GM 2000 QCI –

Elliott Brooks

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“I had spent several years learning astrophotography. Without doing the necessary due diligence, I purchased a mount that I thought was extremely sturdy, capable of carrying a lot of equipment, and accurate in tracking. It turns out that although the first 2 requirements were met, the third was unfortunately not. I spent literally years trying to get high quality shots, mostly spending my time fighting a mount that was not tracking accurately. I started doing some research. I did absolutely everything I possibly could based on the recommendations of the various internet groups.

I checked and re-checked the following:

  •  balance,
  •  hanging cables pulling on the camera,
  •  polar alignment,
  •  image scale of imager and guider,
  •  differential flexure with guidescope,
  •  use of OAG – still same problem,
  •  increased the fl of the guider camera,
  •  decreased the fl of guider.

In the end, I was still fighting the mount, and not getting the results I wanted.
At some point while at an astronomy fair, I met three others who had previously owned the exact same mount as I had. They all said the mount was just not up to the job. I did not want to listen (pride as well as the money I had spent made me balk). But then I took a look at their results. I looked at their web sites, and noticed something I did not have; lots of images, each with pinpoint stars.

Clearly they were able to go out on a clear night and simply spend their time catching excellent images. I was still stuck at the starting gate, fighting the mount, battling the autoguider curve, occasionally coming up with an image I could be somewhat satisfied with.

All three of these individuals told me that the problem I was having was caused by the mount, and surprisingly enough, all three owned and recommended the 10micron GM2000. By luck, one of the individuals I talked to happens to be a top name in current astrophotography. That’s when I started to listen. Buying a new mount would bring with it a new learning curve. But I was ready.

I narrowed my choice down to 3 possible mounts. All three were roughly the same price, within an acceptable range. All three were said to be accurate, and capable of carrying the weight load my equipment represents. The clincher for me was that all three of the above gentlemen recommended the GM2000. The GM2000 easily carries my equipment. It is very easy to polar align for visual use, and for imaging use, you can refine the alignment extremely accurately to the point that I can achieve pinpoint stars at f/8 with a 5 minute exposure. The problems I listed above are gone. I am now able to go out, accurately track an object all night long, and take high quality shots without worrying or battling the mount. It just works, every single night.

To polar align, you do not need a pole star finder. You simply locate and center three stars, adjust the altitude and azimuth, then refine by locating and centering more stars. This is extremely accurate, and the mount holds the position. Once you get used to it, you can perform the polar align reatively quickly. This is also important to me, as I sometimes travel with the mount.

It has periodic error correction. You train it once, and then turn it on or off as desired. I keep mine on, just to tweak that extra fraction of FWHM out of it.

The hand controller has a menu structure that is very easy to learn. I was used to another system, but learning this one was very easy, and very intuitive. Most things I need to do can be done in a few keystrokes. The red display is easy to read, and the brightness can be adjusted. I would like to see keys that are a bit easier to press with gloves on. I use thick gloves in the winter, and sometimes getting the right key to press takes a few hits. Not bad, but it could be just a bit better.

I sometimes travel to darker areas. That means portability is very important. The Centaurus tripod is a very heavy 25kg. I can lift it and set it up by myself, but getting it out of the car can be awkward. The brighter side of that is that the tripod is the most sturdy thing that can still be called portable. You cannot get this tripod to vibrate, and I feel secure knowing that it is just about the most stable thing outside my observatory pier. A trade off, but so far I’m still strong enough, so stability wins. The locking wing nuts on the legs are easy to open and lock, they lock very securely, and the legs slide up and down smoothly. They do have a lighter carbon fibre version, but I have not tried it.

Portability also means I ordered the mount that separates into two pieces. This makes it much lighter and easier to transport, and to set up. The one-piece block would be too heavy, so basically meant for a permanent observatory. You also get very sturdy travel cases that ensure safety during travel.

The company 10micron is very responsive. I happened to meet an official at an astronomy fair. When I gave him a few suggestions, he actually listened. That was a nice enough surprise. Then when the next software version came out, it included my suggestions. I was, again, pleasantly surprised.

I am extremely happy with this mount. It has taken my astrophotography to new levels, and I highly recommend it.

Two of my results are shown below. You can load larger version by cklicking the thumbnails. Left a section of NGC 1499 (California nebula) and right a section of IC 1805.