AstroTrac 360?

Started Mar 21, 2018 | Discussions
SoupOrPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,070
AstroTrac 360?

AstroTrac is advertising a new product that will be released in April 2018, “AstroTrac 360.” Does anyone know what will be new or different?

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Nikon D750
Astrophotographer 10 Forum Pro • Posts: 13,814
Re: AstroTrac 360?

I wonder if it gets rid of the 2 hour tracking limit not that 2 hours cramps anyone's style when doing nightscapes.

Greg.

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Pogo65 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: AstroTrac 360?

And it is a fact! Check it out in the Astrotrac website.

Looks like the ultimate travel german equatorial mount that doubles as two camera trackers!

I ordered mine!

1llusive
1llusive Senior Member • Posts: 2,373
Re: AstroTrac 360?

Looks like a nice piece of engineering.

That price though 

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OP SoupOrPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,070
Re: AstroTrac 360?

1llusive wrote:

Looks like a nice piece of engineering.

That price though

Agreed--on both counts!

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Nikon D750
Pogo65 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: AstroTrac 360?
1

I have to agree about the price, however you are looking at a highly capable (claimed) german equatorial here that is also very portable and modular as it can be taken apart and used as two camera trackers if the need arises. If not, you have a german equatorial mount that has a 5 arcsec accuracy and with goto capability as well from what I understand( even though I don't find that last capability so important, it can certainly help to put small objects in your field of view whith longer focal lengths, which this mount is supposed to be able to handle as they claim.

Considering all that, I think the price is high but reasonable.

RudyPohl
RudyPohl Veteran Member • Posts: 5,893
Re: AstroTrac 360?
6

Pogo65 wrote:

I have to agree about the price, however you are looking at a highly capable (claimed) german equatorial here that is also very portable and modular as it can be taken apart and used as two camera trackers if the need arises. If not, you have a german equatorial mount that has a 5 arcsec accuracy and with goto capability as well from what I understand( even though I don't find that last capability so important, it can certainly help to put small objects in your field of view whith longer focal lengths, which this mount is supposed to be able to handle as they claim.

Considering all that, I think the price is high but reasonable.

I have been watching for the unveiling of this new tracking mount from Astrotrac for almost 3 months now and I must say that I am so disappointed at the price point. Here in Canada this item will be $4350 plus taxes (13%), plus shipping ($100) for a total approximating $5000! There's only one word for that - "insane!"

There are a few reasons why I have serious doubts that this product will succeed in the marketplace and why we might be witnessing the end of Astrotrac as a viable company, if in fact it still is one at the present time.

1. The price. Like I said, it's an insane price for what you get that will ensure only those with the highest discretionary funds available for hobbies will buy one of these trackers. This will be a unguided portable tracker for the exceedingly well off of which there are not all that many.

2. This is a totally unproven product. We're not even being shown a real, live working prototype complete with videos and sample astro-images. Who has ever heard of a serious product launch without a working prototype and samples? All that we're being presented with here are some great-looking drawings and a whole lot of claims and promises.

3. Astrotrac has had a terrible record, especially in recent years, for product and customer support - "abandonment" is the operative word. They could be the poster child in the astro-imaging world for the category of "most unresponsive company". So given this abysmal track record are you willing to lay down this huge amount of cash on the hopes that this product lives up to it's claims, and that if there are design and/or other problems, that you will have them addressed and remedied in a timely fashion? Not me.

Given the fact that Astrotrac is known around the globe for the world's poorest polar scope and polar alignment solution ever, which after many years of complaints from frustrated users they apparently did not even try to address and remedy, what has changed in their ownership or board of directors or company philosophy to assure us that a similar major flaw does not exist in the 360 model and if so, that users won't once again get stuck holding the bag?

4. Finally, I would not be surprised to learn that Astrotrac is in serious financial difficulty and may never even complete and bring to market this new model. Why do I say this? For two reasons. One, as mentioned above, they do not even have a working, tested and reviewed prototype, even after all this time. And two, they are asking for huge order reservation deposits and yet do not expect to be shipping till some time in the third quarter. Why would they need a thousand pounds from each person other than they don't have the cash flow to complete the project? Everything may very well be in good shape, financially sound, and on track production-wise behind the scenes; I hope for everyone's sake that is the case, especially for Astrotrac as I really would like them to succeed. However, I personally would not take that risk.

Summary:

Given these serious potential downsides to purchasing one of these units, which presently consists of only claims, promises and diagrams, and given Astrotrac's less than stellar history when it comes to product and customer support, my stance is, "Astrotrac, the ball is in your court and you need to earn back the trust and the confidence of the astro-imaging community."

my 2 cents,
Rudy

OP SoupOrPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 1,070
Re: AstroTrac 360?

RudyPohl wrote:

Pogo65 wrote:

I have to agree about the price, however you are looking at a highly capable (claimed) german equatorial here that is also very portable and modular as it can be taken apart and used as two camera trackers if the need arises. If not, you have a german equatorial mount that has a 5 arcsec accuracy and with goto capability as well from what I understand( even though I don't find that last capability so important, it can certainly help to put small objects in your field of view whith longer focal lengths, which this mount is supposed to be able to handle as they claim.

Considering all that, I think the price is high but reasonable.

I have been watching for the unveiling of this new tracking mount from Astrotrac for almost 3 months now and I must say that I am so disappointed at the price point. Here in Canada this item will be $4350 plus taxes (13%), plus shipping ($100) for a total approximating $5000! There's only one word for that - "insane!"

There are a few reasons why I have serious doubts that this product will succeed in the marketplace and why we might be witnessing the end of Astrotrac as a viable company, if in fact it still is one at the present time.

1. The price. Like I said, it's an insane price for what you get that will ensure only those with the highest discretionary funds available for hobbies will buy one of these trackers. This will be a unguided portable tracker for the exceedingly well off of which there are not all that many.

2. This is a totally unproven product. We're not even being shown a real, live working prototype complete with videos and sample astro-images. Who has ever heard of a serious product launch without a working prototype and samples? All that we're being presented with here are some great-looking drawings and a whole lot of claims and promises.

3. Astrotrac has had a terrible record, especially in recent years, for product and customer support - "abandonment" is the operative word. They could be the poster child in the astro-imaging world for the category of "most unresponsive company". So given this abysmal track record are you willing to lay down this huge amount of cash on the hopes that this product lives up to it's claims, and that if there are design and/or other problems, that you will have them addressed and remedied in a timely fashion? Not me.

Given the fact that Astrotrac is known around the globe for the world's poorest polar scope and polar alignment solution ever, which after many years of complaints from frustrated users they apparently did not even try to address and remedy, what has changed in their ownership or board of directors or company philosophy to assure us that a similar major flaw does not exist in the 360 model and if so, that users won't once again get stuck holding the bag?

4. Finally, I would not be surprised to learn that Astrotrac is in serious financial difficulty and may never even complete and bring to market this new model. Why do I say this? For two reasons. One, as mentioned above, they do not even have a working, tested and reviewed prototype, even after all this time. And two, they are asking for huge order reservation deposits and yet do not expect to be shipping till some time in the third quarter. Why would they need a thousand pounds from each person other than they don't have the cash flow to complete the project? Everything may very well be in good shape, financially sound, and on track production-wise behind the scenes; I hope for everyone's sake that is the case, especially for Astrotrac as I really would like them to succeed. However, I personally would not take that risk.

Summary:

Given these serious potential downsides to purchasing one of these units, which presently consists of only claims, promises and diagrams, and given Astrotrac's less than stellar history when it comes to product and customer support, my stance is, "Astrotrac, the ball is in your court and you need to earn back the trust and the confidence of the astro-imaging community."

my 2 cents,
Rudy

At the price point, I did not seriously consider the product but you make a lot of good points. Thanks.

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Nikon D750
1llusive
1llusive Senior Member • Posts: 2,373
Re: AstroTrac 360?

It certainly makes the Lightrack II look like a good deal.

I hope to see some units put through their paces so we can see all that it can do.

I think at this price point, they should keep both units in production. It doesn't make sense to me to discontinue the more accessible option and go after the high end.

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Nikon Z6 II Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 +1 more
BlackgumNate Contributing Member • Posts: 634
Re: AstroTrac 360?

Very well said Rudy. All good points.

It looks like a heck of a rig, but (and i did that math/conversion this morning as well) for that price!!.. When this hobby gets too complicated and/or expensive my interest wavers. I'm sure I'm not alone there.

I hope they succeed, and that competitors rise to their challenge. Let the free market operate so that we, as consumers can win and enjoy.

Nate

swimswithtrout Veteran Member • Posts: 3,720
Re: AstroTrac 360?

RudyPohl wrote:

Pogo65 wrote:

I have to agree about the price, however you are looking at a highly capable (claimed) german equatorial here that is also very portable and modular as it can be taken apart and used as two camera trackers if the need arises. If not, you have a german equatorial mount that has a 5 arcsec accuracy and with goto capability as well from what I understand( even though I don't find that last capability so important, it can certainly help to put small objects in your field of view whith longer focal lengths, which this mount is supposed to be able to handle as they claim.

Considering all that, I think the price is high but reasonable.

I have been watching for the unveiling of this new tracking mount from Astrotrac for almost 3 months now and I must say that I am so disappointed at the price point. Here in Canada this item will be $4350 plus taxes (13%), plus shipping ($100) for a total approximating $5000! There's only one word for that - "insane!"

There are a few reasons why I have serious doubts that this product will succeed in the marketplace and why we might be witnessing the end of Astrotrac as a viable company, if in fact it still is one at the present time.

1. The price. Like I said, it's an insane price for what you get that will ensure only those with the highest discretionary funds available for hobbies will buy one of these trackers. This will be a unguided portable tracker for the exceedingly well off of which there are not all that many.

2. This is a totally unproven product. We're not even being shown a real, live working prototype complete with videos and sample astro-images. Who has ever heard of a serious product launch without a working prototype and samples? All that we're being presented with here are some great-looking drawings and a whole lot of claims and promises.

3. Astrotrac has had a terrible record, especially in recent years, for product and customer support - "abandonment" is the operative word. They could be the poster child in the astro-imaging world for the category of "most unresponsive company". So given this abysmal track record are you willing to lay down this huge amount of cash on the hopes that this product lives up to it's claims, and that if there are design and/or other problems, that you will have them addressed and remedied in a timely fashion? Not me.

Given the fact that Astrotrac is known around the globe for the world's poorest polar scope and polar alignment solution ever, which after many years of complaints from frustrated users they apparently did not even try to address and remedy, what has changed in their ownership or board of directors or company philosophy to assure us that a similar major flaw does not exist in the 360 model and if so, that users won't once again get stuck holding the bag?

4. Finally, I would not be surprised to learn that Astrotrac is in serious financial difficulty and may never even complete and bring to market this new model. Why do I say this? For two reasons. One, as mentioned above, they do not even have a working, tested and reviewed prototype, even after all this time. And two, they are asking for huge order reservation deposits and yet do not expect to be shipping till some time in the third quarter. Why would they need a thousand pounds from each person other than they don't have the cash flow to complete the project? Everything may very well be in good shape, financially sound, and on track production-wise behind the scenes; I hope for everyone's sake that is the case, especially for Astrotrac as I really would like them to succeed. However, I personally would not take that risk.

Summary:

Given these serious potential downsides to purchasing one of these units, which presently consists of only claims, promises and diagrams, and given Astrotrac's less than stellar history when it comes to product and customer support, my stance is, "Astrotrac, the ball is in your court and you need to earn back the trust and the confidence of the astro-imaging community."

my 2 cents,
Rudy

I finally got to their web page and if I didn't know better, I'd have thought it an April Fools joke.....

An 11lb mount that can carry 22lbs, an 8" f7 RC, and image with "only" 5" of error ???
I don't even like shooting my little AT 65 mm (fl 420mm) at more than 1.5" error, which only happens in the worst of seeing conditions

Even a moderate GEM, with autoguiding , is going to struggle shooting with an 8" RC at native FL. Using a NIkon D5300, I'd need accuracy in the sub 0.5" range to feel comfortable !! The "lightest weight" GEM that is just barely able to handle an 8" RC is the Orion Atlas/ SW EQ6 and they think an 11lb mount can beat that ?

Even their claim of using a 100mm APO is ludicrous at 5" error. I'd want want well under 1" accuracy.

Their price point puts it on par with a "super premium" GEM, that can actually shoot at 1-2" accuracy without autoguiding, and well below 0.5" with guiding, and carry 40-60 lbs. without blinking an eye.

Not that I'm even looking for another mount, but this thing sounds like nothing but a marketing pipe dream, and terrible on all accounts.

rnclark Veteran Member • Posts: 3,957
Re: AstroTrac 360?
4

swimswithtrout wrote:

RudyPohl wrote:

Pogo65 wrote:

I have to agree about the price, however you are looking at a highly capable (claimed) german equatorial here that is also very portable and modular as it can be taken apart and used as two camera trackers if the need arises. If not, you have a german equatorial mount that has a 5 arcsec accuracy and with goto capability as well from what I understand( even though I don't find that last capability so important, it can certainly help to put small objects in your field of view whith longer focal lengths, which this mount is supposed to be able to handle as they claim.

Considering all that, I think the price is high but reasonable.

I have been watching for the unveiling of this new tracking mount from Astrotrac for almost 3 months now and I must say that I am so disappointed at the price point. Here in Canada this item will be $4350 plus taxes (13%), plus shipping ($100) for a total approximating $5000! There's only one word for that - "insane!"

There are a few reasons why I have serious doubts that this product will succeed in the marketplace and why we might be witnessing the end of Astrotrac as a viable company, if in fact it still is one at the present time.

1. The price. Like I said, it's an insane price for what you get that will ensure only those with the highest discretionary funds available for hobbies will buy one of these trackers. This will be a unguided portable tracker for the exceedingly well off of which there are not all that many.

2. This is a totally unproven product. We're not even being shown a real, live working prototype complete with videos and sample astro-images. Who has ever heard of a serious product launch without a working prototype and samples? All that we're being presented with here are some great-looking drawings and a whole lot of claims and promises.

3. Astrotrac has had a terrible record, especially in recent years, for product and customer support - "abandonment" is the operative word. They could be the poster child in the astro-imaging world for the category of "most unresponsive company". So given this abysmal track record are you willing to lay down this huge amount of cash on the hopes that this product lives up to it's claims, and that if there are design and/or other problems, that you will have them addressed and remedied in a timely fashion? Not me.

Given the fact that Astrotrac is known around the globe for the world's poorest polar scope and polar alignment solution ever, which after many years of complaints from frustrated users they apparently did not even try to address and remedy, what has changed in their ownership or board of directors or company philosophy to assure us that a similar major flaw does not exist in the 360 model and if so, that users won't once again get stuck holding the bag?

4. Finally, I would not be surprised to learn that Astrotrac is in serious financial difficulty and may never even complete and bring to market this new model. Why do I say this? For two reasons. One, as mentioned above, they do not even have a working, tested and reviewed prototype, even after all this time. And two, they are asking for huge order reservation deposits and yet do not expect to be shipping till some time in the third quarter. Why would they need a thousand pounds from each person other than they don't have the cash flow to complete the project? Everything may very well be in good shape, financially sound, and on track production-wise behind the scenes; I hope for everyone's sake that is the case, especially for Astrotrac as I really would like them to succeed. However, I personally would not take that risk.

Summary:

Given these serious potential downsides to purchasing one of these units, which presently consists of only claims, promises and diagrams, and given Astrotrac's less than stellar history when it comes to product and customer support, my stance is, "Astrotrac, the ball is in your court and you need to earn back the trust and the confidence of the astro-imaging community."

my 2 cents,
Rudy

I finally got to their web page and if I didn't know better, I'd have thought it an April Fools joke.....

An 11lb mount that can carry 22lbs, an 8" f7 RC, and image with "only" 5" of error ???
I don't even like shooting my little AT 65 mm (fl 420mm) at more than 1.5" error, which only happens in the worst of seeing conditions

Even a moderate GEM, with autoguiding , is going to struggle shooting with an 8" RC at native FL. Using a NIkon D5300, I'd need accuracy in the sub 0.5" range to feel comfortable !! The "lightest weight" GEM that is just barely able to handle an 8" RC is the Orion Atlas/ SW EQ6 and they think an 11lb mount can beat that ?

Before I respond you your post, Swims, let me say I agree with all of Rudy's points.

Regarding the above, the new astrotrac is aimed at a completely different market: those who want extreme portability. I could not do my recent trips (24,000 miles in about 6 weeks) with a gem or any other big heavy equatorial mount.

But the original astrotrac is only 1 kg mount (2.2 pounds) with a claimed 15 kg (33 pound) capacity. I would have to weigh what I put on it, but it is on the order of 5 kg (11 pounds) (Canon 7D2, 300 f/2.8 + TC, gimbal head, or 1D mark 4 and add another pound). The tracking accuracy is also around 5-arc-seconds.  With short exposures, I get tracking accuracy in a single exposure of about an arc-second.

So what does the new astrotrac 360 get me? At some 4+ times the price and 5 times the weight for similar tracking accuracy, just to go more than 2 hours? No thanks.

Even their claim of using a 100mm APO is ludicrous at 5" error. I'd want want well under 1" accuracy.

Their price point puts it on par with a "super premium" GEM, that can actually shoot at 1-2" accuracy without autoguiding, and well below 0.5" with guiding, and carry 40-60 lbs. without blinking an eye.

Not that I'm even looking for another mount, but this thing sounds like nothing but a marketing pipe dream, and terrible on all accounts.

For this price, and new technology, I too would expect much better tracking accuracy. Maybe they a going for an even smaller niche market: extreme portability with autoguiding, as that is the only way to get better than 5 arc-sec with this device.

But I believe there is a hidden problem that buyers may not be aware of unless they have loaded a astrotrac type device: that is the problem of wind. As one pushes up focal length and resolution to the sub 3-arc-seconds per pixel, stability is more important, not just tracking accuracy. With a big optical tube on a very light mount, the flexing in wind destroys stability, and tracking, even with autoguiding, is crap.

In my recent trip to Tanzania, I tried for 2 nights to image the Eta Carina nebula at 300 mm f/2.8 on my astrotrac.  Wind destroyed most of my exposures, often shaking so much the star images are amazing patterns 30 to 60 arc-seconds across.

It is not worth trying to get images with my 300 f/2.8 on my astrotrac if there is even a moderate breeze. The only solutions are: 1) only work on clear calm nights, 2) make a wind break. I'm working on #2 but do not yet have a good solution. 3) Use a heavier mount. I have a Losmandy G11 and autoguider, but it is hard to pack onto an airplane--costs go way up.

So the new astrotrac does not seem like a solution. Maybe the reviews will show these problems have been solved, but I'm skeptical.

Also disturbing is the astrotrac pages for the existing astrotrac have been removed:

https://www.astrotrac.com/product-page/tt320x-ag no longer exists.

So it appears they have stopped making the 320 model.  Most manufacturers leave such pages up and say discontinued, so people will know their legacy products, e.g. for the used market.  This makes me wonder if they even have any stock in parts for repairs.

Looks like the Fornax lighttrack II is the future for the more reasonably priced portable market with longer lenses.

Roger

swimswithtrout Veteran Member • Posts: 3,720
Re: AstroTrac 360?

rnclark wrote:

But I believe there is a hidden problem that buyers may not be aware of unless they have loaded a astrotrac type device: that is the problem of wind. As one pushes up focal length and resolution to the sub 3-arc-seconds per pixel, stability is more important, not just tracking accuracy. With a big optical tube on a very light mount, the flexing in wind destroys stability, and tracking, even with autoguiding.

In my recent trip to Tanzania, I tried for 2 nights to image the Eta Carina nebula at 300 mm f/2.8 on my astrotrac. Wind destroyed most of my exposures, often shaking so much the star images are amazing patterns 30 to 60 arc-seconds across.

It is not worth trying to get images with my 300 f/2.8 on my astrotrac if there is even a moderate breeze. The only solutions are: 1) only work on clear calm nights, 2) make a wind break. I'm working on #2 but do not yet have a good solution. 3) Use a heavier mount.

Roger

+1

Out of my past 12 trips to the Pawnee Grasslands, on at least 6 of those nights, the wind has been blowing 10-15mph +++. With judicious parking of my truck as a wind block, I can still manage 5 -7 min subs @ 1-1.5" RMS guiding, even with the wind, using my 75lb mount, and my 4 lb OTA.

On two nights, I was just barely able to grab my laptop after a wind gust blew it off my table, but my mount and OTA held steady.

I'm down to a 30-45min complete setup time now, faster than any of my optics can cool, so speed of setup is a non issue.

If I had to wait for a calm night to image, I'd never get to image at all.

Pogo65 Regular Member • Posts: 298
Re: AstroTrac 360?

swimswithtrout wrote:

RudyPohl wrote:

Pogo65 wrote:

I have to agree about the price, however you are looking at a highly capable (claimed) german equatorial here that is also very portable and modular as it can be taken apart and used as two camera trackers if the need arises. If not, you have a german equatorial mount that has a 5 arcsec accuracy and with goto capability as well from what I understand( even though I don't find that last capability so important, it can certainly help to put small objects in your field of view whith longer focal lengths, which this mount is supposed to be able to handle as they claim.

Considering all that, I think the price is high but reasonable.

I have been watching for the unveiling of this new tracking mount from Astrotrac for almost 3 months now and I must say that I am so disappointed at the price point. Here in Canada this item will be $4350 plus taxes (13%), plus shipping ($100) for a total approximating $5000! There's only one word for that - "insane!"

There are a few reasons why I have serious doubts that this product will succeed in the marketplace and why we might be witnessing the end of Astrotrac as a viable company, if in fact it still is one at the present time.

1. The price. Like I said, it's an insane price for what you get that will ensure only those with the highest discretionary funds available for hobbies will buy one of these trackers. This will be a unguided portable tracker for the exceedingly well off of which there are not all that many.

2. This is a totally unproven product. We're not even being shown a real, live working prototype complete with videos and sample astro-images. Who has ever heard of a serious product launch without a working prototype and samples? All that we're being presented with here are some great-looking drawings and a whole lot of claims and promises.

3. Astrotrac has had a terrible record, especially in recent years, for product and customer support - "abandonment" is the operative word. They could be the poster child in the astro-imaging world for the category of "most unresponsive company". So given this abysmal track record are you willing to lay down this huge amount of cash on the hopes that this product lives up to it's claims, and that if there are design and/or other problems, that you will have them addressed and remedied in a timely fashion? Not me.

Given the fact that Astrotrac is known around the globe for the world's poorest polar scope and polar alignment solution ever, which after many years of complaints from frustrated users they apparently did not even try to address and remedy, what has changed in their ownership or board of directors or company philosophy to assure us that a similar major flaw does not exist in the 360 model and if so, that users won't once again get stuck holding the bag?

4. Finally, I would not be surprised to learn that Astrotrac is in serious financial difficulty and may never even complete and bring to market this new model. Why do I say this? For two reasons. One, as mentioned above, they do not even have a working, tested and reviewed prototype, even after all this time. And two, they are asking for huge order reservation deposits and yet do not expect to be shipping till some time in the third quarter. Why would they need a thousand pounds from each person other than they don't have the cash flow to complete the project? Everything may very well be in good shape, financially sound, and on track production-wise behind the scenes; I hope for everyone's sake that is the case, especially for Astrotrac as I really would like them to succeed. However, I personally would not take that risk.

Summary:

Given these serious potential downsides to purchasing one of these units, which presently consists of only claims, promises and diagrams, and given Astrotrac's less than stellar history when it comes to product and customer support, my stance is, "Astrotrac, the ball is in your court and you need to earn back the trust and the confidence of the astro-imaging community."

my 2 cents,
Rudy

I finally got to their web page and if I didn't know better, I'd have thought it an April Fools joke.....

An 11lb mount that can carry 22lbs, an 8" f7 RC, and image with "only" 5" of error ???
I don't even like shooting my little AT 65 mm (fl 420mm) at more than 1.5" error, which only happens in the worst of seeing conditions

Even a moderate GEM, with autoguiding , is going to struggle shooting with an 8" RC at native FL. Using a NIkon D5300, I'd need accuracy in the sub 0.5" range to feel comfortable !! The "lightest weight" GEM that is just barely able to handle an 8" RC is the Orion Atlas/ SW EQ6 and they think an 11lb mount can beat that ?

Even their claim of using a 100mm APO is ludicrous at 5" error. I'd want want well under 1" accuracy.

Their price point puts it on par with a "super premium" GEM, that can actually shoot at 1-2" accuracy without autoguiding, and well below 0.5" with guiding, and carry 40-60 lbs. without blinking an eye.

Not that I'm even looking for another mount, but this thing sounds like nothing but a marketing pipe dream, and terrible on all accounts.

I am surprised at how you think that a 5 arc second error is a really big one. Name me one affordable mount that can do better than that over a 15 minute period, certainly not an EQ6, with all due respect, certainly not most worm gear based GEM within a reasonable price range. I own a Astrophysics Mach 1, quite an expensive mount, with anvery smooth 5" error, easily guided out to just below 1" which in most places around the world is better than the seeing anyway.

When shooting at longer focal lengths and when not using very short exposures, there is no way around guiding anyway, not just because of the error, but even slight polar misalignment will make guiding a must.

The Fornax, which I own, does very well with its friction drive, producing also a very small periodic errror, in the range of a few arcseconds, but nowhere near sub arcseconds I am afraid.

There are few friction drive mounts out there and they all cost a lot of dollars, like the ASA DDM mounts the Mesu mount and Andras Dan from Hungary builds the beautiful Gemini, for a nice premium amount. All very capable but very pricey mounts. Multiplies of this Astrotrac in fact.

I love the Fornax which I own by the way, but it has some limitations, like tracking for only two hours and only a single arm drive. You can use a good telephoto, but becomes quite unstable and heavy soon. They do sell a declination unit ala Astrotrac now, which should make things a bit easier though.

This new Astrotrac is more than just a light tracker though, even though you can use it as such. It is a very portable and still accurate GEM with pointing capability, which everyone who has shot at long focal lenths and small sensors will tell you is very very helpful to aquire a target on your sensor.

I always have to take an airplane to go anywhere where it is reasonably dark, living in one of the most lightpolluted areas in the world (Netherlands), so I for one see this one as a very nice compromise between portablility and capability, but we will see.

cheers,

Peter

atigun Contributing Member • Posts: 828
Re: AstroTrac 360?

Not that I would even consider the AstroTrac 360, but from a technical viewpoint, I wonder how the friction drive would do at freezing temperatures with frost buildup everywhere, including the exposed friction wheels?

I must also say I am a little lost as to where the camera/ball head goes, especially when used in compact mode with only one of the units.

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Atigun valley, a place north in Alaska

aramgrg Senior Member • Posts: 1,167
Re: AstroTrac 360?

atigun wrote:

Not that I would even consider the AstroTrac 360, but from a technical viewpoint, I wonder how the friction drive would do at freezing temperatures with frost buildup everywhere, including the exposed friction wheels?

I must also say I am a little lost as to where the camera/ball head goes, especially when used in compact mode with only one of the units.

I used my Lightrack II very extensively this winter. The lowest temp I tried was -18c! Both X-T2 and lightrack were going strong.

 aramgrg's gear list:aramgrg's gear list
Fujifilm X-T100 Fujifilm X-T3 Fujifilm XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS Rokinon 8mm F2.8 UMC Aspherical Fisheye Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS +3 more
RudyPohl
RudyPohl Veteran Member • Posts: 5,893
Re: AstroTrac 360?

aramgrg wrote:

atigun wrote:

Not that I would even consider the AstroTrac 360, but from a technical viewpoint, I wonder how the friction drive would do at freezing temperatures with frost buildup everywhere, including the exposed friction wheels?

I must also say I am a little lost as to where the camera/ball head goes, especially when used in compact mode with only one of the units.

I used my Lightrack II very extensively this winter. The lowest temp I tried was -18c! Both X-T2 and lightrack were going strong.

I wrote to the Fornax tech department in Hungary in January and explained that I was from Canada where I have imaged with the Star Adventurer at -32 degrees Celsius without any issues and asked if the LightTrack II could handle those temps.

To their credit they did not make any unsubstantiated claims, but wrote that one of their staff had used it at -22 C with no problems and that they did not foresee any even at -32 C.

Rudy

1llusive
1llusive Senior Member • Posts: 2,373
Re: AstroTrac 360?

RudyPohl wrote:

aramgrg wrote:

atigun wrote:

Not that I would even consider the AstroTrac 360, but from a technical viewpoint, I wonder how the friction drive would do at freezing temperatures with frost buildup everywhere, including the exposed friction wheels?

I must also say I am a little lost as to where the camera/ball head goes, especially when used in compact mode with only one of the units.

I used my Lightrack II very extensively this winter. The lowest temp I tried was -18c! Both X-T2 and lightrack were going strong.

I wrote to the Fornax tech department in Hungary in January and explained that I was from Canada where I have imaged with the Star Adventurer at -32 degrees Celsius without any issues and asked if the LightTrack II could handle those temps.

To their credit they did not make any unsubstantiated claims, but wrote that one of their staff had used it at -22 C with no problems and that they did not foresee any even at -32 C.

Rudy

Not quite as extreme, I've used it at about -10C with no issues except too fast of a tracking rate that I'm not sure wasn't related to my power supply.

 1llusive's gear list:1llusive's gear list
Nikon Z6 II Sigma 100-400mm F5-6.3 Nikon Z 24-70mm F4 +1 more
atigun Contributing Member • Posts: 828
Re: AstroTrac 360?

1llusive wrote:

RudyPohl wrote:

aramgrg wrote:

atigun wrote:

Not that I would even consider the AstroTrac 360, but from a technical viewpoint, I wonder how the friction drive would do at freezing temperatures with frost buildup everywhere, including the exposed friction wheels?

I must also say I am a little lost as to where the camera/ball head goes, especially when used in compact mode with only one of the units.

I used my Lightrack II very extensively this winter. The lowest temp I tried was -18c! Both X-T2 and lightrack were going strong.

I wrote to the Fornax tech department in Hungary in January and explained that I was from Canada where I have imaged with the Star Adventurer at -32 degrees Celsius without any issues and asked if the LightTrack II could handle those temps.

To their credit they did not make any unsubstantiated claims, but wrote that one of their staff had used it at -22 C with no problems and that they did not foresee any even at -32 C.

Rudy

Not quite as extreme, I've used it at about -10C with no issues except too fast of a tracking rate that I'm not sure wasn't related to my power supply.

Thanks for the replies all 3 of you. Good to know that it appears to be  unproblematic in the in the LightTrack II. It does seem though that the friction surfaces are more protected in the LightTrack II than the AstroTrac 360.

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Atigun valley, a place north in Alaska

swimswithtrout Veteran Member • Posts: 3,720
Re: AstroTrac 360?
2

Pogo65 wrote:

I am surprised at how you think that a 5 arc second error is a really big one. Name me one affordable mount that can do better than that over a 15 minute period, certainly not an EQ6, with all due respect, certainly not most worm gear based GEM within a reasonable price range. I own a Astrophysics Mach 1, quite an expensive mount, with a very smooth 5" error, easily guided out to just below 1" which in most places around the world is better than the seeing anyway.

When shooting at longer focal lengths and when not using very short exposures, there is no way around guiding anyway, not just because of the error, but even slight polar misalignment will make guiding a must.

Peter

I am very well aware of how HUGE, 5" of error is !!!

On my LAST NIGHT OUT , my Atlas/EQ6 had a peak error of 0.75", as reported by PHD2, but I ran for 90% of the 3 1/2 hrs of imaging, at 0.5" to 0.65" with autoguiding.

Astrotrac advertises that it can "easily handle an 8" RC ". An 8" RC with a dSLR like my Nikon D5300 has an image scale of 0.5" /pixel. That's 10 times smaller than the 5" error that Astrotrac claims. At f8, you're not going to be doing short exposures, unless your using a dedicated cooled monocam like a 1600M, and even then you will still be forced to autoguide. Does it autoguide in both axis' or just RA ? If only RA, you're going to need a Polemaster as well, to get good enough alignment, and still keep your fingers crossed that everything doesn't flex.

An 8" RC weighs 16 lbs without a camera attached. But it will have to have an autoguider as well. Weight wise, an OAG would be best, but that's still another lb or two. An old school guidescope/cam is going to be 2-3 lbs. Add in counterweights, rings and dovetail to mount it to the unit, if you even can.....and you're way over the weight limit, if it's even accurate !!

While we're at it, does it include a Vixen saddle, Losmandy saddle, is it a dual, to mount an RC or 101mm APO per there ad, or is going to be proprietary and cost a fortune ?

Or are you going to have to try and fit a saddle to a ball head , even further off balancing the unit.

If you want a light weight, PROVEN, portable travel system, for longer fl, that can autoguide on both axis', there's the iOptron CEM25 that can carry 27 lbs and weighs 10.4 lbs per specs. It costs $900 USD including the tripod.

I am well aware of having to be mobile as well. I gave up, over a year ago, of even attempting to image from my "White Zone" yard. I now drive for 1 hr minimum to get to better skies.

For fl under 200mm, I use my iOptron SkyTracker. Over that I use my Atlas/EQ6.

Since I don't have to move anything more than 5-10', weight is not an issue, and the Atlas/EQ6 with precise GOTO is actually faster to get to first image capture beyond 200mm, even though it takes 10-20 min longer to set up.

If you want to image at 300mm or below, than the old Astrotrac or the new Fornax LighTrack are your best bets.

Beyond 300mm, you'll still be better off going with a GEM.

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