Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Vixen German Equatorial Mounts

  • Please log in to reply
45 replies to this topic

#1 ariesram

ariesram

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 22
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2019

Posted 25 February 2020 - 11:03 AM

Hello there,

as a newbie, I am not clear what the generations of Vixen GEM are. There seems to be many of them made by Vixen, Super Polaris, Great Polaris, GPDX, etc. 

 

Does anyone have a diagram showing all of these generations? I am looking for a manual GEM, used or new. 

 

Thanks


  • 25585 likes this

#2 msl615

msl615

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 770
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2015
  • Loc: Fairbanks, Alaska

Posted 25 February 2020 - 11:38 AM

In ones that you hear about the most (there are older ones, but rare):

 

Polaris (easily converts from GEM to Alt-Az). I use them all the time.

Super Polaris (mostly GEM, but can be put into Alt-az mode). I use these, too

Super Polaris DX (SPDX). Massive compared to the above. Hard to find. Superb. I have one.  Mounted outside on a pier most of winter. 

Great Polaris (mostly an updated SP, with mount saddle). The versions above did not have dovetail saddles. I sold mine...same essentially as SP.

GP2. Minor changes from GP. Sold mine. Not different enough from GP and SP.

GPDX. Heavier than GP and GP2. Workhorse for me. Outside on a tripod right now. 

GPD2 modification of GPDX. Inside house at the moment. Has not been relubed for ultra-cold, yet. 

 

All of the above are their totally manual GEMs, though each can have motors, tracking, etc added to them.

 

From my signature below, you can see that I have modified  these in Alaska with my extreme cold conditions (it is -25F today) and I will be out tonight with these mounts in very stable, and dark skies. Looking forward to coming home after work to get out there. 

 

Mike


  • zjc26138, R Botero, eros312 and 4 others like this

#3 ariesram

ariesram

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 22
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2019

Posted 25 February 2020 - 11:51 AM

Hello Mike, 

Thank you for quick response.

 

I thought Toronto (where I am) was cold ;-D. This winter is mild. Temperature can go down to 0F here in some other years, too. So tolerance of coldness is a key factor for a mount for me, too.

 

All these mounts you listed are not available new, anymore. Depending on luck, it may become available on astro buy sell. 

 

Those new mounts are all motor driven, thus more expensive. The cheapest is SX2, US$1599. Another is advanced Polaris but is only 14lbs capacity. 



#4 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12,731
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 25 February 2020 - 12:02 PM

Vixen still sell a manual mount for small scopes, the Vixen AP: https://global.vixen...roduct/39972_7/

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


  • eros312 likes this

#5 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 25 February 2020 - 12:56 PM

a used super polaris can be had for $200-250. you can still buy motors for it, or search the classifieds.

an SP is still a fine mount for visual and i prefer it to the GP because it has large and easy to use setting circles.
  • Stephen Kennedy and mikeDnight like this

#6 Sammy

Sammy

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 85
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2009
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 25 February 2020 - 03:38 PM

I bought a used vixen gp from another CNer a year ago. The best eq mount I have ever owned so far
  • eros312 and mikeDnight like this

#7 msl615

msl615

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 770
  • Joined: 07 Jun 2015
  • Loc: Fairbanks, Alaska

Posted 25 February 2020 - 05:53 PM

I answered above with the list of the common mounts that you can find used....you are correct, that none of these can be purchased new anymore from Vixen, but most are common here on CN sales.  As are accessories, motor, etc. 

 

I also want to support the comment from orlyandico from Singapore about the setting circles on the SP vs GP.  The SP circles are much better, and one of the reasons that I sold my GP mounts.  Last night, I was using both the GPDX and the SPDX (SP again has better circles), but the GPDX is not bad (and better than the GP, GP2).  I was working on Venus at twilight, set the circles on both mounts, looked up the data for Uranus and dialed it in...they were right on and I was able to find it long before any other stars in the nearby region were visible.....it was great. 

 

I find using setting circles to be great fun and an additional tool to star hopping. Even used them to find planets (Venus and Jupiter) in the daytime, using the sun (with filters of course) as the default, known RA DEC value.  If you are keen on using them, then I would lean towards the SP series (SP or SPDX) or the GPDX series. 


  • Nippon and clearwaterdave like this

#8 ariesram

ariesram

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 22
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2019

Posted 25 February 2020 - 08:56 PM

Just brain storming. So alt az mount is easier to use but for newbies maybe GEQ mount is better for learning to navigate through sky?

 

The new AP mount without motor is available at reasonable price. Only drawback is low 15lbs capacity compared to SX2 at 27lbs. 

 

Is SX2 good for astrophotography? Or is SXD2 the minimum requirement of astrophotography? 

 

Thank you all for responding. 



#9 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 25 February 2020 - 09:37 PM

none of these mounts except the SPDX/GPDX have low enough periodic error to use for serious astrophotography unless you guide.

Guiding requires that the mount has an ST4 port, so look for that feature.

To my taste the SX is too rudimentary for the price Vixen is asking. Instead of an SX I would rather have an iOptron CEM25 or similar.

The SXD meanwhile is overpriced.

I personally don’t see any current Vixen production mount as worthwhile. They are too expensive compared to the China mounts and not that much better; and while they are cheaper than the premium US/EU made mounts, they don’t have the reputation of quality.

So... unless it were an older SP, SPDX, or GPDX, I would actually avoid Vixen.

#10 Nikolas234

Nikolas234

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 101
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2009

Posted 26 February 2020 - 01:10 AM

I tend to strongly disagree with Orlyandico.

 

The SX2 , SXD2 ,SXP, SXP2 are all excellent mount, way above any Chinese made mount, the big difference in price is that they work right out of the box after being extensively tested with high craftsmanship. 

 

You do not have to tweak anything for them to do their intended job from the get-go.

 

And as far as you say "they don’t have the reputation of quality." I don't know where you get that from but I disagree there too. 

 

The SXD2 series and up  for example have what they VPEC, it's a PEC that is embedded in the mount memory for high accuracy tracking, you can add PPEC on top of it, and obviously you can guide. 

 

Guiding here, most quality mount, including Vixen, don't need ST4, you can just pulse guide using ASCOM, one less cable... just look for that feature in a mount specs.

 

The polaris / super polaris mounts were carbon copied and replicated in many other brand, and if you tell me they are cheap Vixen , remember they were originally made in the mid 80's early 90's, then they were up there, even today they do a very good job, you will not track at 2500mm Fl,  but wide field, no problem at all. 

 

Now if you want perfection get a MY-T mount, the second best Takahashi followed by Vixen , Losmandy newest generation, Avalon etc 

 

I do not talk here about the high end brand, they are high price and they are so... well, that good.

 

Just my 2 cents here...

 

Luc


  • eros312, waso29 and ariesram like this

#11 Sammy

Sammy

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 85
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2009
  • Loc: Virginia

Posted 26 February 2020 - 01:29 AM

The periodic error on my GP is acceptable and I have only had to discard frames because of aircraft or satellites. I have owned many chinese mass produced mounts and the GP I have is the best eq mount I have owned so far. I plan on getting a GPDX or GPD2 in the near future because Im wanting greater capacity for future upgrades....
  • Stephen Kennedy likes this

#12 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 26 February 2020 - 04:59 AM

The SX2 , SXD2 ,SXP, SXP2 are all excellent mount, way above any Chinese made mount, the big difference in price is that they work right out of the box after being extensively tested with high craftsmanship.

 

You do not have to tweak anything for them to do their intended job from the get-go.

 

Tell that to all the owners of Sphinx SXW and SXD who couldn't guide successfully in declination because of the declination guiding problem that was never fixed. SXW and SXD were not cheap mounts when they came out. Someone in Spain actually sold replacement PC boards for SXW and SXD (NexSXW and NexSXD) so you could use the more reliable Celestron controller and get rid of the declination guiding problem. That is hardly “.. You do not have to tweak anything for them to do their intended job from the get-go.”

 

SXP2 is almost $4300. For half that price you could get a CEM60 (non-EC) which by almost all reports is a very serviceable mount with +/-5" peak-to-peak periodic error.    Vixen doesn't even give a guaranteed PE for the SXP2 (unlike AP, Bisque, Takahashi, and even iOptron...!)

 

Meanwhile, for $6000 you can get a MyT which is incomparable to an SXP2. Or if you buy used, you can get a Mach1 or AP900 for $5000 which also is incomparable to an SXP2.

 

And as far as you say "they don’t have the reputation of quality." I don't know where you get that from but I disagree there too.

would you buy a $6000 Vixen AXJ over a Bisque MyT, or a $7500 Vixen AXD over an AP1100? do you think Vixen has the same reputation of quality as AP or Bisque for them to charge the same price as AP or Bisque?

That said .. I would buy a used SXD2 (they go from $1500 - $1700 on astromart). That is a good buy compared to $2700 new (an eye-watering 45% discount).

 

For reference - Vixen SXD used prices on astromart are sub $1000. Because everybody knows about the declination guiding problem. I would argue that an SXD at $975 is still a terrible buy because guiding in declination doesn't work.

 

SXD2 is exactly the same as SXD mechanically except Vixen changed the electronics to fix the declination guiding problem. Too bad for the SXW and SXD owners.. Vixen's complete abandonment of the SXW and SXD owners (which results in the horrible resale values..) tells me they are not in the same class as AP or Bisque.

 

I do not dispute that Vixen is generally better quality than the Chinese low end stuff (but iOptron's upper tier mounts like the CEM60 are not Chinese low end stuff).

 

My assertion is that Vixen is overpriced. If you look at resale, you really get clobbered on resale of Vixen mounts, worse than the Chinese. That to me is ample evidence that Vixen doesn’t have the reputation of quality that AP or Bisque have. But it’s good if you are the second owner.

 

I love my old Vixen Super Polaris because it has nice setting circles and was cheap. The build quality is not great (a modern iOptron is better) but I got my SP for $250.


  • ericsolo likes this

#13 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 26 February 2020 - 05:59 AM

I find this strange, because I've owned two Polaris, a Super Polaris, and a green Great Polaris. And the GP was nothing special. Not in any way better than a mid-tier Chinese mount. It had 80" (yes EIGHTY) of periodic error, for one thing..

 

The GPDX/GPD2 is OK, but it is not a current Vixen mount.  I stated above that I would not buy a current Vixen mount, new.

 

There's a GPD2 with drives on astromart right now for $500. That's an amazing bargain and I'd grab it.

 

But you have to wonder.. MT-1 motors are over $100 each. The DD-1 drive is over $200 new.  So for the price of two motors and a DD-1 drive you are getting the entire mount. That's some serious resale value degradation.. which again proves my point that Vixen is overpriced when bought new.

 

The periodic error on my GP is acceptable and I have only had to discard frames because of aircraft or satellites. I have owned many chinese mass produced mounts and the GP I have is the best eq mount I have owned so far. I plan on getting a GPDX or GPD2 in the near future because Im wanting greater capacity for future upgrades....


  • ericsolo likes this

#14 Blueox4

Blueox4

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 541
  • Joined: 26 Nov 2015
  • Loc: Upstate New York

Posted 26 February 2020 - 06:06 AM

SB10 updates took care of DEC issue a long time ago. Vixen mounts are fantastic and way better than any Chinese garbage mounts. 


  • eros312, KevH and waso29 like this

#15 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 26 February 2020 - 06:28 AM

I find it interesting that you condemn "Chinese garbage mounts" when it is perfectly fine for you that Vixen sold a bunch of mounts that had problems guiding in declination.

 

SXD has no SB10 so the SXD/SXW owners are still stuck with their problematic mounts. I guess it would also be safe to say that Vixen sold a bunch of garbage mounts that can't guide consistently in declination?


  • ericsolo likes this

#16 Blueox4

Blueox4

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 541
  • Joined: 26 Nov 2015
  • Loc: Upstate New York

Posted 26 February 2020 - 06:56 AM

“Had” is the operative word here in regards to Vixen mounts. “Is” garbage works for chinese mounts as compared to Japanese craftsmanship. Really, you think so? It’s your dream make it as big as you want. Take care! 



#17 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 26 February 2020 - 07:35 AM

I would not hold up Vixen as the pinnacle of Japanese craftsmanship. That would be Takahashi, or Nikon/Goto/Pentax when they used to make mounts.

Also, contemporary Chinese mounts particularly at the higher end are already competing with AP and Bisque, if the CEM120 reports are accurate, and there are credible people on this forum who report that their CEM120’s perform as well as their AP’s and Bisque’s.

I will clarify though that I no longer own any Chinese mounts. Been there done that. But in the 8 years since my CGEM there have been improvements, so just like Vixen fixed their issues, so have the Chinese.

I stand by my original statement: Vixen is overpriced brand new. If I wanted something better than Chinese I’d buy an AP or a Tak.

#18 mikeDnight

mikeDnight

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,022
  • Joined: 19 Apr 2015
  • Loc: Wild Wild West - North West England

Posted 26 February 2020 - 08:34 AM

Love the old Vixen mounts! They are classic, solid, accurate and have manual drives that are buttery smooth, so you don't need to rely on electronics. and hard to beat.

Below is my Vixen GP on its observatory pier.

1553711713629_IMG_0598.JPG

 

And my Vixen GPDX which I use as a super solid grab and go.

2020-02-26 13.30.22.jpg

 

 

 

 


Edited by mikeDnight, 26 February 2020 - 08:41 AM.

  • eros312, Nikolas234 and Blueox4 like this

#19 Nikolas234

Nikolas234

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 101
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2009

Posted 26 February 2020 - 11:11 AM

Orlyandico, I agree with you that the DEC problem was a big problem in astrophotography, irrelevant in visual use, but they fix it and the new generation is up there on the quality list.

 

Losmandy have their 76 seconds harmonic error, they adapted and upgraded to OPWB spring loaded, does it mean the older mount are obsolete...

 

CEM 60 has their magnetic clutch issue as they have to be adjusted just right, don't even think you can use it remotely, I know, I use to own one...  look at the software issue Ioptron have with their EC mount, some store don't even keep the EC models in stock because of that.

 

The MyT mount, yes I would buy one, as well as a Takahashi ( very pricey too),  SXP2, AP, etc, it all depends how much you want to spend, if you travel back and forth or have a permanent observatory, the sky is really the limit...  

 

MikeDnight, very nice setup by the way   :)

 

Luc


  • mikeDnight likes this

#20 ariesram

ariesram

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 22
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2019

Posted 26 February 2020 - 11:19 AM

 

There's a GPD2 with drives on astromart right now for $500. That's an amazing bargain and I'd grab it.

 

But you have to wonder.. MT-1 motors are over $100 each. The DD-1 drive is over $200 new.  So for the price of two motors and a DD-1 drive you are getting the entire mount. That's some serious resale value degradation.. which again proves my point that Vixen is overpriced when bought new.

So GPD2 plus two MT-1 motors, or a DD-1 is a good mount for long exposure astrophotography?



#21 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 26 February 2020 - 12:21 PM

So GPD2 plus two MT-1 motors, or a DD-1 is a good mount for long exposure astrophotography?

When you bought a GPD2, it did not come with motors. Motors were an extra-cost item.

 

You bought either one MT-1 motor for the RA, and the SD-1 single-axis drive, or you bought two MT-1's for the RA and DEC, and the DD-1 (or DD-2 now) dual-axis drive. Vixen would nickel and dime you on each of these items (the MT-1 was close to $100 apiece, and the DD-1 was close to $200).

 

As it sits the $500 astromart GPD2 cannot be guided, because the DD-1 is not GoTo and has no ST4 port. You would need a Shoestring adapter and do some soldering. I'm not even sure if Shoestring is still in business.. you would need the adapter kit and a GPUSB-AH.  I modded my old GP long ago with it, wasn't very hard.

 

The Shoestring adapter etc. will cost you $100 so you need to factor that in.

 

But I doubt you could get a better mount for $500 anywhere. Well.. I bought a Takahashi EM-1S for $400 from Yahoo Japan.. but it was in bad shape and didn't come with a tripod or counterweights. That $500 GPD2 is the most amazing mount bargain I've seen in years.

 

https://astromart.co...l-drives-tripod



#22 orlyandico

orlyandico

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 9,537
  • Joined: 10 Aug 2009
  • Loc: Singapore

Posted 26 February 2020 - 12:22 PM

Orlyandico, I agree with you that the DEC problem was a big problem in astrophotography, irrelevant in visual use, but they fix it and the new generation is up there on the quality list.

 

Losmandy have their 76 seconds harmonic error, they adapted and upgraded to OPWB spring loaded, does it mean the older mount are obsolete...

 

CEM 60 has their magnetic clutch issue as they have to be adjusted just right, don't even think you can use it remotely, I know, I use to own one...  look at the software issue Ioptron have with their EC mount, some store don't even keep the EC models in stock because of that.

 

The MyT mount, yes I would buy one, as well as a Takahashi ( very pricey too),  SXP2, AP, etc, it all depends how much you want to spend, if you travel back and forth or have a permanent observatory, the sky is really the limit...  

 

MikeDnight, very nice setup by the way   smile.gif

 

Luc

 

Luc,

 

the difference is you can take an old Losmandy and upgrade it with the OPWB.

 

All the Vixen SXW/SXD owners are stuck up #### creek without a paddle (since Maite has disappeared and you can no longer buy NexSXW/NexSXD boards), and those SXD owners paid $3K for their mounts originally.

 

That single show of Vixen’s disregard for their customers has turned me off on them as a vendor. I will happily buy used Vixen mounts, since the depreciation is brutal, but I cannot imagine buying their stuff new at the inflated prices they want.

 

Contrast with AP who sold me replacement gears for my long discontinued circa 1996 AP600 mount.

 

BTW: I make no excuses for iOptron.  I was one of the first people to point out the software (SDE) problem on the CEM60EC, although Wei-Hao proved it in the field (because iOptron wouldn't acknowledge the problem until someone shoved it in their face).

 

That said, the CEM60 is by most reports a decent mount. If you can get a good return policy and return it until you get a good one, I submit that it is a better deal at 1/2 the price of an SXP2.

 

I cannot consider buying an SXP2 for $4300 when a used AP900 is $5000.

 

Granted an AP900 is much heavier than an SXP2.. but you can buy a used Tak EM-200 for $3500 and that one is comparable to an SXP2 (it does have that obsolete electronics box). Tak is another brand that is overpriced new, but they have a better reputation than Vixen. I really like my Taks and believe they are better than Vixens.

 

But getting back to the SP... I use mine only for visual (I do have MT-1's and a DD-1 for it) but there is something so.. analog.. and satisfying about using the setting circles to find things, and cranking the knobs to slew the mount around.  If there's one Vixen mount I would look for, it would be an SP-DX which is an SP but better.


  • mikeDnight likes this

#23 Hesiod

Hesiod

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,572
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

Posted 26 February 2020 - 01:07 PM

As for the price, I guess that US customs may have a role, as here in EU Vixen pricing is very reasonable (SXD2 sells at 2800, while the cgemII at 2200 and gm8 at 3700...).

The SX2 at 1600€ may be a decent purchase if are not interested in using the HC anyway.

As for Tak mounts, these are fine if have no objection with their weight, and basically little interest in using them as visual goto mounts.

Sadly 10Micron do not make any smaller mount than the gm1000...



#24 mikeDnight

mikeDnight

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,022
  • Joined: 19 Apr 2015
  • Loc: Wild Wild West - North West England

Posted 26 February 2020 - 02:35 PM

Vixen motors for the old GP and GPDX are quite pricey. However, the SW EQ5 RA & DEC drives and hand controllers work fine for visual, at a fraction of the price.

 

 



#25 Simon B

Simon B

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,073
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2017
  • Loc: Vancouver, BC

Posted 27 February 2020 - 02:21 AM

Nabbed a gently-used SXP2 for about $2200 (Sells for $4200 new), so far it's been performing excellently, with that whisper-quiet belt drive. Cannot really go back to those cheap-feeling hand paddle controllers of most Chinese mounts, after experiencing the Starbook 10 - just an excellent navigation device.

 

 

Timeline of Vixen GEM mounts:

 

 

1976  ᛫  Polaris

 

1984  ᛫  SP (Super Polaris)

 

1992  ᛫  GP (Great Polaris)

 

1999 (?)  ᛫  GP2 / GPD2

 

2003  ᛫  SXW - Starbook

 

2007  ᛫  SXD - Starbook

 

2010  ᛫  AXD - Starbook 10

 

2011  ᛫  SXP - Starbook 10

 

2012  ᛫  SXD2 - Starbook 10

 

2014  ᛫  SX2, AP (Advanced Polaris) - Starbook One

 

2017  ᛫  AXD2, AXJ - Starbook 10

 

2018  ᛫  SXP2 - Starbook 10

 

 

This is not a complete list, there are some missing like the Vixen Atlux mount (Which used the SkySensor 2000 controller, and later the Starbook), and ofcourse their Alt-Az mounts like the Porta


Edited by Simon B, 27 February 2020 - 07:09 AM.

  • eros312 likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics