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Regarding Refractor Mounts: Your Thoughts

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#26 Koala117

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 04:33 PM

Okay, first of all: Wow! I never imagined that when I logged in this would have so many replies!

Thank you all so far for replying and feel free to continue doing so. Seems there is great discussion happening. I have read every single reply but if I replied to everyone, I fear I'd be at risk of spamming the forums. That's a good thing, though. Means that hopefully this thread will be useful for others in the future, too, like it is for me! :jump: There are a couple of comments I'd like to address, if it is okay::

Jon Isaacs wrote:

As a note, your current EQ mount can also be used as an ALT-AZ mount. Instead of aligning the RA axis with Polaris, you point it straight up at the Zenith.


Jon, this is very true! You are, much more-than-likely, the person on CN with the most experience with the kind of mount and scope that I have, judging from what I've read in my time here so far. It is a very sturdy mount and tripod, indeed!

That said, would you, or anyone, know if there are other scopes, *fast or slow*, that will fit into this mount's clam-shell? Or if not, is there a way to easily get other scopes into it? I ask because it would actually save quite a bit of money if I could just find an OTA instead of an OTA+Mount/tripod, you see! And everyone likes saving money! :D

Here is a picture of my scope and mount/tripod, for reference:
http://www.cloudynig...5883369/page...

Granted, it would not save much in the way of weight since the mount is quite well-made, of course. But if I knew of an OTA or possibly OTA that comes with EPs that would fit into my current setup, it would definitely open up the field of options while still being able to use the super sturdy mount I have, currently! I think I recall someone once saying that, even though it's an 80mm scope, that they tube itself is not a standard tube size for 80mm???

Eddgie wrote:

When you get to the end of an arc, you can move a star from the bottom or top of the field to the opposite side, then sweep back in the other direction. You get perfect coverage of the sky.


That's a really good idea! One I had never thought of, before. I'll be applying that in the future for sure. :D

Gord wrote:

Another point I've found important to me over the years is to have "enough" mount.


This is definitely a fear, of sorts, that I have. If I *did* go for a light-weight EQ-1, just for budget purposes, like the ST80-A comes with, I'm worried of its ability. It's also part of the reason I've been considering the 70mm Vixen that comes with either the Mini Portamount. It can also be bought with the regular Portamount II, but, at nearly $100 more. =\

--
Okay, so thank you all once again! I've already book-marked this thread as it is and will be of great value for me. Please do keep discussing, should you feel inclined to do so!

With great thanks,

Mike

#27 Eddgie

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:32 PM

The DM6 is a great mount no doubt.

Expensive though.

And not exactly light weight...

The DM 6 head weighs in at a portly 16 lbs. That is (Drum roll please) twice the weight of a Vixen GP2 mount had which leaves 8 lbs for counterweigts.

And the GP2 HAL 130 tripod is a marvel of light weight design.

Load capacity is 22 lbs, which makes it suitable for refractor up to maybe 110mm.

It may not be as stable as a heavy duty AL Az, but since it tracks with a geared slow motion control, you never have to touch the telescope to push it.

But the OP said to dismiss size and weight. I was just countering that a GEM does not have to be heavy and hard to use.

I have tried a large variety of Alt-Az mounts (though never the DM6 because it was too expenisve for me) and none of them gave me the raw utility of a Simple GEM and the reasons I listed where why I personallly vastly prefer a GEM over an Alt Az, even an expensive Alt Az like the DM6.

#28 Kutno

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:39 PM

If it has setting circles, you can use them to polar align, without needing to even so much as cast a glance at Polaris.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


Thank you Thomas. I have never looked into this.

#29 Eddgie

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:49 PM

This is my C5 mounted on a light weight GEM. It even has a 9V battery RA drive. Included with this setup is a binoviewer, solar filter, and extra eyepeice pair.

The tripod is the amazingly light Vixen HAL 110. It is the lightest tripod on the market and one of the stiffest for a small GEM.

The whole thing is so light I can easliy pic it up and carry it out under the sun.

I have geared slow motion, no issue with balance or nose dives, and traking at the flip of a switch. In manual made, I can track using the knob in one axis with even a crude polar alignment.

I can't for the life of me see how anyone could call this heavy or complicated.

And having tried a variety of Alt-Az mounts, I have always come back to this for 80mm refractors and small SCTs and MCTs.

With the HAL 130 legs, it would be fine with up to 100mm refractors.

Where is the complexity and weight in this? I just don't see it???

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#30 Eddgie

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:56 PM

And here is the same mount converted to Alt Az (which takes a whopping 10 seconds with no tools involved).

I could even remove the counterweigt shaft if I wnated, but it is so light that I don't see the need.

I can use it in Alt Az and have slow motion and none of the issues with balance or any of that, but EQ mode is just soooooo much easier because of the RA and Dec movement (knobs move along the lines of RA and DEC making star hopping a breeze) and of course for me, having located an object, I lock the RA clutch and the scope starts tracking.

I can change from a low power eyepeice to the highest power eyepeice I have and the target does not move from the field! I can't tell people how many times I tried changing from a 31mm Nagler in my Televue 101 to a 4mm eyepeice when using Alt Az mounts only to have the target move out or be bumped out of the field.

So, as easy as it is flip this scope to Alt-Az, it is just sooooo much more practical to use in EQ mode.

GEMs don't have to be big, heavy, or complex to use.

I bought this mount used for $100 (Craigslist) and the tripod was $50 (it came with a wooden tripod but this one was taller, better).

I hve used Alt Az mounts that cost me 3 times as much and have not been nearly as pleased with them...

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#31 Kutno

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 06:56 PM

wow, observing from the mean streets of the city! sounds like some tough conditions. You could still use an EQ mount though, if you're not using GOTO there will be no motor noise, and you won't need close polar alignment.


Well, they claim it's the city that never sleeps; but I don't believe it.

Hmm. So that egg-beater sound I have heard is slewing, eh?

#32 Gord

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 09:05 PM

This is definitely a fear, of sorts, that I have. If I *did* go for a light-weight EQ-1, just for budget purposes, like the ST80-A comes with, I'm worried of its ability. It's also part of the reason I've been considering the 70mm Vixen that comes with either the Mini Portamount. It can also be bought with the regular Portamount II, but, at nearly $100 more. =\


Mike,

I've played with the EQ1 & EQ2 for quite some time in the past, and specifically with the ST80. My setup was the EQ2 that came with my old Tasco originally and some custom hardwood legs I made to beef it up. With this setup, I was actually very happy with the performance. Did a much better job with the ST80 than the 4.5" F8 newt. I didn't find the EQ1 to be nearly as stable though.

But for a longer tube, it's really on the light side (the EQ2). It will work, but I've also come to the conclusion that I'm pretty patient when it comes to mounts compared to some people. I'm quite happy using the C14 on a G11 and a lot of people think that's crazy! :crazy:

I think a really good option in a light EQ these days (for the more budget minded) is the EQ3. It's seen a lot of updates in more recent years and sports a lot of the features of the EQ5's, but is very nicely priced ($250?). It's a lot of mount for the money.

And of course there is always the classifieds. Of course not as readily available as new on the shelf options, and you have to do some searching and expect that things might not be perfect, but there are good deals to be had. For example, I picked up a Vixen GP-DX (the green vintage) on a HAL130 for only $125! Yeah, it was a bit rough in terms of appearance (I think the term "ugly" was used in the ad :lol:), but still very smooth and functional. I replaced a bunch of rusty bolts and did some cleanup on the paint on a few tripod parts, but it's a very functional (and capable) mount.

Clear skies!

#33 PJ Anway

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 09:23 PM

I use driven equatorial mounts almost exclusively - no nudging for me. The only time I use an alt-az is for low power observing - such as solar or other daytime viewing; where nudging is minimal.

#34 fjs

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 11:51 PM

For me it would be no contest. I am pretty much a newbie, having been out of the hobby a couple decades. I would use an eq mount exclusively. They are so much easier to use. Finding an object with a chart is straightforward and intuitive with an eq mount.
Alt-az mounts under your conditions would only be good for terrestrial use. For locating night sky objects they are a big pain. Low cost and weight are their only advantages.

#35 KWB

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 12:04 AM

Alt-az mounts under your conditions would only be good for terrestrial use. For locating night sky objects they are a big pain. Low cost and weight are their only advantages.


I respectfully disagree. They work very well for locating celestial objects for those that know their way around the night sky. I never see simplicity as a pain,but rather as an advantage. Quality Alt/Az mount are not low cost items either but I do agree the lighter weights they tend to possess is also another advantage for someone like me.

We have a saying here at CN and that is YMMV(Your mileage may very). What doesn't work for one person may very well work for another.

#36 Koala117

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 12:08 AM

And of course there is always the classifieds. Of course not as readily available as new on the shelf options, and you have to do some searching and expect that things might not be perfect, but there are good deals to be had. For example, I picked up a Vixen GP-DX (the green vintage) on a HAL130 for only $125! Yeah, it was a bit rough in terms of appearance (I think the term "ugly" was used in the ad :lol:), but still very smooth and functional. I replaced a bunch of rusty bolts and did some cleanup on the paint on a few tripod parts, but it's a very functional (and capable) mount.


Yep, I keep an eye on CL and ebay. Though, I've been burned by a seller in the past on ebay and I never got my money back, so, I'm leary about ebay. At least with CL, if I find an ad that looks good, I can go and check it out in person, before handing over money! :D

In the meantime while waiting for something juicy on CL, I think I'll be also looking up reviews for things like, as an example, this(i.e. the mini porta): http://www.telescope...ithportamoun...

I have heard nice things about that scope(which also can have the porta II instead of the mini, like in that link). So, if people enjoy the mini version, it would give another option as a possibility for us budget-astronomers! :D Seems as if it'd be super portable and lightweight. Plus, if it handles the longer(and more prone to catch wind on windy days) f/12.9 70mm at 4 lbs., it could easily hand an ST80, which their site says weighs 3.8 lbs., further down the road. :D

This thread has made me decide that each has very good merits of their own, and that there is no such thing as 'the best' between the two choices; alt-az or EQ. =)

--

PJ Anyway,

Solar also seems very fun. Even when only one thing is visible in the sky, the thing that is visible seems to always be teeming with activity!

Edit: Eddgie, while I am only speaking for myself here: Weight is very much a factor for myself. I have a rather bad heart and get winded incredibly easily. That is, I run out of energy quickly. By the way, great looking mount that you have, there! =)

#37 fjs

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:39 AM

Alt-az mounts under your conditions would only be good for terrestrial use. For locating night sky objects they are a big pain. Low cost and weight are their only advantages.


I respectfully disagree. They work very well for locating celestial objects for those that know their way around the night sky. I never see simplicity as a pain,but rather as an advantage. Quality Alt/Az mount are not low cost items either but I do agree the lighter weights they tend to possess is also another advantage for someone like me.

We have a saying here at CN and that is YMMV(Your mileage may very). What doesn't work for one person may very well work for another.


Sorry, didn't mean to start an argument here. :flower:

#38 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:51 AM

Jon, this is very true! You are, much more-than-likely, the person on CN with the most experience with the kind of mount and scope that I have, judging from what I've read in my time here so far. It is a very sturdy mount and tripod, indeed!

That said, would you, or anyone, know if there are other scopes, *fast or slow*, that will fit into this mount's clam-shell? Or if not, is there a way to easily get other scopes into it? I ask because it would actually save quite a bit of money if I could just find an OTA instead of an OTA+Mount/tripod, you see! And everyone likes saving money!



Mike:

Your question is a good one... And your scope and mount are good ones, a Meade 312. These were was manufactured by Towa, probably in the late 1980s. The OTA is carried in a clamshell and I believe it is an 82mm tube. This makes for some difficulty because the standard ST-80 has 90mm tube.

However if I am not mistaken, the clamshell unbolts and one could bolt a flat bracket and the rings for an ST-80 to the mount. One really only needs a single ring for the ST-80, I use mine that way and I have a 2 inch focuser and with the diagonal and the heaviest eyepieces, the scope weighs less than the eyepiece+diagonal.

If you could provide a close up photo of the underside of the clamshell it would refresh my memory and I would have a better idea of how you might proceed.

Jon

#39 hudson_yak

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:04 PM

Nice setup, Ed, certainly I'm not carrying my current alt-az rig out of the house in one trip. Takes three, actually.

Much of this comes down to one's viewing style. Whether studying targets for a long time, possibly seated, or just coming out to look around at stuff during breaks in the ball game. I'm mostly the latter type, short attention span I guess.

I stayed with eq for many years, partly because I just liked the concept. The LB finally showed me the other way might be better for me, and I haven't looked back. A couple alt-az mount purchases followed. I still have my eq mounts, but never feel like using them.

I like not having to rotate the focuser or diagonal often when pointing to a different part of the sky. I like viewing standing up and not having to bend over too much. I don't use a binoviewer but that's just another thing that likely has to be rotated frequently with an eq when pointing about the sky.

I've also found, since my old SCT works very nice on the Nova Hitch and thus has come out of semi-retirement, that the moving-mirror focuser works better in some rotational orientations than it does in others. I'm able to keep it in a good orientation all the time. I also think the collimation holds better.

Lastly, with a few iPod apps (SkySafari, Clinometer, Commander Compass) I'm able to do one of my favorite things relatively easily, finding planets in daylight.

Mike

#40 Koala117

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:39 PM

Jon,

Thank you for your response to my question! :D

I took a photo for you and hopefully it is what you are requesting. Well, actually, I took about 11 pics because my stupid pain medicine makes my hands unsteady sometimes. This was the best one I could get. I did try really hard to make a nicer one for you but was unsuccessful. ;( Feel free to ask if you need other pictures and I'll do my best. =)

Edit: When you say flat bracket, do you mean something from an online site or something to be specially crafted? =)

Edit2: As a completely off-topic side-note: I suppose this is a good demonstration of why I'm unable to hand-hold binos, which I discussed in the bino forum last month! hah. :)

Posted Image

#41 Koala117

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 05:14 PM

I like viewing standing up and not having to bend over too much.


I do all of my observing sitting down. At 6'11" barefoot, I'd have a hard time not doing so! :D

I don't mind, though, since sitting helps me keep myself steady, as well as my telescope.

#42 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 05:45 PM

I took a photo for you and hopefully it is what you are requesting. Well, actually, I took about 11 pics because my stupid pain medicine makes my hands unsteady sometimes. This was the best one I could get. I did try really hard to make a nicer one for you but was unsuccessful. ;( Feel free to ask if you need other pictures and I'll do my best. =)



Mike:

That photo is all that is needed. I think you can remove the two bolts that hold the clamshell in place and then the ring could be bolted to one of them. Two would probably be stronger and the rings are about $33 shipped from AgenaAstro.

It would make swapping OTAs somewhat time consuming but possible. What do you think??

Jon

#43 Koala117

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 07:08 PM

Hi, Jon!

That's a really great idea. =) These are the ones you're referencing, I think?::
http://agenaastro.co...-90mm-3-54.html

So, I basically would just stick those onto an ST80, and put the bolts right through the mount, like normal, and then into those rings. I think that's the way(no dovetail/bracket needed, then, for this idea?). I wouldn't be surprised if the main OTA of the ST80 would also be long enough that I could fit both rings for extra steadiness, by using the pre-existing bolt placements. Since the rings come as a pair, couldn't hurt to try! :D

If I'm lucky, the bolts I already have will even be the right size for the rings.

Thanks for the advice. Seriously, if that works, you just saved me an extra 100 dollars or so, while giving me a way to get a scope that compliments my Meade 312 Having never used rings, something like that is a new adventure for me! Also, if I'm not understanding something, go ahead and tell me. I'm not very mechanically inclined, so, my pride won't get bruised.

Actually, as I finished typing this reply, I remembered that the ST80(link below) rings that actually come with the OTA here could maybe fit by just removing the dovetail. and adjusting the rings postioning to fit onto the bolts in the picture above :question:
http://www.telescope.../p/9947.uts?...

That could maybe be another work-around that I hadn't considered. Unless, of course, it wouldn't work and my lack of experience is showing itself. Which would not surprise me!

#44 Gord

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 07:30 PM

Mike,

That mount is an EQ2. Looks the same as mine from my Tasco. Jon is right, just undo the bolts. There is a cheap adapter you can get that will give you a 1/4-20 stud to allow you to mount whatever you want with that kind of block. My ST80 has that kind of block. Handles the ST80 perfectly. The upgraded tripod legs helped though.

Clear skies,

#45 Koala117

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 07:41 PM

Ohh, okay, Gord, I see. I think it is this:
http://www.telescope...Adapter-for-...

That actually makes sense. I didn't realize my mount was called an EQ-2! I guess Meade and Orion both use these mount heads, then? Sweet! Also, my tripod legs are pretty sturdy and have upgraded bolts for where the tripod legs attache to the head. It's like a little rock, I tell ya! :D

-
Hmm.. I just zoomed in on that pic of the ST80 OTA i linked above. I don't see where 1/4 - 20 would attache to that dovetail. That means that the whole OTA would be held on to the adapter by a single 1/4 screw going into the ring?? That seems kind of scary. :o

#46 Gord

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:40 PM

Hi Mike,

I see now, that one in the link is actually an upgraded package. It uses rings and a dovetail and all that. Nice!

It might not have the 1/4-20 hole on the bottom, but it would be a simple task to add. Just drill and tap it in the bar. I've done it numerous times on them.

The one I got isn't shown any more, but is closest to the ST80-T model. And on that one it says it has the 1/4-20 hole for mounting.

And fear not, it's plenty to hold a little scope like this. :)

Clear skies,

#47 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 09:30 PM

I didn't realize my mount was called an EQ-2


Mike:

In my mind, it's not actually an EQ-2, it Meade 312 mount manufactured by Towa. It is an EQ-2 class mount. Splitting hairs.. and I don't have many to split.

Jon

#48 Koala117

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 11:59 PM

Mike:

In my mind, it's not actually an EQ-2, it Meade 312 mount manufactured by Towa. It is an EQ-2 class mount. Splitting hairs.. and I don't have many to split.

Jon


Ahh, I see what you're saying. =)

Well, either way I'm quite happy with it. Very sturdy, indeed. As well as good-looking!






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