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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts
      #5992272 - 07/27/13 12:39 AM

This post is not intended to weigh benefits of what actually exists, nor what is actually possible. It is only intended to see what you all think assuming the following criteria were true. It's meant for fun but also because I am curious to see what other, more experienced members would do if the following 'What If' scenario were, in fact, reality. =) That said, let's get started! :::


If we were to pretend that Alt-Az and Equatorial were 100% equal in:

- Portability
- Weight
- Size and Form
- In every single way that I haven't thought of to add to this list

In other words, if the only specification that mattered when picking a Refractor Mount was the way the the mount functioned, Alt-Az style or EQ style, which would you choose?

Why?


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carlcat
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Reged: 11/26/07

Loc: Northern California
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992292 - 07/27/13 12:55 AM

If I'm following you correctly, I would pick a GEM because my main focus is high power viewing of planets and moon so clock drive tracking is very important.

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KWB
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: carlcat]
      #5992301 - 07/27/13 01:04 AM

For use with a small refractor,I'd choose an Alt/Az mount for overall simplicity. If the choice was for a larger refractor,that would depend on how much larger and what it's primary useage would be.

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mayidunk
Don't Ask...
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: KWB]
      #5992320 - 07/27/13 01:23 AM

I have both a decent Alt/Az, and a decent GEM that are used with refractors of various sizes and focal lengths. However, for me it's not which mount for which scope, but which mount for the kind of viewing I'll be doing. For quick looks, or sweeping around the sky, I'll use the Alt/Az. For any other viewing where I might be camping out on an object, or doing high-power viewing with a more narrow FOV scope, then always the GEM.

Edited by mayidunk (07/27/13 01:24 AM)


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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5992346 - 07/27/13 02:03 AM

carlcat: Yep, you got it! I fixed the wording a bit, just in case, though. hehe. That's a good point that you bring up about high power, too! It makes staying on target with my 312 very easy, no matter the power.

Kenny: Same. Though, I'm conflicted a little bit, in regards to smaller, myself. Example: I'd like either something like an ST80 or a 70mm, longer FR Vixen on a Porta II, for my next scope. On one hand, an Alt-Az would be convenient for cruising around with no real set target. On the other, something like the ST80 can come with a lighter EQ which would be nice for tracking.

That's what got me thinking about the question in my OP. Both types of mount would be nice for both scopes, while the price would be similar(around 270ish, i believe).

Bob: Seems that others like the 'quick look' style of Alt-Az, like you do. I currently have an EQ, myself! Though, I suppose a very light-weight EQ wouldn't take much effort to set up. Just point at Polaris and poof, we're off!

-
And so, I like reading all these replies, so far. Seems like there's lots of variables that come in to play when deciding on a set up and the mount for it. I have a while before I'll be getting another but it really is hard to choose, based solely on the way a mount functions, for me anyway.

edit: I know I mentioned specific scopes and such just there. But, for this thread, I'm mostly interested in the benefits that others find in Alt-Az vs. EQ, all things being equal. And since the mount style itself will be a big consideration for my next setup, I'm enjoying this because I know there's so much that I don't already know. I just don't know *what* it is unless I ask, so here we are! hehe =)

Edit2: I've actually inquired about mounts to a fellow member recently via PM the other day and got some good thought there, as well. They mentioned photo tripods which I didn't include in my OP. I should have included them. They're not side-saddle but they are technically alt-az, I think? Though, I don't know how well camera tripods work with longer FR scopes but they did say that with fast scopes, they work well. Just thought I'd add that to the mix. Blarg, so many questions! =)

Edited by Koala117 (07/27/13 02:33 AM)


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KWB
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Reged: 09/30/06

Loc: Westminster,Co Elev.5400 feet
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992380 - 07/27/13 02:53 AM

Hi Mike

My opinion is based upon my experience,overall knowledge of the constellations and star or Messier targets with in them, and while combined with my present desires,I still can't justify to the newer advocates to this hobby recommending the specific use of an EQ mounted 80mm,shorter focal length telescope(possibly even driven) to another observer. To me this is simply not essential. What is the point? A small 80mm telescope designed for widefield or the potential for maximum sky coverage using 82° designed eyepieces with no real predesigned objectives needs really not to be driven and a quality Alt/Az mount like the Portamount make tracking a target like Jupiter a cinch at 150X if that's your singular purpose for the evening. If money is an object,sure,a mount like the EQ2 can be used in the Alt/Az mode to make using the mount even easier to use. It can also be used in the EQ mode as well,the slow motion controls used either way are an big asset IMO and IME.


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Astrojensen
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992398 - 07/27/13 03:21 AM

Quote:

In other words, if the only specification that mattered when picking a Refractor Mount was the way the the mount functioned, Alt-Az style or EQ style, which would you choose?




German Equatorial, no question. Apart from my 12" dob, I observe exclusively with GEM-mounted refractors, as I find this mount to be the most flexible of them all. Also, I highly appreciate the tracking ability when I need it or the simple push along on one axis, with the DEC firmly locked down, reducing the chances of losing an object due to unwanted movements. I also like to use the setting circles to find objects, mostly daytime planets, without relying on motors or electronics.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5992415 - 07/27/13 03:36 AM

Kenny,

That's definitely giving me something to think about, for sure. I know that if I had a wide-field scope, i'd be using the EPs that come with them for quite a while as it is. Maybe pushing 100x, maximum. I don't reckon a ton of super accurate tracking would be required at such low magnification.

That means, if I'm not planning on hounding one single object all night, I could do well with an alt-az, I think. Or, if I ended up absolutely needing to, I could always use an EQ as an alt-az for a little while. I think it was Jon Isaacs that I've seen mention that EQs can be alt-az in a pinch! I know I've read that before somewhere here, though. My memory is icky sometimes. I'm glad you reminded me of that part. =)
--

Thomas,

thank you for replying! I also like tracking with my EQ mount. Since I'm still in the 'deciding' phase, I figured I should ask here for deciding on a mount style, should I decide to get a wide-field. One thing I've noticed, without ever having used an Alt-Az in a long long time, is that Alt-Az does have an advantage in the 'I don't have to keep turning my tube/diagonal to keep things in an easy-to-view position' category. =)

As for setting circles, my EQ has them, though I'm basically lacking experience to use them. I can recall my lattitude which helps with finding Polaris but that's about it, thus far.

Edited by Koala117 (07/27/13 03:51 AM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992513 - 07/27/13 07:04 AM

Quote:

In other words, if the only specification that mattered when picking a Refractor Mount was the way the the mount functioned, Alt-Az style or EQ style, which would you choose?

Why?




For me, through I have both GEMs and ALT-AZ mounts, for a refractor, it's almost always an alt-az mount with slow motion controls, i.e. the Vixen Portamount.

Alt-az mounts are simpler, lighter, and with the slow motion controls, still track nicely at high magnifications. Alt-az mounts are nice for sweeping regions of the sky at low powers. My refractors are all 4 inches or smaller and of shorter focal lengths. If I owned a larger refractor, I would use an EQ mount more often.

As far as an ST-80 on an EQ mount, the ST-80 is primarly a low power telescope and not so well suited for high magnifications so buying an ST-80 on a EQ mount doesn't make a lot of sense.

As a note, your current EQ mount can also be used as an ALT-AZ mount. Instead of aligning the RA axis with Polaris, you point it straight up at the Zenith.

Jon


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RAKing
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Reged: 12/28/07

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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992578 - 07/27/13 08:39 AM

I would use a GEM every time.

Once your GEM is polar aligned, the RA axis is the only axis that has to move to track an object. It's less drain on batteries -- OR it's easier on you if you are tracking manually.

Cheers,

Ron


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Scott in NCModerator
Mad Hatter
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Reged: 03/05/05

Loc: NC
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5992610 - 07/27/13 09:02 AM

Quote:

I have both a decent Alt/Az, and a decent GEM that are used with refractors of various sizes and focal lengths. However, for me it's not which mount for which scope, but which mount for the kind of viewing I'll be doing. For quick looks, or sweeping around the sky, I'll use the Alt/Az. For any other viewing where I might be camping out on an object, or doing high-power viewing with a more narrow FOV scope, then always the GEM.




+1 My thoughts exactly!


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hottr6
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Reged: 06/28/09

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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992827 - 07/27/13 11:30 AM

Tracking is very, very important to me. I cannot afford a tracking alt-az, so that means GEMs.

Oh, and equatorials just look cooler.


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astrophile
super member


Reged: 06/30/13

Loc: Chaise-lounge, 18x50s in hand
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5992858 - 07/27/13 11:48 AM

I've always needed an alt-az mount around, mostly for the reasons Mike has excluded from this discussion . So I love my GEM for all the reasons stated above. But...a solid alt-az w/tracking would cover most of that and make me reconsider keeping both. Then function-wise it would come down to the GEM's RA-sweeping ability vs. the Alt-Az' reduced gymnastics requirements...but with most of those unmentionable factors lurking in alt-az favor too... would be a hard decision!

Edited by astrophile (07/27/13 11:52 AM)


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Eddgie
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5992936 - 07/27/13 12:31 PM

Even if they were not the same weight, I still have an overwhelming preference for GEM mounts.

First, for the tracking.

Next, most Alt Az mounts require fussing with clutches to keep from experiencing nose dives when changing from heavy eyepeices to light ones. This is one of my most serious complaints about most Al As mounts. It seems that when you have the tension set so that the mount moves easily, it will be more inclined to nose dive when you change from a very heavy eyepiece to a very light one.

Low power sweeping... The GEM will sweep in arcs that track the sky. When you get to the end of an arc, you can move a star from the bottom or top of the field to the opposite side, then sweep back in the other direction. You get perfect coverage of the sky.

Much easier to star hop with a GEM. This is because even if you are jumping off from quite far away, once again, even with a less than great polar alignment, the GEM will move in "Known" directions. If the chart says the target is 10 degress south and 5 degrees west of a bright star that is near the northeast horizon, it can be less than intuitive to move an Alt-Az scope In the exact directions. With a GEM, one knob moves the mount north/south and one east west, but here we are talking about with relation to the astronomical north/south/east/west. With an Alt Az, you are moving geographic north/south/east/west, and these are two very different things when you move away from zenith.

And did I mention tracking? I use my C5 as my "solar observatory" Even though I am viewing at 50x to 75x, seeing is always fluctuating. When I have a good window, I don't want to loose it because of having to reposition due to the target drifting from the center of the field.

And none of these benefits require more than a casual polar alignment.

Just my own opinion. There are super-lightweight GEMS out there and I vastly prefer them to even the best Alt Az mounts I have ever owned.


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Maverick199
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: mayidunk]
      #5992945 - 07/27/13 12:39 PM

Quote:

I have both a decent Alt/Az, and a decent GEM that are used with refractors of various sizes and focal lengths. However, for me it's not which mount for which scope, but which mount for the kind of viewing I'll be doing. For quick looks, or sweeping around the sky, I'll use the Alt/Az. For any other viewing where I might be camping out on an object, or doing high-power viewing with a more narrow FOV scope, then always the GEM.




+1 not to mention I would go GEM if AP too is in the equation.


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
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Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Eddgie]
      #5992979 - 07/27/13 01:00 PM

The basic question was just Equatorial or Alt-Az, and I've used several flavors of both.

Alt-Az does make super-light mounts possible, and I have used this in the form of the Unistar light mount as well as the original Vixen Polaris, which has an Alt-Az mode. This is neat in its immediate understandability if you aren't thinking in astronomical coordinates. However, it results in a lot of moving around to see anything in the sky, and for refractors, the eyepiece can be at chest height or crawl on the ground height depending on where you are looking. There is no simple tracking solution, so if you are guiding the mount by hand, as I had to do with the Polaris, you're constantly turning both axes. When using a powered Alt-Az mount like the little NexStarGT mounts, the change in eyepiece height is the biggest problem, along with the threat of tripod collision making the best viewing area in the entire sky, the zenith, unreachable.

I have also used several modes of Equatorial:

Single arm fork: Putting a refrator on an old C5+ mount is a neat experience since the OTA swings about its own center of gravity. In an equatorial configuration, you can look right at the zenith, and the dead spot in the sky is going to be right near the North Pole, which has little to recommend it, anyway. The only mounts similar to this today are the powered NexStarSE mounts, which don't allow the pleasant experience of just unlocking the axes and swinging the OTA to exactly what you want to point at. The limited size of the old C5+ mount also means there is no equivalent option for OTAs larger than an 80mm ED scope. This could probably take a TMB 92SS, but that's really about it. But it does everything a GEM with a clock drive does. If I was to try to put something into production today, something like this would seem to make a lot of sense.

A conventional GEM with no clock drive does have the possibility of moving the eyepiece all over the place, again. However, even without a clock drive there are some major advantages. First, the mount moves along the sky, so dead reckoning is not as baffling as it is in Alt-Az space where the mount directions don't align with the sky chart. For tracking, you can get a little beat going where if you watch how far the mount advances with a given amount of turn and how often that is needed, you can count seconds and give it a turn and stay on an object, even while other people are looking.

Finally, the full-up powered GEM with a refractor on it is a very powerful system, indeed. It is very tolerant of changes to the telescope shape factor, though the amount of swing means people need to stand back while it is traversing to another part of the sky. But there are very good reasons Fraunhofer settled on this mount, which unfortunately is called "German Equatorial" instead of its rightful name (Who knows- maybe we'll start calling the Nobel the "Swedish Prize" at some point).

-Rich


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Kutno
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Eddgie]
      #5992982 - 07/27/13 01:02 PM

Quote:

Next, most Alt Az mounts require fussing with clutches to keep from experiencing nose dives when changing from heavy eyepeices to light ones. This is one of my most serious complaints about most Al As mounts. It seems that when you have the tension set so that the mount moves easily, it will be more inclined to nose dive when you change from a very heavy eyepiece to a very light one.





Hi Ed,

When it comes to lighter alt-az mounts, I agree with what you say - Note: I acknowledge you are talking about "most ... mounts." There is one, heavier, mount that I believe provides a solution to the problem you highlight: Last night, I had the privilege to use a DM-6. Switching from a 16 oz. 6mm Delos to a 4.2 oz. 5.1mm XO was a piece of cake. The mount's stability was superb.


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McUH
member


Reged: 05/29/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5992993 - 07/27/13 01:08 PM

Well, I'm Alt-Az man and never used GEM so I'm not sure about this, but can't every GEM be used in Alt-Az mode by fixing one axis? If so, then assuming weight, stability and everything else is equal (impossible in reality I guess), the GEM is correct answer since it provides both possibilities.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: KWB]
      #5992994 - 07/27/13 01:09 PM

Quote:

For use with a small refractor,I'd choose an Alt/Az mount for overall simplicity. If the choice was for a larger refractor,that would depend on how much larger and what it's primary useage would be.






I think that is about the long and short of it. One cannot really divorce weight, size and ease of use from the equation. It's like asking, which scope would I use, my 4 inch F/10 refractor or my 12 inch F/5 Newtonian if both were the same size and weight?

Jon


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Kutno
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Reged: 08/17/09

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5993054 - 07/27/13 01:40 PM

Quote:

In other words, if the only specification that mattered when picking a Refractor Mount was the way the the mount functioned, Alt-Az style or EQ style, which would you choose?

Why?




Mike,

Buildings surrounding main viewing sites have always precluded me from lining up a mount with Polaris; thereby causing me to never consider an equatorial. Computerized wonders today may eliminate this issue; however, living in an urban environment has also caused me to take into account the blender-decibel noise some GEM motors create, disturbing the sleep of my neighbors. The last thing I want is to have someone drop a potful of water upon optics that required many hours of work to acquire.


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russell23
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Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5993059 - 07/27/13 01:44 PM

I have a Vixen Superpolaris mount set in alt-azimuth mode on a set of Al Canarelli legs. It is very rugged and handles my Vixen 140NA. Alt-azimuth is my answer but I don't take images and prefer point and star hop. I don't use a finder scope either. So I have no use for an EQ.



Dave


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Gord
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Scott in NC]
      #5993128 - 07/27/13 02:32 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I have both a decent Alt/Az, and a decent GEM that are used with refractors of various sizes and focal lengths. However, for me it's not which mount for which scope, but which mount for the kind of viewing I'll be doing. For quick looks, or sweeping around the sky, I'll use the Alt/Az. For any other viewing where I might be camping out on an object, or doing high-power viewing with a more narrow FOV scope, then always the GEM.




+1 My thoughts exactly!



+2, it's all about the use case for me.

Another point I've found important to me over the years is to have "enough" mount. Undermounting is no fun. And I find undermounting with an alt-az more painful than with a GEM due to how much more you have to interact with the mount.

Clear skies,


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Astrojensen
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Kutno]
      #5993185 - 07/27/13 03:29 PM

Quote:

Buildings surrounding main viewing sites have always precluded me from lining up a mount with Polaris; thereby causing me to never consider an equatorial.




If it has setting circles, you can use them to polar align, without needing to even so much as cast a glance at Polaris.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Scott99
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5993226 - 07/27/13 03:58 PM

definitely prefer EQ mounts - I use a Teegul most of the time, whenever I break out the Mach 1 equatorial it's like ahhhhhhhhhh...tracking! Easy viewing at zenith!

for me the advantage of alt-az is no counterweights, lighter mount weight, small mount size. My equatorial mount has electronic slo-mo, so I'm not missing that.

the other buzzkill of alt-az mounts is that it's difficult to avoid hitting the legs with the refractor, usually a height extension is required if you want to view the zenith cleanly. And that's the darkest part of the sky.

Also the Mach1 can be used with a 6-inch refractor with the clutches completely loosened for easy movement. I can switch 2-inch eyepieces in & out without the scope moving with the clutches off, use the electronic slo-mo, move w/ fingertip pressure, etc, all without having to mess with the clutches all night.

they're both MVP's in my book, the Teegul can be set up in about 30 seconds and it weighs less than 10 pounds. For 4 inch refractors you're at lower powers than a big scope, tracking's less important, it's a perfect combination.


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Scott99
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Kutno]
      #5993237 - 07/27/13 04:09 PM

Quote:

Mike,

Buildings surrounding main viewing sites have always precluded me from lining up a mount with Polaris; thereby causing me to never consider an equatorial. Computerized wonders today may eliminate this issue; however, living in an urban environment has also caused me to take into account the blender-decibel noise some GEM motors create, disturbing the sleep of my neighbors. The last thing I want is to have someone drop a potful of water upon optics that required many hours of work to acquire.




wow, observing from the mean streets of the city! sounds like some tough conditions. You could still use an EQ mount though, if you're not using GOTO there will be no motor noise, and you won't need close polar alignment.

For visual use I can usually do polar alignment very quickly. If you level the tripod then altitude will be set correctly from the last session. Then you could point north using a compass, probably getting within a couple degrees of Polaris.

some mounts, such as Astro-physics, can also be polar-aligned based on any object you can see the sky. They can do a simple 2-star alignment, or be aligned using the Sun while it's up.


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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Scott99]
      #5993346 - 07/27/13 05:33 PM

Okay, first of all: Wow! I never imagined that when I logged in this would have so many replies!

