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Re:C-11with Losmandy: Electronic Setting Circles Or Gemini Goto?

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Posted by Roger Hamlett on October 14, 2002 20:59:01 UTC

I think you must start by actually seeing some of the systems, since units that may suit one person, can often be slated by another...
However starting on the ones I know/have used. My favourite is the Vixen Skysensor 2000. Of all the units, it gave the best 'out of the box' useability and convenience. However availability in the US seems awkward at present.
The next is the G11/Gemini. Now it is wrong to say that this needs a computer. The problem it has, is that the keyboard has few buttons, so most of the more complex features require several keystrokes, however it is perfectly possible to goto a wide range of objects, and the tracking is excellent (it has an implementation of the T-point algorithm, which helps). How good this controller is, depends a lot on the software version, with the newer releases, making it a lot more useable. However these are 'charged for' upgrades, though the price is not unreasonable.
This unit also supports options, such as DSC's, so it becomes possible to manually move the scope, and go back to using the GoTo, without having to re-align (which neither the Celestron, or Meade controllers can do). This is an 'optional extra', but for some applications very useful.
The Older Meade LX200 hand controller, was suprisingly good. A number of 'shortcuts', and hidden commands allowed for most operations anyone is likely to want, but in areas the operation is not 'intuitive'.
The newer AutoStar controller, is probably the best current 'budget' controller, but the earlier software releases had some very major flaws. Operation is pretty instinctive though.
The Nexstar controller, is to me, somewhat more awkward to use, but with the latest software, is a lot better than the earlier units. However despite the accuracy claims for the Meade scopes, I find the Nexstar tracks better over a longer time period, than the Autostar, with even quite a poor initial alignment, being able to place objects central in the eyepiece hours latter.
The 12", is a heavy scope, and as with the older LX200 (though less so, since the Dec bearings have proper rollers - this was introduced for about the last year on the older LX200 as well), the mount shows it is on the limit when accessories are added.
Personally then, I'd look at the 10", versus the 11". I have to say, I have been hapier with the optics from Celestron, than those from Meade, which is why I have recently offered my old model LX200-12 for sale, and bought a NS-11 (I had actually ordered an OTA, but after a problem with the wrong one being supplied got the whole scope instead).
A lot depends on what you actually want to do with the scope. A GEM, allows more flexibility in positioning the tube, and seems to better suit many imaging applications. My own intention is to mount the NS-11 tube on the G-11, with Gemini, and for CCD imaging, expect this to be a reasonable choice. It is about the 'upper limit' for this mount.

Best Wishes

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