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Equipment Discussions >> Classic Telescopes

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hottr6
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/28/09

Loc: 7,500', Magdalena Mtns, NM
Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM?
      #5621012 - 01/13/13 03:02 PM

The more I use my Polaris, the more I believe it to be the best of the lighter GEMs. Certainly it is light-years ahead of the Towa GEM. I have found the Polaris to be utterly smooth, with Byers-like backlash, prodigious load capability (if I use CG5 counter-weights and shaft), and rock-solid wood tripod with a usable gear tray. OK, so it does not have go-to or PE-correction or auto-guiding, but I've not been able to find anything on the used market that comes close in capability and quality in its price-range.

As I watch Polaris' being sold on the 'net, I do see some variations in their manufacture. As I see it, the biggest changes in their evolution include:

1) Smooth paint rather than hammertone (some folk mistakenly believe that the smooth-paint version to be anodized machined billet alloy - nice try but no cigar)
2) Tripod hub may or may not have a 'N' symbol on one leg, and may or may not have a bubble level
3) At least 3 different variants of the RA setting circle. No change to the delination setting circle.
4) Wooden or alloy legs, in 'short' (for Newts) and 'long' (for 'fracs) legs.

I've poked around the web and CN to find anything that documents the evolution of this fine GEM/alt-az, but with little success.

Can anyone help out with understanding the Polaris' evolution?

Shane in grey-zone NM


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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: hottr6]
      #5621042 - 01/13/13 03:17 PM

Here. The first POlaris mounts had a unique mounting.

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Bonco
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Reged: 04/17/06

Loc: Florida
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5621131 - 01/13/13 04:12 PM

Can't help you with the evolution issue but I sure agree that it is one fine mount.
Bill


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turk123
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/09/10

Loc: N.E. Ohio
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: hottr6]
      #5621166 - 01/13/13 04:29 PM Attachment (71 downloads)

I recently did a full hyper tune and restoration of a super polaris. I did it for my brother who is just starting in astronomy. I loved it so much I am currently looking for one myself. Alas, not has popped up over the last few months.

The super polaris I think refined the Polaris to the perfect light weight mount. It is solid and ran with great solid motors and mounts. I recently purchased a CG-5 (what was I thinking) with the metak tube legs and it is nothing compared to the S Polaris. They were and still are great mounts. Now where are those pictures?


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Dennis53121
super member
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Reged: 08/28/12

Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: turk123]
      #5621449 - 01/13/13 07:01 PM Attachment (61 downloads)

I agree the old Vixen Polaris and Super Polaris mounts are great. I have one of each. Buttery smooth movement and I love the old wooded tripods. Motors, drives, and controllers are however getting much more difficult to find.

Dennis


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apfever
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 05/13/08

Loc: Colorado
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Dennis53121]
      #5621603 - 01/13/13 08:31 PM Attachment (75 downloads)

The Vixen Polaris mount was used by different retailers, at least by Celestron and Tasco. There were variations in configuration between the two retailers. Most Celestrons did not come with a polar scope or bubble level while most Tascos did. On the Celestron models, the earlier ones had black tipped tripod legs and the newer ones went to white tipped legs.
I have the Polaris on my Tasco 8V, Celestron C4.5, and Celestron C6. I have the Super Polaris on my Celestron SP-C80. The C6 was a recent aquisition in a trade for an Orion 127 Mak. Due to the C6, I'll be letting my C4.5 go.

I prefer the looks of the Polaris over the Super Polaris when it comes to aesthetics.

Here's an easy, cheap, reversible trick that leaves the stock configuration unaltered. Get a nut and nylon washer that fit the threaded counterweight shaft. A light twist of the weight against this 'jam nut' will hold the counter weitht, and remove its wobbling slop on the shaft. I think it looks good as well. A light twist of the weight and it will loosen right back off. I also put a nylon washer between the counterweight shaft collar and the mount body. This lets you take the shaft off for easy transport and not worry about grinding the collar into the mount with reassembly on site.


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Ducky62
professor emeritus


Reged: 10/31/10

Loc: The ATL
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: apfever]
      #5621706 - 01/13/13 09:18 PM

What we refer to as a Polaris is actually a "New Polaris".

There is a picture of the different mounts on the Vixen.jp blog.

Vixen mounts



There is a brief history on the Japan Wikipedia Vixen page . IIRC, it states the "Polaris" was introduced around '77 (see below) and the "New Polaris in '81.
Quote:

(Equatorial Polaris 1976 - Initial release) telescope system [1] , one of the. Circumstances, but can also be used as a stand equatorial. Conventional frame section which has been prepared by the casting die casting we introduced a method for mass production by molding.




A comment on the Vixen marketing blog states they are older.



I have 3 of them. A Vixen one with the removable machined knurled rods for lock levers (this is the one some claim is milled)It has a much more finely finished look and feel.No lat scale, no North leg and no level.


Two later lighter colored hammertone ones as provided by Tasco and Celestron with the more familiar lock levers. The Tasco came with a polar scope but only the Celestron has a level and lat scale.

One of my "back burner" projects has been to do a post with all of the info I've gleaned from Japan sites and pictures of my mounts. I really need an MD-5 drive (or two) and have been running WTB requests in the appropriate places.



Edited by Ducky62 (01/13/13 09:59 PM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: turk123]
      #5622198 - 01/14/13 07:20 AM

Quote:

The super polaris I think refined the Polaris to the perfect light weight mount.




One nice feature of the Polaris is that it doubles as an ALT-AZ mount with no modifications. The Mizar mount of similar size and quality is apparently still being manufactured.

Jon


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StarStuff1
Post Laureate
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Reged: 04/01/07

Loc: South of the Mason-Dixon Line
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5622219 - 01/14/13 07:49 AM Attachment (66 downloads)

My Polaris mount was acquired in the mid 80s. A Celestron C6 rode on top of it After a while I sold the reflector and made new, longer and stronger legs and mounted a 4.5-in f/12.5 refractor on it. The frac fully loaded weighed 18 lbs! I remember one night at an outreach the mount kept the object in the fov for almost an hour with no adjusting. The only problem with this set up was when there was wind. I traded the long refractor for a Celestron 80mm flourite and this was a beautiful combo.

Unfortunately I loaned the mount to a club member who proceded to burn up the drive. He insisted it wasn't his fault so... I turned the mount into a very capable alt-az mount and bought a slightly used Super Polaris.

I love these mounts!

Sorry I can't comment on the evolution aspect but here is a pic of my SP with an 80mm f/11.25 AND a Celestron C102f mounted together.


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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5622247 - 01/14/13 08:29 AM Attachment (39 downloads)

Quote:

Quote:

The super polaris I think refined the Polaris to the perfect light weight mount.




One nice feature of the Polaris is that it doubles as an ALT-AZ mount with no modifications. The Mizar mount of similar size and quality is apparently still being manufactured.

Jon




Yes it does.


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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5622248 - 01/14/13 08:30 AM Attachment (43 downloads)

I had one once with a C6 that came with two counter weights.

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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5622253 - 01/14/13 08:31 AM Attachment (46 downloads)

The other one I had came with a C80 and had refractor legs.

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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5622261 - 01/14/13 08:37 AM Attachment (40 downloads)

One example had a hole drilled through the counterweight shaft. Not sure if it was original or not.

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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5622268 - 01/14/13 08:40 AM Attachment (31 downloads)

The same mount also had a screw on one of the legs mounting points. Not sure why...maybe for a bubble level?? Just behind the counterweight in the photo.

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Geo.
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 10/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: turk123]
      #5622505 - 01/14/13 11:28 AM

I've got one or two, PM me.

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Geo.
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5622512 - 01/14/13 11:34 AM

Quote:

Here. The first POlaris mounts had a unique mounting.




Yeah, saw that, if anyone here grabs it I've got the missing parts.

Think some of the differences that have been pointed out may be between the Polaris and the Polaris Deluxe. The one piece short merati legs usually were found with C4.5s sold on the mount. I put a set on a Meade DS2000, makes a big improvement on its stability.


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hottr6
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 06/28/09

Loc: 7,500', Magdalena Mtns, NM
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5623103 - 01/14/13 05:24 PM

Quote:

One example had a hole drilled through the counterweight shaft. Not sure if it was original or not.



Mine has the hole, same place, seems the same diameter. Raison d'ętre unknown.


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hottr6
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/28/09

Loc: 7,500', Magdalena Mtns, NM
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5623113 - 01/14/13 05:30 PM Attachment (41 downloads)

Quote:

The other one I had came with a C80 and had refractor legs.



My Polaris was part of a NOS CO114 (Cometron 4.5" Newt, a "department store" version of the C4.5) and has very different wooden legs compared with any Celestron version that I have seen. Further, the mounting tabs for the tray on my unit are black, not silvered as are the majority.

This leads me to believe that Vixen outsourced the tripod legs.

Edited by hottr6 (01/14/13 05:36 PM)


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Grava T
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Quebec, Canada
Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: hottr6]
      #5623127 - 01/14/13 05:40 PM

Is that a Vixen Polaris or a clone? It has a smooth counterweight bar and what looks like aluminum slow motion knobs. I've never seen one like that.

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Space_Girl1234
member


Reged: 03/06/11

Re: Evolution of the Vixen Polaris GEM? new [Re: Grava T]
      #5623822 - 01/15/13 04:32 AM

So what is the different between the Polaris and the Super Polaris mounts?

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