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My Losmandy G11T review


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My Losmandy G11T review

by Jeff Marston (CN Member "Jeffmar")

 

 

 

I have now owned my Losmady G11T for about a year. I have used it almost exclusively for astrophotography and star parties ever since I got it. I looked through the reviews and articles in Cloudy Nights and didn't see anything specifically to the G11T, so I thought I would write about my experiences with this mount.

 

I have been doing this hobby for over 20 years. I started out with a C11 mounted on the original sand cast fork and heavy tripod Celestron SCT's were mounted on in the early decades of the company. That old mount did one thing. It had sidereal tracking. I had to find objects in the sky the old fashion way. For years that was good enough, but I noticed that people who owned mounts with goto capabilty could look at dozens of targets a night instead of the half dozen I usually found. 

 

Over the next 15 years I have gone through a succession of mounts to use with my C11. I started with a CG-5. As you can imagine it wasn't a great match. The next mount was a CGEM. It was much better for visual but still left a lot to be desired for astroimaging. Sticking with Celestron, I got a CGX after a few years. Finally I had a mount that would handle my C11 pretty well. It was awesome for visual and pretty good for astrophotography. I was able to keep more of my subframes than I deleted. 

 

At this point I had upgraded my scopes along the way, getting a new C11 Edge and C8 Edge. Since the Edge models weighed basically the same as the regular models a new mount wasn't really needed. The thing that changed everything was getting a scope I had dreamed of owning since I started this hobby over 20 years ago. I bought a C14 Edge and stuck it on my CGX mount. It required at least three 17 pound counterweights and I was back to more wobble than I wanted. Three months after getting my big scope I upgraded to a CGX-L. Even though the CGX-L and the CGX look almost like the same mount, the CGX-L has bigger worm wheels, a thicker counterweight shaft, and a much more substantial tripod. For about a year I was alternating between my two Celestron mounts, depending on the scope I was using, and was pretty happy this things.

 

About 15 month ago I turned on my CGX mount and I got a couple of error messages. It said something like error 16 and 17. Those weren't the exact messages, but the numbers are accurate. That meant that the mount was basically dead. I decided right then I was going to get away from chinese mounts and get something that would last longer. I also wanted two functional mounts in case one of them decided to take a vacation. After a few weeks of research I narrowed down my choices to Losmandy and Astrophysics. I really wanted to get the AP1100 but there it was twice as expensive and had a lengthy waiting list. I think the big factor was the long waiting list,so I ordered the G11T from Losmandy. It took a little over a month to get, but it was better than waiting up to a year. 

 

When I got the G11T I assembed it with some difficulty. The instructions were straight forward, but Losmandy hadn't sent me any tools that were specific for that mount, like they usually do. When I finally got it together and started slewing the mount it would stall. I was getting a "heavy load" message on the hand controller. I knew that Scott Losmandy had videos on care and maintenance on his site. It took me a few tries but it worked and I was up and running.

 

In the year since I have had my Losmandy mount I have used almost exclusively for everything. It holds my C14 very well. The G11T/C14 combination is really good for visual and decent for astrophotography. I can't blame the few astro imaging problems I have had on the mount because a 3910mm focal length creates problems all on its own. I have had a lot of success using my 5 inch refractor and my C8 on the G11T. With both of those scopes the mount auto guides flawlessly when I get the setup done correctly.

 

What do I like about the G11T? It is a very well built mount. It looks like when a 1/2 inch thick piece of aluminum could have been used in construction, Scott Losmandy used an inch, or more. The mount is simple to work on. I have heard that nearly every mount Losmandy has made for decades is upgradable ot current models. It is capable of very accurate auto guiding. My scopes don't move in mild winds. The mount and tripod are very sturdy. It is just a beautiful piece of work. I have had my Celeston and Losmandy mounts apart enough to see a huge difference in construction. Celeston sometimes uses parts the are just sturdy enough to make the mount function. That means things like plastic gears and loose tolerances in the motor gearboxes.I am the only one in my astonomy club who owns this model and other members often come over to admire the mount and ask questions about how it works. 

 

What is just so so about the G11T. It is heavy. The RA unit weighs well over 40 pounds and DEC unit weighs 18 pounds. I keep the them in separate cases because one 70 pound case would be too much. The goto on my Celestron mounts seemed to be more accurate. I could do a 2 or 3 star alignment and I would usuall get any target right near the middle of my eyepiece every time. The G11T will get there, it just seems to require a lot more alignment stars to get the same accuracy. My Losmandy mount isn't as dummy proof as my Celestron mounts. I have had to be very careful setting the RA limits or the mount will bang parts together. The CGX mount series had hard stops and I didn't have to worry about that. I also have to pay closer attention during the startup phase of my mount. Not paying attention to the startup data can be a real issue.

 

Very recently my mount refused to track (sidereal) and wouldn't autoguide for very long. When I turned of auto guiding stars were marching across my computer screen like an old space invaders game from way back when. Even with poor polar alignment stars should have stayed in roughly the same place for minutes rather than a second. I got the the Losmandy forum and even emailed Brian at Losmany. Brian and at least one other guy said I may have had the wrong mount model checked in the menu. I set up the mount in my back yard last night, replaced the battery in the Gemini 2 box, just in case, and got it going. I had to reenter the basic information because of the battery swap. At first the local time and date I had put in were not being retained. My mount was going nowhere near the calibration stars. After a few tries I went back to look at the startup menu and noticed a set button. I put in the correct time and date, again, and pushed the set button a few times. That seemed to fix everything. the Calibration stars were where they should be and sidereal tracking was back. I even tried autoguiding and got some really good results given the rough polar alignment I did. 

 

In general I really like my G11T. It is well built, should last for decades from what other owners of Losmandy mounts say. It seems to work really well with auto guiding. It is very stable even with my C14.  It is very different from my Celestron mounts and to be fair It took a while for me to learn how to use those mounts also. 

 


  • Adam S, Jaimo!, DWM and 18 others like this


36 Comments

Thanks for the nice review.  I had Losmandy on my ultimate system list and finely bought a used G-11 with Gemini 1 this year.  It's an older version from 1998 where the DEC axis and RA extension don't separate so easily. The prior owner had updated it  to the last  Gemini 1 version, stepper motors and brass precision worm gear on RA. After basic maintenance cleaning and re-greasing it works as well as any other G11 mount. . I located a HD tripod for it. Not as convenient as the folding leg version but wow is it solid.  

Something to be said for a mount that 23 years later is functioning so well. I could upgrade it to the newest tucked motor configuration, worm gears and even Gemini 2 but don't have an immediate NEED. The incremental performance and design improvements are subtle. Nice to have the option so easily available.  If the previous commenter wants to trade Gemini 2 down to Gemini 1, we can talk. :) 

 

I too have a CG-5 (advanced-GT) mount. 2 of them.  They are better than a star tracker and used cost me less.  

I did see some ways of fixing that 16/17 error you had if you still have that other mount 

That's one of the best things about the Losmandy mount. 

You don't have a mount wearing out because of short cuts taken in the original design and manufacturing.  

Thanks Jeffmar. Strange that you didn't receive the polar scope, assuming you asked for it of course. wink.gif  I don't think they stopped making them. When I emailed Losmandy a couple days ago about polar alignment with the G11T, Brian said:

 

"Regarding the G11T polar scope, it attaches to the side, not the rear. It has a different design than the G11 and GM8: https://store-losman...s.com/hgm-tps. ​If you are imaging, you might consider ​computer-assisted polar alignment, such as iPolar, polemaster, sharpcap, etc."

 

No indication that they're stopping production for the G11T polar scope.

I think I will call and ask again. I have been doing fine with my polar alignment without the scope. I have found the closer I am to good alignment in the beginning, the easier it is to adjust using other methods.

Photo
John Fitzgerald
Nov 24 2021 06:17 PM

I bought a brand new G11S (492 control) in early 2019.  It was from the last run of that mount, November 2018.  I have the Astrodevices encoders on it, with a Nexus DSC.  It's by far the best mount I have ever owned. 

 

I haven't had to make any adjustments since I set it up in the observatory in early spring of 2019, and did a good drift alignment. 

 

I like the push to over GOTO. No worries about cables getting hung and broken or pulled, with gentle push to operation.  I especially like the smooth Porter style clutches. No repeated loosening and tightening to do, unlike the Atlas mount it replaced.  Compared to the Atlas, the G11 is in another league.

    • Jeffmar likes this

Really nice review. Thank you! It is not just astronomy, but it is true with so many disciplines and pursuits... the learning curve for new equipment is often the most important thing! It is often not how good your software, hardware or tool is... but rather, how good you are at using it! It really pays off to get to know your equipment, software or hardware, or whatever the tool is. The capability of you to understand and implement the tool is often more important that the quality and capability of the tool itself. Consider a paintbrush in my hands versus Michelangelo! Same tool, different outcome!

    • Jeffmar likes this

Really nice review. Thank you! It is not just astronomy, but it is true with so many disciplines and pursuits... the learning curve for new equipment is often the most important thing! It is often not how good your software, hardware or tool is... but rather, how good you are at using it! It really pays off to get to know your equipment, software or hardware, or whatever the tool is. The capability of you to understand and implement the tool is often more important that the quality and capability of the tool itself. Consider a paintbrush in my hands versus Michelangelo! Same tool, different outcome!

Thanks, Dave! It is interesting that you would say that today because last night when I had my gear, including my G11T, out at a dark site it occurred to me that things were going along flawlessly. I was using my C11 to image the Crab Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula. I did a half dozen calibration stars and did polar alignment, which took me less than 10 minutes. My C11, even with a focal reducer, has a pretty narrow field of view, but the mount slewed to every target I told it to go to with barely a hitch. I was concerned that the C11 with another 12 pounds of gear would push the limits of autoguiding, but that was not the case. You are absolutely right when you say the learning curve is often the most important thing. Going back to things going flawlessly, that has been happening more often as time goes on. 

 

I have a small group of people I often go out to the desert with to do astrophotograpy. We all at different stages of learning our gear. One of my friends, who is very good with any kind of tech and has been doing a lot of astroimaging, was up and running in 5 minutes after setup. It took me closer to 15 minutes. Another friend took a bit longer, but he is getting faster every time we go out imaging. 

 

Thanks for your comment, Dave! have great week.

 

Jeff

Nice review. I have two G11 mounts, and they are excellent! But they just are stored away, since I have moved to a town and don'n have any place to set them up.

    • Jeffmar likes this

Nice review. I have two G11 mounts, and they are excellent! But they just are stored away, since I have moved to a town and don'n have any place to set them up.

Thanks! I was kind of in the same boat until a few local astronomy club members showed me a few great places to do imaging. I went to star parties, but had given up on imaging because my neighborhood is so light polluted. Maybe there is someone in a local astronomy club who can help you out.

I appreciate the heads up. The tripod for my CGX-L is actually heavier than the heavy duty tripod for my G11T, so I can’t complain too much about that. I would still like a GM-811. There is a guy who brings his G11 to star parties in my area with a beautiful wooden mount, and it seems very sturdy. I might get one like that just because it is such an attractive tripod.  We talk about equipment that is too heavy, and we whine about mounts that are too flimsy. CAN WE EVER FIND HAPPINESS?grin.gif

Sometimes you have to make your own happiness: 

Attached Image: 20210128_160138.jpg

 

The prior owner had updated it  to the last  Gemini 1 version, stepper motors and brass precision worm gear on RA.  

One nit-pick: Gemini works with servo motors, not stepper motors.  Building on your praise for Losmandy durability: I posted a wanted classified ad a few years ago for a broken or otherwise unused G-11.  I didn't need a tripod, just the head, controller (Digital Drive preferred in this case) and a weight or two.  A fellow Cloudy Nighter and I agreed and I got a G-11 for a bargain price.  I had to buy a spray can of brake cleaner and one bearing from Losmandy (about $40 total), but that and an afternoon of cleaning, regreasing and tuning provided me with a fully functional push-to G11.

    • Jeffmar likes this

I have the G11T with the FHD tripod and I like it. It really deserves a pier because it is so heavy, so I recommend either using a pier mount, or getting JMI medium duty buggy with the big pneumatic wheels to allow allow you to not have to break down 160lbs of tripod and mount and scope every night. You won't use the mount that much if you have to break it down constantly, trust me. 

 

The ALT-AZ adjustments are bottom line, the best of any mount. With one hand, you can polar align in a minute with Sharp Cap. It is just so smooth. If you have used a Celestron mount with the uncomfortable push screw adjustments, you will be amazed how smooth the adjustments are, even with a ton of weight on the saddle. 

 

I get amazing accuracy with guiding using PHD2's multistar guiding [.15RMS] with my smaller scopes and a bit less with my Edge 11. 

 

The extension piece is nice because although the mount is heavy, if it must be moved to say, a dark site, it can be broken down into chunks, and also the ability to do a meridian flip and keep a few minutes over the meridian is sort of a requirement for AP.

 

It is completely waterproof and it isn't cast. Since it is solid aluminum, you can leave the full mount and FHD tripod outside with a cover all year and it won't rust and the grease job Losmandy does on the internals makes me confident that moisture won't stick around in the internals. Since it isn't cast like Chinese mounts, it doesn't have casting lines, so it won't crack, or fail spectacularly. 

 

My RA motor tore itself apart last year and I called Losmandy and although it was really weird for that part to fail like that, I had a new one shipped out in no time, so great service. You can literally get Scott Losmandy on the phone if he is around the office, or in the shop. 

 

Gemini 2 and its ASCOM interoperability work flawlessly with ethernet and the hand controller is feature-rich. I will say that the touch screen is weird, mushy, and feels like something you'd get on a 2007 Windows PDA.

 

So, I would say DON'T get the G11T unless you plan on a permanent mount fixture and need the extra weight the 'Titan' RA piece provides over the normal G11, which is already a heavy mount. 

    • Jeffmar likes this

I wish I did have a place for an observatory and a pier, but it isn’t happening. Oh well.

 

I have probably set up my G11T 50+ times in the year and a half I have owned it. It works well so, to me, it is worth the extra effort. My CGX-L actually had heavier components to lug around and I used it for 3 years. Now it is my backup mount in case my Losmandy breaks, which is kind of funny because my Celestron mount is probably far more fragile than my G11T.

 

I have been extremely happy with how well this mount does with autoguiding even with a C11, a dew shield and a small breeze. 

i was excited....until i read its useful from 12 degrees up... :-(



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