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DiscMount vs. Half Hitch

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#1 FLYcrash

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 02:19 PM

Hi all,

I just wanted to get some advice about how I'd make a choice between a DiscMount and Half Hitch mount for a grab and go sort of setup. To be specific, it would be for a smaller refractor setup for my Lunt solar scope and perhaps a future nighttime refractor in the 4" range. So mounts in the DM-4 or Quarter Hitch category would make most sense.

I haven't contacted DiscMounts; while the person running Half Hitch is by all accounts a nice person, he hasn't returned my emails.

Thanks in advance! :)

#2 gillmj24

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 04:14 PM

Do you care about slow motion controls?

#3 swsantos

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Posted 23 October 2013 - 06:02 PM

Call him (Charles at HalfHitch) on the phone he answers is almost every time I call no matter what the (reasonable) time of day and will happily and patiently talk to you for as long as you want. Much better than email to discuss equipment the give and take of a phone conversation can be much more in depth than an email. I have spoken with him dozens of times sometimes for half an hour about all things mount-y. He is a wealth of information and insight and is very enthusiastic about his craft.

#4 skullpin

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 05:01 AM

I have the DM4, but no Hitch product. The DM4 is a wonderful cold weather mount, fully usable with thick gloves or mitts (even the saddle clamp knob is huge).

Keith

#5 FLYcrash

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 10:13 AM

Thanks all. Regarding slow motion controls, hmm, I'm not certain. Currently I use a kludgey mount that our own Matthew Bernick fashioned from a salvaged Vixen alt-az head and some wooden legs. (Kludgey but simple and affordable - thanks Matt!) I did some machining work a couple years ago so that the mount would accept an Arca-Swiss style photo dovetail. I was planning to do some more machining to make braces so that the legs extend symmetrically; currently they are braced with chains so that the legs can splay out in weird ways. But ultimately, I'm working around a pretty crude and inexpensive head, so I wonder if it's time to stop plowing time and money and get a proper, nice mount.

Long story short, the Vixen head includes some squishy but usually functional slow-motion controls that I use routinely to track the sun. The mount would be really annoying without them, but I wonder if a really fine quality head obviates the need for slow-motion controls.

Given my urban habitat, the mount would get a lot of solar, lunar, and planetary time.

Thanks again! :)

#6 kevint1

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Posted 24 October 2013 - 05:54 PM

You should also check out the Desert Sky Astro DSV-2 or DSV-3 for that size scope. Either will hold a scope that size with ease.

#7 FLYcrash

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 12:04 PM

Thanks about the pointer to the Desert Sky offerings! They seem really nice (and quite affordable).

The point about cold weather is interesting. It sure is cold a decent fraction of the year here in Chicago, and it would be nice to be able to operate the scope, for quick looks if nothing else, with gloves or mittens on. I can operate the Vixen head with gloves on; other observing aspects, however, do force me to take my gloves off.

How are the Half Hitch or DSV mounts for this?

#8 k5apl

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 09:28 PM

My impression was that the Half-Hitch looked 'fragile' compared the the DM4 or DM6. I prefer mounts that are less
susceptible to damage since I do all my observing by going
to a dark site.

Wes
DM6 owner

#9 t.r.

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 06:13 AM

My impression was that the Half-Hitch looked 'fragile' compared the the DM4 or DM6.


If anything, I think the Half/Quarter/Nova Hitch is the least fragile of all...it appears overbuilt if anything. It may not be simplistic in its design, but it eliminates all the issues other designs have. I asked Charles about the load bearing specifically, he said that the mounts (Quarter Hitch mark III and Nova)breaking weight is 1000lbs! Would the others hold together at that weight/load? It may be a finicky mount, but fragile it is not.

#10 Quintessence

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 08:16 AM

Without entering the pro-and-con discussion and without rendering any opinions, let me provide a little background info:
1.) The Half and Quarter Hitch are no longer in production.
2.) The Half and Quarter Hitch were specifically designed as grab n go mounts. You have to keep in mind the purpose of a product in order to properly evaluate statements like, "My Corvette is lousy at hauling furniture" or "My F-350 is terrible for navigating winding mountain roads at high speed."
3.) Of the approximately 450 Half and Quarter Hitches in use, I've been asked to repair damage to exactly three. Two had been dropped onto hard surfaces, and the other had received a hard blow in an non-drop accident. In all three cases, the damage was minor, and the mounts were easily restored.

Charles

#11 Adam S

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 04:09 PM

I've just taken delivery of a Nova Hitch. There's nothing fragile about it. It's stout with a very durable feel. From the slow motion knobs to the elaborate saddle system the Hitch mount is built to last. No reservations about using this mount on the go.

#12 urassner

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 08:21 PM

I have a half hitch with encoders and it is a lovely mount. It is my travel setup and although I have overloaded it from what it is recommended for (it carries a 20 lbs 5 inch f8 refractor) it does great. Movement is silky smooth (never use the slow motion controls, since nudging it is so easy). I have a Sky commander connected which connects to my Ipad with Sky Safari Pro via SkyFi. I have the mount, sky commander, Starbeam batteries and a few small parts in a Pelican 1450. Easy to setup. On vacation I usually leave it set up and carry the whole thing outside when it gets dark.
The mount itself is very rigid and extremly elegant. The only part that might be fragile is the slow motion control, but I have not had any issues with them.
It really is a work of art that Mr. Riddel has created.

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#13 FLYcrash

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 06:29 AM

I appreciate your comments. Thanks, Charles, for clarifying that the mounts are no longer in production. I'd been meaning to ask about this, given that these smaller mounts are no longer advertised. Ultimately, given the size/cost range I am looking at, the DiscMount and Desert Sky offerings will probably be what I choose between. Looking at all of these mounts, I realized that with a bit more machining I'd be able to take the tripod legs from my old mount and make something that would accept a new head and (I think) would be more than adequately stable. That would save a nontrivial amount of money, though it would cost a few more hours in the shop.

This might derail the thread, but I wonder why top-end small-scale equipment seems to go out of production so often. From a customer's point of view, it is sad, because there are lots of cases where I'd have the capacity (in terms of money, space, luggability) to get a small thing but not to get something twice as big and twice as expensive.

I had the same feeling about the small Astro-Physics refractors. I was getting into astro just around the time that they were selling their small 4"-scale scopes for the last time. My guess from monitoring the website is that the transition from smaller, cheaper scopes to really big, really high-dollar scopes is a deliberate business decision and one that is unlikely to reverse.

Is it that ESG&A (which in a tiny operation amounts to stress and lost sleep for the proprietor) becomes too overwhelming a part of the total cost per unit? Is it to maximize revenue from a given shop footprint? Is it because fanatical quality control is especially hard to scale? As a person perpetually curious about businesses, who sometimes reads 10-K disclosures in my free time, I just had to ask. :)

#14 Quintessence

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 06:57 AM

I have to be careful here -- because I am limited by CN rules. But I think this will fall into the category of answering a direct question, which I'm allowed to do.

As I mentioned before, the Half and Quarter Hitches are very specialized grab n go mounts. Specialized niches within the astronomy gear market can be very small -- making it hard to sustain manufacturing, which requires a certain volume of production to be cost-effective. I think the Half and Quarter Hitches have many ardent fans -- but because of their specialized nature, they tread on the edge of not having a sizable enough market to support manufacturing.

I thus made a business decision to switch to more general purpose mount designs that would have broader markets. The Nova Hitch is the first such mount -- but the smaller Free-Turn 1 will be available in about five weeks.

I think other manufacturers make similar decisions based more on numbers than the technical appeal of products. In the case of some refractors, I think glass availability can also be a factor. And sometimes when you build things, you just see better ways over time -- and make changes accordingly. I don't think manufacturers make changes on whims. It costs a lot of money to put any creation into production -- and the risks involved with starting new production are always high. So, manufacturers generally have compelling reasons for making product changes.

Charles

#15 FLYcrash

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 07:24 AM

Thanks, Charles. Makes perfect sense.

Come to think of it, my own position - as a person with a taste for top-end build quality but, as a grad student, a tight budget and a third-floor walkup apartment from which to carry gear down - is probably not super common.

#16 kevint1

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Posted 29 October 2013 - 09:02 AM

I live in Michigan, and know about cold, clear winter nights. :D

I have had the DSV-3 for about a year now, and used it all last winter with my EON 120. I didn't have any problems with the mount. It never got bound up from the cold and the slow motion knobs are knurled and large enough to turn with gloves on. I don't really use the slow motion controls that much unless I am using a high power. I simply move the scope by pushing on the side of the focuser or the diagonal.

#17 astrophile

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Posted 30 October 2013 - 04:48 AM

Raman-- My 2c, maybe worth 4 with inflation: For your described application, slo-mo controls would be important to me. Others will disagree, it comes down to personal preference.

Charles' current-production Nova Hitch is a fabulous mount but too much, I think, for your requirements. Seems like a Half/Quarter Hitch would be a good choice, the knobs are quite workable with gloves. Those mounts come up on a-mart infrequently but regularly.

I have to say here I have no experience with the DSV line, which is certainly worth consideration too.

Good luck!






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