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Star Trackers: Star Adventurer 2i or Move Shoot Move?

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#1 AstroFalcon

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Posted 23 March 2023 - 08:54 AM

Searched the forums and didn't see this question previously asked. With Milky Way Season rapidly approaching, I'm looking to invest in a star tracker for my MW Nightscape endeavors. I've preliminarily narrowed it down to the Star Adventurer Pro 2i or the Move Shoot Move. I already know about the payload differences (11lbs vs 6.6 lb, respectfully), and they're both in the same price class (SA is ~$429 currently at B&H, and MSM is ~$389).

 

What I'm most interested in is whether or not one tracker is more accurate tracking than the other?  I see alot of great photographers using one, or the other, or even both, so I wanted to see if there was anyone here that had first-hand experience with these.

 

I'm leaning toward the SA for its payload, and its multiple tracking speeds (siderial, solar, lunar, etc)...

 

Thanks,

Keith


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#2 vidrazor

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Posted 23 March 2023 - 10:15 AM

Depends on what you're going to shoot and what optics you intend to use. If you plan to shoot wide and/or not stack, the MSM is a better and more portable choice. If you plan to shoot with longer lenses and shoot subs, then the 2i is a better choice, because it can be computer controlled so that even without autoguiding you can dither, and of course you can also autoguide to increase your sub exposure times. You will need to dither if you're going to shoot subs. You can dither manually, but it's a lot simpler and more straightforward to just let a computer handle it.

 

Personally I prefer the SkyGuider Pro because it has better bearings than the 2i. I have to say tho the portability of the MSM is really nice. It's a rather limited device, but it can go where few other (if any) trackers can.


Edited by vidrazor, 23 March 2023 - 11:06 AM.

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#3 Paul-NM

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Posted 23 March 2023 - 04:55 PM

I've been using the MSM for three years now. It's a love hate relationship. I went with the MSM because its the smallest and lightest rotator that I knew of and in my area of New Mexico I'm climbing up close to 8500' with my gear, food, water, clothes, tent, etc. When I go up I typically go for two nights. So I love the size/weight of the MSM.

 

The reality of the MSM is that if you are using it as it was designed, it does an incredible job. But, eventually it seems we want to try something a little more. This is where the hate comes in. My second season with the MSM I shifted over to MW panoramas using a 50mm Sigma Art lens. I started pushing the boundaries right away. When you build your rig up to make consistent pano frames, your camera/lens get farther from the MSM rig and without a counter balance weight it quickly becomes too much leverage. Don't get me wrong, I've come down the hill with some incredible images. But I've also come down with nothing but frustration as well. I typically expose 60 second exposures at 50mm and get consistent results. I have had times where 90 second was consistent. I was also able to photograph the Andromeda Galaxy with great success on multiple occasions. The Lagoon Nebula as well. But, it takes very little breeze to ruin your night. By design, the polar scope is iffy. I use the laser to get me there, then tune it in with the scope. Test shot, check stars, re-align, shoot, check stars... The way the scope hangs off the side, and more likely the scope holder itself, being kind of sloppy, probably has something to do with it. But like I said, if you're hanging a 20,24,28mm lens on your camera and shooting the MW, it's a great tool.

 

I myself am likely going with the SA 2i this year. Even though it's a little more than double the weight, I'll actually gain some of that back because I can change my setup and lose some gear. The 2i with a counterweight won't be as affected by the winds (hopefully). with the counterweight system, a better centrally located polar scope, I'm hoping for some 2-3 minute exposures.

 

Again, not bashing the MSM. It's been a great tool. A stepping stone of sorts. I plan on keeping it as there's some functions like time lapse and star trails that I've never explored with it.


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#4 17.5Dob

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Posted 23 March 2023 - 09:24 PM

. I have to say tho the portability of the MSM is really nice. It's a rather limited device, but it can go where few other (if any) trackers can.

Don't forget the venerable iOptron SkyTracker...

 



#5 vidrazor

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Posted 23 March 2023 - 11:11 PM

Don't forget the venerable iOptron SkyTracker...

Yeah I took a look at that when I bought my SkyGuider Pro, and felt the size difference between it and the SkyGuider Pro wasn't that great, so I went with the SkyGuider Pro, which had a lot more flexibility to it. The MSM however can literally fit in your pocket, but it has it's limitations. Still a cool li'l bugger tho, I may pick one up for the fun of it.



#6 BPoletti

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Posted 24 March 2023 - 01:47 PM

Have you looked at the iEXOS-100-2 PMC-Eight mount.  Comes complete with a nice tripod, is a very good performer, has GOTO capabilities and is a two axis system.  It also has two star alignment and can be controlled with a smart phone, tablet or laptop.


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#7 bbasiaga

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Posted 24 March 2023 - 08:06 PM

I went with the iOptron. It's not that big if you are using the low payload mode with no counterweight, and with the counterweight cam do a reasonable load. It can also be guided. Though I have not guided it yet.

Brian


MSM seemed to

#8 chanrobi

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 09:30 AM

Have you looked at the iEXOS-100-2 PMC-Eight mount.  Comes complete with a nice tripod, is a very good performer, has GOTO capabilities and is a two axis system.  It also has two star alignment and can be controlled with a smart phone, tablet or laptop.

It *HAS* to be controlled by those, not it can be. That's a problem



#9 vidrazor

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 01:04 PM

It *HAS* to be controlled by those, not it can be. That's a problem

Not to mention other issues, like having no azimuth adjustment, that you're nickel and dimed for another $110. It also comes without a polar scope and has a straw-sized hole in it's place. Good luck with that on the road. Then there's the massive RA stiction that makes it impossible to balance in RA.

I could go on. :) Once it's set up it's not horrible, as long as you're autoguiding. If you're not autoguiding then you're better off with a SkyGuider Pro.
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#10 rj144

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 05:58 PM

Not to mention other issues, like having no azimuth adjustment, that you're nickel and dimed for another $110. It also comes without a polar scope and has a straw-sized hole in it's place. Good luck with that on the road. Then there's the massive RA stiction that makes it impossible to balance in RA.

I could go on. smile.gif Once it's set up it's not horrible, as long as you're autoguiding. If you're not autoguiding then you're better off with a SkyGuider Pro.

My Exos works perfectly fine.



#11 vidrazor

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 09:53 PM

My Exos works perfectly fine.

I'm happy for you. ;)



#12 rj144

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 10:10 PM

I'm happy for you. wink.gif

Yes and for the price, it's an excellent option.



#13 BPoletti

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 11:16 PM

It *HAS* to be controlled by those, not it can be. That's a problem

 

Yes, but pretty much everybody has a WiFi-capable smart phone.  And to make life easier, the iEXOS-100-2 PMC-Eight is a GOTO platform, so some kind of device is necessary to select the target object and control the slew to it. It's also capable of manual slewing.  I would rather handle those functions remotely than touch the platform and cause it to shake or move.  

 

What's the downside?



#14 vidrazor

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Posted 31 March 2023 - 11:53 PM

I would rather handle those functions remotely than touch the platform and cause it to shake or move.  

 

What's the downside?

Normally you use a hand controller connected to the mount base, which does not induce vibration.

 

The downside of WiFI control is losing signal. If amount is being autoguided and controlled via WIFi, it's on it's own if a signal is lost. No more autoguiding or dithering. Better to be hardwired to the computer. Fortunately you can do that on the iExos100 via it's USB port. I had my Astroberry connected that way, and the Astroberry was controlled via WiFI. This is a better arrangement because if I lost WiFI (which occasionally happens), the mount is still being properly guided and controlled. I could simply re-log into the Astroberry and continue monitoring the system.

 

A comical side note on my iExos, I had given it away to some kid when I got my CEM26, but recently the kid gave it back to me! I thought that was comical. So I now once again have this mount. smile.gif
 


Edited by vidrazor, 01 April 2023 - 01:53 AM.

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#15 rj144

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Posted 01 April 2023 - 01:25 AM

Yes, but pretty much everybody has a WiFi-capable smart phone.  And to make life easier, the iEXOS-100-2 PMC-Eight is a GOTO platform, so some kind of device is necessary to select the target object and control the slew to it. It's also capable of manual slewing.  I would rather handle those functions remotely than touch the platform and cause it to shake or move.  

 

What's the downside?

Not much.  I like mine a lot.  It works well.



#16 vidrazor

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Posted 01 April 2023 - 02:39 AM

What's the downside?

Another point is that the iExos software is only for visual, you can't do astrophotography with it. You can't autoguide or dither with it. It must be connected to a computer for that.

 

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer GTi is really the mount to get if you want a compact dual axis mount today. It's a complete mount with latitude and azimuth adjustment, as well as a polar scope proper. No nickle and diming. It can run off 8 AAs if needed for over 10 hours, or from a standard 12 volt power supply. It too is controlled via WiFi, but of course has a direct USB port for computer control, and and can additionally be controlled via a hand controller. The software (or hand controller) allows for star and polar alignment and of course GOTO after alignment. It's tracking is quite accurate without autoguiding, but you want to dither any mount you shoot with, so unless you want to dither manually, better to be computer controlled. The GTi is a much better investment.
 


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#17 Devonshire

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Posted 01 April 2023 - 11:04 AM

Another point is that the iExos software is only for visual, you can't do astrophotography with it. You can't autoguide or dither with it. It must be connected to a computer for that.

ES's Explorestars software is aimed at the visual use case, maybe short exposure AP, EAA, that sort of thing.   No, it doesn't guide.  Why would it?

 

The PMC8 controller does need to be connected to a computer of some kind (tablet, stick, laptop, ASIair, whatever), to manage the astronomical-control side of things.  You'd run Explorestars on a tablet, for instance.  However, you CAN get away from a mount computer (as of a couple of firmware updates ago) for very simple use cases where you just want the mount to track on power-up. 

 

For astrophotography, you'd use either ASCOM, or one of the INDI offerings, with all the  planetarium, plate solving, guiding, polar alignment, etc. options available on those platforms.  


Edited by Devonshire, 01 April 2023 - 11:53 AM.

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#18 unimatrix0

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Posted 03 April 2023 - 01:21 PM

I have the ES EXOS II GT mount, which I can guide and track, but it's something I wouldn't classify a portable mount. 

Just to comment on how these mounts behave and just the whole thing as they are, I think the ES mounts are outdated. 

 

I'm not sure what that heavy PMC8 computer is really doing, when my SW AZGTI (in eq mode) with the logic board half the size of my iphone can do the same. 

 

My AZGTi could also pick up the fight with it as far as unguided performance, having the weight limitation of 11lbs and I could pretty much get the same quality subs from both mounts, and that doesn't exactly looking good for a mount that costs $1000 vs. a $470.  



#19 Devonshire

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Posted 03 April 2023 - 04:32 PM

Frank,

 

A little history, if it helps...

 

The EXOS2 PMC8 is basically an LXD75 with decent bearings on all axes and a belt drive (yes, I know that yours had problems with your beaings, but I really can't recall hearing of another that was similarly afflicted).  The mount's design is therefore old, but like others of similar vintage, it still works.  Basically, ES added the PMC8 to two pre-existing mounts (EXOS2 and the G11), thus putting most of the development investment in the controller and associated software and not as much the hardware.

 

The little iExos-100 is a new mount design that came later, appearing to take cues from the Losmandys.  The RA, at least (not sure about the DEC) has a wheel gear, not a ring gear.  Much better.  Lots of folks doing well with the little guy, though some who are swinging bigger glass have benefitted from a tripod/pier upgrade.  

 

The heavy silver-box PMC8 controller is intended for use in harsher conditions. The box is a big heat sink, with what's said to be a conformal coated board, etc. inside.  Designed for the mount-that-lives-in-your-observatory sort of situation, whether you need that or not.  Overkill, at the price point, but I can live with that... smile.gif   I've seen vids of EXOS2's used that way, but I expect the G11's would be more common.  Wes and Jerry did a custom upgrade for a fer-really observatory in the southwest US, that I believe used the silver box.  

 

The iExos-100 doesn't use the same physical board.  It's smaller and less expensive, with better connectivity features but otherwise functionally equivalent, AFAIK.

 

The PMC8 controller itself is an interesting design.  It's based on the Parallax Propeller chip. It's quite unique as a real-time processor.  No interupts, etc.  Instead, you have eight small CPUs, clocked in round-robin fashion, with shared memory in the middle.  Each CPU gets its time slice.  No funky debugging of transient real-time events, as each CPU has its own role.  Firmware's on board, and appears to be straightforward to debug and upgrade.  More details are in the Programmers reference, which should install, along with the ASCOM driver sources. 

 

Hope this helps...


Edited by Devonshire, 03 April 2023 - 05:38 PM.


#20 OzViking

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Posted 03 April 2023 - 05:56 PM

Wow. Talk about topic drift... Poor AstroFalcon will be utterly confused by now.

 

To answer their original question, I was in the same situation when starting out with a star tracker. I went with the Star Adventurer 2i because it ticked all the boxes for me - ability to polar align easily (I'm in the southern hemisphere, so no handy pole star to align with), and a reasonable load capacity.

 

The SA2i also has the ability to add guiding into the mix, for if/when you start doing long exposures or long focal lengths.

 

Cheers,

V



#21 vidrazor

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Posted 03 April 2023 - 09:02 PM

Wow. Talk about topic drift... Poor AstroFalcon will be utterly confused by now.

To answer their original question, I was in the same situation when starting out with a star tracker. I went with the Star Adventurer 2i because it ticked all the boxes for me - ability to polar align easily (I'm in the southern hemisphere, so no handy pole star to align with), and a reasonable load capacity.

The SA2i also has the ability to add guiding into the mix, for if/when you start doing long exposures or long focal lengths.

Cheers,

V

Actually, the question was answered early on, but it was natural for other options to pop up, as they are in the same general realm. Always good to have options.
 


Edited by vidrazor, 03 April 2023 - 09:02 PM.


#22 AstroFalcon

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Posted 13 April 2023 - 10:24 AM

Another point is that the iExos software is only for visual, you can't do astrophotography with it. You can't autoguide or dither with it. It must be connected to a computer for that.

