Jump to content


Photo

Altaz mount recommendations for C90 and C5

  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 25 June 2013 - 10:32 AM

I'm looking for an altaz mount for my excellent C90 Mak. The mount should also be good for a C5 which I'll buy later.

I had intended to buy a Manfrotto HDV501 but these seem to be out of production and the few available here in the UK are overpriced.

So, any recommendations?

Thanks

Graham

#2 rmollise

rmollise

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 15557
  • Joined: 06 Jul 2007

Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:28 AM

I like the SkyWatcher AZ-4 a.k.a. the Orion Versago II...

#3 dpippel

dpippel

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1116
  • Joined: 05 Apr 2013
  • Loc: Desierto de Sonora

Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:10 PM

While it's not elegant or even close to the best available, I'm liking the lowly Celestron Heavy Duty Alt-Azimuth Tripod with my C90. It's sturdy enough for the scope, portable, and the slow motion controls are a big bonus on a non-motorized mount. The price is right too: $70-$75 practically everywhere.

EDIT: Nevermind. I didn't notice your C5 requirement.

#4 Jon Isaacs

Jon Isaacs

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 43872
  • Joined: 16 Jun 2004
  • Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA

Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:13 PM

I like the SkyWatcher AZ-4 a.k.a. the Orion Versago II...


I have the AZ-4 with the 1.75 inch Steel Leg... the Versago II has aluminum legs, a nice mount but I like the Vixen Portamount better, it's hard to beat those slow-mo controls.

Jon

#5 Don Taylor

Don Taylor

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 605
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2009
  • Loc: South Kansas

Posted 25 June 2013 - 10:08 PM

I have both a Porta ii and the Canadian Telescopes Duo-T. The Porta is nice but I bought the head only and use it with either a light surveying tripod or a Celestron Cg5. 2"tubular. The Porta works well with my 80mmG refractor and 90mm mak but it's not sturdy enough for the 4" refractor - so I usually use it or the 8" vixen VMC on the Duo-T.

The Porta might be a little light for the C5 (at least with the usual tripod) but the Duo-T is probably overkill. Both have slow motion controls but the vixen is much more convenient as they move with the telescope. The Duo-T slo-motion knobs are fixed relative to the mount and tripod.

Just my $0.02

#6 jrbarnett

jrbarnett

    Eyepiece Hooligan

  • *****
  • Posts: 20270
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2006
  • Loc: Petaluma, CA

Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:44 PM

Desert Sky Astro DSV-1 on Oberwerk short wooden tripod. The tripod is on clearance at Oberwerk currently.

Skip the Vixen Portamount. It's swept-back asymmetrical design and the rail placement on a C5 and C90 make the two not convenient to use together. Your focuser end up on the wrong side (on top above the diagonal) and with the C5 you may also have clearance issues. You could put the OTAs on an L-bracket and use them with the Porta II, but then you're up higher in price than the custom made DSV-1, which is a much nicer mount.

- Jim

#7 Binojunky

Binojunky

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2794
  • Joined: 25 Dec 2010

Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:16 AM

I have the original Versago, solid aluminum head with aluminum adjustment knobs,stainless steel pan handle, the only downside are the dove tail locking screws which,are underneath, the mark two version had plastic adjustment knobs and a cast aluminum head,the latest version has tubular steel legs and slow motions but the one I tried out in a local store was very rough in operation.
As Jon said the Vixen Porta is hard to beat and probably the best of the bunch in that price range,DA.

#8 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:36 AM

Hello chaps,


Many thanks for your replies.

As the mount is also to be used for occasional terrestrial viewing I think I'm inclined to get a Manfrotto MVH502AH which is the replacement for the 501HDV and which this website:

http://www.bigbinoculars.com/501.htm

reckons is able to cope with 16 lbs.

I already have a suitably robust tripod.

Many thanks for your help.

Graham

#9 Midnight Dan

Midnight Dan

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 11284
  • Joined: 23 Jan 2008
  • Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortle 4.5)

Posted 26 June 2013 - 10:41 AM

I second the Desert Sky Astro DSV-1. MUCH better made than the Portamount/Versago/Voyager type options . If you purchase with the light weight surveyor's tripod available on the Desert Sky site, its price is in the same range as the portamount. If you add a better tripod, of course the price goes up.

You can also get it with a dual head to mount two scopes, at additional cost. I put my Megrez 90 on one side and C5 on the other and it's a great combination.

Not sure about availability or shipping to the UK, but worth an email to check.

http://www.desertsky....com/DSV-1.html

-Dan

#10 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 26 June 2013 - 01:16 PM

The DSV-1 looks interesting but with shipping to the UK and import tax the cost is $288 so I think the Manfrotto 502AH is the way to go.

Graham

#11 spencerj

spencerj

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1157
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2004
  • Loc: Londonderry, NH

Posted 26 June 2013 - 01:34 PM

Hello chaps,


Many thanks for your replies.

As the mount is also to be used for occasional terrestrial viewing I think I'm inclined to get a Manfrotto MVH502AH which is the replacement for the 501HDV and which this website:

http://www.bigbinoculars.com/501.htm

reckons is able to cope with 16 lbs.

I already have a suitably robust tripod.

Many thanks for your help.

Graham


Never really been a big fan of pan/tilt heads for astronomy use. The first issue is that they do not tilt up high enough to get close to zenith, so you have to use them backwards.

The second issue is balance. Once you tip the head back enough to view high in the sky, all the weight is pulling back.

The third issue is tracking. Since the weight is off center, you have to really crank down on the locking screws to keep it from flopping back. This makes it tough to do the continual nudging that is needed to track celestial objects.

The forth issue is stability. That tripod is rated for 9lbs (not sure who thinks it will hold 16 lbs). For anything over 100x, I would say it could hold half that. So maybe you would have reasonably stable views at 100x with a 4.5 lbs scope. Maybe . . . but don't even consider going over either of those limits unless constant shaking does not bother you.

Would it work? It really depends on the tripod, but probably. However, it would not be one of those mounts that disappears and is not noticed during observing. I use a Bogen 410 geared head for my 90mm Apex. The geared nature helps with the third issue and makes the setup manageable, but not quite ideal.

My recommendation would be a Unistar light. I used to have one before I bought my Unistar deluxe. It connects easily to a tripod with a standard 3/8" (??) bolt. The Unistar allows for balancing, has very smooth motions and would easily hold a C5 (something the MVH502AH would really struggle with).
  • skyaddict likes this

#12 iluxo

iluxo

    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 331
  • Joined: 23 Sep 2008

Posted 27 June 2013 - 03:02 AM

Graham,

I use one of these cheap things for casual sessions as a side-by-side setup, with larger scopes than yours - either 1 or both of my 7" maks, or a 4" refractor. I have it on a tripod with 2" tubular legs (save as used on EQ5/EQ6 mounts).

http://www.myastrosh...sp?id=MAS-030K2

It's cheap, dead easy to setup, can be adapted to fit on a tripod like yours, the isostatic design is remarkably free from vibration, easy to slew, and as long as you're happy to star-hop using a finder, its fine.

But, I have outgrown it and am looking for something else later this year. The only mounts that I would consider as alternatives would be:

- One of the various Half Hitch mounts, possibly the Nova Hitch if you want all the frills; these would be fine for casual daytime use as well;

- T-Rex, which provides slow motion controls and can carry a C11, it's overkill for you;

- Skywatcher's AZ-EQ6 which is a superb kit for altaz if you want GOTO and tracking, and fully integrated with say an iPad to control the scope.

I'd suggest you buy a mount that might be a bit more than you need now on the basis you will outgrow your current scopes and move up to a bigger scope sometime. And that's going to need a mount...



#13 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 27 June 2013 - 05:37 AM

Jason,

Many thanks for your reply.

Never really been a big fan of pan/tilt heads for astronomy use.


Have you used the Manfrotto 501HDV or 502AH heads?

Manfrotto claim a tilt range of -80 to +90. The 502AH has a sprung counterbalance and according to amazon.co.uk, the counterbalance supports 8.8 lbs but the head will carry 12.2 lbs. bigbinoculars.com think it will carry 16 lbs which is possible as it is more robust than the 501HDV.

The C5 weighs 6 lbs - well under the 8.8 lbs so I feel sure it will handle it with ease.

Graham

#14 spencerj

spencerj

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1157
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2004
  • Loc: Londonderry, NH

Posted 27 June 2013 - 08:32 AM

Jason,

Many thanks for your reply.

Never really been a big fan of pan/tilt heads for astronomy use.


Have you used the Manfrotto 501HDV or 502AH heads?

Manfrotto claim a tilt range of -80 to +90. The 502AH has a sprung counterbalance and according to amazon.co.uk, the counterbalance supports 8.8 lbs but the head will carry 12.2 lbs. bigbinoculars.com think it will carry 16 lbs which is possible as it is more robust than the 501HDV.

The C5 weighs 6 lbs - well under the 8.8 lbs so I feel sure it will handle it with ease.

Graham


No. I used a Bogen 3126 fluid head rated at 9lbs, but there is no way I would attempt to use a C5 on it. Sure the OTA is 6 lbs, but then you add a dew shield and diagonal and an eyepeice and a finder. It can add up quickly.

The Bogen/Manfrotto products are excellent. Well built and well designed. I have two Bogen tripods and two Bogen heads. The 502AH looks great, but I still stand by my statements above. I know it says it can go to 90*, but that still going to be awkward. The pan handle is going to be into the tripod legs. I always have to flip the handle around to the front to avoid this. That makes it awkward to do the tracking needed for astronomy.

As a binocular mount, it may hold more than the specified weight. However, big binoculars operate at 15-20x. Vibrations are not an issue at that magnification (much more margin for error overall), but in a telescope you want the ability to get to higher magnifications. And you want to be able to track comfortably at those magnifications.

If you already had the head, I would say go for it. You could work with it. If you had a video setup or large binoculars and you pictured this as a dual purpose head, I would say the same thing. But if your primary interest is astronomy, why compromise at that price point? Get something that was designed for astronomy--it will still work great for terrestrial viewing. The Unistar light or something like a Stellarvue M1 or M2 would be my top choices. Take a look at the used market these come up at times for very reasonable prices. But even new, they are in the same price range as the 502AH.

Based on your choice of head, I am assuming you have a decent tripod. What do you have?

#15 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 28 June 2013 - 07:23 AM

Jason - many thanks for your input.

The Unistar Light Basic is available here in the UK for about $400. The 502AH is about $230.

The DSV-1, as recommended by Jim and Dan, which the manufacturer claims can handle an 8" SCT, interests me and is $288. I think this solution has a lot to recommend it.

It's very likely that at sometime in the future I'll buy a pair of large binos - maybe the BA8 28x110.

My tripod is a no-brand Chinese job rated for 12 kg - it's well-made but annoyingly doesn't have a cranked centre column.


Graham

#16 Ravenous

Ravenous

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 547
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2009
  • Loc: UK

Posted 28 June 2013 - 08:26 AM

Just a crazy idea but have you seen this?

http://www.homebuilt...odification.htm

Might enable you to carry more on your photo head - you need to stop the "plank" rotating on the head/plate though. (Rod Nabholz is a member here too, and the above idea's been posted before.)

Bear in mind those binocs are something else... real monsters. I had smaller, cheapo 25x100s and even they were a handful to mount on a photo tripod. So I don't think you'll get a sensible C90/C5 solution that also works with those.

Take the "Kg" ratings of photo tripods with a pinch of salt, too. A given tripod might hold that weight, but with a x100 eyepiece in and the tripod at chest height, it might take a week to stop vibrating!

EDIT: Rod's plank idea I linked above is only a suggestion if you intend to go with the video/photo head. I'm not suggesting it for your AZ-4 of course!

#17 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 28 June 2013 - 09:13 AM

Yes I had seen Rod's article and I do take equipment ratings with a pinch of salt but my tripod should certainly be adequate for any of the mount/scope combinations we've discussed.

Graham

#18 Ravenous

Ravenous

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 547
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2009
  • Loc: UK

Posted 28 June 2013 - 09:36 AM

For a UK source, if in your position I would be tempted by one of these:

SkyTee-2

Bit steep at £275, though probably not much more than the imported cost of the Unistar Light - also, probably heavier duty than a C5 needs. Not sure about tripod compatibility. Needs dovetails too (the hidden cost for many of these systems.)

#19 Grimnir

Grimnir

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 250
  • Joined: 28 Apr 2010
  • Loc: London, England.

Posted 28 June 2013 - 10:02 AM

Interesting mount but probably overkill for the grab-and-go system I want. Do you know the weight?

Graham

#20 spencerj

spencerj

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1157
  • Joined: 17 Nov 2004
  • Loc: Londonderry, NH

Posted 28 June 2013 - 10:11 AM


The Unistar Light Basic is available here in the UK for about $400. The 502AH is about $230.

The DSV-1, as recommended by Jim and Dan, which the manufacturer claims can handle an 8" SCT, interests me and is $288. I think this solution has a lot to recommend it.


That is a crazy price for a Unistar. I paid like $150 for mine when I bought it used. The DSV-1 looks good. Same idea and designed for astronomy.

#21 Ravenous

Ravenous

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 547
  • Joined: 14 Nov 2009
  • Loc: UK

Posted 28 June 2013 - 10:21 AM

How much the system itself weighs, I don't know. I mainly posted it because things like the unistar, etc. are ridiculously overpriced here once you get them imported! Something chinese made and mass imported direct to the UK is probably a better buy. But that's the only one I know of - there aren't any mass-made versions of the DSV-style mounts I know of.

The video head maybe with the side-mount might work, if the motions are smooth enough...

And yes used is cheaper, but harder to find... thgough there is this on one of my regular haunts, no idea what the specs are:

video head






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics