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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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t.r.
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Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Alt/Az Experience needed...
      #4461396 - 03/20/11 08:59 AM

Looking at getting my first alt/az for grab and go simplicity. I've always had GEMs and love the tracking and clock drive ability. At what magnification would you say "pushing" an alt/az becomes bothersome for planetary viewing? One respected CNer here says he can't enjoy alt/az at all and prefers GEMs for all viewing. I'm just trying to loose the dead weight if I can and use my refractor more on weeknights and quick looks...I'm looking at the quarter hitch and gibraltar as options. Any advice on using an alt/az would be appreciated...can it be done for planetary and even binoviewing or is it folly?

Edited by t.r. (03/20/11 09:00 AM)


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rmollise
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4461450 - 03/20/11 09:29 AM

I find alt-az perfectly useable on the Solar System at powers up to and over 300x. Wide apparent field eyepieces help, and it's probably best to have a drive for really critical work, but I've seen plenty of cool stuff with various alt-az mounts and Dobsonians. This assumes the mount has smooth motions, of course.

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skybsd
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4461473 - 03/20/11 09:40 AM

Hi,
I've been through a similar quandry myself last year in looking for an airline portable, travel mount.

Do you have a budget in mind?
How far is the "go" in your grab 'n go intentions?
Which refractors do intend on using with your intended Alt-Az mount?
Do you have any experience tracking by hand?

My requirements were resolved in my getting the SV-M2 and my favourite, the fully tricked out UA UniStar Deluxe + DSC.

My search is still not complete, though The only downside to these systems is the lack of slow-motion controls - for tracking, albeit manual. Don't get me wrong, lots of people seem to like "pushing" the scope along by hand - personally that gets old after a couple of hours.

Like I said, its just me. After trying out slow-motion controls on a friend's vixen GP GEM, I'm convinced that getting this in an Alt-Az system will solve the last piece of the puzzle for me- but your own experience may differ..,

Best wishes..,

Regards,

skybsd


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t.r.
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Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: skybsd]
      #4461485 - 03/20/11 09:46 AM

I did have a Super Polaris mount that I drove by hand for many years chasing planets across the sky,but never an alt/az...over,up,over,up,over...

No budget, "go" to the back yard.

I'm mounting my AP130Gt on this, 18# loaded. I'm wondering if slow-motion controls are a necessity on alt/az mounts for any chance of chasing planets successfully?


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4461639 - 03/20/11 11:12 AM

Hi tr:

Personally, I find that 200x or so is where it starts to get annoying for me with a slo-mo alt-az mount. But it depends to a degree on your EP. 100° AFOV at 200x gives you a lot more drift time than 50° AFOV at the same mag.

Just curious though - since everyone's definition of grab and go is different (see endless threads on this topic ), can you describe a little more about your grab and go scenario and what defines it for you? Since you say you love tracking, maybe there's a goto alt/az mount that will fill your need.

-Dan


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skybsd
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4461857 - 03/20/11 12:50 PM

Hi,
Good to hear from you..,

Quote:

I did have a Super Polaris mount that I drove by hand for many years chasing planets across the sky,but never an alt/az...over,up,over,up,over...





Ahh - cool, that's important experience to have, really,


Quote:

No budget, "go" to the back yard.





Understood - pretty straight-forward then


Quote:

I'm mounting my AP130Gt on this, 18# loaded. I'm wondering if slow-motion controls are a necessity on alt/az mounts for any chance of chasing planets successfully?




Indeed - as I'm mainly focused on DSO, its quite useful to me - and I can't comment for planetary usage.

At that payload, I'd tend to prefer reflex-arm type alt-az mounts - like the UniStar, HH / QH, and T-Rex mounts. If you're already tending towards the "hitch" mount, I'd advise you give the owner there a call to discuss whether or not he'd recommended the half, rather than the quarter hitch mount.

Outside of the reflex-arm mounts, you're really better off talking to Tom at Discmount - for a AP130GT, I'd want to make sure there's little chance of tipping over.

Have you thought of what tripod you're likely to use? The tripod is often the neglected part of the equation, and is actually important to get right, too

Regards,

skybsd


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Nippon
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Reged: 10/22/09

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: skybsd]
      #4462007 - 03/20/11 01:47 PM

I have a Tele Vue Alt Az and a AT Voyager for my TV 85. The Voyager has slow motions and the Tele Vue is push to. I actually prefer the Tele Vue due to its lack of slow motions. It is just easier to grab the scope or handle and move it for me. Either mount works fine up to 200 or so with the 85. The thing I really like about the Alt Az over a GEM, which I also have, is the convenient position of the eyepiece and finder regardless of what part of the sky I want to look at. I got the chance to play with a Tak 120 on a DiscMount DM 4 and was impressed. If I could swing it money wise I would go with one of the DiscMounts.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4462040 - 03/20/11 01:57 PM

Quote:

I'm mounting my AP130Gt on this, 18# loaded.




That is getting to be a pretty big scope for a grab and go alt-az rig. It's not going to be "a leave it mounted and haul it out the back door and be ready in a minute" rig.

But in any event, as Rod says, 300x on the planets is relatively easy once you get the hang of it. With larger scopes, one can go much further depending on the mount and target. For refractors I like mounts like the Vixen Portamount that allow me to point and shoot dob style but also provide slo-mo controls for tracking at high magnifications.

But it really depends on you and your particular situation. If you are in a place where the seeing is normally stable so you are not waiting for that one moment during the night when everything comes together, then manual tracking makes sense.

jon


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Bill Barlow
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Loc: Overland Park KS
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4462486 - 03/20/11 05:27 PM

I've had very good results with Universal Astronomics' Unistar altaz mounts on UA aluminum surveyor tripods. One setup that is very portable and will work well with a C6 or a 3-4" refractor is the Unistar light mount on the light surveyor tripod. This setup only weighs about 12 pounds.

I use UA's heavier Unistar Deluxe with a 7" duel clamping saddle with my C11. This mount head is attached to a Meade field tripod. This setup weighs about 28 pounds. I also have pan handles installed to make the push-pull motions easier so that I don't have to touch the scope. With altaz mounts, proper balance is the key to having smooth motions. I can use 200-300 magnifications fairly easily on these mounts.

Bill


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t.r.
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Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #4462522 - 03/20/11 05:46 PM

Quote:

Hi tr:

Just curious though - since everyone's definition of grab and go is different (see endless threads on this topic ), can you describe a little more about your grab and go scenario and what defines it for you? Since you say you love tracking, maybe there's a goto alt/az mount that will fill your need.

-Dan




For me, it is trying to get a 5" refractor and its mount out the door in one trip! Right now, I have a C6 on a EQ3 and use this scope most often, as it is one trip out the door. I want to be able to use the fantastic Ap130 more, but it is no small feat to get it out and working on a light weight mount for the type of observing I primarily do, planetary. The Mach is great, but it is a weekend only venture...just need something light and easy to use, but steady enough to "push it" to track a planet at 200x! I feel the Gibraltar 5 may do this, but I don't no if I'd be disappointed with "pushing" to follow a planet with it!?!?


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edl
professor emeritus


Reged: 06/24/04

Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4463038 - 03/20/11 09:47 PM Attachment (56 downloads)

I have the Quarterhitch and absolutely love it. My Edge8 HD and 105/650 APO ride on it effortlessly, and its my first choice for solar viewing too. I'd certainly recommend checking the new half hitch models to anybody wanting an alt-az mounting system. Not inexpensive, but worth it in my opinion.

Best,
Ed L.


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Waduino
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Reged: 10/24/08

Loc: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: edl]
      #4464645 - 03/21/11 05:11 PM

T-Rex is another possibility, although I have never seen or tried one myself. It looks like it could handle the 130 without breaking a sweat.
I'm not so sure about grabbing this setup in one go though. Might be a bit of a handfull.
Wad.


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Lt 26
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Reged: 02/19/09

Loc: Northwest Illinois
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Waduino]
      #4465340 - 03/21/11 10:59 PM

I think the Gibraltar 5 would work for your scope. The Ash tripod is harder and one pound heavier than the Walnut. The 5 head is very smooth and I use mine with no or very little tension. A good set of rings is a must over the TV clamshell. I also use the DM 18" straight handle to drive it. Settle time is about one and a half seconds or less, I know sounds crazy. I too think slow motion controls would get in the way here.

