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AZ-GTi, or other suggestions for push-to with tracking?

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#1 MattT

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 09:56 AM

I recently purchased my first OTA in... over 10 years? For a long time my most-used rig has been an 80mm f6 triplet on a Vixen Porta atop an old Gitzo G505 tripod.

 

My new 92mm f6.7 triplet pushes that rig to the limit, with long damping times, so with all the new mounts out there I'm considering an upgrade---adding auto-tracking, if possible. The mount landscape has changed! Too many exciting possibilities.

 

I have not changed as much. I still want:

- a smooth and steady mount for manual push-to operation.

- Light weight for portability, which I think means alt-az (at least as an option).

- compatibility with a tall tripod so that I, at 6'3" tall, can view through a refractor comfortably while standing up.

- Handle smoothly and solidly a 92mm f6.7 refractor, at ~12 pounds. Though the new scope only weighs a couple of pounds more than the old 80mm f6, it's quite a bit more demanding on the mount---likely due to the length, with most of the weight out at the ends.

- I'd enjoy having tracking---accurate enough to view the planets in a narrow-field eyepiece at 200x. And maybe try some simply lunar imaging?

- Go-to might be fun, but I still enjoy finding things myself so smooth push-to operation is a must.

- A neat rig, ideally with internal battery and an absolute minimum of wires. Wire-free would be best.

 

To illustrate: I'd like to find an object myself using my 6x30 finder, then engage a clutch and enjoy auto-tracking. Then release the clutch again to move to my next target, and not have to re-align. With a mount I can fit to a tall, sturdy photo tripod and carry in one hand.

 

Should I try an AZ-GTi? It ticks most of these boxes, but with an 11 lb listed capacity I doubt it's solid enough. I don't like a mount to wiggle when I focus.

Is there any resistance in the motions on the AZ-GTi when you release the clutches and move the scope by hand? Or does it just swing freely?

 

Any other suggestions, out of the current offerings? 

 



#2 Rabbanah

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 10:07 AM

I would like to hear the thoughts of others as well. I have not found a mount that does all of this in the AZ configuration.

 

My experience with the AZ-GTI is that it handles up to my 100DC well. It tracks well enough and the goto is acceptable. It fails in the push to side of things. You can release the clutch and move the scope. It moves more freely than you would probably like. But, then you have to tighten the clutches back down. It ends up being to much fussing for my liking. I tend to just run the mount as a tracker.

 

I do love my M2C mount for extremely smooth push to operation. I put a nexus DSC and encoders on it and it is super accurate. 

 

I like both of these mounts for what they do and would love to have one combined.


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#3 weis14

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 10:45 AM

I tried an AZ-GTi for my Stowaway and it couldn't do the job to my satisfaction.  For day to day use, I use an old Half Hitch push-to mount with manual slow motion controls.  When I want tracking and push-to, I use my AZ100.  It is way more mount than the Stowaway needs on its own, but if I'm going to be out for a few hours, that isn't a real issue and the convenience of push-to with tracking is worth it.  


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#4 MattT

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 11:15 AM

I tried an AZ-GTi for my Stowaway and it couldn't do the job to my satisfaction.  For day to day use, I use an old Half Hitch push-to mount with manual slow motion controls.  When I want tracking and push-to, I use my AZ100.  It is way more mount than the Stowaway needs on its own, but if I'm going to be out for a few hours, that isn't a real issue and the convenience of push-to with tracking is worth it.  

 

Thanks for sharing that experience. My new scope is a Stowaway also (as you might have guessed.)


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#5 MattT

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 11:28 AM

Thanks for sharing your experience. I have an M002C also, that I like when fitted to the steel tripod from my old Skyview Pro. Which is not the super-portable arrangement I'm hoping for. When fitted to the Gitzo tripod, the Stellarvue column is wobbly.

 

Do you know what the 100DC weighs fully dressed, with rings, finder, diagonal and eyepiece? If it's close to my 12 lb load, and the AZ-GTi handles it solidly, I might try the mount.

 

 

My experience with the AZ-GTI is that it handles up to my 100DC well. It tracks well enough and the goto is acceptable. It fails in the push to side of things. You can release the clutch and move the scope. It moves more freely than you would probably like. But, then you have to tighten the clutches back down. It ends up being to much fussing for my liking. I tend to just run the mount as a tracker.

 

I do love my M2C mount for extremely smooth push to operation. I put a nexus DSC and encoders on it and it is super accurate. 



#6 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 11:34 AM

My favorite mount was the Stellarvue MC2, but I really wanted tracking. There is very little out there in the way of simple, small lightweight Alt-Az mounts with tracking, unless you spend a small fortune. Which is why I bought the AZGTi mount.

 

I've used my AZGTi with some scopes a little over the payload. It's a little sticky/fussy in Azimuth movement manually (the heavier the scope), but I basically only use it manually with the Point and Track (no need to polar align, just make sure it's level). You point it at the object, tell the SynScan app what the object is, then click "Point and Track". I almost never polar align it (not even for GoTo).

 

For finer movement, I just use the keypad in the wireless SynScan Pro app (which eliminates the sticky Azimuth manual movement). 

 

I currently use it with my C5...

 

C5-back.jpg

 

But also have used it with a much heavier scope setups...

 

An ETX125 with Wegat back, 2" focuser and 2" diagonal, 8X50 RACI, heavy rings...about 12.5 lbs.

 

portable-tripod2-1.jpg

 

Dual mounted (with a mod to the CW side) using my AT72EDII and ST80 on the CW side)...

 

dual-scopes2.jpg


Edited by MarkMittlesteadt, 22 May 2024 - 11:38 AM.

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#7 MattT

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 11:47 AM

Thanks Mark. I had seen your old thread, where you were waiting for the just-purchased AZ-GTi to arrive---but I couldn't find any later posts about your experience with it.

 

I didn't know the Point and Track mode was an option. That sounds like what I need for viewing the Moon and planets from my townhouse neighborhood. Between the trees, and the horrible night lighting around here, it's difficult even to find bright alignment stars.

 

 

My favorite mount was the Stellarvue MC2, but I really wanted tracking. There is very little out there in the way of simple, small lightweight Alt-Az mounts with tracking, unless you spend a small fortune. Which is why I bought the AZGTi mount...


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#8 gfamily

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 11:48 AM

The AZ-GTi has Point and Track, which is very close to what you want.
Basically, if you can find it in the Synscan App, and you can find it manually, then it'll track the target.
No need for alignment before you start, and if tightening the clutches moves the target slightly off, the app gives you the slow motion control to bring it back into view.

If you use the Synscan Pro App, you can use the same command to track the Sun as well.
Edit: I see you've just responded to a similar post.

Edited by gfamily, 22 May 2024 - 11:49 AM.

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#9 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 01:38 PM

Thanks Mark. I had seen your old thread, where you were waiting for the just-purchased AZ-GTi to arrive---but I couldn't find any later posts about your experience with it.

 

I didn't know the Point and Track mode was an option. That sounds like what I need for viewing the Moon and planets from my townhouse neighborhood. Between the trees, and the horrible night lighting around here, it's difficult even to find bright alignment stars.

The Point and Track works very well. I used it on the Moon the other night. Not only did I not polar align, I didn't bother even leveling the mount. Of course levelling in EQ isn't important, but with an Alt-Az it can throw off tracking as it rotates around its Az axis. So it did drift just a bit off, but was easily brought back to center using the SynScan Pro app's direction arrows.

 

I also was doing a finer, more accurate collimation on my C5 and I manually moved my scope to Arcturus (after more accurate leveling). I went into the app, found Arcturus and hit "Point and Track" and it stayed their the entire time I spent collimating (which took me a while). No Polar Alignment was needed.

 

The mount gets it's location and time from your phone. So it knows it's location and assumes it's level. Once you point it at an object and tell it to track it just keeps it on that object. I've even used it for a GoTo afterwards and found the object pretty well. But I seldom use it's GoTo feature, but I love the point and track. 

 

It's going to be more stable and solid the lighter the load it carries, but also the more solid a tripod the mount sits on, the more solid it will operate as well. 

 

It's not the best Alt-Az mount, but it's one of the best given it's price. 



#10 MattT

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Posted 22 May 2024 - 01:44 PM

That's what it sounds like. The Rowan AZ100 looks terrific but I will still be paying off the new OTA for a while...

 

 

It's not the best Alt-Az mount, but it's one of the best given it's price. 


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#11 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 12:33 AM

AZ-GTi's Point and Track works really well if the mount is accurately leveled, for which I use a Neewer tripod leveler. My view at home is severally restricted so cannot do a proper alignment at times.

I came to like the AZGTi more than my M2C which lacks slow motion controls.

Rowan's AZ100 is a pleasure to use for push-to.
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#12 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 08:33 AM

AZ-GTi's Point and Track works really well if the mount is accurately leveled, for which I use a Neewer tripod leveler. My view at home is severally restricted so cannot do a proper alignment at times.

I came to like the AZGTi more than my M2C which lacks slow motion controls.

Rowan's AZ100 is a pleasure to use for push-to.

I have the same type of leveler under my AZGTi. Mine is an Apertura, but basically the same. Makes it so much easier to level than messing around with tripod legs...

 

leveler2.jpg


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#13 gfamily

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 11:57 AM

I don't find levelling a significant problem. Assuming the bubble level itself isn't offset, I simply rotate the tripod until the bubble is pointing in opposite direction as one of the legs, and then simply lower that leg to move the bubble to the centre. 

 

ETA - though looking at how reasonably the tripod levellers are priced, I may well get one to see if it helps with my Seestar, which gets a bit sniffy if it thinks it's not properly level.


Edited by gfamily, 23 May 2024 - 12:00 PM.

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#14 davidgmd

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 12:24 PM

My favorite mount was the Stellarvue MC2, but I really wanted tracking. There is very little out there in the way of simple, small lightweight Alt-Az mounts with tracking, unless you spend a small fortune. Which is why I bought the AZGTi mount.

 

I've used my AZGTi with some scopes a little over the payload. It's a little sticky/fussy in Azimuth movement manually (the heavier the scope), but I basically only use it manually with the Point and Track (no need to polar align, just make sure it's level). You point it at the object, tell the SynScan app what the object is, then click "Point and Track". I almost never polar align it (not even for GoTo).

 

For finer movement, I just use the keypad in the wireless SynScan Pro app (which eliminates the sticky Azimuth manual movement). 

 

I currently use it with my C5...

 

C5-back.jpg

 

But also have used it with a much heavier scope setups...

 

An ETX125 with Wegat back, 2" focuser and 2" diagonal, 8X50 RACI, heavy rings...about 12.5 lbs.

 

portable-tripod2-1.jpg

 

Dual mounted (with a mod to the CW side) using my AT72EDII and ST80 on the CW side)...

 

dual-scopes2.jpg

  
Hi Mark,

 

Skywatcher says the recommended Az-GTi payload is 11 pounds. Other than the sticky azimuth motion (which you avoid by using the hand controls), how stable is that dual scope setup at high mag, say 150-200X? Also, any concerns about longevity with it carrying that much weight?
 
I use a SolarQuest with (I think) the same size gears internally as the Az-GTi to mount a double-stacked Lunt LS60MT plus binoviewer and worry about wear and tear. It’s stable up to 140X without getting wobbly, which is more than enough for the sun. It exhibits a fair amount of backlash on the altitude axis when loaded up.



#15 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 02:54 PM

  
Hi Mark,

 

Skywatcher says the recommended Az-GTi payload is 11 pounds. Other than the sticky azimuth motion (which you avoid by using the hand controls), how stable is that dual scope setup at high mag, say 150-200X? Also, any concerns about longevity with it carrying that much weight?
 
I use a SolarQuest with (I think) the same size gears internally as the Az-GTi to mount a double-stacked Lunt LS60MT plus binoviewer and worry about wear and tear. It’s stable up to 140X without getting wobbly, which is more than enough for the sun. It exhibits a fair amount of backlash on the altitude axis when loaded up.

Well, in actual use, only the AT72EDII is part of the payload. The ST80 is on the CW side so it doesn't count against the payload at all. In fact it balances it out better. But I had to modify it a bit to use as a dual mount. Nothing irreversible as it uses the same threaded rod a Skywatcher CW would. I just added a saddle to it for the ST80 instead of a traditional CW.

 

I seldom use it that though. I sold the ST80 and only use my C5 as of late. 


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#16 davidgmd

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 03:24 PM

I never thought of it that way. Certainly lateral balance is better with a scope on each side, and if front/back balance is good the altitude motor and gears shouldn’t have to strain too hard. Thanks Mark.


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#17 Spikey131

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 08:06 PM

I have the same type of leveler under my AZGTi. Mine is an Apertura, but basically the same. Makes it so much easier to level than messing around with tripod legs...

 

leveler2.jpg

You turned your AZ/GTI into an iOptron AZ Mount Pro…..grin.gif



#18 Spikey131

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Posted 23 May 2024 - 08:15 PM

I have the AZ/GTi and I mainly use it for travel.  It is not what I would call a smooth manual mount.  It is designed to use as a GOTO.  And as far as I know, there is no way to use the encoders manually.

 

I think the only mount that meets all of your criteria is the Rowan AZ100 with motors.  Prepare for sticker shock.


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#19 bkc

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 11:47 AM

I use the AzGti with a SVX090T. That is sitting at about 11 lbs of payload before adding the 1.25 prism diagonal and the Baader Mark IV eyepiece. This has been on the tripod that comes with the mount.  Sometimes I add a PVS-14 night vision onto that. The system tracks well for visual and Alt-Az mode. I did not like the stability when I added the wedge.

 

I have a fixed pier that I can put the mount and telescope on and do EAA with an ASI533mc pro. It works for me, but my pictures are not the same quality as the serious astrophotography people produce. Again this is all in Alt-Az mode.


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#20 MarkMittlesteadt

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 11:55 AM

I use the AzGti with a SVX090T. That is sitting at about 11 lbs of payload before adding the 1.25 prism diagonal and the Baader Mark IV eyepiece. This has been on the tripod that comes with the mount.  Sometimes I add a PVS-14 night vision onto that. The system tracks well for visual and Alt-Az mode. I did not like the stability when I added the wedge.

 

I have a fixed pier that I can put the mount and telescope on and do EAA with an ASI533mc pro. It works for me, but my pictures are not the same quality as the serious astrophotography people produce. Again this is all in Alt-Az mode.

Stability comes more from what the AZGTi is mounted on than the mounthead itself. 

 

I use my own solid tripods or my deck pier...

 

Surveyor tripod...

 

C5-Surveyor2.jpg

 

2" steel legged tripod...

 

2-inch-Diagonal-setup2.jpg

 

Deck Pier...

 

EAA-AP-rig.jpg


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#21 bkc

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Posted 24 May 2024 - 12:20 PM

Mark,

 

I agree completely. Tripods are usually a problem for someone like me who is a bit on the uncoordinated side. My piers are away around that problem, one next to the window for winter and then two more farther from the house to cover the entire sky. The added benefit of the pier is the increased stability.

Brian


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#22 AaronF

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Posted 26 May 2024 - 08:28 PM

Have a look at the Vixen AP mount.

It's a modular mount and has various different possible configurations.

In its equatorial configuration, with the RA motor, it'll start tracking in that axis when it's powered - without the hand controller needing to be connected.

For me this is perfect: I can manually move the telescope and when I let go it'll keep tracking.

I also have the AZ-GTi, and I concur with Spikey131 on this:

It is not what I would call a smooth manual mount.  It is designed to use as a GOTO.  And as far as I know, there is no way to use the encoders manually.

I bought the AP because I wanted a smooth manual mount with the option to have tracking. It was half price when I bought it, which helped because it's not exactly cheap.


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#23 MattT

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Posted 18 June 2024 - 01:01 PM

Followup, after a few nights of looking at the Moon with an AZ-GTI I picked up on the Bezos site for $400:

 

With the app on my Pixel 7, electronic control works well. Point-and-track works great on the Moon! Haven't tried go-to yet, but that isn't a priority for me.

 

The manual motions actually seem smooth enough for push-to use at lower mags, as I'd hoped (*caveat---see below). I haven't really tried that yet, as I've not been out to a dark site.

 

Carrying my 92mm f6.7 triplet---12 pounds fully dressed---with the mount pedestal fixed to a 5-series Gitzo carbon tripod, rigidity is ok for manual focusing at high power. Damping time with this combo is just a bit over 1 sec. Quite acceptable. Electronic slewing is smooth and sure.

A moderate wind is noticeable in the eyepiece, and on an evening when the wind was gusting to 16-18mph the combo was unusable. But that's an unfair ask for a portable mount.

With my 8.5 pound 80mm f6 triplet, damping is under 1 sec.

I haven't even tried the stock tripod, which a glance tells me is inadequate for any significant load.

 

I'm happy!* The mount head is really an amazing little bit of engineering.

 

Now, the downsides---which I hope are specific to my unit:

 

I think the unit I received was a customer return, possibly repaired. As I opened it, I noticed the box bore two layers of tape. The mount and accessories were packed properly in sculpted foam but without any plastic wrap, which I've come to expect. The controller cord was just loose in the box. There were a few rub-like marks on the black plastic part of the mount housing, and evidence of tinkering with the screws. The AZ clutch came tightened down very, very tight.

 

Unless the AZ clutch is tight, there is about a half degree of free play in the AZ axis. Once you move through the play, the motion is quite smooth and even, but the loose play seemed unacceptable.

When I attempted to open the housing to check tightness on the nut that controls the spring-loaded AZ worm, which Youtube tells me is frequently the cause of this free play, I found that one of the housing screws was cracked. Just a bit of torque, applied with a jeweler's Phillips screwdriver, snapped off the screw-head. Another screw-head was stripped (not by me).

 

So, this unit is going back. But for an exchange, not return. I may go for the kit with the 127mm Mak OTA. I used to have one of those Synta Maks, Orion-branded, and it's a scope I'd like to have back. Only ~$300 more than the mount alone, and should be a nice match with this mount+tripod for portable lunar viewing and outreach.

 

Thank you all for your advice!


Edited by MattT, 18 June 2024 - 01:08 PM.

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