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Attack of the (Voyager) clones

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#1 Jarno

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:05 AM

I was in the market for a grab-'n-go alt-az mount so I paid a visit to my local astronomy store. I was comparing the Skytee, AZ4 and the Voyager when the store decided to throw in a wildcard.: a no-name, made in China Voyager-type mount. It was so new that they didn't even have it in the showroom yet. When they brought it in I was pleasantly surprised, it actually appeared to be a very sturdy mount. Here it is carrying a 4" f/7 apo (itself very, very similar to the SV102 ;) )

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Unlike the Voyager and Vixen Porta, it has a steel tripod with a spreader. From the two screws per leg you might think it's a three-section tripod but it's only two, both screws are used to clamp the lower section. The screws don't contact the leg directly, instead they push a metal plate against the leg to avoid damaging it. The tripod extends from 63cm / 24.8" to 104 cm / 40.9" (floor to baseplate) so it's a little short for use standing up but plenty high when seated. Stability is still good when fully extended. Damping times are different in the horizontal and vertical directions, vertically it's almost instantaneous but horizontally it takes a second. This is most likely due to the open design of the arm, with some cross-connections it would be stiffer. It's still perfectly acceptable though. The spreader has holes for two 1.25" eyepieces and one 2".

The altitude section can be connected to the base in 45 degree steps which is very useful because it prevents the flexible arm from rubbing against the OTA:
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Should you wish to make some changes then there are plenty of possibilities, the azimuth section has a lot of connections:
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The altitude section uses the outer eight holes, these are 1/4". The inner four holes are slightly bigger, maybe 5/16 or 3/8".

Moving further upwards we come to the dovetail clamp, it's fairly large and takes Vixen type dovetails.
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If you look closely at this picture you'll see that the casting appears a bit coarse. I may replace the clamp with a machined one just to be on the safe side because I'm not a big fan of cast materials for this type of application. Fortunately replacing the clamp will be easy because there's plenty of screw holes here as well:
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Once again, eight 1/4" and four larger threads. In these two pictures you can also see grey circles set into the azimuth arm, these are magnets intended to hold the supplied 3/16" allen wrench in place. I doubt anyone will be using it very often once the mount has been set up but it's a nice touch. Perhaps it'll be useful for holding your screwdriver or allen key when collimating your scope.

All in all, the mount made a positive impression so I bought it. Its construction and coating are a bit "industrial" and not as slick as the Voyager and Porta but it functions well. The best part is that it's about 2/3 of the price of the Voyager. I have no idea of the manufacturer of this mount, there's no identifaction on the mount itself and the box only says "Item no. SP10640" but we can probably expect them to show up in other stores as well. We'll see how the mount holds up long term but for now it appears to be a good buy. I haven't been able to test the mount under the stars yet due to the clouds that (naturally) moved in immediately. I'll post an update as soon as possible.

#2 DaveJ

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:58 AM

I was in the market for a grab-'n-go alt-az mount so I paid a visit to my local astronomy store. I was comparing the Skytee, AZ4 and the Voyager when the store decided to throw in a wildcard.: a no-name, made in China Voyager-type mount.


Your new mount appears to be exactly like this Orion VersaGo III Micro-Motion Altazimuth Mount. A friend of mine won one of these at a star party in August. I borrowed it to compare to my Voyager and found them to be six-of-one and half-dozen of the other: there were features of each that I found to be superior to the other. Overall, I preferred the Voyager and am still waiting on Astronomics to get them back in stock.

Here's a photo of the Voyager and Fred's VersaGo III being compared...

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#3 Midnight Dan

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:31 AM

Yes, this is also being sold by Explore Scientific as their Twilight I model. Been on the market for a while now.

http://tinyurl.com/crapntv

-Dan

#4 Jarno

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:38 AM

Jup, that's definitely the one, except it was a mere $280 while the Voyager can cost up to $500 over here. By comparison the Voyager moves a bit smoother but its tripod is a lot shakier.

#5 DaveJ

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 12:36 PM

Jup, that's definitely the one, except it was a mere $280 while the Voyager can cost up to $500 over here. By comparison the Voyager moves a bit smoother but its tripod is a lot shakier.


Now that's *really* odd. Comparing the two, the Voyager definitely had the sturdier tripod with less shake and the VersaGo III had the smoother controls. That "sample-to-sample" variation is something that can't be over emphasized. Here in the USA, they're almost exactly the same price. When I was testing the two mounts, I swapped the OTAs from one mount to the other and kept notes. That eliminated the variation in loads and balance from the comparisons.

#6 Geo.

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 03:28 PM

Looks like the Tripod Jinghua made for the Meade LXD75, except there are new bosses in the way of the leg clamp screws, which stripped on the Meade unit when abused.

#7 simpleisbetter

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 06:00 PM

To strengthen the Voyager tripod, there are a couple things you can do. First, get a Vixen eyepiece tray, the triangular metal one; fits perfectly and really reduces lateral torsion in the legs. Second, get some small nylon washers and insert on the screw on each side of the spreader bars between the spreader and bracket. That'll hold the spreader in place quite well. The other thing I did on my Voyager I had was to go through and apply blue Loctite to each screw except for three main bolts connecting the legs to the head, since those thread to nylon lined bolts. Those two inexpensive things really helped to stabilize my tripod.

#8 stevew

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Posted 02 December 2012 - 09:56 PM

I've been looking into getting one of the same lightweight mounts for my C5, and 105 F-6 refractor.
I have been leaning towards the Orion version of the mount pictured at the top of this thread.
I would assume that the tubular steel legs would be more stable and less fussy to deal with than the stamped aluminum legs of the Voyager.
Although I have a question.
All of these mounts appear to hold the center of the telescope away from the center of the tripod.
Doesn't this cause an unstable situation having the telescopes center of gravity hanging away from the center of the tripod.

Steve

#9 TONGKW

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:20 AM

I do have concern with the center of gravity of the OTA hanging away from the center of the tripod when using a long refractor on my Voyager altaz mount and so I always put some weight on the accessory tray for better balancing.
As can be seen in my setup, it is in fact a bit precarious especially when viewing the zenith. A push from the wrong side will surely cause the setup to topple.

K W TONG
C8+CG5 GT, TSA102+HEQ5 PRO, MK67+Voyager, NexStar 6SE, C5+Mizar K, WO ZS80FD+Kenko NES, Megrez 72FD+Kenko KDS, Mini Borg 50, PST

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#10 Jarno

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 06:53 AM

I do have concern with the center of gravity of the OTA hanging away from the center of the tripod when using a long refractor on my Voyager altaz mount and so I always put some weight on the accessory tray for better balancing.


Why not put a metal plate between the azimuth and altitude parts? All you need to do is drill a few holes in the plate and sandwhich it between the mount parts, no modifications to the mount itself required. You could then hang all sorts of things from that metal plate (accessories, batteries, pot of hot coffee etc.) to counterbalance your scope.

#11 stevew

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Posted 23 December 2012 - 06:09 PM

The tripod extends from 63cm / 24.8" to 104 cm / 40.9" (floor to baseplate) so it's a little short for use standing up but plenty high when seated

The version that Orion Telescopes sell's indicated the height is 35.5 inches when retracted and 52 inches when extended.
They are referring to the "total mount length"
Is this the same mount with a different tripod?
Or are they the same thing, just measured differently??

http://www.telescope.../Orion-Versa...

Thanks

Steve

#12 Jarno

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Posted 24 December 2012 - 04:16 PM

Hi Steve,

it's exactly the same mount. I measured the height of the tripod only while Orion refers to the height of the whole mount.

Merry X-mas!

Jarno

#13 stevew

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Posted 05 January 2013 - 04:02 PM

Thanks Jarno.
I ordered the Explore Scientific Twilight 1, the same as the Orion version. It should be here late next week.
I'm sure it will be suitable for a grab and go mount for my little C5, but not sure if it will handle my 105 F-6 achromat.

Steve






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