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What does "premium" mean when referring to mounts?

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#126 EFT

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:09 PM

...

 

One question crossed my mind - for people who have "premium" mounts (10Micron, AP, SB and so on): do you ever get bored

 

Bored in a sense - if you don't have to do anything to your mount or telescope (except some regular care), and had years of imaging (and only imaging)... do you miss some "fiddling"? 

 

I mean - one thing that motivates me now is drive to improve. Basically - I want to reach the level of everything - where only thing that's left for me is to point my telescope and start collecting photons. But once that happens, and I get most of the images I wanted (in triplicate) ... then what? smile.gif  Ok, buying a new telescope or new mount, but I guess I'd have less reason to do so then. That kind of worries me regarding "premium" mounts. 

I love to fiddle with things.  Thankfully, get a fair amount of that out of my system by working on mounts all the time and building systems centered on the mount.  Getting a kind of mount that I have never worked on before is its own little adventure.  As a result, I'm OK with not tearing apart a premium mount just for the fun of it.  I don't get out with my mount(s) very often, but when I do, I absolutely don't want to have to tinker to get things working.  I just want it to be there and work when I turn it on, without tinkering, every time.  That way the only messing around I have to do is related to the things that I screw up.  I enjoy watching it do its thing without much intervention from me and that makes it a marvel.  That is why I personally use a premium mount, even though I could do without it based on my use.


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#127 guyroch

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:22 PM

Bored?  Nope... we just have more time to learn PixInsight :)


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#128 Waldemar

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:12 AM

I love to fiddle with things.  Thankfully, get a fair amount of that out of my system by working on mounts all the time and building systems centered on the mount.  Getting a kind of mount that I have never worked on before is its own little adventure.  As a result, I'm OK with not tearing apart a premium mount just for the fun of it.  I don't get out with my mount(s) very often, but when I do, I absolutely don't want to have to tinker to get things working.  I just want it to be there and work when I turn it on, without tinkering, every time.  That way the only messing around I have to do is related to the things that I screw up.  I enjoy watching it do its thing without much intervention from me and that makes it a marvel.  That is why I personally use a premium mount, even though I could do without it based on my use.

I can totally relate to that... I love to make everything work better, tidier and easier even when it is not really neccessary. 
I think that is a very nice part of the hobby and maybe the workings of a twisted mind, called perfectionism.

Elas there is nothing I can do about my sophisticated, high end ASA mount... it is perfect already (for me)

 

Thanks for starting this thread, ED. It turned out to be very educational and fun at the same time!
Conclusion: Premium is in the mind of the beholder...



#129 Wildetelescope

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 06:14 AM

Stelios:

As for performance--not talking about iOptron specifically here, but although I keep hearing stories from people how well their mounts guide, somehow glimpsed PhD2 curves tell a different story. It's easy to get 0.4" guiding on a calm night and one object, but how's the average on windy nights (portable) for ALL objects one images for a year? PEC is only one part of that. And dropped frames do depend on people's tolerance. Some require 0.42 FWHM, some require 0.48 and some will eagerly stack 0.6 smile.gif

 

JMD:

   And some of us never bother to measure FWHM:-).  Seriously, you make really good points.  How you use the mount really determines what you are going to need, and whether you will notice more subtle aspects of performance.  This is true for ANY brand.   There a folks doing wonderful imaging with EQ6s, as we all know.  It just takes a bit more effort.  It is interesting, we could easily be having the same argument about the eQ8, and the CEM 120 EC I know several folks with EQ8’s that are happy as clams, and take great images.  And it is considerably less expensive than the CEM 120 EC  For the CASUAL user, that gets out 10-20 times a year or so, images at 1000mm or less, is not worried about FWHM of Stars or collecting 20 hours of data on one object, differences in mounts costing >3k are more subtle, than say the difference between an AVX and a GM8 or ATLAS pro.  Setting aside QC issues,  they will all give you a native PE that is easy to guide for scopes under 2000mm focal length in average conditions, they will all handle a reasonable payload for which they are spec’d.  Once you start pushing the envelope on weight, focal length, star shape, remote use, environment, etc... then things start to separate out a bit more.  I keep going back to understanding ones own expectations with regard to price/performance is the most important criteria for happiness with gear. There is no one answer fits all.  That is why I agree with Ed’s recommendation to buy what you can afford and learn how to get the most out of it that you possibly can.  Once you reach that point, you will really be in a position to determine what the next upgrade will be, or if it is even needed.  

 

Cheers 

 

jmd


Edited by Wildetelescope, 12 July 2019 - 06:15 AM.


#130 rgsalinger

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 11:27 AM

Remote use seems to come up over and over again as something that requires certain vanity mount brands. I run a bunch of remote systems, and they do not require any particular brand or brands of mount. What they require are a few specific characteristics with regards to the remote mount's capabilities:

 

1. The mount must be able to start back up after a power failure. You need an actual power button that "stays pressed". There's no one around to push the power button at 2AM.

 

2. The mount must be able to locate itself either with encoders or by some form of homing at start up, when lost, after a computer or after a power failure. There's no on around to physically move the mount to some home position. 

 

3. The mount must be able to save itself if there is a computer or network failure while tracking or slewing - it must have built into the firmware limits. There's no one around to prevent the mount from slewing into the pier.

 

There's a lot more to a successful remote site but the mount's actual requirements are pretty trivial. Most of the less expensive mounts and their associated software do not have these capabilities. That makes them unsuitable for remote use. These are just features, though, and have nothing to do with certain brands of mounts or the "premium" moniker. 

 

While reliability is critical, without the above characteristics you have a mess no matter who makes it. Each of the mounts I use remotely have these features but they are implemented differently. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#131 555aaa

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:48 PM

I think maybe one conclusion of this thread is that there are ever more options for high performing telescope mounts. So it raises an issue which is that many of the "premium" telescope / observatory control programs don't allow you to take advantage of that performance. I specifically am referring to variable rate tracking or sometimes called fine tracking or offset tracking, which allows the mount to move at an adjustable but slow offset rate in each axis, relative to sidereal. It's pretty common in these programs to have atmospheric correction and also to have a means by which the polar misalignment is known. Those two and the refraction correction are the main parameters you need to know to use offset tracking (flexure terms are the other ones that change but I believe that polar alignment terms tend to dominate, plus it makes the criticality of polar alignment a lot less esp in portable setups). The current "state of the art" is that each mount provider has to compute this internally, but to make the measurements, it has to be controlled externally, and then all these solutions are proprietary. It doesn't need to be that way; a planetarium program CAN drive the mount, capture the images needed to do modeling, and then use the modeling with variable rate tracking for ASCOM controlled mounts. If someone knows of planetarium programs that do that, I'd like to know. OK rant over.



#132 Wildetelescope

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 03:05 PM

Remote use seems to come up over and over again as something that requires certain vanity mount brands. I run a bunch of remote systems, and they do not require any particular brand or brands of mount. What they require are a few specific characteristics with regards to the remote mount's capabilities:

 

1. The mount must be able to start back up after a power failure. You need an actual power button that "stays pressed". There's no one around to push the power button at 2AM.

 

2. The mount must be able to locate itself either with encoders or by some form of homing at start up, when lost, after a computer or after a power failure. There's no on around to physically move the mount to some home position. 

 

3. The mount must be able to save itself if there is a computer or network failure while tracking or slewing - it must have built into the firmware limits. There's no one around to prevent the mount from slewing into the pier.

 

There's a lot more to a successful remote site but the mount's actual requirements are pretty trivial. Most of the less expensive mounts and their associated software do not have these capabilities. That makes them unsuitable for remote use. These are just features, though, and have nothing to do with certain brands of mounts or the "premium" moniker. 

 

While reliability is critical, without the above characteristics you have a mess no matter who makes it. Each of the mounts I use remotely have these features but they are implemented differently. 

 

Rgrds-Ross

Thanks Ross!  I would consider that a very important set of criteria for an uber mount:-)  Notice I did not use the P word:-) 



#133 Tonk

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 04:52 PM

 

Thanks Ross!  I would consider that a very important set of criteria for an uber mount:-)  Notice I did not use the P word:-)

 

Uber mounts require a phone app - else they ignore you


Edited by Tonk, 12 July 2019 - 06:05 PM.

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#134 Stephen Kennedy

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 05:23 PM

My intent for this thread was actually not to define "premium", but I should have realized that it would have to become part of the discussion.  My intent was to come up with a term that is easier to use and does not bring with it the negative connotations associated with the word "premium," in particular, cost, while also avoiding the "my mount is premium and yours isn't" arguments that should generally be restricted to individual threads or off-line discussions.  I specifically point to negative connotations or cost because the cost to the consumer is not an indication of quality.  Consumer cost is simply a result of the cost of materials, the costs of design, development and engineering, the cost of machining, the costs associated with QA/QC, etc.  If any or all of those costs is significantly raised, lowered, or eliminated, through any number of methods (e.g., development of new manufacturing technology), the cost to the customer might be adjusted with no positive or negative effect on the quality of the product produced.  A poorly designed or manufactured product, regardless of it's consumer cost, is simply a poor product.  For example, in a small business, you frequently don't charge for your time, or you devalue your time, and instead, you charge for the value of the product to the consumer.  You "donate" your time to the business or to the product.  The cost to the consumer is not necessarily a measure of anything.  Whether or not you decide to include a substantial measure of the value of your time into the cost of a product or service or not, the resulting change in the cost to the consumer really shouldn’t provide the consumer with a better or worse product under these conditions (although there are certainly examples where it has).  It is merely a business decision.

Ed,

 

I do not think it is just mounts, it seems that a large number of producers of astronomy related products in the U.S. are one man or small family owned and operated entities.  The problem with this is there are often no clear and realistic plans to continue the business once the key person(s) retire or die.  I realize this is not a concern confined to small businesses, look at all of the Meade orphan products or my own case where Ricoh, which now owns Pentax, has made it clear it will not service my Pentax mount.  But in the case of one man or family businesses it is almost inevitable that the lifespan of the business will be limited.  For example, it has not been possible to obtain a new Alvan Clarke refractor in over 100 years.  In another case of mine, I purchased several years ago a Rainbow Optics spectroscope which was a one man operation.  He has apparently retired and the business no longer exists.  Fortunately, this is not a product that would ever need to be serviced.  Premium mirrors are another product that are produced by one man or small business where once the product is made the only service it will ever need is recoating which does not have to be done by the original mirror maker.

 

Mounts, even premium one, however, are products that often need to be serviced at some time after purchase and it usually has to be done by the maker. if my Pentax mount ever needed service I am virtually certain there is no one in the U.S. and maybe a couple of entities in Japan that could do it.  I would love to purchase a new modern mount and I have to admit that this thread has made me feel a little uneasy.  A mass market mount might be nothing but trouble right out of the box while with a premium mount there are concerns about the longevity of entity that made it.  Maybe that I  am now 68 years old and with my two sons and all nephews and nieces uninterested in Astronomy, worrying about the longevity of companies like Losmandy, AP and SB does not make the same sense that it did when I purchased my Pentax mount when I was in my thirties.


Edited by Stephen Kennedy, 12 July 2019 - 05:29 PM.

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#135 strelnikoff

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 07:07 PM

Ed,

 

I do not think it is just mounts, it seems that a large number of producers of astronomy related products in the U.S. are one man or small family owned and operated entities.  The problem with this is there are often no clear and realistic plans to continue the business once the key person(s) retire or die.  I realize this is not a concern confined to small businesses, look at all of the Meade orphan products or my own case where Ricoh, which now owns Pentax, has made it clear it will not service my Pentax mount.  But in the case of one man or family businesses it is almost inevitable that the lifespan of the business will be limited.  For example, it has not been possible to obtain a new Alvan Clarke refractor in over 100 years.  In another case of mine, I purchased several years ago a Rainbow Optics spectroscope which was a one man operation.  He has apparently retired and the business no longer exists.  Fortunately, this is not a product that would ever need to be serviced.  Premium mirrors are another product that are produced by one man or small business where once the product is made the only service it will ever need is recoating which does not have to be done by the original mirror maker.

 

Mounts, even premium one, however, are products that often need to be serviced at some time after purchase and it usually has to be done by the maker. if my Pentax mount ever needed service I am virtually certain there is no one in the U.S. and maybe a couple of entities in Japan that could do it.  I would love to purchase a new modern mount and I have to admit that this thread has made me feel a little uneasy.  A mass market mount might be nothing but trouble right out of the box while with a premium mount there are concerns about the longevity of entity that made it.  Maybe that I  am now 68 years old and with my two sons and all nephews and nieces uninterested in Astronomy, worrying about the longevity of companies like Losmandy, AP and SB does not make the same sense that it did when I purchased my Pentax mount when I was in my thirties.

I’ve heard similar concerns, regrading AP specifically. Perhaps someone will buy the business, or it just may go the way of Dodo. But, in good ole capitalism, where there is a demand, there will always be someone to answer it. Also, from an engineering perspective, technology is moving forward. 10 years from now, well... who knows, maybe some of the mass producers will find the way to incorporate all performance elements of current premium brands - into a cheaper product.

 

I wish - just for that reason - that import taxes on 10Micron and Avalon were lower. Primaluce too - they seem like a companies with some form of continuity, and they don’t revolve around one or two people. 

 

Regardless, today I wouldn’t blink about buying AP mount or SB... even if they are not around in 10-15 years. 

 

As for iOptron, and CEM60 I’m looking at as a next step, one thing I don’t like is - it feels like the company counts on iterations and improvements for future (as a business model). Which means - in few years I would start looking for an upgrade... so, I may as well save for a premium thing and skip incremental bettering then, only learning will be - how to use it.


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#136 EFT

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 07:55 PM

Off topic, but duty on imports isn't terrible at 8% compared to just about anyplace else where VAT can be almost 20% or more.  What is really beginning to be a substantial issue is shipping cost which can end up being just as much as duty while being a lot more variable and not government controlled.


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#137 Ed Wiley

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:05 PM

The premium future? IMO our premium GEMs will be replaced by the likes of the PlaneWave L-series mounts (the L350 is already in the $10K range plus shipping). We may not have to worry about "aging" technologies. They and the companies that skilled craftsmen and engineers worked so hard to  provide for our community may disappear, much to my regret. New generations of amateur astronomers may worry if they can afford this new generation of premium mounts and worry whether to mount them in EQ or Alt-Az modes. They will also have to learn the ins and outs of how to optimize them. Vacuum tubes -->transistors-->chips. Vinyl -->tape -->CD --> digital. Gears -->Direct Drive. Of course, they will have their own quirks, but doesn't everything? And. of course, many will stick to the old and proven technologies and tout their superiority to the newfangled stuff. And that is perfectly OK with me. 

 

Ed


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#138 WadeH237

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 11:32 PM

I’ve heard similar concerns, regrading AP specifically. Perhaps someone will buy the business, or it just may go the way of Dodo.

They have made it clear that they have a transition plan for when Roland retires, at least for the mount business.


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#139 rockstarbill

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 11:48 PM

They have made it clear that they have a transition plan for when Roland retires, at least for the mount business.

Better than that, he doesn't block the build process of mounts at all. They have a production floor full of engineers building them.

Sometimes I think CN believes Roland sits in a corner, like Smeagol, making his precious. While the optics all go through him, his team of engineers build mounts.

Edited by rockstarbill, 12 July 2019 - 11:55 PM.

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#140 strelnikoff

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 02:31 AM

The premium future? IMO our premium GEMs will be replaced by the likes of the PlaneWave L-series mounts (the L350 is already in the $10K range plus shipping). We may not have to worry about "aging" technologies. They and the companies that skilled craftsmen and engineers worked so hard to  provide for our community may disappear, much to my regret. New generations of amateur astronomers may worry if they can afford this new generation of premium mounts and worry whether to mount them in EQ or Alt-Az modes. They will also have to learn the ins and outs of how to optimize them. Vacuum tubes -->transistors-->chips. Vinyl -->tape -->CD --> digital. Gears -->Direct Drive. Of course, they will have their own quirks, but doesn't everything? And. of course, many will stick to the old and proven technologies and tout their superiority to the newfangled stuff. And that is perfectly OK with me. 

 

Ed

Let’s not stop there  - one day people will have access to telescope satellites in Earths orbit... so they will be able to use/rent time... or they may as well launch their own sat-scopes ... no more light pollution filters



#141 SimonIRE

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 06:19 AM

What do you mean, LOL.  Here is my "premium" mount in the Atacama Desert in Chile.  It's a 10Micron GM2000HPS.  I have had this mount for about 5 years now and it has never needed support.  The telescope is a TEC140mm.

 

attachicon.gif TEC140 (2).jpg

 

And here is the view tonight from the small webcam looking up the mount/telescope/Chilean skies.  I'm sitting in the comfort of my home in Canada and I'm imaging in Chile.  A premium mount, regardless of brand, must/should/be as reliable as they can be.  A minor issue would literally mean a trip around the world... can't do that... so premium it must be.

 

attachicon.gif Capture.PNG

 

 

Guylain

 

I'm sorry, but that is just one of the coolest things I have seen recently. 

 

I am right now, literally about to pull the trigger on a 10 Micron 2000 HPS but the safety is being held in place by the thought of an A-P 1100 GTO. 

 

Nice problem to have, but photos like this combined with the "imaging in Chile and being in Canada" just ooze reliability.

 

[Spoken as a newcomer to the world of top drawer mounts]



#142 Ed Wiley

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 09:18 AM

Let’s not stop there  - one day people will have access to telescope satellites in Earths orbit... so they will be able to use/rent time... or they may as well launch their own sat-scopes ... no more light pollution filters

Well Shucks, and here I was, trying to be serious. :)

Ed



#143 strelnikoff

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 04:15 PM

Well Shucks, and here I was, trying to be serious. smile.gif

Ed

Me too, I have just formed it in a joke I’m not talking about the flying car hopes from 1950s, even though people surely thought the technology will be available. It may as well happen one day. Or - imagine this: there are several dedicated telescopes in space, and some “old” ones are nearly obsolete by standards of 2030-2040 or so. And let say NASA or ESA are about to drop one ... burn ‘em in the atmosphere. All that’s needed is an idea and few enthusiastic advocates for NASA or ESA or... to allow “public” to gather the photons. For publicity reasons perhaps... they could say “next six months or a year, here you go - then we’re burning it”.

I could go on  one AP on the Moon, two 10Micron’s on ISS (not practical) etc. 

 

while I’m daydreaming here, I am planning a purchase of 10Micron mount. I hope mr. Musk won’t mess-up the skies too much with those thousands of boxes in the orbit.



#144 strelnikoff

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Posted 14 July 2019 - 04:18 PM

The premium future? IMO our premium GEMs will be replaced by the likes of the PlaneWave L-series mounts (the L350 is already in the $10K range plus shipping). We may not have to worry about "aging" technologies. They and the companies that skilled craftsmen and engineers worked so hard to  provide for our community may disappear, much to my regret. New generations of amateur astronomers may worry if they can afford this new generation of premium mounts and worry whether to mount them in EQ or Alt-Az modes. They will also have to learn the ins and outs of how to optimize them. Vacuum tubes -->transistors-->chips. Vinyl -->tape -->CD --> digital. Gears -->Direct Drive. Of course, they will have their own quirks, but doesn't everything? And. of course, many will stick to the old and proven technologies and tout their superiority to the newfangled stuff. And that is perfectly OK with me. 

 

Ed

Direct drive relies on elastic properties of metals? I have to get familiar with this. Metals are cool and elastic but they also fatigue... have you heard anything about the performance and reliability?




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