Portability of RA and DEC modules


Masahiko Niwa
 

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?


Christopher Erickson
 

Absolutely. 


-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

On Sun, Nov 28, 2021, 6:29 AM Masahiko Niwa <masahiko234@...> wrote:
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?


Andrea Lucchetti
 

I had the same question two year ago. I opted for the Mach2 but I think the 1100 is even more portable. The only issue would be the through the mount cabling that could be difficult to manage  with a splitted mount.


Christopher Erickson
 

Actually it isn't very difficult at all. The pathway through the mount is large and threading through the motor cable, a USB cable or three, and a 12V cable is very easy.

Personally I have put a NUC on the OTA and I only thread a 12V cable and an RS-232 cable (to the CP4) through the mount. Everything else connects to the NUC with short cables up on the OTA. Sometimes I stick an Ethernet cable through too.


-Christopher Erickson
Observatory engineer
Waikoloa, HI 96738
www.summitkinetics.com
   

On Sun, Nov 28, 2021, 6:46 AM Andrea Lucchetti <andlucchett@...> wrote:
I had the same question two year ago. I opted for the Mach2 but I think the 1100 is even more portable. The only issue would be the through the mount cabling that could be difficult to manage  with a splitted mount. 


Jeffc
 

Fwiw… I’ve been using a non-AE 1100 “mobile” for years…
I transport the mount “assembled” as it is just more convenient to store it that way, and setup is just a bit quicker.    It’s a bit heavy assembled, I don’t know the exact weight, maybe 40lbs.   I fit the assembled mount in a foam lined plastic storage bin (covered), and the bin easily fits in the trunk of a Tesla model 3 which is not a big trunk.  

-Jeff

On Nov 28, 2021, at 11:29 AM, Masahiko Niwa <masahiko234@...> wrote:

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?


stlrvus
 

I do exactly what Jeffc does.  It's not that difficult to lift up to a 32"pier.  Faster setup.  Easier to transport and handle as one unit.  I have my through-the-mount cabling pre-installed in the 1100. 

Couldn't do that with my 1200!

Jose


dvjbaja
 

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)
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
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?


Howard Ritter
 

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)
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
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?


Masahiko Niwa
 

It is very good to hear that I can assemble it in field. It is a challenge for me to lift them up to a pillar together. I can lift these one by one.

Someone said that a DEC motor cable is a little difficult to pass through the mount when you assemble it. Do I have to worry about this?


skester@...
 

Masahiko,

I travel with my 1100GTO and transport the DEC/RA individually.  Connecting the Dec motor cable is easy and only takes a few minutes, so no worries.


Worsel
 

If you have not read the 1100 GT manual yet, it is very useful, even before you have purchased a mount.

https://astro-physics.info/tech_support/mounts/1100gto/1100gto-cp4.pdf

There are subtle, but simple differences in assembly between the various mount configurations (AE, non-AE, motor cables through the mount, other cables through the mount) that are worth understanding in advance.  They should not deter you from using an 1100 as a transportable mount.

Bryan


Elenillor
 

When I got my 1100 this year I also purchased a set of the longer motor cables. The 42" Y cable runs on the outside of the mount, so it is just like my Mach1. I did not want to worry about forgetting to disconnect the Dec cable when separating the RA and Dec axis' in the early morning hours to put the mount away. Not as clean as internal but safer if you take the mount apart.


M Hambrick
 

Hi Masahiko

I set up and take down my 1100GTO every time I use it. It only takes a few minutes. I store the mount components in a set of the RIDGID stackable tool cases, with separate cases for the RA axis, DEC axis, and counterweights (2 cases). I used high density polyethylene foam to line the cases. The DEC axis with the dovetail plate attached fits in the large (wheeled) case. The RA axis fits into the intermediate case, and the counterweights and counterweight shaft are distributed into two of the thin cases. There is room in the DEC axis case for the cables, CP4 controller, and keypad.

These cases are very tough. The bottom case has wheels, and they can all be stacked and latched together. I have never tried to roll the stack with all four cases because the counterweights are so heavy, but the RA and DEC cases can be rolled around easily. The wheels are large enough that they will roll on grass or dirt.

If you search the ap-gto forum for "cases" you will find several good posts and videos. The credit for suggesting these RIDGID cases goes to Tony (a.k.a. Harleydavidson).

Mike




dvjbaja
 

For me, I don't run any cables through the mount when going to a remote location.  Easy assembly that way and no trouble at all with exposed cables.  

j

On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 2:08 AM Masahiko Niwa <masahiko234@...> wrote:

It is very good to hear that I can assemble it in field. It is a challenge for me to lift them up to a pillar together. I can lift these one by one.

Someone said that a DEC motor cable is a little difficult to pass through the mount when you assemble it. Do I have to worry about this?


W Hilmo
 

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 groups.io 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?


M Hambrick
 

Elenillor makes an excellent point about using the longer 42" Y-cable and running it on the outside of his 1100 mount. I do exactly the same thing. Not only does this reduce the chance of taking the axes apart while the cables are attached, but it also saves several minutes of assembly time.

Mike


fl.lusen
 

I see that you are using a Pegasus Astro Ultimate Power Box.  I just received a Power Box Advance today and the four dc power cords are useless.  They assume that the ends that connect to your external devices, i.e. mount (my 1100), camera, etc. is the same.  Not so.  What did you do to resolve that with your Ultimate Power Box?

 

Fred

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of W Hilmo
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2021 11:16 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Portability of RA and DEC modules

 

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 groups.io 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?

 


W Hilmo
 

I make my own power cables.

The first thing that I do with any device that comes with a "wall wart" or cigarette lighter plug, is to cut off the end that plugs into the wall or the cigarette lighter socket.  I then crimp on an Anderson PowerPole.  That leaves me with the stock end that plugs into the device, with a PowerPole on the source end.

The 12v sockets on the PowerBox are 2.1x5.5mm.  I made up a handful of short pigtails that are 2.1x5.5 male, with a PowerPole on the other end.  That allows me to plug in any device with a PowerPole connector.  The important thing about the barrel connectors is that there are two common sizes that are very close to each other.  In addition to the 2.1x5.5, there is also a 2.5x5.5.  They look almost identical, except that the center pin is 0.4mm thicker on the 2.5x5.5.  As such, a 2.5 male plug won't plug into a 2.1 female.  This is a good thing.  The problem is that a 2.1 male will plug into a 2.5 female, but it won't make a good connection.  This can lead to intermittent problems.  I keep a few leads with each size male and female ends so that I can make cables as needed.

The power socket on the UPBv2 is called an XT60 connector.  I've made up a couple of connectors with male XT60 on one end and PowerPole on the other.  Since all of my 12 volt batteries and power supplies have PowerPole connectors, it makes it easy to plug in the PowerBox itself.

The one other "gotcha" is that most of my devices work just fine on 13.8 volts, so that's what I run for my output voltage.  When I have access to A/C power, I have a PowerWerx supply that can dial up a range of voltages, I run it at 13.8.  It turns out that at least one of my cameras, a QSI 690 really prefers 12v to 13.8 (the bias frames are noticeably noisier at 13.8v).  I have a DC buck converter for it with PowerPoles for input and output.  I put that between the PowerBox and the camera.  Similarly, I run my Intel NUC at 19V, using a boost converter to get the right voltage.  And I run my Astro-Physics mounts at 18v using a boost converter.  I keep the voltage converters very close to the devices that need them.  I also tend to keep the converters always attached to their device and only unplug the connection between the converter and the power source.  This helps to prevent accidentally plugging into the wrong voltage.

I think that the only things I have that are actually using the stock power cord and connectors are my Astro-Physics mounts.  That's because they were kind enough to ship the CP4 controllers with PowerPole connectors out of the box.

I hope that helps,
-Wade



On 11/29/21 2:03 PM, fl.lusen via groups.io wrote:

I see that you are using a Pegasus Astro Ultimate Power Box.  I just received a Power Box Advance today and the four dc power cords are useless.  They assume that the ends that connect to your external devices, i.e. mount (my 1100), camera, etc. is the same.  Not so.  What did you do to resolve that with your Ultimate Power Box?

 

Fred

 

From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of W Hilmo
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2021 11:16 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Portability of RA and DEC modules

 

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 groups.io 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?

 



ap@CaptivePhotons.com
 

On Mon, Nov 29, 2021 at 05:39 PM, W Hilmo wrote:
I make my own power cables.
This is really the most straightforward solution.  With $100-150 USD from Powerwerx/Amazon you can get a bunch of pigtails in various configurations, a powerpole crimper and connectors (get the real thing not the fakes), and some 14AWG or 16AWG wire (the former for longer runs or the "main" run if you run everything off one power supply).  This will get you ready for practically any changes you ever need to make.  Look through powerwerx distribution blocks and meters while there, some nice handy stuff. 

I have switched to powerpoles for everything that I can, their connectors are easy to use, secure, and can be crimped securely without solder (though some do solder anyway).  But you still need those barrel connectors for most cameras and similar.  5.5/2.1 and 5.5/2.5 are both widely used, and it is easier to buy pigtails and connect wires to them, as they are a bit of a pain to solder if you do it infrequently.

That leaves most dew strips, which still use RCA connectors mostly.  And most use coax wire which is painful to splice (really, really tiny wire).  R-Sky (in Russia but he ships to the US and so I assume most places) will custom make their length for you, as well as a different connector if you prefer.  Takes a while to get, but very nice if you want neater cables.  Of course the easy thing to do is just coil up all the extra on a standard dew heater and remember that it's dark and no one will see.  

Long reply for short answer: yes, you should learn to make your own cables, or you will be forever buying adapters.  It is a lot easier than imaging.  :) 

Linwood


fl.lusen
 

Wade,

Thank you so much for the detailed response.  You have solved my immediate problem and one that I didn't even think of.

The people at Pegasus Astro must know that one end of the power cables will not suffice for about 90% of what people want to plug them into.  Power cords with one end open would be the preferred method, especially at the cost of their products.

Regards and clear skies,

Fred

-----Original Message-----
From: W Hilmo <y.groups@...>
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Sent: Mon, Nov 29, 2021 4:38 pm
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Portability of RA and DEC modules

I make my own power cables.

The first thing that I do with any device that comes with a "wall wart" or cigarette lighter plug, is to cut off the end that plugs into the wall or the cigarette lighter socket.  I then crimp on an Anderson PowerPole.  That leaves me with the stock end that plugs into the device, with a PowerPole on the source end.

The 12v sockets on the PowerBox are 2.1x5.5mm.  I made up a handful of short pigtails that are 2.1x5.5 male, with a PowerPole on the other end.  That allows me to plug in any device with a PowerPole connector.  The important thing about the barrel connectors is that there are two common sizes that are very close to each other.  In addition to the 2.1x5.5, there is also a 2.5x5.5.  They look almost identical, except that the center pin is 0.4mm thicker on the 2.5x5.5.  As such, a 2.5 male plug won't plug into a 2.1 female.  This is a good thing.  The problem is that a 2.1 male will plug into a 2.5 female, but it won't make a good connection.  This can lead to intermittent problems.  I keep a few leads with each size male and female ends so that I can make cables as needed.

The power socket on the UPBv2 is called an XT60 connector.  I've made up a couple of connectors with male XT60 on one end and PowerPole on the other.  Since all of my 12 volt batteries and power supplies have PowerPole connectors, it makes it easy to plug in the PowerBox itself.

The one other "gotcha" is that most of my devices work just fine on 13.8 volts, so that's what I run for my output voltage.  When I have access to A/C power, I have a PowerWerx supply that can dial up a range of voltages, I run it at 13.8.  It turns out that at least one of my cameras, a QSI 690 really prefers 12v to 13.8 (the bias frames are noticeably noisier at 13.8v).  I have a DC buck converter for it with PowerPoles for input and output.  I put that between the PowerBox and the camera.  Similarly, I run my Intel NUC at 19V, using a boost converter to get the right voltage.  And I run my Astro-Physics mounts at 18v using a boost converter.  I keep the voltage converters very close to the devices that need them.  I also tend to keep the converters always attached to their device and only unplug the connection between the converter and the power source.  This helps to prevent accidentally plugging into the wrong voltage.

I think that the only things I have that are actually using the stock power cord and connectors are my Astro-Physics mounts.  That's because they were kind enough to ship the CP4 controllers with PowerPole connectors out of the box.

I hope that helps,
-Wade



On 11/29/21 2:03 PM, fl.lusen via groups.io wrote:
I see that you are using a Pegasus Astro Ultimate Power Box.  I just received a Power Box Advance today and the four dc power cords are useless.  They assume that the ends that connect to your external devices, i.e. mount (my 1100), camera, etc. is the same.  Not so.  What did you do to resolve that with your Ultimate Power Box?
 
Fred
 
From: main@ap-gto.groups.io [mailto:main@ap-gto.groups.io] On Behalf Of W Hilmo
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2021 11:16 AM
To: main@ap-gto.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Portability of RA and DEC modules
 
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 groups.io 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?