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AP Mach 2 shopping and questions

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#26 RogeZ

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 09:10 AM

Another vote for a used Mach1 or 900GTO. Thats the route I went and now what I ask myself: “How much will my new 1100 improve on this?” Im getting solid 0.4-0.5” all night long without PEC.

Happy you got yours Chris!


Edited by RogeZ, 10 April 2021 - 12:55 PM.

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#27 WadeH237

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 10:40 AM



I have done 5 minutes with 840mm FL. I'm sure many have done longer with greater FL, but its just another data point.

I just did a first light test with my new AP130GTX.

 

I had it mounted on my AP1600 with absolute encoders and a 180 point APCC tracking model.  I was using 10 minute exposures at around 0.9 arc seconds per pixel, unguided (about 860mm focal length).  The seeing was poor, so the image is not as sharp as I would like, but the interesting thing is that the winds were over 25mph, with occasional gusts strong enough to rattle the windows.  Despite that, I did not lose any subs.

 

You can see the test image here (with minimal processing, since the goal was to test the rig):

 

get.jpg?insecure

 

I've been imaging with an SCT on this mount for a few years now, and I knew that I was dealing with mirror movement and tube flex, so I needed to use an OAG.  This was the first chance that I've had to give unguided imaging a real shot, and I was surprised at how well it worked, particularly given the wind.  Actually, I would add that in the poor conditions, the unguided result is better than I would have had guided.  Prior to starting the subs, I did calibrate and test the OAG.  The seeing was such, that my best RMS guiding error was about 1.2 arc seconds, which is terrible for this mount.  When I disabled guiding, it stopped trying to chase the seeing.


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#28 khursh

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 11:07 AM

I will add that my 2 and 3 minute subs have better FWHM when I run unguided.


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#29 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:21 AM

0) You will never regret buying an AP mount. AP will make sure of it. These guys give you the feeling they're your family.

1) AsiAir Pro should be able to run the GTOCP5 as AP has an excellent ASCOM driver for it, which the AsiAir should be able to use. (Why you would want to, is another issue. One of the benefits of the Mach2 is that it comes with APCC (the control center) which will not run on the AsiAir). You should ask on the APGTO forum to be sure.

2) I recommend the Avalon T-110 tripod. Lightweight and excellent, with dual mounting clamps on each leg, and fits perfectly the ADATRI adapter for the AP mounts.

3) For any tripod, you can opt to use an extension (assuming long scope), but that will impact stability (you always image with legs retracted and center of weight as low as possible). Consider the Stellarvue riser blocks as an alternative. 

4) You definitely do NOT need the hand control for imaging. Nor do you need the RAPAS.

Thanks Stelios. I had not see that avalon, It looks light weight and really nice. Glad to know I can skip the HC.  

 

For me the main purpose of buying a Mach2 was precisely to be able to dispense the guiding.

 

But truth be told I'm not sure if the encoders bring out their full potential on their own or if they really get it when working in conjunction with APCC Pro/APMM or the Keypad. You really should ask in the AP io group.

 

10-4 Just signed up today 

 

 

Wes, as others have mentioned, a used Mach 1 or AP900 is not a bad detour at all.  In fact, it may make a lot of sense as you continue to save for the Mach 2.  A good used Mach 1 with the CP3 control box goes for about $4500 to $5000 USD, depending on included extras.  A good sample AP900 is about .75 to 1.00 kilo-buck more.  Both of mine are just happy as hello riding on my good old Losmandy HD tripod.  

 

Sure, they do not have absolute encoders but both can be used with APCC and offer a fat slice of what the Mach 2 offers for about half price.  But here's the kicker, you can always sell the used AP for what you paid for it, which means you're in business with a great AP mount while you continue to save to upgrade to the Mach 2.  You've made the Mach2 down payment to yourself in the form of equipment.

 

Why starve yourself for a couple of years when you can enjoy some very tasty AP "leftovers" right now...or at least much sooner than you would if you waited until you had all the funds for the Mach 2?

 

Just a thought.

 

Jeff 

Thanks Jeff, Im not opposed to the idea of buying a used AP product since they have such outstanding long term service. It seems alot like owning a landcruiser, you get high performance, nice features, and a product that is designed to last while utilizing the best components possible - All backed by a company with a reputation for high quality service.

Truth be told I could plunk down on a mach 2 or 1100 right now but its invested in something which I believe has a bit more room to grow, and if I wait until June I don't pay short term capital gains. Also my wife is on maternity leave until June so I am going to wait until she is back at work before picking up a mount, seems like the responsible route.  I guess we will see what pops up between now and then. 

 

 

The encoders do their job all the time, but as you suggest unless you are using a model built with either APCC Pro/APMM or the Keypad, the effect of refraction on apparent tracking rate will make getting round stars an issue with medium to long exposures.  I believe the Keypad has a 'Dec Arc' model mode where all you need is a model of 10 or so points at the Dec of your target which takes only a few minutes to build.  A similar feature is in development for APCC.

The modeling is something I need to spend alot more time researching 

 

I still guide with my Mach2. I don't need to guide up to 3 minutes with no model and much longer with a model, but I still guide because I dither. Honestly I did about 60 subs of blue and green at 2 or 3 minutes and even without dithering, they were fine. YMMV. 

 

On another note, I use the Losmandy Fixed heavy duty tripod. It works great and I think it looks good too

The losmandy is more and more appealing, I may snag one if it pops up  on astromart.  I will most likely guide at darksites but at home I may experiment with the modeling feature. 

 

Not sure what software you’re using, but you can still dither when going unguided with some software.  I do it with SGPro all the time.  Just want to make sure people are aware of this.

There are quite a few programs that do this now. It seems in alot of situations the developers did not understand why people would want this feature. 

 

That was pretty much what I decided to do, although I have a CP4 box on my Mach 1. If I ever feel the need to move up to a Mach 2, the Mach 1 is a great  mount to have in the interim.

IS there any advantage to having the cp4 over the cp5? 

 

Yes, dithering can be done with SGPro when imaging with the Mach2 unguided.  I do it. 

 

I would not hesitate to buy a used AP mount.  When my 2005 model year AP1200 got to be too much to lift into and out of my truck for remote imaging I traded it for a 4 year old AP900 which I then used for another 7 years.

So the AP 1200 is not much different than an 1100 right? It just ahs external cabling? 


Edited by calypsob, 11 April 2021 - 03:31 PM.


#30 khursh

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:53 AM

I got a very good deal on the fixed version of the Losmandy tripod. I think I paid $350 and I picked it up. I had to add the adapter, but all in less than $500


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#31 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 12:10 PM

Regardless of whether you choose to guide or not, guiding improves tremendously when the mount has a pointing model to fall back on. I have used my AP1200 in a remote setting to take about 10 minutes unguided images at around 1000mm FL and about 0.5"/px image scale, just by having a solid pointing model. A solid pointing model takes in to account refraction and temperature. I am not sure if the ASIAir has those components or not, but if the ASIAir can't use APCC's APPM, then I would not use ASIAir, period. 

 

One of the benefits of encoders is that they will remove PEC, so that helps with guiding, I am guessing even without falling back on a pointing model.

 

CS!

I prefer to image remote about 30 miles away from home in the mountains. It takes a while to get there because the roads are windy and there are tons of deer out there.  There is no internet, no phone signal and plenty of dark sky. I have been imaging in this region for the last 2 years and I have had at least 8 of my imaging attempts fail due to various issues with windows, licenses on astro applications, ascom drivers, and post update incompatibility issues.

 

8 failed efforts may not seem like alot but you have to factor in the fact that weather has to be clear, I mean pristine no haze or high cirrus, wind has to be under 10mph, the moon has to be gone, and my work/life has to have room for a remote session to occur.  Last time I went up there in January it was about 12F, I went on a Friday exhausted after work, got there and setup at about 10:30pm.  Conditions were perfect for imaging, I setup everything and went to polar align. Sharpcap wouldn't run because the license expired. No Internet so I could not update the liscense. After about 30 minutes I found the oldest version of sharpcap in my downloads folder when the PA tool as free. I rolled back to that and polar aligned. Next CPWI started giving me fits about staying connected. Some long string of windows error. I finally abandoned plate solving and CPWI and just used the HC on the CGE, again lost another 45 minutes in this process. Got SGP up and running, got phd up and running, another 20 minutes of my time, and was finally imaging.  During this time I periodically had to get in the car to warm up because its lethal cold out. Add on probably another 30 minutes.  So I got up and imaging and apparently the most recent windows update I did at home deactivated teh metered connection and around 1:30 am the laptop performed a windows update while Im sitting in the car.  I realized this at about 2:15 when I would periodically get out to check on things.  So I had to reconnect everything and start again. My target I had wanted to image was now setting below the trees and I was ticked I just picked some arbitrary target and imaged that. 

Right then and there I fired Bill Gates. Never again would I allow windows to ruin one of my incredibly rare nights to image at a dark site. 

