THIS ITEM IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE AND HAS BEEN SUPERCEDED BY THE 1600GTO!!!
With the advent of the CCD camera, amateurs are exploring the skies to an ever increasing level of precision, easily exceeding the image quality of large observatories using film techniques decades ago. This new level puts a higher demand on the precision of the equatorial mounting. Many of the finest imagers today have been using our GTO mounts as a solid platform for a wide variety of instruments. Until the introduction of the 3600GTO at the Advanced Imaging Conferrence in 2007, the largest of these was our 1200GTO.
Since its introduction in 1998, the 1200GTO has gained a reputation for both tracking and pointing accuracy, essential to casual visual observation as well as advanced imaging. Quite a few 1200GTO and 900GTO (smaller cousin) mounts can be found at Mount Pinos in California, favorite observing site of many advanced photographers and imagers. You will find them at star parties and in observatories throughout the world.
These mounts are truly a marvel of engineering - maximum strength and rigidity with minimum weight. Our CNC lathes and mills carve out the excess material in both axes of the 1200 and 900 German Equatorials while retaining a heavily ribbed structure for internal strength and rigidity. A unique dovetail was machined into the mating surfaces of the R.A. and Dec axes. This feature allows quick and easy assembly in the field without any tools.
Over the years, a number of improvements have been incorporated into the design of the 1200GTO, among these are smoother azimuth adjusters; increased height of the polar forks to allow more room for your hand when making altitude adjustments; rounded profile of the base to prevent cords from catching; improved gear profiles in the motor gearbox for quieter operation and reduced backlash; motor bracket with built-in spring-action to keep the worms loaded at the proper setting; verifiable worm gear accuracy of 5 arc seconds or less; internal changes to improve overall accuracy; several pier adapter options; updated GTOCP3 control box with additional capability; updated keypad with larger memory capacity and LED fiber optic backlit panel; inclued PulseGuide and PEMPro software as described below. Each time we begin a production run, we ask ourselves what improvements we can make to improve the accuracy and functionality of the 1200GTO. As a result, the 1200GTO has evolved over the years to meet the needs of the advanced imager or visual observer.
The 1200 equatorial is equally at home in a permanent observatory or as a portable mounting for remote star parties thanks to the ease with which the two axes come apart. You CAN have it all. This is the perfect mount for a large refractor, Newtonian, Cassegrain or astrograph. Telescopes commonly used include Astro-Physics 155-206mm refractors, 12-14" Schmidt-Cassegrains and 10-16" Ritchey-Chretiens and other instruments of similar size.
The 1200GTO mount is built from the ground up to be a precision imaging platform while still remaining totally user friendly. Consider these advantages and features:
Extremely solid, rugged, high payload mount, yet the equatorial head comes apart in two reasonably light-weight components for hassle-free field setup. No tools needed to assemble the mount in the field.
Operate with 12V battery.
You can take it to the darkest skies and power it with a commonly available 12V battery. In the observatory, we suggest a minimum 5 amp filtered, regulated power supply like our 13.8V, 5 amp Power Supply (PS13V5A). For a heavy payload in cold conditions, we offer a 15V, 10 amp power supply (PS15V10AC).
Clutches and setting circles.
Allow manual operation if power is not available.
Image past the meridian.
The mount will track and guide well past the meridian in either direction if the object is located such that the telescope will clear the pier. This allows the user to set up the mount for a long series of exposures without stopping in the middle to flip sides. One can start the telescope under the mount while pointing at an object in the eastern part of the sky and track it all the way deep into the western sky. This is very useful for long exposure H-alpha or in cases where a large number of individual exposures are needed for stacking.
Easy alignment for non-critical viewing.
Can align with a polar alignment scope to quickly zero in on the pole for most non-critical observing or to get close before tweaking in for CCD. You can even align in the daytime for solar observing or viewing planets at twilight.
Components are modular.
All electronics including the GTOCP3 control box, motors, gearbox or cables can be removed for servicing. The RA and Dec axes can be shipped separately, if needed.
External computer not needed.
The keypad is a handheld computer with all of the features, functions and databases you need to tour the universe night after night. The unique firmware allows you to precisely polar align your mount in the field, even in broad daylight! The vacuum-fluorescent display with a temperature range of -40 degrees F (and C, they are the same in this instance), allows hardy observers to use this mount on cold winter nights. You can't do that with a PC or PDA!
Free Keypad Firmware Updates
All functions of the servo drive can be commanded from a laptop or desktop computer using PulseGuide or popular planetarium software. Depending on the features of the program, you can position your telescope, center your image and control tracking rate, remote focusing, reticle brightness and park at the end of your observing session. The GTOCP3 control box provides two RS-232 inputs so that you can operate the mount with two programs simultaneously. For instance, you can control most mount functions with PulseGuide, which takes full advantage of our firmware protocol, and use TheSky as your planetarium program. Examples of currently available software:
- PulseGuide by Ray Gralak (included with the 1200GTO)
- Software Bisque's suite which includes TheSky Astronomy Software, CCDSoft CCD Astronomy Software, TPoint Telescope Pointing Analysis Software and Orchestrate Scripting Software.
- Starry Night Pro by Simulation Curriculum Corp.
- Earth Centered Universe (ECU) by David Lane of Nova Astronomics
- SkyMap Pro by Chris Marriot
- Any software that is ASCOM compliant.
If your computer does not have serial port inputs, there are many USB to serial port adapters available on the market. Serial to USB connectivity has been simplified by the addition of Keyspan Serial-to-USB devices to our product line.
Write your own computer program.
The Astro-Physics GTO protocol for the GTOCP3 Control Box is freely available to those who would like to write their own computer program for controlling the mount.
Precise Mechanical Fabrication.
Highly accurate mechanics.
Using modern CNC machining techniques, we make all components to a high precision level, which results in a final package that is solid and accurate in all respects. The critical angles are accurately machined so that the mount is orthogonal to a very high degree. This results in pointing accuracies well below 1 arc minute for a properly aligned mount.
Worm gear accuracy.
Critical worm gear accuracy is maintained by special machining techniques developed at Astro-Physics after extensive studies, actual field operation and many years of experience making precision mounts. Our worm accuracies are second to none and are guaranteed to be 5 arc seconds (+-2.5 arc sec.) or less, peak-to-peak. Since late March 2002, all 1200 mounts have been tested on our specialized periodic error tester. Only RA worm gears that provide an accuracy of 5 arc seconds or better will pass this inspection. Any worm gears with greater errors are removed from the mount and are scrapped. Another worm gear is installed and the mount is retested.
Pre-programmed with PEMPro.
Beginning in 2007, all 1200GTOs have been pre-programmed with a special version of PEMPro to reduce the periodic error even further before it leaves Astro-Physics. This information is stored in the control box so that the mount performs optimally out-of-the-box without further PEMPro runs. We will continue to provide a CD with the PEMPro program so that you can tweak the performance further after your worm gear has run in over time.
Easy to Adjust and Maintain.
The design of the 1200GTO is straightforward with modular construction and no complicated internal wiring. If the electronics ever need servicing, the GTOCP3 control box can be easily removed and returned.
- All machined mounting made from aluminum bar stock and stainless steel. All fasteners are stainless steel.
- Motors and all electronic components are enclosed.
- Each shaft is supported by 5 bearing elements, two preloaded ball bearings and 3 sets of massive thrust bearings. The result is very low friction, which is constant with the load.
- 19.5" (18.5" useable length) removable 1.875" diameter counterweight shaft can hold up to six 18 lb. counterweights and one 10 lb. counterweight. An optional 9" Extension is also available.
- Polar and declination axes come apart quickly without tools for light-weight, easy handling and ease of transport.
- Fine altitude and azimuth adjustments for quickly and accurately zeroing in on the pole in the field.
- Engraved setting circles are Porter Slip Ring Design. If your battery runs out of power, you can still find objects.
- Lead-free electronic components rated for industrial and automotive applications.
- Base fits into 10" diameter pier with 0.094" wall thickness.
Specifications of Equatorial Head
|R.A. worm wheel
||10.3" (26.2cm), 225 tooth aluminum
|Declination worm wheel
||7.2" (18.3cm), 225 tooth aluminum
||3.35" (8.5cm) diameter
|R.A. thrust bearings
||9.5" (24.1cm) diameter
|Dec. thrust bearings
||6.5" (16.5cm) diameter
||22 to 69 degrees
||Approximately 14 degrees
||Porter Slip Ring design, engraved, pointer
||4-minute increments, pointer, engraved both Northern/Southern
||1 degree increments, engraved, pointer
Approximately 140 lb. (63.6kg) scope and accessories, depending on length. Will accommodate Astro-Physics and similar refractors up to 206mm f8, 16" Cassegrains and Ritchey-Chretiens
These are only guidelines. Some telescopes are very long for their weight or heavy for their size and will require a larger mount.
||Equatorial head: 81 lbs. (36.7 kg), Dec axis is 31 lbs. (14.1kg), RA axis is 50 lbs. (22.7kg)
Counterweight shaft: 14 lbs. (6.4kg)
Servo Motor Drive
The drive system uses a high-quality Swiss DC servo motor controlled by a microprocessor to an accuracy of 0.05 arc seconds per step. Tracking is very smooth, noticeably smoother than any stepper motor drive or inexpensive servo drive. The system can be accurately controlled over a speed range of 4800:1 which allows 0.25x sidereal for guiding to 1200x sidereal for 5 degrees per second. The circuit draws only 0.4 amps when tracking the stars, 2 amps with both motors slewing and requires only 12 volts to operate. This servo drive will satisfy the requirements of the sophisticated, advanced astrophotographer, yet is easy for the casual, visual observer to use.
The GTOCP3 Control Box contains all of the circuitry to drive the two servo motors and the logic required to navigate the sky. It can be easily removed from the mount, if required.
The GTO Keypad is a self-contained computer that serves as the communication center for the operation of your GTO mount. We have designed the interface and firmware to be as intuitive and easy to use as possible while filling it with terrific features to make your observing session productive and pleasurable.
All of the 1200GTO electronics are now lead-free. Astro-Physics believes that we who love the night sky should also love and protect our good earth.
PulseGuide is a stand-alone Windows (98, ME, 2000, NT4, XP, Vista and Windows 7) utility that provides complete remote control of Astro-Physics Mach1GTO, 400GTO, 600EGTO, 900GTO, 1200GTO and 3600GTO mounts. It derives its name from its most distinctive feature, pulse guiding, which can improve unguided tracking. Specifically, it can help correct tracking errors caused by polar misalignment and atmospheric refraction. You can also train PulseGuide to track objects moving relative to the stars, such as asteroids, comets, and the moon. In addition to pulse guiding, PulseGuide also has many useful utility features. With just a few exceptions, it supports the entire serial Astro-Physics command protocol.
PulseGuide was written by Ray Gralak of Sirius-Imaging. Please refer to his web site http://www.pulseguide.com for further developments and enhancements. The software will be provided on a CD-ROM with your 1200GTO mount. Previous owners of any Astro-Physics mounts can download the software free-of-charge, courtesy of Ray. Many, many thanks to Ray for this powerful program.
PEMPro Software, Version 2
PEMPro (Periodic Error Management Professional), Version 2, by Sirius Imaging is a very powerful Windows software application that allows the user to correct your mounts periodic error, polar alignment and backlash using your CCD Camera or Webcam to dramatically improve tracking and guiding. As mentioned previously, our extensive testing procedures include several PEMPro runs so that your new mount will perform with optimum PE correction out of the box. Simply use the Keypad or the PulseGuide software to turn PE Correction "on." Although you will not need to use PEMPro when you receive your mount, you may wish to do a PEMPro run at a later date after the worm gear has run in. Depending on usage, re-measuring error and re-loading periodic error correction from one to four times a year is a good practice, especially if you do some unguided images from time to time.
Pier Adapter Options
Prior to 2004, the Standard Pier Adapter was included with the mount, however there are now several options available for your consideration. If you plan to have multiple pier installations, perhaps one permanent and another portable, you may wish to purchase an extra adapter to install on the the second pier. This will make your setup and switchover much quicker. Many customers have found this to be advantageous.
If you do not purchase one of our pier adapters described below, for instance, if you purchase the Monolith Pier from Particle Wave Technologies, you will need to purchase the Pier Adapter Knob Kit (part# 12KBKIT) in order to attach your mount to the Monolith.
Standard Pier Adapter (1200SPA)
This 1200 Standard Pier Adapter is similar to those that we have included with mounts in the past, however the azimuth adjustment block is slightly taller to accommodate the azimuth adjustor assembly. If you have a permanent installation, this base is a good choice since you will not have to set up every session. Please read the full product description for more information.
The adapter plate will either fit into your Astro-Physics Portable Pier and be bolted from the side or you can bolt it to the top of a flat surface. Refer to the diagram for bolt pattern information. For a more finished look, consider using our Flat Surface Adapter.
Precision-Adjust Rotating Pier Adapter with Azimuth Bearing (1200RPA)
The Rotating Pier Adapter was designed for very accurate and smooth adjustment of the azimuth angle without loosening the lock-down knobs on the base of the mount. Upgrade your previous model 1200 mount (any version) and enjoy the ease of use.
The Precision-Adjust Rotating Pier Adapter must fit inside another part, i.e. our Astro-Physics Portable Pier, and be bolted from the side. It cannot be bolted through the top as you can with the Standard Pier Adapter, however, you can use a Flat Surface Adapter.
Hi-Lo Latitude Wedge (1200WDG) and Wedge Assembly (1200WDGA)
If you live in the 0-22 or 69-90 degree latitude ranges, you will need the Latitude Wedge Assembly (1200WDGA) in order to align on the pole. Under certain circumstances you may only need the Latitude Wedge (1200WDG) without the the assembled parts .
The Latitude Wedge will fit into your Astro-Physics Portable Pier or if you wish to attach it to a flat surface, you will need our Flat Surface Adapter. It is also possible to use in conjunction with the Rotating Pier Adapter.
The diagram shows several dimensions that are commonly requested. In addition, if the scope is horizontal and pointing north or south, the measurement from the top of the pier to the middle of the cradle plate is 11.25." Please note that these dimensions will vary somewhat depending on your latitude. We quote them for 42 degrees because that is the latitude of Astro-Physics and all of our equipment is set up that way. It is also a good average value.
To determine the appropriate pier height for your system and to calculate many of the dimensions that vary with your latitude setting, please try this Excel spreadsheet Latitude Dimension Calculator.
You can also refer to this 1200GTO Latitude PDF document if you are planning an observatory and need to know the variations in the horizontal distance from the center of the mount base plate to the center of the declination axis that are caused by different latitude settings, but the Excel spreadsheet linked above will probably serve you better.
All Astro-Physics mounts are supported by a dedicated staff who will assist with any issues that may arise. You can talk to a real person in a timely manner. Astro-Physics staff also participate the ap-gto user groups in the Yahoogroups forum. The user group is comprised of GTO owners who are willing to share their wealth of experience using their mounts as well as imaging strategies and other concerns of advanced amateurs.
DOWNLOAD THE 1200GTO PRODUCT MANUAL