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Mount Dilemma...

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#1 mmalik

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:19 AM

Let's admit it, when it comes to mounts, we have a serious dilemma if not a serious problem. Add the astro-photography (AP) to the equation and things get complex.

 

 

I have been looking for a decent AP (astro-photography) mount that I don't have to guide and have nothing but gone around in circles.

 

 

Goal of this discussion is simple... finding a decent 'medium' format mount that doesn't break the bank (semi-premium), is NOT entry level either, one that can be easily used for imaging as well as visual and last but not least, one that doesn't need to be guided, hence easy to setup and tear down as needed. I know that's asking for too much but I feel it should be achievable given today's technology.

 

 

Of course the discussion is going to bring up vendors and I would request admins to let the discussion happen since problems can't just be brushed under the rug. People have spent ton of money on some of the vendor technologies only to spend night after night troubleshooting mounts and/or conducting PE research projects instead of using them.

 

 

I don't think it really matters if you are taking the (medium format) mount to the backyard, taking it 100 miles away to a dark site or bolting down as long as it just works.

 

 

Let the discussion started...

 

 

Note: I come from AP (astro-photography) background and can surely offer assistance in that regard in exchange for your insights into mounts and your contribution to this discussion


Edited by mmalik, 17 September 2019 - 09:24 AM.


#2 rgsalinger

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 09:27 AM

Not clear at all when you say "doesn't need to be guided". The only mounts that can make that claim (or seem to) are the 10Micron mounts which cost 10K. My own recommendation for a mid priced mount is the Orion/Skywatcher EQ6R. I've seen two of these lately and they leave little to be desired and can be had for 1500 dollars. So, that would be my recommendation.

Rgrds-Ross


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#3 Astrojensen

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:28 AM

Unguided, okay, but at what focal length? Getting a mount that can do unguided long exposures at 50mm focal length is easy... 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#4 spokeshave

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:32 AM

I agree with others. You need to better define "doesn't need to be guided". If you mean a mount that can image all parts of the sky at moderate to long focal lengths without the need for guiding and produce images consistently free of drift of any kind, your choices are fairly limited and none of the options would qualify as "semi-premium" regardless of how that's defined.

 

tim



#5 Ed Wiley

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 10:49 AM

Even my "premium" Mach1 and AP900 need guiding at the FL I usually use, except for my 80 mm and camera lenses. My advice: buy used "premium." Both of the mounts I mention come up for sale used. I bought both of mine used from sellers with excellent feedback. Both have performed flawlessly, including the AP900 remotely. I give this advice after going through a series of good mounts and finally ending up with mounts that performed to my expectations. Your expectations, goals and aspirations may never change; if so then a "premium" mount may not be suitable for your needs. But if you really want something for AP that needs minimal guiding and mostly "free of drift" and you are on a limited budget (like me), then the above mentioned mounts should be seriously considered.

 

Ed


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#6 TOMDEY

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 11:00 AM

That's actually the generic dilemma we all have --- in every aspect of life. Want something very good, easy to use... and cheap! Unfortunately, it's much like 3-choice dilemma so often discussed in business schools... and real life!

 

A couple of decades ago, some Business 101 Einsteins came out with such initiative slogans as "Faster, Better, Cheaper", Six Sigma, Kaizen etc. etc. every one of them fatally-flawed, because they violate the theorem at top. Credit me with this slogan >>>

 

You can't fool Mother Nature, and you can't fool Human Nature!    Tom

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#7 Hesiod

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 11:14 AM

Given the fact that there are excellent stand-alone guiders, and plenty of OAG adapters for those who do not want to use a guidescope, I do not think that the guiding equipment necessarily adds much in term of time to set up/tear down, or weight.

The only circumstance I could think of when getting rid off the guide would noticeably improve portability and reduce the time required to be ready to shot is that of star trackers

Furthermore, having the guide at hand brings also the benefit of fast and very accurate alignement to the pole independent from the visibility of Polaris


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#8 Stephen Kennedy

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 07:33 PM

I can get good 200" unguided images with my Mikage Newtonian with an aperture of 210 mm and focal length of 1,623 mm on my Pentax MS-5 GEM.  However, this was an $8,000 mount when I purchased while stationed in Japan in 1988.  Pentax no longer makes telescopes or mounts and less than 100 MS-5 GEMs were ever built and they never appear on the used market in either the U.S. or Japan.  Also, it does not have goto which I am also looking for now for AP.  The new Vixen AXD-2 GEM looks interesting and should be able to do at least 90" unguided exposures at a 1,500 mm focal length but it is on the expensive side. 



#9 Devonshire

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 07:50 PM

mmalik,

 

You didn't say *why* you wanted an unguided mount, or what FL and exposure length you wanted to go unguided *at*.  You've been around here long enough that I think you're just having fun. :-)

 

Like many newbies here, I equated *unguided* tracking performance with the quality of the mount and took it as a predictor of eventual *guided* performance.  Turned out not to be the case for me and my mount.  For me, unguided is a waste of time, and guided is very reliable.

 

Having learned that, I'm fine with it.  But if I did want an unguided mount, I'd look at the (very expensive, at least for me) TDM system as an add-on to the mount of my choice.  Serious encoders and corrections...

 

- Bob


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#10 mmalik

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 02:18 AM

Thanks all.

 

 

Of course by "doesn't need to be guided" I meant the way you all have understood, mounts that don't require guiding at 'medium' FLs. Let's stick to the generic term 'medium format' for defining anything and everything that's not extreme for this discussion.

 

 

All of your points are valid but I am looking for some convergence since we have all been there, done that when it comes to guiding. I feel technology is at a point where having affordable quality mounts that don't require guiding at 'medium' FLs should be achievable. Bob said it right but then he negated himself very quickly by saying "like many newbies"; why so? I am of the view, after long history of guiding, that not requiring guiding ought to be the quality criteria for a mount regardless of whether one still decides to guide or not.

 

 

To give you all an example; just look at all the thesis level PE experiments happening in the mounts forum and you all know which vendor I am talking about. Those '***##' mounts would have been a success story what we all desire in terms of pricing and acceptable quality had the manufacturer simply done their homework.

 

 

On the flip side, how sadistic a manufacture has to be to NOT fix the very solvable problems, sell defective mounts to the masses, and NOT try to beat all those so called 'premium' peddlers.

 

 

My point is simple; guiding may be simple but it is a burden (...I call it evil) nonetheless when you are out there close to getting your fingers frost bitten, and the rubber cables getting as hard as steel. Not just that, not having to guide takes lot of complexity out of the way, no matter how easy guiding itself may end up being. Same goes for the polar aligning, and the AP task list goes on.

 

 

I am NOT trying to single out guiding here; all I am trying to say is we simply don't have mounts that are decently priced and can moderately deliver out of the box. And I am NOT for so called high end mounts mounts that cost as much as a car in the name of 'expensive to make' logic.

 

 

I know I am covering lot of ground here, but I'll try to break it all down in coming posts. In the meantime keep it coming; trust me, we are all on the same page with this. Regards


Edited by mmalik, 18 September 2019 - 03:26 AM.

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#11 schmeah

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 05:37 AM

This should be a very interesting and contentious discussion. But I’m not sure what the goal of the thread is. I’m fairly certain that no mount with your requirements (medium format/expense, capable of unguided performance at medium focal length) exists. Also you haven’t exposure length. Are you asking why they don’t exist? Are you looking for someone to prove that they have the singular exception? And of course most agree that guiding isn’t any more “evil” than meridian flip management or any one of a number of other requirements that we all take for granted, and that don’t equate with mount quality.

 

Derek


Edited by schmeah, 18 September 2019 - 05:38 AM.

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#12 Fernando134

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:51 AM

Even my "premium" Mach1 and AP900 need guiding at the FL I usually use, except for my 80 mm and camera lenses. My advice: buy used "premium." Both of the mounts I mention come up for sale used. I bought both of mine used from sellers with excellent feedback. Both have performed flawlessly, including the AP900 remotely. I give this advice after going through a series of good mounts and finally ending up with mounts that performed to my expectations. Your expectations, goals and aspirations may never change; if so then a "premium" mount may not be suitable for your needs. But if you really want something for AP that needs minimal guiding and mostly "free of drift" and you are on a limited budget (like me), then the above mentioned mounts should be seriously considered.

 

Ed

""I give this advice after going through a series of good mounts and finally ending up with mounts that performed to my expectations."" Ed said all +++1!



#13 mmalik

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 07:56 AM

While I always had a dilemma with the mounts, my recent dilemma started as I started looking at a medium format mount that I could use for all purposes, imaging from the backyard, taking to a dark site if needed, visual observing if needed, etc. Something that wasn't necessarily compact but something that I would be able to setup and tear down with some level of ease. We all know short of building a dedicated observatory with a massive mount inside, all mounts generally fall in that 'medium format' category and that's what makes sense for most of us in whatever capacity we may choose to use 'em.

 

 

I was simply dumb founded by the recent state of affairs with the mounts; mounts that were untouchable few years ago had gotten even more untouchable to the point where one starts wondering why not buy that new car instead give and take few grand. Same was the situation with the medium format ones, issues that existed many years ago were still being hotly debated and zealously worked on, and on the same vendors and their mounts. I am simply at a loss for buying a medium format mount, for one reason or another.

 

 

There is not a single medium mount out there that looks elegant and works elegant and is in medium price range. Buy one and you are asking for a troubleshooting project of massive proportions night after night instead of imaging or observing. If you want something that looks elegant and works elegant and one that works out of the box then you are looking to apply for that line of credit on your home equity. It doesn't have to be this way.

 

 

Story doesn't end there, vendors are simply selling junk when it comes to actual performance. And most vendors are not far from being close to that elegant mark. All they need is put some effort into their medium offerings and things will be just fine. But they are neither doing that nor we as consumers are stopping to buy them in hopes of 'things would have gotten better by now' compared to what they used to be years ago in terms of mount performance. At least I started looking at mounts with that mindset this time around (...that things would have gotten better by now).

 

 

Where does this dilemma go? Do we sit and wait until mount manufacturers get their act together or do we sit and wait until so called 'expensive to make' premiums get hit with something on their head and start producing those premiums in somewhat larger quantities and somewhat sane prices? I hope I have defined the dilemma part at least. Regards


Edited by mmalik, 18 September 2019 - 08:01 AM.


#14 DeanS

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:17 AM

And what is medium price range?

 

Cheap mounts are $2k and high end mounts $17-20k.

 

So a medium price is around $8-10k.

 

Sounds like a lot of mounts fit your requirements.

 

MyT. MX, Mach2, AP1100, Micron, etc.

 

Our market is not large enough to get much lower in prices, and maintain the quality you ask for.

 

Would certainly be interesting to find our just how many high end mounts are sold each year world wide, bet not a large number. 500, 1000, 2000?  Unlike cars that are made daily by the 1000's.


Edited by DeanS, 18 September 2019 - 08:19 AM.


#15 schmeah

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:23 AM

Still not sure I understand. Is this no longer about unguided performance as the benchmark or the other difficult to define things you mention above, ie elegance (looks and performance)?

 

Derek



#16 Hesiod

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:49 AM

Maybe it is just me, but feel it is no so clear what "medium price" means.
In my opinion brands such as Losmandy or Vixen qualify, not that because are necessarily more accurate than Skywatcher, iOptron, etc...but because have some features making my life easier.
Also, while shooting unguided may have some advantage, those wane rather easily (e.g. pc to control the camera or to plate-solve, very heavy or large mount/optics, need for extremely accurate PA, PEC training, etc...); in most case would be just faster and easier to spend a couple of minutes to start the guide.


Even if some brands would start selling mounts capable of 300" at 1arcsec/pixel through sheer mechanical accuracy or factory-loaded "PEC", there would be the issue of PA...I have the feeling that the "revolution" will come more likely from cameras and softwares: as their capabilities grow, likewise the needs for really long exposures will shrink, and, as consequence, the need for extremely accurate tracking/PA

#17 dr.who

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:11 AM

Yep. Need to define the following:

 

Medium price. This can vary greatly.

Medium focal length. This too can vary greatly.

 

Put some parameters around these please. 


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#18 droe

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:20 AM

I have gotten 6min unguided subs from my CGX. Most people here would not consider a CGX as part of this conversation but 6min unguided subs and I am happy. Maybe I got the only good one. Its easy to setup, I can transport it, aligns quickly, easy to use; what requirements are you looking for?

 

Whatever label others put one your mount it does not matter; either your happy with it or your not. Same is true for anything else in life.


Edited by droe, 18 September 2019 - 11:21 AM.


#19 schmeah

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:28 AM

I have gotten 6min unguided subs from my CGX. Most people here would not consider a CGX as part of this conversation but 6min unguided subs and I am happy. Maybe I got the only good one. Its easy to setup, I can transport it, aligns quickly, easy to use; what requirements are you looking for?

 

Whatever label others put one your mount it does not matter; either your happy with it or your not. Same is true for anything else in life.

Why would a CGX not be part of this conversation, since it's not been defined yet what a medium range mount is? But anyone can "get" a 6 minute unguided sub. Don't you have to define what an acceptable result is?

 

Derek



#20 Raginar

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:31 AM

While I always had a dilemma with the mounts, my recent dilemma started as I started looking at a medium format mount that I could use for all purposes, imaging from the backyard, taking to a dark site if needed, visual observing if needed, etc. Something that wasn't necessarily compact but something that I would be able to setup and tear down with some level of ease. We all know short of building a dedicated observatory with a massive mount inside, all mounts generally fall in that 'medium format' category and that's what makes sense for most of us in whatever capacity we may choose to use 'em.

 

 

I was simply dumb founded by the recent state of affairs with the mounts; mounts that were untouchable few years ago had gotten even more untouchable to the point where one starts wondering why not buy that new car instead give and take few grand. Same was the situation with the medium format ones, issues that existed many years ago were still being hotly debated and zealously worked on, and on the same vendors and their mounts. I am simply at a loss for buying a medium format mount, for one reason or another.

 

 

There is not a single medium mount out there that looks elegant and works elegant and is in medium price range. Buy one and you are asking for a troubleshooting project of massive proportions night after night instead of imaging or observing. If you want something that looks elegant and works elegant and one that works out of the box then you are looking to apply for that line of credit on your home equity. It doesn't have to be this way.

 

 

Story doesn't end there, vendors are simply selling junk when it comes to actual performance. And most vendors are not far from being close to that elegant mark. All they need is put some effort into their medium offerings and things will be just fine. But they are neither doing that nor we as consumers are stopping to buy them in hopes of 'things would have gotten better by now' compared to what they used to be years ago in terms of mount performance. At least I started looking at mounts with that mindset this time around (...that things would have gotten better by now).

 

 

Where does this dilemma go? Do we sit and wait until mount manufacturers get their act together or do we sit and wait until so called 'expensive to make' premiums get hit with something on their head and start producing those premiums in somewhat larger quantities and somewhat sane prices? I hope I have defined the dilemma part at least. Regards

My 10u just works.  First mount I've had I didn't need to tinker with.  Unpack, use it, pack it up.  Just works and no guiding required up to 'medium focal lengths'.


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#21 Hesiod

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:37 AM


Medium focal length. This too can vary greatly.

 

 

I agree with Dr.Who's post, but would suggest to use the sampling, and not the focal length, as parameter.



#22 droe

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 11:39 AM

Why would a CGX not be part of this conversation, since it's not been defined yet what a medium range mount is? But anyone can "get" a 6 minute unguided sub. Don't you have to define what an acceptable result is?

 

Derek

You are absolutely correct Derek

 

The CGX is a premium mount to me because it was the best mount I could afford at the time. It was the best-of-the-best of the mounts I could selection from. I have seen it called a other things in other threads.

 

My definition of what is acceptable is if I like the image or not. I have the final (and only) say in that because it is only my image. If I shoot a pic for someone else then they get the say on whether it is good or not. As a general assumption on a good 6min unguided sub is that 'yes', it did have perfectly round stars.


Edited by droe, 18 September 2019 - 12:11 PM.

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#23 rgsalinger

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 12:24 PM

Well, if you limit the discussion to reasonably portable GEM style mounts, I think that (eliminating sky trackers for a moment) you go from about 500 dollars to about 10000 dollars. To me, reasonably portable means that a person can set the mount up by themselves easily and safely. From a practical perspective this puts the top mount weight at around 50 pounds. 

 

Given this definition, I'd divide the GEM universe into four "classes" rather than use marketing speech like "low end" or "premium". My classes are set by price. I think that we can call 500 to 1000 class 4 mounts, 1000 to 2000 are class 3 mounts, 2000 to 5000 are class 2 and anything about 5000 is a class 1 mount mounts. I think that within these price ranges you will get similar performance. It's more about features and preferences than anything else when you are within a price range.

 

As far as unguided is concerned, if there is no quantitative definition of good data, then it's a waste of time to discuss what a particular mount can/cannot do. My own criteria are FWHM under 3 arc seconds and eccentricity of less than 60 measured using Pixinsight. If you have different standards then you will have a different opinion of how well unguided works with your system. However, if your standard is purely subjective and depends on the finished results then there really is no way to compare mounts from that perspective.

 

It's entirely possible to clean up an image to obscure quite well the fact that the data is not very good. It can be fun to do that but if someone wants a recommendation, it's better to use some form of quantification, I think. 

 

Rgrds-Ross


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#24 Panotaker

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Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:01 PM

You can use any mount unguided, if you take short enough exposures...


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#25 mmalik

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 08:41 AM

My classes are set by price. I think that we can call 500 to 1000 class 4 mounts, 1000 to 2000 are class 3 mounts, 2000 to 5000 are class 2 and anything about 5000 is a class 1 mount mounts. I think that within these price ranges you will get similar performance. It's more about features and preferences than anything else when you are within a price range.

I want to be bit realistic in setting classes since mount prices get astronomical as performance (unguided, encoded or otherwise) and reliability are factored in. I would like to simplify the classification by taking out the weight capacities at this stage, and focusing more on the money. Here is my take at the mount classes:

 

 

Entry:        Up to $2K

Medium:    $2K - $10K

High:        Above $10K

 

 

I have very reluctantly, and purposefully defined the (large) medium range since that seems to be the reality these days. Part of the dilemma is this; if we define medium $2K to $5K, we may paint ourselves in the corner when it comes to quality mounts. It seems that medium class is skewed, but it 'IS' skewed nonetheless as market would dictate. I'll explain in coming posts why medium is so skewed and part of my bias and dilemma about it. Regards




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