Return to the Cloudy Nights Telescope Reviews home pageAstronomics discounts for Cloudy Nights members
· Get a Cloudy Nights T-Shirt · Submit a Review / Article

Click here if you are having trouble logging into the forums

Privacy Policy | Please read our Terms of Service | Signup and Troubleshooting FAQ | Problems? PM a Red or a Green Gu… uh, User

Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | (show all)
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6026449 - 08/15/13 03:40 AM

I suspect with the cost of Japan labor, Vixen can't really undercut Takahashi that much.. the GP etc. were very well-priced, until the Chinese came along.

I think the issue isn't so much that Vixen is overpriced - it's that the Chinese products are really really cheap compared to what amateurs could get 20 years ago.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Ranger Tim
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/25/08

Loc: SE Idaho, USA
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6028766 - 08/16/13 09:19 AM

Rod is right: The day of an elaborate hand controller such as the StarBook are over. With the ability of wireless control from a smart phone or tablet with superior sw such as SkySafari, all we need is an electronic interface for control and an initial alignment model for go-to. What I like about the NexSX replacement hardware is its USB port and ability to function from computer/device sw or hand paddle for portability.

There are several things about the StarBook that are frustrating:
1) Screen brightness. This may not seem like a big deal but when you are not alone it is embarrassing.
2) Motor response lag. It takes the motors a moment to move when a button is pushed. For visual this gets tiring.
3) Inability to save the pointing model from one session to the next. Can you say "Start over?"
4) No permanent PEC.
5) Random dec jumps... Grrrrr!
6) It takes two hands to hold it. It is not convenient to set down or hang.
7) Sensitive to cold.
8) Inadequate number of objects and limited NGC/IC catalog.
9) Inability to correct the last alignment star. If you hit a wrong button during alignment, start over!

Yes, they could have hit the ball out of the park with this mount series, but fell flat because of software issues. The new StarBook Ten hopefully addresses these problems but I won't be interested because the basic premise is flawed.

Things I still like about my SXW?
1) It's light yet very stable.
2) The HAL tripod is excellent.
3) Fit and finish are nice. But I have paperweights that are finished well too.
4) Tracking is superb (until the dec jumps).
5) I can set up my own router under the mount, connect via ethernet and run it from any device.
6) Autoguiding is easy (except for dec jumps).
7) It is white and easy to see at night.

If the original StarBook had fixed ONE ISSUE (the random dec jumps) the SXW/SXD/Atlux would be in high demand as a portable AP mount, but Vixen evidently has cotton stuffed in their ears and doesn't read these forums for feedback. Shame on them for being so obtuse. It took a third party to develop a hardware/software replacement for less than $400 to fix the Sphinx series and make it usable for AP. And most of us spending that amount of money would like to have that functionality available, at least as a selling point later.

It is true we do not hear much about the SkySensor 2K controllers. I have always wondered about this set-up for the GPDX.

It is important for a manufacturer to follow market trends in order to maintain their competitiveness. It seems as though Vixen mostly marches to the beat of their own drummer. This is fine if their products are cutting edge and revolutionary, but when they are oblivious to obvious shortfalls and blind to customer feedback it will bite them in a bad way. This has even reduced the appeal of Vixen in other product catagories, which is a real shame. There is some good stuff available from them and it would be a shame to see them fade away. In particular, we as hobbyists need more companies that produce quality crafted gear to survive and enhance choice in the market place. I hope they can turn this trend around and make a comeback.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6029435 - 08/16/13 03:45 PM

Quote:

I suspect with the cost of Japan labor, Vixen can't really undercut Takahashi that much.. the GP etc. were very well-priced, until the Chinese came along.






I am guessing very little Vixen gear is assembled in Japan.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: Ranger Tim]
      #6029438 - 08/16/13 03:46 PM

Quote:


If the original StarBook had fixed ONE ISSUE (the random dec jumps) the SXW/SXD/Atlux would be in high demand as a portable AP mount, but Vixen evidently has cotton stuffed in their ears and doesn't read these forums for feedback.




Bingo. Nor did they pay attention to the feedback from their customers. This is what killed the Sphinx.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6029765 - 08/16/13 07:11 PM

actually Vixen "sf" refractors are rebadged Synta, but "ss" are Japan-made. And the price reflects this...

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Nippon
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 10/22/09

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6029796 - 08/16/13 07:37 PM

I have a Vixen GP2 and I am very pleased with it. I have the dual axis drive and that is the way I wanted it. I use the mount with an ED 103 refractor and a VMC 200 L cat. It handles both well. It is stable and very smooth. I had a CG4 and the GP2 is a far better mount. If I wanted to switch to a goto mount I would buy the Celestron VX mount because I have a NexStar 8 SE and really like the system. Plus I can buy the VX cheaper than the Starbook upgrade for my GP2. I believe that the Vixen mounts are better made than the Chinese clones and I bought mine on sale.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
g__day
super member


Reged: 06/19/07

Loc: Sydney
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: Nippon]
      #6030215 - 08/17/13 01:04 AM

I have a Vixen Atlux with a SkySensor2000-PC V2.10 that slews 3 OTAs on Losmandy bars - a C9.25 + OAG + Meade Motorfocuser + DSI II Mono Pro and DSLR modded, WO 110FLT + Moonlight focuser + DSLR modded and WO 88 Doublet with (according to The Sky6 + Tpoint) +/- 15 arc seconds all sky pointing precision. Tracking is real time pointing; I regularly do 20 - 30 minute shots at F/10 2350mm focal length (guided) and have done 10 minute shots unguided with no star trails. PEMPro shows my PE corrected is around +/- 2.5 arc seconds and about 4.8 arc seconds raw.

That is quite a bit of weight to balance - requires about 25KGs to counterbalance, but the Atlux does it beautifully. Being able to PC control it and having it on a permanent pier in an astrolab helps. I often control the gear remotely (local PC in astrolab - running VNC to a LAN). So setup for me can be 5-10 minutes from openning the lab to imaging.

The second generation Vixen Atlux paired to the SS2K-PC is an incredibly capable platform. The ability to track accurately - even if you are up to 20 degrees off the celestial pole - is brilliant. The wake on re-power on and
retain brilliant pointing and tracking is a delight. The ability to track satellites and to account for both latitude and elevation based altering diffraction rates is sweet!

Alas I think the Starbook is a total joke compared to capability and reliability of the SS2K. Starbook looks like the pretty but dumb cousin of the SS2K-PC. It only has a fraction of the capability of the SS2K and none of its reliability.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: g__day]
      #6030251 - 08/17/13 01:45 AM

.. this is why the Atlux with SS2K is highly sought after, but the Atlux with Starbook is not.

The Starbook was indeed a downgrade from the SS2K. I believe the DEC jumps were a badly-implemented version of the SS2K's declination correction to compensate for polar alignment error.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
a_adam
sage


Reged: 07/17/10

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6030296 - 08/17/13 02:44 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I tend to believe Vixen that the mount itself is made in Japan. The GP mounts have been very precisely copied by competing companies, that is where the similarity in parts might originate from.

-André




Maybe, maybe not. Because of costs, much Japanese astronomy and photo gear is at least assembled in China, often/usually with at least some Chinese components. There is nothing bad about that as long as the company having that done exercises normal quality control. Which I hope Vixen does.




Hi Rod,

have you seen the "The Making" episode, where Vixen proudly shows its Japanese factory? Including all steps in mount production, from molding the metal to final assembly. The lettering in that factory is Japanese.

Vixen created quite a bit of confusion when they started to source certain scopes and parts from Synta and other Chinese sources. While the difference in designation ("f"-Series being Chinese) is clearly stated on the Japanese homepage, their American distributor is less up front with these facts. This also applies to the dreaded problem with the mount ratings, which in Japan are clearly marked as capacity WITHOUT counterweights, where Vixen US is stating the capacity INCLUDING the counterweights (which is just misleading).

IMO Vixen US could do a lot better in clear communication, following its Japanese parent company, this way settling these recurring discussions for good.

My Vixen GPD2 says Made in Japan, my Vixen tripod as well as my Porta 2 say Made in China. All are very good quality.

-André


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mayidunk
Don't Ask...
*****

Reged: 02/17/10

Loc: Betwixt & Between...
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: a_adam]
      #6030314 - 08/17/13 03:20 AM

What does Vixen Japan say the load rating of the Sphinx SXW is without counterweights? And, why the heck is there so much misinformation, and obtuseness with Vixen, anyway? It's like they actually go out of their way to bite their nose in order to spite their face!

I love my Sphinx mount, and was fortunate to get a good price on it. Until the StarBook froze, I was happy with it, though not ecstatically so. Vixen has done such good work over the years. I have a 102M achro that is amazing! Coupled with the GP mount, it is a superb performer! Yet they now seem to pride themselves by how far they have regressed, coupled with the seemingly willful manner in which they ignore their customers, and almost gleefully hide or obfuscate basic specs for their mounts! Rather than to be on a par with Takahashi, and other high-end companies, they instead seem to be willfully forcing themselves into becoming a mere shadow of their former selves!

They should be leading the way, but instead are becoming a laughing stock! Who, or what, is behind all this? It's like they've become a parody of the movie "Idiocracy!"



Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6030454 - 08/17/13 08:31 AM

Quote:

actually Vixen "sf" refractors are rebadged Synta, but "ss" are Japan-made. And the price reflects this...




As per Andre's post, it sounds like they are doing some/all of their mount manufacture in Japan, still. But they ain't doing a very good job of it. Scanning the Vixen Yahoogroups you don't see just problems with Starbooks, but mounts with problems like sticky declination axes, etc. Problems bad enough to prevent proper operation in some cases.

If Vixen doesn't make its mounts in China, may they ought to. This ain't getting it.

Edited by rmollise (08/17/13 08:35 AM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6030461 - 08/17/13 08:37 AM

Quote:

What does Vixen Japan say the load rating of the Sphinx SXW is without counterweights? And, why the heck is there so much misinformation, and obtuseness with Vixen, anyway? It's like they actually go out of their way to bite their nose in order to spite their face!






That's what I don't understand. They were the darlings of amateur astronomy in the 90s. Good quality, and very reasonable prices. They at least seemed to pay attention to their customers. Now? Not so much. Change of management? I don't know.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
BoldAxis1967
sage
*****

Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Kentucky
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6030739 - 08/17/13 11:22 AM

Quote:

That's what I don't understand. They were the darlings of amateur astronomy in the 90s. Good quality, and very reasonable prices. They at least seemed to pay attention to their customers. Now? Not so much. Change of management? I don't know.

Uncle Rod





Perhaps an important component of the problem is with Vixen's princple distributor in the USA, Mr. StarGuy? If so, then Vixen is asleep at the wheel. If Mr. StarGuy has any integrity they would be responsive to customer concerns and in the case of chronic or inherent problems they would be relating these weaknesses to Vixen's engineers and/or management for the purpose of improving their product and/or QC.

As many have commented here they do seem to produce some things of such a quality that people like to use their product. On the other hand, there seems to be significant inconsistency and frustration. Reminds me of General Motors in the late 1980s and early 1990's, you never knew if you were going to get something good or something terrible, and the cost was frequently not commensurate with the quality of the product.

I do not have the experience nor the expertise, but I would like to see one or more people with the expertise, time, resources and reputation get together to make a really exhaustive comparison of say for example the GPD2, AVX and GM-8. Everything from these mounts being used for visual and AP as well as an assestment of "bang for the buck". Perhaps this is just wishfull thinking, quilty as charged. It just seems that something like this in a prominent magazine or journal or even here in CN would be useful. Hint, hint. The only reason I bring this up is that I doubt if Mr. StarGuy and Vixen are listening; but, maybe they would if they saw an article in a journal that has a large viewership.



LB

Edited by BoldAxis1967 (08/17/13 02:31 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #6031313 - 08/17/13 04:29 PM

The Sphinx came out during the time of the previous Vixen distributor, TeleVue. They (Vixen) were no more responsive them, alas.

Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mayidunk
Don't Ask...
*****

Reged: 02/17/10

Loc: Betwixt & Between...
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: rmollise]
      #6032008 - 08/17/13 11:56 PM

Unfortunately, when I sent my Sphinx SXW back I actually had to play "Catcher in the Rye." I was one of the fortunate ones who got one whose axes were adjusted correctly, so I had to specifically instruct them to not adjust the bearing pre-load on either axis bearing, out of fear that they would just go through it, and adjust stuff just as a matter of course!

In any event it came back in good order, and after installing the NexSXD board, it's now an excellent lightweight mount, one that is truly unsung (perhaps, even a future classic?) for what it could have been apart from the unfortunate StarBook boondoggle.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
ericsolo
member


Reged: 12/27/05

Loc: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: mayidunk]
      #6032769 - 08/18/13 12:26 PM

Sadly, after 2 years of trying to make it work, I traded my New Atlux back to the vendor I bought it from just a short time the NexAtlux became available. I reckon I was out of pocket $4,000. It was replaced with a Mach One, the best astronomy investment that I have made.

Eric


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Gord
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 01/06/04

Loc: Toronto, ON, Canada
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: ericsolo]
      #6034587 - 08/19/13 01:26 PM

Hi again Everyone,

Thanks for all the great replies and sharing of experience! I especially appreciate hearing the bad and ugly too as it gives a sense of the scale and nature of problems.

It seems my impressions match pretty well with what others are experiencing. The mechanical side is very good (although not without a few warts...). The computer side, not so good. And crazy expensive in some cases.

I too have questioned the whole starbook thing. Seemed like a neat idea when it first came out a long time ago. There was nothing of this nature available, but there seemed to be issues with it and it doesn't sound to have been extensively improved. And as someone else pointed out, in this day when there are tablets and such available so plentifully, there doesn't seem a need for something so specialized.

And I had never even *heard* of this NexStar conversion! This would certainly give me more thoughts around a used Vixen based around the starbook if this is an option. But it would have to be priced right.

And speaking of which, what's with the crazy pricing for accessories??!!! A simple case for the mount is $460! In fact, it seems hard to find any options less than $250. That and I'm sure too that not all of their stuff is fully sourced in Japan. Nothing wrong with that as long as the quality is good (and we see lots of good quality from China these days), but I would expect the price to better reflect things.

But I had already decided to avoid the starbook related mounts and was more looking for just a good quality tracking mount. I was kind of thinking for a solar application so the white color is appealing.

There is currently a promotion running from them with a GP2/HAL130 combo for only $499. I was thinking of adding the Chinese motors like the ones I have from Orion for my other EQ5's since they're only $150 or so for the setup instead of like $700 for the Vixens.

How do people find the GP2 compares against the GPD2 (new name for the GP-DX)? I like the GP-DX, although I do find that with light loads I see more high-frequency vibration than bounce that takes more time to settle down. I'm guessing it's due to the light tripod. But it just makes the whole thing so simple to setup/move.

It would be unfortunate if they ended up going away like some brands historically have, but I could see it happening if they didn't keep in touch with the market.

Thanks,


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
orlyandico
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 08/10/09

Loc: Singapore
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: Gord]
      #6034617 - 08/19/13 01:50 PM

The GP2 is just a white GP. So it has a much lower weight capacity than the GPDX, or its (white) incarnation, the GPD2.

The Nexstar conversion board is about $240 inclusive of shipping (157 Euro + 18 Euro shipping).

http://www.nexsxd.com/NexSXD/NexSXD_eng.htm

Then you buy a Nexstar hand controller ($130) and you've got a CGE Pro!


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
rmollise
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 07/06/07

Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: Gord]
      #6034842 - 08/19/13 04:03 PM

Quote:

But I had already decided to avoid the starbook related mounts and was more looking for just a good quality tracking mount. I was kind of thinking for a solar application so the white color is appealing.

There is currently a promotion running from them with a GP2/HAL130 combo for only $499. I was thinking of adding the Chinese motors like the ones I have from Orion for my other EQ5's since they're only $150 or so for the setup instead of like $700 for the Vixens.






The catch is that right now you can get a ready to go computerized CG5 mount that will probably make you a lot happier for about the same price.


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
mayidunk
Don't Ask...
*****

Reged: 02/17/10

Loc: Betwixt & Between...
Re: Anyone using Vixen EQ mounts? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6034862 - 08/19/13 04:15 PM

IMO, the mechanical qualities of the Sphinx, and the straightforward, sturdy design of the NexSXD motor controller board, coupled with the excellent software in the very affordable NexStar+ HC, makes for a pretty unbeatable combination of form, and function!

I was able to get the Vixen case at a more reasonable price at the time. The internal construction has proven dependable in holding everything in place so far, but the exterior aluminum skin is very prone to dings and dents. I wish the industry hadn't gone in that direction, and had instead stayed with roto-molded exteriors. In fact, every time I see an old roto-molded Orion eyepiece case for sale, I grab it! Best case ever!!!

Edited by mayidunk (08/19/13 04:19 PM)


Post Extras: Print Post   Remind Me!   Notify Moderator  
Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | (show all)


Extra information
16 registered and 30 anonymous users are browsing this forum.

Moderator:  Dave M, richard7, bilgebay 

Print Thread

Forum Permissions
      You cannot start new topics
      You cannot reply to topics
      HTML is disabled
      UBBCode is enabled


Thread views: 1605

Jump to

CN Forums Home


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics