CGE1400 on my Scopebuggy
Scopebuggy $269 www.scopebuggy.com
As Editor of Cloudy Nights I have countless pieces of equipment
in my garage. I'm also fortunate enough to work with authors on their equipment
review submissions. This gives me a unique vantage point on the Astronomy
equipment scene. Periodically a company comes with with a simple product that
solves a longstanding problem. An example of this is the Lymax SCT cooler.
A simple $100 device that halves the cool down time of all cats, great or
The Scopebuggy is one such product. In a nutshell, the Scopebuggy
is a $260.00 platform "cart" that allows the owner to pull their
large SCT, EQ mounted scope or large dob outside in one trip. If this catches
your interest, read on for the details because it's all good.
Parts and Pieces
Per the picture above, the Scope Buggy consists of "T"
shaped adjustable platform connected to (3) 10" inflated tires. The front
bar is "goose necked" and connects to the front wheel which is the
steering wheel. Unlike the other two wheels, the front wheel can turn or pivot
in any direction. You "steer" the Scopebuggy by pulling or turning
the front wheel in the direction you wish to go in.
Connected to the axels of the front wheel is a long T-handled
steel bar. To move the Scopebuggy you pull it along just like a kid with a
wagon. The reason the pull handle is a bar instead of a chain or rope becomes
obvious when you pull it down the first slope. The 200lbs of CGE1400 would
simply roll over the owner on a downwards slope if the pull handle was a chain.
The solid bar allows the owner to control the rate the Scopebuggy goes down
a slope. In other words, the owner pushes back on the bar to slow the Scopebuggy
if it picks up speed down the slope.
The back two wheels are attached to two separate bars. These
two bars slide into the top of the "T" shaped main bar. This gives
the owner the flexibility to fix the width of the back bar to exactly match
the tripod or dob feet being placed on it. Obviously an 8" SCT tripod
will have a smaller footprint then a CG1400 and the owner can adjust the bars
to the width they need.
The goose necked bar slides onto the main T bar and is bolted
into place. Scopebuggy will also send an extension bar that fits here in case
you have a really giant tripod (16" LX200). This extension bar is also
needed if you prefer to view with the legs of your tripod fully extended.
The tripod or dob "feet" sit in circular holders,
one on each axel. These holders float on the bar and are adjustable by just
sliding them back and forth. While it's hard to tell from the photo above,
the holder is right underneath the orange tip of my tripod leg. Right next
to the leg holder is a large bolt. Each axel has one of these bolts and they
are used to level the Scopebuggy once it's in position. Since my lawn is relatively
flat, I've never used the leveling bolts.
Larry from Scopebuggy has a tip for those who need precise polar
alignment. On the first night out get a precise polar alignment. Next, thread
the leveling bolts down into the lawn so they pierce the grass. Lastly, move
the scope buggy and mark each of the holes. Now each night the Scopebuggy
is used, simply line up the bolts with these holes for a precise polar alignment.
To get a perspective on the size of the 10" tire, the photo
above has a 24mm Konig next to it. Upon unpacking the Scopebuggy, I almost
fell over when I pulled out the first tire.. Pictures don't do them justice
- they are huge! The reason these tires are so large is they are intended
for outdoor use. The bigger the tire the larger the obstacle one can pull
the scope over.
How easy is it to pull?
The photo above shows my 6 year old daughter pulling 200lbs
of CGE1400 around my garage. On a flat and frictionless surface, a child can
pull a huge scope around. Once you hit grass, it becomes harder to pull. My
daughter can't pull it across my lawn but I'm able to pull it without any
problems. Larry at Scopebuggy tells me they tested how high one wheel has
to be before the scope tips. Their test results came back with the 16"
figure. What this means is one wheel must be 16" higher then the other
two before the scope tips. My own informal and unexpected tests with my CGE1400
scope put this figure at 4". My guess is the tests Scopebuggy performed
was on a perfectly weight centered scope such as a LX200.
Larry recommends a bungy cord between the tripod main brace
and the scope buggy. This is a $.50 safety precaution in case something comes
unbalanced. This can happen if you don't have the RA locked and the OTA swings
How well does the Scopebuggy work?
The Scopebuggy surpassed my expectations. My first reaction
was "where have you been all my life?". Prior to using the Scopebuggy
I needed three heavy trips to get my CGE1400 setup.
Now I pull the whole thing out in one easy trip. Here comes
the good part. You know those evenings when you aren't sure whether it will
clear enough to view? Well, in the past I wouldn't pull out the CGE1400 as
it was too much effort to make the gamble. With the Scopebuggy I pull the
CG1400 out each night it *might* be clear right before dinner. If it clouds
up, no big deal, I just pull it back in. The net result is I'm getting a lot
more observing time in with my CGE1400. Now, as much as I like my smaller
scopes, there is nothing like cooled down big aperture for a satisfying night's
Scopebuggy, not just for SCTs
The Scopebuggy isn't just for SCTs. It can be used for any EQ
mounted scope or a dob. Larry from Scopebuggy was good enough to send me some
photos from happy Scopebuggy owners.
Meade 16" EQ Mounted Newtonian
Dob on a Scopebuggy
Particle Wave pier on the Scopebuggy
After three weeks of use I found two minor problems with the
Scopebuggy. The first has to do with the pull rod. The end of the pull rod
floats on top the axel pins off the front wheel. Since it's not retained
by screws, one side will occasionally fall off the axel pin when pulling
the Scopebuggy around a sharp corner. Larry at Scopebuggy reports the first
generation Scopebuggsy had the pull rod screwed onto the axel pin. Customer
feedback of innocent owners tripping over the attached pull rod in the dark
prompted them to change the design. I found out on my first night with the
Scopebuggy how hard it is to see the black pull rod in the dark. For those
wondering, I'm fine and the 35mm Panoptic landed on soft grass.
The second problem is the front wheel can bind against one side
of the retaining yoke when taking sharp corners. This minor issue has already
been fixed in current production models of the Scopebuggy. A bushing is now
installed on that one side of the yoke which prevents the wheel from binding.
In fact, the good folks at Scopebuggy are shipping these out to current owners..
Nice customer support!
Scopebuggy is a simple solution to a very longstanding problem
among amateur astronomers - how to easily setup your large telescope. Up to
this point most astronomers had different sized telescopes. Large telescopes
for when you planned to observe for long periods of time and small telescopes
for all other sessions. Using the Scopebuggy, setting up your large telescope
takes as little time and effort as setting up your small telescope.
Additionally, the Scopebuggy allows those who were unable to
physically move a larger telescope to now own and enjoy them. If you have
a bad back or are not physically fit, not to worry. Scopebuggy allows the
smallest or weakest of us to own as large a telescope as we want.
Lastly, we all know how we feel at 1:00 AM, frozen stiff from
observing and groaning at the thought of breaking down our large scope and
hauling it back in. Now, it's as simple as pulling a wagon across your yard.
I can't think of a more helpful and needed product for those
of us who own large telescopes but lack the permanent observatory to leave
it setup in.