I de-forked my orange C8 (onto an AVX) years ago. Yeah it was great! More solid, go-to, easier to balance with cameras, heavy eyepieces, great for imaging, etc. No way was I going back to a wedge and a fork!
But, fast forward. I've found it sort of boring. I don't image anymore, and there is no joy in finding a target. I hate standing around waiting for it to grind on to the next target. The eyepiece is all over the place, forcing me to practically sit on the ground sometimes, crane my neck and constantly rotate the diagonal. Sometimes (like tonight) it just acts up and every go-to is off by half a degree. Resets, re-alignments, nothing seems to solve it. You suddenly feel at the mercy of a stupid computer who has it wrong. Tonight every alignment star it picked was below the horizon! ****? Triple checked location, date, time, year, and DST. I had to manually pick all alignment stars. Slewing slowly with the hand controller to get every target into the FOV because gotos are still off after a 4 star alignment really sucks. Forget panning around the sky looking for something, it's painful. I enter RA and DEC to find my variable and it's a degree off. It's dropped me into a small field I can't match up with my charts, and slewing with the hand controller is awkward. I wish I could just PUSH the scope around quickly to match my charts to the FOV but nope. Sometimes it drops me right on the variable other times it makes the entire process more difficult than just star hopping.
After years of this I finally found myself longing for the simplicity of the original fork. Push it around freely. Use setting circles to find targets. Yeah I'll miss the stability of the GEM but I won't miss the headache and setup time (30 minutes). Purchased a replacement fork and a wedge. Will set up a permanent pier in the yard. Primary interest is AAVSO variable observing so plopping it down on a pre-aligned wedge and getting to work, pushing from variable to variable sounds fantastic and productive. Nothing but the faint buzz of the synchro motors. No 4 star alignment process, noisy slews, bad alignments, batteries, tripod, counterweights, hand controllers, cables, or data entry. Just bolt it down and turn it on. The large RA setting circle will get me close enough.
Just wondered how many of you have gone full circle like this. Feels sort of liberating.
Edited by Tom Stock, 17 January 2021 - 01:15 AM.