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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #6385182 - 02/19/14 05:50 PM

Quote:

Isn't that what you wanted? Upgradable mounts?




Not exactly; wouldn't you rather buy a new car instead of upgrading features that may have come out in the new model of the same car? 'Expendability' concept is not that hard to grasp, and that's what drives innovation.


We have now jumped on encoder bandwagon, which is good. But today's encoder resolution will not be the same as tomorrow’s. Would one want to go back to the manufacturer to have them put in new higher resolution encoder, NO! You would rather buy new mount with higher resolution encoder built-in.


For this model to succeed, we need to be able to throw old out and buy new, which translates into having lower more affordable prices to begin with. Regards


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385187 - 02/19/14 05:55 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Isn't that what you wanted? Upgradable mounts?




Not exactly; wouldn't you rather buy a new car instead of upgrading features that may have come out in the new model of the same car? 'Expendability' concept is not that hard to grasp, and that's what drives innovation.


We have now jumped on encoder bandwagon, which is good. But today's encoder resolution will not be the same as tomorrow’s. Would one want to go back to the manufacturer to have them put in new higher resolution encoder, NO! You would rather buy new mount with higher resolution encoder built-in.


For this model to succeed, we need to be able to throw old out and buy new, which translates into having lower more affordable prices to begin with. Regards




Modularity is good concept, and will help with piecemeal upgrades of 'some' components. That concept even goes out the door with direct drives and tightly integrated encoder electronics. Regards


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Peter in Reno
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385189 - 02/19/14 05:57 PM

Wow. You are constantly changing your story. Now I have no idea what you've been saying since you started this thread. I am putting you in my Ignore List from now on.

Have you considered a career in politics? Remember the flip-flopper?

Peter


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #6385205 - 02/19/14 06:04 PM

Sorry Peter if you misunderstood; I went over this in somewhat detail here...

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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385243 - 02/19/14 06:29 PM

For clarity:

Expendable is something you can discard [I have been referring to this one...]


Expandable is something you can upgrade


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EFT
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385309 - 02/19/14 07:00 PM

Quote:

Quote:

It is possible that future versions of the control electronics might be backwards compatible, but there is no way to predict that at this point since there needs to be some economic reason for a manufacturer to make things backward compatible and in general that is not common in this field.




Thanks Ed; I am not too worried about backward compatibility. I am for moving forward. That was the reason for my question, which mainly meant how much 'mount/electronics life' a buyer may get before they are faced with an upgrade. Buying at the end of a lifecycle would mean quicker upgrade need for a new buyer, that’s all.


If I understood you correctly, there seems some life left in 1.0 box before 2.0 comes along? Encoder iterations inside the mount was implied part of my question, which I am not sure if you can answer [i.e., encoder version/resolution in the mount today might not be the same in the next/following year’s mount...]? Regards




The current version of the mount computer is quite new and I am sure that there are no significant changes, other than firmware, on the horizon. A truly significant change that would require a completely new computer would be something like the unavailability of parts (like we saw with one manufacturer) or a significant mount and computer design change as seen between the QCI and HPS mounts. Nothing like that is likely anytime soon.


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EFT
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #6385315 - 02/19/14 07:05 PM

Quote:

I was reading the operating manual for 10 Micron mounts. It looks like it's very well written and pretty easy to operate. Kudos to 10 Micron.

I have one question. Does 10 Micron require worm gears mesh adjustment? I could not find the procedure in the manual. I know that the mount has belt drive but doesn't the worm gears still require checking/re-meshing? If not, how can the gears stay well adjusted even the gears will normally wear? The manual says no maintenance is required.

A-P mount manual shows how to check/adjust gear mesh and it's extremely simple.

Thanks,
Peter




The worm is a custom-designed, self-adjusting, spring mounted system designed to require no adjustment or maintenance by the user. This system has been in use by 10Micron for 12 years. However, one of the added benefits of absolute encoders is that, were some problem to develop with the worm that impacted the mount error, the encoders can account for that change in performance because they are located at the end of the drive train after the worm and can adjust for mechanical inaccuracies that occur before the encoder.


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #6385891 - 02/20/14 12:50 AM

Quote:

The AP1600 is probably not the last high end mount that I purchase. But when I buy the next one, it definitely won't be an upgrade to the AP1600. It will be a smaller mount for portable use. I'm currently leaning towards a Mach1 because I am a strong believer in AP's simple-but-robust approach to everything (people complain about AP's lack of clever electronics, but to me the AP approach is better and much easier to work with, as long as I am willing to be educated a bit).

Who knows, though? By the time I get around to my next mount, I might be in the mood to try something new. If that happens, it will be more because of my curiosity than to fill any gap that AP isn't filling. If I just want to get the job done, AP meets that need quite nicely for me.




