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Stellarvue MGE or Half Hitch Mark III

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#1 JMW

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 09:23 PM

I have a Stellarvue 115T and I am looking for a better alt-az mount with
DSC computer. I am considering a MGE or Half Hitch Mark III mount.
Both can be be had with the Sky Commander computer and both are pretty new.
The Half Hitch will set me back a bit more but seems to have good reviews by
those who have it. I want something that is very stable and has smooth push to
and slow motion controls. My 115T weighs about 17.5 pounds when loaded
with rings, dovetail plate, diagonal and 17T4 eyepiece. Ignoring price, which
mount would give more satisfaction?

Jeff

#2 Preston Smith

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 11:00 PM

Hi Jeff,

I can't comment on the Half Hitch although it looks like a great mount.

Here's my initial review of the Stellarvue MG Mount:

Stellarvue MG Mount

#3 SATMAN

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 09:52 AM

Preston,
what type of attachent head is on the Stellarvue MGE mount Vixen style? like the Porta Mount or do you need an adapter? also with the Mount with built-in encoders will this work with the old Celestron Advanced Astromaster computer? I have one that is vintage and hardly used. :question:

#4 Preston Smith

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 04:42 PM

Preston,
what type of attachent head is on the Stellarvue MGE mount Vixen style? like the Porta Mount or do you need an adapter? also with the Mount with built-in encoders will this work with the old Celestron Advanced Astromaster computer? I have one that is vintage and hardly used. :question:


Hey Satman!

It's a Vixen style. Give Vic Maris a shout at Stellarvue on your Astromaster question. The website says the mount can take several different computers. Here's the link:

MG Mount

#5 Doug D.

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:29 PM

Jeff,

I can comment on the Half Hitch - I've posted about it several times before as well. I think you will find no smoother Alt/Az mount out there - period. It has an elegant design and is unmatched in terms of quality of machining, IMO. The HH III would be a great complement to a 115mm refractor. I have no experience with the MG but I do not doubt that it is a very nice mount in its own right. I've also owned and very much enjoyed a DM-6 and Tak Teegul with Lapides mod. But the HH occupies a unique niche in my view. My only reason in hesitating to recommend outright to any and all is price, although considering design, build quality, performance and after sale service - I think it is reasonable.

I think a few of the basic distinguishing features it has going for it (and that sets it apart from the others) include the "centering" of the OTA over the tripod versus off to the side. The tolerances of the bearing surfaces (drive discs and control shafts) that eliminate backlash and make for remarkably smooth slo-motion controls. A highly rigid design with excellent damping characteristics when mated with a top-quality set of legs. There are also several well thought out little features that add to overall enjoyment of the mount (e.g., clamp rails and quick release levers, fold up plate for the XP-4, finder bracket, balance trimmer, extension knobs with adjustable clutches).

It is simply an unusually nice mount. I can certainly recommend that you check it out some more if you think the price isn't out of your range.

Photo is view from the "business end" of my Half-Hitch II, which gives you an idea of the centered OTA (105 Traveler) and the unobtrusive design.

Doug

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#6 Doug D.

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:35 PM

Ok, couldn't resist one more...

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#7 SATMAN

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 06:05 PM

That is one fine telescope and mount!

#8 hudson_yak

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 07:04 PM

The manufacturer is now offering a stripped-down version of this mount for less money:

http://www.astromart...ified_id=642086

The overall size appears to be the same, though it looks like a few structural braces are omitted which presumably explains the smaller recommended scope size.

Mike

#9 JMW

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 07:12 PM

Doug and Preston, thanks for your replies. I am willing to wait a while to save up the extra cash.
I just don't want to do it twice. I will probably buy the half hitch without the tripod and put it
on an old but heavy CG5 tripod until I saved up the extra money for a rock solid but lighter wooden or
carbon fiber tripod. I don't want to have to wait for the scope to settle when I have my fingers on the
slow motion controls. I am currently using the voyager which was OK with a lighter scope, but I would
like something that is MUCH easier to push to the next object. I also want a mount that supports
DSC. I really enjoy the steadiness when the 115T is on my Atlas, but I think EQ mounts should be
used for an imaging platform, not visual.

