10 Micron's AZ3000 HPS AltAz Mount
is a very versatile and portable mount that can be used for scientific activities such as satellite tracking, photometric and astrometric measurements, etc. This mount has based its mechanics and electronics off the GM3000 HPS and offers an altazimuth configuration. Due to the alt-az design, it is necessary to add an optional field de-rotator that is ASCOM compatible in order to get long exposures without field rotation.
The AZ3000 HPS Mount comes with a short counterweight bar, however it is not necessary to exactly counterbalance the weight of the telescope. You can use counterweights for about 50% of your payload and that will give you a sufficient, stable configuration. Most of the GM3000 HPS accessories are compatible with this AZ3000 HPS mount.
You may be wondering- what is HPS? HPS stands for "High Precision and Speed" and is the name for the series of astronomical mounts by 10 Micron. This system involves two high-precision absolute encoders that are integrated directly into each axis, ensuring incredibly accurate pointing and tracking. The high performance servo motors and drivers are what enables high speed pointing. This tightly integrated hardware and on-board firmware architecture gives you total system response and accuracy that are superior to mount systems that require an external PC for pointing modelling and control. In other words, the HPS system results in improved pointing and significantly lower RMS tracking errors than other, competing mounts.
This performance improvement over older technology presents a radical shift in the workflow of both observers and astro-imagers. In most applications, including long exposure deep-sky imaging, the need for autoguiding is virtually eliminated. The pointing accuracy gives you the confidence that, once the mount is properly set up, objects will be centered in the smallest field of view, even with a mobile setup in a remote location. The internal electronics inside of the mount allows it to do nearly everything without the need for an external PC.
As previously mentioned, the need for autoguiding virtually disappears with the HPS mounts. Seasoned astro-imagers and observers know about the additional trouble that autoguiders can cause. When you use an external guider scope, you can't compensate for all flexures between the two instruments and you have additional, heavy equipment. When you use a dedicated guider camera, this requires additional cabling, software installation, and set up. All in all, you'll have additional trouble searching for suitable guide stars, looking for customized guiding software parameters, calibration, and glitches between the guider/mount/PC. HPS mounts can be aligned to bright stars during twilight, giving you every second of sky darkness to dedicate solely to imaging. However, if you still want / need autoguiding, HPS mounts do provide a standard ST4 port, as well as all the usual settings and controls to be used by remote software.
The integrated control system is fitted with stand-along operation through the use of its handpad, not forcing you to always use an auxiliary PC to control the instrument. Through the use of this handpad, the stand-alone user is able t access all of the integrated functions including:
- Full Object Database
- High-Precision Polar Alignment
- Orthogonality Correction
- Periodic Error Correction
- Multi-Star Alignment, which models and compensates for telescope pointing errors
This system is truly portable and efficient, since you do not need a PC for mount alignment or control! It becomes the ultimate turnkey highly-portable mounting system when its included accessories and fitted transport cases are paired with a rock solid Geoptik or Aries tripod. The AZ3000 HPS mount includes an integral dual dovetail mount (Losmandy 3" and Vixen/EQ), and its single all-in-one cable avoids the tangle of RA and DEC motor/power cables that more other mounts require.