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Vixen Advanced Polaris mount - why / why not?


pystab
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Looking at the prices of equivalent specifications:-

Vixen Advanced Polaris: £1896

Skywatcher nearest equivalent

EQ5: £545

Skywatcher - better mounts:

HEQ5: £776
AZ EQ5: £949
NEQ6 Pro: £999
EQR6 Prp: £1295
AZ-EQ6: £1412

Some serious mounts there for less money. My conclusion is the Vixen is more than THREE TIMES the price of it's nearest equivalent. Unless you have money to burn I can't see why anyone would choose this mount!

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Hi Tim,

Why? Because it looks pretty and you've lots of cash to waste.

Why not? Because there are so many excellent, cheaper alternatives to be had.

Vixens GP mounts, which Skywatcher have tried to clone, are excellent! If you have your sights on a FC100DC then the GP is the perfect mount. Rock solid and simple to use, as well as being light weight and portable. They come up second hand regularly! 

Attached is a pic of my DC on its Vixen GP.

Mike

 

msg-41880-0-76686800-1428934447.jpg

Edited by mikeDnight
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I have used a number of Vixen products and have nothing but praise for them. I had an ED103s apo refractor- excellent..2 Vixen Great Polaris  mounts - excellent..numerous old and newer Vixen eyepieces - excellent.

I do think Vixen new prices in the UK are much too high. However, if you are buying just once, you have to look at it over the life of the product.. I recently sold my trusty GP mount with MT1 motors and new DD3 handset (which now costs £199!) for £185 or so. It was around 17 years old but still in excellent condition and A1 working order.

Many of the used GPs that come up for sale will be a similar age.  I very much doubt that ANY Skywatcher EQ5 mounts will be around after 17 years. They are built to a (very good) price, but something has to give at the price they go for. I think that something is longevity and precision of engineering.

Please don't think I'm knocking SW mounts, they have been the door into using proper mounts for many amateurs (me included), but it does surprise me sometimes that people will spend a fortune on top notch optics but put it only on a mass produced cheap mount? That said, I have done that myself..in my case, I had limited funds overall and chose to spend most of those funds on the optics of the system, "making do" with a cheap, but perfectly usable mount that could be replaced just as cheaply if and when it needed to be.

Personally, I wouldn't blame anyone for buying a top class mount especially if they intend to keep it for a long time.

The only watch out is that at the new price quoted, the Vixen will suffer very high depreciation, much higher than Takahashi for example.

Hope that's of some help?.

Dave

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Good post by Dave above. it seems to me that many visual observers put most of the money into the scope rather than the mount, and vise-versa with the imagers, and why not? When looking through your scope you can tell how good the optics are, but could you tell how good the mount is when looking through the scope? i.e. the difference between the Vixen and the Skywatcher when tracking siderealy? 

A ten year average lifespan for the Skywather EQ5 would suit me fiine, I'm sure there would be something else I would want to replace it with after ten years anyway.....well in my case it's more like after one year max ;) 

I understand the need for expensive mounts more with the imagers, they need the sub pixel tracking accuracy so their sub exposures don't get ruined etc. 

I am however looking at this as a guy with limited funds. If I had unlimited funds I would probably be less practical about it and follow my heart.

Edited by Chris Lock
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1 hour ago, Alien_Photons said:

.... Why go the extra a take possession of a TAK but not the same approch with the mount....

One reason might be that saving a few £'s on a less premium but still capable mount enables the Tak to be afforded ! :grin:

My Tak and my LZOS refractors don't complain when I bolt them onto Skywatcher mounts - the views still look excellent :thumbright:

 

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I'd endorse what Dave says.

But I would add that the availability of "better" mounts for less money from Skywatcher is beside the point - for their payload Chinese mounts are heavier and bulkier than the Vixen. But the Vixen AP mount is undeniably expensive, where the old Vixen SP and GP were relatively more affordable.  It might also be worth checking out a second hand Takahashi mount if pride of ownership and long term durability are important to you. I can only say that I own a Vixen GP2 and I'm very satisfied with it - it's a finely crafted piece of precision kit.

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There does seem to be more choice and range of quality in ALTZ mounts on the market that don't look expensive by comparison.

On reflection when I think about the AP with a RA drive its not so bad compared to a GM8 or price.

I have to admit that when I see these things at exhibitions and dealers shops I am always impressed with how they look especially the GM8. But an EQ5 with drives on a Bearlbach tripod, well I could just about get three of them for the same money.

 

 

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The price of the Vixen mounts in the UK is largely determined by the yen exchange rate.

In 2008, the SRP for the GPD2 without motors was £495. At that time £1 bought 200 yen.

In 2013, the SRP for the GPD2 without motors was £849. By then £1 bought about 145 yen. In addition, the cost price in yen had been increased by Vixen by 15%.

At launch, the AP mount (without motors) was £599 and £1 bought about 180 yen.

Today we are back to £1 buying 145 and a retail price of £729.

Inflation would have increased the 2008 price of £495 to around £629 today.

Who'd want to be a Vixen distributor?! :icon_biggrin:

Pete

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Mike: Thank you for your photo of what I want ;)

Dave: Now I'm sorry I missed the GP you sold.

My achro experience (nice scope spoiled by its mount) has taught me not to overlook the quality of the mount. Various of you have done a good job of saying the GP is a pleasure to use, which is a feature I'm after that I suspect an EQ5 can't provide. You've convinced me that I can get this feature at better value than an AP. I do need to wait for a GP to become available though. I searched the ABS archive and found two mounts described as "Great Polaris" advertised for sale in the past year. Where else might I find one? (I have seen the "for sale" page here.)

I might also ask elsewhere for opinions of the AP though - I would like to hear from an owner...

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12 minutes ago, pystab said:

Mike: Thank you for your photo of what I want ;)

Dave: Now I'm sorry I missed the GP you sold.

My achro experience (nice scope spoiled by its mount) has taught me not to overlook the quality of the mount. Various of you have done a good job of saying the GP is a pleasure to use, which is a feature I'm after that I suspect an EQ5 can't provide. You've convinced me that I can get this feature at better value than an AP. I do need to wait for a GP to become available though. I searched the ABS archive and found two mounts described as "Great Polaris" advertised for sale in the past year. Where else might I find one? (I have seen the "for sale" page here.)

I might also ask elsewhere for opinions of the AP though - I would like to hear from an owner...

Place an ad on ABS, "Wanted GPD2, GP2, GPDX, GP". Start with the most recent models and work backwards.  You might turn something up that way.

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It's unfortunate that the exchange rate is making Vixen more expensive. I will give Vixen credit - I've owned Synta products and Vixen products: Vixen is generally better quality, better mechanically, and better consistent performance. My EQ6 required some modifications and a tear down before it really reached it's potential. It had the craptacular bendy bolts that couldn't be adjusted with my MN190 on the mount. $200 for a tune-up kit, $100 for new bolts, and several hours of adjustments and un-torquing of the main head pivot bolt at 150ft-lbs of torque and yes - I can finally say that EQ6 is a pretty good performer. I know the AZEQ6 has addressed many of these shortcomings  - but you know and I know that Chinese mounts are spectacular awesome bargains or complete steaming piles of agony.

I wouldn't blame you with picking the Vixen - especially if portability is a priority. It's your time under what precious little time you guys get in the UK - enjoy yourself and get what makes it pleasurable.

Darren.

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Nice post Darren, I've also had fun stripping and rebuilding an EQ6 in order to re-grease and belt drive mod it.

 Mine was a lemon bought second hand, the guy was really chatty until he got my money, then he broke contact for a couple of weeks so I started to think I'd been taken for a ride. I had in a way because a while later the eq6 pro did arrive but in a right state, it had massive backlash, clicking slipping sounds when it slewed, and there was a big gap in the casing where the seems met. Nothing like the previous NEQ6 I had which worked flawlessly out the box. Finding the time to sort it out was really hard, I had two new born twins at the time and a 2 year old. I Only ever managed to improve it so ended up selling it dirt cheap with full discosure. Lesson learnt, I would only buy a second hand goto mount if I could see it first now, but I'm more inclined to buy them new or in the sales. thankfully I've never had a problem buying a new Synta mount :) 

Just to mention, I'm not sure you're supposed to adjust the alt bolts with the OTA onboard? The MN190 is a big heavy scope too so I think the bolts would always bend in that case? 

100$ is a lot for bolts. They are £25 here which works out to 44 Canadian dollars.

http://www.axio35.dsl.pipex.com/astrodevelopments/Synta cables.htm

I don't know how much this would work out as by the time they landed in Canada though? 

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7 hours ago, Chris Lock said:

Nice post Darren, I've also had fun stripping and rebuilding an EQ6 in order to re-grease and belt drive mod it.

 Mine was a lemon bought second hand, the guy was really chatty until he got my money, then he broke contact for a couple of weeks so I started to think I'd been taken for a ride. I had in a way because a while later the eq6 pro did arrive but in a right state, it had massive backlash, clicking slipping sounds when it slewed, and there was a big gap in the casing where the seems met. Nothing like the previous NEQ6 I had which worked flawlessly out the box. Finding the time to sort it out was really hard, I had two new born twins at the time and a 2 year old. I Only ever managed to improve it so ended up selling it dirt cheap with full discosure. Lesson learnt, I would only buy a second hand goto mount if I could see it first now, but I'm more inclined to buy them new or in the sales. thankfully I've never had a problem buying a new Synta mount :) 

Just to mention, I'm not sure you're supposed to adjust the alt bolts with the OTA onboard? The MN190 is a big heavy scope too so I think the bolts would always bend in that case? 

100$ is a lot for bolts. They are £25 here which works out to 44 Canadian dollars.

http://www.axio35.dsl.pipex.com/astrodevelopments/Synta cables.htm

I don't know how much this would work out as by the time they landed in Canada though? 

The new bolts were purchased in the UK and shipped to me here as a kit... they are now cheaper to acquire and some of that was shipping. If you cannot adjust the mount with the OTA onboard, you cannot drift align, or make use of Alignmaster or the Polar alignment routine on the hand controller. In my opinion, you rate a mount at 35lbs for astrophotography - then I believe it's a reasonable specification that it's accurately adjustable at that weight without bending components or cutting my hands open. I know Chris, I'm a little deluded in my expectation. That said, Synta brought great tracking performance to the masses who otherwise might not ever get into astronomy.

Is the AP mount worth the cost? For most probably not. It's lack of Go-To makes the Celestron AVX, EQ5, and Bresser mounts look very attractive - but I constantly hear people bemoaning the lack of bearings on the DEC axis on the AVX, for example - making guiding sometimes virtually impossible on an astrophotography advertised mount. The places where the Chinese make cutbacks or compromises is sometimes totally bewildering. The "Total Cost" of ownership in money and time is something that's hard to nail down until you actually use these products longer term. That's probably why the Losmandy, Vixens and others are still in business.

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Ah I see, I never went in for all that, when I was imaging I just used a polar align App which told me where to place Polaris in the reticle, once done I'd mount my OTA etc.

I've had a couple of AVX's, never a problem with them but I guess I didn't hammer them with use. Did they not use bearing in Dec because Dec shouldn't really move much if at all when PA is done? I guess the Bresser EXOS2 is better for bearings but not sure about the handset.

Anyway, no time for AP now days unfortunately, so it's a simple clock drive EQ mount for visual and casual snaps for me :) 

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Vixen must have, or have had, some sort of relationship with Synta I think. Certainly some of their scopes have been made by them. I'm thinking of the 100 and 80 SF refractors in particular.

I don't know if this extends to other Vixen lines as well :dontknow:

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22 minutes ago, John said:

Vixen must have, or have had, some sort of relationship with Synta I think. Certainly some of their scopes have been made by them. I'm thinking of the 100 and 80 SF refractors in particular.

I don't know if this extends to other Vixen lines as well :dontknow:

Hi John, agreed, I think the 80SF is a SW ED80 clone (prefer the Vixen white but much harder to come by). Plus when I was talking to Opticron (Vixen UK) regarding their clearance scopes on ebay, they said they were made in one of the Synta factory's but Vixen spec higher grade optics and oversee production and QC with regard to their scopes. 

I'd say there was/is a relationship between Synta and Vixen.

My order of quality goes SW-3rd, Celestron-2nd, Vixen-1st, when it comes to Synta products. This is what I've observed.....someone may take the bate on this? :hiding:

Edited by Chris Lock
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Chris and John are right, Vixen collaborated/collaborate with Synta on scopes and also have eyepieces made there, I think NPL and SSWs..

I think they made things worse for themselves by doing this, they effectively devalued their brand in my opinion.

I think part of the attraction of Vixens has always been their "Japanese-ness", and by allowing some of their products to be made in China, they cheapened the whole brand. And for what gain? You don't find many Vixen China ED80s about compared to the Synta ED80s..partly because the SWED80s are so good, but also the Vixen China models are so much more expensive, with not that much better optics. But the all-Japanese built scopes such as the ED103s I owned just "feel" so much better... better mechanics, components, machining etc, and definite worth a significant price premium, but surely not 2 or 2.5 times the Chinese equivalent?

Takahashi, by contrast, did not partner with the Chinese, and their products have much higher resale values. 

I do have some sympathy regarding the currency though. It must be very frustrating for businesses which crave stability for the currency, to keep having fluctuations from non-business causes. That said, it doesn't seem to affect other Japanese firms to the same extent?

I just hope Vixen can survive outside of Japan (where I believe they have c 60% market share) in the long term.

Dave

Edited by F15Rules
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I think the gap between China and Japan made optics is definately closing Dave. China are clearly getting good judging by some of the Strehl ratings on their ED's I've seen recently, we are talking well above 0.9 Strehl consistantly for the SW ED120's, Equinox, and Esprit's! 

I wish I had bookmarked the info, someone was testing the poly Strehl for LOTS of different scopes, high end and low end.

My new Vixen A80Mf is China made as you know, The build quality looks and feels very good, I guess being critical the focuser could be a bit better but I've seen worse.  

Edited by Chris Lock
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OK, with all your help I think I'm getting close... Now that I'm looking at the GP family of mounts: what's the practical difference between the GP2 (newer, white) and the GPE (older, green) heads? The specs are the same, and from what I've read in this and other forums the only difference seems to be the colour! Is one easier to use and maintain, better quality, easier to add motors and clutches to or fit to a tripod?

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Oh well never mind. My question has been overtaken by events. I have just ordered a new (unused / unsold stock) Vixen GPE mount for GBP 214 delivered, assuming it's just as good as a GP2. This is sooner than I had planned, but I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. At least I'll be able to use it straight away to get the most out of my old achromat. No motors, but hopefully some will come up second-hand by the time I'm in a position to get a Tak.

Thanks for your help. I think this will be a better fit to my requirements than an AP, and will leave me spare funds for eyepieces etc.

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  • 8 months later...

Just for completeness, here's how the Advanced Polaris looks with a Takahashi FC-100D, 2" Diagonal and an Ethos 17mm. That's about the limit of the mount. A sturdier tripod could possibly help.

If you're concerned about the price of it, get a cheap 100° eyepiece clone, or a cheap China ED or whatever... :icon_razz:

P1120699.thumb.JPG.3f8a801afbd2ac21323affed56e60cb4.JPG

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