Voyager or PortaMount?
Posted 07 November 2012 - 11:14 AM
My apologies if this has been discussed already. I didn't see anything in my quick search of recent posts. Links to existing threads would be very welcomed.
So the question is:
Could someone please describe for me how the Astrotech Voyager and the Vixen PortaMount compare? Is one better than the other? Does one have strengths or weaknesses that the other doesn't have? Given the choice, which would you prefer and why? I am thinking about something that could mount a small RFT refractor, a fast 4" to 6" Newt, or a 5" SCT.
Thanks in advance!
Posted 07 November 2012 - 11:39 AM
The push-to performance of the mount is sticky unless you are using a bigger ota, but then with a bigger ota you have the problem of the flimsy tripod causing vibration. The slow motion does work pretty well though and with a small ota you can push to the general location and then use the slo-mo to center. Just don't expect to track a high power with only the push-to, you have to use the slo-mo controls.
The Stellarvue M2 on a heavy duty photo tripod is also something you might want to consider.
My Voyager works well only because I invested in some motors from JMI and also replaced the tripod. Without those changes I would never use that mount. With those changes it makes a nice mount for a smaller scope. I use it with a TMB 92L, C6, and a C8. Tried it with my AT106 but it had to much vibration for me. I think a longer scope even if it is lightweight is just not going to do well on this mount even with the modifications.
I should have probably bought the PortaMount, although I am not really sure it would be any better without mods.
I have T-Rex on the way right now which I expect to be a great platform for all my scopes. It is pricey but it might be the final solution I have been looking for, a noiseless heavy duty alt-az with sky commander.
Posted 07 November 2012 - 12:19 PM
+ Versatile mounting arm, allows you to switch L/R mounting, and angle of arm.
+ Stock tripod is more stable than the Porta
+ Extension pier available (but not currently in stock)
+ Included slo-mo knobs are nice, and works well with shorter OTA's
+ No-tools tension adjustment on both axis
- Sticktion and play on both axis (even after adjustment with consultation from astronomics)
- Slo-mo gear mesh can be irregular and not smooth
- Slo-mo shaft diameter is larger than normal
* Scopes I prefer to use with it include C90/6/8, 66-100mm refractors
* I use it with stock tripod and pier, and will have a pan-handle from Manny Miles added soon (not the 90° type)
+ Smooth motions, no sticktion that cause any concerns
+ Slo-mo controls are nice and smooth
+ 'standard' slo-mo shaft diameter means I can use different length slo-mo cables with it
+ Adjustable Az slo-mo angle (Voyager needs Manny's bent-bar) makes using a Newt on the mount a pleasure.
- Fixed angled arm and R-handed mounting makes some OTA mounting problematic
- Stock tripod is the weak link; usable but not great
* Scopes I prefer use with it include 80-100 refractors, 130 and 150mm Newts
* For a while I used the mount exclusively with a ED80 scope and stock tripod for G&G - fantastic combo. I've tried switching out to wooden legs, it does increase height and help with dampening, but it's just a little more fiddly to setup quickly.
* Currently it's used on either a Manfrotto 028 or a Vanguard CF tripod. I have a Manny Miles 90° plate to use a C6 on it, but the OTA works better for me on the Voyager w/o the 90° plate.
I like using the Porta a little more, but it just won't (easily/ergonomically) accommodate some of my scopes - that's where the Voyager comes into play. I have a Oberwerk tall tripod coming in this week that I'll be trying out on both mounts.
Posted 07 November 2012 - 02:05 PM
Honestly, I couldn't unload that thing fast enough.
Posted 07 November 2012 - 06:28 PM
Posted 08 November 2012 - 07:56 AM
Posted 08 November 2012 - 08:14 AM
One mount to consider is the StellarVue MG2. I prefer the ergonomics of the Portamount but the MG2 is much more stable with the NP-101, basically free from vibration when focusing at the maximum I have tried, 300x. I have had success using it with my 8 inch F/5 Newtonian. With that kind of a load, it is no longer free from vibration when focusing but with a light touch, sharp focus can be achieved.
Posted 08 November 2012 - 10:51 AM
Thanks for the feedback everyone! Being able to ask questions like this and get answers from those who know--this is what makes CN great. It's like belonging to the world's biggest astronomy club. Heck, my real-world astronomy club has 115 members, and I don't thing that anyone has a Voyager or a Portamount. So I come here.
Posted 08 November 2012 - 11:04 AM
Posted 08 November 2012 - 08:16 PM
I have two AT Voyagers. The screws in the leg braces come loose over time. The are threaded straight into 1/16" or so of Aluminum, and that's not enough to hold anything.
I've had the same problem... Used a little J.B. Weld to hold it in place, no problems after that.
Posted 09 November 2012 - 08:30 AM
I use a Vixen Polaris. My heavy 6" Newt overpowers the Polaris, as does the Meade 390/395. My 6" Mak rides well on the Polaris, so would expect your C5+ to be good as well. My 5" Newt rides well, but I really prefer using the 6". The 6" is getting a make-over this Winter.
Posted 09 November 2012 - 11:23 PM
Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:18 AM
I'm also currently evaluating my options in a lightweight alt/az mount. The one that I'm beginning to narrow in on is the DSV-1 on their lightweight contractor's tripod:
The mount and tripod costs $310 so it's very close in price to the Voyager, Portamount, and Twilight I. Do some searching here on CN for the DSV-1 and you'll find lots of high praise.
The only downside to it that I can see is the lack of slow motion controls. I'm kind of fond of them, especially when using something like a C5 to do planetary or lunar observation at 200-250x. The DSV-1 has a pan handle, but the general feeling appears to be that it becomes tricky to use for tracking at mags above 150-180x. Wide field eyepieces are helpful here because you don't have to work so hard to keep the target in a small window.
Of course, the DSV-2 has slow motion controls, but it's also a bit heavier and considerably more expensive.
Posted 10 November 2012 - 10:35 AM
Posted 11 November 2012 - 06:49 PM
Will probably pick one up as a Christmas present to myself.
Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:01 PM
F.Y.I. These legs were made by Synta, and sold to H.O.O by Sky Instruments.
I upgraded the legs on mine to the Hands on Optics wooden legs...
I have purchased many sets over the years, and while they are certainly an upgrade over the Chinese stamped aluminum legs, they are not quite as good as the old Vixen version they are copying.
Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:02 PM
I'm not sure you can get a Voyager mount. I waited for almost 4 months, then canceled my order. I Got the Star guy mount instead. Porta 2 head and hal 130 heavy tripod. Rock solid with my ed100. Very smooth operation.
The StarGuy is very solid! Here's my 6" Newt F/5 on it.
Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:05 AM
The DSV looks intriguing.
Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:20 PM
On the other hand, if you want to spend a bit more and get more versatility, for an extra $40 you can get the dual saddle DSV-1 which can hold both a small refractor and a 5" SCT. I think that would be a great combination using the refractor for rich field scanning and the SCT for higher powered observing.