Re: Portability of RA and DEC modules

Howard Ritter

Thanks for the personal observations, Wade. I’m especially interested to read that you apparently keep it outdoors under a TG 365 shroud, because I’ve concluded that keeping the Meade 16” on the 1600 on Meade’s giant field tripod outdoors for the 8 months each year that we spend at our primary residence in Ohio will be more cost-effective than buying a permanent pier and digging a foundation for it. I’ve received other personal testimony for doing this with a TG 365 cover as well. In the winter, I’d put the mount, two small OTAs, and a suitable tripod in the trailer along with the bikes etc. for the trip to FL.

Since the 1600 will be ready to ship next month, I’ve elected to have it go to our FL winter home. It will be a huge step up in complexity for me, both mechanically and operationally, and the relative lack of distractions down there will be a good opportunity to start getting familiar with while it carries only the refractor or the RASA. The one field excursion I’m hoping to make with it is the Orange Blossom Special Star Party, which my southern club (the St. Pete Astronomy Club) puts on every February. The plan is to drive our small RV there with a little U-Haul for the heavy pieces. Eventually I’d like to get a Mach2 for the FL migration.

I’ll keep your email for reference on the configuration of accessories. Thanks for the tips!


On Nov 29, 2021, at 12:15 PM, W Hilmo <y.groups@...> wrote:

I've been using my AP1600 as a transportable mount since I got it about 9 years ago.

It spends most of its time on my home property under a TG365 cover, but I take it with me to some star parties.  Up until about 4 years ago, I took it with me to every remote imaging session.  At the 2017 AIC, I was shopping for a new Mach1, but came across an amazing deal on an AP1100.  So I bought the AP1100, and now I only take the AP1600 to Oregon Star Party.  OSP is held in a national forest, so I can go up early.  I'm usually up on site for about 2.5 weeks or so.  I would not transport and set up the AP1600 for a couple of nights, now that I have the AP1100.

The AP1600 is actually pretty manageable as a transportable mount.  The heaviest part is the RA assembly, which weighs in at about 57 lb.  Prior to the AP1600, my imaging mount was a Celestron CGE, which was 50 lb.  The thing is, that the CGE was more difficult to move because it didn't separate.  To protect the worms on that mount, I always released the clutches to move it.  Carrying the CGE with the clutches released was a bit of a hazard, since each axis could move quite freely, creating a pinch hazard.  The RA assembly for the AP1600 is safer to carry.

As for the AP1100, it is an amazingly portable mount for what it is.  I transport it with the axes separated.  I set the RA for zero degrees latitude to minimize its size, and then I can get both halves into a single plastic tub, with padding around each half and between the halves.  I can lift the tub easily enough with both halves in it, but once I arrive on site, I usually carry the halves separately from the cargo trailer to the pier.  They are each light enough that I sometimes do it in one trip, with one half in each hand.

As for running cables through the mount, I use a Pegasus Astro Ultimate PowerBox V2.  Each of my imaging scopes have dovetails on both the top and bottom.  I mount the PowerBox on the top dovetail.  Most of the cables are just a short run, locally on the scope (I started doing this after seeing that Astro-Physics set up their display Mach2 at AIC this way, and it works brilliantly).  This makes it easy to leave the camera, focuser, PowerBox, dew straps, etc. permanently attached to the scope.  I can then mount and unmount the scope, with everything attached, as a single piece.  I'm currently using only refractors for imaging, and I can mount or unmount everything as one piece.  With a much larger imaging scope, it would be more work.

As for the computer, I use a NUC.  Instead of mounting it on top of the scope, I have it permanently mounted inside of an Apache case, with a wireless router, a network switch, a RigRunner, etc.  To attach the computer, I just set the case on the ground and run two cables through the mount, one power cable and one USB cable.  This is trivial to do on either the AP1600 or AP1100 and takes just a few seconds.  I run power and an Ethernet cable to the mount directly from the case.  When I am done, I just disconnect the cables and close the case.

Moving forward, I miss having the AP1600 at each remote site that I use.

I like to image with one scope and do visual with my C14.  The two Astro-Physics mounts are the only ones I have that are suitable for imaging or carrying the C14.  So when I leave the AP1600 home, the C14 also stays home and I do visual either with a smaller scope mounted on an AVX, or with my 14" Dob.  The plan for 2022 is to build a roll-off roof observatory at home and move the AP1600 into it permanently.  The observatory will be large enough for an imaging pier and a visual pier.  The AP1100 will spend most of its time in the observatory, but will come with me to each remote astronomy event.

To be able to do both imaging, and visual with the C14 at the same time, I have put myself on the Mach2 notification list.  I'll be using the Mach2 and the AP1100 as my portable mounts.  When not doing portable duty, either the AP1100 or Mach2 will be in the observatory as a visual mount.  I'm not sure which mount that will be.  I'll make that decision after getting to know the Mach2 really well.

On 11/28/21 4:02 PM, Howard Ritter via wrote:
I’m glad to hear that the 1100 lives up to its reputation as being easily transportable in two pieces. I’m expecting to take delivery of a new 1600GTO at our winter home in Florida in February, and to transport it back to our primary residence in Ohio in May. I envision using it on a Berlebach Planet tripod to carry my 155 EDF refractor and 8” RASA in Florida, and on Meade’s giant field tripod to carry a Meade 16” SCT back in Ohio. Optimistically, I’m hoping to make this round trip every year. According to the AP webpage, I should be able to single-hand the 1600 taken down into its basic components. 

Does anyone have personal experience using the 1600 as a transportable mount?

On Nov 28, 2021, at 15:04, dvjbaja <jpgleasonid@...> wrote:

I do this always with the 1100.  Easy to store, handle, assemble.  I passed on the Mack 2 because of its weight.  The 1100 breaks into more manageable pieces and was actually less expensive with better load carrying capability with the option to upgrade to Renshaw encoders later if I wish.  Tracking is so good, I doubt I will ever do that.  

Clear sky!  

Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note9, an AT&T 5G Evolution capable smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: Masahiko Niwa <masahiko234@...>
Date: 11/28/21 8:29 AM (GMT-08:00)
Subject: [ap-gto] Portability of RA and DEC modules

I would like to hear about your experiences. I am considering buying a 1100 GTO. I live in the city and would have to travel by car to shoot. I'm thinking of taking the RA and DEC modules of 1100 GTO in pieces and assembling them in the field. Is this realistic?

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