Celestron Advanced VX Equatorial Mount

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  • Member since
    September, 2012
Celestron Advanced VX Equatorial Mount
Posted by Hador__NYC on Wednesday, September 04, 2013 4:07 PM

I haven’t found too many reviews for this mount online, so, since I did get one, I wanted to post it in a few places to help folks out.  This is the same review.  About 15 months ago, I bought my first telescope, an Orion Astroview 120ST EQ, a 4.5” refractor.  I like my scope, and enjoy using it to look at the easy stuff, bright planets, Andromeda, Orion Nebula, etc.   I live in on the border of Red – Orange on NASA’s light pollution map in the suburbs of NYC, which makes seeing the better stuff a bit harder.  Now I didn’t buy the computer controlled mount thinking that I should spend more money on the optics and the scope itself.  In this time, I’ve learned to star hop, and to find stuff.  To be honest, though, I pretty well suck.  After a year and change, it still takes me forever, and I just have trouble finding stuff.  I’ve upgraded my scope to add a better focuser, and a better star diagonal.  My new right angle spotting scope is a must.  With all of that, I have gotten a bit better at this stuff.  Still, after studying star charts, and trying to make this work, with a commute and all, well, it’s hard.  I certainly enjoy stargazing, but I find myself spending an hour or so trying to find anything other than the planets, and staying on them, at fun magnification can be tough when I am showing them to friends or family who don’t have the interest to learn. 

So, with all of that, I finally decided to go for a computerized mount.  It arrived last night, and putting it together took about half an hour going very slow and watching tv as I was doing it.  The truth is that the whole thing was quite easy. I was a bit concerned since the box was pretty beat up, and it was left by the wood colored, hint hint, delivery truck on it’s side for the few hours from delivery to when I got back home from work.  Fortunately, nothing was broken.  Instructions are good, and are written in proper American English; as opposed to British English or something else.  I work with folks in London, their version if English is slightly different, but I digress.  So around 11:30PM EST, I took it outside, and with no moon, I gave it a quick try.  I should note that it DOES NOT come with the power cord to connect it to a standard wall outlet.  For many people, I guess, they don’t use it close enough to their house to use an extension cord, so this makes sense.  IT DOES come with a cigarette lighter adapter, which I guess makes more sense.  I’m not sure, I mean would you want to risk draining your car battery?  Like most folks I think, I plunked down more money for the smaller of the two currently available portable  battery / lamps.  I’m glad it got here earlier than the mount, as it has some special care and charging requirements, but those weren’t bad. 

So, now I have it outside, and have to align it to north.  I found this rather hard; took me about 10 to 15 minutes to do with my floating compass; I don’t like the phone one.  I have an idea to do it better next time.  Adjusting it to my latitude was easy.  Next I plugged it into the battery, and turned it on.  I used a phone app to tell me my GPS coordinates.  That was easy enough as well as putting in the time.  There are a few free phone apps to tell you which star is which, so the whole process, after aligning the thing to North, took about 5 minutes, and then I tried for something that I knew where it was; even if it usually takes me a while to find it.  Well, in all of 5 seconds, the scope put the Andromeda Galaxy in both the finder and my low mag eyepiece; 600mm FL and I was using a 18mm EP.  Now it wasn’t perfect, but neither was my alignment to North, nor is my finder/scope in perfect alignment.  I was rushing, so my eyes weren’t as great dark adjusted as they should have been.  This was just my first test, so I was on my back porch, with some light from my living room where I had just put it together.  I then pointed it at Neptune, and followed with Uranus.  I looked at them at lower power, and then dropped in a bit higher 8.8mm EP, and the tracking was still good. 

Overall, I am very happy.  It worked, and worked well for me.  I would recommend this to others.  There are a bunch of extra controls for fine tuning the tracking and other stuff like that.  Haven’t tried it yet.  Out of the box, it was good.  You have to buy the cable to connect it to your PC if you don’t have a serial port.  I think that is bad on their part.  You can, as I did, buy a serial to USB converter for a few bucks online.  There is nothing special about the branded one.  I have not tried to update it yet, but I probably will the next non-clear night.  I don’t see a level on it as my Astroview’s mount had, and that does concern me a bit.  My main viewing area on my yard on a slight incline, so usually the legs are not the same length when I setup.  I have one in my garage, but I would rather have had this on the thing.  That’s the only negative for me so far besides the lack of the USB cable that they want to charge you for.  Seriously, that’s just wrong considering it’s a $5 retail item.

Just to add a tiny bit about me.  I am an engineer, and I am naturally inclined to do this stuff; lots of mechanics in my family.   That being said, you don’t need to be one to set this up nor to use it.  It’s really easy for anyone.  I definitely recommend this to anyone who doesn’t have the patience to learn how to find stuff well. It seems to me that it should be good from a astrophotography perspective, but I can’t say.  I think I would need to fine tune it a bit or align it better for that to enable long exposures.  I suspect I will get better with practice.  It is built SOLID, and that I find very encouraging.  

Orion Astroview 120EQ (upgraded to Crayford focuser, Celestron AVX Mount)

Dreaming about a 12" Dobsonian

  • Member since
    April, 2012
  • From: North Carolina east coast USA
Posted by stepping beyond on Thursday, September 12, 2013 4:59 PM

Very good read Hador, I'm handicapped and have a Z10 and a Celestron 80 eq w/ motor. May I ask about when touching or focusing the scope , does it shake or vibrate?

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by Hador__NYC on Thursday, September 12, 2013 6:43 PM

stepping Beyond, I have used it a few more times.  While that first time only, I was using it on my deck, the rest have been on my driveway.  With my stock mount, I have to use my anti-vibration pads that they sell.  Now, unfortunately, I haven't done any planetary viewing yet since they haven't been up in the evenings when I do most of my viewing.  So, I've only done low to moderate power on DSOs.  For them, generally I don't worry about the shakes, but I did have the thought that I haven't noticed any shaking.   I've also done some solar viewing on it still only at medium magnification, but stopped since there were no sunspots.  The focusing seems to be as anti-vibration as my damped (via those pads) old scope.  For moving the scope, for fine alt or eq adjustments, since you use the controller, and thus don't touch the scope, there's none at all.  

In a few days or so, perhaps longer, the moon will be up, and I'll hit that at full mag for my scope (250x), and then I'll give you a better answer.  If I can get my self up Saturday morning, (the next time I have clear skies, I am thinking of trying to see Mars and Jupiter. I'll hit them at full mag too, and give you a better answer.  

I will say that the pads were a huge help for my old scope for only a few $$ compared to the scope.  

I mentioned in my first comment that I had an idea on how to North align my scope easier.  My idea works for me, and it might work for you, so I'll share it.  

What i do is I cut a length of string, about 2 feet or so.  I then cut another length a but shorter.  The second one, I tied a few screw nuts to act as a weight, and then tied the other side to the front screw on the mount, since that screw is dead center, it's a good center  line.  Next I put my floating compass on the ground in two spots, and "draw" a line with the string.  This makes an easy to see line on the ground.  Now all i have to do is to align the back leg of the mount and the "plum" string, and I have a North aligned scope. This process takes me like 2 minutes.  

Orion Astroview 120EQ (upgraded to Crayford focuser, Celestron AVX Mount)

Dreaming about a 12" Dobsonian

  • Member since
    May, 2012
Posted by Starrancher on Friday, September 13, 2013 1:05 PM

Can you not see Polaris ? You'll get a much more accurate polar alignment if you just get Polaris in the scope and forget about the compass and the string .

Once you get that under your belt , you can make things a lot easier on yourself by marking the location of the tripod legs if you observe from the same location on a regular bassis .

Just take a magic marker and put three dots on the concrete where the tripod sits . I did this long ago and found that it was remarkably accurate only plopping the tripod down on the marks night after night . I can track for extended periods of time without correction . At times as long as two hours with the object remaining in the eyepiece . Literally go inside , have dinner , watch a movie and come back out to still see the object in the eyepiece and still well centered at that .

The invisible man 

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by Hador__NYC on Friday, September 13, 2013 2:45 PM

thanks for the good ideas Starrancher.  Sadly, my house is surrounded beautiful tall second growth eastern trees that limit views quite a bit.  Polaris is blocked for me, although I might be able to see it this fall after the leaves do just that.  The marks on the ground idea is great, after I get my driverway redone, I'll do that.  Still, the idea is a good one if I am in another spot, as I do from time to time that I can't see polaris.  

Orion Astroview 120EQ (upgraded to Crayford focuser, Celestron AVX Mount)

Dreaming about a 12" Dobsonian

  • Member since
    September, 2012
Posted by Hador__NYC on Sunday, September 29, 2013 9:36 AM

So last night I went out to Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester County NY with the local club.  Considering how close this place is to NYC (30-40 miles as the crow flies) it was very dark and you could just see the MilkyWay.  There I was able to do a Polaris align and also practiced my 2 star align.  I still need  more practice, but it's clear this is a good scope mount.  

It was a perfect clear night, and the scope held 250x magnification on Neptune and Uranus for at least 30 minutes, and I still need to align better.  I found Andromeda, M13, those two planets and dumbell easily.  There was no shaking even at high resolution even without my stabilization pads when people touched the scope, I focused, and when i changed eyepieces.  That was truly surprising to me.  So, this is my favorite toy.  

Orion Astroview 120EQ (upgraded to Crayford focuser, Celestron AVX Mount)

Dreaming about a 12" Dobsonian

  • Member since
    October, 2013
Posted by Tony383 on Tuesday, October 29, 2013 9:06 PM

I like the mount a lot.  Started using it with a camera and 180mm lens setup and it is solid as a rock and have been able to do 2 minute exposures with no problems.  Haven't tried any longer exposures yet, but will try that in the near future.  I did buy a polar scope for it and it makes it easier to get in the ballpark when doing a polar alignment.  I then follow up with the polar alignment routine on the hand controller which nails it down.  I bought this mount strictly for doing DSLR through-the-lens imaging, and I like the feeling of a rock solid mount.  I also highly recommend it.  

"The problem with quotes on the internet is that it is hard to determine whether they are genuine"  Abraham Lincoln

Dobsonian, 72mm Astro-Tech ED refractor, a bunch of eyepieces, a couple of filters, a DSLR and german equatorial mount, binoculars

  • Member since
    November, 2009
Posted by Poppa Chris on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 10:22 AM

Glad you are enjoying the new mount.

FYI: Celestron has a rather inexpensive 120VAC adaptor for your mount if you get tired of lugging the power tank battery around.  I got one for my CPC1100 and use it a lot more than the12VDC power.

---Poppa Chris---

Denham Springs, Louisiana USA

"Second star to the right - Then straight on until morning!" - Peter Pan

Celestron CPC1100GPS (XLT) - 279mm aperature, 2800mm Focal length. (f10) Celestron Ultima LX (70deg AFOV) Eyepieces 32mm thru 5mm, Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR, Backyard EOS imaging software, Orion Star Shoot Planetary Imager IV, Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars

 

  • Member since
    May, 2012
Posted by Starrancher on Monday, November 04, 2013 1:46 PM

Yep ! There's nothin' like a tracking Go To mount ! 

Bow

The invisible man 

  • Member since
    October, 2013
Posted by Tony383 on Monday, November 04, 2013 8:48 PM
Yes, Poppa Chris, I need to order that. It will be money well spent.

"The problem with quotes on the internet is that it is hard to determine whether they are genuine"  Abraham Lincoln

Dobsonian, 72mm Astro-Tech ED refractor, a bunch of eyepieces, a couple of filters, a DSLR and german equatorial mount, binoculars

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