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Changing mounts?

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#1 JMac85X

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 08:16 PM

I'm thinking of getting rid of my G11 mount that I purchased a few years back. My intentions are strictly for photography. I bought it brand new and out of the box it didn't work correctly, long story short I'd rather spend my time taking pictures instead of fixating on my mounts performance. It's cost me over $4,000 after everything and it makes me feel like a fool. I thought of going for a Mach 1 mount? I have a small 81 refractor with a 535 focal length for my wide field and I have a C11 that I want to use for DSO, mostly galaxies. Would a Mach 1 handle my C11 with all the accessories like a champ? No issues? Like right out of the box it will work? I know they're on back order 6-12 months but if it's a high performance mount then the wait is worth it to me. 



#2 Destrehan Dave

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 08:30 PM

Are you a road warrior, or do you have the luxury of a dark site / perm / semi-perm site?

The Mach 1 is an exquisite mount, but is still rather heavy, as it does not easily break down into smaller pieces.

Performance is a dream; polar scope breathtakingly precise, TTM model is brilliant, HC powerful and simple.

Their CP4 control box doubles as a wi-fi hotspot, their engineering impeccable, and reliability unsurpassed.

Only real drawbacks for me were the software control packages, and livin’ on Roland time. They don’t rush...

YMMV
DD

#3 zakry3323

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 08:31 PM

What exactly is wrong with the G11? I only hear good things regarding Losmandy customer service.



#4 JMac85X

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 09:01 PM

I'm semi permanent, I roll it outside on caster wheels that cost me $12 at Harbor Freight. The G11 is a grey area mount. It's not for the faint of heart and you have to tinker with it a lot. I would rather spend those precious clear nights imaging instead of trying to fine tune it. For the price tag it's not worth it to me and I'm emotionally exhausted with the mount now. I hear the software does suck with AP though, is that the only down side? That and how long it will take to get one?
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#5 gotak

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 10:21 PM

There are no spoon, wait I mean problem free mounts. Anyhow, kidding aside the fact is if you search for any makes there are cases of problems. So there's no way you can eliminate that possibility even after spending more money.

 

The 11 inch SCT is the limit which AP themselves have stated as the max for the mach 1. I think that's an interesting thing to note as a C11 is a lot lighter than the stated payload, pointing to the fact that the entire industry still does not provide correct payload ratings that actually means something useful when considering OTAs.

 

Are you going to be emotionally exhausted with an AP? I don't know but I suspect if the mount works you'll find other issues exhausting as in general the stuff we use are all somewhat cottage industry like, and lacks the refinement you'd expect from the internet/iphone age. There will be cases of why isn't this working until you get all the bugs for your particular setup ironed out, then you use it until your get itchy fingers update a driver and find thing's broken in someway again. It might be that astro imaging is not the hobby for you.

 

Normally, I suggest people look at other mounts when the question of mach 1 comes up. As I don't think they are value for money. However, in your case as you seem to want a  turn key solution maybe it could be for you. However, again there are examples where it took a few days to weeks to resolve some issues even with a mach 1.And I rather think if you are unlucky enough to have one of those you'd think the worse of it and give up.



#6 Ballyhoo

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Posted 18 March 2019 - 10:32 PM

forgive me if I am wrong but I thought the G11 was the last of the medium grade mounts and anything higher quality than that is considered  high-end. Also surprised w Losmandy's customer service that you were not able to surpass the issues since Losmandy has among the best customer service.   Heck I have an AVX and I have never been exasperated like you are with a much higher grade mount.

Perhaps there is more to this story, like particular things you are trying to achieve, which may be part of the issue(s)?



#7 StephenW

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:21 AM

Agree with the others that it really depends on which problem(s) you are trying to solve.

 

I have both a G11 and a Mach-1 - the G11 doesn't get used for imaging any more as the Mach-1 is much more refined for that (smaller native PE, easier to guide). 

 

Interestingly though, when I once loaded up my TMB-152 on both of the mounts, the G11 was more stable (less wobble), so as others have said, no mount is perfect.

 

BTW: In terms of carrying capacity/value-for-money, I'd probably recommend a used AP900, if you can find one.


Edited by StephenW, 19 March 2019 - 09:24 AM.

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#8 rgsalinger

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 10:02 AM

I'd recommend trying a CEM60EC with the C11 rather than spending 2.5x on a Mach 1. Having said that, there is no question that the Mach 1 will take a C11 without problems. One of the best imagers in my club uses exactly that setup. Frankly, I've watched too many people struggle with their G11's to get them up and running when portable but I don't know why that's the case. 

 

Rgrds-Ross



#9 JMac85X

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 11:24 AM

Yeah I just see a pattern of people getting a G11, selling them and going for a CEM 60 or a CGX or they get an AP mount. I'm sure they break but I know they work right out of the box. I'm also being told if I get a Mach 1 I'll never look back. This is a comment I've been told about five times in the course of three days from multiple people. I just find it interesting all the YouTube astro imagers are using mounts that are considered "low end". Maybe the iphone generation has it right and they're just as good as the "premium" mounts. It's just an observation I've noticed. Maybe a CEM 60 or a CGX is the way to go?

#10 Derek (VE7RE)

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 02:00 PM

I am currently in the market for a new mount as well and I have been doing a LOT of reading on available options.

firstly, I would suggest based on what I know and have read that the Mach 1 is not even in the same category as the G11.

Its in the opinion of most, a step up.

 

The G11 is a great mount for what it is, but not unlike other mounts, has its quirks. In fact as others have suggested in this thread, all mounts have their quirks, and everyone’s ability and needs are also different so that needs to be factored into the equation.

 

Im not saying “better”, but I think for the money you get exceptionally good dollar value with the CEM60. Albeit if your imaging at long focal lengths, the EC version with RA encoders may not be offering much extra value as you will be autoguiding anyhow and probably not imaging unguided.

 

The CEM60 is not by anymeans perfect and has not been without problems, but iOptron has been quick to respond to issues and their customer satisfaction from what is documented is excellent.

 

For portable use It is light weight and carries quite a payload for its size and weight....The Mach 1 although considered to be a clear step up from the CEM60 is not quite as portable. Also you could buy a new CEM60 probably with no additional cash outlay if you sold your G11 and used those funds to purchase. Not so if you buy the EC version which is considerably more money than a standard CEM60. All in all you get an darned good mount at a very good price point that checks a lot of AP requirements checkboxes. Those who are using them, love them.

 

Lastly, something that many will not talk about here because equipment is supposed to be for its intended purpose but there is also the prestige factor. Please don’t take this negatively, but myself, I’m a bit of a gear junkie and I think many discussions have been started based on someone else admiring ones equipment(star parties etc.) and if you have the cash, hey why not, but high end equipment will only work as well as ones ability to use it and for its intended purpose. Read lots on the Mach 1 and the CEM60 and then only you can draw your own conclusions as to what you feel in your gut is best for you. There is tons of information out now on both of these mounts that will help guide you...

 

Please keep us posted on what you decide and why, everyone here from what I have seen, loves to hear the conclusions of situations like this.

.....enjoy the process and good luck



#11 WadeH237

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 03:27 PM

Maybe the iphone generation has it right and they're just as good as the "premium" mounts.

Or maybe the iPhone generation just likes to make YouTube videos...

 

In all seriousness, I would want to know more about the issues that you are having with the G11, before making any recommendations.  I would hate to see you spend lots of money on a Mach1 and then find out that your problem is flexure, or poor local seeing conditions, or something else.

 

Astrophotography is not a "works right out of the box" activity, even at the high end of the budget spectrum.


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#12 rgsalinger

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 06:13 PM

"out of the box" operation is an interesting concept in a GEM. What gets lost in that particular criterion is that it's relatively rare to buy an $8K mount as the first one you own. So, inevitably a newbie will struggle with their first GEM. When I bought my venerable Celestron CGE in 2004, I spent several nights in utter frustration until I worked out that my use of a compass to find the celestial north pole was not quite the right approach. Just one (embarrassing) example of a newbie error.

 

Fourteen years later and I buy my CEM120EC2 at OPT at 11AM. I drive out to my observatory and unpack the thing and put it on the pier. I upgrade the firmware, download and install the mount driver, calibrate the encoders and plug in the USB and power cables before dark. Then, as soon as it's dark, I  run PEMPRO to polar align the mount and I'm guiding (with my medium refractor and an OAG) by around midnight - maybe 8 hours after I unpacked the thing. (Of course then it got cloudy but you can't have everything.) Honestly, it's a good mount but 15 years of trying and then doing AP makes it a doddle for me to set up pretty much any GEM. I think that this would be true of most experienced imagers who've used a few mounts in their time.

 

FWIW, I love being thought of as part of "the iPhone generation", particularly as I have never owned a single Apple product in my entire 73 years. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#13 gnowellsct

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:11 PM

I'm semi permanent, I roll it outside on caster wheels that cost me $12 at Harbor Freight. The G11 is a grey area mount. It's not for the faint of heart and you have to tinker with it a lot. I would rather spend those precious clear nights imaging instead of trying to fine tune it. For the price tag it's not worth it to me and I'm emotionally exhausted with the mount now. I hear the software does suck with AP though, is that the only down side? That and how long it will take to get one?

I know what it means to be emotionally exhausted by a mount.  Sometimes the Losmandy tinkering requirements with the servo-Gemini system are too high.  The Mach 1 is a good move, but I'm a little less sure about putting a C11 on it.  At NEAF Roland told me it could handle a c14 for visual but....I dunno...I won't go there.

 

I've never heard of anyone having problems with the Losmandy stepper systems, by the way.  But it's not ideal for imaging because you have to get up and move the mount yourself.    But with Argo Navis or Nexus you can get excellent pointing accuracy and excellent stability.   I always feel bad when I see people not getting along with their G11s. Mine has been a faithful companion for almost 20 years.  

 

Greg N


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#14 gnowellsct

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:20 PM

 

 

BTW: In terms of carrying capacity/value-for-money, I'd probably recommend a used AP900, if you can find one.

biggrin.png  That's exactly what I did for my C14 + top mounted refractor.  Except I was tired of go-to so I got an older AP900 QMD system with stepper motors and push it.  Argo Navis for database.  

 

I didn't get rid of the G11 though.  I use it for all my refractors and my c8.  

 

Since I gave up on go-to I have not had a stalled slew in....17 years.    And that tense feeling of "will it slew, or will it stall" disappeared. Some days I think about getting a Mach 1 but usually I sit down and wait for the feeling to go away.  If the Mach 1 were compatible with Argo Navis I would probably do it.  But the paddle/database/lack of modeling in the AP paddle is pretty feeble.

 

Argo Navis and Nexus far exceed it.  The paddle is clearly low priority for AP I wonder why they just don't subcontract it to someone like Argo Navis.  The paddle is low priority for them because most of their clientele are imagers who have laptops with awesome software bisque (or equivalent) software, including t-point alignment and plate solving polar alignment protocols.

 

Greg N



#15 Ed Wiley

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Posted 19 March 2019 - 09:47 PM

Keep your tripod if you can and look for a good used AP900. That is what I did when I got my C11. Also, I recommend an OAG and the most sensitive guide camera you can afford like a Lodestar 2X.

Ed


Edited by Ed Wiley, 19 March 2019 - 09:50 PM.

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#16 JMac85X

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 09:02 AM

I don't even like iphones, they're overpriced and over rated. I'm all Android. I'll just soak up my tears and mumble under my breathe for the next week until I get it going right. I'm still a novice at setting the worm up to the gear and the oldham couplers all lines up correctly. I'm sure it's easy for someone that's done it a few times but even reading the instructions on the internet can be a little overwhelming. I'm just that sucker that went out and tried to buy my way through my issues. I shouldn't have bought a C11 with a focal length of 2700mm. Now that I understand that number it sounds insane to me now. I also have an 81mm refractor that I'm currently using and it's at 535mm focal length. I'm using a QSI 683 with an OAG and the lodestar X2. I never have issues finding a guide star or focusing. My issues always stem around my lovely G11 that likes to bring pain into my heart. It gave me an RA stall error the other night, actually it's done it a few times and I just ignored it like an idiot. This morning I found the oldman couplers a little spaced apart, the one closest to the motor actually. I think part of my issue is that I naturally want to push the worm up to the gear as close as possible but that's not what you want to do from my understanding, you want to push the whole thing in toward the motor. I think because of this is why I'm getting the RA stall error. It was cause a screeching noise as it would slew. Another issue is that I'm always trying to buy my way out of my issues which all you guys already know won't do you anything but make your wallet go broke. It's the driver not the car.



#17 StephenW

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 09:25 AM

>I think part of my issue is that I naturally want to push the worm up to the gear as close as possible but that's not what you want to do from my understanding

 

Correct - there needs to be some spacing to prevent it binding.  And in RA, a little space is fine as you don't have to worry about backlash (the motor never changes direction) and you can keep the mount East heavy to keep the worm and wheel engaged.

 

If you're planning to continue to image at 525mm then it might be giving your G11 another chance :)



#18 rgsalinger

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:34 AM

If you switch to either an EQ6R or an iOptron CEM60EC you will be much happier. That's all I can say. The G11's were OK 10 years ago, but time has moved on. The iOptron has through the mount cabling and power. Much easier to set up  in most cases. Four USB ports will take care of two cameras, a focuser and a filter wheel. Then just one cable from mount to PC.

Rgrds-Ross



#19 Destrehan Dave

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 10:44 AM

I’ve had a Mach 1, AP900, and a CEM60.

If the weight is not a problem, the MACH1 is a lifetime mount. I had a 160mm monster refractor on it and it breezed through the slews. I believe it would handle the C11 with no problems.

I love my current CEM60-EC, but if the sheer mass of the mount was not an issue and I could have gotten the worm release mechanism to make balancing easier, I’d still have the MACH 1. The build quality, the reliability, the confidence that it will survive a nuclear holicaust better than the cockroaches, the unmatched machining, the fabulous, superb RAPAS... it’s just very satisfying.

APCC is a prototypical Ray Gralak program. It is fabulous algorithmically, but sometimes can be rather challenging. I guess it depends on what you use as your software app front end. I know my buddy Jack uses his with SkyTools and had no problems at all in his permanent setup. Road warrior DD had difficulty with TSX integration... YMMV...

All in all, the CEM-60EC is the world-class value; the MACH 1 is the world-class engineering GEM.

Both are delightful and can provide exceptional performance.

Gotta say that the biggest difference for me is when adjusting ALT-AZ to point to the NCP, CEM60 makes me wanna cuss, while the MACH 1, as Chris Matthews once said, “gives me a thrill down my leg.”

Once you are equatorially aligned, both provide nothing but sheer delight.. I actually prefer the GO2NOVA over the AP, but that CP4 wifi hotspot is pretty darn nice.

DD

#20 Lola Bruce

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 01:56 PM

If you paid $4k for it did you not get the spring loaded worms? If tinkering with a Losmandy emotionally exhausts you you may find astrophotography much much worse. Astrophotography takes huge doses of patience and analytical insight as you progress.

Bruce


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#21 JMac85X

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 09:27 AM

I bought the mount brand new in 2014. Spare me with the maybe it's not for you. I'll figure it out.

#22 dr.who

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 10:26 AM

I'm thinking of getting rid of my G11 mount that I purchased a few years back. My intentions are strictly for photography. I bought it brand new and out of the box it didn't work correctly, long story short I'd rather spend my time taking pictures instead of fixating on my mounts performance. It's cost me over $4,000 after everything and it makes me feel like a fool. I thought of going for a Mach 1 mount? I have a small 81 refractor with a 535 focal length for my wide field and I have a C11 that I want to use for DSO, mostly galaxies. Would a Mach 1 handle my C11 with all the accessories like a champ? No issues? Like right out of the box it will work? I know they're on back order 6-12 months but if it's a high performance mount then the wait is worth it to me. 

 

The biases against the Mach1 and for the iOptron line of certain people posting here aside, the Mach1  will perform like a champ with no issues out of the box. With the caveat that Ross is correct, working with an EQ mount for AP isn't a cakewalk if you are not familiar with it. And that AP in and of itself isn't a simple undertaking either. I think the Youtube folks make it look easy because they edit out any problems in post and they have been doing it for a while. What you don't see in those video's is any "fiddling" they had to do to fix any problems or to setup and get the mount running right. All you see is the end product. That said, if you are looking for a mount that has a minimal amount of fiddling to make it work and image with it the Mach1 is going to be one of those mounts. As are a couple of others. You do not need to use APCC by the way. It is a nice to have but not a must have. My AP, and actually my visual since I use my Mach1 for that too, workflow for the mount is:

 

1. Setup the mount, scope and other mount side equipment 

2. Put Polaris in the spot the AP smartphone app tells me to in my RAPAS

3. Manually move the mount to a given star.

4. Sync on that star (DO NOT Sync on a star if you are not starting a new session this is a recipe for disaster)

5. Move on to the rest of my AP related housekeeping and setup

 

That is a stupid simple workflow and takes under 10 minutes from opening the trunk of the car to step 5.  With the C11 you will likely want to do a CCD based drift alignment. That adds about 3-4 minutes or so to the process. 

 

One thing to note: If you get the RAPAS you will want to align it with the mount for the best accuracy possible, but it does come pretty well lined up out of the box too. I am also confused  about people saying how heavy it is. It isn't heavy at all. Not when compared to the CGEM, CGX, Skywatcher/Orion EQ6/Atlas (I have owned the CGEM and own the CGX), or other mounts in its class. It is not hard to separate the RA and DEC axis' either. It is two 1/4-20 x 1" socket head cap screws to do so.  

 

The other option is the Software Bisque (Paramount) MyT. It too is a high end mount in the same price range as the Mach1. It is a more complex mount to work with in that to make it work the best you need to use it with the SB SkyX software suite. The software has a somewhat steep learning curve but it is a very powerful and flexible system that can do amazing things. The other issue is you will need a 48v power supply for it. 48v batteries are not COTS (Common Off The Shelf) items but are not impossible to find either. 

 

For a fair amount of more money is the 10 Micron GM1000HPS. It is also a very good option with features the other two do not have. 

 

The CEM60 with encoders has come a long way from where it was. There can still be problems with it but from what I am hearing much of that has been addressed.  I would put it a step above the G11 but a step below the Mach1, MyT, or 10 Micron. But the CEM60 is quite a bit less than the Mach1, MyT, and for sure the 10 Micron. I can't say that it will get you what you want but if budget is a concern it is an option.

 

Lastly I would also add that I consider my hobby to be visual and AP. Anything that takes away from that is not a value add. My time is also very precious and very limited. So wasting it on fiddling with a mount is a problem. Looking at the time vs value of money equation for this, the CEM60 or any other mount in its class wasn't for me. The history of problems, how iOptron initially handled them, the quality of the build of the mount compared to the high end mounts, and so on made it a non value add. Same with the Losmandy mounts. So I bit the bullet and spent the money on the Mach1. And as your friends have told you, I have never looked back. I also considered the MyT and the 10 Micron. The MyT didn't fit my needs and the 10 Micron was just too expensive for the extras it gave me so I didn't go that route. 



#23 bobhen

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Posted 21 March 2019 - 10:45 AM

I used a C11 on a Mach 1 for 8-years doing visual and video imaging. I was shooting mostly at F5 or faster and for 1 to 2 minutes and the Mach 1 handled the C11 with NO problem and produced perfect star images.

 

The Mach 1 also handled my AP 155 refractor without any problem.

 

A bigger mount is always better but the Mach I should have no problem with a C11. You, of course, will want a very robust tripod or pier. All mounts take some getting use to but the AP mounts are very well built and AP has great service if you need it. 

 

I also had a G11 for 11 years. The G11 is a great mount but the Mach 1 is better.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 21 March 2019 - 10:46 AM.


#24 jpbutler

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Posted 24 March 2019 - 11:24 AM

The biases against the cem60 and for the AP line of certain people posting here aside, the cem60  will perform like a champ with no issues out of the box for most people most of the time, in my experience. Ioptron support is also really responsive though, and that is worth quite a lot, to me. As is AP's support.

 

On the other hand, I don't have a mach 1, but I have an ap900 and the ap900 is heads above my cem60 in just plain reliability and consistency.

Plus I really love APCC's Homing/Limits, Horizon and Meridian limits.

I also find when using the cem60, that I miss the APCC 3D view when just slewing around looking at stuff from inside the house, remotely.

The 3D view just gives me a nice warn fuzzy feeling that everything is ok, even though it can be fooled if the mount is not set up accurately.

 

John



#25 orlyandico

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Posted 24 March 2019 - 12:13 PM

The paddle is outsourced.

 

Someone here on the forum made their own Astro-Physics compatible paddle. Very basic, but a more complex one is certainly possible which would have internal modeling.

 

Too bad SkySafari has no modeling.

 

 The paddle is clearly low priority for AP I wonder why they just don't subcontract it to someone like Argo Navis.  The paddle is low priority for them because most of their clientele are imagers who have laptops with awesome software bisque (or equivalent) software, including t-point alignment and plate solving polar alignment protocols.

 

Greg N




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