Jeff

#10 Dragonwatcher

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 07:13 PM

The manufacturer is now offering a stripped-down version of this mount for less money:

http://www.astromart...ified_id=642086

Mike


But I'm not certain the Quarter Hitch is rated for the weight of a SV115T and it is explicitly for those not requiring the encoders/DSC.

#11 hudson_yak

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 07:16 PM

Yes, I was in the middle of amending my post about that. Was just mentioning it since I happened to see it there and there's nothing on his website about it, yet. Probably doesn't meet the OP's requirements too well, certainly.

Mike

#12 Doug D.

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 07:59 PM

I just don't want to do it twice. I will probably buy the half hitch without the tripod and put it
on an old but heavy CG5 tripod until I saved up the extra money for a rock solid but lighter wooden or
carbon fiber tripod. I don't want to have to wait for the scope to settle when I have my fingers on the
slow motion controls. I am currently using the voyager which was OK with a lighter scope, but I would
like something that is MUCH easier to push to the next object. I also want a mount that supports
DSC.


Jeff - I think that is a wise analysis and course of action. There are a lot of personal considerations to factor into the decision and I also couldn't agree more about the need for a "rock solid" tripod. It makes little sense to pair a great scope and mount to an economical set of legs that is not up to the task - very frustrating IMO. Better to save up for the "right" legs rather than go with something more inexpensive that you know is probably not going to do what you want (and maybe cause you to buy a more expensive replacement down the road anyway). His topic is photography but Thom Hogan wrote a great commentary on ballhead and tripod purchases some time ago that I think applies equally well to us interested in astro mounts and tripods (not the choice of specific gear but the philosophy and economy of buying right the first time).

You might want to hang out in the Yahoo Half-Hitch group to get some more advice about this mount and hear more from others who have actually used it. Charles is also very helpful and attentive to questions and will take the time to discuss the mount and his design objectives.

Good luck with your decision and clear skies!

#13 Wilmmr

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 02:46 PM

I just ordered a Half Hitch III for use with my Ap-130. I talked Charle's ear off during my decision process and must say when the inventor will talk to you before you put your money down, means a lot to me. Just my two cents.

#14 JMW

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 03:14 PM

How heavy is an AP-130?
Are you going with a heavier tripod to keep things stable?
I was thinking that the SV115T20 was at the upper limit for the mount.
How long will before the mount ships?

Jeff

#15 Quintessence

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:42 PM

Jeff,

Hopefully, I will be allowed to answer your question.

While I would not recommend every 130 mm APO for use on the Mark II or Mark III Half Hitch, there are some 130 mm scopes that will fit very nicely on the Half Hitch. The AP 130 GT is an example of one with which the Half Hitch performs quite well. Other examples would be the NP 127 or APM 130/780.

One can not set a simple limit based on weight alone because the performance of a mount/tripod is more closely correlated to the moment of inertia of the load than to the weight of the load. In other words, it's not just the total mass of the load that counts -- because the distribrution of the mass also matters.

You are also correct in assuming that the choice of tripod matters a lot. Most tripods are vulnerable to twisting around the vertical axis passing through the center of the tripod head. This will show up as a side-to-side oscillation, typically with a frequency between about 15 and 25 Hertz. The frequency will be lowest and the amplitude greatest with the scope pointed near the horizon. The frequency will be highest and the amplitude lowest with the scope pointed near the zenith.

The Mark III is more inherently rigid that most choices of tripod under about 23 pounds. So, depending on the scope, a more robust tripod makes a big difference until you reach a load where the mount itself begins to flex a little.

The 130 mm scopes I listed tend to challenge the tripod but not the Mark III Half Hitch. I wouldn't recommend getting more tripod than you really need (although some folks would) because I think portability and convenience are important factors, as well. I've found that, over time, the amount of use a scope receives is often inversely proportional to its weight. I think that you can find tripods in the 15 to 18 pound range that will work very well with your SV115T.

