Paramount MX

Introducing the Paramount MX Series 6 transportable mount.  

The Paramount MX™ Series 6 represents the latest in gear-driven German equatorial mount performance.

Its new features include a 25% instrument capacity increase, an option for absolute on-axis encoders, and multiple connectivity options. For an overview of what’s new with the Paramount Series 6, click here or watch the video below.

The Paramount MX might be the observatory class mount that you’re looking for, and it’s transportable.

Hardware Specifications

  • 125 lb. (56 kg) instrument capacity; 250 lb. (113 kg) maximum payload capacity (instruments + counterweights).
  • Unibody mount design weighs 54 lb. (24 kg) without counterweights or counterweight shaft.
  • Includes two 20 lb. (9 kg) counterweights to balance 40-50 lb. (18-22 kg). You may need more for heavier payloads.
  • All-sky pointing accuracies at or below 30 arcseconds RMS (see Software Specifications below for details).
  • Its standard motor-based encoders provide:
    • A maximum peak-to-peak periodic error before correction is seven (7) arcseconds.
    • After a one-time PE training, the peak-to-peak periodic error is typically 1 arcsecond or less.
    • Belt-driven pulleys with spring-loaded worm gears produce virtually zero backlash.
    • No clutches mean the TPoint™ model’s pointing accuracy is maintained.
    • AutoHome™ homing capability ensures the mount always knows its orientation (after performing an initializing process called “homing” which usually takes a minute or less).
  • Optional on-axis absolute encoders provide:
    • No mount initialization (a.k.a. homing) required.
    • No periodic error.
    • No backlash.
    • Exceptional TPoint™ pointing and tracking results from fewer calibration points which saves time.
    • 0.02 arcsecond resolution extended temperature range absolute on-axis encoders operate from –40° C to +80° C.
    • If you skip absolute on-axis absolute encoders now, they can be purchased and installed in the field later.
    • See the FAQ below to find out if absolute on-axis encoders are right for you.
  • Its telescope control system motor, power, and electronics cables are conveniently housed inside the mount to prevent snags.
  • Ample room to run additional through-the-mount cables.
  • Advanced MKS 6000 telescope control system lets you connect via USB-C, Ethernet, and Wi-Fi  (MKS 6000 Upgrade Kits will be available for earlier models).
  • Three high-power XT60 ports on the Instrument Panel.
  • The drop-in dovetail on the Versa-Plate™ (included) accepts most telescopes and makes installation simpler.
  • 48V DC power supply and PC-to-mount USB and Ethernet cables included.
  • Durable, fade-resistant red powder coating with black anodized finish; external components are machined aluminum alloy.

Software Specifications

  • Paramount’s unsurpassed pointing and tracking performance is made possible by its integrated TPoint™ modeling and ProTrack™ technologies. For more information about why accurate pointing is non-trivial, click here.
  • By employing TPoint’s calibration and telescope modeling tools, you’ll enjoy all sky pointing accuracies below 30 arcseconds RMS. Nothing outperforms that — and that’s without on-axis absolute encoders.
  • Operating in conjunction with TPoint™, ProTrack™ continuously updates the mount’s position in both axes to correct system-wide tracking errors including tube flexure, atmospheric refraction, polar misalignment, harmonic errors caused by evenly slightly misaligned encoders or the main gear, and more.
    • On-axis absolute encoders alone cannot correct those errors which exist with all telescopes. A properly applied telescope model is required to achieve superior tracking.
    • Even without on-axis absolute encoders, 5-to-10-minute unguided exposures are common with many enjoying up to 20 minutes.
    • For more information about the differences between motor-based and on-axis absolute on axis encoders, please see the FAQs.
  • Its included software is integrated into a single, easy-to-use, application consisting of TheSky™ Professional, TPoint™, Cameras+, Domes, Multi-OS+, and Weather modules. Enjoy the simplicity of controlling your cameras and astrophotography devices with one application. Its included TheSky™ Universal Bundle represents a $1,095 value.
  • Its Accurate Polar Alignment feature does not require pole visibility.
  • Compatible with Windows™, macOS™, and Linux (arm64 and x86_64 processors).
  • TheSky’s user-interface is consistent across all operating systems. You can install TheSky on multiple operating simultaneously on up to six computers per OS. Why paint yourself or your institution into a corner?

For more detailed information about the Paramount Series 6, please click here.

 

Clear

FAQs

On-axis Absolute Encoders vs. Motor-based Encoders.

Paramount's equipped with on-axis absolute encoders know where they are at all times.  Paramount's with incremental encoders (or motor-based encoders) know only how far they have moved since they were initialized using a nightly process called homing.

The crucial additional difference is that the on-axis absolute encoders are fitted directly to the mount axes themselves, bypassing the worm drives.  Paramount's with incremental encoders are fitted to the worms instead, which means that with incremental encoders alone, periodic errors in the worm drive show up in the tracking.  These mounts must be calibrated and corrected using a process called periodic error correction (PEC), which measures and records the repeatable gear train errors and removes them.  (TheSky features advanced, multi-harmonic PE detection and PEC calibration that minimizes periodic error in mounts with incremental encoders.)

For mounts with incremental encoders, homing re-zeros the encoders when precise sensors on each of the axes are reached. From then on, the incremental encoders are in effect delivering absolute readings.

However, the crucial additional difference remains, namely that the incremental encoder system is behind the worm drive, and periodic error correction is still required to get the best out of the RA tracking.

High-resolution on-axis absolute encoder technology is significantly more expensive than incremental encoders.

The short answer is, “it depends.”

Gear-driven Paramounts equipped with on-axis absolute encoders do not have periodic error, require no mechanical initialization (or homing), and the number of TPoint pointing samples needed for precision calibration is reduced.

These advantages expedite nightly setup, negate one-time periodic error training, and shorten the calibration process require to achieve spectacular pointing and tracking performance. However, the Paramount worm gear's uncorrected periodic error is low (below 7 arc seconds peak to peak), and, after a one-time PE training, periodic error correction (PEC) generally make it negligible. The Paramount without on-axis absolute encoders requires a nightly Find Home process that usually takes a minute or less to complete.

So, at least with Paramounts, periodic error is effectively in the noise, and homing straightforward.

What about pointing and tracking?

Without on-axis absolute encoders, Paramounts routinely produce 5-to-10-minute unguided exposures; many have reported 20 minutes. Also without on-axis absolute encoders, Paramount’s produce all-sky pointing accuracies at or below 30 arcseconds RMS (usually less than 15 arcseconds on fixed mirror telescopes).

Paramount’s exceptional software makes the above performance possible. TheSky Professional edition, in conjunction with TPoint™ and ProTrack™ the mount’s position is continually updated in both axes to correct system-wide pointing and tracking errors caused by tube flexure, atmospheric refraction, polar misalignment, harmonic errors from mis-centered encoders and/or worm gears, and more.

On-axis absolute encoders alone cannot correct these errors which exist with all telescopes. A properly applied telescope model is necessary to achieve superior pointing and tracking.

So are on-axis absolute encoders right for you?  Perhaps if you want to enjoy the conveniences mentioned above. And for many, that’s enough.  With that said, the optional on-axis 26-bit Renishaw absolute encoders with 0.02 arc second precision are the finest available and they operate in temperatures between +80°C and –40°C.

A new Paramount Series 6 feature is a redesigned through-the-mount power solution that uses XT60 power connectors. These connectors are commonly used for recharging batteries in e-bikes, RC cars and drones. They also excel at supplying power to astronomical equipment.  Rated at 500V up to 30A (15KW maximum), they accept 12 AWG wires, and can provide sufficient power to all the direct-current astronomical devices on the telescope.

Yes. The latest information about MKS 6000 Upgrade Kits is available at https://www.bisque.com/6K.

No. The Paramount Series 6 models have been redesigned to accept the Renishaw absolute rotatory encoders. The Paramount ME II, which presently uses tape encoders, is the only mount that can be upgraded with absolute on-axis encoders.

Yes.  Paramount Series 6 mounts are available with optional on-axis absolute ring encoders.  The encoders can be installed at the time of purchase, or purchased separately and installed later in the field.

No. TheSky software, required to control the Paramount, issues autoguiding corrections directly to the control system using Software Bisque's exclusive Direct Guide™ autoguiding technology.  This eliminates the need for camera relays, autoguider ports and failure-prone autoguider cables.

Third-party automation software can access Direct Guide through TheSky’s scripting interface.

Yes, all Paramount mounts come with Software Bisque’s Universal bundle that includes:

  • TheSky Professional edition
  • Cameras+ module
  • Domes module
  • TPoint™ module
  • Weather module
  • Multi-OS+ module to install TheSky on macOS™, Ubuntu™ Linux (ARM64), Ubuntu™ Linux (x86_64), and Windows™ operating systems.

No, Paramount Series 6 models, only, can accept the on-axis absolute ring encoders.  On-axis ring encoders cannot be installed on the Paramount MYT classic, Paramount MX classic, Paramount MX+ or Paramount ME II mounts.

Note that on-axis absolute tape encoders can be installed on the Paramount ME II, and the MKS 6000 is compatible with both ring and tape encoders.

At this time, Software Bisque does not presently offer a Paramount trade-in program.

See the Paramount Lubrication Video for details how to lubricate gear-driven Paramount mounts.  (Log in required.)

PSU extension cables can be purchased from Amazon and other retailers.  See this Amazon product for specifications.

Description

The coolest feature of our new Series 6 mounts is that they’re Paramounts.

While the new Paramount Series 6 refinements are important, they pale in comparison to the highly desirable results that Paramounts are already known to deliver even without absolute encoders: all-sky pointing accuracy below 30 arcseconds and unguided exposures as long as 20 minutes.1

That extraordinary performance would be impossible without Paramount’s integrated software. TPoint™ and ProTrack™ dynamically update the mount’s position across both axes to correct system-wide errors caused by tube flexure, atmospheric refraction, polar misalignment, mis-centered encoders and/or worm gears, and more.

While the optional on-axis absolute encoders eliminate periodic error, TPoint™ telescope modeling with ProTrack™ is required to correct all the errors mentioned above.

Paramounts routinely deliver unsurpassed pointing and tracking accuracy — with or without on-axis absolute encoders.  Paramounts are also known for their reliability and straightforward operation. They just go, night after night, as it should be!

Order yours today and enjoy owning a Paramount Series 6, the world’s finest robotic German equatorial mount.

15- to 10-minute unguided exposures are more common. To see an example photograph composed of multiple 20-minute unguided exposures, please click here.

 

Additional information

Weight 54 lbs
Dimensions 20 × 19 × 10 in
Encoders

Motor-based encoders, On-axis absolute encoders

  • Paramount’s unsurpassed pointing and tracking wouldn’t be possible without its TPoint™ and ProTrack™ software.
  • By employing TPoint’s calibration and telescope modeling tools, you’ll enjoy all sky pointing accuracies at or below 30 arcseconds RMS. Nothing outperforms that — and that’s without on-axis absolute encoders.
  • Operating in conjunction with TPoint™, ProTrack™ continuously updates the mount’s position across both axes to correct system-wide tracking errors including tube flexures, atmospheric refraction, polar misalignment, harmonic errors from mis-centered encoders and/or worm gears, and more.
  • On-axis absolute encoders alone cannot correct such errors which exist with all telescopes. A properly applied telescope model is necessary to achieve superior tracking.
  • Without those encoders, 5-to-10-minute unguided exposures are common with many enjoying up to 20 minutes.
  • For more information about what encoders can and cannot do, please see the FAQ below.
  • All the included software is integrated into a single, easy-to-use, application consisting of TheSky™ Professional, TPoint™, Cameras+, Domes, Multi-OS+, and Weather modules. Enjoy the simplicity of controlling your cameras and astrophotography devices with one application.
  • It runs on Windows™, macOS™, and Linux.
  • Regardless of the operating system you run it on, it appears and operates identically. You can even switch between operating systems and its license allows up to six computers. Why paint yourself or your institution into a corner?
  • The included TheSky™ Universal Bundle represents a $1,095 value.

Printable Specifications

Limited Warranty

Included Items

The table below is the Paramount MX packing list.  For additional details, including shipping box dimensions and weights, see the Packing List section of the Paramount User Guide (please log in to view this document).

Included Item Description
Paramount™ MX+ Robotic Mount German equatorial mount body.
Versa-Plate™ Mounting Plate Attached to Paramount mount body during shipping, the Versa-Plate telescope mounting plate securely holds your telescope. Use either the integrated Losmandy D dovetail or the grid of mounting holes to attach telescope mounting rings.
USB and Ethernet Cables
  • 4.6 m (15-foot) USB Type A to USB-C cable.
  • 4.6 m (15-foot) CAT 6 Ethernet cable.
Power Supply Unit (PSU) Input: 100-240V AC ~50/60 Hz. Output: 221 W max. 48V DC 4.6A max.
PSU Cable 6-ft. long power cable with a NEMA 5-15 male plug.
Hand Controller with Joystick Hand paddle includes lanyard, variable rate switch, integrated red-light flashlight, integrated joystick for homing and “at the telescope” control
Counterweight Shaft The 16 in. (41 cm) long x 1.5-in. stainless-steel counterweight shaft holds up to six 9 kg (20 lb.) counterweights.
Counterweights Two 9 kg (20 lb.) stainless steel counterweights are included and can balance about 18-22 kg (40-50 lb.) of instruments.

Heavier payloads will require more counterweights. You may need to purchase additional counterweights if your imaging system weighs more than about 22 kg (50 lb.).

Counterweight Safety Knob This knob is installed at the end of the counterweight shaft to prevent the counterweights from sliding off.
Printed Paramount User Guide The 200+ page user guide contains in-depth instructions for setting up and using your Paramount ME II mount.
Printed Paramount Software Quick Start The quick start guide helps get your software installed and serial numbers registered.
TheSky™ Universal
bundle
TheSky™ Universal bundle includes TheSky™ Professional with TPoint™, Cameras+, Domes, Multi-OS+, and Weather modules. The Multi-OS+ module lets you switch among
multiple operating systems, including macOS™, Windows™, Ubuntu™ Linux (x86_64 and ARM64 architectures). All conveniently integrated with a single look and feel across all platforms.
Through the Mount Cable Tie One 12-inch plastic cable tie that can be used to help run cables through the mount.
Hex Key Set Thirteen piece Imperial hex key set.
Strain Relief USB Cable Kit USB extension cable and cable clip protect the control system’s USB port.

Paramount MX Documentation

Technical Documents

Paramount MX Technical Drawings

Product Reviews and Production Notes

The original Paramount MX (shipped between July 2011 and July 2014) was reviewed in the following article.  Click here to read Dennis Di Cicco’s review of the original Paramount MX Robotic Telescope Mount in the July, 2012 issue of Sky & Telescope Magazine.

Paramount MX Production Notes

April 2023

  • Paramount MX 6 introduced at NEAF.

July 2014 – March 2023

  • The Paramount MX+ shipped after July 2014 include the following improvements and modifications:
    • Upgraded DC servo motors: The Paramount MX+ now employs the identical long life, high-torque, brushless servo motors that are used in the Paramount ME II and Paramount MYT.
    • Increased payload capacity:  The Paramount MX+ can carry up to 100 lb. (45 kg) of equipment, or 200 lb. (90 kb) instruments plus counterweights.
    • Faster maximum slew speeds: Optional higher maximum slew rates of up to 10 degrees per second.  An optional, higher wattage power supply is sold separately. To accommodate the larger motors, the original Paramount MX mechanical three position switch has been replaced with a two position switch that places the axis in balance and track mode.  Each axis also includes a separate mechanical knob that allows it to be locked during transport.
    • Improved serviceability:  Adjustments to the worm and gear “cam stop” mechanism can be made without removing the worm block covers.  
    • Improved through the mount cabling customizability: The rear panel on the hour angle axis includes three L-COM keystone modules that can be used add pass through cable connections for your through the mount cabling.
  • From November, 2022 to April 2023, the Paramount MX+ included the following modification:
    • The left keystone module located on the rear panel on the hour angle axis has been replaced with a male XT60 power connector.  These connectors are rated to carry up to 500V at 30A and can accept up to 12 AWG wires.

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