. QSI has just confirmed it.


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mclewis1
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: James Cunningham]
      #5366594 - 08/13/12 02:39 PM

Quote:

A friend just purchased a 14 inch SCT on the CGE Pro mount. The instructions say nothing about how to get a Polar alignment. It just says pick the all star and let the scope slew to the first star. The manual also says nothing about where to orient the scope. It does not even mention the Polaris star. How do you srart to get an alignment with the CGE Pro mount? Thanks.



There is a good write up on the All Star Polar alignment in the manual. It's not in the hand controller section but more towards the back. It's in the Astronomy Basics section under Polar aligning the mount.

You don't use Polaris with ASPA ... that's why it's called "all star".

You don't care about initial positioning the otas since the CGEPro has home position switches.

You do an initial alignment then you do an ASPA. For visual work you usually (like with all Celestron gems) don't need to do any form of polar alignment ... doing the initial alignment will give you accurate gotos.

It would be best if your friend first read the manual and then opened up a posting with his questions ... it's not going to work well if you are "translating" for him Jim.

Edited by mclewis1 (08/13/12 02:43 PM)


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Daniel Mounsey
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: James Cunningham]
      #5366607 - 08/13/12 02:43 PM

Quote:

A friend just purchased a 14 inch SCT on the CGE Pro mount. The instructions say nothing about how to get a Polar alignment. It just says pick the all star and let the scope slew to the first star. The manual also says nothing about where to orient the scope. It does not even mention the Polaris star. How do you srart to get an alignment with the CGE Pro mount? Thanks.




It starts on p.38 Here's a PDF to help just in case.

http://www.telescopes.com/images/pdf/CELE319.pdf


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KDizzle
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Jared]
      #5366613 - 08/13/12 02:47 PM

Quote:

Here is the disadvantage to AO... You need a bright guide star in the field of view. If you really want to adjust things on the order of 2-5 Hz or even faster, that requires either an extremely fast scope or a very short focal length scope (in which case even a moderate quality mount can probably handle things without the help of AO).
...
Now I'm imaging at 2,000mm+ and I just don't see how to make AO work.




Jared, I think we have the same scope here at 2m fl -- the AT10RC. I never have issues finding guide stars with LRGB if I use very slow guide times like 3-5 sec. This is what I'd say is typical for the average autoguider anyway, and I'd argue it would still be better than moving hundreds of pounds of mass. (Note the above 30 min frames were done with an OAG at 2.5s on the CGE Pro.)

Now, If I use faster guiding (like subsecond) it can become an issue but usually only requires rotating the camera or slewing to somewhere "near" my target that doesn't perfectly center it. I wouldn't call this "a challenge" as much as I would "wow that chip is huge and I'm going to crop it anyway". This is with the AO-L and STL 11k, so I don't know how this compares with your AO-7 experience.


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KDizzle
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Reged: 09/12/08

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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5366620 - 08/13/12 02:52 PM

Quote:

A good topic, OAG, but if we could, get this back on the CGE Pro topic? Thanks!




CGE Pro is an inexpensive mount. With good OAG or AO, despite having "apparently poor" peak-to-peak PE, it will run with the best of them. Chances are you're going to use using OAG or AO (or at least a guidescope) if you're doing imaging and therefore it's a helluva deal, easy to use, transportable, and well supported.


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KDizzle
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: James Cunningham]
      #5366629 - 08/13/12 02:57 PM

Quote:

A friend just purchased a 14 inch SCT on the CGE Pro mount. How do you srart to get an alignment with the CGE Pro mount? Thanks.




Lots of good responses here already but here's my wisdom on the topic. BTW, now I actually use my 50mm guidescope to do the alignment, centered with my eyeball to it, so even though my alignment is never perfect, it's set up extremely fast.

Anyway:

Quote:


Perform a two-star alignment. I added one calibration star. (In my case, I used Algenib in Pegasus as a calibration star.)
At the end of this alignment, press the “Align” button again and select “Polar Align” -> “Align Mount”. When you do this, the scope is going to move (from the star it was pointing at, Algenib) to “where it would be if it were properly aligned.”
Recenter the same star with the Alt/Az controls on the mount. The handset will tell you in big letters: “DON’T USE THE HAND CONTROLLER TO MOVE THE MOUNT”. Remember, the idea here is that we want to get polar alignment which means the actual axis of the mount must move!
The manual falls a bit short of emphasizing how important it is then to go back and recalibrate for the GOTO’s to work. At this point, you’re tracking, but you’re not GOTO’ing! So I went back and re-found my original two-star alignment stars and replaced them with their new positions. Of course, it’s okay to use the hand controller at this point.





Some people turn off the scope and turn it back on to see how well they did here also.


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Alph]
      #5366645 - 08/13/12 03:05 PM

Per the moderator's request - please spawn a separate thread if you want to discuss this further.

Frank


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psu_13
sage


Reged: 05/30/10

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5366672 - 08/13/12 03:14 PM

This is what I used to do to set up my CG-5 with all-star polar align. The process should be the same for a CGE.

http://atelescopeinthecity.blogspot.com/2011/10/grab-and-go.html

Note the use of a video camera for this is of course optional.

Somehow I did forget to mention that you should always center starts with the UP and RIGHT keys on the pad. I might have an earlier page where I did that.

Also, I think my general experiece was that doing the pointing alignment over again after shifting the polar axis is probably a good idea even though the system is supposed to compensate. My mount would sometimes be "off" after a polar align. Was never sure why.


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KietTran
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Reged: 05/14/12

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5367630 - 08/14/12 12:46 AM

Frank,

I have been mostly a lurker on some Y! groups and in fact this is my first post here. I'm in the market for a mid range telescope mount like the CGE-Pro.

You have some very compelling arguments below. Which AO units have you tried and on which mounts?

-kt

Quote:

Quote:

Every time these PE discussions come up, AO never seems to enter the discussion. Doesn't it make sense to move a tiny refractive element super fast without a giant pile of weight on it? Or still everyone thinks it's best to move a huge mass ever-so-slightly while combating the manufacturing challenges of pi?




I consider AO to be proven technology that will make a mid-range or even lower grade mount perform, in terms of fwhm, like a high end mount - but it has many disadvantages.

Results from AO provided evidence for me many years ago that tighter guiding was possible with low latency and a good centroid. AO for amateurs was originally intended (I believe) to help correct seeing in the 10-20Hz range, but the benefits with mid-range equipment were obvious even when used at around 1 Hz, and much slower than seeing. I could tell from images I saw on the web whether an lx200 shot used AO or not - even when it was correcting at 1 Hz or slower.

If you go from a small guidescope to AO you are not only getting the lower mechanical latency of a small moving element - you are switching to OAG and low latency corrections without a shutter. But there is nothing that prevents a mount from responding in less than one second. So - as long as the autoguider feedback is prompt, a mount can achieve similar tightness of guiding without the need for added complexity of AO.

AO has several flavors nowadays - reflective or refracitive; guiding before the filters or after. But for correcting mid-range mounts (not seeing) I think you can get nearly the same benefit in the 1 Hz range with tight guiding and OAG.

Unfortunately there are "expert" web pages on autoguiding that say you should make as few corrections as possible because each correction introduces "noise." I would say instead that you should make corrections at the optimal rate - whatever it is - that is needed for your mount. If you steer a cruise ship across the Atlantic you probably don't want to jerk the steering back and forth rapidly - but if you are off-roading in a jeep you had better keep your hands on the wheel.

Also unfortunate - many people using OAG are not dialing in the brightest guide star available and instead they just expose longer - perhaps 5 seconds - until they can see a guidestar that happens to fall on the chip. This is fine for high end mounts because they are truly smooth over this time frame - but for mid-range mounts it will prevent prompt corrections to faster terms. I recommend dialing in the brightest guidestar available with OAG. This points out the inherent benefit of high end mounts, in that such details and added care may not be needed. But similar results can be obtained when added effort is made in directions that actually yield smaller fwhm.

Frank




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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5367704 - 08/14/12 03:33 AM

Quote:

Which AO units have you tried and on which mounts?




Hi and welcome to CN.

I have tried zero - none - of the AO devices myself, but I like to go by actual images that people post and I can see clear benefit of AO with mid-range mounts even when run at "slow" rates of 1 correction per second.

I don't know the full range of AO options nowadays but for narrow band work I would certainly want one that allowed guiding on the unfiltered star.

My main points, regarding AO and mid-range equipment, aren't specific to the cge-pro - and they don't really promote AO either - since AO adds cost, complexity, uses back focal distance, and it could break. My main point is that comparisons based on PE alone aren't very meaningful, and that optimal guiding with a good OAG centroid can make mid-range mounts yield results more comparable to high end ones. Data supporting that conclusion are in the cge/cge-pro images on the MetaGuide site.

Frank


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Bowmoreman
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5368267 - 08/14/12 12:36 PM

Lets please at least *try* and keep this thread On Topic...

thanks!


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KietTran
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5368726 - 08/14/12 05:00 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Which AO units have you tried and on which mounts?




Hi and welcome to CN.

I have tried zero - none - of the AO devices myself, but I like to go by actual images that people post and I can see clear benefit of AO with mid-range mounts even when run at "slow" rates of 1 correction per second.

I don't know the full range of AO options nowadays but for narrow band work I would certainly want one that allowed guiding on the unfiltered star.

My main points, regarding AO and mid-range equipment, aren't specific to the cge-pro - and they don't really promote AO either - since AO adds cost, complexity, uses back focal distance, and it could break. My main point is that comparisons based on PE alone aren't very meaningful, and that optimal guiding with a good OAG centroid can make mid-range mounts yield results more comparable to high end ones. Data supporting that conclusion are in the cge/cge-pro images on the MetaGuide site.

Frank




Frank, from what I've read on the web (and by the subject of this thread) the quality and capabilities of mounts seems to vary significantly. So how many different CGE-Pro mounts have you used and what's your opinion on the quality of them from your personal experience? Again, I ask because from your posts you seem to know a lot and so I am hoping to glean enough information to make an informed decision on a CGE-Pro mount for imaging.

Thanks,

kt


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5368763 - 08/14/12 05:35 PM

KT, well the "new" CGE Pro's are "guaranteed" by Celestron to be +/- 3".. but as the OP pointed out, there seems to be a dearth of reports from "new" CGE Pro owners..

and as Frank points out PE isn't everything..


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5369475 - 08/15/12 03:32 AM

I'm just talking personally about one dang cge and one dang cge-pro, but my approach to autoguiding applies generally to mid-range mounts from all manufacturers. If I can make even one such mount guide well, without AO, I consider it sufficient to demonstrate that the inherent components and PE are not fundamental limitations in terms of what matters - which I consider to be long exposure, well-guided fwhm.

What are you imaging with now - and do you have a web page of example images? Where are you located and what kind of skies do you have? What do you want to image and with what OTA?

Frank


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KietTran
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: freestar8n]
      #5371338 - 08/16/12 10:03 AM

Frank,

I have no mount, nor even a CCD camera yet. I'm trying to determine which mount would be good to get. I've had a few other hobbies where I've made the mistake of buying something cheap then being sorry about it. I want to do my homework and find a good mount that I will be able to use for a long time and be happy with it. I'm not sure what kind of imaging I will like but since I live in a metropolitan area I might be restricted to planetary and narrow band imaging.

From what I have read there seems to be a tremendous variation in mounts, even in the same model from the same manufacturer. It seems the more you spend the greater the chance that you won't get a lemon and the less effort you have to put into getting a mount to work well. Even you say that to get a mid-range mount to act like a high-end mount you have to guide at 1-second intervals or use an AO device. If this is what is required to get consistently good images with the CGE Pro then I think I might want to consider a higher end mount.

Thanks again for your valuable feedback,

kt

Quote:

I'm just talking personally about one dang cge and one dang cge-pro, but my approach to autoguiding applies generally to mid-range mounts from all manufacturers. If I can make even one such mount guide well, without AO, I consider it sufficient to demonstrate that the inherent components and PE are not fundamental limitations in terms of what matters - which I consider to be long exposure, well-guided fwhm.

What are you imaging with now - and do you have a web page of example images? Where are you located and what kind of skies do you have? What do you want to image and with what OTA?

Frank




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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5371361 - 08/16/12 10:19 AM

Quote:

From what I have read there seems to be a tremendous variation in mounts, even in the same model from the same manufacturer. It seems the more you spend the greater the chance that you won't get a lemon and the less effort you have to put into getting a mount to work well.




