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Astro-Physics Mach 1 users

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#1 Waterobert

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 11:00 PM

I have Astro-Physics Mach1 mount, which I have used few times for visual observing with my Maksutov . I am in the process off learning about astrophotography, don't have proper scope and camera yet. Need to save few more $ in order to get what I want.

Anyway, few days ago I got PoleMaster, made adapter for it, which may or may not work with my mount, and clouds moved in. Can't test it until weather improves, lol

My question is, what polar alignment routine are you guys using? What is easier for nob like me? 

Also, I never connected my mount to a laptop, any suggestions about that? What software works well with this mount? Should I go with Astro-Physics software? I have long way to go before my first image, lol

Thank you for your help.



#2 james7ca

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 11:21 PM

I have both the PoleMaster and one of the A-P Right Angle Polar Alignment Scopes (RAPAS). Although when you first get the RAPAS you need to calibrate it against some reference, but once that is done it is probably the fastest and easiest method to do a polar alignment and the accuracy is just as good as the PoleMaster (IMO). I calibrated mine several years ago and it is still very accurate.

 

It's nice that you could make you own adapter for the PoleMaster, but you can also buy an adapter that will work on just about any setup (mount or scope). Here is a link:

 

  https://optcorp.com/...master-mounting

 

or direct from the manufacturer (ADM):

  

  https://www.admacces...aster-mounting/

 

As for software, you can use PEMPro for calibration of the RAPAS (although you could also use the PoleMaster) and for guiding you can use PhD. For mount control (GOTOs) you can use one of several freeware planetarium-type programs (e.g. Stellarium) or something like SkySafari (for iOS or Mac OS).


Edited by james7ca, 20 June 2019 - 04:17 AM.


#3 Stelios

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 02:57 AM

I use Sharpcap which I find superior to polemaster--if you have a guidescope with an adequate FOV. However, since you already have Polemaster, if your homemade adapter doesn't please, ADM makes an adapter for it that fits at the bottom of a Vixen or Losmandy long dovetail. Works very well.

 

You can easily connect your mount to the laptop. You don't need to buy any software, but you *must* download the ASCOM 6.4 platform *and* the Astro-Physics V2 ASCOM driver (both free). Once installed, run "Setup telescope" and input your mount and location particulars. From that point on, for any software that needs to connect to the mount (examples: Sharpcap, SGP (Sequence Generator Pro), Stellarium Scope, CdC (Cartes Du Ciel), PhD2, etc, etc.) you will select the Astro-Physics Mount V2 from the dropbox (the first time only) and your mount will find and use it. (The version of Sharpcap which does Polar alignment costs $13/year).

 

Incidentally *all* the software mentioned above (Sharpcap, Stellarium, CDC, PhD2) except SGP ($100) is free. Between them they are more than enough for you to image (you will need a scope and camera, of course...)

 

BTW, you have one of the finest mounts for astrophotography. I love mine.



#4 Ladyhawke

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 03:13 AM

I use Polemaster with the ADM adapter, it connects to the dovetail and works very well. For imaging acquisition software I use Sequence Generator Pro and love it, no alignment needed, just polar align and use Plate Solving.


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#5 WadeH237

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 04:30 AM

I use the Daytime Polar Alignment process described in the manual.  If done carefully, this is usually sufficient for whatever I'm going to do and it gets you ready even before the sun goes down.

 

I also have a RAPAS.  I did the one-time calibration for it after using PEMPro to do a drift alignment.  With this, it takes less than 60 seconds to get a very, very accurate polar alignment.  And you can do it well before Polaris is visible to the naked eye.

 

I've never felt any need for PoleMaster, although the people who do use it, generally love it.


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#6 Alex McConahay

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 09:19 AM

One important question...….Are you permanently mounted (in an observatory, on a fixed pier or something), or do you have to set up anew every session or so?

 

If permanently mounted, you do not need Polemaster/Sharpcap, etc. A simple polar scope and the PhD2 drift alignment will do. You are only going to do this polar alignment thing once, and check it perhaps once a year.

 

If setting up anew every night, it is an important decision. And I will let others make their suggestions.

 

Alex



#7 Alex McConahay

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 09:34 AM

>>>>>> Also, I never connected my mount to a laptop, any suggestions about that? What software works well with this mount? Should I go with Astro-Physics software? 

 

Of course you are going to use the ASCOM driver for the Astro Physics. 

 

In most cases the simple driver is all you need. It is free from the AP website. Eventually you may wish to upgrade to the APCC software, which offers more features. But most of those features are not all that necessary to imaging for a while. 

 

In addition, you will need a serial converter and cable (or perhaps USB nowadays.....I have an older version. I do not know what your mount needs) to connect the laptop to the mount. Very simple to do. 

 

Many pieces of software work well with the mount. As a matter of fact, you should not worry too much about which piece of software to connect the mount. Instead consider what piece of software you want to be your "Session Manager." That is a program that controls the camera, guider, guiding software, to focus and take the pictures. I like SGP for this. Sequence Generator Pro works well with a variety of equipment. 

 

I cannot imagine any session manager that does not work with the Astro Physics ASCOM driver to control an AP mount.

 

You may want to separate this thread into "What do I use for Polar Alignment?" and "What is a good session manager?" (Although, really we do not need a new thread about that. There are many such discussions going on right now. )

 

Alex


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#8 epdreher

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 10:16 AM

If you have a CP4 and your laptop has an Ethernet port, that's the way to go for your connection.  Trouble-free and robust.   Otherwise, as Alex stated above, you'll need a USB/serial port converter cable.



#9 nimitz69

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 11:11 AM

Another vote for SharpCap using your guides cope and camera.  Super easy and Super Accurate. Why spend $300 on another piece of H/W that you have to install & maintain that only does one thing when you can use. Things you already to do the same function?  Put that $300 to the scope or camera .....



#10 Jon Rista

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 11:19 AM

My preference is good ol' declination drift. ;) But, not your classic slow "through the eyepiece" approach. I use PEMPro to assist, which is highly accurate and relatively fast...and since you are actually measuring the thing that poor polar alignment causes, drift, you can know for sure once you have eliminated said drift. 

 

I don't even have the RAPAS for my Mach 1. If necessary (and I usually leave the mount all set up in my back yard), I'll just do a rough alignment by setting altitude to my latitude, then roughly sight down the outside of the RA axis to get Polaris roughly where it needs to be. Then I rely on PEMPro to get the mount calibrated and do drift alignment. An initial alignment might take a half hour, but it'll leave you with a pretty accurate PA. I have let it drift for 15-20 minutes without any deviation from the midline outside of noise...meaning very long exposures are possible. 

 

Subsequent alignments, assuming the scope stays in place, are usually only checks, and take 5-10 minutes. 



#11 Fernando134

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 02:11 PM

I am also kind of "new" to the Mach1. I roll in and out my mount. What I do:

 

Power my laptop;

Polar align with polemaster followed by sharpcap (it is my routine...);

Power the mount (CP4);

Call Stellarium Scope (free) that connects to the mount through the AP V2 Ascom (free) drive;

Unpark;

Call Stellarium (free). Go to the object I am planning imaging. The mount goes there after Ctr+1 in Stellarium;

Astrophotography Tool or SGP for plate solving and for imaging with a DSLR;

PHD2 (free) for guiding;

Imaging.

 

I do not know how long it takes; something around 20 minutes

 

 

 



#12 Waterobert

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 07:25 PM

Thank you guys.

My set up will be not be in an observatory, maybe if I win lottery then who knows. I will be traveling to the dark sky and have to set up anew every session. I am surprised that day time polar alignment could work for AP. I can do that for sure, lol



#13 Waterobert

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 10:34 AM

Finally weather permitted me to use my Mach 1 !

I did polar alignment with Polemaster, however it took me over an hour to get it right. I was spoiled with my previous scope, which had GPS build into it. All I had to do was assemble it pointing North and press start. Scope would do everything automatically and would slew to to calibration star. Usually, I was observing within 5 minutes.

GEM's are so much different, more work and knowledge is required. I will be practicing alignment for a while, I am light years away form imaging, lol. 



#14 Lola Bruce

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 06:38 PM

The RAPAS once set is very very accurate, reliable, and quick. It works so well I put a bracket on my G11 to use it on two mounts.

 

Bruce


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#15 Stelios

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 07:41 PM

Finally weather permitted me to use my Mach 1 !

I did polar alignment with Polemaster, however it took me over an hour to get it right. I was spoiled with my previous scope, which had GPS build into it. All I had to do was assemble it pointing North and press start. Scope would do everything automatically and would slew to to calibration star. Usually, I was observing within 5 minutes.

GEM's are so much different, more work and knowledge is required. I will be practicing alignment for a while, I am light years away form imaging, lol. 

You can use Sharpcap to polar align. It's at least as accurate as Polemaster (which, to be fair, shouldn't take an hour, more like 5-10 minutes) and I usually take less than 5 minutes to polar align. (If you are made of money *and* you don't intend to put a lot of cables through the mount, the suggested RAPAS is another alternative).

 

It sounds like what you were doing with your "GPS scope" was not polar alignment, it was *star* alignment. That wouldn't have helped you for astrophotography. 



#16 bobzeq25

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:16 PM

Finally weather permitted me to use my Mach 1 !

I did polar alignment with Polemaster, however it took me over an hour to get it right. I was spoiled with my previous scope, which had GPS build into it. All I had to do was assemble it pointing North and press start. Scope would do everything automatically and would slew to to calibration star. Usually, I was observing within 5 minutes.

GEM's are so much different, more work and knowledge is required. I will be practicing alignment for a while, I am light years away form imaging, lol. 

You're doing something very strange with the PoleMaster.  It never took me more than 5 minutes.  These days, using the previous axis of rotation, it's more like 2-3.



#17 Stephen Kennedy

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 08:53 PM

My OTA (23 Kg) and GEM (145 Kg) are set up permanently with a special cover when not in use and never moved since they together weigh nearly 400 lbs.  I do tend to lean on the mount a lot so over times it moves impereceptably.  I do a drift alignment once a year and while it requires nothing more than an eyepiece with an illuminated reticle, if you do it carefully and thoroughly it will give you the best PA you can get.  I always redo my PA in late November/early December since that is when Orion rises in the evening and will eventually cross the Meridian.  The three belt stars of Orion ,Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka, lie along the Celestial Equator with Mintaka having a declination of just about zero.  These are excellent stars to drift align with and when you are perfectly polar aligned you can use them to check and make sure that the PE of your mount is within specifications..  



#18 Waterobert

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 12:50 AM

It took me sooooooo long due to my lack of abilities not due to limitation of my equipment, lol.

Only excuse I have is that they build Los Angeles under Polaris. When I used PoleMaster first time around 9:30 pm there were only two surrounding stars visible on the screen. Later on, after 10pm all the surrounding stars were there and then it was rather easy. Anyway, nothing was wrong with PoleMaster, maybe I need new laptop with better screen or darker sky. 




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