User: Dionisio Chavez, Philippines
TTS-160 Panther Mount with rOTAtor
This is a review of my TTS-160 Panther mount that I bought last year from Niels Haagh of Track The Stars. His customer service is excellent and our transaction went ‘smooth as silk’. I received it well protected in a box. I assume DHL can drop the box from a second floor and the mount inside will survive because of the meticulous attention to packing.
Although a bit heavy for its size, the mount is easy to carry and transport using the supplied bags. The craftsmanship, finish and performance of the mount is impeccable. It was worth every riyal I saved just to get this mount. Setup and tear down is a breeze. I can set up the pier, mount and telescope in just a few minutes. The pier is also a work of art and very sturdy. Unlike other mounts that ‘growl’, my Panther quietly ‘purrs’ when slewing to a target. No neighbours are harmed during my middle-of-the-night evaluation. It carries my heavy TMB 105/650 telescope setup (10 kg/22 lbs) with ease like nothing’s on top of it. The go-to’s are excellent. After a 2-star alignment, the mount always places the selected DSOs in the center of a 12mm Nagler eyepiece (54X). After enjoying the DSOs I decided to test the mount’s tracking ability. I hooked up my Altair 174MM camera and started Al’s Reticle software. I centered Rigel on the CMOS chip and synced on it. To my surprise, the star is still in the center after returning from an hour tea break.
The handpad is cute as a button 🙂 It took me some time to learn and get used to it. But after a while, it’s a joy to use. The mount has two magnets on its arms to attach the handpad. I decided to remove one of the magnets and screw it on my computer table, near the laptop. While sitting, the handpad is accessible and acts as a second computer mouse. In preparation for the December 26, 2019, annular solar eclipse, I did a 1-star alignment on Arcturus around 4:00 AM and parked the mount. Covered my setup with a tarp in case it rains, and went back to bed. I woke up my mount from its stupor around 11:30 AM and requested a go-to to the Sun. Lo and behold, the Sun is in the center of the CMOS chip. But the clouds didn’t cooperate and I only got three good video clips of the ongoing eclipse. There was a slight drift of the Sun but it stayed in the CMOS chip for a very long time. Good news from Niels is that solar and lunar tracking will be available soon as an upgrade. I noticed that at high power (3-6mm Nagler Zoom) the lunar image does not jitter when I move/slew the image.
I have successfully controlled the mount using Cartes du Ciel and MegaStar5 using the LX200 protocol. But I will probably use SkyFire 3 in the future. I also ordered the rOTAtor but I am still lightyears away from diving into astrophotography. Right now I am enjoying solar and lunar astrophotography.