Jump to content


Photo

Voyager for Alt/Az - anything else?

  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:36 PM

I've been using a Vixen Porta Mini for grab and go, and I'm not too happy with it. It's ok for a very small, light load (maybe 5-6 pounds) and less than 80-100x. But I've moved up to a WO Megrez 90 for my grab and go scope which is 7.5 pounds. Add a 2" diagonal, GLP and eyepiece and I'm up around 10 pounds or a little more. The Porta Mini may as well be made of rubber.

So I'm looking for a manual alt/az mount as follows:

Budget: $300
Load capacity: 15 lbs or more (I want a little headroom for stability)
Mount/Tripod Weight: 15 lbs or less (I want to carry scope on mount in one hand)
Slow Motion Controls: Yes

The Astro-Tech Voyager seems to meet all these and is highly regarded by its users. Are there any other mounts I should be looking at or is the Voyager a slam dunk? Also, are there any caveats I should know about the Voyager?

-Dan

#2 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 44750
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:39 PM

It depends... there are quite a few out now. The Vixen Portamount predates the Voyager... It would work though the legs might need upgrading.

Jon

#3 Starhawk

Starhawk

    Space Ranger

  • *****
  • Posts: 5614
  • Joined: 16 Sep 2008
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona

Posted 08 August 2012 - 01:54 PM

I'd look at the unistar mounts. I have been using a unistar deluxe on a manfrotto tripod- stable and very portable.

-Rich

#4 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 08 August 2012 - 03:56 PM

I'd look at the unistar mounts. I have been using a unistar deluxe on a manfrotto tripod- stable and very portable.

-Rich


The Unistar Deluxe is $400 without a tripod and that's $100 over my stated budget already. Looks like the Macrostar Deluxe, rated at 25 pounds is closer to what I want, but it is still $330 without the tripod. By the time I get a tripod, this far exceeds my budget and does not have slow motion controls, which I would prefer.

-Dan

#5 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 08 August 2012 - 04:02 PM

It depends... there are quite a few out now. The Vixen Portamount predates the Voyager... It would work though the legs might need upgrading.


Hi Jon

The Portamount II is pretty comparable to the Voyager, but I'm a little gun-shy of the Vixen mounts due to the Porta Mini I already own. I realize the Porta II will be much more stable, but There's a number of quality issues with the Mini that make me question getting another mount with the same design. Since the Porta II and the Voyager are so similar in capabilities and price, I think I'd rather go with the Voyager due to its better reputation.

>> It depends... there are quite a few out now.

Sooooo ... it depends on what? :grin:

-Dan

#6 Kfrank

Kfrank

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1833
  • Joined: 20 Dec 2008
  • Loc: Northern Colorado

Posted 08 August 2012 - 04:08 PM

If you want an alt-az capable of handling 15+ lbs (and handling it well) you're going to have to look beyond the Voyager/Portamount genre. And, you're probably going to have up the ante from your bogey of $300.

The UniStar mounts are well regarded but, after adding a tripod, will be more than you're wanting to spend. Plus, they have no slo-mo controls The Voyager/Portamount types might suffice, but only after replacing the tripod legs and they might still be marginal (besides costing more than $300).

At $500, the Stellarvue MG2 mount will do everything but is heavier than your desired 15 lbs.

In short, with your requirements of $300 cost, weight of 15 lbs, capacity of 15 lbs+ and slo-mo controls, you'll find a very hard time finding a scope to meet all the requirements. To get an alt-az capable of 15+ lbs with slo-mo controls you will ending up paying more than $300 and it will likely weigh more than 15 lbs.

Good luck in your quest.

#7 Manny Myles

Manny Myles

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8374
  • Joined: 29 Nov 2005
  • Loc: Far South of the flyover city of Chicago

Posted 08 August 2012 - 05:30 PM

I'd look into the Explore Scientic Twilight I seems to be in your price range, I shelled out $300.00 for mine.
It takes the best of both mounts and melds them into one and the tripod is better than either the Porta or Voyager, but thats just my 2 cents.
Link to thread,,,
http://www.cloudynig...5/o/all/fpart/1
m2

#8 EdTheEdge

EdTheEdge

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1575
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2009
  • Loc: Lomita, CA

Posted 08 August 2012 - 06:17 PM

+1

#9 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 08 August 2012 - 07:06 PM

If you want an alt-az capable of handling 15+ lbs (and handling it well) you're going to have to look beyond the Voyager/Portamount genre. And, you're probably going to have up the ante from your bogey of $300.

... In short, with your requirements of $300 cost, weight of 15 lbs, capacity of 15 lbs+ and slo-mo controls, you'll find a very hard time finding a scope to meet all the requirements.


Hi Ken:

I appreciate what you're saying. I guess a lot depends on what you mean by "handling it well".

Let me put things in perspective. First, the 15 pound capacity is just to give me a bit of head room. My scope + accessories is more like 10-11 pounds, so I'm looking for a 15 capacity thinking it will handle 10-11 pounds reasonably well.

Second, my main goal here is a lightweight grab-and-go mount that won't break the bank ... and has *reasonable* stability. My scope on the Porta Mini at 150x is, well ... horrible. So keeping in mind what my starting point is, I'm looking to go from horrible to reasonable. I'm sure if I spent more I could get to really solid, but I don't want to spend that kind of money or take on the added weight that usually goes along with it. This mount will get occasional use for quick views - I'm not looking for top of the line, just "good enough".

The Voyager seems to fit the bill and I'm just drawing on the collective wisdom of the "hive mind" here to see if there's other options in this same range that I should consider.

-Dan

#10 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 08 August 2012 - 07:22 PM

I'd look into the Explore Scientic Twilight I seems to be in your price range, I shelled out $300.00 for mine.
It takes the best of both mounts and melds them into one and the tripod is better than either the Porta or Voyager, but thats just my 2 cents.


Now this looks like an interesting option! The only thing I'm concerned about with it is the weight. Oddly, Explore Scientific doesn't show any mounts on their website, even though resellers seem to be carrying three different Twilight models. I can't seem to find a weight listing anywhere for the mount.

I see that Orion has a Versago III which looks nearly identical. Is that the same one? If so, it's listed at about 20 pounds fully assembled. That's kind of a killer for me if that's the same mount. Again, I'm looking for lightweight. The Porta Mini is only 6 pounds - which of course is why it can't handle this scope. I realize I have to go up some in weight to get better performance, but even a 15 pound mount is stretching it for me. The Voyager is 14 pounds and the Vixen Porta II is 12 pounds. If this is 20 pounds, I think that's probably too much.

It DOES look like a nice mount though!

-Dan

#11 Locoman

Locoman

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 765
  • Joined: 09 Mar 2009
  • Loc: Abilene, Kansas

Posted 08 August 2012 - 08:06 PM

I have the Vixen StarGuy which weighs 18lbs and I tried carrying it with my scope attached and its pretty heavy so its a two trip deal to carry it to the backyard. I'm pretty sure that the ES Twilight l and the Orion VersaGo lll are the exact same mount.

#12 OldManInHawaii

OldManInHawaii

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 12 Mar 2012

Posted 09 August 2012 - 12:21 AM

I have the Vixen StarGuy which weighs 18lbs and I tried carrying it with my scope attached and its pretty heavy so its a two trip deal to carry it to the backyard. I'm pretty sure that the ES Twilight l and the Orion VersaGo lll are the exact same mount.


+1 (VersagoIII = ESTW I)

#13 Edwin

Edwin

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 87
  • Joined: 16 May 2007
  • Loc: The Netherlands

Posted 09 August 2012 - 02:44 AM

I have a Megrez 88 that I use on a Voyager. I first used it on a Vixen Porta I, that had a load capacity of 10 lbs, but had the same experience you have had: too shaky at higher magnifications. It also devellopped some play in both axes.

I have swapped it for a Voyager and that is a big step up. Much more stable and it handles my Megrez easy. I also use a Intes MK 67 on it, which weighs about 12-13 lbs fully loaded. The standard tripod suffices, but I have replaced it with a wooden TAL tripod, which increases the stability.

