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Celstron CG-5 GT First Impressions

Posted by Tony Aguire   09/30/2009 12:00AM

With everybody going GOTO these days, my curiosity has finally gotten the best of me and I decided to plunk down some change for a new GOTO mount. Up till a couple days ago I have been making do with push to and forks. A late 90's Ultima Beyers Drive with a Celestron Advanced Astromaster has been my main rig. I also have an Orion Skyview EQ for my grab and go.

I received the mount today, along with an AC adapter and a polar alignment scope which were purchased separately. Overall the mount was packaged well. The Mount head was packed in a box with fitted foam. The other items for the mount (cables, hand controller) were bubble wrapped. The tripod was wrapped in plastic.

Assembly was fairly straightforward, this is the 3rd time I have assembled a German Eq mount, so it went pretty smoothly. First timers might be advised to read the instruction manual ahead of time.

Fit and finish was poor, in my opinion. The plastic covers for the dec and ra housing motors were very ill fitted. The ra motor cover was not fully installed, there was a 1/8 inch gap where the two halves meet, as the screw holding the two halves together was not fully screwed in. The dec motor cover was not fitted properly either, as the top portion interfered with the dovetail base. These are very simple things that should not have left the factory, I question the quality control. Other than these two items, the mount seemed solid and well fitted. I suspect that the issues with the motor covers arises from the fact that the GOTO system was later engineered into this line, though that is not a good excuse.

Operation upon initial startup was not what I expected, I was rather disappointed. I initially set the mount up in my living room to test its functions. The hand controller had some issues at first. Most of the buttons did not respond unless they were pushed VERY hard. After doing this a few time the buttons worked with what I considered a reasonable amount of pressure. I suspect there was some sort of coating, corrosion or otherwise, on the circuit board that was affecting the buttons. If any of you have taken apart a remote control, you have seen the way these keypads work. After mashing the buttons a few times, they all work well. The menu is relatively intuitive, though I had to consult the manual a couple of times. Like my old Astromaster, I suspect the hand controller will become second nature. I do appreciate that the directional slew buttons are reminiscent of the old hand controllers on my Ultima and Celestar, holding down the opposite direction while pressing the slew button you are intending for a faster slew. There seems to be a lot of user defined preferences, illumination intensity of the controller, slew speeds, filters for goto functions, etc. Definitely a lot of software goodies to customize the experience.

The motors are loud, they are not loud in a smooth way. I notice some oscillation in the tone when slewing, as well as when tracking. I suspect this oscillation come from a less than stellar reduction gear train quality before the worm. I plan on disassembling and re-greasining, adjusting worms etc. There will be a review to follow when that happens.

Under the stars...

I attached my beloved and trusty C8 to the mount and went at it. I did a rough polar align and level, did the two star alignment, then added two more calibration stars to be safe. I then started GOTOing... My C8 was equipped with a 6.3 focal reducer and a William Optics 20mm SWAN. Every object I requested ended up within the field of view. Though few were centered, all were easily close enough. The GOTOs were slightly more accurate than my push to Astromaster. Up until that moment, I was optimistic, but not terribly impressed with this mount. GOTO is definitely cool, and this mount does it well. Overall, I think this mount was worth the money based on first impressions. It seems like it is a great visual mount on a budget. It was very stable with my C8 and a light breeze. We shall see if the stability maintains with a guide scope and 2 cameras. My Ultima was solid when it was loaded up, though it aslo had the advantage of being set on a concrete pier.

Tomorrow, I plan on trying auto guiding and photography. I will then focus on the tracking accuracy of this mount. Expect another review to follow regarding the outcome.

Clear Skies

Tony Aguire