Charles

#16 swsantos

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 10:46 PM

I use a Televue 102 on a Half Hitch MkII. If you are looking for something "easier to push to the next object" then look no further than the HH as it is effortless and buttery smooth. Look at my video of me moving the scope with one finger, extended arm, and no effort. Look at how the scope moves and just stops when you let it go no matter what its orientation. Remember that this scope is 34" long with the diagonal and weighs about 13 lbs with that eyepiece and Televue brass eyepiece adapter. I originally used this scope with an Astrotech Voyager which was fine for my previous SV80ED, but which was wholly inadequate for the TV102 prompting me to make that same search for that great AtlAz you are now looking for.

TV102 on Half Hitch MkII

#17 7331Peg

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 12:13 AM

I just received the MGE a couple of weeks ago, mounted on the SV wooden tripod shown on their web page with the mount. It's a great little mount, and on that tripod, it's very light, very easy to pick up and take outside with one hand. When both axes are locked down, the slow motion controls are very smooth and a pleasure to operate. When unlocked, both axes are very stiff, especially the azimuth axis. That's not all bad, just a bit unexpected. You can deal with that by adding an SV handle (they sell for $25.00 and are a bargain).
The tripod is rather versatile as far as handling weight. For a light refractor, you can pull the legs in and shorten them, then pull up a chair and operate very comfortably with no vibration at the eyepiece. For a heavier refractor, you can spread the legs all the way out to improve stability and extend them as needed. I've used a TV102 on it in that mode and have experienced a bit of vibration when focusing, but it settles down within a couple of seconds.
The MGE mount head is very similar to the Tak Lapides as far as design, although the Tak is noticeably smoother, and I prefer the locking knobs on it for the azimuth and vertical motions much more than those on the MGE.
I don't have the Half-Hitch - I hope to one of these days - but from what I've read, the two mounts are in totally different classes. The Half-Hitch ranks up there with the DM-6, so it's a matter of what you really need and how much you are willing to spend. No doubt it will be much smoother and handle balance very well. But you really can't go wrong with either one of them.

John

#18 Wilmmr

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 07:50 AM

Jeff, I should have the mount in a couple of weeks, my tripod the Berlebach UNI 14 should be on it's way but I had to order it directly from Germany so it's anyones guess on that one. Once I get them together I'll post a review but Charles has a customer who uses his AP-130 GT on a Half Hitch with excellent results.

#19 Doug D.

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 08:20 AM

Good choice on the Berlebach Wilmmr - I ordered my UNI-24 from Germany as well (back before Teton was a distributor). The shipping was a lot faster than I expected it to be but I can't remember whether it went surface or air. I've ordered other stuff direct from them as well; Marion and crew seem very efficient. You are going to love that tripod.

I recently sold my UNI24 only because I got an AP Baader tripod and it seemed redundant to keep both. I regret it though, so if I ever identify a need for another in future I've got my eye on a "Planet". The UNI's are a great match for a Half-Hitch, IMHO. Not the most portable perhaps but a great balance of weight to performance to cost.

#20 Wilmmr

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 09:15 AM

Thanks Doug,

I did a lot of research and kept coming back to the Berlebach, once I got the english filter figured out on their website it seemed pretty easy. The UNI 14 should have left yesterday so depending on customs hopefully, maybe, the end of next week or beginning of the week after.

#21 JMW

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:18 PM

Thanks to all that replied. I appreciate the informed and detailed comments.
I have decided to buy a Half Hitch Mark III. I hope to write the check in
the next 2 to 6 weeks. I will stick it on a CG5 tripod with two inch legs
until I decide on a tripod. I may also use the mount as a platform for
wildlife photography, so I plan on getting the camera bracket when I want
to use it with my Canon 400 f5.6 lens.

Jeff

#22 Wilmmr

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:09 AM

Congratulations Jeff, I don't think you can go wrong with that combo. Will post my impressions when mine gets here hopefully next week.

PS-When you are ready for a new tripod, the Berlebach UNI 14 is highly thought of, believe me I did the research. They can be purchased directly from them on their website, just use the English filter! I'll post my impressions of that as well once it gets here.






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