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The Paramount, Astrophysics, 10 Micron mount showdown; please advise.

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#1 SimonIRE

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 08:49 AM

Dear Experts, 

 

This thread has been done before in different forms and guises but I can't seem to get my thinking straight and my lack of AP experience means its difficult to make fine judgements myself. I am at the mercy of the mount oracles. 

 

My question:

 

Specifically given the choice of 1) Paramount MX+, 2) 10 Micron 2000 HPS and 3) AP 1100 goto mount for a permanent pier, what would you pick?

 

Here are the details:

 

1. I am new to AP but I have a new home observatory and prefer to invest now rather than climb the ladder (experience has told me this is the most economical route ultimately)

 

2. I use an Edge 11' for visual and have a small refractor (73mm WO) but will hope to upgrade this soon for AP (perhaps to a 120mm)

 

3. I would like the option to remote it at least some of the time (from my house - only 100mm away) i.e. run the mount while I sleep. 

 

4. Ease of set up and "just works" are very important to me (I am a computer scientist, but I don't want to be debugging problems all the time - enough of that at work)

 

5.  I do want to future proof on capacity; 50kg is probably a bit too much but one step down to the 10 Micron 1000 or MyT and you are in 25kg capacity which leaves you nowhere to grow really - particularly if one day you want a 14' SCT or dual mount with a refractor. 

 

6. As ridiculous as it sounds beauty and craftsmanship actually do mean something to me in my decision making

 

 

The problems:

 

People seem so polarised by this issue and its hard to see the wood for the trees. Customer service is critical and some here seem to have issues with SB while others wax lyrical about them. 10Micron fans rave about its unguided accuracy but thats at short focal lengths and as a colleague has said to me...."guiding really isn't that big of a deal....I am not sure if this should be a big factor in your decision". Although I have no basis to say this, AP mounts seem to have the stature of an elderly statesman; tried and tested beautiful hardware, but perhaps a bit behind software/automation-wise (I may be very wrong about this and if so, tell me). 

 

Ultimately I suspect its hard to get very clear answers because it seems to be quite subjective at this price point - I've have pm'ed a few members and have got very valuable feedback - many thanks to those of you who have helped. 

 

(Also, I haven't mentioned the other issue....the iOptron CEM 120 EC2 seems on paper to equal these 3 at 50% the price here in the UK - this conversation is for another day). 

 

Many thanks for reading this; pros and cons for each mount from experience is what I am after!

 

Best, 

 

Simon


Edited by SimonIRE, 12 July 2019 - 08:52 AM.

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#2 Ares69

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:12 AM

Here my GM2000 HPS II Ultraportable

Operated totally remotely: you WOL it, log into the virtual handpad and that's it

Unguided at 2800mm of FL, and I tipically expose 3-5min

 

pros?

1- beautiful craftsmanship... everything is machined, not a single piece of plastic. Handpad is machined as well. Everything solidly snag in place with a beautiful sound

2- easy setup. Up 100pts modeling with a couple of different third parties free app created by users

3- I have it since 3 years. Never a glitch or a problem. Never

4- I tested unguided for 45min (with a 70-80pts model an 30" PAE and RMS 10" on a tripod at 2800mm FL... 6-7 pixel drift in 45min)

 

cons?

1- no USB or power takeout on the adapter plate. You need to run all cables from the OTA to the pier/tripod level

 

I have no experience with SB, so cant comment if any better/worse

However I am a happy 10u customer

So happy that I have a GM1000 HPS as well with the smaller SVQ100

Attached Thumbnails

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Edited by Ares69, 12 July 2019 - 09:35 AM.

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#3 bobzeq25

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:21 AM

The mount thing is my kind of choice.  None of the three would be a mistake.  Pick what pleases you.

 

I do have two pieces of (more important) advice.  Both relate to the technical complexity of AP of DSOs.

 

Start out with the 73, learn the basic techniques with that.  These include:

 

Setting up (flattener/ reducers, spacers, wiring (wire drag is significant), etc.); precise polar alignment; target selection, acquisition, and framing; precise focus; autoguiding; taking lights, bias, flats, darks; stacking; postprocessing.  You want to use at least some degree of automation, so that's more software to choose and learn.  The choice of SGP versus Voyager (or NINA or...) is significant.

 

You'll learn all this easier and faster (and, I'd say better) with the 73.  Issues will be easier to diagnose.  There will be issues.  <smile>  When you're doing images you like, then is the time to move up.  For the first year the task is learning, not winning Image of the Day.  The 73 is the right tool for that job.

 

Get this book.  This site is fine for specific questions (although you do have to decide which of us clowns to believe <smile>), but books are far better for building your essential knowledge base.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470906

 

This one is better after you have a decent amount of experience, but you might want to get it now.  It has a fine discussion of the relative merits of precision encoders and complex sky modeling (one area where the iOptron is somewhat rudimentary) versus autoguiding.

