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Questions about Avalon Linear


Beeko

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Hi All,

First time poster on this site. I'm based in the UK but usual use the Cloudy Night forum. I have a few questions about the Avalon Linear mount and they suggested this as a better forum for answers as we have more users in the UK, so here goes.

I've been narrowing down a mount search in recent months and think the linear has taken the number one spot, overtaking the cem60 as the better mount with better build quality and greater reliability. 

I absolutely love my polemaster and after polar alignment issues prior to owning this wonderful bit of kit, I would now never be without it. Is there a way to attach this to the linear - is a proper bracket in development?

How portable is the scope? I don't do a lot of traditional observing these days but would like the option to join my society in their star gazing evenings. 

Setup - the stargo controller seems lacking in features. How easy is it to setup in the real world? This is a big one for me - I want to be imaging within 30mins of initial setup (from scratch). What is the procedure? I'm coming from a Celestron handset experience. 

T110 mount - a good combination? I have an edge 8, will the supplied counter weight be enough once typical imaging gear is attached?

Does the mount come with a carry case of any sort?

Best to wait till astrofest next year to find a deal or will this not exist?

Sorry, I'm aware that there are a lot of questions but if I'm spending this kind of money on a mount, I want to get it right. Anyone live near Hertfordshire with a linear where I can visit?

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I can't really speak about the Avalon Linear mount itself but I do use an Avalon M-Zero which also uses the StarGo Controller. I also have the T-90 tripod.

Regarding PoleMaster...I mount it to my OTA dovetail via a DIY adapter as it doesn't matter where it is mounted as long as it can see Polaris through its rotation in RA. Mounting the PoleMaster on the OTA does not allow for monitoring during an imaging session since the OTA will be pointing towards your target, not the NCP. However I have never found that to be a problem, once polar aligned I remove it...

Regarding the T-Pod...My T-90 tripod is very sturdy, it is quite short (quite a bit shorter than the T-110), but I prefer the lighter weight anyway, plus it came with my M-Zero.

Regarding StarGo...I find it adequate. It is ASCOM compliant which is all I need. I have controlled my mount with Stellarium, Cartes du Ciel, and SkySafari on Android via Bluetooth. Some people prefer the older Skywatcher electronics so that it can be controlled via EQMOD but that is no longer available. StarGo has never failed me so far...

If you can see the stuff in person it would be beneficial of course...

Luciano of Avalon Instruments is very helpful and I like his products!

 

 

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I've heard about folks mounting the Polemaster on a dovetail but can't think how that would work reliably. You're not going around a polar axis but a much wider circle so how would you maintain the accuracy. So many questions.....

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I am just going from their user manual:

"Is it necessary to install PoleMaster coaxial to the RA axis?"
"No. You will only need to have them approximately aligned. The rotation centre determination is determined algorithmically and does not rely on accurate mechanical alignment."

http://www.qhyccd.com/PoleMaster.html

 

I get about 30 arcseconds which is good enough for me...

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42 minutes ago, sloz1664 said:

Sorry didn't pick this up until today. I attached my Polemaster on the Dec motor housing. Works well. :)

Steve

Polemaster  Avalon Linear.jpg

Is this just glued into place? 

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Can't help on all the questions. I don't even know what Polemaster is! I'll comment on the mount, though. I've had one for a few years alongside a Mesu, a couple of Taks, a couple of EQ6 and a robotic shed housing four 10 Microns, none of them mine.

My Avalon is a pre-Stargo model. Construction is excellent and promises a very long service life. Wear should be confined to the belts which can be replaced. Machining is clean and accurate, the antidote to Skywatcher (but they are so much cheaper.) Mine is identical in setup to the EQ6 whose motherboard and motors it shares.

The belt drive is elastic. Make no bones about this, it just is. The more urgent question is, How much does it matter? It matters a bit. It loses subs in the wind. I lost half a dozen or so last month. Once the wind died down they rolled in cleanly. That is what they do most of the time but not all of the time if it's windy. (I'm stressing the mount with a physically long TEC140 Triplet, heavy reducer and heavy mono CCD/filterwheel rig. That's quite a big ask.)

The guide trace is usually pretty good but what's interesting is that the subs look better than you'd expect from that trace. I suppose this is the 'fast reverse' putting the scope back on target quickly.

The elasticity shows when you try to focus. Touching the scope makes it jitter and it needs a second or two to calm down.

Despite its limitations I like it, largely because it is so well machined and so should not vary between now and a long time into the future. It is very predictable (including not liking the wind.)

Luciano offers legendary backup.

I think it is too expensive. It is too close in price (though not that close in absolute terms) to the Mesu which is way, way better. Less portable, though.

But I still like it.

Olly

PS Why other makers don't use the Takahashi polar scope system is a mystery to me. It takes about a minute to get within an arcminute in softwre free bliss!

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Thanks for the response Olly. With the wind, are you talking breeze or 20 mph+? I'm coming from an AVX so would consider this mount (if it is the final choice) to be quite an upgrade. The polemaster is the best bit of kit I've ever bought - see here. http://www.qhyccd.com/PoleMaster.html it'll have you polar aligned within 5 minutes, better than taking ages to drift align and usually more accurate.

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I didn't jump in here, depsite having owned a Linear for a couple of years as I didn't really have the answers to your original questions about the Polemaster :) But if you want to hear overall thoughts then I have them too :D

I loved my Linear, it was a step up from the HEQ5 and did exactly what it said on the tin. It was well built and functioned perfectly. I had the older Synta motherboard and the integration with EQMOD was brilliant. Then i got a StarGo motherboard for testing and if I'm honest, I never liked it. I felt it was too buggy and unreliable (unlike the Synta boards that were bomb proof) - I had an issue at one time that it wouldn't auto flip using software. Avalon fixed it, but I never tried it again as I'd swapped back to the Synta board. I can't say now whether that bug is fixed or not.

Would I buy an Avalon again? A synta one in a heartbeat...... a StarGo version, I didn't feel comfortable with and so no I wouldn't based on what I know now. 

Olly is totally correct about the wind. This wasn't a weather condition that the Linear coped with and so if I had anything over 10km I didn't bother and if it was under I hoped that it would drop! 

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Thanks Sara, love your website by the way - some incredible images and that's where I want to be in 5 years. Would like to hear any input on this mount. I live on top of a hill so the occasional night can get windy but I don't try imaging in these conditions now. Interesting thoughts about the stargo but I'm presuming you were an early adopter on this and would hope the bugs are all but ironed out. I contacted Luciano about the polemaster issue specifically and he said the stargo now has a pointing model based on plate solving which works but I've no idea how. 

I'm down to a decision over three mounts - the Panther TTS (see my comments in another thread), a cem60 or the Avalon. At this moment, I'm siding with the Avalon. The key features I need is very quick setup, reliability and a good level of portability. If there are other recommendations, I'm all ears. Ready to buy now but wonder if I should hold off until astrofest with the hope of a bargain or two. 

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Interestingly I had an email from a friend today - He bought a Linear after seeing mine. Sadly though he had to go for the StarGo option. It would seem that the StarGo is not doing an auto meridian flip when using SGP for automation. This is something that I reported to Luciano over a year ago and he assured me it was fixed...... I'd want to be very clear on this point before purchasing a Linear now. For me, not being able to automate a meridian flip would be a deal breaker.... I'd be asking for confirmation that it works and if it doesn't then the mount will be accepted back and a full refund given...... Or perhaps I'm just a grumpy old so and so :)

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I was pretty much ready to pull the trigger on a Linear, but I'm a bit unsure now because of possible wind issues. I'm aiming to image both at home, where wind is rarely a problem, and from a remote site.

At the remote site there is often some wind. Although I guess it could be possible to protect the mount with a wind break.

One other possibility I found is the Skywatcher / Pierro Astro EVO6 Mount. It's a re-worked EQ6. It's £2,250 from astrograph.net for the synscan version. Their website gives a list of all the modifications carried out. I'm going to create a separate post to see if anyone has experience of this mount.

Andy.

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Interesting idea and some thoughtful modifications but at the end of the day...it's still an eq6. Nothing wrong with that but I love the belt system on the Avalon - I'd imagine this would still track better. 

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On 22/07/2016 at 19:31, ollypenrice said:

The elasticity shows when you try to focus. Touching the scope makes it jitter and it needs a second or two to calm down.

Olly, I thought your first rule of astrophotography is "Don't touch the mount"...:icon_biggrin: Does it jitter with remote focus or is that you physically touching the focuser? Of course you have got a lot more experience with these mounts so can probably compare it to an NEQ6 or similar...

On my M-Zero (which uses a similar drive to the Linear) there is definitely some elasticity but I wouldn't know if it would fare any better or worse to another similar sized mount if the wind was blowing a few mph...I find that most of the time a consistent breeze is fine, it is the sudden sharp gusts that ruin subs and I am sure they'd affect other similar sized mounts as well...

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15 hours ago, StuartJPP said:

 

Olly, I thought your first rule of astrophotography is "Don't touch the mount"...:icon_biggrin: Does it jitter with remote focus or is that you physically touching the focuser? Of course you have got a lot more experience with these mounts so can probably compare it to an NEQ6 or similar...

On my M-Zero (which uses a similar drive to the Linear) there is definitely some elasticity but I wouldn't know if it would fare any better or worse to another similar sized mount if the wind was blowing a few mph...I find that most of the time a consistent breeze is fine, it is the sudden sharp gusts that ruin subs and I am sure they'd affect other similar sized mounts as well...

You're right about my rule but I have to touch it to focus. I focus manually. (One day I will order three Lakesides but three's a big number by which to multiply a high price! :D )

I'm glad Sara has quantified the wind. I'm afraid I never have.

Pierro has a good reputation in France but worm and wheel will eventually need attention. You do need to take my comments about the wind in the context of the rig itself. The TEC is long with an extended moment working against the belt tension. In this pic I'm afraid the camera and filterwheel are out of shot but you can see I'm working the mount hard.

In%20obs%201-L.jpg

...and it does knock out the data. A couple from last month:

CAVE%20NEBULA%20TEC%2020-L.jpg

LBN%20558%20%20LDN%201260%2012%2046%2014

Olly

 

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Interestingly, the Synscan version of the Linear is still listed here. The site let me add it to the basket.

https://www.widescreen-centre.co.uk/astronomy-mounts-and-tripods/avalon-instruments-mounts/avalon-instruments-m-linear-fast-reverse

Maybe the website hasn't been updated.

I've emailed Avalon to see if the Synscan option is still produced.

Andy.

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43 minutes ago, Andyb90 said:

Interestingly, the Synscan version of the Linear is still listed here. The site let me add it to the basket.

https://www.widescreen-centre.co.uk/astronomy-mounts-and-tripods/avalon-instruments-mounts/avalon-instruments-m-linear-fast-reverse

Maybe the website hasn't been updated.

I've emailed Avalon to see if the Synscan option is still produced.

Andy.

Andy, I see you are up in Staffordshire. I'm about to go on holiday for a couple of weeks but after that, plan on taking a trip down to Ian King or Widescreen centre to look more closely at the mount and make a decision. You're welcome to join me if you can. Only thing - haven't checked if they've got them in stock yet. I'll go with the stargo as I believe the early issues will be ironed out by now. I also hate the synscan remote with a passion - long story!!

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I know that Avalon are no longer selling the Synscan.... so if anyone does have them then they've been on the shelf for some time..... Could be used as a bargaining chip? Other retailers have the newer version blah blah blah........ The good news in my personal opinion, is that the Synscan is by far a better version than the StarGo (both of which I have used on a Linear) so I'd be quietly biting someone's hand off if they had a Synscan version.

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3 hours ago, Beeko said:

plan on taking a trip down to Ian King or Widescreen centre to look more closely at the mount and make a decision. You're welcome to join me if you can.

Would be good to actually see the mount, although I know Ian King doesn't keep them in stock. I called him a while back and he told me he gets them in to order.

I've emailed the Widescreen Centre to ask if they still have the Synscan version.

On 24/07/2016 at 20:42, Beeko said:

Interesting idea and some thoughtful modifications but at the end of the day...it's still an eq6. Nothing wrong with that but I love the belt system on the Avalon - I'd imagine this would still track better. 

I've ruled out the EVO6 based on the response to my post about it. I also think the belt drives on the Linear are great too.

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3 hours ago, Andyb90 said:

Would be good to actually see the mount, although I know Ian King doesn't keep them in stock. I called him a while back and he told me he gets them in to order.

I've emailed the Widescreen Centre to ask if they still have the Synscan version.

I've ruled out the EVO6 based on the response to my post about it. I also think the belt drives on the Linear are great too.

I went back to your other thread and can't say that there was any really hard information coming in about the Pierro mod. I went to his website in France (where I live) and didn't find the mount on it but that might just be me being short sighted. It would be very interesting to hear a good review. Astrograph's website says,  It is a typical EQ6 PE and is not suited for high quality photographic use.

There will be a lot of people on here interested to hear this since they probably thought, as I did, that they had taken very good pictures on their EQ6 mounts. The underlying PE is not the point. The point is, How well does it guide out? The EQ6 is rough and ready and Pierro's mod may have very real merit. However, the bog standard mount has delivered many excellent images.

Olly

 

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11 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

There will be a lot of people on here interested to hear this since they probably thought, as I did, that they had taken very good pictures on their EQ6 mounts. The underlying PE is not the point. The point is, How well does it guide out? The EQ6 is rough and ready and Pierro's mod may have very real merit. However, the bog standard mount has delivered many excellent images.

Yes, I've seen plenty of great images on here and Astrobin where the mount used was an EQ6. Also plenty for the HEQ5 which I have.

I've had problems since I started to guide my HEQ5 and have posted about them. I had some responses where people couldn't understand why I was getting issues as they had achieved 20 minute guided subs using their HEQ5 out of the box and got good results. So I think there must be variance between different units/batches.

I also had a lot of issues belt modding my HEQ5. Again other people reported they had no issues and it only took them half an hour. I ended up having to file components and use spacers to get everything to fit.

I'm hoping the Linear will provide more guaranteed guiding performance. I'm happy to pay extra for that.

Andy.

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