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A-P Mach1 First Use in 10 Years - Concerns?

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#1 Tom Wade

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 09:12 AM

Hi.  I just purchased a 2007 A-P Mach1.  The original owner had never used it so it is in immaculate and new condition!  My question is, should I do anything to it since it was stored (indoors) all those years?  I'm thinking the grease may need to be changed?

 

I did give it a good function test and it operates smooth as butter.  I'm just not sure if I should break the rule of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

 

It is my first non-Celestron mount so I'm not as familiar with preventative maintenance on these mounts.

 

Thanks.



#2 gezak22

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 10:23 AM

"if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Try the mount first. Debug if you see issues.

 

My guess is that it will perform just fine. And before you start working on the mount, be sure to reach out to George at AP.


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#3 Stelios

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 02:05 PM

Join AP-GTO forum and ask your questions there. Do it before experimenting. They will be glad to help.


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#4 nemo129

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 02:37 PM

Congrats on the mount. Good advice above too.

 

You may want to look into updating the HC firmware as there was a Daylight Savings Time bug a while back plus a few bugs before that as well. I assume you have a GTO3 on the mount? You may want to check which version of chip it has and look into updating it to the "V" rev. Stelios and Geza have the right idea; talk to AP first and they can tell you exactly what you need to do to bring your new mount up to date.


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#5 BlueGrass

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 03:10 PM

All the above is good advice and I'd add that a quick simple call to AP will get you the answers you need and give you the opportunity to update them on transfer of ownership. You'll need the serial numbers off the GTO and Mach1...


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#6 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 07:43 PM

(I have made a number of edits to this post to make it more accurate, complete and easy to understand)

 

 

One thing is that the AP mount's GOTO system is going to be quite a bit different from the Celestron/Meade GOTO systems you may have used in the past.

 

The AP GOTO system is split into two parts.  The servo controller box (CP2, CP3 or CP4) and the AP hand controller.

 

AP describes their hand controller as a "handheld planetarium program" and states that it isn't mandatory to have one to operate AP mounts.  Their mounts can be controlled directly from a PC using their free ASCOM driver and an ASCOM-enabled planetarium program of some kind.  Sky Safari Plus/Pro 5 is also capable of initializing the AP servo controllers and controlling the mount. AP also offers their optional APCC software program that adds a lot of additional functionality to their mounts.  Especially in permanent observatory installations.

 

AP's approach to sky alignment is different than most GOTO mount manufacturers.  AP expects you to do a reasonably-good polar alignment and then sync/calibrate on one known star, if needed, and then you are good to go.  If you haven't moved the mount since the last time you used it, you don't need to polar align again or sync/calibrate on a star.

 

If your combination of mount and OTA has excessive orthogonality error (a.k.a. cone-error or perpendicularity error), which is when your optical axis not perfectly perpendicular to the DEC axis, AP expects you to evaluate and physically-correct your ortho error, rather than try to compensate for it via 3-star (or more) alignment software routines or small pointing models in the hand controller.  AP's optional APCC-Pro program sports full pointing models and AP has hinted that they might add small pointing model support to their CP4 servo controller and AP hand controller in the future for those customers who think they really need it.

 

If you decide to evaluate and correct your OTA's ortho error, make sure to be carefully collimated first.  Collimation changes move the optical axis around and in turn effect ortho as well.

 

AP's hand controller has a real-time-clock internally so you don't need to enter time and date stuff on bootup.  If you have moved your physical location more than a couple of hundred miles then you should probably add or update your lat/lon/time/date/tz info in the hand controller.  If you aren't using AP's hand controller, make sure the AP driver and your planetarium program are using correct lat/lon/time/date/tz data.

 

The AP servo controllers don't have a real-time-clock inside and need time/date/tz sent to them by the AP hand controller or some other PC or smartphone program.  They do remember lat/lon and worm wheel and gear positions.  Having more than one device sending lat/lon/time/date/tz info to the servo controller can cause unexpected results if the two sets of information don't match each other exactly.  Essentially whichever device sent data last will be what the servo controller will be running with.

 

AP mounts, servo controllers and hand controllers don't need to be re-initialized if your power cord gets kicked out.  Just reconnect power and go.  The AP servo controller knows exactly where the mount's worm gears and worm wheels were positioned when power was lost and the AP hand controller has its real time clock.  If the target has drifted out of the field of view while the power was out, simply do a slow button-slew West until the object is back in view.  Or do another GOTO slew to the target object.

 

AP's term "Re-Calibrate" is the equivalent to Celestron's/Meade's term "Sync."

 

If you have an old CP2 servo controller, consider upgrading to a CP3 or CP4.  CP3's can be found reasonably-cheap on the used market.  The CP4 is the current AP flagship servo controller.  It is very powerful and supports dual-RS-232, USB, Ethernet and WiFi communications.  If you swap out your existing servo controller, you will have to re-do your stored PEC (AP calls it PEM) curve.  This isn't a big deal and is easily done using PEMPro.  Unless you are doing serious astrophotography, you won't have to worry about PE correction.  The native PE of AP mounts is +-3.5 arcseconds or better.

 

AP's mount axes will seem very stiff compared to Celestron/Meade.  This is normal.  AP mounts have very powerful Swiss Maxon motors and axis balance isn't as critical as it is with Celestron/Meade mounts.

 

If you have both an AP hand controller as well as a connection to a PC, be advised that there are rules about how to use the two together without causing problems for yourself.  If you have the PC slew the mount someplace and then tell the hand controller to calibrate on it's current target object, the hand controller isn't going to know that the PC sent the mount off somewhere else and will calibrate on the wrong sky location.  AP has announced that the next version of their hand controller firmware will check with the servo controller first to see if it has been moved by some other program before performing calibrations.  There are some other cautions too but you get the general idea.  Basically, on any given night, either use the hand controller exclusively or use the PC control exclusively if you want to avoid self-inflicted problems.  Once you are really-familiar with the AP way of doing things, you will know how to use the two together at the same time without problems.  Not that you will actually ever really need to.

 

If you plan to primarily use the hand controller for running your AP mount, I would set up the controller as follows:

 

Under 2=Setup / 3=Keypad Options / 1=Auto-Connect: YES

 

YES means that the mount (hand controller + servo controller) will automatically resume from where it was left when it was turned off.  It will know where it is pointing in the sky and will automatically send time and date info to the servo controller.  If you have opened up the clutches or if they have slipped, you will need to do a GOTO to a known star, center it with the buttons, and do a 9=Re-Calibrate after pressing the [RA/DEC/REV] button.

 

NO means that during bootup, you will get a chance to pick what park position the servo controller will think it is initializing from.  After you have chosen one of the available options the hand controller will send that data, along with lat/lon/time/data/tz data to the servo controller.  This mode is handy if you open the clutches and spin the axes around at some point after you break everything down and put stuff away and when you set everything up again.  It is also the best choice when travelling around the world with your AP mount.  There are also some daytime setup procedures that utilize some of the park positions and a bubble level.

 

EXT means that you are using some kind of PC or smartphone program as your primary source to initialize the servo controller.  Something like the AP ASCOM driver or Sky Safari 5 Plus/Pro.  This is often the preferred setting in a permanent observatory.

 

If you are a world traveler with your AP mount, the www.StarGPS.ca GPS units are handy for painlessly initializing your AP servo controller at new locations.  It is compatible with the AP hand controller but using it with a PC can be complicated.  Sky Safari 5 Plus/Pro on an Android/iOS smartphone with its own built-in GPS and clock don't need an external GPS unit to initialize the AP servo controllers correctly.  Note that some Android/iOS tablet computers don't have automatic internal clock synching to their GPS or Internet connection so may not have highly-accurate time available for initializing the AP servo controller.  Most of the time this won't be a problem but it is good to know about.

 

If you are using a CP3 servo controller and APCC, make sure you have the latest firmware chip in your CP3.  A call to AP might be required.

 

AP's customer support is absolute top-shelf and very accessible.  And Roland himself is very active in the two AP Yahoo groups.  Along with Marj, George and Howard.  Help is always just a few clicks or a phone call away.

 

I hope this helps.


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#7 Tom Wade

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Posted 19 November 2017 - 08:03 PM

One thing is that the AP mount's GOTO system  is going to be quite a bit different from the Celestron GOTO systems you have used in the past.

 

The AP GOTO system is split into two parts.  The servo controller box (CP2, CP3 or CP4) and the AP hand controller.

 

AP describes their hand controller as a "handheld planetarium program" and states that it isn't mandatory to have one to operate AP mounts.  Their mounts can be controlled directly from a PC using their free ASCOM V2 driver and an ASCOM-enabled planetarium program of some kind.  Sky Safari Plus/Pro 5 is also capable of initializing the AP servo controllers and controlling the mount. AP also offers their optional APCC software program that adds a lot of additional functionality to their mounts.  Especially in permanent observatory installations.

 

AP's approach to sky alignment is different than most GOTO mount manufacturers.  AP expects you to do a reasonably-good polar alignment and then sync/calibrate on one known star and then you are good to go.

 

If your combination of mount and OTA has excessive orthogonality error (a.k.a. cone-error and perpendicularity error), which is when your optical axis not perfectly perpendicular to the DEC axis, AP expects you to evaluate and physically-correct your ortho error, rather than try to compensate for it via 3-star (or more) alignment software routines or small pointing models in the hand controller.  AP's optional APCC-Pro program sports full pointing models and AP has hinted that they might add small pointing model support to their CP4 servo controller and AP hand controller in the future for those customers who think they really need it.

 

AP's hand controller has a real-time-clock internally so you don't need to enter time and date stuff on bootup.  If you have moved your physical location more than a couple of hundred miles then you should probably add or update your lat/lon/time/date/tz info in the hand controller.  If you aren't using AP's hand controller, make sure the AP driver and your planetarium program are using correct lat/lon/time/date/tz data.

 

AP mounts, servo controllers and hand controllers don't need to be re-initialized if your power cord gets kicked out.  Just reconnect power and go.  The AP servo controller knows exactly where the mount's worm gears and worm wheels were positioned when power was lost.  If the target has drifted out of the field of view while the power was out, simply do a slow button-slew West until the object is back in view.  Or do another GOTO slew to the object.

 

AP's term "Calibrate" is the equivalent to Celestron's term "Sync."

 

If you have an old CP2 servo controller, consider upgrading to a CP3 or CP4.  CP3's can be found reasonably-cheap on the used market.  The CP4 is the current AP flagship servo controller.  It is very powerful and supports dual-RS-232, USB, Ethernet and WiFi communications.  If you swap out your existing servo controller, you will have to re-do your stored PEC (AP calls it PEM) curve.  This isn't a big deal and is easily done using PEMPro.  Unless you are doing serious astrophotography, you won't have to worry about PE correction.  The PE of AP mounts is +-3.5 arcseconds or better.

 

AP's mount axes will seem very stiff compared to Celestron.  This is normal.  AP mounts have very powerful Swiss Maxon motors and axis balance isn't as critical as it is with Celestron mounts.

 

If you have both an AP hand controller as well as a connection to a PC, be advised that there are rules about how to use the two together without causing problems for yourself.  If you have the PC slew the mount someplace and then tell the hand controller to calibrate on it's current target object, the hand controller isn't going to know that the PC sent the mount off somewhere else and will calibrate on the wrong sky location.  AP has announced that the next version of their hand controller firmware will check with the servo controller first to see if it has been moved by some other program before performing calibrations.  There are some other cautions too but you get the general idea.  Basically, on any given night, either use the hand controller exclusively or use the PC control exclusively if you want to avoid self-inflicted problems.  Once you are really-familiar with the AP way of doing things, you will know how to use the two together at the same time without problems.  Not that you will actually ever really need to.

 

AP's customer support is absolute top-shelf and very accessible.  And Roland himself is very active in the two AP Yahoo groups.  Along with Marj, George and Howard.  Help is always just a few clicks or a phone call away.

Christopher -

Thank you very much for the detailed description and information.  Responses like that remind all of us how amazing this hobby is, not only for the hobby itself but the people involved may be the best part.  Thanks again.  Aloha.

 

Tom



#8 Christopher Erickson

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Posted 21 November 2017 - 05:16 AM

 

One thing is that the AP mount's GOTO system  is going to be quite a bit different from the Celestron GOTO systems you have used in the past.

 

The AP GOTO system is split into two parts.  The servo controller box (CP2, CP3 or CP4) and the AP hand controller.

 

AP describes their hand controller as a "handheld planetarium program" and states that it isn't mandatory to have one to operate AP mounts.  Their mounts can be controlled directly from a PC using their free ASCOM V2 driver and an ASCOM-enabled planetarium program of some kind.  Sky Safari Plus/Pro 5 is also capable of initializing the AP servo controllers and controlling the mount. AP also offers their optional APCC software program that adds a lot of additional functionality to their mounts.  Especially in permanent observatory installations.

 

AP's approach to sky alignment is different than most GOTO mount manufacturers.  AP expects you to do a reasonably-good polar alignment and then sync/calibrate on one known star and then you are good to go.

 

If your combination of mount and OTA has excessive orthogonality error (a.k.a. cone-error and perpendicularity error), which is when your optical axis not perfectly perpendicular to the DEC axis, AP expects you to evaluate and physically-correct your ortho error, rather than try to compensate for it via 3-star (or more) alignment software routines or small pointing models in the hand controller.  AP's optional APCC-Pro program sports full pointing models and AP has hinted that they might add small pointing model support to their CP4 servo controller and AP hand controller in the future for those customers who think they really need it.

 

AP's hand controller has a real-time-clock internally so you don't need to enter time and date stuff on bootup.  If you have moved your physical location more than a couple of hundred miles then you should probably add or update your lat/lon/time/date/tz info in the hand controller.  If you aren't using AP's hand controller, make sure the AP driver and your planetarium program are using correct lat/lon/time/date/tz data.

 

AP mounts, servo controllers and hand controllers don't need to be re-initialized if your power cord gets kicked out.  Just reconnect power and go.  The AP servo controller knows exactly where the mount's worm gears and worm wheels were positioned when power was lost.  If the target has drifted out of the field of view while the power was out, simply do a slow button-slew West until the object is back in view.  Or do another GOTO slew to the object.

 

AP's term "Calibrate" is the equivalent to Celestron's term "Sync."

 

If you have an old CP2 servo controller, consider upgrading to a CP3 or CP4.  CP3's can be found reasonably-cheap on the used market.  The CP4 is the current AP flagship servo controller.  It is very powerful and supports dual-RS-232, USB, Ethernet and WiFi communications.  If you swap out your existing servo controller, you will have to re-do your stored PEC (AP calls it PEM) curve.  This isn't a big deal and is easily done using PEMPro.  Unless you are doing serious astrophotography, you won't have to worry about PE correction.  The PE of AP mounts is +-3.5 arcseconds or better.

 

AP's mount axes will seem very stiff compared to Celestron.  This is normal.  AP mounts have very powerful Swiss Maxon motors and axis balance isn't as critical as it is with Celestron mounts.

 

If you have both an AP hand controller as well as a connection to a PC, be advised that there are rules about how to use the two together without causing problems for yourself.  If you have the PC slew the mount someplace and then tell the hand controller to calibrate on it's current target object, the hand controller isn't going to know that the PC sent the mount off somewhere else and will calibrate on the wrong sky location.  AP has announced that the next version of their hand controller firmware will check with the servo controller first to see if it has been moved by some other program before performing calibrations.  There are some other cautions too but you get the general idea.  Basically, on any given night, either use the hand controller exclusively or use the PC control exclusively if you want to avoid self-inflicted problems.  Once you are really-familiar with the AP way of doing things, you will know how to use the two together at the same time without problems.  Not that you will actually ever really need to.

 

AP's customer support is absolute top-shelf and very accessible.  And Roland himself is very active in the two AP Yahoo groups.  Along with Marj, George and Howard.  Help is always just a few clicks or a phone call away.

Christopher -

Thank you very much for the detailed description and information.  Responses like that remind all of us how amazing this hobby is, not only for the hobby itself but the people involved may be the best part.  Thanks again.  Aloha.

 

Tom

 

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