This is actually only partly true. Higher end mounts may be more consistent in quality but they are notoriously more difficult to use. The consumer level mount companies spend a lot of time making their hand controllers and mounts relatively easy to use and user friendly. In general, the high end mount companies tend to spend more time on the mount and less time on the user friendly side. So if you purchase a mount from one of the big two, you are likely to get it out and working fairly quick while a high end mount will have a much steeper learning curve. It can be an important difference, especially for someone just starting out. Some mount control programs can even this out but the software is neither cheap nor always easy to use. The general assumption with high end equipment is that most people already know a lot about what they are doing so that the ease or difficulty of the mount's use is not as much of an issue.


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Jared
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5371688 - 08/16/12 02:31 PM

Quote:

Frank,

<snip>

From what I have read there seems to be a tremendous variation in mounts, even in the same model from the same manufacturer. It seems the more you spend the greater the chance that you won't get a lemon and the less effort you have to put into getting a mount to work well. Even you say that to get a mid-range mount to act like a high-end mount you have to guide at 1-second intervals or use an AO device. If this is what is required to get consistently good images with the CGE Pro then I think I might want to consider a higher end mount.

Thanks again for your valuable feedback,

kt






There is one other factor at work as well which often gets overlooked... The difference in expectations. You'll get visual users, for example, saying a mount is wonderful if it is easy to setup and use, doesn't vibrate (or dampens vibrations quickly) when focused, and has accurate go-to slews.

For an astrophotographer, this is just the starting point. The mount also needs to track well under load--with smoooooth periodic error--and needs to be easy to guide, either through the inclusion of an ST-4 port or similar capabilities in the hand controller. It's not at all uncommon for visual users to report that a mount is wonderful while an astrophotographer provided with the same mount would say it is terrible and/or overrated in terms of carrying capacity.

Finally, even within astrophotographers there are fairly significant variations in expectations. Lots of astrophotographers are happy with 3.5" FWHM stars and 30 second unguided exposures as long as the stars appear round. Others expect fifteen minute guided exposures with 2" FWHM stars in all subs. These are dramatically different standards, and a mount/scope/guiding combo that easily meets the 3.5" FWHM threshold can be very challenging to get to the 2" FWHM range. It's all about expectations.

So, when evaluating feedback on particular mounts keep the context in mind. Is it an astrophotographer complaining about difficulties guiding? A visual user might not care. Is the person stating how wonderful a mount is using an 80mm refractor or a 10" Mak Newt? Depending on what you intend to do, the feedback can be accepted at face value or may need to be weighted according to the use.


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KietTran
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5371984 - 08/16/12 06:24 PM

Quote:

Quote:

From what I have read there seems to be a tremendous variation in mounts, even in the same model from the same manufacturer. It seems the more you spend the greater the chance that you won't get a lemon and the less effort you have to put into getting a mount to work well.




This is actually only partly true. Higher end mounts may be more consistent in quality but they are notoriously more difficult to use. The consumer level mount companies spend a lot of time making their hand controllers and mounts relatively easy to use and user friendly. In general, the high end mount companies tend to spend more time on the mount and less time on the user friendly side. So if you purchase a mount from one of the big two, you are likely to get it out and working fairly quick while a high end mount will have a much steeper learning curve. It can be an important difference, especially for someone just starting out. Some mount control programs can even this out but the software is neither cheap nor always easy to use. The general assumption with high end equipment is that most people already know a lot about what they are doing so that the ease or difficulty of the mount's use is not as much of an issue.



Yes, I do realize that that higher priced mounts will be more sophisticated and likely have a steeper learning curve. I am not sure that is much of a drawback for me because I think I want a mount that I could grow with for many years. I think this is maybe a better alternative (for me) than a mount I would have to tinker with, changing gears or having to do 1-sec autoguider cycles, all in search of better tracking.

So, to keep this on topic, what features does the CGE Pro have that would make it easier to use than a higher end mount?


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freestar8n
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5372005 - 08/16/12 06:40 PM

For a beginner I recommend a simple mount and a small refractor guided by a guidescope. Very forgiving and should make nice images so you can get experience with how this stuff works and decide what you want to do - and if you even enjoy imaging in the first place.

Frank


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KietTran
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Jared]
      #5372015 - 08/16/12 06:48 PM

Quote:

There is one other factor at work as well which often gets overlooked... The difference in expectations. You'll get visual users, for example, saying a mount is wonderful if it is easy to setup and use, doesn't vibrate (or dampens vibrations quickly) when focused, and has accurate go-to slews.

For an astrophotographer, this is just the starting point. The mount also needs to track well under load--with smoooooth periodic error--and needs to be easy to guide, either through the inclusion of an ST-4 port or similar capabilities in the hand controller. It's not at all uncommon for visual users to report that a mount is wonderful while an astrophotographer provided with the same mount would say it is terrible and/or overrated in terms of carrying capacity.

Finally, even within astrophotographers there are fairly significant variations in expectations. Lots of astrophotographers are happy with 3.5" FWHM stars and 30 second unguided exposures as long as the stars appear round. Others expect fifteen minute guided exposures with 2" FWHM stars in all subs. These are dramatically different standards, and a mount/scope/guiding combo that easily meets the 3.5" FWHM threshold can be very challenging to get to the 2" FWHM range. It's all about expectations.

So, when evaluating feedback on particular mounts keep the context in mind. Is it an astrophotographer complaining about difficulties guiding? A visual user might not care. Is the person stating how wonderful a mount is using an 80mm refractor or a 10" Mak Newt? Depending on what you intend to do, the feedback can be accepted at face value or may need to be weighted according to the use.



This topic is something I haven't quite got a handle on. In reading posts it has become clear that virtually every mount and scope has different performance characteristics. Also there is local seeing, which can vary dramatically. There are tube currents and issues of accurate focus and tracking. Because of all these conditions how can anyone compare the performance of their scopes in an apples-to apples way?


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psu_13
sage


Reged: 05/30/10

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5372158 - 08/16/12 09:06 PM

My progression through mounts is documented here in the posts here:

http://atelescopeinthecity.blogspot.com

I started with the CG-5 to learn the basics relatively inexpensively. Then, since I could afford it, I jumped over the mid-end stuff to something that I knew would work and work really well (Astrophysics). Admittedly not everyone can or needs to do this.

It seemed to me that the mid-end stuff, between $1500 and $5000 is in a sort of no man's land. It's not cheap enough to be really affordable but it's also not enough better than the lower end equipment to make the jump in cost and weight and bother worth it. I didn't want to end up buying (say) a CGEM or CGE and then two years later turn around and get the Mach-1 anyway.

Also: While it's true that the consumer mount software has some nice features (like the all star polar alignment) after you gain some experience the non-consumer hardware, if you will, is not that much more complicated to run and the improved mechanics count for a lot. Polar alignment on an AP mount might seem more complicated at first, but the hardware is so ergonomic that it actually turns out to be a lot easier.

Just my experience. YMMV. etc.


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: psu_13]
      #5372249 - 08/16/12 10:18 PM

I think Ed's caution about hard-to-use mounts would apply most to the Paramounts and the ASA DDM mounts.

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jmiele
Patron Saint?
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5372270 - 08/16/12 10:39 PM

Quote:

I think Ed's caution about hard-to-use mounts would apply most to the Paramounts and the ASA DDM mounts.




I don't agree with that at all. While the ASA mounts have lacked software maturity such is not the case with the Bisque Paramounts. That said, if you are buying one of these mounts you know whats involved. Don't let price (close or far) confuse you. If one considers a Paramount a complex mount to use - they never needed it to begin with.

Joe


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Peter in Reno
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jmiele]
      #5372294 - 08/16/12 11:03 PM

Astro-Physics mounts are very easy to use with hand controller or computer. I personally find my A-P Mach1 GEM easier to use than my previous Celestron CPC0800.

Peter


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psu_13
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Reged: 05/30/10

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #5372302 - 08/16/12 11:09 PM

Oh, one thing I forgot. The "ease of use" of the consumer mounts is somewhat compromised by their inconsistent and sometimes erratic mechanical behavior even when you do the same setup routine every night.

I lost multiple nights with my CG-5 when it would just go off into never-never land for reasons that were never clear.

Probably the best aspect of the high end mounts is that they are absolutely consistent and predictable in their behavior. You polar align, you point at things and you get on with your life. There is never any question.


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orlyandico
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #5372303 - 08/16/12 11:10 PM

That's what I meant - I have never used an AP GTO mount, but I understand that it's easy enough to use.

Joe - I didn't mean the Paramounts are immature - but my understanding is you need to build a pointing model to use them to the fullest, and that's not something that the typical beginning user would necessarily understand well.

Now the ASA's would be tougher because in addition to the pointing model the servo circuit would also need to be calibrated..

So - premium mount that's not hard to use - AP, or Tak.


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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #5372320 - 08/16/12 11:21 PM

Quote:

Astro-Physics mounts are very easy to use with hand controller or computer. I personally find my A-P Mach1 GEM easier to use than my previous Celestron CPC0800.

Peter




While that is probably true, would it be as true if the AP was the first mount you ever had? By starting with a Nexstar you were able to learn a lot without having to worry as much about how to use the hardware. Once you have that down, going to a more complicated controller/mount is nowhere near as difficult. From a friend's experience (not mine), the ASA is a good example. An excellent, high precision mount that was simply so difficult to use that it was more frustrating than enjoyable. That's OK when you understand that going in, but unlike many other electronics and gadgets today, telescope mounts do not necessarily get easier to use the more money you spend. Designing a mount that is not only very high precision but can be easily used by anyone with very little knowledge and experience requires some very diverse expertise this is often not found under the same roof. Probably the reason that some manufactures make mounts but use electronics and control systems that are made by a completely different company.

In the long run, I think that the point in this discussion is that if the OP thinks that he can simply spend more money in order to jump into astrophotography with equipment that is simple and intuitive to use, he may be frustrated with the results (but I do know people that ramped up to $50K plus setups in a very short amount of time and are now producing publication-quality images in an amazingly short time). It may be better to start with "relatively" less-expensive but more beginner-friendly equipment rather than jumping in on the high end only to find it an unenjoyable experience.


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KietTran
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Reged: 05/14/12

Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5372337 - 08/16/12 11:31 PM

So far, unless I missed it, no one has said the CGE Pro is easier to use than some high-end mounts.

I tried to download the user manual for the Paramount to see what I would be getting into and it requires a login to get at any of their documents. I hate companies that do that. The Astro-Physics site allowed me to get to their manuals and download them without any logins. I didn't check Takahashi or ASA yet.

So what's support like for Celestron mounts versus the high end mounts like Paramount's, Astro-Physics, and Takahashi? Is it a wrong assumption that I would get better support from the higher-end mount companies?


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5372344 - 08/16/12 11:36 PM

Quote:

my understanding is you need to build a pointing model to use them to the fullest, and that's not something that the typical beginning user would necessarily understand well.




That should not be read to mean that a Bisque mount or any other precision mount requires a pointing model to provide the precision of a CGE Pro. To achieve the performance delivered by a pointing model, ANY mount requires one. Some lesser mounts won't be truly precise even with one, due to variable mechanical errors, but any mount will benefit.

If doing a model is too complicated, just skip it. Because of the very precise orthogonality of premium mounts, and the good polar alignment any imager is going to do anyway, you'll have at least the precision of any other unmodeled mount (including a Celestron setup aligned with 2 + 4) - probably greater precision. The model takes you to the next level if you want to go there.


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Peter in Reno
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5372352 - 08/16/12 11:43 PM

At first I found Celestron NexStar a little confusing but didn't take long to figure it out. Every once in a while I would accidentally cut power and I would have to do the alignment procedures all over again. Not so with Astro-Physics mounts. As long as it was already polar aligned, you are pretty much ready to go after powering it up.

Celestron service is not as good as Astro-Physics. If a part breaks and you know exactly which part you need to replace, Celestron will not sell you the part. They require you ship the whole thang just to replace a simple part. They used to sell spare parts but I no longer see spare parts section in their web site. Celestron operating manuals are somewhat sub-par, confusing and poorly formatted.

Astro-Physics service and support is top notch. They still make and sell spare parts for discontinued A-P products. You can't beat that.

No wrong assumptions about getting better support from higher end mount companies.

Bottom line, I believe A-P mounts are the simplest high end mounts in the market for both portable or permanent setup. Their operating manuals are the best. It should be a textbook for astronomy schools.

Peter


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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: KietTran]
      #5372361 - 08/16/12 11:47 PM

Quote:

So far, unless I missed it, no one has said the CGE Pro is easier to use than some high-end mounts.

I tried to download the user manual for the Paramount to see what I would be getting into and it requires a login to get at any of their documents. I hate companies that do that. The Astro-Physics site allowed me to get to their manuals and download them without any logins. I didn't check Takahashi or ASA yet.

So what's support like for Celestron mounts versus the high end mounts like Paramount's, Astro-Physics, and Takahashi? Is it a wrong assumption that I would get better support from the higher-end mount companies?




OK. Maybe we are not sure what exactly you are looking for us to say and maybe it is not something that can be easily said. Direct comparisons between mounts from different manufacturers is difficult and must be qualified in many ways (e.g., company A's mount maybe easier to use than company B's mount if both are good examples but the opposite may be true if company A's mount is not a good example and consistency is one of the issues that has been discussed).

However, I will say that the Nexstar hand controller is one of the most advanced and easy to use hand controllers out there and that, in combination with the mount, make the system (in relative terms) easier to use than many other mounts (given a good working example in the first place). There are other good hand controllers out their as well as computer programs that can run mounts without hand controllers. If this will be your first mount and your first attempted at AP, I would still conclude that the CGE Pro is not necessarily a good place to start, not because of the mount but because of your experience level.

User manuals are frequently hash when it comes down to it, especially on imported equipment. Some very well know mounts out there don't even come with one.

I think you may be looking for the magic bullet answer to tell you exactly what to buy (e.g., this mount has X arc sec PE so it must be the one to buy), but the reality is that there are not clear cut answers like that is a relatively small manufacturing sector like astronomy. It's not like saying that a BMW is always going to be better than a Saturn and the price reflects that.


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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #5372371 - 08/16/12 11:53 PM

Quote:

Celestron service is not as good as Astro-Physics. If a part breaks and you know exactly which part you need to replace, Celestron will not sell you the part. They require you ship the whole thang just to replace a simple part. They used to sell spare parts but I no longer see spare parts section in their web site.




Celestron actually sells more parts than ever now. They just keep moving the parts section around on the website so that it is hard to find. It is now located under the "Support" section. It was down for a little while and it took me some time to find it when it finally came back up again. Of course, it's still not like getting a part from AP.

Of course, product support is yet another difference between mounts and the companies that manufacture them that can take, and has taken, up many threads.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5372377 - 08/16/12 11:58 PM

Quote:

In the long run, I think that the point in this discussion is that if the OP thinks that he can simply spend more money in order to jump into astrophotography with equipment that is simple and intuitive to use, he may be frustrated with the results (but I do know people that ramped up to $50K plus setups in a very short amount of time and are now producing publication-quality images in an amazingly short time). It may be better to start with "relatively" less-expensive but more beginner-friendly equipment rather than jumping in on the high end only to find it an unenjoyable experience.




The op was asking about visual use, which is why I've stayed out of the thread. I believe the topic has veered onto imaging, though, and there's an obvious answer to ease of use in that context. I don't believe that anyone who has imaging experience with a variety of mounts would dispute that it is FAR EASIER to achieve good results with a premium mount. It's not the buttons on the handbox, or the software - it's the performance. I would never say that one can't image well with lesser mounts - and I have done plenty of that myself. I can report (as can many others) that getting mount problems out of the way and concentrating on other issues makes everything more pleasant and productive. And enjoyable.

Visual use? I use a CGE. It's all I need for that.

Edited by jrcrilly (08/16/12 11:59 PM)


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Peter in Reno
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5372381 - 08/17/12 12:03 AM

Good for Celestron. I hope they continue to stay like this and sell spare parts. It makes it a lot easier for many people who can tinker with their products and save big bucks on shipping a heavy package back to Celestron.

Peter


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Peter in Reno
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5372387 - 08/17/12 12:06 AM

Quote:

Quote:

In the long run, I think that the point in this discussion is that if the OP thinks that he can simply spend more money in order to jump into astrophotography with equipment that is simple and intuitive to use, he may be frustrated with the results (but I do know people that ramped up to $50K plus setups in a very short amount of time and are now producing publication-quality images in an amazingly short time). It may be better to start with "relatively" less-expensive but more beginner-friendly equipment rather than jumping in on the high end only to find it an unenjoyable experience.




The op was asking about visual use, which is why I've stayed out of the thread. I believe the topic has veered onto imaging, though, and there's an obvious answer to ease of use in that context. I don't believe that anyone who has imaging experience with a variety of mounts would dispute that it is FAR EASIER to achieve good results with a premium mount. It's not the buttons on the handbox, or the software - it's the performance. I would never say that one can't image well with lesser mounts - and I have done plenty of that myself. I can report (as can many others) that getting mount problems out of the way and concentrating on other issues makes everything more pleasant and productive. And enjoyable.

Visual use? I use a CGE. It's all I need for that.




Well said, John. I could not have said it better.

Peter


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BlueGrass
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #5372439 - 08/17/12 12:49 AM

Everyone has made excellent points, the depth of knowledge and frankly, hands on experience coupled with common sense is what makes these forums so valuable. To KT (not the OP, who needs no introduction), the key factor many people looking for advice on equipment tend to overlook is the experience needed to use the higher end equipment. For most of us, that experience comes from paying our dues learning and using the entry level and mid-range equipment. It's a case of learning to walk before you can run. This is not meant to discourage you. It's meant to make you aware that the higher end equipment requires some essential knowledge to get the most out of it. For example, The AP GTO firmware does not build complex pointing models to increase their accuracy or improve the gotos. People who buy these mounts understand this. You don't typically spend this kind of money without doing significant research as to its features and capabilities.

My apologies to the Mods, yes this thread has run the DNA helix shuffle ...


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EFT
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: BlueGrass]
      #5372450 - 08/17/12 01:02 AM

Quote:

Everyone has made excellent points, the depth of knowledge and frankly, hands on experience coupled with common sense is what makes these forums so valuable. To KT (not the OP, who needs no introduction), the key factor many people looking for advice on equipment tend to overlook is the experience needed to use the higher end equipment. For most of us, that experience comes from paying our dues learning and using the entry level and mid-range equipment. It's a case of learning to walk before you can run. This is not meant to discourage you. It's meant to make you aware that the higher end equipment requires some essential knowledge to get the most out of it. For example, The AP GTO firmware does not build complex pointing models to increase their accuracy or improve the gotos. People who buy these mounts understand this. You don't typically spend this kind of money without doing significant research as to its features and capabilities.

My apologies to the Mods, yes this thread has run the DNA helix shuffle ...




Well said.

I have to appologize for confusing the OP with KT. The thread has been going on so long I forgot who was who.


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rmollise
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: psu_13]
      #5372684 - 08/17/12 07:45 AM

Depends on your perspective. There is no doubt a CGEM or Atlas is _worlds_ better than a CG5 for imaging. One will work very well for many purposes, and, as you observe, not everybody needs, wants, or can afford a 7K+ mount.

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Stew57
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5372702 - 08/17/12 08:05 AM

[quote
I think you may be looking for the magic bullet answer to tell you exactly what to buy (e.g., this mount has X arc sec PE so it must be the one to buy), but the reality is that there are not clear cut answers like that is a relatively small manufacturing sector like astronomy.




Perhaps instead of throwing around PE numbers we should talk second derivatives which would reveal how smooth the PE is and ease of guiding. hey thanks again BTW


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Eric Gage
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: EFT]
      #5372928 - 08/17/12 10:47 AM

Quote:

Quote:

From what I have read there seems to be a tremendous variation in mounts, even in the same model from the same manufacturer. It seems the more you spend the greater the chance that you won't get a lemon and the less effort you have to put into getting a mount to work well.




This is actually only partly true. Higher end mounts may be more consistent in quality but they are notoriously more difficult to use.





My EM-200 is incredibly easy to use, and I have yet to hear a report from a Mach 1 owner who found that mount difficult in any way.


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Nezar H
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Re: CGE Pro: Anyone have a good one? new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #6129574 - 10/10/13 05:46 PM

Quote:

had it (a) operate correctly out of the box and (b) continue to operate correctly for an extended period of time (at least 12 months) after purchase?
Jim




A) mine came with GPS problem after trying to solve the problem they giveup and they advice me to send back the mount which was not easy! So every time I switch on the mount I have to enter the date+time .

B) yes , it work fine for visual use almost 3 years , goto is very good , but I need to fine tune the mount on summer! Play little bit with the gearbox !.


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