First Mount and Scope - CM1400

I started my adventure into astronomy by ordering a CM1400 from Astronomics in Norman, OK. The C14 is Fastar®ready, but I haven't gotten the optics for that yet. I take images at prime focus or with a 6.3 focal reducer. After setting this large scope up in the backyard a few times, and having to move it manually and find objects that you couldn't see, that were close to stars that you couldn't find, I started my search for an upgrade to GOTO capability. At the time I was searching, Astrometrics had the only one available for the CI700 mount. This was very fortunate as it is the best GOTO upgrade kit on the market (IMHO) for this mount.(Then and now). This made using the telescope and enjoying the hobby jump by about 500%. Now I could find things that the DSC's could not take me to due to the accuracy of the encoders, and I started doing more imaging and less hunting !!

     May 22, 2002 - My Astro-Physics 1200GTO arrives......
       Pictures of the unboxing, installation, and comparison to the CI700 mount can be seen here:AP1200GTO arrives at TwinOaks Observatory

     July 5, 2002 - My Paramount GT-1100ME arrives......
      Being on Software Bisque's waiting list for over 1 1/2 years, I can tell you it was worth the wait !!! Pictures of the installation are here: ParamountME arrives at TwinOaks Observatory

Click on any thumbnail picture for the larger version
This is the main working scope of the observatory, a Celestron C14. The CI700 mount that comes with the CM1400 package is (IMHO) too small for this weight OTA. I was never satisfied with the images I was able to take because of the tracking problems. It takes 61 lbs of counterweights to balance the scope on the CI700. I added an Astrometric SkyWalker/2 system, which gave me GOTO capability. When the skies are not dark enough to find certain stars, you have to have a GOTO mount. DSC's were not accurate enough.
The main working camera for this FL scope(3910mm) is an SBIG ST-9E coupled with a CFW-8. I also use a JMI NGF-S focuser in addition to their motofocuser. This gives total hands free focusing. Kendrick Dew Heaters protect the C14, Vixen 102mm Flourite, and finder. The controller fits perfectly in one of the C14's carrying handles. They do a great job controlling the plentiful moisture we have here.
When the nights start getting warm, and then darn right hot, the SBIG water assist really comes in handy. The second stage cooling gives us another 15° of temp differential. The water tubes are routed along with the power and control lines. I made sure that there was no tightness by slewing the mount to all locations and checking the cables.
The plastic lines fit tight on the nipples without the need for a clamp. I take them off after every session and blow out the lines and the camera to remove any left over water. My water bucket holds 5 gallons, and this seems to be plenty to keep the water cool. I usually fill it from the well (55°), about 1 hour before I start imaging, and this gets me to -25°C below ambient when the temp is around 75°F.
The scope must be parked to get the roof off. This is also the best position for the scope when entering and exiting the observatory. The Astrometrics SkyWalker/2 System interfaces with TheSky and TPoint and allow precision pointing with the click of a mouse button.
I take my flats by using Ron Wodaski's "T-Shirt" method. A good thick one seems to do the best job. By pointing the scope at the roof where I have attached a white foam core board, and using the 75 watt bulb on the other side of the observatory, I get very uniform illumination for the flats.