My goodness this scope is big! And the EdgeHD 11's not-to-be-sneezed at 30lb weight, fully-loaded, is not even the main attraction: the bulk is. And here I can state the only obvious downside of the OTA, and it's a doozy: I tweaked my upper back a little playing with it indoors the first night I got it. I'm 37 years old, 5'11", 185 lbs (got that, NSA?), and strong-looking enough to not to be mugged. I've never hurt my back out moving sofabeds and large speaker boxes, but somehow this gleaming cream-colored cylinder did me in after just a few lifts and manipulations. Five days into ownership and I've already been the chiropractor once but to be honest I just have to let it heal on its own. Obviously, not everyone will be in my situation, but it bears consideration. Very. Careful. Consideration.
But since I had it, I had try it out anyway! So far I've only had a couple nights with it, so I went full-out with the Avalon T-POD 130
tripod. The first thing I discovered was that the RRS dovetail plate/lever clamp interface was too weak for the weight of the EdgeHD 11. Well, that is to be expected: the only photography lens that comes remotely close to this telescope is the Canon 1200mm f/5.6 36lb beast, but that is mounted directly over the tripod's head. As you can see from this photo
even with the FTX's accommodating horizontal compensation the EdgeHD 11 is still cantilevered a few inches off the left of the tripod. I guess that level of torque is tough for 53mm of RRS dovetail and clamping surface.
So I threw all the big guns into the equation: T-POD 130 and the FTX with the lovely "TQR" tripod quick-release adapter in between. You can have heavier setups for sure -- a DM-6 or T-REX on a Berlebach Planet comes to mind -- but it is unlikely you will can find a stiffer setup. Which brings me to a basic flaw with my viewing environment ...
... my condo's decks are made of wood. They bounce. They bounce a little with my 50mm refractor. They bounce to distraction with the 123mm f/6 triplet. And they really jigger the view up with the EdgeHD 11, especially since the large scope just invites higher magnifications. And since the FTX + T-POD 130 combo is so stiff, even a tiny vibration will transmit right to the eyepiece. If I stand with knees locked even my heartbeat will be seen in the EP! Before I figured out the culprit I had people yell out for everyone to stop breathing when they were looking through my scopes! None of this is a problem on my friend's concrete deck, and it becomes much less of a problem when I insert some 70-duro Sorbothane pads under the T-POD's feet. This was just a learning process as I moved up the aperture scale.
Fortunately, I can focus on being mad about just this one thing, because the EdgeHD 11 and FTX combination is wonderful! The huge OTA (to me) pirouettes like a ballet dancer on the FTX, and with a delicate touch on the handle I can even nudge along the now truly-resolved M13 at a nominal 550x (I was so excited I didn't actually measure it, but it was at least that from my calculations). And I did just that for at least an hour total, drinking in the globular which I hadn't seen clearly resolved for many months, and certainly never resolved like this. Sure, at 550x there is a bit of vibration when I let go of the handle -- the tripod AND mount weigh less than the OTA, after all! -- but it is small in magnitude and settles in less than a second. In no way does it interfere with the enjoyment of the view: I'll take the significant weight reduction of the FTX over a small bit of vibration any day (or night, rather). Thanks to my aforementioned bouncy deck there are also some "reverse" wobbles when I manipulate the focuser but it doesn't prevent me from achieving focus on the first try -- yes, even at 550x which on a usual poor night is a blobby-star mess. Truly, I feel the EdgeHD 11 and FTX were made for each other: I just wish I could use the pair regularly on grass or on concrete instead.
At more sane magnifications the EdgeHD 11 is a transparent experience on the FTX for me. And judging from this experience, I'd guess that an EdgeHD 9.25 would be rock-solid with the FTX even those with shaky hands (all you old geezers, you), with an EdgeHD 8 a total triviality for the mount. I think my back would be happier with those choices as well, sigh ....
Incidentally, that 550x (and higher) magnification is achieved with my Leica ASPH 8.9-17.8mm zoom in a Denkmeier Power Filter Switch
, customized with their strongest barlow lens for about 2x magnification at the high end. That diagonal is also a great component with the EdgeHD 11, and one I easily recommend, especially in its latest zero-rotation IVB configuration. With it I can achieve a range of about 5x magnifications with the Leica zoom -- 110-550x -- which is probably why I began and ended my second session with that EP in the focuser the whole time.
Also, because the big SCT's mirror moves so little, the refocusing required between "power lens" changes doesn't appreciably change the balance of the scope, so I always use the FTX with no tension on either axes, making for a constantly easy and smooth panning experience. Only when I change EPs or when I switch to the much heavier/taller binoviewer do I first engage the lever clamps on the alt axis or, in the case of the binoviewer, move the trim weight like a trombone slide (yes, I sometimes catch myself making trombone sounds). I then fully release the axis tension and enjoy the FTX's buttery motions. The scope doesn't move at all with the lever clamps fully engaged, nor do they move during clamping, so I don't lose my target during EP switches.
(BTW, the Power Switch diagonal isn't all roses and perfume. The diagonal portion is a standard Williams Optics dielectric, and those are well-known to have a clear aperture of about 42mm at the EP end of the diagonal. The Denkmeier quick-change adapters are themselves rigidly limited to 41mm in clear aperture. Consequently, my Pentax 40XW (and when I had it, the Panoptic 41mm) vignettes in the Power Switch diagonal when used with my f/6 refractor, though it is fairly subtle in that scope. Unfortunately the much flatter >= f/10 light cone of the EdgeHD 11 causes unavoidably obvious vignetting with any EP with a field stop diameter much greater than 41mm. Even a Nagler 31mm has a field stop diameter of 42mm, for example. This means that I can never truly appreciate the already limited maximum TFOV of the EdgeHD 11 when I use the Power Switch diagonal, as the outside 15% or so of the view is visibly vignetted. So I guess I need to qualify my recommendation a little.)