Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

Bill Long

I would buy a 40lb capacity AP 400AE in a heartbeat. 🙂
From: ap-gto@... <ap-gto@...> on behalf of chris1011@... [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...>
Sent: Friday, September 6, 2019 3:32 PM
To: ap-gto@... <ap-gto@...>
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

It would be cool if you decide to offer something in the future a little more comparable in price to the mighty M1.
The Mach1 went thru several design iterations, none of them ever achieved all the things this new mount will. If we do come out with a smaller, more portable mount (probably more the 400 size), it will still have encoders because it finalizes our design progress and fixes all the issues that bedevil an entry level mount. Smaller means components will cost less, so prices can be more reasonable. Smaller means less weight to carry, but capacity will also be much less, probably more along the lines of an honest 40lb instrument capacity, along with the de-rating for tube diameter and length as we posted on our Mach2 spec graphics. No internal cabling to keep things simple, but no compromises on encoders and performance.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tyrel Smith tysmith747@... [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...>
To: ap-gto <ap-gto@...>
Sent: Fri, Sep 6, 2019 4:17 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

I’m wasn’t trying to say anything disparaging at all about the new mount, or its value in the big scheme of things. It looks to be fantastic. Compared to other AE mount prices I’m sure it's a big win for those that purchase.

“Affordable” and “premium” are obviously subjective terms. The meaning of the term “premium” in this context is surely debatable, but it is quite often used to describe the mount offerings of Astro-Physics, Software Bisque, 10 Micron, and so on. Entry-level, as used here, being the most budget-friendly offerings of those companies. This is frequently the next step for someone having owned, and been frustrated by, a less than premium mount (frequently referred to as “budget” mounts) that was probably produced in Asia. There is no standard terminology for mount classes in this respect, but such have been informally adopted by a good portion of the on-line imaging community.

In this context I was simply trying to make the point that there is now (as perceived by my humble self) a gap in the high-quality (premium, high precision, whatever you want to call it) mount market that was filled by the Mach1. The consumer I was picturing while making my statement was an imager trying to decide whether to buy the $2500 - $3500 iOptron, Losmandy, Celestron. They could look at the Mach1 and think “If I can just stretch the budget a little more, I can have myself a mount that will quite possibly last a lifetime". I can’t count how many times I’ve read on a web board were someone was so excited that they were finally able to afford their Mach1, or that they decided to wait until they could afford a Mach1, and so on. I was one of these people myself. With the $5500 Mach1 gone (i’m not talking used stuff here), it is now much more of a budget stretch to get yourself into a new Astro-Physics mount. This so-called gap in the market leaves consumers to have to consider another manufacturer to get a high-end mount in the old Mach1 price range. In my opinion this puts Astro-Physics out of reach for most imagers out there.

I understand the teaser price was never set in stone, but I freely admit when I opened up the link to the Mach2 the sticker shock was pretty deflating. I had gotten my hopes too high. It would be cool if you decide to offer something in the future a little more comparable in price to the mighty M1.

On Sep 6, 2019, at 15:47, chris1011@...<mailto:chris1011@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>> wrote:

One thing I forgot to mention is the construction of the parts and what that entails. The mount is completely machined from billet. To make one mount takes about 250 lb of high grade aluminum and stainless steel. To make the intricate parts, the vast majority of the metal is machined away, leaving a very strong and very precise part. A mount could be made by using castings and thus save a large amount of metal cost, however making a very precise part out of castings is very difficult. The cost savings would be eaten up by fixturing problems and rejects, plus pound for pound a cast mount is not as strong.

All parts are anodized, even the painted parts. We could save money by leaving out the anodizing but the paint won't adhere correctly and eventually the paint will chip.

The parts we make on our CNC machines have very tight tolerances. Shafts must fit bearings exactly, no wiggle room allowed. Loose fit would certainly speed up assembly, but the results will be very bad. On an astronomical mount where every arc second error counts, there can be no sloppy fit anywhere. We are constantly improving our processes, not necessarily to make the mounts cheaper, but always to make them better.


-----Original Message-----
From: chris1011 <chris1011@...<mailto:chris1011@...>>
To: ap-gto <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>>
Sent: Fri, Sep 6, 2019 12:38 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

What exactly is an affordable entry level premium mount?

We make primarily imaging mounts which can also be used visually. Most entry level mounts are visual mounts that may be used for imaging at low levels of performance. Pretty much all the "Entry Level" mounts tend to require fiddle fussing, which is exactly the opposite of what a novice imager needs. By that I mean adjusting backlash (gears and or belt looseness), running a PE curve, adjusting worm mesh, adjusting the backstop in spring loaded mounts, balancing the scope by taking the mount out of mesh and a host of other stuff. And then there's setting up the guiding software to compensate for errors in mesh, backlash (or belt stretch), small but rapid PE errors that are hard to guide out and a host of other bewildering things that happen in these kind of mounts.

All those things go away with high resolution shaft encoders and proper control software in a premium mount - but that is not cheap. However, that's exactly what a novice needs to be successful. Non-encoder solutions simply cannot produce the type of performance that today's imaging equipment needs to produce excellent results. We now have cameras with 3 micron pixels, and smaller, that can resolve errors on sub-arc sec scales that would have been completely hidden in the old days of 9 micron pixel CCDs. Just about everyone wants to produce round stars and not have to do anything mechanical to the mount to fix the above issues. That leaves out all non-encoder mounts.

Yes, expert imagers who have mechanical skills and all the proper tools can compensate for all the snorts and sniggles that may arise even in a premium mount, and they may even enjoy doing so. But most people would like hassle-free imaging because clear skies are not plentiful for most. And that's where we aimed the development of this Mach2 encoder mount.

Here's what you get with the Mach2 mount that is improved over the Mach1:

We beefed up the lower end so it can easily carry a larger scope with much improved stability and much lower damping times when used with long scopes.

We have a proper clutch that allows you to achieve fine balance when fully disengaged, allows manual movement for visual astronomy when partially engaged, and can be fully locked for imaging so that nothing can disturb the alignment during an imaging run.

We have eliminated the need to disengage the worm from the worm wheel and thereby eliminated the chance that the gear teeth can be stripped accidentally by improper disengagement procedures. This also eliminates the need for user to set the backstop because that's set at the factory and does not ever need adjustment.

Worm mesh is automatic and Dec backlash delay is gone because of the encoder loop.

No need to ever do a PEM run or download a PE curve, which is something a novice inevitably gets wrong.

Encoders allow the mount itself to always know where the axes are pointed, without having to home if the motors miss a pulse or even in the event of a crash.

Scope motions are very precise in both axes down to the sub-arc sec level. RA tracking is extremely smooth without any periodic errors caused by spur gear, worm and bearing eccentricities.

The motors are not ordinary inexpensive stepper, they are custom made for our application and have the highest torque of their frame size. Slewing is smooth, quiet, and can be set to a faster top rate than any of our previous mounts.

The mount can be run from 12 to 24 volts and comes with a 24 volt power supply that can handle any size load you can put on the mount.

The mount has the capability to do unguided imaging with the proper setup (polar align and/or modeling). We have full-blown modeling in APCC Pro, but even for those who don't want to use a computer there is built-in software in the CP controllers now that allows for on-mount modeling. I am in the process of developing this with only the keypad or other pointing device needed.

The CP controller can be operated over the internet at any time, and we at AP can actually do tests on the system in the event that something is not working correctly. Remote operation is a snap - we have years of experience with mounts at various installations around the world... The ability to operate remotely is built-in to the CP controllers, and they can be operated with all ASCOM compatible software.

If we do come out with a smaller, lighter mount in the future, it will also have encoders, smaller of course but just as effective. And it will also be fiddle-free and produce the performance that novice to expert should have in a premium mount.

Roland Christen
Astro-Physics Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Tyrel Smith tysmith747@...<mailto:tysmith747@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>>
To: ap-gto <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>>
Sent: Fri, Sep 6, 2019 10:56 am
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

No doubt it will deliver the goods. But with the Mach1 being retired, along with its attractive $5500 price point, does this signal the end of the “affordable” entry-level premium mount? I’ve read many cases of people stretching their budget to get a Mach1 in order to enter the premium portable mount market. Stretching to $9k could be a different story for these folks.

Will the 1100GTO, at $8k, now be the most affordable mount produced by AP for the time being? Any chance will will see another portable mount from AP closer to the Mach1 price point?

Ty Smith

On Sep 5, 2019, at 18:24, chris1011@...<mailto:chris1011@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>> wrote:

We added a number of features (per various customer requests) that were not originally in our design goals, and that impacted the cost. However, they add to the usability and functions of the mount for serious imaging - it may be the the last mount you will ever need for true high res imaging.


-----Original Message-----
From: Tyrel Smith tysmith747@...<mailto:tysmith747@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>>
To: ap-gto <<mailto:ap-gto@...>>
Sent: Thu, Sep 5, 2019 5:18 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

Well when you mentioned the trade war driving up material costs I braced for the other shoe to drop. Too bad it strayed so far from the original target price point. Will have to hold on to the Mach1 a little longer.

Ty Smith

On Sep 5, 2019, at 17:52, chris1011@...<mailto:chris1011@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...<mailto:ap-gto@...>> wrote:

The Mach1 is out of production..


-----Original Message-----
From: mikestephens-milkeycorp@...<mailto:mikestephens-milkeycorp@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@...<>>
To: ap-gto <<mailto:ap-gto@...>>
Sent: Thu, Sep 5, 2019 4:44 pm
Subject: [ap-gto] Re: Mach2 price and specs are now on the AP website

wow, WoW, WOW...… Kudos to the AP Design Team.
I have a question Rolondo:
I could not find the Mach1 on your web site...Is it being repriced / discontinued / ?
rgds, & tnx!

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