 

The SkyWatcher Star Adventurer GTi is really the mount to get if you want a compact dual axis mount today. It's a complete mount with latitude and azimuth adjustment, as well as a polar scope proper. No nickle and diming. It can run off 8 AAs if needed for over 10 hours, or from a standard 12 volt power supply. It too is controlled via WiFi, but of course has a direct USB port for computer control, and and can additionally be controlled via a hand controller. The software (or hand controller) allows for star and polar alignment and of course GOTO after alignment. It's tracking is quite accurate without autoguiding, but you want to dither any mount you shoot with, so unless you want to dither manually, better to be computer controlled. The GTi is a much better investment.
 

I have been eyeing the SA GTI mount as well. Seems to be a good option, that could double for both my MW Nightscape endeavors, as well as use for my visual efforts with my AT80EDL.

 

Wow. Talk about topic drift... Poor AstroFalcon will be utterly confused by now.

 

To answer their original question, I was in the same situation when starting out with a star tracker. I went with the Star Adventurer 2i because it ticked all the boxes for me - ability to polar align easily (I'm in the southern hemisphere, so no handy pole star to align with), and a reasonable load capacity.

 

The SA2i also has the ability to add guiding into the mix, for if/when you start doing long exposures or long focal lengths.

 

Cheers,

V

Actually, I'm not too confused. I think I've eliminated the MSM from further consideration due to the payload capacity limits when compared with either of the SAs. I think its down to the SA 2i Pro or the SA GTI--for the cost difference, I'm highly leaning toward the GTI for the goto capabilities and the ability for it to replace my legacy EQ1 mount for my AT80EDL for visual use. 

 

Thanks to everyone for their viewpoints and experience with these mounts.



#23 erictheastrojunkie

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Posted 17 April 2023 - 10:53 AM

I've taught a lot of people in workshops over the years how to use portable tracking mounts, I've either owned and gotten a lot of hands on experience with virtually every tracker/portable mount that's made (hell, I have a whole closet full of bits/pieces/mounts/astro stuff from the last 10+ years), I can tell you without even batting an eye that the MSM should be avoided for 99% of use cases. Really the only reason I'd tell people to buy a MSM is if they have absolute, hard weight limits on what they can use and that's pretty much only for unique situations like backpacking where you are counting ounces. The Star Adventurer Mini is better in pretty much every way and weighs almost the same, the Vixen Polarie U is probably the best "micro" tracking mount and would be my go to option for things like big backpacking trips. The regular Star Adventurer or the GTi are very foolproof options for most uses from ultra wide angle imaging to widefield deep space up to ~200mm focal length. 

 

The MSM has poor connection points, a sloppy polar alignment laser/process, poor tracking capabilities beyond ~50mm focal length, and quite frankly a poor body design. It reminds me of the old iOptron SkyTracker (old black brick for those who were using the original portable trackers), but a little bit smaller. 


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#24 AstroFalcon

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Posted 18 April 2023 - 03:38 PM

I've taught a lot of people in workshops over the years how to use portable tracking mounts, I've either owned and gotten a lot of hands on experience with virtually every tracker/portable mount that's made (hell, I have a whole closet full of bits/pieces/mounts/astro stuff from the last 10+ years), I can tell you without even batting an eye that the MSM should be avoided for 99% of use cases. Really the only reason I'd tell people to buy a MSM is if they have absolute, hard weight limits on what they can use and that's pretty much only for unique situations like backpacking where you are counting ounces. The Star Adventurer Mini is better in pretty much every way and weighs almost the same, the Vixen Polarie U is probably the best "micro" tracking mount and would be my go to option for things like big backpacking trips. The regular Star Adventurer or the GTi are very foolproof options for most uses from ultra wide angle imaging to widefield deep space up to ~200mm focal length. 

 

The MSM has poor connection points, a sloppy polar alignment laser/process, poor tracking capabilities beyond ~50mm focal length, and quite frankly a poor body design. It reminds me of the old iOptron SkyTracker (old black brick for those who were using the original portable trackers), but a little bit smaller. 

Eric, thanks for your insights regarding the MSM. I was previously aware of the lower payload limits, but your comments about the physical construction are very valuable. I had seen the work that Alyn Wallace and others had done with it, so that was part of the reason I was considering it in the first place. That being said, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm leaning toward the SA GTI for the higher payload limit as well as the go-to.

 

Thanks again for your views.

 

Keith



#25 AstroFalcon

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Posted 27 April 2023 - 04:41 PM

As an update, I was checking out the various vendors websites this afternoon and noticed that our Sponsor had the SA GTI in stock. Needless to say, I jumped on this and am eagerly awaiting my shipping confirmation details.

 

Keith


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