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Minimizing the cost of a DM-6

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#1 chrisg

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Posted 04 June 2013 - 11:15 PM

So, I've reached the conclusion that the best Alt-Az mount is also the most expensive! Aside from the mount itself, I'll probably need a vixen saddle that will fit the DM and a mount extension for my surveyor's tripod so that my EON will clear the legs. Going with the DM options for these parts will turn my wallet inside out! Have any owners of the DM-6 come up with any effective but inexpensive solutions? :tonofbricks:

#2 mistyridge

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 12:46 AM

No, but I sure love that mount. I handles three of my scopes, SV115, C8HD and C9.25HD. I have it equiped with a sky Commander DSC. You pay for quality :grin:

#3 mountain monk

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:04 AM

Even with the extension it still may not clear the tripod. Mine is a Planet, and it doesn't quite clear with my NP-101 if I use the handle.

Dark skies.

Jack

#4 mistyridge

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 01:24 AM

I use a tall DM tripod for the SCTs and a Losmandy HD tripod with a 12" pier extension for my SV115T.

#5 Jim7728

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:26 AM

I think a UA Unistar Deluxe will handle your EON(120?) just fine for less than half the price.

Only reason why I have a DM-6 is I got it used on AM for a nice price which is still an option for you, but you have to be persistant and patient with the search.

#6 Doug D.

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:52 AM

If it is any solace it probably isn't the most expensive AltAz in its class - I think the Nova Hitch would now be a primary contender for that spot.

As important as the mount itself are the legs and anything else you have in the chain (e.g., extension, tripod adapter, base plate, etc.). Not what you want to hear perhaps but I wouldn't skimp on whatever sits under the mount. You might end up looking to replace your existing tripod at some point after getting the DM-6 if you aren't happy with the performance - so any adapters you have to buy now to make it work with your surveyor tripod could be wasted. Maybe your tripod is fine but if you have any doubts it is worth considering it now. Not trying to make the $ situation worse but just taking a potentially longer view that could save money in the long run.

Buying used is a good solution as Jim points out but they are snapped up quickly when listed at a fair price so you need to be prepared to act quickly.

You didn't mention how big your scope is - maybe a DM-4 would suffice and save you a lot of money? In that case, I highly recommend Tom's 4" saddle with the 4" dovetail converter, which lets you use vixen, AP and Losmandy dovetail bars - brilliantly simple design!

#7 JMW

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 11:06 AM

I bought my DM-6 used. It came with a Losmandy adapter and the 12 inch Losmandy extension, 10K encoders, DM-6 saddle and handle for less than the cost of the DM-6 head new. I use it on top of a Planet. The mount design is simple and should last a lifetime so it is a good bet to buy it used when you can find it.

#8 kevint1

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 02:53 PM

The DM-6 is a great mount but might be overkill for an EON 120. A DSV-3 if you want slow motion controls or a Unistar Deluxe would work fine at far less cost.

#9 ASTERON

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 04:38 PM

"As important as the mount itself are the legs and anything else you have in the chain (e.g., extension, tripod adapter, base plate, etc.). Not what you want to hear perhaps but I wouldn't skimp on whatever sits under the mount. You might end up looking to replace your existing tripod at some point after getting the DM-6 if you aren't happy with the performance - so any adapters you have to buy now to make it work with your surveyor tripod could be wasted. Maybe your tripod is fine but if you have any doubts it is worth considering it now. Not trying to make the $ situation worse but just taking a potentially longer view that could save money in the long run."

Amen to that.
I've bought my DM6 Used. Its a very good mount. I have been trying to find a high end tripod for mounting it with no success. As I would like to mount a 12" LX200R OTA (@40 Lbs) on it, I was looking to the best tripod I could find.
Rob Miller tripods are never sold used and he is not available for making or selling new ones.
Seems like I am stuck with the Berlebach Planet, which I hesitate to Buy because its quite heavy and cumbersome relative to the Rob Miller alternative.
I have patience and I'm still looking at AM and here for a used Rob Miller, but I have a gut feeling I may soon run out of patience.

I agree with DougD in that the DM6 May be overkill here. for an EON 120. I have a DM-4 on a standard DM-4 tripod and it carries my ES 130mm quite well (for Visual).
However, the DM-6 might be worth keeping because it may be able to handle other much bigger OTA's.
Seems like your best bet is looking for a Used Planet tripod with an extension column.
'

#10 tomcody

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 05:04 PM

You may want to stay with the Diskmount saddle as it is offset to help balance at zenith.
As for saving money, just get the head, saddle and any adapter you may need at first, you can add everything else later.

#11 chrisg

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Posted 05 June 2013 - 08:27 PM

You didn't mention how big your scope is - maybe a DM-4 would suffice and save you a lot of money? In that case, I highly recommend Tom's 4" saddle with the 4" dovetail converter, which lets you use vixen, AP and Losmandy dovetail bars - brilliantly simple design! [/quote]

Thanks everyone for your help! Right now, I'm using a 120EON with Zeiss binoviewers. I have a surveyor's tripod now, but no mount!

I'm not sure if either the DM4 or DM6 would be able to mate properly with the surveyor tripod! I do intend to get at least a 9.25SCT, maaybe a C11? Does anyone know if the 9.25 with binoviewer would be too much for a DM4?

Aside from the offset design of Tom's saddle/plate system, wouldn't an ADM vixen saddle suffice?

:question:

#12 ASTERON

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:41 AM

Chris,
Regarding the matching of a DM4 or DM6 (whatever you end up with) with a surveyor tripod I think you should try calling Larry at Universal Astronomics.
I have had very good experience with him when I needed to mate several Alt-Az Mount heads ( W.O. EasyTouch, and giro III) to several different Surveyor type tripods. He was extremely helpful and communicative and I ended up having exactly what I needed which I enjoy greatly until now because the solutions he came up with were so flexible and universal to mount heads with 3/8" type female threads.
he also insisted on not selling me some stuff that I erroneously decided I need - he is an extremely honest guy and is not just interested in making a fast buck!
I can highly recommend him to anyone looking for the utmost in customer service. His Prices are also very reasonable.
Give him a call or e-mail and detail your needs and what you wish to do and I am sure he will assist you if he has anything that fits your needs. I think they may also be able to do custom fitting but i am not sure (my purchase was several years ago).

If you have a C11 in your future as well If I were you I will get me a Saddle for the DM6 that can handle both Vixen and Losmandy D type Dovetails. This way you can mate both small refractors and big SCT's on he ame saddle and you will not need to dismantle and remount different saddles.
I dont remember exactly who sells these dual-dovetail saddles but I think you should check ADM as well as Cassady saddles.
Another approach may be to get your DM-4/DM-6 with a Losmandt Type D saddle and buy an ADM adapter with Male D type and a vixen female receptive saddle end ( I have one and it's very nice and versatile and allows me to instantly put any type of refractor or SCT on the mount- the only minus is that you have to pay for an extra piece of equipment).

I also think you should be getting some kind of extension post or pillar to add height to your mount in order to avoid having to crawl on the ground when you are using a long refractor and trying to observe near the Zenith.
Just my 2 cents. :rainbow:

#13 Mark9473

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 12:23 PM

Anybody try a block of hardwood as a tripod extension for the DM-6? Any reason why that wouldn't work?

#14 Kunama

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:34 PM

I went through this scenario as well and decided on the T-Rex mount instead.
For me the advantage of the slow motion controls alone was important.
The T-Rex also is able to use the Skywatcher/Orion pier extension and tripod.
I bought the head only with standard saddle from the supplier.
I bought a brand new tripod for $50 from a chap who used a pier only.
I replaced the saddle with the Robin Casady 8" EM version along with the Casady 14" Tak Dovetail bar and made a quick-slew handle (to DSP design but longer.)

