Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Astrotrac 360 tracking platform – first impression

  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 Magnar W.

Magnar W.

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2021

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
  • Hesiod and j.gardavsky like this

#2 Hesiod

Hesiod

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,095
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

Posted 03 February 2021 - 12:21 PM

Nice shots!



#3 Magnar W.

Magnar W.

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2021

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

Hesiod

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,095
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

Posted 03 February 2021 - 02:48 PM

I have tried mine with the Vixen FL55, it seemed to work well
  • Magnar W. likes this

#5 Paul Romero

Paul Romero

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,230
  • Joined: 05 Apr 2005
  • Loc: Reno, NV

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! 


  • Magnar W. likes this

#6 nevertoodark

nevertoodark

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: 04 Oct 2020
  • Loc: Southeast Texas

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

Delta608

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,638
  • Joined: 19 May 2008
  • Loc: Tampa Bay Florida

Posted 08 February 2021 - 08:55 AM

Another review and unboxing of the Astrotac 360..

 

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



#8 ecuador

ecuador

    Messenger

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 472
  • Joined: 15 Aug 2014
  • Loc: Manchester, UK

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.

Magnar W.

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2021

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

Hesiod

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,095
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

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

Jim Waters

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,632
  • Joined: 21 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Phoenix, AZ USA

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.


  • kel123 likes this

#12 Hesiod

Hesiod

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,095
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

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


  • AmazingSky and Magnar W. like this

#13 GeoNole94

GeoNole94

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 89
  • Joined: 23 Oct 2020
  • Loc: Bath, NC

Posted 12 February 2021 - 10:55 PM

Nice review, and great photos! 



#14 Avgvstvs

Avgvstvs

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 726
  • Joined: 10 Jun 2020
  • Loc: Australia

Posted 16 February 2021 - 07:02 PM

Great review and images

Reading about your local challenging conditions, makes me appreciate mine


  • Magnar W. likes this

#15 afryhover

afryhover

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 24
  • Joined: 17 Aug 2012
  • Loc: Yukon, Oklahoma

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!


  • Magnar W. likes this

#16 kel123

kel123

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,138
  • Joined: 11 May 2019

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.

Magnar W.

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2021

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.


#18 Chris W

Chris W

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 212
  • Joined: 05 Jul 2011
  • Loc: Essex, UK

Posted 18 March 2021 - 11:51 AM

Many thanks for the interesting review. It is a very stylish piece of kit. I downloaded the manual and could not see how one would slew to a particular RA/DEC for deep sky imaging. 

I hope they add that functionality soon.



#19 AmazingSky

AmazingSky

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 15 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Posted 31 March 2021 - 11:47 AM

An interesting product. It does appear that the single axis tracker version you reviewed is not available. Their site allows you only to pre-order the full dual axis equatorial mount, making the AstroTrac 360 more than twice as expensive as the version you tested. Tahk! 



#20 CowTipton

CowTipton

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 867
  • Joined: 27 Jul 2020
  • Loc: NW Chicago Suburbs

Posted 18 August 2021 - 04:35 PM

Nice review and pictures!

I recently purchased a used TT320AG version to try with my DSLR for some simple AP.

The newer version looks really nice.



#21 rob.0919

rob.0919

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 266
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Derby , UK

Posted 10 October 2021 - 08:28 AM

Magnar, thanks for posting your review.

 

Just testing my unit out, but i'm finding the same old issues with the frankly hideous polarscope.

Adjusting is is a nightmare. The reticule keeps unseating itself, the grubscrews are difficult to access ; its mostly guesswork. This was supposed to have been redesigned, and this is the best they can come up with....?? The tracker and wedge are nice, no doubt, but it seems to me they've designed a £1000+ tracker with a cheap crappy polarscope not worth a tenner.

 

So i'll have to hope for the best and see what i can get away with using at best very rough polar alignment. I'll be using 135 and 200mm camera lenses.

I thankfully only brought the tracker single unit, and definitely won't be considering adding anything more to it.



#22 Akaru

Akaru

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 15
  • Joined: 08 Oct 2019

Posted 22 November 2021 - 01:59 PM

Anyone (including OP) used this as well as an iOptron Skyguider that can compare? Anyone use this with a Staraid? What are options for a polarscope replacement? I’d like to use this with auto PA as I don’t have view of the poles very often.

#23 Magnar W.

Magnar W.

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2021

Posted 05 December 2021 - 07:25 AM

After almost a year with the AstroTrac 360 platform, I have to say that my first impression still is valid. I am impressed with this peice of gear! Very easy and quick to set up, and precision is great. Now I use the tracker with a TS 76 mm f:4.5 astrograph, and this combo works excellent. The small apo refractor need to be re-balanced when moving to new star fields, though, but this is no problem with the sliding mount for the tripod head. 

 

Here is a series of comet Leonard recently passing the globular cluster M3, tracked with this mount at minus fifteen degrees Celsius. Every single frame was tracked well during more than six hours (now using a 5 Ah Lithium battery). Despite the low temperature and the fact that the small telescope iced down (took the first two pictures with this lens), and later a telephoto lens too (the last picture in the series), I got this astronomical event!

 

Comet Leonard and M3 - before the kiss
 
Comet Leonard and M3 - before the kissy 2
 
Comet Leonard and M3 - good bye
 
Below: I took this one hour exposure of the Orion nebula while waiting for the comet Leonard to raise above my horizon. The main goal of this exposure was to see if I could grab some faint dust and gas in the area surrounding the Great Orion nebula and Running Man nebula. Some more hours of exposure, and I am there! :-) 
 
M42 60 minutes

 


  • Hesiod likes this

#24 Hesiod

Hesiod

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,095
  • Joined: 13 Jan 2013

Posted 05 December 2021 - 08:03 AM

Anyone (including OP) used this as well as an iOptron Skyguider that can compare? Anyone use this with a Staraid? What are options for a polarscope replacement? I’d like to use this with auto PA as I don’t have view of the poles very often.


I do not have the iOptron tracker but my Polarie is more or less in the same league.
In a few words, Astrotrac360 plays in premier league for the title, the Polarie is an honest first division team.

#25 Magnar W.

Magnar W.

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 13
  • Joined: 08 Jan 2021

Posted 05 December 2021 - 08:27 AM

Akaru: My impression is that you get what you pay for, also precision.

 

When using telephoto lenses, precise polar alignment is a must. I have no experience with StarAid.




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics