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Astro-Physics 3600GTO German Equatorial Mount

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Product Description

The 3600GTO is the culmination of over 30 years of experience designing and building mounts at Astro-Physics for the amateur and professional astrophotographer . We now offer two versions of this mount to suit your application. The version designated as 3600GTO is the standard version and the 3600GTOPE includes the built-in Precision Encoder System. Both versions of the mount include these features:

  • Large, robust, rugged, simple modular design that is easy to fix if something should go wrong
  • The design incorporates the same underlying principles as our smaller mountings and uses proven components that have withstood the test of time under all conditions, even in the harshest environment of Antartica.
  • Extremely smooth and accurate dual servomotor-worm gear drive, designed for all astro-imaging situations
  • Machining craftsmanship and beautiful mechanical design second to none
  • Ability to carry very large and heavy scopes comfortably
  • Simple mechanics make adjustment easy and accurate
  • Feature-packed software is intuitive and powerful. You can also use popular commercially available software or write your own.
  • Optional Limit Switch System - for enhancing the operation of the mount for remote imaging
  • Optional telescope mounting system with the convenience of a dovetail that can be locked down into a massive, solid platform.
  • Extensive support via direct communication with our technicians to fix a problem or help you to get the most out of your mount

Mechanical Features

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.

Full 360 degree rotation of both axes.
The full 360 degree rotation of both of the 3600GTO's axes also allows this mounting to be placed onto an astrographic pier for complete freedom from movement restrictions.

Through-the-mount cabling capability.
We designed this mount to allow cabling to be run through the axis shafts for tangle and clutter-free operation. Cables from cameras, guiders, dew heaters and the mount's own servo drive cables can all be run through the mount's cavernous 4" hollow shafts where they are out of the way and where they won't ever get caught or tangled during your imaging session. Ports have been included for the mount's servo cables. Additional ports can be added by the user, as needed.

Components are modular and easy to maintain.
The design of the 3600GTO is straightforward with modular construction and no complicated internal wiring. 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. The mechanical design of the mount is extremely simple and straightforward, allowing easy adjustment by anyone - no need to have a mechanical engineering degree to service the mount. We will provide information in the Technical Support section of our website pertaining to typical adjustment issues.

Integrated Pier Adapter
The pier adapter for the 3600GTO has been integrated into the mount's design and incorporates the design principles of the Precision Adjust Rotating Pier Adapters and, in an innovative twist, puts the Super Heavy-Duty Azimuth Adjuster UNDER the BACK of the mount where it is both conveniently located for fine polar alignment and remains out of the way. Polar alignment is smooth and easy, and the system locks down tight with no unintended movement.

For most installations, we recommend using our 3600 Flat Surface Adapter (3600FSA). Many of the photos on this page are of a prototype mount and prototype ATS Portable Pier. The photos do not include this recommended adapter.

Easy to Adjust and Polar Align.
Precise polar alignment can be achieved easily using the precision adjusters for both altitude and azimuth. The system locks down with zero alignment shift for an unprecedented ability to achieve that "perfect dead-on" polar alignment that is so critical to the best imaging and the most accurate go-to slews.

The PEMPRo Software program (included with the mount) includes the "Polar Alignment Wizard," a powerful feature that allow you to dial in on the pole quickly.

Extremely solid, rugged, high-payload mount, yet the equatorial head comes apart in two components for transport and field setup. Because of this mount's size and weight, we recommend that field assembly be done by at least two people working together. The RA axis and base assembly alone weighs just over 120 lbs. You wouldn't want to transport it as your regular mode of operation, but it can certainly be done for special occasions.

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.

Our machinists are among the most skilled available anywhere, attending to the smallest detail to ensure a precision instrument. The finishing department assures that all parts are deburred, sanded, polished and painted to provide an exceptional aesthetic appearance. Our mount assembly is directed by a life-long astronomer with almost 20 years of experience here at Astro-Physics! All of our production personnel take great pride in their work and are true craftsmen and women.

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. The periodic error of each mount is verified during our intensive testing procedures. We optimize performance further by characterizing the error using a special version of PEMProAP and downloading the appropriate correction into the mount's GTOCP3 before it leaves Astro-Physics. With good alignment and PEM training with the Keypad or PEMPro, it is quite practical now to achieve unguided CCD images with today's hi-resolution cameras coupled to a large telescope.

Pre-programmed with PEMPro
Periodic error corrections for each individual mount are optimized during extensive testing, which results in excellent performance right out of the box. The spec of 5 arc seconds (+/- 2.5 arc sec.) is the maximum native mechanical error inherent in the mount's RA axis WITHOUT any software correction. However, in the process of testing the RA axis with a special version of Ray Gralak's PEMPro developed specifically for our test equipment, we generate a unique, optimized PE curve for each individual mount that we program back into that mount. Simply use the Keypad or PulseGuide software to turn PE Correction "on," and you will see results are even better than our published 5 arc second spec!

If your application requires the highest possible levels of tracking accuracy, you may want to consider the Precision Encoder System.

Specifications of Equatorial Head

Worm Wheels-RA & Dec Aluminum - 13" (330mm), 256 tooth
Worm Gears Brass - 1.41" (35.8 mm) diameter
Axis Shafts 4.72" (120mm) diameter with 4.02" (102mm) clear inside diameter
Axis Bearings 7.09 " (180mm) diameter deep groove ball bearings
Worm gear bearings 1.57" (40mm) angular contact ball bearings
Latitude range 15 to 70 degrees
Azimuth adjustment Approximately 14 degrees (+/- 7 deg.)
Motors Swiss DC servo controlled - 2 motors per axis
Instrument Mounting Declination hub has ten 3/8-16 tapped holes on a 12.000" bolt circle. 
Capacity Conservatively rated for 300 lbs (not including counterweights). Please feel free to call and discuss your application with our staff.
Counterweight Shaft 2.5" (6.35 cm) diameter, 31.5" (80 cm) total length, 30" (76 cm) useable, 42 lbs. (19kg). Twelve of the optional 30# counterweights will fit onto this shaft. Includes large, machined safety stop. An optional shaft extension (M3655) is also available.
Diameter of Base 11.480" (29.16 cm), fits into 12 " outside diameter pier with 0.25" wall thickness.
Weight Equatorial head (without counterweight shaft or counterweights): 205 lbs. (93 kg), Dec axis is 84 lbs. (38kg), RA axis and base assembly is 121 lbs. (55kg)
Counterweight shaft: 42 lbs. (19kg)

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