 

This is where the ASI Air came into play. I always thought this contraption was a joke, no way could it smoothly run all of those imaging applications, it must be wrought with bugs and issues. But now I was desperate for a new solution. I sold a starsense I had previously owned and replaced that with the Asi Air Pro. I had about a week of clear skies during a full moon and was working from home so I just decided to try and make myself figure out if I was going to be able to take the Asi Air seriously and left my mount outside all week testing every night.  The only bug I found was that the WIFI connectivity is garbage, so I added a Gli.Net Beryl and now I have a wifi signal stronger than my home router.   I control everything with my Iphone 12 pro, plate solving, integrations, auto focusing, autoguding all at my fingertips anywhere in my house.  There are no windows updates, there are no licenses, there are no drivers, there is no power devouring laptop or cables to connect to the mount form a table, it is all self contained and unbelievably game changing.  So this is why I insist on Asi Air Pro.  I can stay in my car the entire night at a darksite and at home I can be anywhere monitoring my setup. So all I really want in the mach 2 is its extraordinary encoders correcting periodic error and giving me excellent guiding. ITs too bad that the Modeling software is limited to windows, unfortunately I no longer take windows seriously, it is not something I can rely on to professionally support a critical imaging session so Im done. Windows HAS worked for me plenty of times but its failure rate is no longer acceptable. I may experiment with the modeling program at home but unfortunately this is something I will likely never utilize. 


Edited by calypsob, 11 April 2021 - 12:12 PM.

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#32 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 12:15 PM

On a side note, I have had one user of the AP mach 2 say that they would not try a 12" newtonian on this mount.  I own an ultralight 12" F4, carbon truss and weighs 27lbs. My CGE does fine with this scope, I just have to toss more subs than I would like because its a dinosaur in a china shop when it comes to consistent precise guiding at long focal lengths.  Also I would really like to use an APM 1.5x and 2.7x barlow with my newtonian to image at .4 arc seconds which is where my desire to have encoding comes into play.  Im just curious on everyone elses opinions, would you use the mach 2 or bump up the payload to an 1100 gto? 


Edited by calypsob, 11 April 2021 - 12:16 PM.


#33 Ettu

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 12:28 PM

I'll add my comments regarding the tripod issue. 

I use a Meade giant field tripod. Not the more common smaller one, but the one used with the 14" scopes.

You can occasionally pick them up for ~$300, sometimes less.

And there are some of the taller versions - which were impractically tall, that you can occasionally find for ~$200, sometimes less. if you're handy mechanically you can separate the leg tubes out of them, and cut them down to size and reinstall them, even better than the way they come.

Two things aught to be done to make this tripod even better than it already is.

1: You may have to redo the pivot connection of the legs to the top piece by inserting washer(s) as or if needed to take up any wiggle or slack. Retighten or replace the bolts to optimize.

2. Make yourself a triangle equipment plate to span over and set on the leg spreaders, and place some weight on it. Your battery, some rocks, anything. It really solidifies everything.

 

You will need to make your own custom adaptor from the tripod top to whatever mount you get. The riser tube should be at least 6" tall, or otherwise calculated to give you the most past the meridian travel as you can get. 


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#34 Stelios

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 01:17 PM

...and around 1:30 am the laptop performed a windows update while Im sitting in the car.  I realized this at about 2:15 when I would periodically get out to check on things.  So I had to reconnect everything and start again. My target I had wanted to image was now setting below the trees and I was ticked I just picked some arbitrary target and imaged that. 

Right then and there I fired Bill Gates. Never again would I allow windows to ruin one of my incredibly rare nights to image at a dark site. 

<snip>

Not trying to change your mind, but the easy way to avoid such issues is set hours of operation to be from 5PM to 11AM. This means Windows won't update EVER during an imaging session. 


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#35 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 02:01 PM

Not trying to change your mind, but the easy way to avoid such issues is set hours of operation to be from 5PM to 11AM. This means Windows won't update EVER during an imaging session. 

Oh I completely agree. There are about 2 dozen other proactive things I can do to prevent windows from ruining my night. I learn a new proactive thing almost each time I image which unfortunately comes at the expense of more and more time.  Its really taken a toll on me. Finally I realized that the most optimal solution for my situation as to eliminate the laptop all together. 

 

In an observatory with internet access or in the backyard I can see windows working just fine, but for me off the grid, the Air has become a superior solution. 



#36 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 02:02 PM

I'll add my comments regarding the tripod issue. 

I use a Meade giant field tripod. Not the more common smaller one, but the one used with the 14" scopes.

You can occasionally pick them up for ~$300, sometimes less.

And there are some of the taller versions - which were impractically tall, that you can occasionally find for ~$200, sometimes less. if you're handy mechanically you can separate the leg tubes out of them, and cut them down to size and reinstall them, even better than the way they come.

Two things aught to be done to make this tripod even better than it already is.

1: You may have to redo the pivot connection of the legs to the top piece by inserting washer(s) as or if needed to take up any wiggle or slack. Retighten or replace the bolts to optimize.

2. Make yourself a triangle equipment plate to span over and set on the leg spreaders, and place some weight on it. Your battery, some rocks, anything. It really solidifies everything.

 

You will need to make your own custom adaptor from the tripod top to whatever mount you get. The riser tube should be at least 6" tall, or otherwise calculated to give you the most past the meridian travel as you can get. 

 

I am wondering if my CGE tripod would work if I put an adapter plate on it. I could sell the CGE and buy a new tripod or have a backup mount and use what Ive got.  Honestly though if I can find a good used deal I will probably pounce on it. 



#37 WadeH237

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 04:06 PM

IS there any advantage to having the cp4 over the cp5? 

This is not a user choice.

 

The CP5 works with AP's stepper driven mount, which so far is just the Mach2.  The CP4 works with their servo driven mounts, which is just about everything earlier (back to at least the AP900).  The CP4 and CP5 are not interchangeable.  And once Astro-Physics releases their next update to the CP4, it should have feature parity with the CP5.


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#38 Ettu

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 07:03 PM

I am wondering if my CGE tripod would work if I put an adapter plate on it. I could sell the CGE and buy a new tripod or have a backup mount and use what Ive got.  Honestly though if I can find a good used deal I will probably pounce on it. 

just an opinion, but It sounds a little light for the 60-100 lb load plus AP1100 you mention. On the basis that manufacturers put mount and tripod pkg's together put bigger tripods under bigger loads, the CGE tripod is for the small to medium loads. So I'd say you'd be at the limit of that tripod. I don't know, but based on my experience the lighter tripods can't handle the torsional loads of bumps, slews, or breezes. Although none of  those things are an issue for tracking on a still night or wind protected observatory. An ME might be able to tell you more specific things.



#39 aruckle

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 08:12 PM

this is why I insist on Asi Air Pro.  I can stay in my car the entire night at a darksite and at home I can be anywhere monitoring my setup. So all I really want in the mach 2 is its extraordinary encoders correcting periodic error and giving me excellent guiding.

I have an ASIair Pro that I use with my Mach2.  I am trying to figure out how to get the ASIair Pro configured to run at 1x Siderial guiding.  It seems to be primarily configured to guide at .5 Siderial.  Otherwise the Mach2 mount needs to be configured with windows, to guide at .5 Siderial.

 

If ASI would add the ability to pass thru guiding with the full version of PHD2 which includes multi star guiding that would be great as well.

 

aruckle


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#40 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:11 PM

I have an ASIair Pro that I use with my Mach2.  I am trying to figure out how to get the ASIair Pro configured to run at 1x Siderial guiding.  It seems to be primarily configured to guide at .5 Siderial.  Otherwise the Mach2 mount needs to be configured with windows, to guide at .5 Siderial.

 

If ASI would add the ability to pass thru guiding with the full version of PHD2 which includes multi star guiding that would be great as well.

 

aruckle

Hmm that sounds strange. Are you pretty familiar with Asi Air pro?  It has alot of settings that are not apparent, it took me a while to figure out certain things. Under the mount control on my CGE I can select the tracking rates. 

 

How are your guiding graphs looking at the moment when you use asi air pro? 



#41 calypsob

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 10:23 PM

I noticed this on astromart today, would this pair up ok with the Mach 2 or 1100?  https://astromart.co...ble-pier-502943



#42 khursh

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 11:38 PM

It's a little tall, but it would work fine with the Mach2. It would work OK with the 1100, but most people would recommend 8" pier.


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#43 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:57 AM

If ASI would add the ability to pass thru guiding with the full version of PHD2 which includes multi star guiding that would be great as well.

 

 

They are talking about the 1.6 Beta version on the ZWO forum. It has multi star guiding.


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#44 dhaval

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 06:20 AM

I prefer to image remote about 30 miles away from home in the mountains. It takes a while to get there because the roads are windy and there are tons of deer out there.  There is no internet, no phone signal and plenty of dark sky. I have been imaging in this region for the last 2 years and I have had at least 8 of my imaging attempts fail due to various issues with windows, licenses on astro applications, ascom drivers, and post update incompatibility issues.

 

8 failed efforts may not seem like alot but you have to factor in the fact that weather has to be clear, I mean pristine no haze or high cirrus, wind has to be under 10mph, the moon has to be gone, and my work/life has to have room for a remote session to occur.  Last time I went up there in January it was about 12F, I went on a Friday exhausted after work, got there and setup at about 10:30pm.  Conditions were perfect for imaging, I setup everything and went to polar align. Sharpcap wouldn't run because the license expired. No Internet so I could not update the liscense. After about 30 minutes I found the oldest version of sharpcap in my downloads folder when the PA tool as free. I rolled back to that and polar aligned. Next CPWI started giving me fits about staying connected. Some long string of windows error. I finally abandoned plate solving and CPWI and just used the HC on the CGE, again lost another 45 minutes in this process. Got SGP up and running, got phd up and running, another 20 minutes of my time, and was finally imaging.  During this time I periodically had to get in the car to warm up because its lethal cold out. Add on probably another 30 minutes.  So I got up and imaging and apparently the most recent windows update I did at home deactivated teh metered connection and around 1:30 am the laptop performed a windows update while Im sitting in the car.  I realized this at about 2:15 when I would periodically get out to check on things.  So I had to reconnect everything and start again. My target I had wanted to image was now setting below the trees and I was ticked I just picked some arbitrary target and imaged that. 

Right then and there I fired Bill Gates. Never again would I allow windows to ruin one of my incredibly rare nights to image at a dark site. 

 

This is where the ASI Air came into play. I always thought this contraption was a joke, no way could it smoothly run all of those imaging applications, it must be wrought with bugs and issues. But now I was desperate for a new solution. I sold a starsense I had previously owned and replaced that with the Asi Air Pro. I had about a week of clear skies during a full moon and was working from home so I just decided to try and make myself figure out if I was going to be able to take the Asi Air seriously and left my mount outside all week testing every night.  The only bug I found was that the WIFI connectivity is garbage, so I added a Gli.Net Beryl and now I have a wifi signal stronger than my home router.   I control everything with my Iphone 12 pro, plate solving, integrations, auto focusing, autoguding all at my fingertips anywhere in my house.  There are no windows updates, there are no licenses, there are no drivers, there is no power devouring laptop or cables to connect to the mount form a table, it is all self contained and unbelievably game changing.  So this is why I insist on Asi Air Pro.  I can stay in my car the entire night at a darksite and at home I can be anywhere monitoring my setup. So all I really want in the mach 2 is its extraordinary encoders correcting periodic error and giving me excellent guiding. ITs too bad that the Modeling software is limited to windows, unfortunately I no longer take windows seriously, it is not something I can rely on to professionally support a critical imaging session so Im done. Windows HAS worked for me plenty of times but its failure rate is no longer acceptable. I may experiment with the modeling program at home but unfortunately this is something I will likely never utilize. 

In that case, I think you should also consider a 10Micron mount. A few folks use their 10Micron mounts without a computer and just run it through the keypad that comes with the mount. I am not sure if they can build a model through the keypad or not, but it might be something that you may want to ask around.

 

CS!


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#45 calypsob

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 07:21 AM

In that case, I think you should also consider a 10Micron mount. A few folks use their 10Micron mounts without a computer and just run it through the keypad that comes with the mount. I am not sure if they can build a model through the keypad or not, but it might be something that you may want to ask around.

 

CS!

So How would you automate the asi 2600mc, perform auto focus, and plate solve?



#46 dhaval

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 07:37 AM

So How would you automate the asi 2600mc, perform auto focus, and plate solve?

I wouldn't be the best person to answer the question around automating auto focus and camera operations, but one of the big draws with encoder mounts is that you no longer need to plate solve (this again assumes you have a really good pointing model to use). 

 

Like I said, you should reach out to folks who use their 10Micron mounts for imaging without a computer (there is a person by the name Tony, goes by Tonk here on CN) - he started doing imaging a while ago using his 10Micron mount without any computer. He should be able to answer some of your questions. 

 

CS!


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#47 alphatripleplus

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:12 AM

Everyone, let's get back on topic to the Mach 2 discussion. If you want to discuss cameras with other mounts, please start a new topic. Thanks.


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#48 ac4lt

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 09:19 AM

My understanding is you can create a basic model using the AP keypad if one wants to avoid a windows box and still do modeling. I don't know if this model is good enough to go unguided and you'd have the extra expense of the keypad but the folks at AP should be able to let you know if it would let you get the benefits of modeling and still avoid the dreaded Windoze.


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