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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
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Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts
      #4327606 - 01/20/11 02:37 PM

Hi Folks!

I'm looking for some advice, and I'm not sure I'm getting the best from some of the manufacturer's reps I've been chatting with on email. So, once again, I'm turning to my friends on CN to help with a little unbiased (and real-world) advice!

I have an Apomax 133mm f/12 refractor -- and it has been a relationship for over 10 years now! The views are spectacular, and I've never seen this scope's equal on planetary and lunar work. The problem is that this beast is BIG!! 1600mm f/l, about 20 Kg (42 lbs) and almost 190 cm (75 inches) from dew shield to eyepiece. It's a monster!

I do mostly visual work, but I'd love to do some astrophotography - I have the scope and a good camera, my problem has always been the mount! Currently the scope is mounted on a Celestron CGEM mount - very unsatisfactory! It tracks ok for visual work (unless it is very windy), but the motors strain when slewing anywhere above the slowest speed, and the clutches just can't hold my long green scope steady at all.

I've looked at, and rejected, many mounts, and I have my eye on just two - if there is a 3rd (or a 4th!!!) I haven't considered, please clue me in!
One is the CGE-Pro mount from Celestron. At about 5K including tripod, it is has plenty of payload capacity, and as this thing was designed for a 20" CDK, I figure it will hold my refractor. Downside? Very heavy lift to get the 25 Kg EQ head to the top of the tripod, and the mount is only marginally tall enough - at zenith, the eyepiece is less than 60 cm (24 inches) from the ground and very uncomfortable!

The second mount I'm looking at is the Mach1 GTO from Astro-Physics - just under 6K w/o any pier or tripod. Slightly lower payload (still well capable of handling the weight of my scope), and much better reviewed performance for photographic work. Downside? After purchasing a 60" pier or tripod for the Mach1, adapter plates, counterweights, etc. (all extra) I'm now approaching (if not over) $9K. Heck, for 10K, I can get an CGE-14-HD with all the trimmings!

Additionally, when I contacted A-P, the advice the tech gave is that the Mach1 won't hold a scope of my size steady - even for visual work!! I have to think that if the (by comparison) lowly CGEM will do the work, then a Mach1 certainly should. A-P tech claims that: "The scope is heavy and long, so it will not be stable on the Mach1 size mount. The long tube length requires a larger gearwheel in the two axes in order to hold the scope rigidly enough even for visual. It is a matter of torque transferred to the gearteeth." (My emphasis!)

So what is the 'real world' situation? I'm sure that Roland's standards of "acceptable tracking and steadyness" are quite a bit different from mine - could the Mach1 do the job? The A-P folks frankly recommended an A-P 900 GTO mount - nice, but Santa and the Easter Bunny just laughed at me. With a base price of about 9K (before tripod, adapter plates, counterweights, etc.) and waaaaay out of my reach!

Any help from the Peanut Gallery or the FWIW Bureau would be greatly appreciated!

Dan


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adamsp123
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/20/08

Loc: welshpool mid wales UK
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Ad Astra]
      #4327651 - 01/20/11 02:59 PM

Are you wanting to image the planets/lunar or DSOs, if it the latter I think you will get frustrated using that scope at F12, you would need incredibly long subs and a very big and expensive mount to be able (maybe) to do that.
Just as an example a 4 min sub with my F5.3 would mean you need a 20 min sub for the equivalent light capture of a DSO on the camera chip, now that is a big ask of any mount, even guided, with that size scope.


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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: adamsp123]
      #4327665 - 01/20/11 03:07 PM

Not really a scope for DSO's at all. The aperture is a little small and the f/l is incredibly long for that.

Most of the photographic work I've done has been on Luna (successful!) and Mars (meh!). Photographic work is really secondary for me - visual work is primary.

Dan


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Reged: 04/30/03

Loc: NE Ohio
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Ad Astra]
      #4327688 - 01/20/11 03:13 PM

Quote:

One is the CGE-Pro mount from Celestron. At about 5K including tripod, it is has plenty of payload capacity, and as this thing was designed for a 20" CDK,




Although the mount originally proposed for the 20" CDK was designated CGE Pro, the model currently using that designation bears little or no resemblance.


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t.r.
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Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Ad Astra]
      #4327700 - 01/20/11 03:19 PM Attachment (203 downloads)

I think you would be just fine on a Mach 1 for visual and planetary imaging. For DSO imaging, okay maybe pushing it on a windy night. No reason it won't work for visual on the right tripod/pier. See here the size comparison to a CGE...

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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: jrcrilly]
      #4327744 - 01/20/11 03:37 PM

Quote:

Although the mount originally proposed for the 20" CDK was designated CGE Pro, the model currently using that designation bears little or no resemblance.




Very sad... but I will take your word for it. Some others have said the same.

There seems to be a BIG gap between the $1,000 - $1,500 mounts and the 6K & up pricetag / performance of the next level.

Thanks!

Dan



Edited by Ad Astra (01/20/11 03:38 PM)


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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: t.r.]
      #4327765 - 01/20/11 03:45 PM

Hi T.R!

Thanks, your photo with the two side-by-side is a great help! I may wish to take up a large DSO reflector someday, but the big refractor is plenty for now.

I've never actually done an astrophoto with an exposure of more than a couple of minutes duration! I can't see doing long exposures with this refractor - entirely wrong instrument for that!

Plus if I stick with a Mach1, I might be able to afford a Pier-Tech-2 adjustable pier to put underneath it... nice not to have to lift all that glass onto a 60" high platform! That combo would still keep the total at about $9K - I can swing that if my bonus comes in!

Dan


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DeanS
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Reged: 07/12/05

Loc: Central Kentucky
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: t.r.]
      #4327772 - 01/20/11 03:48 PM

I moved up from a Mach1 to the AP900 when I bought my TOA-150. I was told it would work but I just felt the 900 would give me a little better stability.

Have yet to mount the TOA on it yet though I use my 1200 for imaging with it, and planned on using the 900 for visual use in the field.

I would highly recommend the AP900, for just a little more you get almost twice the payload. These mounts are something you will likely keep for life. And there is no comparison between an AP mount and a Celestron.

Good luck


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drksky
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 09/01/09

Loc: Bloomington, IL
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: DeanS]
      #4327912 - 01/20/11 04:51 PM

Uh, the 900 base price is about 3K more than a Mach-1. Not sure I would call that a little bit.

A Mach-1 with accessories you might get away with 7.5-8K. For a 900, you're talking 10K+ for the mount, pier, plates, CWs, etc.


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DeanS
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Reged: 07/12/05

Loc: Central Kentucky
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: drksky]
      #4328056 - 01/20/11 05:53 PM

Accessories for both will be about the same so that is a wash.

Yes it is more $$$ than just a little, but it has nearly twice the capacity. I have not looked at the cost lately. However if he is concerned about it then this might be a better option. Better too much mount than not enough.

Personally I would put the extra money into the mount before a expensive pier. That could be added later if really needed.


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zawijava
scholastic sledgehammer
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Reged: 10/06/07

Loc: Wells, Maine 04090
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Ad Astra]
      #4328087 - 01/20/11 06:07 PM

I have not owned or used a Mach 1 but have owned/used both the 900 and 1200 AP's. I had my 6" f/15 D&G [about 30 lbs total] on the 900 and I feel comfortable saying it carried it very well. But if I rapped on the tube or if the wind was blowing I would have to wait for the image to settle down....definitely not "rock solid". My point being that I don't believe the Mach 1 would be up to the task of carrying your tube. The AP Tech is giving you some good advise

Tim


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gnowellsct
Postmaster
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Reged: 06/24/09

Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Ad Astra]
      #4328809 - 01/20/11 11:29 PM

Why not get a used AP900 and save $2k

greg N


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gdd
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/23/05

Loc: N Seattle suburb, WA
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #4328884 - 01/21/11 12:09 AM

How about a Titan? This info from the Losmandy site:

Quote:

Photographic instrument weight capacity 100 lbs.
Equatorial Head weight 75 lbs. Breaks down into R.A. 37.5 lbs. & DEC. 37.5 lbs




Or, check out this thread for a large refractor mount:

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/4278079/page/5/view/collapsed/sb/5/o/all/fpart/1


Gale

Edited by gdd (01/21/11 12:30 AM)


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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: DeanS]
      #4329036 - 01/21/11 02:51 AM

Quote:

I moved up from a Mach1 to the AP900 when I bought my TOA-150. I was told it would work but I just felt the 900 would give me a little better stability.

I would highly recommend the AP900, for just a little more you get almost twice the payload. These mounts are something you will likely keep for life. And there is no comparison between an AP mount and a Celestron.

Good luck




Hi DeanS,

It's nice to hear from someone who has used both!
Yes, ideally, I would very much like to get an AP-900, but the difference is almost $3,000 - about 50% more than the Mach1. That is a very significant amount for me, hence the agonized comparisons!

Re: the pier, a Pier-Tech portable pier is about $2,800, any other folding triod, portable pier is at least 2K-$2,400. Pier-Tech represents being able to put the heavy scope on the mount at waist level, and still be able to get it up off the ground. Alas, 55-60" piers and tripods are not cheap. When I started researching this stuff, the prices took my breath away!

If I have an extra $500-800 to spend, I'm thinking the pier-tech might be better, and much cheaper than swapping up to an AP-900. Unless the Mach1 just won't do the job, and then it isn't in the running. I just haven't satisfied myself on that point yet!

Thanks for your help!

Dan

Edited by Ad Astra (01/21/11 02:58 AM)


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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: zawijava]
      #4329042 - 01/21/11 03:05 AM

Quote:

I have not owned or used a Mach 1 but have owned/used both the 900 and 1200 AP's. I had my 6" f/15 D&G [about 30 lbs total] on the 900 and I feel comfortable saying it carried it very well. But if I rapped on the tube or if the wind was blowing I would have to wait for the image to settle down....definitely not "rock solid". My point being that I don't believe the Mach 1 would be up to the task of carrying your tube. The AP Tech is giving you some good advise
Tim




Thanks, Tim!
I really like the AP-900, but that leaves me with only one affordable option - the plain AP portable pier. The thing that makes me hesitate is my long tube needs a 60" tall mount, and putting a mount and tube up that high is difficult and dangerous for me and the equipment.

That said, I think an AP-900/basic pier combo still costs $2,500 more than a Mach1/Pier-Tech adjustable pier combo.

Maybe I should look into a Losmandy Titan?

Thanks for the help!

Dan


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Ad Astra
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 05/12/10

Loc: Riverside Co., California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #4329044 - 01/21/11 03:13 AM

Quote:

Why not get a used AP900 and save $2k

greg N




Do you happen to know where one could get ahold of such an item? A PM would be highly appreciated!

From everything I've been able to determine, they are never produced in great numbers, acquiring one is akin to a grail quest - cherished heirlooms which are passed on to close family members and such. Tales of used AP mounts and scopes are like unicorns and chupacabra -- you hear a lot about them, but you never actually seem to see one for yourself!

Dan


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Paul G
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Reged: 05/08/03

Loc: Freedonia
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Ad Astra]
      #4329193 - 01/21/11 07:50 AM

There's a photo with the Mach1 and the 900 GTO side by side on the AP GTO users group.



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gillmj24
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Reged: 12/06/05

Loc: PA
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Paul G]
      #4329250 - 01/21/11 08:28 AM

Simple.

Place a wanted ad here in shop and swap or on Astromart.

If you are new to Astromart (also referred to as "AM" in various forums including here) then it will cost you $12. You'll save more than that on your first purchase though, I'd bet.


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rfic1
sage
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Reged: 10/25/05

Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: gillmj24]
      #4329319 - 01/21/11 09:25 AM

My ApoMax rides on a older AP800 mount and is a nice match. If you are looking for Goto capability I would rec a used Tak NJP. You would need to get the long legs in view of the length of the ApoMax. I second your opinion on the views with this scope. I think it is the finest 5" for lunar,planetary and double star work.

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Markls
super member
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Reged: 10/26/08

Loc: California
Re: Mach1 GTO vs. A-P 900 mounts new [Re: Paul G]
      #4329350 - 01/21/11 09:44 AM

Have you considered a Losmandy G-11. Installing the one piece Ovision block gives very good, not excellent tracking. That package will cost only $4k new, including the HD tripod. You have to be willing to tweak the mount to get great tracking. If you are not a mechanical person, you might want to look at a different mount. The AP class mounts work perfect, right out of the box.

Have you looked at the new Paramount MX? This is a brand new mount and it looks to be in the class of the AP900. They will start shipping them out soon.

You appear to be looking at all the angles. So, if I were you, I would also go onto AstroMart. Pay the $12 entrance fee. Check out all the mounts they have listed. There have listings for all the AP and Losmandy mounts. Every mount I have purchased there (along with my Mach one) has been well taken care of. Some of these mounts come with a custom case and a lot of necessary accessories. A used AP900 over there, with all the accessories, would cost you about $8k.

After the mount, the accessories for imaging are what REALLY ADD UP $2k - $4k (or more) for Camera(s), guidescope, hardware, connectors, dew heater/straps, battery(s), filter wheel/filters (if you go with a mono camera), software, computer, etc.

There is a very steep learning curve to imaging. It takes a lot of time and patience to grow up this hobby. Half the fun is all the learning/sharing with everyone here on the forums. The other half is when all things work right and the images come out looking like you want them to. That gives you bragging rights!

I hope you find everything you want (need?) and have a good time doing it!



Mark


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