Mount: Equatorial with integrated polarscope
Supplier: Green Witch
Telephone: 01767 677025
Takahashi’s PM-1 mount is an ideal accessory for the FC-76DS refractor we reviewed in the previous issue.
It is RA-driven, allowing for basic tracking of the night sky, and includes a basic hand controller, integrated polarscope and attachment points for additional cameras.
Both the base of the mount and the RA axis have integrated spirit levels to help you set up.
The top of the mount only accepts Takahashi tube clamps or the Takahashi Teegul camera platform directly, so you’ll need a third-party adaptor to attach telescopes with Vixen- or Losmandy-style mounting bars.
Also included are a 1.4 kg counterweight and hand control cable.
The PM-D hand controller connects to a port on the base of the mount’s RA housing and can be powered by either four AA batteries or a DC 6V external power supply – in our 15-plus hours of use, we didn’t have to change the batteries.
The hand controller has a ‘speed mode’ dial for several adjustable tracking rates, including sidereal, lunar and solar, and a switch for selecting whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.
There are also two buttons that allow you to stop or the double the speed of the tracking rate.
For the tracking to work you need to be able to engage the motor drive. We found the clutch on the RA slow-motion control an ideal way to change from driven to undriven mode.
There is even a halfway option of engaging the drive just enough to track while still being able to manually override the tracking if required.
Be aware that when fully engaged you should not use the manual slow-motion control, otherwise the gearing can become damaged.
The mount needs to be polar aligned to track stars so, like many other manufacturers, Takahashi has integrated a polarscope into the body of the RA axis.
This one provides a 9x magnified view – the majority of polarscopes only offer around 5x magnification.
The increased power allowed us to achieve much quicker and more accurate polar alignment.
Takahashi’s European website has a page to help you work out the position of Polaris within the polarscope’s integrated reticule – check it out for yourself at www.takahashi-europe.com/support/softwares/polarisfinder/polarisfinder-1….
We found that the information it provided didn’t quite match the reticule view, but we were still able to infer Polaris’s position using it, so we
had very good tracking.
We attached Takahashi’s FC-76DS refractor for our tracking tests.
Visually, the tracking was so good that we were able to leave the system for more than 30 minutes and the view in our 26mm eyepiece only shifted slightly away from centre.
When it came to imaging, we found that we could take two-minute tracked exposures, allowing us to capture lots of images and stack them for a final result.
It is also possible to attach several cameras to the mount, transforming it into a multi-camera platform.
There are attachment points for four cameras, and while having our scope and primary DSLR mounted we were able to also attach a ball and socket adaptor and use our spare DSLR at the same time, so can attest that this is a great additional feature.
Overall we were impressed with the quality of construction, low power consumption, and the ease of set up and use.
The PM-1 mount, along with the sturdy S-Metal tripod packaged with it, is an investment that should last for many years, making it a good long-term investment despite the high price.
Find out where to buy your equipment with our Retailer Guide.
This review appeared in the August 2013 issue of BBC Sky at Night Magazine