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All AP would really have to do is just bring back the Mach 1. No design work necessary, tools exist. As has been previously said by George, it's all about manufacturing capacity at AP. They seem very busy, and as we know, folks wait a long time for AP products. In the meantime, I had the RST-135 out last night with the Stowaway. What a wonderful machine and great experience. In alt-az mode, I zeroed in on 100 double stars with a 4.5 Delos eyepiece in very short order. That little telescope was crying out for more magnification! Cheers.
If we are going to do fantasy-football type scenarios, I think reasonable strategies would be to do a collaboration with
- EM-11 with AP electronics/software
AP doesn’t have to invest in manufacturing a small mount and gets the closest thing to an AP400.
Takahashi doesn’t even have official ASCOM support even with the Temma3. They need software help.
Win-win. The EM-11 and EM-200 really do not compete with any of the current AP mounts. Risk is that an EM200 with AP secret sauce cannibalizes the Mach2 line, so it might have to be limited to the EM-11.
Starbook Ten for GTOCPO4
APCC/APPM for Starbook Ten
Starbook Ten is a very nice controller for visual astronomy and portability. Its database won’t disappear if the battery runs out. They have software to handle relative encoders already. Would be a nice upgrade to the Mach2 for visual astronomers.
The current SXD2 and SXP2 are lighter than a Mach2. Maybe AP can get acceptable portable performance with support for APCC/APMM and adding a factory PEC. It’s further away from the Mach2 so there is zero chance of cannibalism and AP gets to offer two options for the hand controller on their premium line.
The SWAT-350 V-spec is a really good ultra light mount and can be combined as a pair to provide GEM capabilities. There is no good software support so AP could tweak CPOGT4 to support this setup if there was a way to increase the drive speed (it’s limited to 2x sidereal right now)
Clearly would not cannabilize the current AP mounts but may involve a lot more effort than the other two options.