Sunday, August 19, 2012


More Gem-mania

It hasn’t been that long back that I talked about German equatorial mounts, GEMs, but that is a subject that is of such of interest to Joe and Jane Amateur Astronomer that it’s time to say more. Hell, it’s even kinda controversial, if anything is controversial in our sedate little backwater of an avocation.

Most of y’all know what a GEM is, a German equatorial telescope mount, invented, it is said, by Joseph von Fraunhofer way back in the freaking nineteenth century.  What may not be obvious to the novices among you is exactly what one is good for. Isn’t an alt-azimuth rig like a Dobsonian mount easier to use? The fork mounts that come with Meade and Celestron’s SCTs look less complicated. Why doesn’t everybody just use those?

There are a couple of reasons an equatorial mount and, specifically, a German equatorial mount is the choice of many of your brother and sister amateurs. Alt-azimuth mounts are cool. Nothing really beats their point and shoot simplicity, especially in Dobsonian form, for visual work. If all you want to do is look, alt-az is the way to go. If you are an imager who fancies taking exposures longer than about 30-seconds, though, you need an equatorial.

You can slap a camera on an alt-azimuth mount, but no matter how good the drive system is and how carefully it is guided, you will still get star trails due to field rotation. Recall how Orion looked when he was rising in the east late on those blessedly cool fall evenings? He was “lying” on his right side. When he culminated in the south, he was standing up straight. When he set in the west he was on his left side. That is field rotation. An equatorial mount will follow it, rotating the scope naturally. An alt-az can’t do that and so you get dratted star trails.

“But why not a fork mount, Unk? Why not a fork?” I used equatorial fork mounts (a fork tipped over by a wedge to point at the North Celestial Pole) for several decades, and they will always have a place in my heart, but they have their limitations. Most importantly for your aging hillbilly of a raconteur, the common form of fork mount, the SCT-fork combo, is heavy. You have to heft fork, drivebase, and OTA onto a tripod/wedge, which becomes a real pain with telescopes larger than 8-inches. You also cannot use different telescopes on ‘em, since tubes on fork mounts are usually not designed to be easily removable.

All-in-all, if you need “equatorial,” a GEM is a better deal. German mount scopes can be broken into their components, tube, mount, counterweights, and tripod, making even large telescopes comparatively easy to lug around. You can use whatever tube you want on the mount, and, most of all, you get choice. You can pick a mount whose cost and capabilities fit your needs and budget; you are not restricted to the fork the goobers at Meade or Celestron think will work for you.

Once a GEM is on your agenda, the question becomes “Which one?” Even given the small and insular nature of amateur astronomy, there are hordes of GEMs. Armies of GEMs. At least it seems that way when you are trying to figure out which one to get. There are some time-honored choices I can recommend, however, one of which will probably fit just right. These are my superstar GEMs...

Celestron (Synta) CG5

People have taken dang good astrophotos with tiny EQ-1 mounts. People take good astrophotos with barndoor mounts, for god’s sake, but for anything but the widest of widefield shots, where you begin is with the ubiquitous Celestron CG5, the “clone” inspired by Vixen’s famous Great Polaris.

If all the CG5 were was a clone, a not-as-good copy of the original, it would not have the legion of fans it’s garnered over the last decade. Yes, it is a clone, but it is surprisingly sound mechanically, especially given its miniscule price, which hovers around 700 bucks now. The GEM head features ball bearings on the R.A. axis and generally smooth movements. It’s accompanied by a 2-inch leg diameter steel tripod that is very sturdy and which is surprisingly better than what comes with some considerably more expensive mounts.

What really makes the CG5 a winner, though, is its go-to computer system. Celestron bolted on a pair of servo motors, a motor control board, and a NexStar HC identical to what they use on their more elaoborate go-to telescopes. The result? Incredible go-to accuracy. The software allows you to add four “Calibration Stars” to make up for scope and mount misalignment, much improving the CG5’s horizon-to-horizon accuracy.

My CG5 will put anything I request, anywhere in the sky, on the small chip of my Mallincam Xtreme every single time. Top that off with an excellent computerized polar alignment routine, “AllStar,” and it’s not an exaggeration to say the CG5’s NexStar hand control is superior to the computers of mounts costing ten times as much.

Since one of the prime reasons for choosing a GEM mount is imaging, it’s important for the CG5 to pull its weight in that area, and it does. By balancing the scope carefully so that it was slightly east heavy and rebalancing as necessary as I moved around the sky, I was able to auto-guide my SBIG CCD camera to my heart’s content. I still use the CG5 for video, where it will turn in very acceptable unguided 1-minute shots.

Course, at this price point it ain’t all gravy. If you want round stars, you’ll need to keep the focal length down. I did good work at 1300mm, but I had a higher percentage of round star subframes at about 700mm. The weather dude is predicting windy conditions for the night? Forget about imaging. In wind the CG5 will shake like a sinner in the hands of Elmer Gantry, even with just a C8 onboard, an OTA that is otherwise perfect for it.

Despite its few warts, I love the CG5 very much and have made thousands of observations (literally) with it over the seven years I’ve had it. The CG5 is so light and convenient and reliable that I wimp out and use it instead of my larger mounts whenever possible. The greatest praise I can give it? If mine crashed and burned today I’d order a new one tomorrow. The CG5 is a modern classic.

Orion Sirius (Synta HEQ-5)

The Sirius is the logical step up from the CG5 in some ways. Like the CG5, the HEQ5 is made by Chinese optics giant Synta. In the United States, it is sold by dealer Orion, Telescope and Binocular Center, branded as the Sirius. In other parts of the world, it is usually under Synta’s “Sky-Watcher” brand name. It is a heftier mount than the CG5, which is obvious by just looking at it. If there’s a major down-check, it’s that the tripod it’s most often sold with  has 1.75-inch diameter steel legs rather than the better 2-inch ones of the CG5.

Still, the Sirius is an upgrade steadiness-wise. It’s capable of handling heavier loads than the CG5 despite a quoted payload capacity of 30-pounds, which is 5-pounds less than the CG5’s spec. The bottom line on both these mounts? They are best with something in the neighborhood of 15-20 pounds max. Yes, either will support a C11 class scope for visual work (the short SCT tube helps), but are happier with lighter loads.

The Sirius is not better than the CG5 in all ways, though; especially not when it comes to the go-to computer. Despite being made by Celestron’s parent company, the Sirius does not use the NexStar go-to system. Instead, it uses the somewhat less accurate SynScan setup. The CG5 allows four-cone alignment stars to be used; the SynScan paddle only allows one. It is similarly deficient in other features, not even having the seemingly simple “go-to a right ascension and declination” feature of the NexStar HC. I do note Synta is continuing to upgrade the SynScan firmware, having just added Celestron’s AllStar polar alignment routine.

Why don’t you see more Sirius GEMs on star party fields? There’s a simple reason: moola. At its current price of 1200 smackers (for the Orion version) the HEQ-5 is only about 200 dollars less than the Atlas. The Atlas, with its big honking GEM head and 2-inch tripod, is thus the understandable choice of most amateurs looking for a mount in this price range, though some live to regret that choice.

Orion Atlas (Synta EQ-6)

The Synta Atlas (Orion), a.k.a. the EQ-6 (Sky-Watcher) is the defacto GEM for us amateur astronomy hoi polloi in the U.S. of A. In Europe and the UK, where prices for any and all astro-gear, and especially U.S. and Japanese astro gear, are fracking out of sight, it is the defacto mount for just about everybody. It is simple and it is effective. Its periodic error is usually around +/- 20-30 arc-seconds, but is easy to guide out. Payload? The mount at least comes closer to being able to handle its spec of 40-pounds than the Sirius comes to 30-pounds.

At 1400 pieces of eight for the U.S. version, the mount is a perfect mix of affordability and capability for amateurs of almost all skill levels. It is capable of taking more than adequate guided long exposure images (have a look at the gallery sections of the UK astro-mags where most shots are done with EQ-6es). The hand control’s go-to is accurate to a fault if some care is exercised in the choice of alignment stars. If more accuracy or other features are needed it can be operated with EQMOD (which can also be used with little sis Sirius). EQMOD can deliver pointing accuracy on the order of a few arc-minutes or even better.

Which does not mean this GEM is perfect. The altitude – azimuth adjusters are the pits. The mount uses the same simple bolt arrangement for alt-az movement for polar alignment as the Sirius and the CG5, and that does not work overly well with such a heavy (40-pounds) GEM head. But if there is a single major drawback of the Atlas, it is that weight. More than one Joe or Jane Amateur who passed up the Sirius in favor of the Atlas is real sorry they did that after toting the huge head out a few times. I love my Atlas, but unless I am doing guided imaging it’s the CG5 that gets used with my C8s and smaller scopes.

Celestron CGEM

I can sum up the CGEM pretty well with the story of my early days with the Atlas. I got myself an EQ-6 as a Christmas present in ought seven. I was dang happy with it. It guided well and sure was sturdier than my CG5. And yet…and yet… I did miss all the features of the CG5 HC like the polar alignment routine. Why couldn’t Synta release an upgraded EQ-6 that used the NexStar hand paddle?

Just a little while later that’s just what they did. Except it wasn’t called the EQ-6 or EQ-7 and it wasn’t badged “Orion” or “SkyWatcher.” It was a Celestron release and was called the “CGEM” (as in “Celestron German Equatorial Mount;” guess the guys who pick out product names were sick that week). It had everything I had so ardently desired: NexStar HC, NexRemote capability, restyled GEM head, improved altitude and azimuth adjusters. Well, hell, I’d just sell my Atlas and get one.

Unk has messed up a time or two by leaping before he looks, so he did exercise a little caution regarding this new product. I began watching the CGEM Yahoogroup that sprang up, and listening to what mount gurus like Ed Thomas said. Good thing I did. The CGEM was immediately beset by armies of gremlins, who attacked the hand control viciously. The NexStar HC was well-proven technology by this time, but Celestron was unlucky enough to get a bad batch from China coincident with the CGEM release. That wasn’t all; there were mechanical problems affecting the declination axis and declination guiding, mounts that were dead out of the box, and more. Sigh.

Was I disappointed? Yeah. But not heartbroken. By the time the above became clear I had made friends with my Atlas and wouldn’t have parted with it for the world. The CGEM? It’s taken some years for Celestron to put things right, but from what I hear on the blamed Internet and what I see on observing fields, I conclude they have. If I had the choice between Atlas and CGEM today, I think I would choose the CGEM. Priced similarly to the Atlas, it does now seem to constitute that elusive More Better Gooder.

Vixen Sphinx

I was mighty excited when Vixen came out with its Star Book hand controller about six years ago, but that excitement soon turned to dismay. It should have been excellent, an HC with a large color screen and built-in planetarium program, but it did not work out. Too many bugs. Too many poor decisions software and design-wise. Vixen’s most popular mounts, the Sphinx SXD and Sphinx SXW can be nice for visual users, but for imaging? In my opinion they are still unproven.

The extent of Vixen’s missteps is shown by the fact that a kit is being sold that will allow you to replace the Sphinx electronics/drive system with one compatible with Celestron’s NexStar hand paddle. Supposedly you then have a mount with the excellent computer of Celestron and the excellent mechanics of Vixen. If only I was sure Vixen’s mechanics are still excellent. I’ve heard all too many reports of mechanical problems with Vixen’s current mounts, up to and including overly sticky motions in R.A. or declination, something we generally associate with mounts a niche or two down the food chain.

The Vixens are not overly inexpensive, either, going for about as much as the Celestron CGEM Deluxe on the low end and climbing into the stratosphere with the new AXD, which is priced similarly to the Astro-Physics AP900. The AXD’s new Star Book 10 HC looks groovy, but does it work right? I simply do not know. I hope Vixen gets their act together soon, since I still want a Star Book.

Celestron CGEM DX

One thing was clear to those of us who watch the GEM market: Celestron was likely to get rid of its CGE mount as soon as it could. The Losmany G11-like CGE was made in the U.S.A., was expensive to produce (relatively speaking), expensive to buy (relatively speaking), and didn’t seem to fit in the company’s current mount line-up. With the CGE gone, though, it still seemed Celestron would need something just upscale of the CGEM, a mount less expensive than the big CGE Pro that could carry the C14.

Thus was born the CGEM DX. What it is is a CGEM head with some fine tuning (a larger diameter, longer counterweight shaft, and electronics that can deliver more power to the motors) and a massive CGE Pro tripod. How is it? I will have to reserve judgment, since I have not yet been able to try one in the field, but at just under 2K it appears to be a good deal, and doesn’t seem to have shared little sister’s growing pains.

Losmandy GM8

The Losmandy GM8 is a fine mount. Hell, in many ways it’s a beautiful mount. It is definitely a step up from the Synta-Celestron-Meade crew, featuring mostly machined parts rather than cast components. It not only looks great, it’s got good gears and a cutting edge go-to system in the form of the new Gemini II. So what’s not to like? For some folks it’s the combo of payload price.

With a weight-handling spec of 30-pounds, it’s smack in the territory of the EQ-6 and CGEM, and at a price of about 2500 bucks it’s over a grand more than they are. In addition to the Atlas nipping at its heels on the low end, there’s the G11 just one click higher. 1K more will get you Losmandy’s unarguably more capable mount, and most Losmandy bound folks decide to pony up for that. Still, the GM8 is pretty and it is portable. I like it.

Losmandy G11

If there is a second “standard” mount for us prole-type imagers in addition to the EQ-6, it is  Losmandy’s signature mount, the G11. It’s available in several configurations, but what appeals most to most is the G11 GFT with Gemini II go-to and an excellent tripod. What’s it like? It’s like the GM8, only moreso, with a payload of 60-pounds, which puts it in another class from the GM8 and the Syntas.

Any down-checks? Not really. Near 3700 simoleons for the top of the line G11 is a bit much for some of us, but it is an at least an imaginable outlay for most of us. The 60-pounds is really “60-pounds for visual,” but the scope will do a fine job imaging with a C11 and it is just terrific with 8-inch SCTs loaded down with everything but the kitchen sink in the way of accessories, piggyback scopes, and autoguiding junk. Some folks look askance at the Gemini II system, but it’s a full up highly capable computer now and I am impressed with its capabilities. If my Atlas didn’t or ever doesn’t do what I want it to do, I’d probably look at the G11.

Celestron CGE Pro

The CGE Pro is where we leave the realm of “a mount for the rest of us” and enter the land of “a mount for a few of us.” It is big and heavy (154 fracking pounds altogether), it will carry more payload than most of us need (90-pounds), and is expensive (almost 5K). Still, that’s a lot of capability at a price thousands less than the real heavy hitters like the Bisque and AP mounts.

Uh-ohs? Not too many. The mount had a few teething pains when it came out, though certainly not to the extent the CGEM had. Celestron has reportedly done some fine tuning and has reduced the mount’s already decent periodic error figure to 3-arc seconds (they say). For me, the problem is that this is not a portable mount. Yeah, you can break it down into fairly manageable sections, but, like the old CGE, the mount head sits on top of a tall “electronics pier.” The idea of lifting any scope that would require this much mount that high gives broken-down old Unk the dadgum heebie-jeebies.

Losmandy Titan

You don’t see many Losmandy Titans. In fact, some of y’all may be scratching your noggin as to what one is. It’s simple: as the GM8 is to the G11, the G11 is to the Titan (officially the “HGM Titan,” but nobody calls it that). What does it bring to the table for a price that is another click up from the CGE Pro, about 7500 for everything you need? A 100-pound photographic payload and 175-pound visual capacity, all machined components, and Gemini II.

So why don’t you see scads of Titans? The price is inching into Astro-Physics territory, and some of the cognoscenti who pay that much for telescope mounts just prefer AP—even if the Titan is better in some ways (its computer system, for example). Plus, it is one big mutha, 135-pounds sans counterweights, though you can break it into manageable sections—I believe it would be considerably easier to handle than the CGE Pro. The mount has had some motor-gear problems, but I trust they are all gone now, since it’s been out for a considerable length of time. If only I had a spare 7500 dinaros lying around. Sigh.

Meade LX800

Oh, how impressed by the ads was Unk when Meade announced its new big-boy GEM, the LX800. Not only would this thing have a payload capacity of 90-pounds, it would have Starlock, which would handle both go-to and autoguiding. It would be active full time, taking you to objects with precision and immediately locking on. This goodness would come at a price considerably less than you would pay for a Losmandy Titan. I was impressed, yeah, but also worried, though I tried to remain hopeful. As I asked my old buddy, Pat Rochford, surely Meade would not bungle this prestigious product introduction like they did the one for the ill fated RCX400. Would they?

They would. Giving us glass-half-full folks a one-two punch. First, just as the first mounts were being delivered, a price increase was announced: the LX800 would henceforth go for 7300 dollars, putting right up there with the Titan. That wasn’t a killer, I figgered. The Titan can carry more payload, but the LX800’s price would still be bearable if that Starlock computer worked as good as Meade said it was gonna work.

Alas, it didn’t. The first LX800 mounts delivered were utterly non-functional, with some having mechanical problems in addition to non-working Starlock computers. I haven’t given up hope on this one, since Meade responded immediately, recalling the mounts. But I wonder how in Sam Hill this was allowed to happen. The bloom is off this rose at the moment, with plenty of ranting and raving about it going on on the Cloudy Nights bulletin boards. Meade can still pull it out, but the recalled mounts had better work fracking well, and so must every last one of these 7300 buck mounts they ship. Was this Meade’s final play near the end of the game? A Hail Mary? I hope not; we shall see.

Astro-Physics Mach 1

Some of us, even those of us of the Mister Moneybags persuasion, would never dream of expending around 7K (once you pay for “options” like tripods, counterweights, and telescope saddles) for AP’s littlest mount, one with a mere 45-pounds of payload capacity. If that payload figger were the whole story, AP would not sell many Mach 1s.

But it’s not. That 45-pounds is for near perfect imaging performance. The mount itself is incredibly strong while remaining small and light. I have little doubt one could carry a C14 for visual work (though Uncle Roland does not seem to recommend that) while weighing only 32 pounds (for the head sans tripod and counterweights). The quality is there in spades with mount, hand paddle, and electronics capable of standing conditions you won’t want to endure yourself.

Still, this is not the GEM for everybody. If, like me, you use an SCT and tend to image or view dozens or even hundreds of targets a night, usually with a small chip camera like a Mallincam, the Mach 1’s go-to performance may disappoint. It being on target depends on two things: good polar alignment and no cone error.  The mount computer does not include any sky modeling capabilities. You can sync on a star in the area of interest to improve the pointing, but that is it. A telescope with a moving mirror that might flop a wee bit going from one side of the sky to the other is just going to make things worse.

The above can be a problem for some folks, but is not really a show stopper. If you use a laptop with the mount, you can use a modeling program like T-Point to “fix” the go-to problems. In concert with T-Point, the go-to capability of this mount is awesome. But much of the mount’s audience will not even need to bother with that. A large part of the reason for choosing a GEM in this price range is to do long exposure imaging, doing a few targets at most per run. In that case, it’s easy to sync on a star near the target, go-to the DSO, and then just let this mount sing, which it will.

Software Bisque Paramount MX

There are more expensive mounts than the Bisque Paramount MX, including the Paramount ME and some of AP’s high-enders, but for us Joe and Jane amateurs, this is pretty much the max:  over 10,000 George Freaking Washingtons once you buy everything you need to run this puppy. What you get for all that gold is a beauty, no denying. This red-finished thing looks more like a sculpture than a dang telescope mount. The payload capacity is 90-pounds for imaging, and it has a periodic error profile that makes my poor Atlas wanna run and hide his head.

Price aside, this is hardly a mount everybody will embrace. Even if you have the shekels to pay for it, make sure you can handle it. I don’t mean its size and weight, which is fairly modest—50-pounds—I mean the computer angle. This is not just a GEM you can use with a computer, this is a GEM you must use with a computer It is intimately tied to the company’s famous planetarium application, TheSky (which is included in the purchase price). You can use other software with the mount as I understand things, but TheSky must still be running in the background. If you do not like computers, trust me, this is not for you.

Otherwise? Performance of thisun is similar to that of the AP. In more than one way. Surprisingly, given the advanced nature of the electronics, the MX still relies on polar alignment and T-point for dead on go-tos. On the other hand, you will have a computer on hand every time you use the MX, so why not?

I used to dream of an MX as my “retirement mount,” but now I am not so sure. It is way beyond what I need—this mount is easily capable of being operated remotely, for example—and I suspect it’s also a little past what I want to deal with in the dark of night complexity-wise. Still, it is nice to dream about sitting pretty on the Chiefland observing field with all and sundry admiring my candy-apple-red wonder.

So that’s it? For now. If the economy ever shows signs of improving, I do believe we will see some cool new stuff mount-wise, some of which may be standing in the wings waiting to go on at this very moment. An upgraded CG5, for example. While I am not sure how I feel about Old Reliable being replaced, I suspect Celestron will do that before long. Maybe with something like a modernized Sirius HEQ5.

One new Synta made mount is not just a pipe-dream is the EQ-8 (originally referred to as the “EQ-7”). This appears to be a mount in theCGE Pro class, but maybe with some interesting additions. I have no doubt that it will be big, heavy, and somewhat expensive, but it looks cool, anyhow. It’s not the only Synta in the works, though.

There’s also a new EQ-6 variant, the EQ-6 Az. It’s a mount that’s similar to the EQ-6 (sorta) but with an alt-azimuth mode and a dual-telescope capability like the semi-ill-fated Ioptron Tower mounts and the just released Meade LX80 (which, like the LX800, appears to have its share of problems). I know I could really get behind a mount of this type that has the reliability of the good, old Atlas.

Yep, there are some pretty mounts out there. Every time I gaze on pix of the APs and Bisques, and then have a look at my distinctly déclassé CG5 and Atlas, I feel a little, well, inadequate. Then I remember the nice round stars in the pictures I’ve done with Atlas and the scads of excellent video shot with the CG5 and I feel better. Like many of y’all, I do feel the call of the More Better Gooder once in a while, but then reality sets in. Your old Unk is more of a beer and hotdogs schlemiel than a champagne and caviar bon vivant, and is finally comfortable with that. So be it, muchachos, so be it.

Next Time:  Maybe, just maybe, Unk will get out with a telescope and actually see something… If not, and the extended forecast says "not," it will be a trip down Memory Lane to the piney woods of central Georgia...

Very informative!
Great review. I am an EQ6 owner, and love both the handpaddle (for simpler set-up) and EQMOD (when I can afford the time to set it all up).

