Okay, it’s time for me to wade into this topic. First, let me say that I have been a member of both AP user groups for at least ten years, and yet have not posted in nearly that long. I’m not really into social media; don’t even own a smart phone. So please bear with me if I ramble a bit!
I own two AP mounts; an AP900 bought new in 2007, and a Mach2 that I picked up in person at Machesney Park on March 6, 2020. That was perhaps two weeks before Illinois was shut down due to COVID-19. I met with Karen and George (and Paige too). Friendly and thoughtful people; I miss you guys!
My Mach2 is number M20011, the very first one listed in the manual. Karen called me a beta tester and asked me to provide feedback. I have never done so, and for that I am sorry. But here’s why I haven’t written a review: I simply don’t use my Mach2 the way that most others here do! I don’t use APCC; never even downloaded it from the web site. This is in no way a reflection on the software; I am sure that Ray Gralak and AP have coded a wonderful product. But simply put, I don’t need it.
Largely an imager, I work entirely from my Chicago backyard. I polar align my Mach2 with RAPAS, and control it with the keypad. Functions beautifully! For planetary work, I track using Firecapture. Deep sky imaging is guided and controlled using MaxImDL Pro 6. Guiding hardware is a Starlight Xpress OAG and Lodestar. Finding a guide star is trivial; I use the mapping functions in an old copy of The Sky 6. With this set up I am usually guiding and imaging within ten minutes of powering up my cameras. Ditto for my AP900.
Yes, I know that many users want to use APCC to build a pointing model and image unguided. From what I’ve seen here, it works wonderfully. Again, kudos to Ray and AP! But for me, that seems impractical. I have to set up fresh every night, often at a different spot in my yard due to overhead power lines. In my case OAG is a proven system that I know, and it works.
What I really want to stress here, as Karen has, is that you don’t need to use APCC if you don’t want to. And if you do, I am sure that a subscription is worth every penny! MaxImDL has a similar maintenance and upgrade path; I have happily participated since 2007. And it’s also worth every penny!
Remember, this is a hobby. Pursue it in whatever the path that brings you the most joy.