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AndrewG

What mount would you get if in my position?

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Advice needed before I decide which direction to take.

I have had some feedback from a few posts given I think it is time to ditch the wedge / fork mount and enter the world of EM mounts, and so far people have recommended going for the EQ8 as I can just mount my existing CPC OTA and piggy backed TAK 85 on it.

The question is would I be better spending the extra and going for a 10 Micron HPS1000 if I could then image unguided? If so how easy is it as I have seen a few threads on having a skymap??? Do you need more software and if so what does that cost?

The real dilemma is if I went down the 10 Micron route I would have to stick with using the Canon 5D Mk2 (due to lack of £££) for imaging for some considerable time but if I went down the EQ8 route I could get a dedicated CCD / filter wheel and maybe with inbuilt OAG to do narrow band imaging within the next year or so.

What would you all do?

Any help / advice would be most welcomed as I need to decide which way to turn.

Thanks

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Personally I would buy a Mesu200/Argonavis and guide it. Mine is laughably easy to guide. I rarely recalibrate the guider, I just switch it on with the previous settings and it runs an accuracy that is good enough for 2.4 metres, the longest I've used.  It hasn't dropped a sub in two and a half years and has been totally reliable throughout that time. It has never had any attention of any kind.

To my mind, not guiding is more trouble than guiding, from what I've seen. I don't need my mount to be remotely operated so the nice simple ArgoNavis is just the ticket. This mount is the only bit if kit I use (and I use a lot of it running an astronomy guest house) that just works. I'm wary of the SiTech Mesu because it is more complicated and is the only version which doesn't always perform as it should. When sorted it does seem to be excellent but I'd buy another ArgoNavis myself.

I like taking pictures and am not particularly interested in the technology used to do it. I like it to be invisible and occupy none of my attention. The Mesu Argonavis meets these demands.

Olly

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What I would is take a systems approach and, once I knew how much money was available, start considering options to optimise the whole thing.

If you know you'll have £6k or £7k for a 10 Micron mount, you might be better off asking what would be the best use of that money, spread across your whole observing rig?

Would you, for example be better off selling the wedge + CPC925 either together or separately and adding that money to your "pot".  Maybe taking the proceeds and buying an 11 inch SCT OTA or a big, fast Newt for whatever new mount you decide on.

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Personally I would buy a Mesu200/Argonavis and guide it. Mine is laughably easy to guide. I rarely recalibrate the guider, I just switch it on with the previous settings and it runs an accuracy that is good enough for 2.4 metres, the longest I've used.  It hasn't dropped a sub in two and a half years and has been totally reliable throughout that time. It has never had any attention of any kind.

To my mind, not guiding is more trouble than guiding, from what I've seen. I don't need my mount to be remotely operated so the nice simple ArgoNavis is just the ticket. This mount is the only bit if kit I use (and I use a lot of it running an astronomy guest house) that just works. I'm wary of the SiTech Mesu because it is more complicated and is the only version which doesn't always perform as it should. When sorted it does seem to be excellent but I'd buy another ArgoNavis myself.

I like taking pictures and am not particularly interested in the technology used to do it. I like it to be invisible and occupy none of my attention. The Mesu Argonavis meets these demands.

Olly

Thanks Olly for the suggestion of the Messu 200 :cool: .

Given your advice I have made contact with Bernard at Modern Astronomy; he says that the SiTech is now the best option over the Argonavis as it has better future proofing and updates from the manufacturer. 

He mentioned that Steppenwolf may contribute given he has the latest system using SiTech,   it would be interesting if he could respond to confirm that the initial issues are now sorted out?

Regards

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Thanks Olly for the suggestion of the Messu 200 :cool: .

Given your advice I have made contact with Bernard at Modern Astronomy; he says that the SiTech is now the best option over the Argonavis as it has better future proofing and updates from the manufacturer. 

He mentioned that Steppenwolf may contribute given he has the latest system using SiTech,   it would be interesting if he could respond to confirm that the initial issues are now sorted out?

Regards

Maybe. I have seen too many issues with the SiTech to be convinced by this but I'm happy to be converted. For IT addicts the SiTech is the one. Personally I hope to see the Mesu available one day with a modern and more user-friendly control system. The SiTech was recently described as being a system written by engineers for engineers.

A recent thread on here by an SGL member suggests that the issues may not be sorted out.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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I agree with Olly re. Unguided vs guided. Guiding is easy if you have a reasonable mount, whereas trying to get long subs unguided seems a bit like self flagellation to me....why do it when it's easy to guide?

Most high level mounts will work pretty well straight away, not just the Mesu, so have a look at a few options before you spend your cash.....Astrophysics, 10 micron are just a couple that come to mind. I don't know about the EQ8. IIRC early reports mentioned a couple of issues, but these may well have been dealt with by now.

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Olly is not wrong, neither regarding Mesu/Argonavis endorsement nor SItech problems. I would, however, not say that unguided is troublesome, even though I have had my fair share of problems, most of which have centered around rig rigidity and only some around minor firmware issues. 

With a totally stable optical train you get unguided imaging out of the box with a 10Micron mount. A CPC will only give you good unguided performace if you modify the focusing device or run it with totally locked down primary and a good external focuser. I used to have an EdgeHD 925 and it was more or less useless unguided with the stock focuser.

Tak and TEC get you going right away.

Is guiding troublesome? I think so, and I want to run all my stuff in full automation which is hard to do guided. SImple as that.

/per

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Olly is not wrong, neither regarding Mesu/Argonavis endorsement nor SItech problems. I would, however, not say that unguided is troublesome, even though I have had my fair share of problems, most of which have centered around rig rigidity and only some around minor firmware issues. 

With a totally stable optical train you get unguided imaging out of the box with a 10Micron mount. A CPC will only give you good unguided performace if you modify the focusing device or run it with totally locked down primary and a good external focuser. I used to have an EdgeHD 925 and it was more or less useless unguided with the stock focuser.

Tak and TEC get you going right away.

Is guiding troublesome? I think so, and I want to run all my stuff in full automation which is hard to do guided. SImple as that.

/per

Hi Per,

Thanks for the comment.

If I was to go down the 10 Micron route I would only be using the TAK85 FSQ with the Canon 5D Mark II for imaging in the short term; using FOV calculator this equates to 2.94” / pixel and as it is not narrow band imaging the maximum exposure time would be between 3 and 6 minutes.

The rig is a permanent setup in my observatory and I have a Pier fixed into concrete so I would have thought the setup should be fairly stable.

Do you think I could do unguided images out of the box given fairly short exposures and focal lengths?

Thanks

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Personally I opt for the cheaper mount, guided, with the CCD. The DSLR will become the "weak" point in the chain, and a CCD will give a vast improvement in image. Almost certainly a lot more than the difference in the mounts. Plus you get the flexibility of true narrowband imaging if you go mono.

Mesu: Great reports on it, though you are limited with the back up support (reliant on a very small team). One member on here returned one after being unable to diagnose and fix an issue.

CEM60: New mount, good feedback lots of capacity. Early days though.

EQ8: Guides nicely. A couple of early issues widely publicised from a couple of users.

What about the Avalons? Olly and Sara Wager have them and speak highly of them. Possibly not best for long refractors.

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Personally I opt for the cheaper mount, guided, with the CCD. The DSLR will become the "weak" point in the chain, and a CCD will give a vast improvement in image. Almost certainly a lot more than the difference in the mounts. Plus you get the flexibility of true narrowband imaging if you go mono.

Mesu: Great reports on it, though you are limited with the back up support (reliant on a very small team). One member on here returned one after being unable to diagnose and fix an issue.

CEM60: New mount, good feedback lots of capacity. Early days though.

EQ8: Guides nicely. A couple of early issues widely publicised from a couple of users.

What about the Avalons? Olly and Sara Wager have them and speak highly of them. Possibly not best for long refractors.

This is the same conclusion I've come to. My shortlist is EQ8, CEM60-EC and the Avalon Fast Reverse.

So its then down to reliability, carrying capacity (EQ8 is way in front for my multi shooter requirements), how well they integrate with the rest of the gear/software (I use EQMod and it works with the EQ8 & Avalon), build quality (from what I've read the Avalon excels) and importantly dealer support (especially with the EQ8, in my mind)

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This is the same conclusion I've come to. My shortlist is EQ8, CEM60-EC and the Avalon Fast Reverse.

So its then down to reliability, carrying capacity (EQ8 is way in front for my multi shooter requirements), how well they integrate with the rest of the gear/software (I use EQMod and it works with the EQ8 & Avalon), build quality (from what I've read the Avalon excels) and importantly dealer support (especially with the EQ8, in my mind)

Thanks for the comment... given what you have said this maybe an option??? :-

Avalon Fast Reverse + SBIG CCD with OAG = approx. same cost as 1000HPS

Any comments on how good the Avalon is?

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I find the Avalon excellent. I have recently used it at 2.3m and it has guided impeccably. Now at 329mm it's an absolute dream. I don't lose any subs to guiding (perhaps stupidity on my part!) and for me that is what I want night after night. I also like the fact that it uses EQMOD and for me when I changed over from the HEQ5 it was plug and play. No complications it just worked.

When I changed my mount my short list was rather like yours. For me the biggest factor was ease of use. The thought of trying to get the 10Micron mounts working for example scared me to death. The big end mounts like that would NOT be plug and play.

So am I pleased with my Avalon? You bet I am. I just wish that it had a higher payload, especially now that I have decided I'd like to dual mount. Having used it for about 10 months, would I change it? No I wouldn't and I certainly don't regret buying it. Not guiding I suppose is nice, but when you get such good and easy guiding from the mount, there's no big deal. It's hardly difficult is it. :smiley:

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Out of interest, what (Apart from cost) are the dissadvantages of the M-Uno vs the Fast-Reverse for a short refractor pair, as in my sig? I like the idea of easily imaging past the meridian with no flip.

I know I've talked about a GM2000 with a serious pair of apos but that can wait intil my dark-sky move, and obsy build. For now a TG 365 cover will have to suffice.

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I would guess you would never have to guide with a 10Micron and that stuff. DSLRs have flexure, but it is predictable and consistent flexure so it should be modeled out by the mount.

/per

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I would guess you would never have to guide with a 10Micron and that stuff. DSLRs have flexure, but it is predictable and consistent flexure so it should be modeled out by the mount.

/per

Thanks for the info. How easy is it to build the model and set up the HPS mount?

I am close to going down the Mesu route but have read that other thread (Sling I think) and it looks like an IT nightmare (3 years of training and we just turn it off then on again!)

If the 10 micron is straight forward it may be better for me as we don't get that many clear nights and I would not want to waste them messing with drivers and encoders, any advice eWorld be great.

Best Regards

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I would not give up on the Mesu just yet.

Everyone who has had teething problems with the Mesu have eventually managed to sort them out and have been left with a class mount that can only be matched by spending almost double the money.

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He mentioned that Steppenwolf may contribute given he has the latest system using SiTech,   it would be interesting if he could respond to confirm that the initial issues are now sorted out?

Sorry Andy, I have only just seen this thread!

My experience of the Mesu 200 with the Sitech II controller has been positive from day one and I have had the mount since about March 2013. I had the mount for review for the Sky at Night magazine and liked it so much that I bought it. It hasn't missed a beat in my ownership  - it has been totally reliable. Now I like PC control so I am in my element here having been an early adopter of the EQMod system years ago and the transition from the EQ6 to the Mesu 200 was all but seamless as in operation terms, the mount control is carried out in the same manner (using Cartes du Ciel and MaIm DL in my case).

I have identified one minor issue and that is that when using MaxIm DL to centre a chosen star after calibration, you have to turn off the shaft encoders or the star won't centre - once centred and synchronised, I turn the encoders back on. Sitech are aware of this and will look into it but I guess it is low on their list of priorities.

The Sitech II software is 'quirky' but that does not mean unreliable (quite the opposite in fact) it is more a case of having been written by a techie rather than a marketing team.

My Mesu 200 simply works, I just turn it on, slew to a known star using Cartes du Ciel, centre the star on the CCD sensor and press the 'Sync' button and away I go!

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A 10Micron mount is prepared for use as follows (assumes portable setup):

1) Level tripod, point it roughly towards north

2) Balance by means of a simple firmware procedure

3) Shoot three alignment stars, or run a small model with Model Maker

4) Read on handset how much to adjust Az and Alt (polar alignment), adjust. Or, use center star procedure with handset

5) Redo point 3 and check polar alignment. If below a few minutes you're good to go. If you're picky, iterate once more and get it to less than 30"

6) Shoot a bunch of alignment points, either by hand (center with handset buttons) or fully automated with model maker.

7) Image - unguided. 10Micron mounts track in both axii.

For fixed pier setup, all subsequent nights start with power on, then image. No alignment, no initialization, no homing - just do it.

Model building with the help of the handset is easy. The mount slews to a star and you center it with the buttons, then press enter. With Model Maker, which is a free tool that I wrote, you automate the model building 100 per cent. This screen dump is from my remote observatory on Olly's premises and shows a short test model that I just ran. The tracking and pointing accuracy is expected to be 3.37 arc-seconds over the entire sky.

All the best,

Per

post-9361-0-07941300-1406843726_thumb.pn

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And, as for polar alignment sensitivity, consider this shot. It was shot with a GM2000HPS, Tak FSQ-106 and a QSI 638. The holes in my pier in Provence where not correctly drilled (by me) so I ended up hitting the end-stops for Az adjustment. Polar error is 52' (arc-MINUTES). 10 subs of 20 minutes each, unguided ;)

/per

IC1805_Etoile_Ha_800.png

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Sorry Andy, I have only just seen this thread!

My experience of the Mesu 200 with the Sitech II controller has been positive from day one and I have had the mount since about March 2013. I had the mount for review for the Sky at Night magazine and liked it so much that I bought it. It hasn't missed a beat in my ownership  - it has been totally reliable. Now I like PC control so I am in my element here having been an early adopter of the EQMod system years ago and the transition from the EQ6 to the Mesu 200 was all but seamless as in operation terms, the mount control is carried out in the same manner (using Cartes du Ciel and MaIm DL in my case).

I have identified one minor issue and that is that when using MaxIm DL to centre a chosen star after calibration, you have to turn off the shaft encoders or the star won't centre - once centred and synchronised, I turn the encoders back on. Sitech are aware of this and will look into it but I guess it is low on their list of priorities.

The Sitech II software is 'quirky' but that does not mean unreliable (quite the opposite in fact) it is more a case of having been written by a techie rather than a marketing team.

My Mesu 200 simply works, I just turn it on, slew to a known star using Cartes du Ciel, centre the star on the CCD sensor and press the 'Sync' button and away I go!

Hi Steve,

Good to here from you again :laugh: .

As I do not have any control software does the Sitech one work also work with Cartes du Ciel or something similar?

Thanks for the help.

Best Regards

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A 10Micron mount is prepared for use as follows (assumes portable setup):

1) Level tripod, point it roughly towards north

2) Balance by means of a simple firmware procedure

3) Shoot three alignment stars, or run a small model with Model Maker

4) Read on handset how much to adjust Az and Alt (polar alignment), adjust. Or, use center star procedure with handset

5) Redo point 3 and check polar alignment. If below a few minutes you're good to go. If you're picky, iterate once more and get it to less than 30"

6) Shoot a bunch of alignment points, either by hand (center with handset buttons) or fully automated with model maker.

7) Image - unguided. 10Micron mounts track in both axii.

For fixed pier setup, all subsequent nights start with power on, then image. No alignment, no initialization, no homing - just do it.

Model building with the help of the handset is easy. The mount slews to a star and you center it with the buttons, then press enter. With Model Maker, which is a free tool that I wrote, you automate the model building 100 per cent. This screen dump is from my remote observatory on Olly's premises and shows a short test model that I just ran. The tracking and pointing accuracy is expected to be 3.37 arc-seconds over the entire sky.

All the best,

Per

attachicon.gifModel.PNG

And, as for polar alignment sensitivity, consider this shot. It was shot with a GM2000HPS, Tak FSQ-106 and a QSI 638. The holes in my pier in Provence where not correctly drilled (by me) so I ended up hitting the end-stops for Az adjustment. Polar error is 52' (arc-MINUTES). 10 subs of 20 minutes each, unguided ;)

/per

IC1805_Etoile_Ha_800.png

Thanks for all the info...  amazing image :cool: and given what you have showed I do not think I would have much problem setting up the 10 micron mount.

So far I think the 10 Micron is the safer option but has a weight limit and costs a bit more.  

Putting money aside with my current imaging scope the weight shouldn't be a factor,  and I could just switch scopes depending on what I would want to image.

I think I will dwell on it over the next few days as I now think it is a straight decision between the MESU 200 and 10 Micron 1000 HPS with the scales slightly leaning towards the 10 Micron.

I suppose the other advantage is that is would be portable if I wanted to take it on holiday which with the MESU would be a bit more tricky (although this is well down on my requirements).

Oh and one last thing... the software front end looks great  :icon_salut: !

Best Regards

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Hi

I have the Avalon fast reverse,   but I'm due to fully retire soon  and would love the idea of unguided and i have been looking at the 10 micron but for a observatory setup.   Im impressed by the few reviews I've seen,

However i think it might be over the top for a, portable set=up each night

Even if i did get a 10 micron, i would still keep my Avalon for star parties and and quick set ups.

And as Ollly mentioned guiding is no hassle, well using the Avalon its not,  plug and play it is.

i have no probs, doing 30 minute subs with my 8 inch Edge Hd

You got a hard choice, i don't envy your decision,   but i be tempted to go with a reasonable mount and CCD Camera, as the CCD route would open a new world for you in imaging.

Paul J

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Indeed, I'd far rather move to CCD and moderate mount than use a DSLR on the perfect mount.

Olly

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The two short-listed mounts are really a bit too different for a fair comparison as the Mesu has a much higher payload while the GM1000 is probably better for portable use given the easy setup and the fact that you do not have to guide. If unguided imaging is your goal then you have to be careful about the quality of the scope you use, something you do not have to be with the Mesu or the Avalon.

Then, as the final nail in the coffin, is the CCD vs DSLR...

Why, why, why is it so hard?  :confused:

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      The blue star in the centre of the bubble of expanding stellar material is HD 56925 ( WR7 ) - a massive, unstable and short-lived Wolf-Rayet star that one day will detonate in a supernova.
      Image details:
      NGC 2359  Thor’s Helmet / Duck Nebula: Magnitude +11.5, RA (2000.0) 7h 15m 37s, Dec -13deg 12' 8", approx. 1800 light years away
      HD 56925 / Wolf-Rayet 7 ( WR7 ) ( blue 11.5 mag star at centre of “bubble” )
      Haffner 6 ( open ster cluster centre left of image )
      Plate Solution:
      Resolution ........ 1.318 arcsec/px
      Rotation .......... 0.00 deg ( North is up )
      Focal ............. 1398.41 mm
      Field of view ..... 57' 40.8" x 38' 29.0"
      Image center ...... RA: 07 18 36.509  Dec: -13 11 53.38
      Telescope: Orion Optics CT12 Newtonian ( mirror 300mm, fl 1200mm, f4 ).
      Corrector: ASA 2" Coma Corrector Quattro 1.175x.
      Effective Focal Length / Aperture : 1410mm f4.7
      Mount: Skywatcher EQ8
      Guiding: TSOAG9 Off-Axis-Guider, Starlight Xpress Lodestar X2, PHD2 
      Camera:
      Nikon D5300 (unmodified) (sensor 23.5 x 15.6mm, 6016x4016 3.9um pixels)
      Location:
      Blue Mountains, Australia 
      Moderate light pollution ( pale green zone on darksitefinder.com map )
      Capture ( 18 & 19 Jan 2018 )
      9 sets of sub-images with exposure duration for each set doubling ( 1s to 240s ) all at ISO 250.
      116 x 240s + 5 each @ 1s to 120s
      Processing ( Pixinsight - 20 Jan 18  )
      Calibration: master bias, master dark and master flat 
      Integration in 9 sets
      HDR combination 
      arcSinH stretch
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