Thank you all so far for replying and feel free to continue doing so. Seems there is great discussion happening. I have read every single reply but if I replied to everyone, I fear I'd be at risk of spamming the forums. That's a good thing, though. Means that hopefully this thread will be useful for others in the future, too, like it is for me! There are a couple of comments I'd like to address, if it is okay::

Jon Isaacs wrote:
Quote:

As a note, your current EQ mount can also be used as an ALT-AZ mount. Instead of aligning the RA axis with Polaris, you point it straight up at the Zenith.




Jon, this is very true! You are, much more-than-likely, the person on CN with the most experience with the kind of mount and scope that I have, judging from what I've read in my time here so far. It is a very sturdy mount and tripod, indeed!

That said, would you, or anyone, know if there are other scopes, *fast or slow*, that will fit into this mount's clam-shell? Or if not, is there a way to easily get other scopes into it? I ask because it would actually save quite a bit of money if I could just find an OTA instead of an OTA+Mount/tripod, you see! And everyone likes saving money!

Here is a picture of my scope and mount/tripod, for reference:
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5883369/page...

Granted, it would not save much in the way of weight since the mount is quite well-made, of course. But if I knew of an OTA or possibly OTA that comes with EPs that would fit into my current setup, it would definitely open up the field of options while still being able to use the super sturdy mount I have, currently! I think I recall someone once saying that, even though it's an 80mm scope, that they tube itself is not a standard tube size for 80mm???

Eddgie wrote:
Quote:

When you get to the end of an arc, you can move a star from the bottom or top of the field to the opposite side, then sweep back in the other direction. You get perfect coverage of the sky.




That's a really good idea! One I had never thought of, before. I'll be applying that in the future for sure.

Gord wrote:
Quote:

Another point I've found important to me over the years is to have "enough" mount.




This is definitely a fear, of sorts, that I have. If I *did* go for a light-weight EQ-1, just for budget purposes, like the ST80-A comes with, I'm worried of its ability. It's also part of the reason I've been considering the 70mm Vixen that comes with either the Mini Portamount. It can also be bought with the regular Portamount II, but, at nearly $100 more. =\

--
Okay, so thank you all once again! I've already book-marked this thread as it is and will be of great value for me. Please do keep discussing, should you feel inclined to do so!

With great thanks,

Mike


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Eddgie
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Kutno]
      #5993498 - 07/27/13 07:32 PM

The DM6 is a great mount no doubt.

Expensive though.

And not exactly light weight...

The DM 6 head weighs in at a portly 16 lbs. That is (Drum roll please) twice the weight of a Vixen GP2 mount had which leaves 8 lbs for counterweigts.

And the GP2 HAL 130 tripod is a marvel of light weight design.

Load capacity is 22 lbs, which makes it suitable for refractor up to maybe 110mm.

It may not be as stable as a heavy duty AL Az, but since it tracks with a geared slow motion control, you never have to touch the telescope to push it.

But the OP said to dismiss size and weight. I was just countering that a GEM does not have to be heavy and hard to use.

I have tried a large variety of Alt-Az mounts (though never the DM6 because it was too expenisve for me) and none of them gave me the raw utility of a Simple GEM and the reasons I listed where why I personallly vastly prefer a GEM over an Alt Az, even an expensive Alt Az like the DM6.


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Kutno
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #5993508 - 07/27/13 07:39 PM

Quote:

If it has setting circles, you can use them to polar align, without needing to even so much as cast a glance at Polaris.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark




Thank you Thomas. I have never looked into this.


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Eddgie
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5993523 - 07/27/13 07:49 PM Attachment (16 downloads)

This is my C5 mounted on a light weight GEM. It even has a 9V battery RA drive. Included with this setup is a binoviewer, solar filter, and extra eyepeice pair.

The tripod is the amazingly light Vixen HAL 110. It is the lightest tripod on the market and one of the stiffest for a small GEM.

The whole thing is so light I can easliy pic it up and carry it out under the sun.

I have geared slow motion, no issue with balance or nose dives, and traking at the flip of a switch. In manual made, I can track using the knob in one axis with even a crude polar alignment.

I can't for the life of me see how anyone could call this heavy or complicated.

And having tried a variety of Alt-Az mounts, I have always come back to this for 80mm refractors and small SCTs and MCTs.

With the HAL 130 legs, it would be fine with up to 100mm refractors.

Where is the complexity and weight in this? I just don't see it???


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Eddgie
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Eddgie]
      #5993536 - 07/27/13 07:56 PM Attachment (18 downloads)

And here is the same mount converted to Alt Az (which takes a whopping 10 seconds with no tools involved).

I could even remove the counterweigt shaft if I wnated, but it is so light that I don't see the need.

I can use it in Alt Az and have slow motion and none of the issues with balance or any of that, but EQ mode is just soooooo much easier because of the RA and Dec movement (knobs move along the lines of RA and DEC making star hopping a breeze) and of course for me, having located an object, I lock the RA clutch and the scope starts tracking.

I can change from a low power eyepeice to the highest power eyepeice I have and the target does not move from the field! I can't tell people how many times I tried changing from a 31mm Nagler in my Televue 101 to a 4mm eyepeice when using Alt Az mounts only to have the target move out or be bumped out of the field.

So, as easy as it is flip this scope to Alt-Az, it is just sooooo much more practical to use in EQ mode.

GEMs don't have to be big, heavy, or complex to use.

I bought this mount used for $100 (Craigslist) and the tripod was $50 (it came with a wooden tripod but this one was taller, better).

I hve used Alt Az mounts that cost me 3 times as much and have not been nearly as pleased with them...

Edited by Eddgie (07/27/13 07:58 PM)


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Kutno
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Scott99]
      #5993537 - 07/27/13 07:56 PM

Quote:

wow, observing from the mean streets of the city! sounds like some tough conditions. You could still use an EQ mount though, if you're not using GOTO there will be no motor noise, and you won't need close polar alignment.




Well, they claim it's the city that never sleeps; but I don't believe it.

Hmm. So that egg-beater sound I have heard is slewing, eh?


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Gord
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5993745 - 07/27/13 10:05 PM

Quote:


This is definitely a fear, of sorts, that I have. If I *did* go for a light-weight EQ-1, just for budget purposes, like the ST80-A comes with, I'm worried of its ability. It's also part of the reason I've been considering the 70mm Vixen that comes with either the Mini Portamount. It can also be bought with the regular Portamount II, but, at nearly $100 more. =\





Mike,

I've played with the EQ1 & EQ2 for quite some time in the past, and specifically with the ST80. My setup was the EQ2 that came with my old Tasco originally and some custom hardwood legs I made to beef it up. With this setup, I was actually very happy with the performance. Did a much better job with the ST80 than the 4.5" F8 newt. I didn't find the EQ1 to be nearly as stable though.

But for a longer tube, it's really on the light side (the EQ2). It will work, but I've also come to the conclusion that I'm pretty patient when it comes to mounts compared to some people. I'm quite happy using the C14 on a G11 and a lot of people think that's crazy!

I think a really good option in a light EQ these days (for the more budget minded) is the EQ3. It's seen a lot of updates in more recent years and sports a lot of the features of the EQ5's, but is very nicely priced ($250?). It's a lot of mount for the money.

And of course there is always the classifieds. Of course not as readily available as new on the shelf options, and you have to do some searching and expect that things might not be perfect, but there are good deals to be had. For example, I picked up a Vixen GP-DX (the green vintage) on a HAL130 for only $125! Yeah, it was a bit rough in terms of appearance (I think the term "ugly" was used in the ad ), but still very smooth and functional. I replaced a bunch of rusty bolts and did some cleanup on the paint on a few tripod parts, but it's a very functional (and capable) mount.

Clear skies!


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PJ Anway
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5993767 - 07/27/13 10:23 PM

I use driven equatorial mounts almost exclusively - no nudging for me. The only time I use an alt-az is for low power observing - such as solar or other daytime viewing; where nudging is minimal.

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fjs
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5993977 - 07/28/13 12:51 AM

For me it would be no contest. I am pretty much a newbie, having been out of the hobby a couple decades. I would use an eq mount exclusively. They are so much easier to use. Finding an object with a chart is straightforward and intuitive with an eq mount.
Alt-az mounts under your conditions would only be good for terrestrial use. For locating night sky objects they are a big pain. Low cost and weight are their only advantages.


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KWB
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: fjs]
      #5993989 - 07/28/13 01:04 AM

Quote:

Alt-az mounts under your conditions would only be good for terrestrial use. For locating night sky objects they are a big pain. Low cost and weight are their only advantages.




I respectfully disagree. They work very well for locating celestial objects for those that know their way around the night sky. I never see simplicity as a pain,but rather as an advantage. Quality Alt/Az mount are not low cost items either but I do agree the lighter weights they tend to possess is also another advantage for someone like me.

We have a saying here at CN and that is YMMV(Your mileage may very). What doesn't work for one person may very well work for another.


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Koala117
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: PJ Anway]
      #5993991 - 07/28/13 01:08 AM

Quote:

And of course there is always the classifieds. Of course not as readily available as new on the shelf options, and you have to do some searching and expect that things might not be perfect, but there are good deals to be had. For example, I picked up a Vixen GP-DX (the green vintage) on a HAL130 for only $125! Yeah, it was a bit rough in terms of appearance (I think the term "ugly" was used in the ad ), but still very smooth and functional. I replaced a bunch of rusty bolts and did some cleanup on the paint on a few tripod parts, but it's a very functional (and capable) mount.




Yep, I keep an eye on CL and ebay. Though, I've been burned by a seller in the past on ebay and I never got my money back, so, I'm leary about ebay. At least with CL, if I find an ad that looks good, I can go and check it out in person, before handing over money!

In the meantime while waiting for something juicy on CL, I think I'll be also looking up reviews for things like, as an example, this(i.e. the mini porta): http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/refracting-telescopes/a70lfwithportamoun...

I have heard nice things about that scope(which also can have the porta II instead of the mini, like in that link). So, if people enjoy the mini version, it would give another option as a possibility for us budget-astronomers! Seems as if it'd be super portable and lightweight. Plus, if it handles the longer(and more prone to catch wind on windy days) f/12.9 70mm at 4 lbs., it could easily hand an ST80, which their site says weighs 3.8 lbs., further down the road.

This thread has made me decide that each has very good merits of their own, and that there is no such thing as 'the best' between the two choices; alt-az or EQ. =)

--

PJ Anyway,

Solar also seems very fun. Even when only one thing is visible in the sky, the thing that is visible seems to always be teeming with activity!

Edit: Eddgie, while I am only speaking for myself here: Weight is very much a factor for myself. I have a rather bad heart and get winded incredibly easily. That is, I run out of energy quickly. By the way, great looking mount that you have, there! =)

Edited by Koala117 (07/28/13 01:10 AM)


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fjs
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: KWB]
      #5994075 - 07/28/13 02:39 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Alt-az mounts under your conditions would only be good for terrestrial use. For locating night sky objects they are a big pain. Low cost and weight are their only advantages.




I respectfully disagree. They work very well for locating celestial objects for those that know their way around the night sky. I never see simplicity as a pain,but rather as an advantage. Quality Alt/Az mount are not low cost items either but I do agree the lighter weights they tend to possess is also another advantage for someone like me.

We have a saying here at CN and that is YMMV(Your mileage may very). What doesn't work for one person may very well work for another.




Sorry, didn't mean to start an argument here.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5994501 - 07/28/13 10:51 AM

Quote:

Jon, this is very true! You are, much more-than-likely, the person on CN with the most experience with the kind of mount and scope that I have, judging from what I've read in my time here so far. It is a very sturdy mount and tripod, indeed!

That said, would you, or anyone, know if there are other scopes, *fast or slow*, that will fit into this mount's clam-shell? Or if not, is there a way to easily get other scopes into it? I ask because it would actually save quite a bit of money if I could just find an OTA instead of an OTA+Mount/tripod, you see! And everyone likes saving money!




Mike:

Your question is a good one... And your scope and mount are good ones, a Meade 312. These were was manufactured by Towa, probably in the late 1980s. The OTA is carried in a clamshell and I believe it is an 82mm tube. This makes for some difficulty because the standard ST-80 has 90mm tube.

However if I am not mistaken, the clamshell unbolts and one could bolt a flat bracket and the rings for an ST-80 to the mount. One really only needs a single ring for the ST-80, I use mine that way and I have a 2 inch focuser and with the diagonal and the heaviest eyepieces, the scope weighs less than the eyepiece+diagonal.

If you could provide a close up photo of the underside of the clamshell it would refresh my memory and I would have a better idea of how you might proceed.

Jon


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hudson_yak
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Eddgie]
      #5994795 - 07/28/13 02:04 PM

Nice setup, Ed, certainly I'm not carrying my current alt-az rig out of the house in one trip. Takes three, actually.

Much of this comes down to one's viewing style. Whether studying targets for a long time, possibly seated, or just coming out to look around at stuff during breaks in the ball game. I'm mostly the latter type, short attention span I guess.

I stayed with eq for many years, partly because I just liked the concept. The LB finally showed me the other way might be better for me, and I haven't looked back. A couple alt-az mount purchases followed. I still have my eq mounts, but never feel like using them.

I like not having to rotate the focuser or diagonal often when pointing to a different part of the sky. I like viewing standing up and not having to bend over too much. I don't use a binoviewer but that's just another thing that likely has to be rotated frequently with an eq when pointing about the sky.

I've also found, since my old SCT works very nice on the Nova Hitch and thus has come out of semi-retirement, that the moving-mirror focuser works better in some rotational orientations than it does in others. I'm able to keep it in a good orientation all the time. I also think the collimation holds better.

Lastly, with a few iPod apps (SkySafari, Clinometer, Commander Compass) I'm able to do one of my favorite things relatively easily, finding planets in daylight.

Mike


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Koala117
sage


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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: hudson_yak]
      #5995193 - 07/28/13 05:39 PM

Jon,

Thank you for your response to my question!

I took a photo for you and hopefully it is what you are requesting. Well, actually, I took about 11 pics because my stupid pain medicine makes my hands unsteady sometimes. This was the best one I could get. I did try really hard to make a nicer one for you but was unsuccessful. ;( Feel free to ask if you need other pictures and I'll do my best. =)

Edit: When you say flat bracket, do you mean something from an online site or something to be specially crafted? =)

Edit2: As a completely off-topic side-note: I suppose this is a good demonstration of why I'm unable to hand-hold binos, which I discussed in the bino forum last month! hah.



