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Orion (Vixen) GP-DX Mount

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Date: 11-18-2001
Price: $1199
Design: Quality mid-sized German Equatorial Mount
Description: Heavy version of the GP or Super Polaris mounts.  It weighs about 36 lbs. and will hold approximately 22 lbs of equipment.

Observing History and Geographic Location

I have been observing for a little over two years, in amateur astronomy terms not very long at all. My experience level can be graded as very much a beginner but with a lot of enthusiasm, hence why I thought the mount would be a good thing to review first the telescope I have with the mount will be reviewed later. My favorite observation activities are finding Deep sky objects, planet observing and lunar mapping. I also enjoy making my own constellation charts to which I add objects when I find them. I live in Hertfordshire which lies in  the South East of England. Where skies can be mostly cloudy, and light pollution can be high in the southern skies due to our great city of London.

Explain Your Choice

I ordered the mount from Orion Optics (UK). Mainly because of the quality of their scopes for the money was said to be good and that comes from more than one source. The story of how I got the GP/DX mount went as follows I had phoned Barry at the above shop and told him I had 1300.00 what could I get? Barry suggested I have the GX250 with the GP mount and a lunar Filter plus a light pollution filter with 3 eyepieces and a 2* Barlow. I went away had a little chat with some friends the outcome of which I was advised to drop some of the extras and go for the GP/DX mount. This way I could add a larger scope and after all eyepieces will come with time mounts are more of an investment. I went back to Orion Optics and suggested that I have the GP/DX mount instead and for that Orion dropped the light pollution filter and one eyepiece a good deal I thought, so the purchase was made. The features that made the mount for me was primarily that the heavier mount could support a DX300 scope, mine being the GX250 meant that the mount was never ever going to be a problem. However, there were other features that drew me to the mount in RA and DEC the mount has 144 brass teeth for each movement making the mount extremely smooth good for photography. The polar alignment scope is an excellent addition and caters for the Southern Hemisphere. The mount has the obvious capability to support dual axis motor drives, and really is a sturdy piece of equipment. The mount also for an optional extra of 248.00 can be supplied with a field tripod. I primarily brought the mount because I felt that to apply an "Overkill" effect was in my best interest.

Equipment and Shipping

The Equipment did arrive on time due to the fact that I paid extra for overnight delivery, I could not wait. The mount was well packed with various levels of polystyrene and bubble wrap no damage was noted on delivery. However I had noted that the RA adjustment handles were not in the box. Standard equipment comes with the Polar alignment scope, the mount itself (Obviously) plus the pedestal that the head of the mount sits on raising it to about 3 feet of the ground. Handles and knobs are included as standard but not the batteries to light the polar scope with. ( No major problems however as I raided the remote control unit without my wife looking, my daughter quiet rightly got the blame, and I was impressed with my lateral thinking :-) ). My first impressions were of quality really it all fitted together really nicely I did not seem to need instructions, which was a good thing because Vixens manual is next to useless for putting it together and for anything else really.

Performance  

I have tried the equipment on various objects and it has performed remarkably well. the mount moves smoothly and settles down within a couple of seconds. My first choice was Saturn with a 12mm eyepiece on my f4.8 scope. I used the manual controls to track Saturn and found the mount adequate. The small knobs that come supplied on RA and DEC  movement are black and you have to feel around. however, this was quickly noted to be due to my unfamiliarity with the mount. I did eventually replace those for the long flexible knobs that come as an optional extra I found these far easier to use but at 17.00 each they may be considered a luxury. The mount tracks objects rather well and any movement that is inadvertently caused soon settles.

Negatives

The pedestal that comes with the mount can be cumbersome  and awkward to carry around and seems to be one of those items that always catches the paintwork or doors as you try to navigate from inside the house to the backyard. It is worth mentioning at this point that the mount is loaded with a 20lb telescope it can handle larger but what that would mean to the effectiveness of the mount I do not know. I got the feeling it could handle a little more but that it would be very clse to the limt that the mount could hold. If you were into CCD or photography then you may find that a 250 tube would be as large as you would want to go.

Conclusion

Overall the mount for it's money is a dam good mount, it has some nice little features for example a row of red LEDs on the mount itself can be used for reading charts etc, it is activated when you turn on the red light for the polar alignment scope. The fixings are nicely thought out the V type fixture for mounting the tube is one of those good ideas. making it very simple for one person to operate. I am not totally convinced that the mount would take an awful lot more and it may be that the 250 tube I have is comfortable for it but weather the 300 would be as comfortable I am not sure. I would certainly need some convincing to apply a 300 tube and attempt astronomical photography with it.

Submitted by Barry Sharpe - barry.sharpe@btinternet.com - Herthfordshire, UK

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