The mount arrived fully operational with no quality control issues. The Altitude and Azimuth control knobs are big and solid and very easy to work. The locking levers are very ergonomic and â€œdark friendlyâ€ (they are easy to find and use in the dark).
The first time I had it in my hands I (naturally) had to â€œplayâ€ with the new toy. As I turned the Azimuth knob for the first time â€“ I moaned. Thick grease! I immediately flashed back to the import GEM mount that I had a while ago and how I quickly changed out the thick grease for a lighter synthetic. I was initially disappointed but quickly changed my tune after I mounted the bigger scope on the mount and began to observe. It was then I realized that the thicker grease in this mount had a positive dampening effect on moving the scope at high power. The scope moved very smoothly as I was viewing Saturn at 300X. At least for this particular mount and its gear ratio, the thicker grease may be a very good thing. Iâ€™ll have to wait until November to see how it fairs in cold weather.
The mount easily handles the weight and length of the SV115 â€“ and with no counterweight! I recently went to a Star Watch that was held on a local soccer field. What we didnâ€™t know is that a scout troop was camping there that night too! I had tons of scouts looking through the scope (you can only imagine what my eyepiece looked like at the end of night). I had fun showing the bigger kids how to use the knobs of the mount. For the smaller ones I was able to get them to tell me to move the scope up, down, left or right to keep the target in the field of view. The gearing is very precise so I had no problem following their lead - and I had a LOT of laughs with them!
The locking knobs work very well. What I like most about them is that there are stops on the mount that prevent the locking knob from spinning around so locking and unlocking is simply a quick wrist movement. No play or backlash in the adjustment knobs. Viewing at Zenith was not a problem. I had the mount on a wooden tripod from Stellarvue and the two worked together very well. No noticeable vibration.
The other day my wife mentioned that there was a pair of bald eagles seen at our local park. On a whim, I grabbed the mount, tripod, SV115, 45 degree diagonal, Hyperion Zoom eyepiece and my wife and off we went. I never thought of using the mount (or the big scope) for terrestrial viewing but you should have seen the eagles! The mount worked exceptionally well and I have used it several times since for bird watching!
- Very Stable â€“ no problem handling my 115mm scope
- No counterweight needed
- Thick grease on gears â€“ works very well â€“ giving very smooth movement even when using high power
- Ergonomic knobs and levers
- Lightweight â€“ great for travel
- Unknown until November: Will the thick grease work well in cold temperatures?
CONSIDERATIONS FOR STELLARVUE:
- Make the Altitude and Azimuth gear shafts long on both ends so the user can have the choice to put the knob on either end of the shaft (more ergonomic options).
- Make a double mount version that can support a second telescope
- Provide optional long SLO-MO cables that extend well past the end of the OTA (donâ€™t hit it)
A very solid Alt-Az mount for larger aperture short-tube refractors. Yet still light enough to take on the plane or use as a grab and go mount.