EZ Gazer Binocular Chair Review
by Stephen Bosbach
This is not a long term use review, but a overview of the shortcomings of this design and an attempt to rectify some poor design choices. I had built my own binocular “chair” in the past, comprised of a very smooth swivel platform on which I put a small bean bag chair and A frame arms to hold a binocular. It worked quite well for me, but heavy and older adults had a difficult time getting out of the chair, and it wasn’t as light and portable as I would have liked.
As a caveat, I usually research my purchases much more thoroughly than I did this one, and the result was that weaknesses in the design were realized sooner than expected.
The chair design suffers from several design flaws. First, the bino support arms are pivoted off the top of the chair back. This pivot location is basically amplifying any slight movement by the observer in the chair. The weight of the binos are countered with a bungy cord, rather than counter weighted or controlled with a pneumatic arm. This is akin to countering your GEM mount with a spring instead of counter weights. With very low power and low weight it works, sort of, but as weight and power increase, the design becomes less usable.
The chair itself is the worst part of the design, using poor materials, sloppy assembly and compromised design. The chair legs at the bottom, are brought together to within 6” of each other in order to mount to the 6” bearing that allows the chair to swivel. Please try to imagine the instability when you tip the chair back with only 6” separation in the chair legs. Granted, they are fastened to the top of the bearing, which is fastened to the ground platform, but this narrowing of the base increases leverage forces here, creating bending forces in the material that shouldn’t occur.
The material the chair is made from is substandard aluminum and sloppily assembled. This caused the chair to break the first time someone at a star party tried to sit in it when it wasn’t perfectly positioned. AstroGizmos.com offered to refund my purchase price, but I opted to keep the chair and try to rebuild it into a functional binocular mount. The reinforced aluminum sleeves over part of the chair legs don’t go all the way to the pivot point, but are just short sleeves joining what looks like two weaker pieces of aluminum that form the leg. This is where the leg will break, at the point where the weaker aluminum leg enters the reinforcing sleeve. The chair designers obviously knew their material was too weak to hold up to the stress at that point. When this was taken apart, there was evidence of sloppy drilling too close to the end of the aluminum leg and repeat drilling, as if an error had been made and they just redrilled and used it anyway. This is where it broke.
Note the photo of the end of this material being squashed in a pair of standard 8" pliers. I'm no strong-arm, and had no trouble crushing this material. I tested this against a piece of antenna aluminum tubing of the same size and couldn't even dent the antenna tubing.
Other design shortcomings:
As built, if you mount a larger than 7x50 bino, it will not balance front to back on the mounting arm. This required rebuilding the attachment assembly so the binos would attach on the front rather than the back of the assembly. I have 10x70 Fujinons and this was the only way to get them close to balance. I also had to redrill the off the shelf angle bracket to get the binoculars closer to the balance point. This entire attachment assembly looks like it was robbed from Home Depot, replete with double washers as a tightening knob.
If you are sitting in the correctly assembled chair with your binos mounted and want to get up, the binos need to be pivoted up and out of the way. This moves the center of gravity to the rear and when you stand up the entire chair assembly falls over backwards. There just isn't enough diameter to the ground platform to keep the chair upright with any of the larger binoculars. It struck me that this chair might just work with a smaller pair of binoculars, but I could hand hold those. I'm buying the chair to hold something I can't hand hold.
The mounting arms that hold the binos are meant to slide in and out to compensate for the slight change in distance to the eye as they are lifted. This proved to be sticky and jerky, no mater how I set up the arms. This by itself would be a deal killer, as the binos can't be repositioned smoothly and without a great deal of effort. The included manual says a dry lubricant has been used on the arms, but I couldn't tell. They recommend Bostik Top-Cote as a dry lube, which was supposedly included and was not. This sounds like they are making up for an inappropriate choice in materials, and adding lubrication to make it work.
All in all, I would have to give the EZ Gazer a big thumbs down.
I have rebuilt the bino chair with my own turntable platform which uses a 12" dia. bearing and a beach chair from BeachStore.com (#21163, Super Lace-Up). This is a much stronger chair, and the legs now separate the full distance and lock in place at a separation of 21.5". I have adapted mounting the original mounting frame to this chair, but have counter weighted the assembly. It's still a compromise, and I'm not completely satisfied with the result.
I may end up going back to my original A frame mount, a la Couch Potato Telescope.