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Orion XX12g - running without power?

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#1 Gschnettler

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 07:25 AM

I am thinking of getting this telescope. I was planning on getting the XX12i, but the base of the g breaks down for easier transport which is important to me. Plus, I’m sure the motors will be nice to have so I don’t have to manually reposition all the time.

My question is this: if my battery dies or if I just want to run it without power, does it basically just turn into a XX12i at that point? Meaning I can still use it, I just have to manually push it.

#2 eyeoftexas

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 07:32 AM

Yes, except the hand controller will be dead, so no push-to.  It would become completely manual.  


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#3 MOwen

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 10:02 AM

I haven't actually tried mine as a push-to only but I can tell you that when you loosen the clutches, there is not much resistance to movement; nothing like you would have in a manual dob with Teflon pads to create smooth movements in both axes.  There may be a 'sweet-spot' with the clutches that will provide just the right amount of resistance but the question remains if that will also make it a smooth move.  Perhaps others have some experience and will chime in.

 

You need not be concerned with a battery dying, assuming you have selected an adequate size.  I have a 22 ah battery and a full night's viewing with lots of slewing doesn't even put a dent in the 12 volts.  You don't NEED a 22 ah; I happen to have that size because I used it for other higher-current purposes.  There are plenty of threads on CN relating to power and lots of good info and advice to be had therein.



#4 Gschnettler

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 10:07 AM

Thanks for your reply. When I watched the video about the 12g they show how it’s easy to push where you want it even if the motors are turned on. They make it look like you can use it equally well as a push-to. Does that change when you lose power?

#5 MOwen

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 12:43 PM

I don't recall having moved my scope under power so I don't know what 'feel' that has to it.  I am quite sure it was not designed with the idea that you could do frequent star-hopping while under power.  Knowing what the insides of the drives look like, I would be reluctant to take advantage of that manual movement unless it was really necessary.  I watched the video you mentioned and, although Ken makes it look 'easy' (his was not powered up) the question remains as to how smoothly it will operate with the clutches partially engaged.  If you get it 'just right' with one eyepiece, then insert a Barlow or a heavier eyepiece, the balance in azimuth might off enough to have to re-adjust the clutch, but then that's not that big of a deal since it is already within reach. 

 

Once power is removed, both axes are locked down and you would have to loosen the clutches to allow movement.

 

If your end game is to do an equal amount of manual and go-to operation, I'm quite sure you could come up with something that would give you a smooth movement with the power off.  I'll take a peek at mine and see if anything jumps out as a possible add-on.

 

BTW, if you do end up with the scope, contact me via PM and I will share a couple of handy tools that will make your setup much easier.

 

 



#6 jakecru

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 01:04 PM

I used to have an XX12g a while back. With power you can loosen clutches on side, push to an object, re-engage clutches and use hand controller to center/track. The scope does keep its alignment. With no power, it is a manual dob where you loosen clutches and push to objects. For Go-To and Tracking, with power, the clutches must be engaged. You have to disengage clutches to manually move the scope. 



#7 Dave Bush

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 10:03 PM

I used to have an XX12g a while back. With power you can loosen clutches on side, push to an object, re-engage clutches and use hand controller to center/track. The scope does keep its alignment. With no power, it is a manual dob where you loosen clutches and push to objects. For Go-To and Tracking, with power, the clutches must be engaged. You have to disengage clutches to manually move the scope. 

I don't recall who it was here but in doing my research for mine that is on order, it was stated (by more than one person) that you don't have to loosen the clutches to move it manually.  Conversely they don't have to be locked down for tracking and GoTo movements to function.   One person said that he set the clutches so that the manual movement is smooth and has not changed them since.  Both manual and powered operations work. 



#8 MOwen

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 07:47 AM

I don't recall who it was here but in doing my research for mine that is on order, it was stated (by more than one person) that you don't have to loosen the clutches to move it manually.  Conversely they don't have to be locked down for tracking and GoTo movements to function.   One person said that he set the clutches so that the manual movement is smooth and has not changed them since.  Both manual and powered operations work. 

Dave:

Even though you may have seen more than one person say it, the first statement is true ONLY if the scope is powered up.  Once you remove power, a tightened clutch absolutely locks down the axis and it would be unwise to try to move it against that resistance.  The second statement implies that the go-to will function with loosened clutches, which is positively false.  The third statement seems to clarify the second just a bit by suggesting that a partially tightened clutch will allow you to do both manual and go-to operations without having to adjust them.  Although this might be the experience of some, I would be very suspect of the slewing and tracking accuracy of the scope in that configuration.  As I said in an earlier post, I'm intimately familiar with the drive mechanisms, having had to troubleshoot and repair an issue with my azimuth, and I can say with confidence that the drives are designed for optimal operation and accuracy on the basis of a tightened clutch.  Even if there is a 'sweet spot' in the clutch that gives smooth push-to operation, I would personally try to come up with a couple of DIY add-on devices to provide that resistance instead of letting the clutch surfaces continually rub.  If you end up with a problem in the clutches, there is no way for you to fix it.

 

But then, the scope belongs to the user and they can do as they wish with it.  My purpose was to share what I have learned from being down in the weeds of the drive system.



#9 Eddgie

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 02:25 PM

The second statement implies that the go-to will function with loosened clutches, which is positively false. \

I think there may be some semantics at work here.   The clutches allow for the friction to be changed and while it is true that with the clutches completely loosend, the scope will not work in Go2, but at the same time, it may not stay put in azimuth if the azimuth clutch is completely loosened.

 

"Locking down" a clutch implies that the pressure on the clutch is so high that there is no slippage, and it is not necessary to have the clutches that tight when doing Go2, and in fact, undesirable to do so because it prevents manual movement of the scope and manual movement is one of the great benefits of a dual loop encoder.

 

 

 The third statement seems to clarify the second just a bit by suggesting that a partially tightened clutch will allow you to do both manual and go-to operations without having to adjust them.  

In fact, I do this 100% of the time.  My altitude clutch is just tight enough to prevent the scope from moving in altitude when I change between my lightest and heaviest load.   Once it is set so that it will not move at these extremes, I never touch it, and at this pressure, the scope can be easily moved manually in Go2 or in manual move.

 

My azimuth clutch is tightened just enough so that that it does not slip when the scope is slewing in azimuth and once again, the pressure here is low enough that at any point one can manually slew the scope against the friction of the clutch with little effort.

 

Now I use exactly the same clutch setting for un-powered manual, manual when in Go2 mode, and Go2, so once the drag is set properly, there should be little reason to touch if for any mode.

 

 

 

I would be very suspect of the slewing and tracking accuracy of the scope in that configuration.  

 

The Dual Encoder system allows manual movement of the system without having to completely loosen the clutches.  I have been doing this for seven years.  The encoder for the manual motion is on the axles that move with the scope, and the encoders for the Go2 are on the motors.

 

As for accuracy, you are right in that if you do a lot of manual moves, the accuracy will get off, but Orion says this in the manual and has a provision in the software to deal with this. This provision is called the "Re-align Encoders." See, Orion expects you to move the scope manually because that is what the dual encoder system is there for and if you do a lot of manual moves (and I do it all the time and never loosen the clutch from the setting I use 100% of the time for both Go2 and manual movement, either powered or unpowered) the two encoder systems can loose sync, so it is expected and a provision for dealing with it is included in the software and it is easy to do.  I typically do a re-aligh of encoders whenever I see the G02 falling off and for a long session it will, but for most short sessions I do not have this issue and I move my scope a lot manually when running in Go2 mode and I never ever ever completely loosen the clutches.

 

And if you think that the clutches need to be "locked down" (so tight that they cannot slip at all), this is what Orion says on page 28 of my manual. All emphasis as in italics, underscore, bold, or colors added by me. Not everything is included.. I omitted all but the relevant to this post material.

 

 

The XXg dobs all now feature large clutch tensioning  knobs on both the altitude and and azimuth axes.  Located on the altitude/encoder housings (Figure 37), these knobs allow the user to adjust the amount of tension (friction) in both altitude and azimuth motion for moving the telescope by hand   

     

The clutch knobs allows you to set the amount of tension on each axis independently to the level you desire for smooth manual slewing of the telescope. 

  

  

If a clutch tension is set too loose, the scope may not slew on that axis, or it may slew intermittently. In that case, you should tighten the clutch knob(s) a little until a normal slewing motion is achieved. If you add significant weight to the front of the telescope such as a heavy eyepiece and finder scope or a full-aperture glass solar filter, the telescope could become "front heavy."  In that case you may have to tighten the altitude clutch some so that the tube does not slip when moving in the up/down direction. 

So, I have been following the instructions in the Instruction Manual for over seven years now, and I have not had any problems with the scope that can be realated to running the clutches with the level of tension that I desire. Nowhere in the manual does it say that the clutches need to be "locked down" at any time for any reason. 

 

Once set with enough tension to keep the motors from slipping or the altitude axis from moving under changing loads, it is unnecessary to ever touch them again or either Go2, manual motion or unpowered motion (except perhaps for environmental conditions or wear over time).  You will hurt nothing, and if the accuracy gets off during a session (as Orion says it will) you can do a Re-align Encoder" function to re-synchronize them to the sky map.

 

It is all there in black and white in the owners manual, and in my seven years of experience of doing it with zero negative consequences. 

 

I am sorry if you had an issue with your scope, but it was nothing to do with the clutches unless they were defective or improperly installed. The clutches are designed to allow the user to determine the amount of friction they desire, and if it would damage the scope and cause a warranty issue if the clutches were not used locked down (which implies to me tight enough to allow no manual movement), Orion would not have told us we can use any tension we desire.   

 

You can argue it further if you wish, but the manual says it is OK, and with seven years of use with no problem, to me, the argument is over.  This is the way the telescope was designed and intended to work and using it this way causes no harm. 


Edited by Eddgie, 08 August 2020 - 02:31 PM.


#10 Dave Bush

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 02:44 PM

 

You can argue it further if you wish, but the manual says it is OK, and with seven years of use with no problem, to me, the argument is over.  This is the way the telescope was designed and intended to work and using it this way causes no harm. 

Thanks Ed for chiming in.  I had hoped you would.  This is encouraging for me as I await my new XX12g.



#11 Eddgie

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 02:50 PM

And the way the dual encoder system works is pretty simple. The encoders on the motors tell the scope how far the scope has moved when the motors are moving the scope.  These encoders only move with the motors.

 

The encoders that are used for manual movement are on the axle shafts for the difference axes. These are in no way attached to the motors. They move when the scope moves, but in normal Go2, the software ignores them.

 

When the scope is moved manually, the software counts off the ticks and then simply adds or subjects them from the last known Go2 position so that the scope can now adjust the sky map for the stopping point and adjust the drive motors to the new direction and speed for that point in the sky and now, the Go2 encoders are again in charge.

 

If you make a lot of manual slews, it is possible that if the mount is not level or there is a little play here or there, the data provided to the software will be slightly corrupted, and this means that the sky map will be off a tiny bit.  Once again, the Go2 encoders take over but after repeated manual slews, if enough corrupt data is fed in, the sky map gets off and pointing accuracy declines.   

What the Re-align encoder fuction does (as I recall) is to prompt you for a star and slew to it. If it centers up, no re-alignment is needed but if it does not you can center it, and the software will reset the sky map back to what it as at the alignment from the begenning of the session utilizing the level data already present (so you don't need to do two alignment stars... The software assumes that the scope has not been physically moved from the level position it was when the original alignment was performed).  

The PAE data is another powerful tool, but PAE is stored in the handset and is non-volitale. If you store PAE data and move the scope, then unless you clear it, the next time you do an alignment, the software will apply that PAE data, and that data may no longer be valid.   If the scope is moved between uses, it is wise to re-set the PAE data at the beginning of the session. Failure to do so can lead to pointing errors, even if a two star alignment was performed. 



#12 Eddgie

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 03:18 PM

Thanks Ed for chiming in.  I had hoped you would.  This is encouraging for me as I await my new XX12g.

No problem.  As I said, I have been using the telescope for over seven years and I rarely touch the clutches.  There simply is no need for me to do so, but I am not you or the other posters

The azimuth clutch can be quite light because there is no balance issue.  Now if you go unpowered, you can make it lighter by loosening the clutch, but it takes so little pressure for the motor to move the scope in azimuth that it is not worth me getting down on hands and knees to loosen it.  Mine pushes pretty easily at the same tension that I use for Go2.

 

This may very well be a case where your mileage my vary.  My scope moves reasonably smooth when running unpowered with the same tension as I use for Go2, but I don't try to track at high power manual, and that could make a big difference.  Again, there will almost always need to be some tension on the azimuth clutch (unless one balances the scope for the load).  And the reason I use a Go2 scope to begin with is so that I don't have to manually track at high powers.  If I am going to do a planetary session, I let the motors do the work.  For quick looks, I sometimes use full manual. 

 

The nice thing about manual in Go2 is that it saves a lot of battery power.  Think of it this way.. If you slew 90 degrees across the sky, your mount would have to track for six hours to use the same amount of power as it would take for the scope to slew across the sky.  Three or four across the sky slews could use enough current to track your scope for 24 hours

 

I tend to use full Go2 when I am working a small area of the sky, but if I move more than about 45 degrees, I do a manual slew to the general vicinity of the target (or more or less right to the target if it is bright, like a planet or the moon).  If it is a bright target, I get it inside the half degree circle on the Telrad then touch it up using the handset.  

 

If it is a dim target, once I get in the general area, I then use the Go2 on the handset to finish the move to the target.  Not only does this save a lot of current, but it is also sometimes just faster.  Slewing from one side of the sky to the other can take a long time.  I can manually slew across the sky in a couple of seconds. That is the beauty of the dual encoder system.  



#13 SteelStar

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 03:26 PM

Thanks Eddgie for your posts. I have been operating my new XX12g the way you have expressed, with the clutches set to my desire. Granted, I have only had mine for about a month and used it 6 times, but after a 2 star alignment, the pointing usually slews where the object is visible in a 8mm to  12mm Delos. 
 

I have only manually moved the scope a couple of times, once to the moon and to Jupiter and Saturn. After doing this I have done a “ re-align” on a star and it seems to work.
 

One question though, does the base have to be level? I have been just setting mine on my driveway so far and it works great. While the driveway is somewhat level I’m sure it’s not perfect. Does it matter that much, say one of these days I set up somewhere on in my yard where it might be a little less level than my driveway? 



#14 MOwen

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 03:58 PM

Eddgie: I concede to your expertise and experience with the Orion drives and apologize to any that I may have misled with my assertions.  I don't typically have a need to use manual motion so I'm inclined to wonder at times why someone would invest all the extra $$ in a go-to system and end up wanting to move it by hand for any reason.  The clutch mechanism options you've cited are obviously valid and useful.



#15 Eddgie

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 04:21 PM

 

 

One question though, does the base have to be level? I have been just setting mine on my driveway so far and it works great. While the driveway is somewhat level I’m sure it’s not perfect. Does it matter that much, say one of these days I set up somewhere on in my yard where it might be a little less level than my driveway? 

No, does not have to be level, but a two star alignment is necessary to get good pointing.

 

That being said, the software generally will try to pick a star that is at a steep angle (think 90 degrees) to the first star. It does this so that it can see if there is any tilt in the base.  If one star was due east and one was due west, the software could not tell if the base were tilted north or south, so you would have some error when pointing in those directions.

 

So, if the star that it picks is not usable, when you take something other than the default, try to get a star that is a quarter way around the sky or so.  This way, if the base is tilted, it will have two reference points at 90 degrees (or as best as you can do) and will make a better estimate of how far out of level the base is.

Mostly though, you don't have to worry about a few degrees of tilt. The software will calculate that during two star alignment and apply the offset to the sky map.  

 

If you cannot use stars that are off to an angle, it may be desirable to build up a PAE catalog as you go along and these will refine your pointing for each area of the sky you do a PAE for.  You can use up to 30 PAE stars I think.

 

Remember though that PAE data is not discarded at power off.  If your scope were not level when you did the PAE stars and then leveled the scope next time you set it up, the PAE data would still be applied and now your pointing would be off again, even if you used the two alignment stars.  PAE Data is a powerful function, but like anything with power, it is best used with a clear understanding of how that power is applied. 

 

My advice  is that unless the scope is parked and not moved after power off, if you use them clear the PAE stars before you turn off the scope,  If you forget, the next time you power on, do it before alignment.  Just bump through the defaults to settings, clear the PAE error, then go back and restart and align. This is why it is good to get into the habit of clearing it at the end of the session unless the scope is going to be put in park, powered off, and not moved.


Edited by Eddgie, 08 August 2020 - 04:22 PM.


#16 SteelStar

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 04:41 PM

Thanks, that is good advice that I will do from now on. bow.gif


Edited by SteelStar, 08 August 2020 - 04:41 PM.



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