One mount that is in the Paramount MX category that you didn't mention is the Planewave Ascention200 HR mount. A truely fabulous mount if you can afford it!
Honest question here. I realize that both Meade and Celestron make some very good gear. I also realize that both companies have had some products that were DOA when they first launched. But it seems that Meade has not had a single major product line come out in the last five years or more without ghastly QC issues. Is Celestron having problems of similar magnitude that I'm just not hearing about, or is Meade legitimately have more issues with their new products? I'll be grateful for any insights.
Given the problems Meade is having with its new LX80 and LX800 I would certainly look before I leaped with them. ;-)

Celestron has not been immune to problems with the CGEM, but not as ghastly as Meade's.

If I wanted a mount that was not fancy, just worked,and usually problem free, I'd think "Atlas."
I live in Brazil, not much options down here, so I got a CG5. Dreaming about more, but very content with it, even doing some imaging. Your review makes me calm down and try my CG5 to the limit: I'm waiting for a C11 I bought second hand from Andrew Lunt, from Lunt Solar Telescopes, lets see what my old little mount can do... Thanks!
At Astronomics, the difference in price between the Losmandy GM-8 and G11 is only $700, not $1k, which makes it an even better deal.

Unfortunately for me, the G11's 36 lb equatorial head weight is more than I want to handle. The CGEM and Atlas are even heavier. I would like to stay under 25 lbs. That limit has me looking at the Orion Sirius (22 lbs) and the Losmandy GM-8 (21 lbs). The tripods are not an issue since they are lighter than the heads.

Another possibility, which you didn't discuss, is the iOptron iEQ45M. Maximum payload with a longer counterweight shaft and additional weight is 45 lbs. The head weighs 25 lbs. Price at Astronomics is $1700. Given its price and portability, it may be the best of the three.

If offered one of these three, which would you pick?

Would it be possible for you to do a similar review of some optical tubes for astrophotography? I am looking at 8 inch, F4 Newtonians from Vixen (R200SS), Astro-Tech and Orion. All of them (especially the Vixen) are light enough for these mounts.
The iEQ 45 and its little brother are interesting, that's for sure. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to use one yet. And the company's less than stellar success with its alt-az mounts has made me a little wary.

Yep, one of these Sundays we will look at imaging OTAs...
After reading your review of the HEQ5, it struck me as strange that a GoTo system would have no provision for objects not in its permanent database. According to Orion's Synscan manual, one can enter up to 25 "User Defined" objects. That will work at the cost of a few extra button pushes. There is also a utility function, called "Show Position", which displays the mount's current RA and dec. The manual hasn't been updated to cover AllStar polar alignment.
Nice review. This makes me to want the G11 which is on my whishing list. My experience with Atlas has been bad. Out of the box was never good for imaging and the go to was very bad. The hypertuning made it better for a couple of years till not too long ago the RA axis started drifting to the point it is useless for AP. Fixing will represent another $400 which adding to the cost of the tuning gest in to the price of the Losmandy
Thanks for the review Uncle Rod. I am heading down the road of a G11. Nice to know you like dem der Losmandy mounts.

-Pat Holland
This is a great review, thank you! I have a question for you Rod, if you're willing. I own a Goto Cg5 that I use with a c8 or a 80 mm Stellarvue refractor. I have been very impressed with it over the last three or four years, but the last time I went out I had a hard time with the alignment routine using the C8. It wa as if the index position on the RA was offset by 5-10 degrees. My 26 mm centering eyepiece usually hits alignment stars no problem, but I was having a hard time finding them with a 35 mm Panoptic. As my wife once pointed out to me before it wasn't a daylight savings time issue and I use a handheld gps for coordinates. Do you think there's merit to sending my mount to have it "Hypertuned"
Thanks for your willingness to provide so much online content on the web for amateurs, sir
I doubt hypertuning will help. What might? Reset the hand control to factory settings and re enter all information. Daylight savings time was OFF, right? It should be on again this weekend...
Sounds like a plan sir, thank you very much for the advice!
I will give it a shot tonight.
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