Edited by Koala117 (07/28/13 05:49 PM)


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Koala117
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5995253 - 07/28/13 06:14 PM

Quote:

I like viewing standing up and not having to bend over too much.




I do all of my observing sitting down. At 6'11" barefoot, I'd have a hard time not doing so!

I don't mind, though, since sitting helps me keep myself steady, as well as my telescope.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5995298 - 07/28/13 06:45 PM

Quote:


I took a photo for you and hopefully it is what you are requesting. Well, actually, I took about 11 pics because my stupid pain medicine makes my hands unsteady sometimes. This was the best one I could get. I did try really hard to make a nicer one for you but was unsuccessful. ;( Feel free to ask if you need other pictures and I'll do my best. =)




Mike:

That photo is all that is needed. I think you can remove the two bolts that hold the clamshell in place and then the ring could be bolted to one of them. Two would probably be stronger and the rings are about $33 shipped from AgenaAstro.

It would make swapping OTAs somewhat time consuming but possible. What do you think??

Jon


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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5995406 - 07/28/13 08:08 PM

Hi, Jon!

That's a really great idea. =) These are the ones you're referencing, I think?::
http://agenaastro.com/gso-telescope-tube-mounting-rings-90mm-3-54.html

So, I basically would just stick those onto an ST80, and put the bolts right through the mount, like normal, and then into those rings. I think that's the way(no dovetail/bracket needed, then, for this idea?). I wouldn't be surprised if the main OTA of the ST80 would also be long enough that I could fit both rings for extra steadiness, by using the pre-existing bolt placements. Since the rings come as a pair, couldn't hurt to try!

If I'm lucky, the bolts I already have will even be the right size for the rings.

Thanks for the advice. Seriously, if that works, you just saved me an extra 100 dollars or so, while giving me a way to get a scope that compliments my Meade 312 Having never used rings, something like that is a new adventure for me! Also, if I'm not understanding something, go ahead and tell me. I'm not very mechanically inclined, so, my pride won't get bruised.

Actually, as I finished typing this reply, I remembered that the ST80(link below) rings that actually come with the OTA here could maybe fit by just removing the dovetail. and adjusting the rings postioning to fit onto the bolts in the picture above
http://www.telescope.com/Orion-ShortTube-80-A-Refractor-Telescope/p/9947.uts?...

That could maybe be another work-around that I hadn't considered. Unless, of course, it wouldn't work and my lack of experience is showing itself. Which would not surprise me!


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Gord
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5995429 - 07/28/13 08:30 PM

Mike,

That mount is an EQ2. Looks the same as mine from my Tasco. Jon is right, just undo the bolts. There is a cheap adapter you can get that will give you a 1/4-20 stud to allow you to mount whatever you want with that kind of block. My ST80 has that kind of block. Handles the ST80 perfectly. The upgraded tripod legs helped though.

Clear skies,


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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Gord]
      #5995443 - 07/28/13 08:41 PM

Ohh, okay, Gord, I see. I think it is this:
http://www.telescope.com/Accessories/Adapters-Cables/Orion-14-20-Adapter-for-...

That actually makes sense. I didn't realize my mount was called an EQ-2! I guess Meade and Orion both use these mount heads, then? Sweet! Also, my tripod legs are pretty sturdy and have upgraded bolts for where the tripod legs attache to the head. It's like a little rock, I tell ya!

-
Hmm.. I just zoomed in on that pic of the ST80 OTA i linked above. I don't see where 1/4 - 20 would attache to that dovetail. That means that the whole OTA would be held on to the adapter by a single 1/4 screw going into the ring?? That seems kind of scary.

Edited by Koala117 (07/28/13 08:52 PM)


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Gord
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5995563 - 07/28/13 09:40 PM

Hi Mike,

I see now, that one in the link is actually an upgraded package. It uses rings and a dovetail and all that. Nice!

It might not have the 1/4-20 hole on the bottom, but it would be a simple task to add. Just drill and tap it in the bar. I've done it numerous times on them.

The one I got isn't shown any more, but is closest to the ST80-T model. And on that one it says it has the 1/4-20 hole for mounting.

And fear not, it's plenty to hold a little scope like this.

Clear skies,


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Koala117]
      #5995673 - 07/28/13 10:30 PM

Quote:

I didn't realize my mount was called an EQ-2




Mike:

In my mind, it's not actually an EQ-2, it Meade 312 mount manufactured by Towa. It is an EQ-2 class mount. Splitting hairs.. and I don't have many to split.

Jon


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Koala117
sage


Reged: 05/11/13

Re: Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5995844 - 07/29/13 12:59 AM

Quote:

Mike:

In my mind, it's not actually an EQ-2, it Meade 312 mount manufactured by Towa. It is an EQ-2 class mount. Splitting hairs.. and I don't have many to split.

Jon




Ahh, I see what you're saying. =)

Well, either way I'm quite happy with it. Very sturdy, indeed. As well as good-looking!


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