Losmandy

Losmandy, also known as Hollywood General Machining, is a name well known to the amateur community because it has been producing excellent GEMs since the 1980s. Today, Losmandy's reputation rests on three mounts: a medium, the GM8; a heavy, the G11; and a monster, the Titan.

It is probably misleading to refer to the GM8 ($2,495.00) as a medium mount since its stated payload capacity, 30 pounds, is considerably higher than that of the CG5s and Great Polarises. This is a beautiful mount finished in black anodizing and equipped with all stainless steel hardware. It is a step up in both capacity and in appearance, not just from the CG5 but also from the Vixens. Is the beauty skin deep? Not at all. The 180-tooth aluminum gearing system does a good if not perfect job, and coupled with the PPEC provided by the mount's Gemini go-to system, the GM8 makes an impressive imaging platform for a CCD-equipped C8.

The G11 ($3,200) provides 60 pounds of OTA handling at a relatively modest price increase over the GM8. Due to this payload rating and the mount's robust construction, it is able to handle a C14 without a problem, at least for visual use. This weight handling does not come at a huge cost in mount weight, either, with this

GEM's head, which weighs 36 pounds, actually slightly lighter than the Atlas. The G11 has been a long-time favorite of amateurs, and there is little to complain about. The only criticism of it is that Losmandy needs to consider updating the electronics. The Gemini go-to system, provided by a third party, works, but it is not overly user friendly—just the opposite. Performance-wise, the G11 is a good bet. Although its gear error is usually not worlds better than that of the Synta or Vixen mounts, it is more than good enough for imaging, and the build quality of the mount is noticeably better than that of the other makes.

A C14 will ride on a G11, but like the similar Celestron CGE, is borderline for imaging with that fat CAT. If a C14 or an even larger OTA is contemplated, the Titan ($7,000) is a very economical solution as big GEMs go and pushes the possible payload up to 100 pounds, more than enough for a fully tricked-out C14 or Meade 14. Construction-wise, the Titan is similar to its little brothers, black anodizing and stainless steel, but everything has been upsized, which accounts for the GEM head's considerable weight of 68 pounds. The drive gears are 270-tooth aluminum and provide good accuracy, similar to that of the G11. Like the G11 and the GM8, the Titan relies on the Gemini system, and that is the only facet of this mount that is less than "Titanic."

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