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Fornax LighTrack II vs Star Adventurer Pro

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#1 Reece

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 01:43 PM

Hello,

 

I am new to astrophotography and am trying to begin at a reasonable cost.

 

I have seen the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Pro recommended in many threads on CloudyNights.com and am wondering how it compares to the Fornax LighTrack II. It seems from what I have read that the Fornax LighTrack II mount has a lower periodic error although it is considerably more expensive if Fornax brand matching accessories are purchased for it.

 

Would it be reasonable to purchase the base Fornax LighTrack II mount and pair it with Sky-Watcher polar scope and Sky-Watcher equatorial wedge? 

 

Thank you so much for helping a newbie! 


Edited by Reece, 19 January 2021 - 01:49 PM.


#2 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 01:50 PM

There's no bad choice there.

 

But, a _lot_ more people use the Star Adventurer, so you have a much bigger user base to consult if you have issues.  At least in the US, probably elsewhere.

 

Why I bought a CEM60 mount instead of a Vixen SXD2.

 

Mixing things from two different manufacturers leaves you nowhere to turn if you have issues.  One thing I know about DSO AP.  There are issues.  <smile>

 

Bottom line.  I recommend just going with the Star Adventurer.  It works.  I like things that work.  <smile>


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 January 2021 - 01:51 PM.

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#3 qswat72

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 02:04 PM

I’d also recommend the SA. Been using one the past few months now and have had a great experience. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the mount!
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#4 Haukka

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 02:12 PM

Hello there,

 

I have the fornax, with its dedicated wedge and polar scope. I do not regret buying it, if PA is well realized, I could image for 60s at 500mm without blurring the stars. I usually use it between 50 and 135mm. Well machined, great quality.

 

example at 500mm FL and 30s subs here : https://www.astrobin.../full/qkrcyl/0/

example at 500mm FL and 60s subs here https://www.astrobin.../full/422955/0/

 

These images were done with a non modified DSLR, so don't mind if the image is beautiful or not, check the shape of stars at maximum resolution.

 

Marc
 


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#5 chanrobi

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 04:53 PM

Lighttrack II outperforms pretty much ANY star tracker by FAR, just in terms of  pure unguided ability.

 

Not even in the same class as i'm concerned.

 

You can lump the SA, the skytracker, skyguider all that together in one category and the LT 2 in another.

 

The ability to do 200mm+ easily without throwing away subs, and without guiding is unprecedented


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#6 kevin2357

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:03 PM

My portable mount is a Fornax, and I use it on the skywatcher wedge and with a non-Fornax polar scope and a DIY counterbalance solution.

It is a little annoying how expensive their accessories are, but you can usually find something comparable from a different manufacturer that works well enough.


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#7 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 05:32 PM

The Fornax LighTrack II should have very little to no periodic error.  My Star Adventurer Pro has a P-P periodic error between 20 to 50.  As far as polar alignment accuracy they are about the same.  I attached a PoleMaster to my Star Adventurer and I can image with my 200mm lens for about 4 minutes without drifting.  You MUST get a wedge with each to get the max out of the trackers.


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#8 LeloTX

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 06:59 PM

I just posted my first two images using the Star Adventurer:

https://www.cloudyni...t-2/?p=10817898

 

These are also my first-ever astro photos and I'm happy as a clam with the SA. One reason I bought it over the other options is the amount of support available for newbies like me, mainly in the form of helpful YouTube videos. I'm now considering a PoleMaster for it, but one minute exposures with a 300mm lens make for a darn good intro into this hobby IMO.

 

John


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#9 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:09 PM

Here's my first with the Star Adventurer.

 

36833889611_4fe7a37d93_b.jpgM31 by Jim Waters, on Flickr


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#10 DantheSpaceMan

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:12 PM

The Fornax tracker is really nice, and highly recommended. The power source you use for it is external, but you just buy a lithium battery pack (google it/fornax has recommendations too) and you are good to go. The only catch is, it truly depends on what you plan on capturing...i.e. you wouldn't need it for lenses under 200mm or light lenses.

 

Fornax is great for: 200mm f/2.8, 300 f/4, 300 f/2.8 and 1.4/2x teleconverters, Sigma 85-135 1.4 lenses, etc (lenses, usually expensive too, with some weight to them).

 

SA is great for nightscapes, and wide field, etc. 35mm, 100mm f/2, 200mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2, etc. This is generally a cheaper system overall.

 

If you're using refractors, same thing -- 50-61mm apertures for SA and 70-100mm generally would fit the Fornax better, both likely require the counterbalance system. 

 

The only major issues you'll have with either tracker is ensuring you have appropriate balance, a sturdy system, attaining correct polar alignment, and power. 

 

I have the Fornax and its base, but instead of the polar scope, I decided to go with the polemaster camera (bought at highpoint) and adapter through the Canadian distributor. It's a little more expensive route, but it takes five minutes and I'm ready to go. Polar scope users can also set up in the same amount of time, but it's personal preference.

 

Also, the astrotrak can be occasionally found used on the classifieds. That is also a good tracker to consider, similar to the Fornax.

 

p.s. If you order the SA from OPT, keep the tracker in your cart for a while, or look for a 5 or 10% coupon to show up in your email inbox.


Edited by DantheSpaceMan, 19 January 2021 - 07:14 PM.

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#11 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:19 PM

Do not get an AstroTrac.



#12 tkottary

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:30 PM

Having used both of them I would say its a decision you have to make. 

 

Fornax is in another league of trackers compared to rest. The ONLY downside is 107 min tracking limit after which you need to re-wind it again. This can be very annoying if  you want to capture data set unattended for more than 2 hours.  

 

Since you mentioned reasonable cost  would recommend Star adventure or sky guider pro are both good in terms what you can do.

 

Cost no bar: I would suggest getting single arm of Astrotrac 360 which should perform the same way as Fornax without 2 hour limitation.


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#13 Reece

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 07:34 PM

Hi Jim. I would be very grateful to hear what your experience has been with the AstroTrac. I am trying to learn what makes a good tracker and I'm sure your experience would be very valuable to other new members as well who are browsing this forum. 

 

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer seems to be a lot cheaper at some USA + European online retailers than at websites in Canada (some of whom fortunately ship to Canada)

 

Everything is kind of ultimately about value-per-dollar for many of us I would imagine. If a cheaper mount like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer which is perhaps not quite as good on its own could be combined with better polar tracking equipment, filters, etc with the money savings, then which is ultimately the better mount choice for that person?

 

Do not get an AstroTrac.

 


Edited by Reece, 19 January 2021 - 07:52 PM.


#14 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:07 PM

I had an AstroTrac TT320X-AG including the counter balance arm, wedge and pier for about a year.  The TT320X-AG required significant modifications for it to be usable. 

  • The polar scope had a 'toy-like' quality to it.  I had to enlarge the slit that the LED shines through to illuminate the reticle.  The front lens was hard plastic and had distortions.  It mounted to the 'tangent arm' by using magnets and would fall off just by touching it.   I had to redesign how it was mounted.
  • The tangent arm was press fitted to the central hub, wasn't orthogonal to the hub and its angle would very.  This made polar alignment very difficult. 
  • The screw drive would collect lint and dust and needed to be cleaned periodically. 
  • The power cord to the AstroTrac broke several times and I had to replace it. 
  • Support was hit-or-miss.
  • Over priced for what you get - IMHO.
  • The list goes on...

As for the AstroTrac 360, IMHO its way over priced.  If you are going to spend that much, spend more and get a real GEM.  Also, with the design and mechanical issues of the TT320X-AG I question the design of the 360.


Edited by Jim Waters, 19 January 2021 - 08:10 PM.

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#15 georgian82

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:17 PM

I have used the Astrotrac, the Fornax Lightrack ii and the Ioptron Skytracker (first model). I can say that the Fornax Lightrack ii is way ahead of any of them in terms of accuracy. 

 

The problem is that because it is so accurate, it makes you want to put on a longer focal length lens or telescope and then it becomes very hard to find a target. My point is, with any of these instruments, you may want to stick to less than 200mm focal length if you don't want to spend an hour just finding your target and framing...Just something to keep in mind because it can be frustrating. 


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#16 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:19 PM

I have used the Astrotrac, the Fornax Lightrack ii and the Ioptron Skytracker (first model). I can say that the Fornax Lightrack ii is way ahead of any of them in terms of accuracy. 

+1  waytogo.gif

 

 

I do like my Star Adventurer. 



#17 chanrobi

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:42 PM

Hi Jim. I would be very grateful to hear what your experience has been with the AstroTrac. I am trying to learn what makes a good tracker and I'm sure your experience would be very valuable to other new members as well who are browsing this forum. 

 

The Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer seems to be a lot cheaper at some USA + European online retailers than at websites in Canada (some of whom fortunately ship to Canada)

 

Everything is kind of ultimately about value-per-dollar for many of us I would imagine. If a cheaper mount like the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer which is perhaps not quite as good on its own could be combined with better polar tracking equipment, filters, etc with the money savings, then which is ultimately the better mount choice for that person?

There is NO reason to get a SA if you can afford the LT II unless 107 min tracking time really bothers you.

Whatever focal length you can shoot unguided with SA/other crap you can do better with LT II.


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#18 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:49 PM

Not sure I agree.  I would take a real hard look at the Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack.  This model supports WiFi control.

  • Star Adventurer multi-function equatorial tracking mount
  • 11 pound payload capacity
  • Built-in polar scope with illuminator
  • Dec bracket
  • 3.63 pound mount head weight (with Dec bracket)
  • Latitude (EQ) base
  • Counterweight kit
  • Ball head adapter
  • Dec bracket

 

https://www.skywatch...nturer-pro-pack

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=BZc7nYnAEdw


Edited by Jim Waters, 19 January 2021 - 08:49 PM.

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#19 Reece

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 08:57 PM

Is anyone familiar with the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini? It was not a model I was looking at however I have found it for substantially cheaper than the Pro model at a European retailer. It would be for a Canon 40D+ Canon 200mm F2.8 lens. 

 

Thank you you all so much for your contributions! I greatly appreciate it. 


Edited by Reece, 19 January 2021 - 08:59 PM.


#20 Jim Waters

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:17 PM

I had the Mini and sold it.  I got it for camping and hiking.  The weight capacity was somewhat low but it worked OK.  A 40D and Canon 200mm lens may be at the edge of the Mini's weight capacity.  Its bigger brother would be better.  


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#21 qswat72

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Posted 19 January 2021 - 09:23 PM

Is anyone familiar with the Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer Mini? It was not a model I was looking at however I have found it for substantially cheaper than the Pro model at a European retailer. It would be for a Canon 40D+ Canon 200mm F2.8 lens.

Thank you you all so much for your contributions! I greatly appreciate it.

The SAM is overpriced imo. You can get used SAs for a good bit less than a new SAM.
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#22 chanrobi

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 01:06 AM

Not sure I agree.  I would take a real hard look at the Star Adventurer 2i Pro Pack.  This model supports WiFi control.

  • Star Adventurer multi-function equatorial tracking mount
  • 11 pound payload capacity
  • Built-in polar scope with illuminator
  • Dec bracket
  • 3.63 pound mount head weight (with Dec bracket)
  • Latitude (EQ) base
  • Counterweight kit
  • Ball head adapter
  • Dec bracket

 

https://www.skywatch...nturer-pro-pack

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=BZc7nYnAEdw

Yes but does it do +/- 1 arc min? Or even 2?



#23 bobzeq25

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 01:22 AM

Summary of the above, and my knowledge.

 

The Fornax is good, but is it in your budget?

 

The Star Adventurer works well for getting started in the hobby, and is capable of good images.

 

Trying to save money on the Fornax by creating a hybrid with SA parts is not something I'd advise.

 

The SA mini is for someone wanting extreme portability at the cost of performance.  Does that describe you?

 

My addition.  For the price of the Fornax with accessories, you're getting close to the price of a real mount with motors on both axes, GOTO, and good capability for autoguiding.  The reasons for camera trackers are to lower the cost of entry into DSO AP, and provide portability (which is why I have one _in addition to_ my serious mount).  I'm not sure the Fornax meets the first goal.  <smile>


Edited by bobzeq25, 20 January 2021 - 01:27 AM.

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#24 Jim Waters

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 01:24 AM

Does it need to be for the F.L. that its intended for???  These mounts aren't intended for large (heavy) and long F.L. scopes...  And also you are limited by the accuracy of the polar alignment.  The Fornax LighTrack II is a nice unit but the very little periodic error is overkill in most cases IMHO. 


Edited by Jim Waters, 20 January 2021 - 01:25 AM.

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#25 Reece

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 01:46 AM

Long term, when I gain more experience, I would like to use my Nikon J1 camera (or something similar from an astronomy camera company) with my tracking mount and 200mm F2.8 lens. I have no intention of ever purchasing a telescope -- I just cannot afford the kind of mounts that would require. The Nikon J1 has the same number of megapixels as my Canon 40D spread over a sensor that is only 1 inch in size -- it would put more pixels on DSO targets at the cost of much higher demands on mount tracking accuracy. 

 

I don't have the budget to purchase future-proof products at present like a full Fornax kit without substituting parts. I realize that what I have just said above about a Nikon J1 is completely above the limits of at least an unguided Star Adventurer Pro and quite possibly above the skill level I will ever have with a Star Adventurer Pro.

 

I would be happy to use my Canon 40D on a cheaper tracker for the next 12-18 months and learn astrophotography properly. I would probably just end up with a bunch of blurry pics if I tried to use my Nikon J1 now anyway -- he is not the easiest camera to even use in the daytime because of how little camera shake it takes to blur pictures! 


Edited by Reece, 20 January 2021 - 01:50 AM.



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