Tuesday, July 16, 2013

New mount: Mach1 GTO from Astro-Physics

After I tried everything this year to make my CGEM work, I finally broke down and bought a new mount. I did some research and it seems as if the Mach1 GTO from Astro-Physics is one of the best portable mounts. I could not get it in the US anymore, but luckily Baader Planetarium in German still had one. It was in their showroom and they gave me 10% off!
Took a few days to get the money transferred (first from our US account to my German account, then from there to Baader). And then it took 2 weeks to ship the mount here (1 week for US customs).
But today, it finally arrived.

I unpacked everything. I read so much about the quality and the finish of Astro-Physics products that I expected only awesomeness. And I wasn't disappointed. The mount itself, the control box, the counterweight bar... everything felt robust and very high quality. The assembly was great - the pieces are all so well made and exact. A few times, I used the wrong size screw or such. And each time, I noticed it immediately: if it doesn't easily and smoothly fits, it's probably the wrong piece. Finally, I had the mount assembled on the Eagle Pier. I attached the impressive control box to the pier. And then connected the cables. For now, I'll route all the cables on the outside. But I really want to move them inside the mount (and with that move all the control boxes from the OTA to the pier). I also installed the polar scope.

Finally, I connected the scope to my laptop. Downloaded and configured the ASCOM driver from the Astro-Physics site. I tried both, the native and the ASCOM driver in TheSkyX - they both seem to work. Asked on the ap-gto mailing list which one to use.

... and then it was WAY past midnight and it got foggy. Time to go to bed.

Things to try out tomorrow night:
  • Get outside, rough polar alignment (turn mount on top of eagle pier such that it points to north when I align the eagile legs with our pavement - that will make setup faster!)
  • Polar alignment through polar scope
  • Polar alignment with Polaris alignment
  • Sync
  • Try some slews
  • Check orthogonality (cone error)
  • Use with TheSkyX