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Half Hitch v. Stellarvue M6 v. DM

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#1 buckeye_hunter

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:18 PM

I have been scratching my head for the last couple weeks about what I want to do for a mount for my SV102DN. I currently have a very nice Vixen Super Polaris, but I would like to find something that is compatible with SkyCommander or other DSC.

It is difficult to find much info on the M6. What I like about it is the capabilty to mount 2 'scopes. Stellarvue site says each 'scope can weigh up to 25 lbs. Almost enough to mount my 10" SCT OTA (about 30 lbs) with my refractor. That would be ideal...Partnering the wide field of the refractor with the magnification of the SCT.

The Half Hitch and DM both seem to be wonderfully engineered. I really like the way the Half Hitch elevates the 'scope. There are enough reviews and posts about these that I am sure either would be great for me. I can't justify buying a new DM though, and they do not come up for sale too often.

The clearance that Half Hitch is running on the remaining preproduction and Mark II mounts is inviting.

I have never touched or viewed firsthand any of these mounts. I also do not have experience with DSC. Is SkyCommander the way to go? Am I missing something?

One more thing that plays on my mind are the load capacities of the Half Hitch and DM. While I have no present intentions of catching aperature fever, what if I do get inflicted? Would I have to find a new mount?

All opinions appreciated.

Clear Skies and Peace Out!

Bob Hart

#2 ottovonrotton

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 07:57 AM

Hello all, I have a Stellarvue M6 setup for about 2 years now ( I get out about 5 times a year to ob.). I love the mount but it drives me nuts for astrophoto. It definitly can handle weight. I load a 127/1200mm refractor on one side (30lbs) and a 80ED (20lbs) on the other and I have had a 10" dob (30lbs) on it with the 127. The mount has been replaced now with the M7 and they seem to relocated the knobs. It appears to be the same. You could also look at giro alot of people use them as well.

OttoVonRotton

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#3 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 11:22 AM

Hi Bob,

I have both Half Hitch and DM-6.
DM-6/SkyCommander for WO FLT152 f/8 and Vixen VMC260L, Half Hitch/SkyCommander for TSA-102S.

They work as advertised. SkyCommander is very easy to use.

If your OTA is long, Half Hitch elevation may not be enough without extender to use comfortably at zenith
as well as it is hard to reach Az/Alt control. You need longer arm :)

The same goes to DM-6. 18 inch Handle is too short. I need more like 24 inch handle to use comfortably.

Here is Half Hitch setup. I am still working on it, I've been talking to Charles at HalfHitch to make it better.
Oberwerk Surveyor Tripod, DM-4 extension + Half Hitch + TSA102S:
Posted Image

WO EzTouch tripod + Half Hitch + TSA-102S:
Posted Image

G11 Tripod + DM-6 extension + DM-6 + Vixen VMC260L:

Posted Image

G11 tripod + DM-6 extension + DM-6 + FLT 152:
Posted Image

G11 FHD Tripod + DM-6 extension + DM-6 + TSA-102S:

Posted Image

Good luck in mount hunting.

Tammy

#4 SteveC

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 12:13 PM

Hi Tammy,

I know little about the Half Hitch, but why would you need a handle for the DM6?

#5 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 12:38 PM

Hi Tammy,

I know little about the Half Hitch, but why would you need a handle for the DM6?


Hi Steve,

I just don't like to touch OTA to move :)

Posted Image

The handle is just too short for me. Tom Peters told me that he can make longer one but I haven't placed an order yet.

Tammy

#6 Doug D.

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 01:25 PM

I own a HH pre-production mount and a HH II with DSC's and SkyCommander. I owned and sold my DM-6, which also was equipped with DSC's and the Sky Commander.

The DM-6 is a wonderful mount and I sold it only because it was quite heavy, and although it could handle a scope as large as my TOA130 or 140EDF (with the right set of legs) I pretty much decided that - given the weight and size of these scopes plus the DM6 - I might as well just use a GEM. Once that decision was made, the DM-6 was just overkill for my remaining scopes (i.e., a 105 and smaller).

The DM-4 is the obvious choice for the 105 but at that point I just wanted to try something different and the HH caught my eye. I purchased a pre-pro version at a great price with the reason being that I could see it up close and field test it. I now use it routinely for my SV50 (50mm) Solarscope and with a TV76. The 105 was a bit much for the pre-pro mount but that is what I was told by Charles from the beginning. It is the very essence of what grab and go should be, and mated to a set of Gitzo CF (GT2530 in this case), it is ideal for this purpose with my smaller refractors.

I was quite impressed with the pre-pro mount and so I decided to purchase the higher capacity HH II for the 105mm - plus I wanted the DSCs. It is a wonderful mount from a variety of standpoints. What I really like about HH mounts - other design features aside - are the "slo mo" (not really slo-mo) controls. I know and appreciate the arguments that you don't need xy controls with a Discmounts and while "true", I prefer them, plain and simple but that is a personal preference and YMMV. The HH II easily handles my Traveler. The damping characteristics are excellent and the mount is highly rigid and solid - a lot of thought has gone into the design.

I have had no trouble viewing at Zenith with the 105EDF and HH II. My favorite legs for this mount is the Gitzo 5530s (or Berlebach UNI24 if weight is not an issue). The DSC's and SkyCommander in both the DM and HH work great. Having owned both types of mount I would say that the DM is probably the simpler to set-up and balance but not by much - and after you've got either set to your liking you are pretty much done.

Some may not like the "look" but the HH II is just a beautiful piece of machining and the tolerances are most impressive - they would have to be given the accuracy and rigidity (and most importantly - orthogonality for DSCs) of the HH II, the DM manages the same with those big bearing surfaces and the 2 axes very close together (beautifully simple design). I'm no machinist but after looking at and using a HH, I really have to ask myself how it can be made for what Charles charges. Yes, I know it is expensive but from a materials, machining and assembly standpoint - I don't have any problems justifying its worth.

Both mounts are "backlash" free, the DM by its very design and the HH by its tight tolerances and "Crayford-like" bearing surfaces. They are both great mounts and either DM-4 or HH II would be a nice match for your scope. The Lapides Modified Tak Teegul is also a very nice mount but DSCs are tougher to deal with and probably aren't going to be as accurate as on the DM or HH.

#7 SteveC

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:21 PM

Hi Tammy,

I know little about the Half Hitch, but why would you need a handle for the DM6?


Hi Steve,

I just don't like to touch OTA to move :)

Tammy


Well then, you don't want me around your scopes. I'm the touchy feelly type. ;)

#8 Waduino

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 12:11 AM

I'm wondering what would be the best alt-az mount for my TV85. I have a Porta on wooden legs, but it's still too jiggly for my liking. On the HH, how do you reach the slo mo controls? In my mind it seems awkward and without an obvious way to extend the knob/handle. The DM-4 seems more than fine, but I do like slo-mo controls. I've read very good comments about the Lapides-Teegul and seen slo-mo control knob extensions that look fine although you would turn them both with the same hand.
Thanks.
Wad.

#9 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 07:44 AM

Hi Wad,

Those are good points and questions. The HH II controls are quite close and don't extend far from mount, that is true. But they are comfortable to use nonetheless. I can actually rest my hand on the base of the mount and turn the az control even at high mags without much vibration (I track at high mag!). I believe Charles has talked about ways to extend (but I don't feel there is a need for me to extend the knobs - they are well placed as is). The HH Yahoo group has some photos files and a fair amount of discussion about this. I'll also attach some photos for you to give you an idea of control placement

The Teegul with extended knobs (from FocusKnobs.com) is also very comfortable and steady - it is not without backlash but this would be an important consideration for a focuser but not a slo-mo control IMHO. I'll see if I can find a photo of those as well. Unlike the HH, I do feel that the knobs on the Teegul benefit from extension and I use the 6" (I think) replacement knobs.

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#10 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 07:45 AM

and another with scope attached to show placement of alt knob...

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#11 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 07:46 AM

side view ....

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#12 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 07:48 AM

close-up Az knob and tensioner... note contact point of vertical control rod with base plate Az disk and Crayford-like bearing surface. Very tight tolerances.

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#13 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 07:50 AM

close-up of base, Az knob at back, bubble level and Az encoder box cover at right - note cable management and quality attention to detail, should give you a good idea overall. Industrial art, IMHO.. and its not a bad mount either, LOL.....!

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#14 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 08:06 AM

Still trying to locate a photo of the 105 on the Teegul with the replacement knobs but in meantime - here is the diminutive SV50 with BVs on the mount with stock knobs, complete overkill.... But tensioner mechanism works so well that it can handle a so obviously back-weighted but lightweight scope (imbalanced) with ease.

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#15 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:34 AM

While we're at it, here is a photo of my since departed DM-6 and TOA 130, aka "the beast". The mount handled the beast just fine but the DM legs (which are otherwise great performers on slightly less beastly scopes) weren't optimal. But a Berleback UNI24 fixed that....

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#16 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 09:44 AM

...and my since departed NP101 on the DM-6, with Mk V BVs (w/Pan 24s = heavy). While I'm sure a DM-4 could (and does) handle an NP101, in many ways I think this was a perfect mating. Am I feeling a tinge of remorse...?? you betcha ;)

Hopefully these photos will give you folks an idea of relative scale and mounting options - still can't find the photos of the 105 on the Tak with the extended knobs. If I do locate I'll post if anyone is interested.

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#17 Waduino

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 11:00 AM

Great photos! I don't want to highjack the thread.
I like the HH but form has to follow function, so I'll check out the Yahoo! group and see what people say about slo-mo knob placement and reach. Also, since the Lap-Teegul is somewhat less expensive and available used from time to time, I wonder if that is a more cost effective choice if one is not going with DSCs. The Teegul design though leaves me wondering about tripod clearance at high angles (but the OP didn't ask about the Teegul).
Wad.

#18 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 12:44 PM

On the HH, how do you reach the slo mo controls? In my mind it seems awkward and without an obvious way to extend the knob/handle.


Hi Waduino,

Charles at Half Hitch emailed me last night about "need longer arm" problem. He is reading CN :)

He said

There will be new motion control knobs that include clutched hubs into which you can insert extensions made from 1/8-inch hardwood dowel. You will be able to bring the motion controls near the focuser knob or wherever you find the most convenient location. A simple flick of the wrist will reset the travel. When not needed, simply pull out the dowels.


So he is working on solution.

With the setup that I use for planetary observation, to reach AZ knob, I need 31 inches, 28 inches for ALT knob.
When I have winter clothes on, I am touching the binoviewer when I try to reach AZ/ALT knobs. So the new control knob improvement is welcome for me.

It is very nice to be able to directly and promptly communicate with man/woman behind the product about issues.

Posted Image

Tammy

#19 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 02:03 PM

Wow Tammy - usually it is not having enough "in focus" for a BV that is a problem... Why do you need so much extension? I have pretty much the same set-up (Mark Vs, ZAO IIs & prism diagonal) but with a 105EDF.

I agree with you about being able to talk with the designer/manufacturer of your mount. In my experience both Charles at HH and Tom P. at DM are great to deal with.

#20 SteveC

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 04:10 PM

Hi Doug,

Thanks for taking the time to post the HH photos. It looks like an excellent mount. I hope they attend NEAF again this year, so that I can check it out.

#21 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 05:28 PM

Wow Tammy - usually it is not having enough "in focus" for a BV that is a problem... Why do you need so much extension? I have pretty much the same set-up (Mark Vs, ZAO IIs & prism diagonal) but with a 105EDF.

I agree with you about being able to talk with the designer/manufacturer of your mount. In my experience both Charles at HH and Tom P. at DM are great to deal with.


Hi Doug,

The long backfocus is due to Astro Physics BARCON/Baader FFC in front of T-2 Star Diagonal.

When I don't use Barlow lens, I don't (need to) use the extension tube.

Half Hitch, DiscMounts, they make good mounts and I'm happy with their products as well as their after-sale supports.

Tammy

#22 Doug D.

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 06:31 PM

Hi Doug,

Thanks for taking the time to post the HH photos. It looks like an excellent mount. I hope they attend NEAF again this year, so that I can check it out.


You're welcome Steve.

#23 buckeye_hunter

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Posted 18 February 2009 - 11:52 PM

UGH!!! I'm stuck...I have sold a bunch of my astronomy stuff to raise funds for a nice alt/az mount with DSC (without having to get my wife's permission), and find myself galaxies away from a decision on which mount to buy. At a certain point you just have to get on with it and realize that choosing a mount is not like choosing a wife or a dog (not sure I should have put those two in the same thought!)

Thanks for all the pics and comments on the HH and DM. I have been waiting to post until I had a clear question to ask or perhaps made a decision on a mount.

Doug, the pics of the HH show what a wonderful piece of engineering it truly seems to be. "Industrial art", as you put it, seems fitting. Same seems true of the DM, a minimalist's dream!

Tammy, does the extender take anything away from the stability of the system as a whole? As I said I have a 102mm refractor. My workhorse EP is a Meade 4000 14mm UWA (the "hand grenade"). I am wondering if the extension would put me over the limits of a HH. I note your pic with the HH, DM-4 extenion and the multiple EP holder. Do you feel like you are pushing the limits with this setup?

Mr. VonRotten, every time I get close to pulling the trigger on a HH I look at your Stellarvue M6 and imagine both my refractor and my 10" SCT partnered on the same mount. I like it! Seems that I might get more use out of the SCT if I didn't have to haul the additional tripod, super wedge and forks outside each time I wanted my light bucket. This setup gives up a little in the "grab and go" department, but seems like it would be a lot more portable than my SCT is presently. I haven't checked out the Giro mount yet.

I have talked to Charles, the owner and guru at HH. He has been absolutley honest and incredibly patient with my questions. He says that the difference between the preproduction models and the Mark II mounts, with my scope, would merely be a reduction in dampening time. I am admittedly a noob, but does a fraction of a second in dampening time really make that much difference? To me it seems like a minimal concern.

(Please understand that I have spent about 15 minutes rereading your posts and redirecting myself around the interent between each of the preceeding paragraphs in the hope that by the time I finish this post I might make a decision!)

Alas,

Clear Skies and Peace Out!

Bob Hart

#24 Doug D.

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:41 AM

Bob,

Maybe we haven't been that much help, LOL. It isn't an easy decision. Fact of the matter is, I have owned more than a half dozen different Alt/Az mount designs over the years and I never seem completely satisfied. After getting the HH II, I thought for sure I'd give up my Tak Teegul but I haven't been able to part with it yet. I still like to take it out and use it now and then (although admittedly, sometimes it is just because I like the attached eyepiece tray). And although I let go of the DM-6 because of changes in scopes, I miss it and every once in a while take a peek on Amart at the DM-4's..... who knows, I might pick one up some day. I guess I'm an Alt/Az junkie of sorts and a monogamous relationship just isn't in the cards for me - I'm never gonna be a one mount guy, what can I say?. But I should be clear - while I may like to fiddle with different mounts for different scopes, I wouldn't consider parting with my HH II anymore than I would consider parting with my Traveler, the scope I had in mind for the HH II. I guess I might consider it in future if Charles ends up with a HH IV, V or whatever, LOL - but even then I doubt it (I still have my pre-production HH for that matter).

I guess what I'm trying to say is that you've narrowed things down to some really nice mounts and in some sense, can't go wrong. But you might ultimately be looking at getting a couple of mounts over the long haul. I'm not familiar with the M6 but assuming its a great performer, it will give you the flexibility of 1 or 2 scopes without too much to give up in the portability department. On the other hand, do you really think you'll have that much interest in dragging both scopes out that often?

I don't think you would have any problem with your 102 plus hand grenade with the DM-4 extension column - it is rock solid (I had the extension with the DM-6, no flex at all). ....bottom line, I see no problem extending the HH II above the top of your tripod with the Discmounts DM-4 extension column just as Tammy has done. If you are thinking about a pre-pro HH vs. the HH II, however, I think you would be much happier with the HH II. The damping time difference may not seem like much but it also makes a difference in terms of wind and also how much it jiggles at high mags when you are using the x-y controls.

If I had to choose to own one mount and one mount only for my 105 - and I wanted ultimate portability AND performance, the use of slo-mo controls, accurate DSCs and a good looking, interesting mount to boot.... I think I'd unquestionably have to give the nod to my HH II. It is truly grab-and-go near-perfected (and I'm not sure anything will ever be perfect when it comes to Alt/Az, but that is probably just me....).

Doug

#25 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:36 AM

Tammy, does the extender take anything away from the stability of the system as a whole? As I said I have a 102mm refractor. My workhorse EP is a Meade 4000 14mm UWA (the "hand grenade"). I am wondering if the extension would put me over the limits of a HH. I note your pic with the HH, DM-4 extenion and the multiple EP holder. Do you feel like you are pushing the limits with this setup?


I think my setup is close to upper limit of Half Hitch Mount, the setup weights 16-17lb depending on what eyepiece/Barlow/extension tube and turret/binoviewer.

The setup needs perfect balance for stability and smoothness of Az/Alt control. Once balanced, it gives you very smooth handling. I think it is a little too sensitive for my liking but I'll learn to get used to it.

Depending on your observing habits (swapping eyepieces often etc), you may need to rebalance often.

Eyepiece turret definitely helps to avoid rebalancing even though it adds more weight. Caveat is that if you have very different weight eyepieces in turret holder, you may need to rebalance OTA when you turn the turret.

Well nothing is perfect. I just get used to it :)

Overall, I am satisfied HH/DM user.

Good luck :grin:

Tammy






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