Paramount ME Web Site
The Paramount ME's advanced dual-axis telescope motion control system, called the "MKS 4000" includes the following standard features.
Autoguider input port.
Focuser input port.
Brushless DC servomotors. Brushless DC servo motors are designed so that all moving parts are on bearing surfaces. If your mount is used for survey astronomy all night, every clear night, no other type of motor is sufficient. Lesser mounts use motors with "brushes" that don't have nearly the life expectancy of brushless DC servomotors and are not designed to be operated for long periods at the (relatively slow) sidereal rate.
DC servomotors provide fast slew speeds and consistent torque at all slew rates. The maximum slew and tracking rates are 3.5 degrees per second in the right ascension axis (note that periodic error correction is not possible at high tracking rates) and 5 degrees per second in the declination axis. The gear-reducer and worm-block design of the Paramount ME are extremely efficient so that little power is lost between the motor and the telescope drive. Though good balance is always recommended, the Paramount ME has no problem slewing or tracking when several foot-pounds out of balance. You'll spend less time fiddling with the telescope and more time acquiring data.
Permanent periodic error correction (programmable) with up to eight-order polynomial curve fitting via TheSky6, for smooth PEC correction. Software Bisque's PrecisionPEC (sold separately) makes recording the ideal PEC curve for your mount simple.
AutoHome™ homing capability (to better than one arcsecond resolution) with built-in sensor circuitry on each axis ensure that the mount always knows its orientation (after an initialization process called "homing"), even after power failure.
Configurable park position.
Audible home position indicator and a separate "error" sounds if the mount cannot slew (due to an out of balance payload, obstruction, or other error condition).
56-bit of internal precision. What does this mean? The right ascension and declination motors can be run from 0 to 4000 rpm and virtually anywhere in between, providing precise tracking, rapid slewing. This gives you the ability to track on comets, asteroids and even fast- or slow-moving objects such as LEO satellites or any object that moves above or below the sidereal rate.
Belt-driven research-grade gears, the Paramount ME has backlash so small it is difficult to measure (typically less than two arcseconds in both axes. Autoguiding calibration is always a snap with this “no-slop” system.
USB and/or serial port communication interface (special USB driver maps as the next logical serial port). This means that no USB-to-serial adaptor is required for USB-exclusive computers.
Temperature compensated oscillator with better than 10 parts per million to ensure accurate tracking over a wide temperature range.
Built-in thermistor for automatic slew speed adjustment through TheSky6 based on ambient temperature.
Soft "reboot" capability. This means that the control system can be restarted through software and does not have to be manually turned off, then on.
Faster, more capable internal processor.
The total number of electronic components has been reduced by over 30% (compared to the earlier MKS 3000 control system) for a more reliable (that is, the fewer the number of components, the less prone to component failure) system.
The internal flash RAM is upgradeable without the need to set DIP switches. This makes future firmware upgrades simpler.
New expansion connector with 2 generic purpose input/output ports for future use.
Current limited slews. This means that if the mount slews into a stationary object (observatory roof, latter, etc.), the slew is immediately terminated.
Tracking Minor Planets
Can your telescope do this?
This 60 second unguided exposure of minor planet 1999 KW4 was acquired during the RTMC on May 26th, 2001 using a Paramount, C-11 OTA and an SBIG ST-9E.
To acquire this image, the Paramount was slewed to the minor planet and the necessary dual-axis tracking rates were computed and automatically set by TheSky to follow this rapidly-moving near earth asteroid. For sixty seconds the Paramount tracked the minor planet (the bright circular object near the center of the image). Note the trailing background stars. Note that the minor planet is moving at different rates in both right ascension and declination.
Sample Video of Minor Planet 1999 KW4
This "video" (acquired at 2001 RTMC) was created by capturing 250 separate 10-second exposures of minor planet 1999 KW4 by scripting the control of the camera attached to the Paramount using the Orchestrate scripting software. Notice that the minor planet is moving so rapidly that even the individual 10-second exposures show movement, or "streaking," so that the minor planet itself appears slightly elongate.
1999KW4.avi (2.3 MB AVI movie)
1994KW4.mov (450 KB QuickTime movie)
Animation courtesy Gray Fox Observatory, Phoenix, AZ.
The following animation was made by capturing successive exposures with the Paramount GT-1100 while tracking comet Linear (C-14 with an SBIG ST-9E at f/5, 1.5 arcseconds per pixel).
Comet Linear.avi (255 KB AVI movie)
Comet Linear.mov (139 KB QuickTime movie)