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which light mount for ST80?

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#1 tcat

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 01:56 PM

I want to mount my ST80 onto something better then a photographic tripod which it is on now but have been going around and around as to which type of mount to get. I like the Astro-Tech Voyager for its light weight and load capacity but $299 seems like a lot to spend, especially when I add shipping cost + dovetail plate + mounting rings (my old ST80 just has the 1/4-20" mounting post) . For another $240 I could get a new Orion Astroview 120ST, bigger scope and mount included. I am also considering an EQ-1 or EQ-2 GEM but not sure how stable they are and how easy to use. The main consideration is weight (bad back), then stability of the mount (especially when viewing at the zenith), and finally the height of the eyepiece (stooping to view is no fun for me either) . Has anyone else faced the same mount choices for a good grab-and-go short tube refractor, and if so, which way did you go? I realize that altizimuth and gem mounts differ greatly in their operation and both have their advantages and disadvantages. The GEM approach seems like a bit of overkill for a short scope with a wide field of view. What would you do? My application is 95% star gazing, 5% terrestrial viewing (which is adequately handled by my photo tripod).

Thanks for reading.

Clear skies,
Tom

#2 Frank Luke

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 04:13 PM

Tom, I've sent you a private message regarding your question.

#3 KWB

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 05:06 PM

If you are really strapped for cash an EQ1 mount will work and can be used in the alt/az mode easy enough. I'm presently using one with a 90mm Mak. With a RDF and non-Hyperion sized eyepieces,this mount has fairly decently stabilty with an OTA no longer or heavier than the ST80. IMO this mount will only effectively support a telescope that weighs no more than about 3 and a half pounds. I do like the slow motion controls. My complete EQ1 mount cost $20.00 so that's why I'm using it.

I think there are considerably better alternatives for your widefield scope than the EQ1 but they require more investmest. A better mount like the Vixen Portamount or AT Voyager will probably support your next upgraded refractor,like say a nice AT or WO 80mm ED refractor. To me that's a good investment in my future in this hobby.

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#4 tcat

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 08:47 PM

Kenny,

The Vixen Portamount and AT Voyager are my prime contenders right now. There is indeed a good chance I may want to upgrade to a better refractor one day though I think the ST80 is one of the most underrated little scopes around. Thanks for your comments on the EQ-1 stability and the picture. I certainly would buy one for $20 too.

Clear skies,
Tom

#5 Lane

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 09:05 PM

Let me warn you that the AT Voyager's up and down push-to performance is not very good, not a very smooth motion at all, it tends to stick and then jump repeatedly as you move it. Side to Side push-to motion is very smooth though and so are the slow-mo controls. Not a big issue since I primarily use the slo-mo controls, but something to be aware of if push-to performance is important to you.

#6 tcat

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 09:14 PM

I had not heard about the push-to performance being jumpy before, Lane, thanks. The Sky and Telescope review made its performance sound almost too good to be true. What weight of scope are you pushing on it? Prehaps it is a balance issue?

Thanks,
Tom

#7 Gene Baraff

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 09:23 PM

I'm using an EQ1 for my ST80. The slo-mo cables are realy great for tracking, and the set up is certainly one-hand portable.

You won't be able to observe at zenith standing up. An observing chair will be necessary there. But away from zenith, you may be able to get away standing up. (I prefer sitting down, zenith or fairly low, not just with this combo, but with my other scopes too.)

Gene Baraff

#8 Gene Baraff

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Posted 02 June 2009 - 09:23 PM

I'm using an EQ1 for my ST80. The slo-mo cables are realy great for tracking, and the set up is certainly one-hand portable.

You won't be able to observe at zenith standing up. An observing chair will be necessary there. But away from zenith, you may be able to get away standing up. (I prefer sitting down, zenith or fairly low, not just with this combo, but with my other scopes too.)

Gene Baraff

#9 rmollise

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 06:43 AM

I want to mount my ST80 onto something better then a photographic tripod which it is on now but have been going around and around as to which type of mount to get. I like the Astro-Tech Voyager for its light weight and load capacity but $299 seems like a lot to spend, especially when I add shipping cost + dovetail plate + mounting rings (my old ST80 just has the 1/4-20" mounting post) . For another $240 I could get a new Orion Astroview 120ST, bigger scope and mount included. I am also considering an EQ-1 or EQ-2 GEM but not sure how stable they are and how easy to use.


Can't address how easy one will be for you to use, but the ST80 is just fine on the EQ-1...

You can read my thoughts about ST80 mounts here:

http://uncle-rods.bl...ese-scopes.html


#10 tcat

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 07:44 AM

Thanks for the link, Uncle Rod! You have, at last, given the humble ST80 due respect for the little scope that could. And you have me rethinking the little EQ-1 mount as prehaps just what I need. Prehaps I have put off learning how to use a GEM long enough.

It is ironic that your first view through the 60mm Unitron set you against small refractors for a bit. My first view through a "real" telescope was exactly the same model of Unitron, right down to the Unihex rotary eyepiece holder, and it started my love affair with the refractor. I was smitten! But then, I was easily impressed at age 12. It was enough for me to give up a years worth of allowance for the even smaller 40mm Unitron, a whole $75! My first view of that beautiful telescope when I opened that fitted wooden case is still burned into my mind these 50+ years later. And even today, any refractor I buy has to be white, homage I suppose to my beloved little Unitron which started me on a lifelong love of stargazing.

So thanks again for the good read, Uncle Rod! You have filled this morning with pleasant memories.

Clear skies,
Tom

#11 tcat

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 07:54 AM

I appreciate your remarks on the little EQ-1, Gene. It fits nicely with Uncle Rod's favorable review of the EQ-1/ST80 coupling. I think many withhold favorable comments of inexpensive equipment fearing derision from the upper end afficionados. I say, just take the ST80 out under dark skies and be prepared to be surprised.

Clear skies,
Tom

#12 EdZ

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 10:16 AM

I'd recommend the Universal Astronomics Microstar basic. You can mount it on top of your current tripod, so don't need any other tripod investment and its smooth fluid motion with an 80mm scope is a pleasure. Weight- about 1 pound.

See this post describing the UA Microstar with Megrez 80.

edz

#13 tcat

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Posted 03 June 2009 - 12:13 PM

Edz:

I decided it was about time I learned to use a GEM so I ordered the EQ-1 today. The favorable comments on this little mount from other responders here helped me to finally make a decision. Your solution sounds attractive too. You can't beat a one minute setup time or the light weight. Thanks for responding.

Clear skies,
Tom

#14 csa/montana

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Posted 04 June 2009 - 11:47 AM

Let me warn you that the AT Voyager's up and down push-to performance is not very good, not a very smooth motion at all, it tends to stick and then jump repeatedly as you move it. Side to Side push-to motion is very smooth though and so are the slow-mo controls. Not a big issue since I primarily use the slo-mo controls, but something to be aware of if push-to performance is important to you.


I've had mine for over a year, & have not experienced "jumpy" up/down movements at all; very smooth on mine. :confused:

#15 John Huntley

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 05:22 PM

I've found that the humble AZ-3 mount works well with ST80's and ED80's as well. OK you have to re-set the slow motions motions from time to time but overall I found the AZ-3 a decent mount for lightweight OTA's at a budget price.

John SW England

#16 deezdrama

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 05:41 PM

i think for a small short refractor the at voyager would be ideal. My motions where a bit sticky- even with no tension on either axis- but with a short refractor you can comfortably reach the slo-mo controls which do work well.

#17 KWB

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Posted 06 June 2009 - 05:44 PM

My experiences with the AZ-3 haven't been as positive. I agree it works with a Synta F/5 but well would not be one of my choices in descriptive terms. IME it was an overall failure with the Celestron 80ED-too much scope for the mount.






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