I also had some problems with play in the axis, but have disassembled the mount and removed it. The spreader of my tripod came lose, but I have fixed it with superglue and eventually replaced the tripod.

#14 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:21 AM

Hi Edwin:

Thanks for the info. Seems like my Vixen Porta Mini is similar to your Porta I with a 10 pound rated capacity (although I think the capacity is more like 7 pounds).

-Dan

#15 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11519
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 09 August 2012 - 08:32 AM

Well, it looks like the only two mounts that might meet my needs are the Voyager and the Porta II. I'll have to give some more thought to the Porta II.

I was shying away from Vixen due to my experiences with the Mini. Also, on resellers' sites, the Voyager seems to get better reviews. But after looking at a bunch of threads here on Cloudy Nights (which I trust more than reseller reviews), I'm seeing a number of problems people are having with each mount. It seems they are more similar in quality level than I was first thinking. And since the Porta II is a couple of pounds lighter, that's an advantage.

It may boil down to which comes up on a sale first. I'm not in a big hurry.

-Dan

#16 Goodchild

Goodchild

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 884
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2008

Posted 09 August 2012 - 09:49 AM

Dan,
I've been using a Voyager mount with my Megrez 90 for a few years now and it's my favorite setup. The Voyager handles the M90 easily, however, I do have it mounted on an Oberwerk wood tripod. I'm probably going to buy another Voyager for my 6-inch Mak. I don't think you'd regret it.

#17 OldManInHawaii

OldManInHawaii

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 80
  • Joined: 12 Mar 2012

Posted 09 August 2012 - 01:03 PM

I'd look into the Explore Scientic Twilight I seems to be in your price range, I shelled out $300.00 for mine.
It takes the best of both mounts and melds them into one and the tripod is better than either the Porta or Voyager, but thats just my 2 cents.


Now this looks like an interesting option! The only thing I'm concerned about with it is the weight. Oddly, Explore Scientific doesn't show any mounts on their website, even though resellers seem to be carrying three different Twilight models. I can't seem to find a weight listing anywhere for the mount.

I see that Orion has a Versago III which looks nearly identical. Is that the same one? If so, it's listed at about 20 pounds fully assembled. That's kind of a killer for me if that's the same mount. Again, I'm looking for lightweight. The Porta Mini is only 6 pounds - which of course is why it can't handle this scope. I realize I have to go up some in weight to get better performance, but even a 15 pound mount is stretching it for me. The Voyager is 14 pounds and the Vixen Porta II is 12 pounds. If this is 20 pounds, I think that's probably too much.

It DOES look like a nice mount though!

-Dan

I was considering buying the Voyager until the ES TWI appeared on the scene. I would have bought the Voyager if one was available at the online e-tailers that I shop with.

That being said, my bathroom digital scale shows that my ES TWI weighs 15.3 lbs.

Another nice thing about the ES mounts is that the factory gives a 5-year transferable warranty (not that you might ever need to use it) after you register it with them. Not sure if the other companies do that.

#18 Agatha

Agatha

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1312
  • Joined: 04 Jun 2012
  • Loc: Coulee Region, Wisconsin

Posted 09 August 2012 - 01:19 PM

Dan,

I love my Vixen Porta. In fact so much that I also got another one. Its very light and does a very good job for me. I usually put an AT 80 on it. Not sure what it weighs with rings and diagonal, etc. I'm sure I could put something heavier on it. I also have the Voyager. It's a wonderful mount. It did develope quite a bit of slop in the Az movement, requiring me to dig into it to fix it. I didn't mind too much because I enjoy taking things apart...so long as I am able to make it work better. :) But I know that's not for everyone. I have not yet had any issues with my Porta mounts. I also recently aquired an ES Twilight I mount. I haven't used it yet. It seems to be nicely put together. I just weighed it. It is 15 pounds. I wish you luck in your decision making process.

Regards,

Linda B.






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics