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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Bill Dean
member


Reged: 09/05/05

Loc: Encinitas, CA
Re: MX discount... new [Re: korborh]
      #5662396 - 02/04/13 08:01 PM

I think you may be confusing running TSX with having to *use* The Sky. Not the case, I use Guide 9 and MaximDL to "drive" my PMX via The ASCOM plug in for The Sky controlled telescope. The Sky is minimized mostly.

TSX is growing on me though and I assume I'll use it exclusively by the summer.

Clear skies,
Bill


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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: MX discount... new [Re: Bill Dean]
      #5662745 - 02/05/13 12:18 AM

In looking at my next purchase it's interesting. IMO the Bisque mount is great mechanicals coupled with great software. For imaging it's a dream machine. As far as the always unavoidable comparison to A-P, I think that the concept of software is something A-P is trying to catch up on with APCC though it's nowhere near what you get with a Paramount. In one it's 'our mount is perfect and we cn't help it if your scope is slightly non-ortho to it... the other is hey, let's get your scope imaging... It's two different schools of thought from inception and cleary obvious in the to customer product offering. Two great mounts, two great companies, with vastly different approaches to software integration and implementation. ummm USB? ... Both work very well at what they are supposed to in their way, have the images and customers to prove it. it's a choice that is actually a choice and we're lucky to have it. Dropping the price by $1k is fantastic.

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Paul G
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Reged: 05/08/03

Loc: Freedonia
Re: MX discount... new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5662952 - 02/05/13 06:24 AM

Quote:

In looking at my next purchase it's interesting. IMO the Bisque mount is great mechanicals coupled with great software. For imaging it's a dream machine. As far as the always unavoidable comparison to A-P, I think that the concept of software is something A-P is trying to catch up on with APCC though it's nowhere near what you get with a Paramount. In one it's 'our mount is perfect and we cn't help it if your scope is slightly non-ortho to it... the other is hey, let's get your scope imaging... It's two different schools of thought from inception and cleary obvious in the to customer product offering. Two great mounts, two great companies, with vastly different approaches to software integration and implementation. ummm USB? ... Both work very well at what they are supposed to in their way, have the images and customers to prove it. it's a choice that is actually a choice and we're lucky to have it. Dropping the price by $1k is fantastic.




I know there is a major difference in functionality when both mounts are used without a laptop. If both mounts are used with a laptop, The Sky, and Tpoint how much difference is there in how they function?


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korborh
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/29/11

Loc: Arizona
Re: MX discount... new [Re: Paul G]
      #5663292 - 02/05/13 10:29 AM

The main differences are that A-P will give more flexibility at the risk of user error e.g. one can image horizon to horizon if possible without meridian flip if scope/pier arrangement allows it. SB design has hard limits (2hrs. for MX) in the mounts to make it safer for observatory. Another difference is A-P has clutches for manual operation and safety from accidental bumps, and so A-P mount cannot have absolute homing (without encoders). SB mount does not have clutch and has absolute homing.

From what I understand, mechanically they are similar in performance. The differences are more based on what user cares more for - higher flexibility (field, software, paddle) for field/observatory vs. more robust for observatory use.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: MX discount... new [Re: korborh]
      #5663308 - 02/05/13 10:36 AM

I am not likely to ever own either mount--they are so far above my humble needs and talents that it is not even funny.

That said, I've used both brands and believe the AP to be more flexible. Yes, I wish the HC software were a litle more sophisticated, but the folks running these mounts are usually imagers who are going to go-to and stay on a target or two all evening, and that is pretty easy to nail down with even the simple software of the AP control. And I guess that's the beauty of the thing. The APs can be kept simple and run like we've always run telescope mounts. Or they can be run with modeling software or anything else from a laptop.

No doubt the MX is a godsend for folks doing stuff like remote control from distant sites, but I am too dumb about such things to even form an opinion on 'em.


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orlyandico
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: MX discount... new [Re: rmollise]
      #5663318 - 02/05/13 10:41 AM

yes the absolute homing on the MX is a big deal.

the new 'S' firmware for the CP3 supposedly helps with this because the mount no longer has to be parked (it remembers its position when it loses power) so - in theory - a homing sensor is no longer required.

how well this actually works in practice, i don't know.


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darbyvet
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 10/19/10

Loc: Seneca Falls, New York
Re: MX discount... new [Re: korborh]
      #5663326 - 02/05/13 10:44 AM

I have an MX on a pier in my skyshedpod.I have s decent tpoint model (7 arcsec pointing) and can get 10-15 min subs without star trailing unguided.I have my c11 and ES 80mm triplet refraftor mounted so I can switch between planetary and DSO imaging.It takes about 3 mins for me to be ready to start imaging.I have barely scrathced the surfrace of what the moutn and theskyX can do.

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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

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Re: MX discount... new [Re: darbyvet]
      #5663543 - 02/05/13 12:56 PM

I was referring to what each does as supplied 'out of the box' without any additional purchase or add on. As I said, each is capable of doing all it advertises. As the OP was about cost, that is what I meant as far as my prev post. All the other posts about 'what you need' are up to the purchaser, no better or worse in my opinion.

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pfile
Post Laureate


Reged: 06/14/09

Re: MX discount... new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5663553 - 02/05/13 01:01 PM

Quote:

yes the absolute homing on the MX is a big deal.

the new 'S' firmware for the CP3 supposedly helps with this because the mount no longer has to be parked (it remembers its position when it loses power) so - in theory - a homing sensor is no longer required.

how well this actually works in practice, i don't know.




do you know if there is any dependence on APCC for this functionality, or is it purely inside the CP3?

rob


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korborh
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/29/11

Loc: Arizona
Re: MX discount... new [Re: pfile]
      #5663605 - 02/05/13 01:40 PM

This functionality is programmed in the 'S' chip - so yes in the CP3 box.

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Ray Gralak
Vendor (PEMPro)


Reged: 04/19/08

Re: MX discount... new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5664856 - 02/06/13 09:24 AM

Quote:

I was referring to what each does as supplied 'out of the box' without any additional purchase or add on. As I said, each is capable of doing all it advertises. As the OP was about cost, that is what I meant as far as my prev post. All the other posts about 'what you need' are up to the purchaser, no better or worse in my opinion.



If you go by that definition then the MX is not ASCOM compatible out of the box (because you need a third party "add on"). The Bisque software had to be included with the Paramounts otherwise they wouldn't be very useful at all. So, I think it's pretty silly to exclude all the software one can use, or, in this case, *has* to be used if the mount is to do useful work.

-Ray


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orlyandico
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: MX discount... new [Re: Ray Gralak]
      #5665007 - 02/06/13 11:11 AM

i personally won't get APCC - yet - but it's comforting to know that the capability is there.

i did buy the S chip because "no need to park" is cool to have.


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Bob Abraham
sage


Reged: 05/17/05

Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
Re: MX discount... new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5665207 - 02/06/13 01:01 PM

Is APCC is actually available? My understanding is that it is still in beta.

I own a Mach 1 GTO and regularly use a Paramount ME. Both are terrific mounts. However, I'm thinking of buying a Paramount MX to replace the Mach 1 because:

1) I prefer using a Mac and don't want to have to deal with an emulation layer. So even when APCC comes out it won't work for me. In any case, I like TheSkyX a lot.

2) I appreciate being able to home the mount remotely, which is a feature built-in to the Paramounts (and I believe you can add this capability onto AP's larger mounts, but not the Mach-1 GTO). The Mach 1 mostly lives in an observatory and I occasionally run it remotely, even though most of the time I'm right next to it.

3) I find the lack of basic pointing corrections (even something really simple to handle in a basic model, like a single non-orthogonality term) in the AP mount's hand controller disappointing. It's really the only aspect of the mount I actively don't like (the lack of a home switch is less of a big deal in a portable mount). If TheSkyX comes out for iOS with T-point (unclear to me what features will be in the iOS version of TheSkyX) then it could well be that the MX would have a truly fabulous hand controller! Anyway, aside from modelling in the hand controller the Mach 1 GTO is a brilliant mount for its weight class.

4) I have been using T-point in one incarnation or another for 25 years on professional telescopes, and I like its basic philosophy (basing pointing corrections on coefficients of a physical geometrical/structural model, rather than minimizing errors on some more abstract transformations). Since T-point is integrated into TheSkyX and the Paramount mounts play so nicely with TheSkyX, an ME/MX + TheSkyX + T-point operate like a well integrated system. Of course one can use TheSkyX+T-point with AP mounts but it's less integrated (no Pro-Track, no Direct Guide). Maybe an AP mount + APCC will be similarly well-integrated as a system - though sadly I won't be able to use it day-to-day because I won't be able to run it on a Mac. In any case, I look forward to trying out APCC when it comes out, perhaps I'll run it on a virtual machine for a while just to check it out. I certainly trust Ray Gralak to deliver some nice software... PEMPro is terrific (wish I could get it on my Mac, even though I do my polar alignment with T-point these days, PEMPro is very cool).

Bob


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Ray Gralak
Vendor (PEMPro)


Reged: 04/19/08

Re: MX discount... new [Re: Bob Abraham]
      #5666671 - 02/07/13 09:09 AM

Quote:

Is APCC is actually available? My understanding is that it is still in beta.

I own a Mach 1 GTO and regularly use a Paramount ME. Both are terrific mounts. However, I'm thinking of buying a Paramount MX to replace the Mach 1 because:

1) I prefer using a Mac and don't want to have to deal with an emulation layer. So even when APCC comes out it won't work for me. In any case, I like TheSkyX a lot.

2) I appreciate being able to home the mount remotely, which is a feature built-in to the Paramounts (and I believe you can add this capability onto AP's larger mounts, but not the Mach-1 GTO). The Mach 1 mostly lives in an observatory and I occasionally run it remotely, even though most of the time I'm right next to it.

3) I find the lack of basic pointing corrections (even something really simple to handle in a basic model, like a single non-orthogonality term) in the AP mount's hand controller disappointing. It's really the only aspect of the mount I actively don't like (the lack of a home switch is less of a big deal in a portable mount). If TheSkyX comes out for iOS with T-point (unclear to me what features will be in the iOS version of TheSkyX) then it could well be that the MX would have a truly fabulous hand controller! Anyway, aside from modelling in the hand controller the Mach 1 GTO is a brilliant mount for its weight class.

4) I have been using T-point in one incarnation or another for 25 years on professional telescopes, and I like its basic philosophy (basing pointing corrections on coefficients of a physical geometrical/structural model, rather than minimizing errors on some more abstract transformations). Since T-point is integrated into TheSkyX and the Paramount mounts play so nicely with TheSkyX, an ME/MX + TheSkyX + T-point operate like a well integrated system. Of course one can use TheSkyX+T-point with AP mounts but it's less integrated (no Pro-Track, no Direct Guide). Maybe an AP mount + APCC will be similarly well-integrated as a system - though sadly I won't be able to use it day-to-day because I won't be able to run it on a Mac. In any case, I look forward to trying out APCC when it comes out, perhaps I'll run it on a virtual machine for a while just to check it out. I certainly trust Ray Gralak to deliver some nice software... PEMPro is terrific (wish I could get it on my Mac, even though I do my polar alignment with T-point these days, PEMPro is very cool).

Bob




Hi Bob,

I own both Windows and Mac computers. What features are there on the Mac that make it a must have over a PC? You can usually get a much more powerful windows machine for much cheaper and have a whole lot more choices in astronomy apps. What does the Mac version of SkyX have that the Windows version does not? If you use your Mac outside do you really want to risk having it exposed to the environment? Having used (and still using) multiple Macs and Windows machines I say just wonder why not just get a cheap Windows laptop and dedicate it to the mount? No Windows emulation is needed and you save your Mac for indoor use.

-Ray


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Bob Abraham
sage


Reged: 05/17/05

Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
Re: MX discount... new [Re: Ray Gralak]
      #5666818 - 02/07/13 10:45 AM

Hi Ray,

As I see it, the advantage of running Macs is that you get both UNIX and nice hardware and a pretty good mix of free and commercial software. And in my opinion you actually get way more choices in very powerful astronomy apps with the Mac, because the whole world of hard-to-use but insanely powerful free professional astronomy apps is opened up to you.

Just one example:

Right now my colleague at Yale and I have put together a project to use a remotely operated Paramount ME in New Mexico atop of which is sitting a bank of Canon lenses feeding a bunch of CCD cameras. Data taking is fully automated and works using 3 Mac minis (which are pretty cheap) that sit in the observatory which talk to each other using a client-server model that I hacked together using Perl and Python and Bash scripts. This was comparatively easy because networking and scripting is so straightforward in UNIX and there's so much pre-existing code knocking around. The data analysis pipeline (real-time reduction of data from 4 cameras now, and 9 cameras soon) uses Python and IRAF scripts.... also UNIX-specific, because these in turn call tools only available on a UNIX-based OS. For example, plate solves and image stacking also use tools like SCAMP and SWarp which are pretty awesome and UNIX-specific (check out http://www.astromatic.net/software if you're not familiar with them). The same Mac that's running TheSkyX and controlling our mount in New Mexico is running a bespoke TCP/IP server that communicates a bunch of data to the other machines on the network. I guess I could have written a server on a Windows machine but it was pretty easy to just hack it together in an afternoon on the Mac since as I'm sure you know UNIX is pretty good for that kind of thing.

Anyway, that's just one example. My institute also operates a remote 0.5m telesope on an AP3600 for research... also a very heavy reliance on UNIX. The world of professional astronomy is totally dominated by UNIX (hence Mac OS X and Linux boxes outnumber PCs running Windows by 10:1, except perhaps amongst the admin staff) and if you use a Mac all the same software I use to deal with HST and Gemini data is available to you. Mac mini's are fairly cheap these days so the buy-in isn't too bad.

Admittedly though much of this software is not very easy to use... for example there is nothing out there that I am aware of that lets you polar align as easily as PEMPro. And scope control has always been a weak point because most professional telescopes have had custom control software (a lot of which, frankly, is lousier than TheSkyX + T-point) which you can't use to control a high-end amateur mount.

Anyway, now that high-end amateur mounts like the AP3600 and the Paramounts can easily support 0.5m+ telescopes (the bread and butter of Universities) having TheSkyX running on Macs which are common around these parts is turning out to be a pretty good thing.

Bob

Edited by Bob Abraham (02/07/13 05:21 PM)


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CounterWeight
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Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Palo alto, CA.
Re: MX discount... new [Re: Ray Gralak]
      #5666819 - 02/07/13 10:45 AM

Quote:

If you go by that definition then the MX is not ASCOM compatible out of the box (because you need a third party "add on"). The Bisque software had to be included with the Paramounts otherwise they wouldn't be very useful at all. So, I think it's pretty silly to exclude all the software one can use, or, in this case, *has* to be used if the mount is to do useful work.

-Ray





Ray, I am not excluding anything - and your misunderstanding of my point here needs clearing up.

What we started talking about was the SB PMX sale/discount beaing a great deal $ wise. Last I checked the equivelent capacity A-P mount is something like $8,750 by itself 'as delivered'. But you need to buy a few things to get your scope on it and going - this is not even talking about provided software capability(here I refer to counterweight(s), saddle plate), which increases the cost. You know this.

ASCOM is free for anything so that economic common denominator drops out. You understand this.

To give the A-P mount the TheSkyX and/or it's add ons, increasing the cost further. You know it's not freeware.

It is the capability and fuctionality of this last item the A-P mount clearly lacks out of the box, the reality is the functionality and planetarium software (and TheSkyX with it's plug in's is really nice software that I'd hope you could appreciate if possible)... 'it is not there in the A-P mount box', and as delivered, it isn't.

So where are we. My math shows an A-P 900 coming in over $9k to get to where the SB PMX is at it's sale price of Correction $8k. Vastly different offerings and at least a Correction $1k price difference.

Unless you can show me somehow that you can get the same capability and functionality at the same price point - I'll point the 'silly' back to you.

Thanks for catching my error(s) Sedat!

Edited by CounterWeight (02/07/13 08:43 PM)


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korborh
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 01/29/11

Loc: Arizona
Re: MX discount... new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5666943 - 02/07/13 11:47 AM

Bottom line - AP900 needs a price drop to stay competitive. These price drops are great for the customer and I hope AP follows and we see some price wars!

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orlyandico
Postmaster
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Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: MX discount... new [Re: korborh]
      #5667087 - 02/07/13 01:23 PM

it is interesting Bob because Chris Erickson who does a lot of work in Hawaii mentioned in another forum (Roboscopes on Yahoo) that all the big guys (i.e. the multi-meter telescopes) are now using Windows...

and yes i'm familiar with the astromatic stuff and galfit

getting that stuff running on windows is a complete PITA. i'm not a mac head so i use linux for that.

i long for the days of mature indi drivers. but even the AP indi driver has holes.


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Bob Abraham
sage


Reged: 05/17/05

Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
Re: MX discount... new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5667368 - 02/07/13 04:01 PM

Hmm... that's certainly not my experience. In the last couple of years I've observed with/gotten data from quite a few Mauna Kea telescopes (Gemini North, Keck, UKIRT and CFHT) and have been on various management committees related to these. As far as I can see, Windows usage for scientific data collection and data analysis is very (very) low in this community... basically it is zero. For example, on Gemini (the telescopes I'm most familiar with) all instruments must be controlled using an open-source system somewhat similar to INDI known as EPICS (http://www.aps.anl.gov/epics/) which is also used to talk to the telescope control system (which uses T-point for pointing... so you can see there's some convergence with commercial astro software there). Most development is done on Linux or Mac OS X (though Win32 is still officially supported by the EPICS consortium). Almost all data analysis is done in IRAF (UNIX only) or IDL (versions exist for Linux/MacOSX/Windows).

In my experience most Windows machines being used in the larger Mauna Kea observatories are used for specific engineering tasks and for optical design (ZEMAX is Windows-only) and by the admin people. A few years ago I did see Windows being used to control a near-infrared camera on a visitor instrument on Las Campanas (in Chile) though it was being used on one of the smaller telescopes there. In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Windows drives most of the smaller pro-am telescopes in the 0.5m-class all over the world, particularly if they're used for teaching. As has been pointed out there's a lot of great Windows-only software for that market. But for somebody aspiring to take advantage of lots of great pre-existing professional astronomy software, or for an environment with lots of astronomy students who may wish to go on to work with bigger telescopes, in my opinion Windows is probably not the right choice as these days Mac OS X/UNIX is really the canonical OS in that environment.


Bob

Quote:

it is interesting Bob because Chris Erickson who does a lot of work in Hawaii mentioned in another forum (Roboscopes on Yahoo) that all the big guys (i.e. the multi-meter telescopes) are now using Windows...

and yes i'm familiar with the astromatic stuff and galfit

getting that stuff running on windows is a complete PITA. i'm not a mac head so i use linux for that.

i long for the days of mature indi drivers. but even the AP indi driver has holes.




Edited by Bob Abraham (02/07/13 05:24 PM)


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bilgebayModerator
Post Laureate
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Reged: 11/06/08

Loc: Turkiye - Istanbul and Marmari...
Re: MX discount... new [Re: CounterWeight]
      #5667409 - 02/07/13 04:20 PM

Quote:



So where are we. My math shows an A-P 900 coming in over $9k to get to where the SB PMX is at it's sale price of $7k. Vastly different offerings and at least a $2k price difference.




SB website is listing this mount at $7995....am I missing something ?


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