Food for thought ?



#15 chrisg

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 05:55 PM

Post deleted by chrisg

#16 Kunama

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 06:08 PM

Definitely food for thought, thanks!
At this point, I'm going with an ADM saddle for $69 since my EON already has a Vixen plate, trading my tripod for an older, sturdier, Losmandy tripod. If necessary an extension for this is around $120 vs $225.
I considered the T-Rex but the complexity of it's insides sorta scares me off. If it broke, I wouldn't know where to begin, but a DM, I probably could take care on my own. Also, I'm not a huge fan of slow motion cable controls..


I doubt either of these will break in normal use, both the DM6 and the Rex are beautifully built, I plan to add JMI Train & Track motors to mine at a later date. Good luck with your setup!

#17 chrisg

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Posted 06 June 2013 - 07:15 PM

True true! The t- Rex is a highly regarded mount. (I've deleted my original post because I realized that I sorta broke one of my own rules - I based an opinion on zero experience!) :foreheadslap: :blah:Apologies to the T-Rex owners! and I'm sure they're great. I'm simply drawn to the DM for it's overt simplicity.

#18 KJL

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:29 AM

chrisg wrote:

I'm not sure if either the DM4 or DM6 would be able to mate properly with the surveyor tripod! I do intend to get at least a 9.25SCT, maaybe a C11? Does anyone know if the 9.25 with binoviewer would be too much for a DM4?


Kunama then wrote:

I went through this scenario as well and decided on the T-Rex mount instead.
For me the advantage of the slow motion controls alone was important.

This is potentially a helpful observation for me as well. I was eyeing an upgrade to a C9.25/11 and am given to understand that the narrow TFOV of these scopes benefit a lot from slow-mo controls. In fact, I remember Eddgie recommending slow-mo controls as almost mandatory for the C11, though I can't seem to find his post at the moment.

So if you are planning an upgrade path to a large SCT, this may be a very important consideration in your choice of alt-az mount.

#19 KJL

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 09:42 AM

If it is any solace it probably isn't the most expensive AltAz in its class - I think the Nova Hitch would now be a primary contender for that spot.

Well, I have to admit neither is inexpensive! But I've also been considering what to do if I upgrade to a larger scope and came to the conclusion that neither wins the most-expensive-alt-az-mount-in-the-world prize. Or both do, depending on how you look at it.

As important as the mount itself are the legs and anything else you have in the chain (e.g., extension, tripod adapter, base plate, etc.). Not what you want to hear perhaps but I wouldn't skimp on whatever sits under the mount. You might end up looking to replace your existing tripod at some point after getting the DM-6 if you aren't happy with the performance - so any adapters you have to buy now to make it work with your surveyor tripod could be wasted. Maybe your tripod is fine but if you have any doubts it is worth considering it now. Not trying to make the $ situation worse but just taking a potentially longer view that could save money in the long run.


This is so true. I know it may be bad news to chrisg, but in my experience any mount must be considered with the legs as part of a system. For example, just because a set of legs is heavier or has more wood in it doesn't mean it will automatically work better for all mounts.

Consider my Manfrotto 3021Pro aluminum legs which weigh 5.3 lbs and have a 13.3 lb load capacity. I spent a few months with this tuning fork of a tripod before I got wiser, saved up, and purchased a Gitzo GT1542T carbon fiber set of legs. That weighs 2.2 lbs with a 15.4 lb load capacity. It is VASTLY SUPERIOR to the far heavier Manfrotto, despite being ludicrously featherweight with leg segments the size of a pencil (or so it seems).

Thanks to the Gitzo, I was able to mount bigger and bigger scopes to my Mini Hitch before I literally ran out of room on the mount itself (C6 SCT). If I were still on the aluminum Manfrotto legs I would have maxed out with an 80mm CF doublet, and even then the scope took 3-4 seconds to dampen, whereas with the Gitzo the dampening time is closer to 1.5 seconds. Same sort of difference with my Stellarvue M2 mount. So the tripod legs make that much of a difference.

BTW, before I finalized on the Gitzo GT1542T, I also tried the much cheaper Feisol Travel CT-3441S carbon fiber legs; these weigh 2.53 lbs and are rated to 22-lb capacity. They were better than the Manfrotto, but not that much better. I remember comparing them at the time to a rubber-coated tuning fork. So to my wallet's great disappointment, I ended up with the Gitzo ultra-lightweight.

Thanks to these experiences, when I upgraded to a larger "home" tripod (that was still travel-capable) I jumped straight to the Gitzo GT5562LTS. That has an 88-lb load capacity, but weighs just 6.5 lbs and collapses to 19.5 inches. No regrets, well, until I have the room to store a Berlebach Sky or equivalent .....

It's really true what people say about paying up once, becoming happy, and never thinking about the cost ever again.

#20 The Ardent

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 06:27 PM

Why not make a tripod out of 2x4's or 4x4's ? I have pitiful woodworking skills and I made a tripod with 2x4's and a 1/4x20 center post. I used a TnT binocular mount on it. Wasn't pretty but it worked.

I have the Discmount tripod. I can hang onto it while observing and no shakes.

#21 Doug D.

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Posted 05 July 2013 - 10:29 PM

Thanks to these experiences, when I upgraded to a larger "home" tripod (that was still travel-capable) I jumped straight to the Gitzo GT5562LTS. That has an 88-lb load capacity, but weighs just 6.5 lbs and collapses to 19.5 inches. No regrets, well, until I have the room to store a Berlebach Sky or equivalent .....

It's really true what people say about paying up once, becoming happy, and never thinking about the cost ever again.


This is so true, and I think many of us who have tried to save money by going with lesser "quality" options end up spending a lot more in the long run. Thom Hogan wrote an often cited essay about photography tripods several years ago that makes just this point but I think, if anything, it applies even more to us as astronomers. It isn't unusual to read posts here on CN from folks who just spent a fortune on a scope and/or mount and then, in an attempt to save money, buy a pretty shaky set of legs not up to the task. Invariably, it gets replaced by another mount and/or tripod (or even a succession of mounts and tripods) resulting over the long-haul in far more expense than if a quality set of legs was bought in the first place. I'm guilty of this myself so I speak from painful experience. However, I also realize that sometimes you just don't have the cash and in such cases, it is easy to justify to yourself a "compromise" solution.

I'm of the opinion that an "alpha-class" scope ends up being only as good as the mount and tripod/pier it rides on. It just isn't worth cutting corners on this - maybe "make do" with anything until you can afford an "alpha class" tripod for a DM-6 (e.g., Berlebach Planet, AP-Baader, G11, Gitzo 5 series, or the Discmount tripod). Bear in mind that a used tripod is almost certain to work as good as new even if beat to heck cosmetically (just watch out for dry rot on wooden tripods). Astromart or CN would be a great way to buy a top quality tripod for less - may just take some time and patience.

I'm with KJ on the 5-series Gitzo CF tripod, at least for a DM-4, not so sure it is up to the task of a DM-6 but maybe. Of course, the downside is that this is a really expensive option ideal for travel. You can get a Planet for close to same cost I believe, but no way a Planet is compact travel friendly! I use an AP/Baader wood tripod with my DM-6 and a 5-series Gitzo (I forget exact model number) with my DM-4 and couldn't be happier. By the way, Astro-Physics recently replaced the AP/Baader they use to sell with the Planet and I've noticed that there have been a number of AP/Baaders appearing on Astromart recently at reasonable prices - it is still a great tripod and perfect for the DM-6 (with the right adapter of course) but it is quite heavy. Now that it is perhaps no longer considered the top dog wooden tripod, the used prices will drop (I think they may have already).

#22 The Ardent

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Posted 06 July 2013 - 04:45 PM

Losmandy heavy duty tripod at great price






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