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Point and track mounts?

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17 replies to this topic

#1 StarAlert

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 11:11 PM

I’m new to this hobby. I’ve been using an Orion Star Seeker IV 150mm reflector for about six months. I’d like to upgrade to a nice refractor (4”-5”) for viewing only. I have no desire to get into AP. The star seeker has a Goto mount, but I’ve never used it because I like finding the target myself. Are there mounts available that allow me to find a target and then track it? 



#2 shaesavage

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Posted 16 August 2019 - 11:46 PM

The Losmandy GM8 will meet your needs. 


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#3 sg6

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 02:22 AM

Yes there are, but getting rare. In the skywatcher range there are EQ5 moiunts that can come without motors etc and you buy a motor set. Then you have tracking but not goto so you find everything. Used to do that on most/all their mounts but now they supply mount with goto, above the EQ5. Leave EQ5 and EQ3-2 that you buy non-goto on and fit ot not.

 

I suspect that soon the EQ5 will only be made available as goto.


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#4 macdonjh

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 12:54 PM

I didn't know the EQ-5 was available without go-to, so I looked at the SkyWatcher website.  They list the AZ-EQ5 (go-to) and the HEQ-5 (Sirius if you want it in black from Orion instead), also go-to.  The problem in trying to use the HEG-5 manually is the clutches aren't really designed to slip, so pushing the mount to the part of the sky you want and then making fine adjustments is difficult.  I had the Sirius and I usually just get close by hand, then use the hand controller and use the motors to center the object I'm interested in.

 

The Losmandy GM-8 shaesavage mentions has clutches designed to slip and is much friendlier to pointing by hand.  I sold my Sirius mount and bought a GM-8.  I just looked at the Losmandy site and they only list the GM-8 with Gemini (go-to).  You may have to work something special with a dealer or Losmandy directly to get a Digital Drive equipped mount.  Without Gemini, a GM-8 might be comparably priced to an HEQ-5.

 

You can also look on the used market.  As has been said, manual German equatorial mounts are getting scarce.



#5 Frank @ Van

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 01:43 PM

The AZ-GTi mount with the SynScan Pro app provides the Point and Track function. You may also attach a SynScan Wi-Fi adapter to the StarSeeker IV to control it with the SynScan Pro app.

 

https://www.telescop...?keyword=Wi-Fi 


Edited by Frank @ Van, 17 August 2019 - 01:43 PM.

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#6 Hesiod

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 02:10 PM

Besides Losmandy GM8, which is probably the best purchase due to its generous payload, reliability, availability of upgrades, there is a number of options

-Japan-made Vixen Advanced Polaris and Vixen SX2 (the former is a wonderful light mount for travels, and the payload is a consequence of this fact)

-Chinese made eq3, eq5, Heq5 SYntrek and Eq6 Syntrek (those could be out of availability) sold under Skywatcher label, and CG4 sold under Celestron brand

-second hand mounts of yore: the easiest to find are Vixen's series of Polaris mount

-all the available star trackers (but obviously their payload is very low)


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#7 *skyguy*

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 02:18 PM

JMI makes the "Train-N-Track™ Motor Drive" for the  "Astro-Tech Voyager mount", "Explore Scientific Twilight I Mount" and the "Vixen Porta Mount, Porta II Mount". These are all manual alt-az mounts. Installing the "Track-N-Train" adds motors to both the altitude axis and the azimuth axis that will track an object after a short training period.

 

 http://www.jimsmobil...y_acc_altaz.htm   ... scroll down to the bottom of the page.


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#8 Spikey131

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 08:53 PM

iOptron AZ Mount Pro.

#9 pdxmoon

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Posted 17 August 2019 - 09:10 PM

JMI makes the "Train-N-Track™ Motor Drive" for the  "Astro-Tech Voyager mount", "Explore Scientific Twilight I Mount" and the "Vixen Porta Mount, Porta II Mount". These are all manual alt-az mounts. Installing the "Track-N-Train" adds motors to both the altitude axis and the azimuth axis that will track an object after a short training period.

 

 http://www.jimsmobil...y_acc_altaz.htm   ... scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Sadly I don’t think these are made any more. I’d love to have one for my Porta ii.



#10 Mattman1701

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 11:53 AM

I also own the StarSeeker IV mount. It will allow you to find the objects yourself then automatically track them, provided you have gone through the simple procedure of setting up the mount to level then performed a two star alignment. Choose the appropriate of the 3 tracking modes: Lunar, Sidereal, or Solar. The mount is rated for 13 lbs. so there are plenty of options for choosing an appropriately sized refractor.
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#11 pdxmoon

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 12:10 PM

I also own the StarSeeker IV mount. It will allow you to find the objects yourself then automatically track them, provided you have gone through the simple procedure of setting up the mount to level then performed a two star alignment. Choose the appropriate of the 3 tracking modes: Lunar, Sidereal, or Solar. The mount is rated for 13 lbs. so there are plenty of options for choosing an appropriately sized refractor.

I'm not sure, but I think a solar system alignment is also available on that mount. It's called "daytime" I think. Similar to Nexstar's SOLAR SYSTEM align. I have the SLT mount and use the moon for a quick alignment and then track the moon for observation. Faster than two star, and the moon is forgiving.



#12 25585

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Posted 19 August 2019 - 12:15 PM

Vixen SX, AP, APZ are all 3 motorised tracking mounts. You can get modular RA and Dec drives.



#13 Chesterguy1

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 01:23 PM

iOptron AZ Mount Pro.

The OP said he preferred tracking, but no GOTO. The big selling point of the AZ Mount Pro is the GOTO and tracking. I do feel that the AZMP is a great mount for the price for strictly visual work.



#14 photoracer18

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 03:49 PM

I also have the Orion SS IV. Learning how to align it for go-to is easier than spending money on something else. I use it as a portable mount and use everything from 80mm APOs to my C5 SCT and my MK67 6" MCT on it. I also use it with wifi and SS6pro on my smartphone. If I just wanted to track I would bring out my dual drive Vixen GP. Polar aligning the GP is not that much less time than go-to aligning the SS IV.


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#15 Mattman1701

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 08:11 PM

Info from Orion:

*Once aligned, dual optical encoders on both axes of motion allow manual aiming of the telescope without losing GoTo alignment.


In other words, it will continue to track after manual movements.

As photoracer18 stated above, learning to level and align this mount is very simple. A quick search at Cloudy Nights will turn up numerous posts that can help you out. I know there is a link to the manual buried somewhere in the forum too.

Good luck!

#16 Don Taylor

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Posted 20 August 2019 - 09:04 PM

I’m new to this hobby. I’ve been using an Orion Star Seeker IV 150mm reflector for about six months. I’d like to upgrade to a nice refractor (4”-5”) for viewing only. I have no desire to get into AP. The star seeker has a Goto mount, but I’ve never used it because I like finding the target myself. Are there mounts available that allow me to find a target and then track it? 

I'm kinda confused by some of the answers in this thread. 

 

I would expect most if not all goto mounts can be used without the goto feature.  I have a Celestron ASGT and mostly use it for tracking only. I set it up and rough polar align by sighting through the polar axis (precise leveling is not necessary), turn it on and do a "quick align" (enter the date and time - no alignment stars). The scope then tracks in RA and tracks well enough for high power visual work.  

 

To point at an object loosen the locks and point the scope (I use an RDF and an optical finder and star-hop). Tighten the locks and then use the RA & DEC arrows on the paddle to center up the object - or to do a scan.

 

Of course you could slew the scope around using the motors but that's noisy and slow. The only thing you lose with a go-to mount is the ability to fit manual slow-motion controls.

 

Something like the Celestron AVX, Meade LX85 or the like should work the same - perhaps someone that has one can comment further

 

I apologize if I'm missing something here - but it looks like there are actually quite a few choices for a mount that allows the observer "to find a target and then track it".


Edited by Don Taylor, 20 August 2019 - 09:19 PM.

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#17 Chesterguy1

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 12:49 PM

I'm kinda confused by some of the answers in this thread. 

 

I would expect most if not all goto mounts can be used without the goto feature.  I have a Celestron ASGT and mostly use it for tracking only. I set it up and rough polar align by sighting through the polar axis (precise leveling is not necessary), turn it on and do a "quick align" (enter the date and time - no alignment stars). The scope then tracks in RA and tracks well enough for high power visual work.  

 

I apologize if I'm missing something here - but it looks like there are actually quite a few choices for a mount that allows the observer "to find a target and then track it".

I made an assumption in my response thinking that the OP was looking for a cheaper alternative than a GOTO because they don't want or need GOTO. Although it's not stated in their post, if that is part of the rationale it would likely rule out the Losmandy GM8. There are lots of alternatives with just tracking, but they tend to be older mounts. I know I sold my venerable Vixen GP on CN Classifieds last year and it only tracked in RA. Probably others that are similarly equipped show up on CN and AM as well.

 

Don is correct that some of the GOTO systems can be used for tracking alone and some are reasonably inexpensive (under $1000 new). It does seem a bit odd to buy GOTO if you only want tracking, then again, you have the GOTO should you want it later.

 

Chesterguy

 

Chesterguy


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#18 Don Taylor

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Posted 21 August 2019 - 06:32 PM

I made an assumption in my response thinking that the OP was looking for a cheaper alternative than a GOTO because they don't want or need GOTO. Although it's not stated in their post, if that is part of the rationale it would likely rule out the Losmandy GM8. There are lots of alternatives with just tracking, but they tend to be older mounts. I know I sold my venerable Vixen GP on CN Classifieds last year and it only tracked in RA. Probably others that are similarly equipped show up on CN and AM as well.

 

Don is correct that some of the GOTO systems can be used for tracking alone and some are reasonably inexpensive (under $1000 new). It does seem a bit odd to buy GOTO if you only want tracking, then again, you have the GOTO should you want it later.

 

Chesterguy

 

Chesterguy

Thanks. My question was not directed at anyone in particular - and I too get frustrated having to pay for GO-TO when I don't want or need it.   I would guess though - the cost of making a popular mount with go-to may not be much different than the cost of making a non go-to mount that sells in much smaller volume.

 

I'm not a big fan of go-to but I have used that capability on occasion.  Actually I prefer a RA drive only and a manual flex-cable Dec slow motion control. Even better would be slip clutches like the older mounts or Losmandy, but those are many more $$$, nice as those are. Learned to star-hop long ago and a good part of the fun has always been finding obscure objects. But nowadays it seems many (most?) want to spend their time looking at - instead of looking for objects. I guess the OP, like me is in the minority these days.

 

There are a few non-go-to mounts available new. Was fortunate to pick up one of the Meade LX-70 mounts from HPS for $200 a few months ago and added the drives. Makes a nice mount for small to medium size scopes for ~$330.  There's also the Sky View Pro and I think you can still get a non go-to drive set but that's getting close to the recent sale price of an AVX (with go-to). 


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