You’re certainly welcome to evaluate other mounts, but they may not work with the PANOPTES software. Among the criteria you should look for:
- It should be possible to weatherproof the mount without obstructing its movement, else it won’t survive long.
- It must to be able to be completely controlled by the computer. For example, when the mount is turned on after a power failure, there can’t be any required human interaction.
- It needs to be able to carry a payload of at least 20lbs. You don’t want to the payload (camera box) to be heavier than the mount can reliably handle, else the aiming and tracking won’t be very good.
- The protocol for controlling the scope must be published.
One of the surprising things I learned during the process of building a PANOPTES unit is that the general advice when putting together an astrophotography system is that the equatorial mount should be on the order of one to two times the price of the telescope. In our case they’re about one-to-one (~$1200 for cameras and lenses, ~$1200 for mount).
If you do find another mount that you think is worth trying, please post about it on the forum to get some second opinions, especially about the computer interfacing.