Astro-Physics AP1200GTO

In September of 2000, I put my name on the waiting list for a AP1200GTO mount. I was notified by the fine folks at Astro-Physics in October of 2001 that one had my name on it and I immediately sent them the deposit. They said it would be delivered in the April 2002 time frame, so I began preparations for its arrival. I think the final waiting is the hardest part after knowing that you actually have one. On May 17, 2002, 7 emails arrived indicating that the mount had shipped !! (ie: 7 boxes of goodies were soon to arrive). On May 22, 2002, my wife calls and tells me that our UPS person has just delivered 7 boxes. Why would she do that, knowing it was just 3:00 pm ???? Well, needless to say, 5:00 pm took about 6 hours to get there, but it did, and I was finally going to see, feel, touch, what I had waited so long for.

I had purchased a "previously owned" AP 127 f/8 Starfire from Andy Homeyer a few months ago, and have been waiting on the AP1200GTO so I could have a mount that would let me really see what this scope would do. As you would expect, the AP products fit together perfectly.

The new AP1200GTO carrying a classic AP 127mm f/8 Starfire. I bought the AP 127mm f/8 Starfire 3rd hand. It has been very well cared for and gives absolutely stunning views of the planets. The stars are pinpoints.
Everything about this mount is big. It's now easy to understand the 140# rating given on AP's website. As you can see, it only took 1 10# counterweight to balance the 127, and the mount barely knows it's there.
During initial setup, I used the polar scope for the first time. It took very little adjustment to lock in on polaris. A Radio Shack DB-9 12ft cable and I was controlling the mount with "TheSky" in no time.

After unboxing the AP1200GTO I knew it was big. But to get a feel for how big, I compared it to my CI700 that came with the C14. Here are some side by side pictures for reference.

From this perspective, they look fairly similar, but looks can be deceiving! This view begins to bring the size difference into focus. Note that to gain the same overall height, the CI700 is mounted to a 6" extension.
From the rear, the size differences in the RA axis can be seen. The mounting base for the AP1200GTO is 10", while the mounting base for the CI700 is 5 1/2". From the front, the size difference in the DEC axis is easily vi sable. The counterweight shaft on the AP1200GTO is nearly twice the diameter of the CI700. The RA gear size difference is very easy to see.
Another view from the front. Both piers are the same height. One more look from the back. The electronics are comparable as the CI700 was upfitted with a SkyWalker/2 GoTo System from Astrometrics.