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Astro Devices - DSC for Losmandy G11, anyone using this?

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#1 aa6ww

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:28 PM

I'm considering adding the Astro Devices DCS to my Losmandy G11 so I can maker better use of my observing in whats becoming my heavily light polluted back yard skies.

I have not been able to find any real reviews on how this system works and if there are any downsides to owning this vs getting a CGX type mount to support my 152ED refractor and C11.

I'm wondering owners of these DCS what their opinions of it are, and if your familiar with GoTo mounts, how would you compare it to the simplicity of a full on GoTo mount for larger scopes.

Also, wondering what computer you are using to complete the system. I see at Woodland Hills, they offer the DCS systems and an optional Astro Devices Nexus digital setting circles computer. It seems like a complete package in itself. Nevertheless, I'm wonder how these systems works in actual use.

Are these small computers usable, can they be secured to your scope or mount or are people just letting them dangle off their cables?
How easy is the system to calibrate and actually use, and when moving to an object, what is the display doing and what are you looking for as you move the scope to its target?

I have a few options on how I need to move forward with backyard observing with my larger Refractor and SCT. The Astro Devices DSC system is my most inexpensive option. I really don't have any interest in the Gemini systems, and if I had to, id rather just sell the G11 and pick up a Celestron CGX, since my celestron AVX is so easy to use and accurate, using starsense.

Any opinions or comments on any of this would be greatly appreciate.

Thank you and clear skies....

...Ralph

#2 havasman

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:08 PM

Ralph,

I can speak to the Nexus DSC operating profile. I have it available to run all my mounts: Starmaster in full go-to/track and XT10i, M2C, DM4 and UniStar Deluxe in push-to. It is the best electronic DSC in the amateur market. There are > a million library objects, fully and individually dimable keyboard and display, complete S. Gottlieb observing notes on NGC/IC objects, very simple MMI with direct keyboard entry from a wide array of catalogs, RA/Dec keyboard entry, long life rechargeable internal battery all in a small package. There are a range of mounting kits for several specific mounts and a fits-all generic. Both my Dobs came with mounting plates for other systems and when I upgraded I made a simple but effective adapter to hold the Nexus DSC. Alignment's simple - tell the unit when the mount's pointed straight up, tell it when you've centered 2 stars and you're good to go. I have use it to galaxy hop through scattered Lyon Galaxy Groups and never removed the 6mm Delos from the 16" f4.49 focuser as every little target was w/in the 12 arc' field. It's simply the nuts for electronic setting circles. Yes, it absolutely is a complete package.

 

I know that since it came out the Argo Navis unit has tried to develop a competitive unit and has not. And the Nexus DSC is regularly updated, a simple task, and widened the performance gap between it and anything else out there. It's like my friend told me about her Tesla - it's not the same car she bought, the upgrades and updates have made it a much smarter, better and easier to use vehicle.

 

You should contact Serge via email to see if he's developed compatibility for your mount. I know he has done so for other relatively similar mounts.



#3 photoracer18

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:17 PM

Weeellll, it depends on what kind of stuff you like. While I appreciate technology sometimes I just don't want to use it. I agree that a Celestron go-to mount is about the easiest thing to use there is. While I have a fully hypertuned CGEM I seldom use it. In fact I only bought it so I could find things fast for others at a star-party. I have a Losmandy G11 Gemini 1 plus encoders. Plugged into the Gemini controller they become relative encoders. So I never lose track of the mounts pointing when ever I decide to manually move it to something on a whim. I also own a pair of AP mounts, AP400QMD and AP600E QMD. Non-goto but with factory 10k encoders I often use plugged into my Argo Navis. In fact the AP400 is my most used mount, last used on the Mercury Transit. My main issue is I have been in this hobby close to 60 years. There are few things in the sky that I can't find quicker than my go-to scopes can (maybe Uranus and Neptune). So simple DSC or even decent old school setting circles are enough to find things I have never seen. If I bother that is.

As for your specific questions, many just use Velcro to stick their DSC computer on a readily available smooth surface on their mount, tripod, or pier. Losmandy once upon a time made a few brackets that could be mounted on their mounts to hold a DSC computer where you could view it without having to hold it. You don't want to let them dangle off the encoder cables so they don't go bad on you.

Other than the fact you have to push-to the mount there is little difference unless the go-to mount has polar alignment aid, but that is not needed just for visual use. Both setups will calculate in bad polar alignment offset. Having worked for a dealer in the past I have used just about every go-to system and DSC computer out there. Once you setup the parameters of your mount they are all similar although the Nexus is the latest and greatest you have to ask yourself if that is what you really need. Or you can also control the mount from a computer, tablet or smart phone physically connected or wirelessly. I often use my phone's Sky Safari Pro app to control go-to mounts thru wifi adapters I have (especially at star-parties).



#4 aa6ww

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:39 PM

Under dark skies, I'm ok with out any assistance but under my back yard skies, I'm struggling to identify the main constellations and nearby stars to get any bearings for star hopping.

Full GoTo is nice but I really like my G11 for my 6" F8 refractor so a DCS System sounds more practical with very little changes needed on my part to make it happen.

...Ralph

#5 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:50 PM

I am using the Astrodevices encoders and Nexus DSC on a late model non GoTo G11. There have been few problems,  and none at all lately.  Never any issues with the encoders. There are two models of the encoders.  One for late model G11 with the completely round shafts, and another for the older ones with flats on the shafts.



#6 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:56 PM

The Nexus DSC is very user friendly and easy to use.  It will find objects to a high degree of accuracy.  It will sit on a very small shelf or stand attached to the pier or tripod. One or two star alignment.  When moving to a target, you are looking for 0.0 on both axes.

 

Ask me anything about the Nexus DSC System I have.  I will monitor this thread.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 19 November 2019 - 03:59 PM.

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#7 YAOG

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 07:00 PM

Ralph,

 

The combination of the Porter slip clutches on the Lomandy mounts and Astro Devices encoders and a Nexus DSC driven by Gemini or Digital Drive is amazing. My GM8G has the 311K encoders and Nexus DSC so I can run the mount as a pure GOTO mount with locked clutches like the typical consumer GEM. I can also loosen the clutches and just PUSH the mounted scope around manually using the Nexus DSC display or use the guided mode on my smartphone or tablet over Wi-Fi using SkySafari 6 Pro. I leave the Gemini running in sidereal mode and once I find the object it tracks. 



#8 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 07:07 PM

I put an AstroDevices encoder kit on a Losmandy G11, using Nexus 2 to connect to my iPad. (I already have tablets and smart phones, I did not see the need to buy a dedicated astro computer). Push-To operation. Easy installation, works great!

 

When I sold the mount I migrated the DSC's to a Losmandy AZ8 (same kit). Works great there too.


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#9 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 08:18 PM

Those encoders fit so tight on my G11 shafts, I don't know if I could get them off without damage.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 19 November 2019 - 08:19 PM.


#10 aa6ww

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 12:08 PM

My G11 is from the 1990's. There are flat spots with screw holes tapped into it which I'm guessing is what you are referring to when you say the older ones have flats on their shafts.

thanks for this bit of info.

..Ralph


I am using the Astrodevices encoders and Nexus DSC on a late model non GoTo G11. There have been few problems,  and none at all lately.  Never any issues with the encoders. There are two models of the encoders.  One for late model G11 with the completely round shafts, and another for the older ones with flats on the shafts.



#11 YAOG

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 12:23 PM

My G11 is from the 1990's. There are flat spots with screw holes tapped into it which I'm guessing is what you are referring to when you say the older ones have flats on their shafts.

thanks for this bit of info.

..Ralph

 

Ralph,

 

The Astro Devices encoders for later mounts without the flats on the end of the mount body work on both old and new Losmandy GM8, G11s and AZ8 mounts. The what looks to be a printed mount for the encoder head covers some of the space left open by the removed black aluminum spacers and gives a neater more finished appearance.

 

I am also playing with my GM8G with the encoders assembled slightly differently than the instructions show, sans the second flat thrust bearing to allow the use of a thick thrust bearing washer to better support the wavey spring so there is some give in the system to make the slip clutches work as they should. Seems to work fine so far. 


Edited by YAOG, 22 November 2019 - 01:54 PM.


#12 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 12:51 PM

I was told by the US vendor for those encoders that there are two kits:  The G11 kit for older mounts with the flats, and the AZ8 kit for the latest model G11 without the flats.

 

YMMV, but my kit for a G11 manufactured Nov 2018 says AZ8 on it, and it fits perfectly.  I left all the thrust bearings and wavy spring on, and substituted a very thin axle bushing for the thick aluminum spacer that was just under the axis tension knobs.  This is to keep the knob from rubbing and wearing the wavy washer.  The encoder takes up the space formerly used by the thick aluminum spacer.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 22 November 2019 - 12:52 PM.


#13 YAOG

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 02:07 PM

I was told by the US vendor for those encoders that there are two kits:  The G11 kit for older mounts with the flats, and the AZ8 kit for the latest model G11 without the flats.

 

YMMV, but my kit for a G11 manufactured Nov 2018 says AZ8 on it, and it fits perfectly.  I left all the thrust bearings and wavy spring on, and substituted a very thin axle bushing for the thick aluminum spacer that was just under the axis tension knobs.  This is to keep the knob from rubbing and wearing the wavy washer.  The encoder takes up the space formerly used by the thick aluminum spacer.

Actually there were originally three kits, original GM8/G11/AZ8 with flats, GM8/G11 for 2017+ no flats and AZ8. I bought the AD encoder kit for the Losmandy AZ8 for the coiled cables, the rest of the kit is identical save the instruction manual.

 

I did not like having so few threads engaged in the aluminum clutch knobs with the extra thrust bearing and the normally NOT used wavy spring washer installed so I removed the outside thrust bearing and used a thicker thrust bearing washer working directly on the pins followed by the wavy spring washer working directly on the clutch knob. After several years of use there was no wear on the clutch knob from the wavy spring washer working directly against the clutch knobs so I left it as it was.  


Edited by YAOG, 22 November 2019 - 02:09 PM.

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#14 Joe Bergeron

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 05:39 PM

I also found that installing the encoders on my very old G-11 left too few threads available for screwing on the clutch knobs. They were in danger of falling off every time I loosened them.

 

On Losmandy's advice, I loosened the set screw holding each axis shaft in place, unscrewed the shafts a few turns to create some needed length, and retightened the screws. Not ideal, but functional. Newer mounts have longer shafts to accommodate encoders by removing spacers. My mount has no such spacers, and no room for them.



#15 ELDavis

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Posted 24 November 2019 - 09:40 AM

Ralph,
I have an older G11 carrying a AP 130 EDT. I installed a Nexus DSC this year. The encoder installation was a snap, and I had no problem with having enough threads for the clutch knob as others are describing. Initially, I had some problems finding objects in the eastern sky after initiating on stars to the west. I resolved the issue by changing my initial reference from 0 degrees to 90 degrees. The customer support at Astro Devices is outstanding and got me over the problem quickly. I have a G8 with a JMI mini max which works well, but I find the Nexus to be far superior. I am only speculating, but believe the G11 is superior in quality to the CGX you are considering, unless you have your heart set on a goto system. 
 
I mount the Nexus to the G11 with a wooden bracket I made which is attached with velcro allowing it to be re-positioned. Overall, I am very happy with the Nexus, and believe you will be satisfied with it.




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