There is honesty in your statements. I presume your AP1600 is non-encoded version? Let’s say it was non-encoded, getting encoded will be either cost prohibitive or something most users wouldn’t like to go the route. To me adding encoders after the fact sounds more like adding automatic transmission to a manual transmission car, for the lack of a better analogy. I don’t know why they went this route, may be this made sense back in the day of their high-priced possessions. Plus, their encoder options for upgradeable mounts are skewed toward the top-end of the fleet. Times are changing, and changes are needed.


What’s right about 10Micron is that they went with encoded fleet, from entry-level (thought GM1000HPS is really not an entry level "price" tag) to top-end. Astrophysics lacks encoded representation in <1$10K. Mach1 is not going to hold ground against GM1000HPS (no matter how distant 10Micron may want them to be from Mach1 comparisons) for the most part, and possible onslaughts from iOptron.


Portability factor you mention is important. Demark between observatory-class and portable-class mounts is fading rapidly. With pointing model routine Tony describes, it makes precise polar alignment a breeze for modern mounts, without even requiring a computer or polar scope. If you have looked at my DSLR posts, I am one of the few “wheels-up” (Rich’s term) kind of person, where I don’t connect a computer up to my DSLR; I use an intervalometer.... With 10min unguided images with precision mounts, even PC based PHD guiding is fading away rapidly.


Your statement, “By the time I get around to my next mount, I might be in the mood to try something new” is more than likely a true statement. Regards


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #6385921 - 02/20/14 01:16 AM

Quote:

AP has never released a GTO upgrade for QMD mount owners. Their rationale is that the QMD mounts were not built to as high a standard for go-to. It is not a very compelling argument to me, any go-to is better than none I say. But there's nothing to be done about it.

Are QMD owners unhappy? I don't know about the rest, but I certainly was peeved. But I knew this when I got my used 20-year old QMD. It isn't reasonable to expect upgrades for your old stuff (see the car analogy of a previous poster).




Orlando, QMD may be too old of an example, but they have got to do something about the class disparity they have created themselves in their existing line-up. Regards


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blueman
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385936 - 02/20/14 01:27 AM

Just sell your AP3600 and buy a 10micron and quit ragging on the AP mounts, please, so that you can just let this go. It is starting to sound like you work for 10 micron or something.
Blueman
Quote:

Quote:

The AP1600 is probably not the last high end mount that I purchase. But when I buy the next one, it definitely won't be an upgrade to the AP1600. It will be a smaller mount for portable use. I'm currently leaning towards a Mach1 because I am a strong believer in AP's simple-but-robust approach to everything (people complain about AP's lack of clever electronics, but to me the AP approach is better and much easier to work with, as long as I am willing to be educated a bit).

Who knows, though? By the time I get around to my next mount, I might be in the mood to try something new. If that happens, it will be more because of my curiosity than to fill any gap that AP isn't filling. If I just want to get the job done, AP meets that need quite nicely for me.




There is honesty in your statements. I presume your AP1600 is non-encoded version? Let’s say it was non-encoded, getting encoded will be either cost prohibitive or something most users wouldn’t like to go the route. To me adding encoders after the fact sounds more like adding automatic transmission to a manual transmission car, for the lack of a better analogy. I don’t know why they went this route, may be this made sense back in the day of their high-priced possessions. Plus, their encoder options for upgradeable mounts are skewed toward the top-end of the fleet. Times are changing, and changes are needed.


What’s right about 10Micron is that they went with encoded fleet, from entry-level (thought GM1000HPS is really not an entry level "price" tag) to top-end. Astrophysics lacks encoded representation in <1$10K. Mach1 is not going to hold ground against GM1000HPS (no matter how distant 10Micron may want them to be from Mach1 comparisons) for the most part, and possible onslaughts from iOptron.


Portability factor you mention is important. Demark between observatory-class and portable-class mounts is fading rapidly. With pointing model routine Tony describes, it makes precise polar alignment a breeze for modern mounts, without even requiring a computer or polar scope. If you have looked at my DSLR posts, I am one of the few “wheels-up” (Rich’s term) kind of person, where I don’t connect a computer up to my DSLR; I use an intervalometer.... With 10min unguided images with precision mounts, even PC based PHD guiding is fading away rapidly.


Your statement, “By the time I get around to my next mount, I might be in the mood to try something new” is more than likely a true statement. Regards




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Per Frejvall
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385942 - 02/20/14 01:30 AM

Quote:

If one were to buy at the end of a revision cycle of most components, then update/upgrade ramifications will be huge. If there is a certain timeline of the version of each component that you can describe, that will be great.


I understand mount itself (worms/wheels) may not go through that rapid of an upgrade cycle. In short, this gets more into computer realm now, what OS one has, what software version one has, what version hardware one has; hardware is a big word, that’s lot of things, the processor version, the memory version, bios version, bus speed, hard drive, etc. I think you get the idea. Regards


Example: Per's square box version says 1.0; that's may be super-version, there are lot sub-versions packed in that box. If we took this example, when is box version 2.0 expected out [and what will it contatin]?