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/1138055360


Edited by bobzeq25, 12 July 2019 - 09:30 AM.

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#4 psandelle

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:23 AM

I've used all three (in some form or another), and they'll ALL do what you need and they all have superior craftsmanship/looks. I find the modelling algorithm in the 10Microns to be better than the Protrack (Parmounts) or APCC Pro (APs), so that unguided CAN be used at longer focal lengths than just wide-field. I don't find guiding to be any sort of chore, but unguided is "one less thing" to glitch over time (extra cable to go bad, extra camera to go bad). The nice thing is, with 10Microns, you can guide wonderfully as well, so it's not an either/or (like it sometimes seems to be when these things are discussed). BUT...any one of these mounts will do what you need. You might make a list/spreadsheet of the differences between them (through-the-mount for the AP, the usb/power hub on the Paramounts, etc.) and compare and contrast. At this level, it will become personal idiosyncrasies that will end up informing your choice (support is slightly different between all, and you must decide which kind you prefer). Also, you may find that getting these through a reputable dealer might be the telling point (as they may be your #1 go-to support method, and that can make a HUGE difference).

 

I tend to choose the 10Micron, but I wouldn't kick any of these out of bed. It will come down to your own preferences.

 

Paul


Edited by psandelle, 12 July 2019 - 09:24 AM.

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#5 SimonIRE

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:34 AM

Dear All, 

 

This is great - please keep it coming. 

 

One thing I am beginning to feel from advice given is that possibly - quite possibly - encoders are not a requisite at all. In my inexperience, notions about not guiding being important are perhaps making my decision unnecessarily difficult - after all, remote for me will never be more than 100m in my house. If I eliminate that then it sort of comes down more to SB versus AP. 

 

Software user interface and user experience are important to me. 

 

Please keep it coming and feel free to point out my logical flaws. I have no experience with any of these mounts. 

 

Best, 

 

Simon


Edited by SimonIRE, 12 July 2019 - 09:35 AM.

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#6 dhaval

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:37 AM

Hi Simon,

Like others have said, it really comes down your personal preferences. My only thing is, with the exception of 10Micron mounts, you will mostly be guiding, regardless of whether you have encoders or not. The question to ask then is, what is the cost of guiding? Is it, worth paying double for 10Micron mounts as compared to what you will get with non-encoder AP/Paramount, albeit with guiding? Only you can answer that question.

 

But, you can't go wrong with any of these mounts.

 

Also, keep Mesu and ASA mounts in your list for consideration. They are European mounts and really good. In fact, those Mesu mounts can be made to order with absolute encoders and they will be cheaper than 10Micron mounts. 

 

CS! 


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#7 psandelle

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:38 AM

Dear All, 

 

This is great - please keep it coming. 

 

One thing I am beginning to feel from advice given is that possibly - quite possibly - encoders are not a requisite at all. In my inexperience, notions about not guiding being important are perhaps making my decision unnecessarily difficult - after all, remote for me will never be more than 100m in my house. If I eliminate that then it sort of comes down more to SB versus AP. 

 

Software user interface and user experience are important to me. 

 

Please keep it coming and feel free to point out my logical flaws. I have no experience with any of these mounts. 

 

Best, 

 

Simon

You see? You're already making a list and comparing for your personal tastes. grin.gif 

If you're gonna guide and you're only 100m away, encoders are hardly necessary and you probably can't find a difference between with and without. And it's probably cheaper without. And there's another point to put on the list.

 

Paul


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#8 Ares69

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:59 AM

 

 

Get this book.  This site is fine for specific questions (although you do have to decide which of us clowns to believe <smile>), but books are far better for building your essential knowledge base.

 

https://www.amazon.c...d/dp/0999470906

 

This one is better after you have a decent amount of experience, but you might want to get it now.  It has a fine discussion of the relative merits of precision encoders and complex sky modeling (one area where the iOptron is somewhat rudimentary) versus autoguiding.

 

https://www.amazon.c...h/dp/1138055360

I second the books

Learned everything that isnt pure and simple experience from them


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#9 WadeH237

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 10:00 AM

Software user interface and user experience are important to me. 

And this is really what it boils down to.

 

All of the mounts you are considering are more than capable of your mission.  Between these three, it really comes down to personal preference in how you want to use it.

 

And before I mention differences between the 3 in terms of user experience, understand that it is possible run any of them with any software stack, so even the user experience doesn't have to differ that much between them.  What I'll mention below is what the common case is for them.

 

If you want to use the full TheSkyX stack, then the Paramount MX+ is the natural choice.  The AP1100 and the GM2000HPS can also run TheSkyX stack with the exception of ProTrack.  In the case of the AP1600, you would run APCC for your tracking model, and the GM2000HPS has the tracking model built into the mount.

 

If you want to piece together your own software stack, then the AP1100 is a natural choice here.  You'd build everything on top of APCC and the Astro-Physics ASCOM driver.  The Paramount MX+ and GM2000HPS can also work with ASCOM, so they can also do this.  Note that this method is my own personal preference.  I like to be able to run different software stacks, and set them up in the way that I want to work.

 

If you want to do unguided imaging in the field, then the GM2000HPS is probably the best choice.  It has the pointing and tracking model built into the mount, so that you need nothing more than the hand controller and a DSLR to do unguided imaging.  Note that both the AP1100 and MX+ can also to unguided imaging with a tracking model through their own software solutions (which require a computer to run).  The AP uses APCC and the MX+ uses ProTrack.

 

In terms of build quality, they are all exceptional, and personal preference plays in.  My own personal preference is that I like simple.  I feel like the Astro-Physics mounts are the least dependent on technology (what some would call "out of date technology", I would call "tried and true"; the sky doesn't change).  I also find the Astro-Physics mounts to be works of art, where form follows function.  I find them to be a pleasure to work with.  This is not to take anything away from the others.  As I said, they are also exceptional.


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#10 Jeff Struve

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 10:27 AM

I have a Starfire, and only live about 1.5 hr from AP, so I really wanted to go that route... but I really did like the way that Paramount used The Sky for their system... BUT, I ended up with a 10 Micron...

 

  • Seems that getting dual encoders on an AP is quite costly... Stock with the 10M
  • To do a number of things with an AP you need a laptop, the Paramount, I think, requires one... The 10M's HC is basically a hand held computer
  • The power supply on the Paramount, I believe, is 48v rather than the standard 12v
  • I don't need to guide with the 10M... to me, this means less software, less gear on the mount, less power requirement, less cabling, less payload capacity for the mount so the 55lb Imaging capacity of the GM1000hps was plenty for me 

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#11 bobzeq25

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 10:35 AM


 

One thing I am beginning to feel from advice given is that possibly - quite possibly - encoders are not a requisite at all.

I decided that when I got my CEM60 instead of the CEM60EC.  Although the EC is a particularly rudimentary implementation.

 

Still I'd say most of the people who now image unguided started out guiding.  And that's significant.



#12 Lola Bruce

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 11:05 AM

With the SCT you will probably wind up guiding with any mount, the sky is just not that stable hence the need. Once you are guiding the absolute encoders loose much of their luster. All listed are dream mounts.

My own opinion so dismiss if inclined. I would buy the AP 1100 for the following reasons, one of the great mounts, is not limited to one software package (you can change if software deadends or you just don't like it, killer customer support, likely the most stable company over the long haul of mount manufacturers, and consistently considered a mount that gets out of the way of the job at hand. A great many serious long time astrophotographers own and praise this mount, I tend to listen to the actual users not the stats.

Like already stated it's hard to go wrong with any on your list.

 

Bruce



#13 rockstarbill

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:14 PM

None of these. Wait a few months for the Mach2.

https://astro-physics.com/mach2gto

$7500 with encoders and 75 lbs capacity. Releases in the Fall timeframe.
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#14 Peter in Reno

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:15 PM

I don't know the OP's financial situation but he lives in Europe so 10Micron might be the best in terms of prices. Also service would be likely more convenient. Shipping mounts back to USA for service or repair might be price prohibitive. 

 

Peter


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#15 SimonIRE

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:17 PM

Ok folks, this is great.

One more thing: to people who have the AP 1100, what software stack do you use for Astrophotgraphy?

Forgive my ignorance but I’ve sort of got it into my head that purely in terms of software interface, 10 Micron doesn’t have one because it’s in the mount, Paramount is like a Ferrari and Astro-Physics is more like a supremely manufactured, reliable but low tech Land Rover Defender...

Am I wrong? Please keep it coming. This is helping a great deal....
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#16 Peter in Reno

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:21 PM

For example, you can control 10Micron as well as any brands mounts with SGP and ASCOM. I am not sure what you mean by software interface. 

 

Peter 



#17 rockstarbill

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:24 PM

I use Voyager. I currently also use SkyX but that's mostly for controlling my FLI camera since their ascom drivers haven't been released yet. Mount control is APCC Pro.
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#18 SimonIRE

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:35 PM

Hi Peter,
Yes, my apologies. I understand you can control the 10 Micron from your PC.

I think I am trying to dispel the idea that the Astro-physics mounts are to some degree more analogue while the others are digital. I hope that I am making myself understood and be clear - my fumblings here are due to my inexperience. As a computer scientist, I appreciate automation and a good digital interface. Is the Astro-Physics mount in anyway limited in this regard compared to the others?

Please feel free to correct anything I say...

#19 Peter in Reno

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:44 PM

Well, I have A-P1100AE (absolute encoders) and I have to say that their electronics is on par or as modern as other mounts. A-P controller easily works with modern software. Try not to think of A-P mounts as more analog than digital because it does not sound correct. A-P mounts can easily work in remote observatory with the latest and state of the art software. A-P not only has USB and RS232 interfaces but also has ethernet and WiFi as well, how much more modern can you get?

 

Peter 


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#20 SimonIRE

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 12:46 PM

Well, I have A-P1100AE (absolute encoders) and I have to say that their electronics is on par or as modern as other mounts. A-P controller easily works with modern software. Try not to think of A-P mounts as more analog than digital because it does not sound correct. A-P mounts can easily work in remote observatory with the latest and state of the art software. A-P not only has USB and RS232 interfaces but also has ethernet and WiFi as well, how much more modern can you get?

Peter


This is exactly what I needed to hear. Many thanks

#21 WadeH237

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 01:03 PM

One more thing: to people who have the AP 1100, what software stack do you use for Astrophotgraphy?

To control the mount, I use APCC Pro and the ASCOM driver.

 

On top of that, I have two different stacks that I use.

 

My "higher end" stack is:

  • MaxIm/DL 6 for camera control and guiding
  • FocusMax 4 for focus
  • PinPoint 6 (or TheSkyX Pro) for plate solving
  • CCDAutoPilot 5 for automation and rotation
  • TheSkyX Pro for planetarium services (used by CCDAP) and occasional plate solving

 

My "what the cool kids are using" stack is:

  • Sequence Generator Pro for camera control, guiding, focus and plate solving
  • TheSkyX Pro for planetarium services (not as integrated as it is with CCDAP)
  • I've not used my camera rotator with this stack, but SGP can do it

 

Regarding the "analog vs digital" analogy, it's not like that.  All of the above mounts are capable of running any modern stuff.  An example of what I consider the differences can be seen with the AP1100 vs the GM2000HPS.  The AP1100 is a near perfect implementation of the classic GEM design, with the only software enhancement coming from periodic error correction.  Pointing and tracking correction need to come from an attached computer running software.  The Astro-Physics keypad is nothing more than a small computer running planetarium software.  The GM2000HPS delivers exceptional performance, but we don't know how much of this is mechanical precision and how much is electronics and encoders.  Everything is done between the mount's electronics and the hand controller.  Note that this is a totally academic question because they both deliver the end result.


Edited by WadeH237, 12 July 2019 - 01:03 PM.


#22 OldManSky

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:24 PM

None of these. Wait a few months for the Mach2.

https://astro-physics.com/mach2gto

$7500 with encoders and 75 lbs capacity. Releases in the Fall timeframe.

Great choice.  Trouble is...releases in the Fall timeframe with a 2-year waiting list (I'm guessing about the length of the list, but I'm confident I'm not far off).  And since it's new, no used ones available.

 

Of the three in the OP's post, I've used none.  I have owned.used an AP900GTO.  Wonderful mount.  Everything worked out of the box.  The ASCOM driver is, essentially, THE standard ASCOM driver -- meaning (as already mentioned) it'll work with pretty much anything.  And the AP1100 is the same except a bit larger.

 

Same caveat applies, though:  new ones mean waiting a long time on the list.  Used is the only option, and they can be hard to find.

Good luck.



#23 SimonIRE

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:54 PM

But there are several US dealers that have the AP 1100 in stock and possibly one in Europe...

For sure, no doubt the Mach 2 is not going to be available to anyone other than the AP Illuminati for a few years...

Edited by SimonIRE, 12 July 2019 - 02:54 PM.


#24 Peter in Reno

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 03:01 PM

If you get the A-P1100, you can always and easily add absolute encoders later. It's so easy to install absolute encoders in A-P mounts.

 

Peter


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#25 ArkabPriorSol

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 03:05 PM

I have not used a Paramount or 10Micron, but I can 100% vouch for Astro-Physics. I have an AP1200GTO that's been housed in a remote observatory for over a year now. The remote observatory is a 6 hour drive away from me. It has been 100% rock solid reliable, absolutely no complaints. 

 

I'm also a software engineer, and I totally get you on not wanting to deal with software bugs outside of work! APCC Pro and PemPro are very simple and easy to use. 

 

Best of all --> Astro-Physics customer support is probably the best support I've ever experienced with an astronomy product. You can call them up, get a real person on the phone instantly, and their technical engineers will guide your through whatever problem you might be having, even if it takes hours. They'll even remote desktop into your machine to fix whatever the issue might be.  


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