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Vixen Porta Mount vs. Orion Versa Go II HD

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#1 eric_zeiner


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Posted 30 January 2010 - 03:00 PM

I will be acquiring a Celestron 102mm f/5 soon and I want to put it on a nice alt/az mount. These are my two choices and I was wondering if anyone has any experience with either? The one major thing that I like about the Vixen is that it has slo-mo controls, but the Orion has the really heavy tubular legs, so where is the trade off?

#2 noah way

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 04:11 PM

Looking at my Porta and the pictures of the Versa:

The Vixen arm is one piece from the azimuth axis to the alt axis. The Orion arm is two pieces screwed together. The Vixen is also about twice the diameter at the azimuth axis.

I've got a TV 102 I'll be testing on the Vixen this week (weather permitting). My feeling is the tripod is the weak link, but we'll see and I'll report back.

#3 MrGibbly


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Posted 31 January 2010 - 08:43 AM

I know you've probably already considered it but I feel compelled to toss it out there given my wonderful experience with it so far: AstroTech Voyager.

#4 JoeBftsplk


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Posted 31 January 2010 - 10:00 AM

I like the slow-mo on my Porta a lot. That said, the original Porta with stock tripod seems a good match for scopes the size of the TV85 and below. I know it works great with the TV76. But there are wooden surveyor-tripod legs available for the Porta that supposedly steady it sufficiently for heavier loads. You could buy one with OEM legs, try it, and, if it doesn't work well, upgrade to the wooden legs. It's not as though you'd be stuck.

There's also the Vixen Porta II which I heard, is a heavier duty Porta Mount. Orion lists them on their website for around $300. They're a bit salty at that price, but may be worth looking into.

Klutz that I am, slow-motion is the only way for me. I found a Gibraltar to be almost unuseable at high magnifications. I expect other alt-az mounts w/out slo-mo would be similar.

#5 noah way

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:15 AM

The difference between the Porta and Porta II is the latter has long, flexible slow-motion controls and a "removable" head that will more easily accept other tripods. I'll probably be making an adapter to put the Porta head (removes with three screws) onto a beefier tripod.

#6 Megawatt



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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:30 AM

You might also consider the Synta AZ4, which is similar to the Versa Go but with a heavier mount head.

EDIT: Never mind! I just looked at Orion's page and the VersaGo II HD is the Synta AZ4. In that case I can vouch for the VersaGo II HD. It is very smooth and sturdy. You can easily move it with two fingers and it stays where you point it. I use mine with a skywatcher 120mm f/5 refractor.

A few caveats: the altitude tension control is limited. You can only add so much tension, so if you plan on using some really heavy accessories it might create a balancing issue. Also the threaded holes where the pan handle screws in are rather rough; I can see the threads getting chewed away by repeated screwing, so I generally leave the handle in one position.

Otherwise, I've been very satisfied with this mount. I bought it as an upgrade from an AZ3 and it is everything I hoped it would be. Used with a rich-field scope, I don't miss having slo-motion controls. I hope this helps.

#7 mathteacher



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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:48 AM

102 f/5 is a short, light scope. The Porta should handle it fine. I've been using mine for 2.5 years now.

If you're super picky about vibrations... go with the AZ4/VGII with heavy steel legs. IMHO, you're not going to be pushing 300x with a 102 f/5 achro, so slow motion controls are not a necessity. I was using 300x with my pipe mount last night and it was no problem setting up Mars for the next drift through the FOV.

#8 Terrance


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Posted 31 January 2010 - 11:54 AM

In considering the original PortaMount, it was not designed to be easily mounted on any other tripod but the one it came on. The Porta II was specifically designed for easy mounting on other tripods.

I have the original Portamount which works fine with a 6" f/5 Newtonian. No experience with Orion Versa Go, so I will follow this thread.

#9 Jason B

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Posted 31 January 2010 - 01:52 PM

I am a big fan of the AT Voyager mount. I like the ability to adjust tension on the fly w/o tools, unlike the original Porta (not sure if that has changed on the Porta II). The slow motion controls are a nice luxury on a Alt-Az mount. My favorite scope on it is my 80mm F8, which is about the same size as the 102 F5. I use my Bosma I too have no experience with any of the Orion Alt-Az mounts....

#10 noah way

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 02:28 PM

Daytime trial of the TV 102 on a Vixen Porta:

The Porta was set up with the legs collapsed for maximum rigidity, so it will only go downhill from here.

The head grasps the OTA well, there is enough friction to keep it stable when changing EPs. There is quite a bit of vibration evident when focusing @ 110x, but it settles down within two seconds. Any contact with the eyecup causes some movement. The slow motion controls work well and without vibration.

I put a hand on the tripod to stiffen it up and things seemed to improve. The tripod is clearly the weak link here. I think I'll make up some solid wood legs, fixed length, and see how that effects the setup. The 102 is clearly a lot of scope for this mount.

#11 Erric



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Posted 04 February 2010 - 01:22 AM

I'm looking seriously at this.

Guessing the Vixen Porta should work well with a Apex 127mm Mak. But what about a 8" Reflector - if it's within the weight limits? The "arm" is big enough?


#12 noah way

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Posted 04 February 2010 - 10:21 AM

Tried the Porta last night with the TV 102. Alt control worked perfectly, no trouble changing EPs. Az control worked intermittently (right but not left, sometimes?!), haven't been able to identify the cause yet. At 110x, settle down was 2-3 seconds. Focusing set up the wiggles, but a steadying hand on the OTA kept it from getting out of hand.

Looks to me like the Porta head is pretty solid (Az. control issue aside ...), and the legs are pretty much useless. This head on a better pod would be considerably more stable. I'll probably put together some beefy wood legs and see how that goes while I'm looking for the right mount for the 102.

The 8" reflector is definitely too big for the Porta. I had a 6" SCT on there briefly, that was OK.

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