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Astrotrac 360 tracking platform – first impression

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16 replies to this topic

#1 Magnar W.

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Posted 31 January 2021 - 12:34 PM

After some waiting my Astrotrac 360 arrived, and the drive looks great straight out of the box. Beautifully machined, light weight, and compact. Just what I was asking for, after moving to a city, leaving my fully equipped small observatory behind me at the countryside.

Click here to view the article
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#2 Hesiod

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Posted 03 February 2021 - 12:21 PM

Nice shots!



#3 Magnar W.

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Posted 03 February 2021 - 01:45 PM

Nice shots!

Thanks a lot. Just waiting for a small apo telescope now, to get pin point stars. ;-)



#4 Hesiod

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Posted 03 February 2021 - 02:48 PM

I have tried mine with the Vixen FL55, it seemed to work well
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#5 Paul Romero

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Posted 06 February 2021 - 03:26 PM

Hi,

 

  I got one of the first generations, and I took it to Arizona for a camping/astrophotography trip. It seemed perfectly portable for the purpose! Thank you for reminding me of what a useful tool the Astrotrac is! 


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#6 nevertoodark

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Posted 07 February 2021 - 07:56 PM

I got the AstroTrac 360 equatorial setup and I love it!  It's a superb mount with an excellent quality of machining.  I've fiddled with it a bit when the weather has allowed, but nothing beyond tests so far.  

I've been using an old WO ZS66 and a ZS80 (which won't focus without buying a second 2" spacer) but I don't have field flatteners for either of them.

 

So, I ordered a new William Optics APO (ZS81 package deal with flattener and guidescope) and I'm ready to get some shots in a couple of days with this new scope and with the help of my Astroberry Pi which seems to be working very well.  

 

What I did notice, however, was that even though I paused the scope tracking in the browser, it kept on moving.  I was trying to line up the guider and take shots with my dSLR, and kept having to back it up to stay centered on the nearby cell tower.  Not sure what that will mean for tracking the moon or sun at their respective rates...

 

Otherwise, the mount stayed centered on M42 for hours the other night even though I was twisting and pulling on the guidescope and dSLR dozens of times to focus each of them.

 

I have a short shot here from the guidescope from the night when I couldn't get my dSLR to come into focus on the ZS80 - the guidescope is on a 50 mm finderscope.  This is just an unprocessed screen capture from the Raspberry Pi's desktop operating remotely in a browser on my MacBook.  Pretty sad, but it's what I've got to show for my work so far LOL.cafd7a823ca949d9bba15ddc87399e7c



#7 Delta608

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 08:55 AM

Another review and unboxing of the Astrotac 360..

 

https://www.dpreview.../thread/4525754



#8 ecuador

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 09:42 AM

Is that photo of an actual setup? It looks like it would be like that at latitude 80 or something? Would it be mounted the other way around, with the long part that hosts the polar scope on the other side for more common latitudes?



#9 Magnar W.

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 10:29 AM

equador: My latitude is 63 degrees north, so Polaris is very high on the sky. ;-)

The mount can be rotated 360 degrees, so you can place the polar scope where you find it most comfortable. For me this is west or east. The setup here is just to show the rig.



#10 Hesiod

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Posted 08 February 2021 - 11:52 AM

Also TS used to sell a rather handy 90° viewfinder for the Astrotrac polarscopes.

I had it originally for the TT320 but was barely usable because of the weak magnets; with the 360 there are no issues, except that at my lower latitude (45°) there is not enough clearance for a full 360° swing so if expect to cross the meridian think safer to remove it after the use



#11 Jim Waters

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Posted 09 February 2021 - 05:16 PM

Nice images but I find the total cost of the 360 too high to justify the purchase.  

 

Also, given the QC and the design issues of the first two models I would have serious concerns about the 360 model.


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#12 Hesiod

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Posted 10 February 2021 - 10:30 AM

I agree it is not cheap, but it covers also a quite unique niche. The previous version was a tracker which thought himself a mount, while this one is a mount believing itself a tracker

Beside the RST135, which by the way is even more expensive, and to a lesser extent the Vixen AP (again, not dirt cheap either) there is no other mount which could be handled as a star tracker.

How much is worth this feature is open to debate, but in any case is very uncommon

 

As for the single drive tracker it is indeed more expensive than most others but try to figure everything is needed to have a cheaper device to attain the same performances and will see that the difference will become noticeably smaller

To make an example, a SGP+WO wedge+guiding kit (ASI120/ZWO 30mm finder) is over 1000€ at EU pricing; add ASIAIR and iPolar and are over 1600€, which is more or less the same price for the Astrotrac 360


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#13 GeoNole94

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Posted 12 February 2021 - 10:55 PM

Nice review, and great photos! 



#14 Avgvstvs

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Posted 16 February 2021 - 07:02 PM

Great review and images

Reading about your local challenging conditions, makes me appreciate mine


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#15 afryhover

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Posted 17 February 2021 - 03:23 PM

Very cool product. Thanks for doing the review. I'm a big fan of portable tracking mounts. I always take my trusty old Sky-Watcher Star Adventurer with me camping!


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#16 kel123

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Posted 21 February 2021 - 09:47 PM

I agree it is not cheap, but it covers also a quite unique niche. The previous version was a tracker which thought himself a mount, while this one is a mount believing itself a tracker

Beside the RST135, which by the way is even more expensive, and to a lesser extent the Vixen AP (again, not dirt cheap either) there is no other mount which could be handled as a star tracker.

How much is worth this feature is open to debate, but in any case is very uncommon

 

As for the single drive tracker it is indeed more expensive than most others but try to figure everything is needed to have a cheaper device to attain the same performances and will see that the difference will become noticeably smaller

To make an example, a SGP+WO wedge+guiding kit (ASI120/ZWO 30mm finder) is over 1000€ at EU pricing; add ASIAIR and iPolar and are over 1600€, which is more or less the same price for the Astrotrac 360

I understand your point but I don't think your comparisons are exactly apples to apples.



#17 Magnar W.

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Posted 22 February 2021 - 05:26 AM

Aurora and Apollo: For me the Astrotrac 360 is all about a system that is compact, easy to transport, and quick to set up. No hazzle, no guiding. The more I use this tracker, the more I appreciate the qualities. Here is an example of the precision with good polar alignment: 400 mm focal length, exposure five minutes, a tight crop with 100% pixel from a 42 Mp camera, no guiding.

 

Astrotrac 360 5 minute exposure

Edited by Magnar W., 22 February 2021 - 05:57 AM.



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