This is most likely information that you do not need. So far, there have been no incompatible upgrades performed in the software. Drivers and PC software have always been backward compatible.

About the firmware, which is the top layer and the really proprietary part of 10Micron's in-mount software, I can tell you that the very same firmware file is used to upgrade both the older box (my round one) and the newer GM1000HPS box. They also provide the same feature set, except where hardware is lacking, and the only feature I do not get with the older box is the new shutdown command (direct firmware command, not exposed in ASCOM).

One feature that hasn't even been mentioned yet is that all QCI and HPS mounts from 10Micron can drive the Baader domes straight off the serial port on the box. That includes automatic slaving with configurable geometry and all. This is in line with the "no PC required" philosophy, although a PC would most likely be present at the site anyway if it contains a dome. It does, however, add robustness and eliminates the need for a driver for the dome, something that makes it available from, for instance, astronomy software packages that lack dome support.

Just to keep this on track... Is the dome thing revolutionary? Nope, but certainly a good feature to have



/per


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385958 - 02/20/14 01:53 AM

A lot has been said about astrophotography, getting round stars, atmospheric seeing, adaptive optics, FWHM [a term which sound like those long native Indian names (no offense to native Indians)], etc. and somehow them being measuring criteria/mitigating factors for modern mount precision. That’s skewed and non-scientific way of looking at the core, mechanical problem.


Mount precision is something internal to mount mechanics and needs to be dealt with as an entity by itself and intrinsically to the mount. It doesn’t matter whether one is imaging or visually observing, it doesn’t matter if one is getting round stars or not, it doesn’t matter if one is on the moon with perfect seeing, it doesn’t matter if one has adaptive optics, etc. All of these are secondary to how precisely your mount is moving, pure and simple ‘mechanical’ problem.


Encoders are just the means to fix those imperfections in a mechanical system. Until we get mount’s mechanical precision addressed, all outside mitigating factors or indirect measuring criteria are meaningless. Good thing is finally mount precision problem is moving in the right direction. Regards


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6385969 - 02/20/14 02:09 AM

Quote:

You can also see why I was very comfortable upgrading to the 10Micron for mobile imaging given I had 10 years with the GM8/Losmandy Gemini I. I'd already learnt most of the model building/PAC tricks. Of course I don't need the 8 minutes PEC training I had to do with the GM/8 which helps hugely




Thanks Tony for your detailed write-up; this is immensely helpful to most of us 'portable-set-uppers-to-be'. Regards


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6385996 - 02/20/14 02:53 AM

Our mount revolution analogies to cars & computers make sense to some extent but not entirely. All of those technologies have matured through iterative process [regardless of how big they might be and how small we might be in revenues]. Cars are getting new models every year & major engine revisions every 3 or so years, and processor/memory/disk infrastructures in computers are moving at almost 6-month to yearly cycles.


We have not seen that kind of iterating in mounts, largely because mount technology was in infancy, and partly because some manufactures were spending most of their time machining their way to perfection, and as a result made it cost prohibitive to upgrade/innovate in needed frequencies. With more and more computing going into driving mount precision, it is imperative that things will move at a faster pace than before. Mount computer modules will require more frequent upgrades, be them firmware or software, encoders themselves will I think go through some quick revision cycles until they mature and get perfected.


I feel manufacturers who are stuck in their old ways are going to get left behind in this race. Microsoft used to get bashed a lot for their quick iterative development cycles over the years but in the end they ended on top. Even now, almost with each release they fumble and stumble and they correct themselves. Windows Vista was a failure, revision Windows 7 was a success. Windows 8 was a failure, Windows 8.1 is a success. What I mean here is that we have a lesson to learn here [from iterative process, not iterative fumbling I mean] because computing and encoding has infiltrated our mounts more than ever before, and they are here to stay for a while.


Standardization of how we manage encoders through computing/electronics I think is the key so that each vendor is not doing things their way. This is hard to do but I think will be the right strategy if these precision systems don’t end up being all proprietary and walled off in the long run. Regards


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Per Frejvall]
      #6386011 - 02/20/14 03:25 AM

Quote:

About the firmware, which is the top layer and the really proprietary part of 10Micron's in-mount software, I can tell you that the very same firmware file is used to upgrade both the older box (my round one) and the newer GM1000HPS box. They also provide the same feature set, except where hardware is lacking, and the only feature I do not get with the older box is the new shutdown command (direct firmware command, not exposed in ASCOM).




Thanks Per!


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Tonk]
      #6386093 - 02/20/14 06:11 AM

Tony, wanted to ask what kind of base/tripod you use for your portable GM1000HPS setup? Pics/part details will be much appreciated. Regards

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freestar8n
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6386119 - 02/20/14 06:47 AM

Quote:

That’s skewed and non-scientific way of looking at the core, mechanical problem.




Unbelievable. Your remark is consistent with your admitted unfamiliarity with the concept of fwhm - which is a very general and commonly used abbreviation in scientific and engineering work. The goal of a good mount and good guiding is good performance in its task. The scientific way to measure performance is in the ground truth result you obtain. Everything else is an indirect measurement of a proxy. A guide log tells you what the guide software thinks is happening to the "centroid" of the guidestar - not what is happening in the image. An encoder log tells you what the encoder feedback thinks is happening to the OTA, but it is indirect and does not include terms such as errors in the encoder system itself, or in physical lag of the optic axis with the encoder value. It also relies on human-written firmware that could have any nature of bugs involved. The way to know how well the whole system works is to study the actual images.

It used to be that people would spend more on a good mount with good bearings and gearboxes - because the improved results showed clearly in the images - and fwhm measurements only confirmed that. When people saw those results, they coveted the images - and sought to own a similar high end mount to achieve similar results. I have no idea why people trust things that are indirect proxies, but easy to measure - instead of the actual result they achieve - which is small and round stars. The fwhm is commonly stated in astronomical publications to convey the quality of the data. They do not state the PE.

I have yet to see a single demonstration that adding encoders to a guided system improved the images - for a mount of *any* quality. Unguided - sure it helps - and it shows in the images - and the fwhm's.

Frank


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Phil Cowell
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Peter in Reno]
      #6386144 - 02/20/14 07:15 AM

Quote:

mmalik,

You just don't get it. You do not understand the Astronomy market. Now you said "... ought to ...". Geez.

Who cares what other people pay for any products including Astro-Physics. Why are so many people in the waiting list for A-P products? If you don't like it then that's your problem. I guess you didn't understand the price per pound thread I wrote. Note that both AP1600GTOAE and GM3000HPS have SAME carrying capacity and SAME price therefore by your standard of admiring 10 Micron's price, Astro-Physics prices are the SAME as 10 Micron. Therefore Astro-Physics prices are not price goughing as you always say.

Peter




+1 Nicely summed up.


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mmalik
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: Phil Cowell]
      #6386166 - 02/20/14 07:34 AM

Phil, if you missed it, read this...; the convergence Peter is talking about is happening at ~$19K, nothing less. So your +1 doesn't add up . Regards

Edited by mmalik (02/20/14 07:45 AM)


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WadeH237
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Re: Are we in a mount revolution? new [Re: mmalik]
      #6386372 - 02/20/14 09:40 AM

Quote:

Let’s say it was non-encoded, getting encoded will be either cost prohibitive or something most users wouldn’t like to go the route. To me adding encoders after the fact sounds more like adding automatic transmission to a manual transmission car, for the lack of a better analogy.




I've mentioned elsewhere on this thread that I don't have encoders.

That was a conscious choice on my part. I evaluated the benefit provided by the encoders and determined that the didn't make sense for me at the time I purchased the mount. In using the mount since then, I've not seen anything to suggest that my initial assessment was incorrect.

If I change my mind the in the future and decide that I do need the encoders, all it takes is a call to AP with my credit card and they will show up on my door. I can install them in minutes and I will have an AP1600 with encoders. It will be *identical* to what I would have had if I purchased it originally with encoders. And my total investment in the mount will be the same as if I had originally specified encoders.

It is about as unlike selecting a manual versus automatic transmission as I can imagine...except for the religious "manual vs. automatic" arguments that turn up on car forums from time to time.

It's clear that you have some strong opinions. For what it's worth, I share your desire to see improvements in technology. I agree that performance improvements in the low and middle tiers would be a great thing for amateur astronomers.

A strongly disagree with your position that purchasing at the low end and then re-buying as technology improves is either desirable or a cost savings. I've left a long trail of low and middle tier equipment in my path as I've moved along in this hobby. If I had purchased an AP900 instead of a CGE back in 2003, I am certain that my total investment in this hobby would be far less than it is today, and my satisfaction would have been much higher.

I don't want to be on a treadmill of continuously buying new equipment, learning how it works, integrating it into my workflow, etc. Wherever possible, I want to buy something that meets my needs and use it until it wears out. The mobile phone model of hardware purchase has managed to extract an unimaginable amount of money from the pockets of American consumers. And the sinister part is that, because it's spread out in a never ending stream of payments, people don't even realize how much money they are spending.

I've read all of your arguments in this thread because I like to understand points of view other than my own. I have to admit that I share the confusion that some mentioned in trying to understand what appears to be a moving target. I certainly don't expect that you'll adopt my point of view.

I would be nice, though, for you to get that yours is not the "one, true point of view".


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