The Avalon M-Uno Dual Fast Reverse mount is an upgraded version of the well-regarded M-Uno mount.
It is designed primarily for deep-sky imaging, aimed at the higher end of the market with the intermediate to advanced astronomer in mind.
Introduced to the mount is a new, fully rotating, dual declination (dec.) axis that gives you a variety of mounting and clamping options for one telescope or two at once, including the ability to mount and accurately align a guidescope with the main telescope.
The attention to detail, function and style on this mount is outstanding.
From the smallest to the largest, every single component is beautifully machined, well thought out and put together with the best of materials – there are no cut corners here.
The high-quality, low-friction internal bearings on both axes perform well.
Even under heavier loads the mount moves extremely smoothly, making the balancing process easy.
Just as smooth in operation are the pleasantly quiet motors that use a tooth-belt transmission of power to the axes, making them backlash free and responsive to use.
Other than the popular choice of a short tube refractor for imaging, the 20kg payload of the mount and an easily adjustable fork arm allow for larger telescopes – such as Ritchey-Chrétiens, Schmidt-Cassegrains or Riccardi-Honders – to be happily used for both observing and photography, while still being well under the maximum capacity of the mount.
Even with all its payload-carrying capability and relatively large mount head, the M-Uno Dual is still light for its size and easy to carry and transport, with all major components having well-placed handles.
The design also means you don’t need hefty counterweights for balancing, which is very welcome compared to traditional German equatorial mounts.
Setting up is quick and easy.
When pulled open, the tripiod locks its spreader into place, stabilising the legs.
It attaches to the main mount using three bolts at the top, instead of the more usual large central bolt and spreader combination from the bottom.
The accurately CNC-machined main body of the mount has an ST4 guide port as well as a DSLR control port, and can track across the meridian in a single motion without performing a meridian flip, a great feature for long-exposure imaging.
All of the clamps and manual controls are securely made and smooth to operate, holding everything in place with confidence and are designed to be easy to use even if you’re wearing gloves.
All motor connection cables are internal to reduce operational interference and give the mount a sleek and uncluttered look.
The controls for polar alignment feel light and smooth to use, adding to the speed and accuracy of the setup.
With the tolerances of the mount being so tight, it was no surprise to see that damping times for vibration in the eyepiece or camera were very short when tested.
All of the software needed for setting up, manuals and videos are conveniently stored on a chrome and leather-bound USB stick.
Once you’ve installed the relevant applications on your laptop, the wireless connection process is easy and the signal strong.
It’s also possible to connect using other Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices such as smartphones or tablets adding to the versatility of the mount.
Using the StarGO navigation system is simple and instinctive to use, the graphical interface proving to give accurate Go-To commands as well as having an easy alignment process.
The tracking accuracy was tested using a 9.25-inch SCT telescope by leaving a bright star in the centre of the field of view of a 25mm Plössl eyepiece and checking for drift over a period of time.
When set up well, the subject was still within the field of view after one hour’s wait and could well have stayed there much longer.
We could sing this mount’s praises all day long, but we’ll simply wrap up by saying that the Avalon M-Uno Dual Fast Reverse effortlessly succeeds in its aim to be powerful, smooth, stable, beautiful, functional and transportable.
It’s rare to find such a complete product.
Outstanding feature: Unique mount design
The M-Uno is a mount that has been designed from the ground up with great independence of thought.
The engineering of the mount eliminates many technical problems, both in terms of each individual part doing its job well and the sum of those parts working perfectly together.
Seemingly every part has been meticulously designed to fit in seamlessly with the function of the mount’s systems as a whole.
One of the more striking examples of this is the unique shape and movement of the mount head which, when paired with most telescopes, eliminates the need for counterweights and – unlike standard equatorial mounts – can track uninterrupted through any portion of the sky without needing to do a meridian flip.
All of which is achieved using lightweight materials, expertly crafted to high tolerances, giving you a mount that is at once powerful, accurate and sleek.
All this function in the design is then beautifully and aesthetically finished, making it a real joy to look at and to use.
It simply oozes quality and capability when in motion.
The mount is primarily designed to be controlled using the strong and reliable internal Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. This connects to the highly customisable Avalon StarGO software with the ASCOM software platform running in the background when on a PC. It can also connect to smartphones and tablets.
The gorgeously anodised, large and stable tripod is fast and easy to set up. It’s made using high-grade aluminium, making it light to carry, and features an incorporated handle. On the legs are a number of 2-inch and 1.25-inch openings that help lighten the tripod and conveniently hold eyepieces and other equipment as well.
The M-Uno comes with a well-made polarscope allowing you to polar align with ease and comfort without having to disturb anything else on the main mount. The polarscope is quickly and easily illuminated with a slip-on unit powered from a dedicated socket tucked away on the mount.
The M-Uno has the ability to dual mount equipment on the dec. axis. The unit tested, for example, was fitted with the larger Losmandy-style clamp on the upper section and the smaller Vixen-type clamp on the lower. This allows for great flexibility and customisation of payload for visual and/or photographic use.
This well thought-out mount comes with a very useful set of well-made extras that will come in handy for transportation and set-up. Especially good are the small, neat counterweights with miniature extension bars and a removable carry handle for the mount head that balances the load perfectly.
This review originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine