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Considering a small alt-az mount

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#1 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:04 AM

I'm planning on buying a small alt-az mount at NEAF this year for . It will typically be used with my little StellarVue SVR70ED (4.5 lbs plus diagonal, red dot finder, eyepiece, etc.), but might also be used with my AT6RC (12lbs plus diagonal, finder, eyepiece, etc.).

I'm considering the Astro-Tech Voyager, Versa Go III, Vixen Porta II Mount, and the Explore Scientific Twilight. They all retail for about $300, give or take $20.

Any suggestions one way or the other would be appreciated.

#2 Midnight Dan

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:51 AM

I would add to your list the Desert Sky DSV1 mount. Purchased with their lightweight contractor's tripod it is just a little over $300. Add a few bucks and you have a dual scope mount. In fact, you could put both your scopes on there easily.

I just got one. Very smooth and stable.

-Dan

#3 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:59 AM

Dan,

Thanks for the suggestion.

#4 mattyfatz

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:02 AM

I use the Universal Astronomics Dwarf Star mount. I have the SV70 on it quite often.
Here is the CN review!
Notice that the scope used in this test is an SV70
I had a Portamount before I purchased the Dwarf Star.. I've since sold the Porta since the UA mount is far superior.

http://www.universalastronomics.com/

Good luck and feel free to pm me with any questions.
Matt

#5 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:21 AM

Matt,

Thanks. Looks like Universal Astronomics has a LOT of mounts I should consider.

#6 BCNGreyCat

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:22 AM

I wound recommend universal astronomics micro star deluxe. It will handle your sv70 without any problem. And should be as well for your at6. It's my travel mount with my TV85. Good luck.

#7 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:07 PM

BCNGreyCat,

Thank you. I'm probably going to hold off buying something until NEAF, and at this point I think I'll be spending the day at Universal Astronomics!

#8 coopman

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:23 PM

Make sure that they'll be there, Thomas. UA is a one man business, as far as I know.

#9 coopman

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 01:26 PM

I've even seen a C8 on one of those very compact UA mounts (see iceblaze's posts in the "post a picture of your CAT" thread - I think that it's on page 52 of that thread.

#10 Kfrank

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

I've even seen a C8 on one of those very compact UA mounts (see iceblaze's posts in the "post a picture of your CAT" thread - I think that it's on page 52 of that thread.


I had a C6 SCT on a UA MicroStar. It was adequate but far from ideal.
Lots of vibration when focusing and took a while to settle after moving the scope. The MicroStar works well for my SV80ED but the C6 is at or a bit above the weight limit for this mount - same for the DwarfStar. A C8 would be way to much scope for one of these mounts.

#11 coopman

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

My bad. What iceblaze showed in his posts is the Stellarvue M2 mount with the 12" column extension. A PM to him asking about the performance of the mount would probably be helpful to you. There are lots of good choices on the market for small, portable alt-az mounts.

#12 Bill Barlow

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 08:03 PM

I currently own three UA Unistar mounts and really like them. I use the Unistar light with the 4" refractor and a C6. I have the sings,e clamp Unistar deluxe with my Meade 8" SCT and have the duel clamping Unistar deluxe with my 12" Meade SCT and a C14. I would see Lary at NEAF and he will match you with the right gear for what scope you want to mount.

Bill

#13 stevew

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 10:15 PM

I just purchased the ES Twilight 1 and think its wonderful for a small alt az mount.
Pictures can be seen in this thread.
http://www.cloudynig...5634083/page...

Steve

#14 314Sprout

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 11:20 PM

+1 on the DSV-1, especially with an Oberwerk Surveyor tripod. Mine is set up for two scopes, and I couldn't be happier. Usually an AT-72 and C-90, but occasionally a 6 inch Newt in the mix.

#15 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:28 AM

Well, it's been an interesting ride so far; start with four mounts possibilities and end up with fourteen. I've added half of UA's stable (Dwarfstar, Microstar, Macrostar, Unistar, and Milennium Unimount), two of Desert Sky's mounts (DSV-1 and DSV-2), a Stellarvue mount (M2), and even a NexStar computerized mount.

At this rate, I fully expect that I will have fifty mounts on my list by NEAF. And will have serious analysis paralysis.

I'm currently leaning towards a mount that has dual attachments so I can have two scopes set up at the same time. It seems silly to spend $200-400 for a single-scope mount and be $100 short of being able to handle two. Typically I will be mounting my SVR-70ED on one side and either my Lunt 35mm Solar scope or my AT6RC on the other side. When using the Lunt, I will have a white-light filter on the SVR70ED. With the AT6RC, the SVR70 will be a 'finder', and the AT6RC will have the higher power views.

#16 kevint1

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:46 AM

+2 for the DSV-1. I also used my AT72 on one. Very solid and well made. I liked it so much I bought the bigger DSV-3 for my self. These are made completely in the US if that matters to you.

#17 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:58 AM

Kevin,

Yes, made in the US matters to me. Especially when the DSV-2 is less money than the Explore Scientific Twilight II.

The DSV-2 is currently in the lead for what I'm likely to purchase.

#18 turk123

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:30 AM

Hi Thomas

I Own a Stellarvue m2 with losmandy saddle and extension column. I mounted it on an old Polaris aluminum tripod. I have a William optics 98mm flt refractor that weighs a bit and I was concerned about the weight distribution over the tripod. The M2 hangs the scope off the side. I added to the spreaders on the tripod legs making it lower and wider and filled the lower legs with sand (epoxy sealed). It is now solid as a rock.

My concerns for you is that you are looking for an inexpensive tripod, but want to put more weight on it than is practical. Pushing the limit of the weight capability of the mount and tripod is asking for an expensive accident. The m2 is approaching $350-370 (with column) and you have to add a tripod. I actually bought a travel tripod from stellarvue to use with this mount. It arrived the other day (waited 8 months) and it is not acceptable for the upper rating of the tripod. I will stay with what I built.

Look for a stable tripod with the mount you choose. You're not running motors here, but pushing your scope around and worse, tripping around in the dark. Don't forget the weight and size of diagonals and eyepieces and cameras also. You also, like I did, have the choice of adding the right tripod that is stable to some of these mounts. I also went to Neaf last year to search for a mount. You will find many choices and be able to make the best choice for you.

#19 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:53 AM

Turk,

Thanks for the information.

I picked up a surveyor's tripod at NEAF a couple of years ago from Universal Astronomics for ~$200 (it looks like the heavy duty tripod on the left on http://www.desertsky.../Tripods.html). Adding sand and epoxy to the legs sounds like a good way to add some weight. As is, however, it is very stable. And with TWO scopes (total weight about 20 lbs plus diagonals and eyepieces), the weight should be centered over the middle of the tripod.

#20 skullpin

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 04:36 PM

The DSV-2 is currently in the lead for what I'm likely to purchase.


I had both the DSV-1 and DSV-2. I preferred the simpler one as the friction was variable. The DSV-2 is well machined and the slow-mo controls work reasonably well, though balance was critical. Simple eyepiece changes are not possible without locking the altitude axis (if I had a nickel for everytime I forgot to lock/unlock). The balance aid worked as advertized, though adjusting it was rough and would inevitably throw the scope well off target.

I hope the DSV-3 with its variable clutches clears this issue up. I twice wrote these concerns into Raul and asked whether the DSV-3 offered an improvement, though no response. I am a strong supporter of the "local" (this side of the world) economy and I want Desert Sky to succeed.

I have moved on to a DiscMount DM4 and have not looked back; soooooooo stable and easy to use. I still have the DesertSky DSV-M which is more akin to a DiskMount than to its larger siblings, and I enjoy it for travel with my TV85.

My $0.02

#21 davidmcgo

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 09:18 PM

For super small and versatile, I'm really pleased with a used Manfrotto 410 geared head I picked up on an older Bogen tracker tripod. Handles my Lunt LS60, an 4" f15 Celestron SCT (1965 guidescope), and the geared motions are very nice and it is quite insensitive to imbalance. So it handles sticking a camera on back of the scope just fine.

This is the only camera tripod type setup I've had any luck with and it is a joy to use.

Dave

#22 Midnight Dan

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 11:01 PM

I have moved on to a DiscMount DM4 and have not looked back; soooooooo stable and easy to use. I still have the DesertSky DSV-M which is more akin to a DiskMount than to its larger siblings, and I enjoy it for travel with my TV85.


That DiscMount looks awesome, but ouch, the price!

-Dan

#23 kenpo154

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:27 AM

You can always use the Telepod head from televue, I put mine on a Manfrotto 3211 tripod and it is great. My televue 85 works great on it! Grab and Go!

#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:47 AM

Look for a stable tripod with the mount you choose.


:waytogo:

The difficulty I see is that this one mount has to serve too many purposes. A 5 pound refractor is an easy to use scope that can double for birdwatching and is very easy to deal with. It needs a mount that is sturdy well but well matched for a smaller scope. A mount suitable for 2 scopes or a 6 inch RC will reduce the easy to use aspects of the 70mm ED scope.

That said, for me, slow motion controls are a strict requirement. Hand tracking Dobsonians is straightforward because their tubes provide a long mechanical level so such fine motions are not necessary. But a refractor is short and there is no long lever, slow motion controls make high magnification tracking much easier.

Jon

#25 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:20 AM

Okay, so if slow motion controls are a strict requirement (which seems quite reasonable to me, especially if viewing at 200-300x), then I'm back to...
Desert Sky DSV-2,
Explore Scientific Twilight,
Astro-Tech Voyager, and
Orion Versa GO III.

Sounds like the DSV-2 is still in the lead, since it can handle two scopes!






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