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New (to me) Vixen Great Polaris

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#1 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:23 PM

I just received a new (to me) old school, manual GEM...a Vixen Great Polaris. Made in Japan. Aside from some rust on the counterweight, the mount itself is like brand new.

Very solid mount. I've had a lot of the Chinese clones over the years. No comparison in quality. No slop, tight fitting in both axes and very smooth operating slow-motion controls.

Of course weather isn't cooperating, but here's a few indoor pics with my Lunt 102ED on it. My Lunt has a rotating focuser (and the RACI mounting shoe is on the focuser) so orientation of the GEM is no issue. It's attached to my EXOS2-GT tripod with homemade pier extension.

6f106c_fa3ef939d8ef44eb87ccefcf3853fb31~  6f106c_80541dfd88a141c5b8d79f7a2d406746~

 

6f106c_86ff6055275947658c54819e95d9611e~


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 24 October 2020 - 10:53 AM.

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#2 sunnyday

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:26 PM

this is what I see when I click on your photos.

You do not have permission to view this image



#3 mfoose

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:32 PM

I just acquired one a few weeks ago with a Vixen 102mm f/9.8 achro. I love both the mount and scope. The previous owner had them in storage for some time before I acquired them and the grease made things a bit stiff. I was able to take it apart, clean it, re-grease, and re-assemble it one day shortly after acquiring it. Taking it apart showed me just how well made it was. Excellent QC on these mounts. The new grease makes it a dream to use as well. I just want to add one of the single axis drives to it.


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#4 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:33 PM

this is what I see when I click on your photos.

You do not have permission to view this image

How about now?


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#5 sunnyday

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Posted 23 October 2020 - 10:35 PM

cool.gif thanks . really nice  set up .


Edited by sunnyday, 23 October 2020 - 10:35 PM.

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#6 alphatripleplus

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 08:40 AM

Hope you enjoy that mount. I have a Vixen Super Polaris that is still running quite happily. The GP has a little more payload capacity than the Super Polaris, which I wish I had.


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#7 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 11:04 AM

The weight of my entire scope, RACI and EP weighs a grand total of 12.4 lbs. The mount is rock solid. This is the first GEM I've owned where there is absolutely no slop in either axes when the locks are loosened. My other Chinese clones always had some slop or play in the axes where, when you unlocked them they would sag a bit under weight. Not with this mount. I unlock them and they stay right where they were when locked. Vixen (Japan) must have used better bearings and have tighter tolerances.

 

Even after all these years the mount is so solid and the slo-motion controls are just buttery smooth. After all these years of owning a variety of the knock-off/clones there is a very discernable difference in quality between this Vixen GP and those others. Don't get me wrong, the others were quite usable and didn't really cause me any issues, but you can just see and feel the difference. 

 

My old EXOS2-GT tripod and homemade pier extension is absolutely rock solid. I'm going to be using this for my visual and photography rig. I only observe and take photos of the Moon and planets, so I don't need GoTo, nor do I even need to motorize the RA axis. Moon photography is of such short exposures, I only need something solid that allows me to manually keep it centered. With this GEM, even roughly polar aligned this is going to make it so easy and enjoyable. 


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#8 dUbeni

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 12:27 PM

Hi MarkMittlesteadt,

I can't agree more, I've been using my GP mount for thirteen years, and all I can say is that it's reliable and very easy to use. I do have MT1 motors on both axis, but mostly use the RA for tracking and correct DEC manually when needed. I like the option of going in for a coffee or dinner and come back to the same view or close to it smile.gif 

 

Have fun.

 

Clear skies

Bernardo 


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#9 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 01:20 PM

Hi MarkMittlesteadt,

I can't agree more, I've been using my GP mount for thirteen years, and all I can say is that it's reliable and very easy to use. I do have MT1 motors on both axis, but mostly use the RA for tracking and correct DEC manually when needed. I like the option of going in for a coffee or dinner and come back to the same view or close to it smile.gif

 

Have fun.

 

Clear skies

Bernardo 

Hey Bernardo, 

 

I was using a manual Stellarvue M2C Alt-Az mount because I like to keep things very simple. Where I live all but the brightest DSO's are pretty much out of the question, so my focus (no pun intended) is more on the Moon and planets. But I've been very much into photography lately and I wanted to find a GEM so I would only need to manually track in RA. Hard to find any non-motorized, non GoTo, manual GEM's these days of high quality without spending a fortune (and most of them also weigh a ton). All of the affordable manual GEM's are really just the same inferior Chinese clones of this Vixen GP.

 

I was just browsing the CN classifieds mounts' section and I saw a lot of ads for all the used clones up for sale, but something told me to hold out. I went pretty far back, page after page, way into mid-September postings when I came across the ad for this. The guy still had it, and it turned out he was interested in my M2C so we did a trade. Serendipity smiled on us. I'm pretty happy to have the Vixen. 

 

Due to limited time to observe/photograph, I'm usually not out very long, but being able to simply turn the RA control and re-center an object makes things very simple and easy for me. I've owned so many GoTo motorized mounts but I really love the idea of not worrying about battery power any longer. 


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#10 dUbeni

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 04:03 PM

Hey Bernardo, 

 

I was using a manual Stellarvue M2C Alt-Az mount because I like to keep things very simple. Where I live all but the brightest DSO's are pretty much out of the question, so my focus (no pun intended) is more on the Moon and planets.

Hi MarkMittlestaeadt

I too live under skies where planets and double stars are pretty much all I can reach. I'm glad you found it, and I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun with it in years to come.

I do frequently use the knobs to center objects and then tighten the clutch to track whatever I'm observing. The clutch is a good thing that the MT1 Vixen motors had available. I'm not an astro photographer, but I do occasionally take photos of the moon, and I find tracking useful even on this fast photos.

 

Bernardo



#11 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 October 2020 - 04:08 PM

Hi MarkMittlestaeadt

I too live under skies where planets and double stars are pretty much all I can reach. I'm glad you found it, and I'm sure you'll have a lot of fun with it in years to come.

I do frequently use the knobs to center objects and then tighten the clutch to track whatever I'm observing. The clutch is a good thing that the MT1 Vixen motors had available. I'm not an astro photographer, but I do occasionally take photos of the moon, and I find tracking useful even on this fast photos.

 

Bernardo

It's difficult to find motors that fit this mount (that also still allow the use of the manual slo-motion controls) like the MT1. Most that will fit were made for the clones, and none of those allow the use of the manual controls. I don't want to give up manual control just for some automated RA tracking. But the RA tracking is so smooth, I'm fine with it as is. 


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#12 Sammy

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 06:33 AM

The GP doesnt have any bearings in it, just nylon washers. Still works well though. I have a made for celestron vixen gp with meade lxd55 motors and autostar. It hasnt burst into flames yet, but it has been the best mount I have owned.

#13 dUbeni

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 08:41 AM

Regarding a paint job on the counter-weight: I took mine to a car paint shop nearby and they did match the color, they didn't match the hammered finish because that type of paint is no longer available.



#14 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 11:37 AM

Regarding a paint job on the counter-weight: I took mine to a car paint shop nearby and they did match the color, they didn't match the hammered finish because that type of paint is no longer available.

I'm an artist and a DIY'er. I've done a lot of murals on cars and bike tanks. I can match the color and via a faux finish painting technique I can also match the "hammered" metallic look as well. I plan on painting the counterweight and pier extension to match the mount. 


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#15 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 25 October 2020 - 11:38 AM

The GP doesnt have any bearings in it, just nylon washers. Still works well though. I have a made for celestron vixen gp with meade lxd55 motors and autostar. It hasnt burst into flames yet, but it has been the best mount I have owned.

Interesting that is has no bearings. That might explain why it has no "slop" associated with many other clones. It makes sense that the axes are riding on nylon. It isn't stiff in the slightest, just solid and smooth. 



#16 Nippon

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 09:16 AM

Has no bearings is not exactly accurate. The GP, SP even in the DX versions use what is known as plain bearings. In these Vixen mounts the machining is very good and that results in the smooth motion. The nylon washers are used where the shoulder of one bearing bears on that of another. I have heard that the difference between a standard GP and a GPD is the GPD versions use ball bearings this is not true the "D" versions use steel RA and Dec axis in place of aluminum used in the standard version.


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#17 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 09:30 AM

Has no bearings is not exactly accurate. The GP, SP even in the DX versions use what is known as plain bearings. In these Vixen mounts the machining is very good and that results in the smooth motion. The nylon washers are used where the shoulder of one bearing bears on that of another. I have heard that the difference between a standard GP and a GPD is the GPD versions use ball bearings this is not true the "D" versions use steel RA and Dec axis in place of aluminum used in the standard version.

Even more interesting. Where does one find out this find information? I've Googled and search all over for info, but could not really find any detailed information about the Vixen GP. Just tidbits of the Super Polaris, and the GPDX and even the more modern replacements, but nothing on this classic GEM.



#18 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 09:43 AM

I did find some info from Company 7's website...

"However, the GP series mounts have not yet been equaled in performance or refinement by these knock offs. The GP mounts provide a superior selection of better engineered options. The GPE provides better rigidity pound per pound and weigh less than the clones due to the use of advanced materials, better components and design. And the GP mounts incorporate more precise tracking gear and bearing sets with smoother manual geared controls than those provided with the mounts made by imitators; this is particularly apparent to those who observe in below freezing environments."

 

I'd love to know even more about my Vixen GP. I've owned so many of the knock-off GEM's which is (in part) the reason I've been turned off to GEM's in general. Especially since I could (and still can't) afford the much higher priced manual GEM's like Losmandy, etc. 

 

There is a VERY discernable difference in quality between my Vixen GP and every other "budget" manual GEM I've ever owned. 


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#19 Nippon

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 09:55 AM

The last versions of the GP mounts were the GP2 and GPD2. They were both discontinued in 2014. When they were in production Vixen detailed the difference between them. Along with the steel axis shafts the GPD had brass worm wheels rather than the GP's aluminum and the GPD2 had more accurately machined worm wheels and worm gears. The polar scope illuminator is built in on the GPD2 rather than the separate little pen light illuminator of the GP2. Vixen Japan stated the capacity of the GP at 15 pounds and the GPD at 22 pounds. I have a GPD2 currently and had a GP2. The weight of the GPD2 head over the GP2 is rather shocking if you pick up a GP head and the pick up a GPD2.


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#20 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 05:52 PM

I removed my pier extension and mounted the Vixen GP directly to my tripod head. My scope isn't very long and so I have no worries of the scope hitting the legs. The EXOS2-GT tripod legs aren't even fully extended and it's at the same height it was with the pier extension. Removing the extension also removed unwanted weight. 

 

I did repaint the counterweight. Took it to work with me and used a wire brush on the bench grinder to remove the rust and get it back to bare metal. Then I primed it and painted it with Ace Rust Stop Ford Gloss Gray Machine and Implement paint. Its a warmer, Brownish Gray, and very close to the grayish green of the mount. 

 

6f106c_4f6299a0239b4909927db673ea929e64~  6f106c_9702956cbc854aa086e78bddeb33bd6f~

 

6f106c_d17609a9c8a14d95923c3b8fdb4a1498~


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 27 October 2020 - 05:58 PM.

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#21 mfoose

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 07:45 PM

I removed my pier extension and mounted the Vixen GP directly to my tripod head. My scope isn't very long and so I have no worries of the scope hitting the legs. The EXOS2-GT tripod legs aren't even fully extended and it's at the same height it was with the pier extension. Removing the extension also removed unwanted weight. 

 

I did repaint the counterweight. Took it to work with me and used a wire brush on the bench grinder to remove the rust and get it back to bare metal. Then I primed it and painted it with Ace Rust Stop Ford Gloss Gray Machine and Implement paint. Its a warmer, Brownish Gray, and very close to the grayish green of the mount. 

 

6f106c_4f6299a0239b4909927db673ea929e64~  6f106c_9702956cbc854aa086e78bddeb33bd6f~

 

6f106c_d17609a9c8a14d95923c3b8fdb4a1498~

Glad to see it mount directly to the tripod. I may opt for a similar tripod for more stability.


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#22 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 27 October 2020 - 09:10 PM

Glad to see it mount directly to the tripod. I may opt for a similar tripod for more stability.

The 2" steel legs are really strong, and I made my own fold-up spreader bars (using DJ light stand clamps and the legs and hub from an old photography tripod).

 

It is rock solid. Zero dampening time...no vibrations whatsoever.

 

6f106c_cfb2781865024eda9ba8d21d796dcc90~   6f106c_1469f932e68342daaaaf072ad6dfbd16~


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#23 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 28 October 2020 - 09:00 PM

In addition to my lower tripod leg spreader, I added the original EXOS2-GT upper leg spreader/mounting bolt to my tripod today.

The Vixen GP uses the same M10-1.5 bolt so this worked out great. I added the tray to the EXOS2-GT spreader plate a long time ago and forgot I had it, so now, not only is this tripod/mount incredibly solid, I also have an accessory tray.

Anyone who uses a tripod spreader knows how much more solid it makes a tripod. Imagine using two...the upper one forces the legs fully out, while the lower one pulls them in tight.

Vixen GP mount on EXOS2-GT

Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 28 October 2020 - 09:06 PM.

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#24 Andre Cruz

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Posted 29 October 2020 - 03:51 PM

I owned this Great Polaris for a few years and then sold it to a friend.  I recently had an opportunity to buy it back after regretting the sale for the last 7-8 years.  I cleaned it up and polished the wood tripod... tested it out with my Explore Scientific 102mm APO.  It balances great and still tracks very well.  I ordered the EQStar EQ5 GOTO upgrade because I want to try and use it will Stellarmate for guiding and imaging.  Hopefully that kit will be here in a week or so.

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#25 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 29 October 2020 - 03:56 PM

I owned this Great Polaris for a few years and then sold it to a friend.  I recently had an opportunity to buy it back after regretting the sale for the last 7-8 years.  I cleaned it up and polished the wood tripod... tested it out with my Explore Scientific 102mm APO.  It balances great and still tracks very well.  I ordered the EQStar EQ5 GOTO upgrade because I want to try and use it will Stellarmate for guiding and imaging.  Hopefully that kit will be here in a week or so.

These Vixen GP mounts are so smooth. I prefer manual with slo-motion control, but I only observe visually and take photos of the Moon so long exposure tracking isn't needed by me.

 

I'll bet it will work better than most modern GoTo clones.




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