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Now I am thinking about a new imaging mount....

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102 replies to this topic

#1 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 06:43 PM

For those of you who have seen me here on CN in the last year, well, if you checkout my astrobin you will notice that I have a lot of images in the last 6 months, and I am approaching one year imaging (first image was in December 2018 but first keepers were in March/April.)   I really do like my IEQ45, but it was my first real mount. I think I am prejudiced. I think it is well made for what I paid for it, a whopping $800 brand new in box; but it is Chinese made. Kudos to the Chinese here. They have great customer service and for the price point I commend Ioptrion.  Nothing against the Chinese. I love the civilization. But I am not sure they manufacture mounts as great as USA.  But now I am imaging so much, I think at this point, since I live in an area where I get as many nights that I can image, as that I cannot, I should have a rig that is completely reliable. I would like a higher payload too. Contenders are: 1) the new Ioptron GEM45.   2) CEM 60. 3) G11

 

The top of my budget as to what I can stomach paying would be the G11.  Then if I will afford to pay the G11, is that the no brainer? Like, it is a clear winner among all other mount upgrades from where I am now?  I read someone really bickering about his Losmandy experience on the mounts forum. 

 

The reason why I am thinking about a different mount is, I am just not totally comfortable with the reliability of what I have. Part of this may be what I have read so many premium mount people telling me and others, that the IEQ45 that I have, is part of a a broader class of mounts like most out there, that are "low-end." I do not want "low end."  I am doing imaging too much now. I am spending too much of my life imaging and I rather not be held back. But maybe I am noty held back with what I have. Perhaps when I get oblong stars, its all my fault.   

 

I want to be able to set up my mount relatively swiftly, image, and not worry about whether the next sub will come out ok. 

 

Like the sub on the top, it is nice I think. Stars are nice and round. I get five or six in a row like that, then for no reason that I am aware of, the next one is like the one on the bottom. Then a handful of nice ones, then another one like the one on the bottom.

There is a chance I did not calibrate my Phd2 session (to be fair). But I think I did. I would like reliability. 

Attached Thumbnails

  • round.jpg
  • obliong.jpg

Edited by Ballyhoo, 12 October 2019 - 06:46 PM.


#2 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 06:51 PM

Funny story..  Last month I was sure I needed, or I really wanted, a new 4" refractor, and yea, a ton of posts on that topic.  But in this last month I have totally changed my thinking. yes I would like a nice 4" refractor, but somehow I think a step up in mount would have a greater impact.

 

Still, there are many a finer imager than myself (Francesco, Gotak, others) that do fine w the mount I have. But I wonder if they are now imaging as often as I have. I mean, I have 50 images on astrobin and I started that account in June!


Edited by Ballyhoo, 12 October 2019 - 06:51 PM.


#3 View2

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 07:07 PM

Hmmm. I use the iEQ45 pro and find it quite reliable doing 1200 sec subs. Do you have the pro version?
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#4 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 07:15 PM

Hmmm. I use the iEQ45 pro and find it quite reliable doing 1200 sec subs. Do you have the pro version?

yes. 



#5 Ed Wiley

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:26 PM

Save your money and then buy a good used AP900. The you will not have to think about it for years.

 

Ed


Edited by Ed Wiley, 12 October 2019 - 08:27 PM.

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#6 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:31 PM

With your scope fully loaded and balanced as if you are imaging monitor the graphs in PHD as you guide and see how long it takes to produce a 'glitch' that repeats itself.  If it repeats at regular intervals its probably in the RA worm - perhaps the bearings (if there are any) are wearing out from being overloaded.   If you can uncover the worm and gear see how long it takes the worm to make a revolution and if thats the same interval you get the glitch.   You might be able to adjust any 'play' of the gears or see if there is 'wiggle' on the worm shaft.  

I have already sent my mount in for complete tune-up and mechanical go through with Ioptron.   I think the mount is working to spec. 

 

I would like to know how much of an improvement a G11 would be over my IEQ45 (if any). what is the max imaging load of a G11, for example.



#7 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:43 PM

These specs I find very compelling:

 

GM811G Features

Photographic instrument weight capacity 50 lbs
Low temperature operation: 0 F
Equatorial Head Weight 27 lbs
Removable counterweight shaft with safety stop; 1.25" diameter
Includes one 11 lb weight
Saddle plate works with both Losmandy Style and Vixen Dovetail
Dovetail plate drops in and locks allowing for interchanging of any tube assembly - reduces the need for DEC weights.
All machined aluminum and stainless steel, black anodized.
All stainless steel hardware.
Variable slip clutch one knob per axis design.
Through the axis polar scope mounting, works in Northern and Southern Hemisphere. Polar scope optional.
7 lb and 21 lb extra counterweights available

 

 

Edit,

 

in my case I could sell my IEQ45 and the Losmandy would not be that expensive.


Edited by Ballyhoo, 12 October 2019 - 08:44 PM.


#8 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:51 PM

I have a Losmandy GM811G.  You really need to upgrade the Losmandy mounts to get better functionality.  This includes...

  • Losmandy Polar Scope $300 - Or get a PoleMaster
  • AC/DC 15.0 Volt DC Adapter $79.00
  • DEC/RA Fancy Clutch Knobs $125
  • Tripod Knob Set 3ea $29.00
  • Alt Knob Set 2ea $27.00

The Gemini-2 mounts will operate with 12 VDC but they are much happier running on 15VDC...  If the scope is heavy the stepper motors may stall at 12.0 VDC.  Running them in the field off a Deep Cycle Battery will be problematic at times. I made a 12 to 15VDC @ 5Amp Converter.  The mounts have DEC backlash even with the Spring Loaded Worms.  I have turned off the PHD 2 warning message.  I can do DEC and RA Dithering.  The P-P Error on my mount is 2.75 after tuning.  Before tuning is was around 5.75.  BTW -  I am not sold on the RA Spring Loaded Worms.

 

As for the stuff I Do Not like...

  • The external DEC and RA motor cables are a pain in the butt....  They get in the way.  (External cables)
  • DEC backlash could be much better.
  • The DEC and RA motors wiggle.  The mounting base housing is too thin.  I think its 6062 aluminum.
  • The RA and DEC encoders are 4096.  Later mounts use 8192 or higher.
  • Spur gears.
  • The RA worm traces are more erratic than the upper level CEM mounts.
  • The mount should work at 12VDC under "all loading" conditions.  It can't.
  • The 'base design' is 20 plus years old.

The CEM has 12VDC and USB 2 built into the saddle.  It's also belt driven so there's little to no backlash.  If I had to do it again I would take a real hard look at the CEM60EC mount.


Edited by Jim Waters, 12 October 2019 - 08:58 PM.

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#9 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:56 PM

Low temperature operation: 0 F

 

I have operated my mount down to -10F.  I did have to put a Hand-Warmer gel pack on the back of the Hand Controller.

 

Add to your list...

  • Made in the USA.
  • Easy to take apart and fix.

Edited by Jim Waters, 12 October 2019 - 08:57 PM.


#10 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 08:59 PM

 

I have operated my mount down to -10F.  I did have to put a Hand-Warmer gel pack on the back of the Hand Controller.

 

Add to your list...

  • Made in the USA.
  • Easy to take apart and fix.

 

based on all this, maybe I am going to stick with Ioptron. I do not want a more hassle rig than I already have.  Perhaps then my next rig would the CEM 60



#11 gezak22

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:05 PM

Add to your list...

  • Made in the USA.
  • Easy to take apart and fix.

 

Made in USA is indeed important.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed working on my GM-8. Not that it was necessary, but it was quick/easy, I learned a great deal about mounts, and it improved things.

 

That said, I am not sure if Ballyhoo would be happy with Losmandy's GoTo system. I used the GM-8 in push-to mode because I had read that the Gemini system was prehistoric back then (2012). Push-to was tolerant enough at the focal lengths I was using (200 - 400 mm), but it would get frustrating at longer focal lengths.

 

If I were you, save your money until you can afford a second-hand Astro-Physics. Buy once, cry once.



#12 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:09 PM

Made in USA is indeed important.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed working on my GM-8. Not that it was necessary, but it was quick/easy, I learned a great deal about mounts, and it improved things.

 

That said, I am not sure if Ballyhoo would be happy with Losmandy's GoTo system. I used the GM-8 in push-to mode because I had read that the Gemini system was prehistoric back then (2012). Push-to was tolerant enough at the focal lengths I was using (200 - 400 mm), but it would get frustrating at longer focal lengths.

 

If I were you, save your money until you can afford a second-hand Astro-Physics. Buy once, cry once.

So you do not think a nice CEM 60 would be a upgrade over what i have? 



#13 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:09 PM

Don't get me wrong.  I like using the mount but it has things that need to be address.  Primarily the DEC Backlash and 15VDC operating voltage.  Losmandy really need to offer a 12VDC to 15VDC Converter.  The other things will require a redesign.  I decided on Losmandy because I didn't want another non-US mount.  QC / build are good at Losmandy.



#14 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:13 PM

 I had read that the Gemini system was prehistoric back then (2012). Push-to was tolerant enough at the focal lengths I was using (200 - 400 mm), but it would get frustrating at longer focal lengths.

 

If I were you, save your money until you can afford a second-hand Astro-Physics. Buy once, cry once.

Gemini-2 is much better but other mounts have more smarts built in.  The ASCOM interface is OK.

 

As for AP you have to wait a long time to get a mount.  I know of one person that waited 11 months to get his Mach-1


Edited by Jim Waters, 12 October 2019 - 09:14 PM.


#15 gezak22

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:17 PM

So you do not think a nice CEM 60 would be a upgrade over what i have? 

Since I have never owned an iOptron mount, I cannot comment. What I do know is that my Mach 1 laughed at the load of a 5" Petzval imaging rig.



#16 DeanS

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:17 PM

Save your money and then buy a good used AP900. The you will not have to think about it for years.

 

Ed

What Ed said ;)

 

Might as well get the better mount now, will cost less in the long run.


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#17 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:18 PM

Ballyhoo - try calling OPT and setup an appointment to meet a sales person and have them show you a CEM60 mount in their warehouse and walk through it use. 



#18 Jim Waters

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:20 PM

Save your money and then buy a good used AP900. The you will not have to think about it for years.

How often have you seen used AP900 or Mach-1 mounts up for sale?


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#19 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:21 PM

I have to wonder whether the high-end encoders they have on the CEM60- EC model are worth the add'l $1500.  Does that mean they can go unguided? I could put PHd2 in the recycle  bin?



#20 Ballyhoo

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:24 PM

Really, I am not in for a an AP right now.  what I am wanting to investigate is how much improvement the CEM would be over my IEQ45 pro. They are not that expensive that I need to worry about the upgrade at all; whereas spending $6k plus plus is now something that becomes a stresser. Maybe a CEM60 now and an AP in another year or two etc. 



#21 nofxrx

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:52 PM

No. The EC mounts do not necessarily mean they can do unguided.

I have to agree with most everyone who said but a premium used mount (AP).
You started the post by saying you were not 100% happy with a mount made overseas and wanted a higher quality USA mount. But then quickly swayed back to Chinese mount.
Figure out your budget and if it's not enough for a used Mach1, keep saving and using your Chinese mount until you have enough for a used mach 1 LOL

Believe me, I have used quite a few low to mid level mounts from US/ China, I am not buying any other compromises. I am saving for the second hand AP mount (unless I happen to pull off buying a new one) so it will be the last mount I ever purchase. Even if the scope sitting on it is only worth $1200 B-)

Good luck!
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#22 Stelios

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Posted 12 October 2019 - 09:53 PM

I wouldn't get the GM811G. Overall I've seen it dam*ed with faint praise. The G11 on the other hand is an established mount, but it will require fiddling and tinkering for best results. If you are not averse to that, I wouldn't hesitate. If meshing gears is not your idea of fun, then look elsewhere.

 

The CEM60 has excellent reputation, the CEM60-EC not so much, take a look at some of the threads in mounts. 

 

I would expect that you would be happier with either a CEM60 or G11 than you are now, and you could definitely put heavier scopes on your mount. The reason I don't say "happy" is because you're already at least a bit dissatisfied with the iEQ45, so you really yearn for a superior level of consistency and security.

 

I think you really know where you can find it... :)


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#23 Jim Waters

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 01:45 AM

I wouldn't get the GM811G. Overall I've seen it dam*ed with faint praise. 

Don't agree. The GM811G is functionally the same as the G11G except the DEC Axis is a G8.  I have seen many examples of astrophotographers placing large OTA's on the mount and expecting them to function like the larger G11G or T.  With the larger OTA's you also need a larger tripod too.

 

If you are thinking about the GM8G's that's another story.


Edited by Jim Waters, 13 October 2019 - 01:47 AM.


#24 SilverLitz

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 07:21 AM

I have had an ES G11 (PMC-8 controller) for 1+ year, and I have been happy with it.  However, it is my 1st mount, so I do not have any comparison.  I was swayed by my local clubs most experienced AP'er, and he raved about his G11, and my club's AP 142 Starfire is on a pier mounted G11.  My decision came down to the G11 and the CEM60 (with the larger, upgraded tripod), and my impression was that the G11 was a slightly better mount. 

 

Both are 60 pound payload mounts, but Losmandy mount supposed to be OK for AP at their stated limit, so the G11 gives a little more upside potential.  Build quality of the G11 is impressive, with CNC'ed aluminum, NOT cast metal.  The G11's long history is a plus, as the design is tried and true and there is a lot of 3rd party upgrade parts available.  The outboard motors do have the potential of cable grabs, as do the outside routed cables, BUT this makes the mount more serviceable.  This serviceability, US manufacturing,  and 3rd party options greatly lower the owner's risk over the long run, and G11 do remain in good service for 20+ years.  You should NOT get stranded if the G11 needs to be overhauled in 10 years; a Chinese made mount???

 

The ES version has the PMC-8 controller and it does NOT have a hand controller, but this is not an issue for AP, since you will be controlling by a laptop anyway.  For visual, you would use wifi control via a phone/tablet.  I use it exclusively for AP and use its ASCOM interface, and have had no problems.  The PMC-8 is also open source, with the ability of user programmed future enhancements.  This open source orientation should also reduce the owner's long term risk.  ES support with PMC-8 has been very good for me (newbie) and everything is US based.  Losmandy's Gemini-II controller has a long history with a lot of user forum support.  The Gemini system was developed by a 3rd party in Germany, as Losmandy is mainly a precision mechanical engineering and manufacturing shop.  You should be fine with either controller.

 

I went with a Polemaster instead of a polar scope, as the price was similar and the PM makes polar alignment much faster/easier/accurate.

 

I do NOT think you need the higher priced knobs, and I actually think fancier knobs are potential cable grabbers.  I have had zero problems with the standard configuration.

 

I think the RA extension is a good addition (and standard with the ES version), as it gives you more flexibility to image past the meridian as well as break the mount head into 2 pieces (I keep mine in 1 piece).  There is also a $10 wavy washer to reduce stiction that is a no brainer.

 

The CEM60 is also a very good option and it is cheaper, but you must get the better tripod.  It is nice that the wiring is internal (fewer cable grabs).  Internal motors are nice as well (unless they need replacing).


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#25 WadeH237

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Posted 13 October 2019 - 07:25 AM

I am doing imaging too much now. I am spending too much of my life imaging and I rather not be held back.

For me, personally, my astro budget is 100% driven by what the hobby brings to my life.  I have some expensive gear because I use up to 4 weeks of vacation per year on astronomy - both visual and imaging - and it's one of my main leisure activities even outside of that.  As such, I don't mind spending some money on it.

 

If this is going to be the case for you, and you have the ability to comfortably do it, you should get yourself onto the list for a new Mach2.  It will be the last mount that you ever need to buy.

 

Note that I've mentioned in many other threads, that I don't think that you need to upgrade what you already have at this time.  And I stand behind my comments around this.  My point here is that - completely outside of the minimum gear necessary - if making a change will enrich your life (and you have the ability to comfortably afford it, since this is a pure leisure activity), then why not just treat yourself?


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