I use mine at 175x with a 4" scope and find it smooth and easy to track. I keep the tripod, mount, handle, rings, eyepiece caddy and starbeam all set up. Open rings, add scope, view.

Dereck


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t.r.
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Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Lt 26]
      #4465770 - 03/22/11 08:06 AM

Thanks Dereck, thats what I needed. Can you go higher to around 200x and still track a planet comfortably? Can you leave the scope mounted and carry the whole shebang out the door in one trip? Also, can you expand on the slo-mos getting in the way...

Edited by t.r. (03/22/11 09:29 AM)


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Lt 26
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Loc: Northwest Illinois
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4465906 - 03/22/11 09:49 AM

t.r., if I had wider doors or a Patio sliding door I could. The movement of the scope on the head is smooth, effortless, and vibration free that with T6,s or Ethos give me long views without moving the scope much. If I recall Jupiter drifted through the E6 at 146x in around 90 seconds, without one nudge.

The Gibraltar is a simple design that just happens to work very well. I stay at 200x or under, my skies boil.

Dereck


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dscarpa
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Loc: San Diego Ca.
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4465999 - 03/22/11 10:41 AM

I have my C9.25 on a Giro 2, my IM715 mak on a WO EZ, and swap my WO ZS110 and Lunt 60 between a Voyager and SW AZ4. I've tracked up to 370X with the C9.25 and 350X with the mak. I don't find tracking at these powers hard if the scope is balanced and the axis tension dialed in. I use 100, 82 and 70 degree eyepieces. I enjoy using the slomo on the Voyager but don't think it has a advantage over my no slomo mounts. The Giro and Voyager are not sensitive to being level which is a big advantage. David

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dtsmith
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Reged: 03/22/06

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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: dscarpa]
      #4466517 - 03/22/11 02:32 PM

How does the size and weight of the AP130 compare to the NP127?

I've had my NP101 on the standard Gibraltar and a DM6. For tracking, I had no issues with the Gibraltar, however I found focusing to be a bit of a guessing game at around 200x due to shaking. While I'm a bit over-mounted on the DM6, there is no issue with focusing,tracking or switching eyepieces. I will say that the DM is not really grab and go - it's heavy and the scope can/will turn easily as you're moving it. It's OK if you're going 10 - 20 ft, but I find that it's best to make two trips for set-up/tear-down. The Gibraltar is smaller, lighter, easier to break down for storage and transport, but I'm not sure how well it will handle a larger scope at high magnifications.


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timmbottoni
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Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: W Chicago suburbs, IL USA
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: dtsmith]
      #4466576 - 03/22/11 02:56 PM

I use a C8 and a WO 80mm on opposite sides of the original style WO EZ Touch. I manually push the scopes and can track at 250X on the C8 easily. I have tried higher, using a 4mm UWAN which is 508X but that is too hard. 300X is manageable but takes some getting used to.

TImm


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Mike E.
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Reged: 01/26/10

Loc: Moonstone Observatory
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: timmbottoni]
      #4466664 - 03/22/11 03:32 PM Attachment (56 downloads)

I have a Half/Hitch Mount. It is a fine piece of engineering.

Charles is currently making the "Super Half/Hitch" which is designed for larger scopes.

Check out the website at: http://www.halfhitchtelescope.com
Also check out their forum on the yahoo site. (Half hitch telescope users)

Here's the Half/Hitch with an Intes-Micro 5" Mak.
.


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tonyt
professor emeritus


Reged: 09/02/09

Loc: Australia
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Mike E.]
      #4467073 - 03/22/11 06:25 PM

While planetary observing can be done with alt/az, it's better with slo/mo controls and better again with a driven mount. Each observer needs to figure out what they're prepared to trade off for portability.

I keep a cheap mount sitting on the back verandah to allow for quick/convenient set-up. If you're able to do this maybe a used EQ5/Skyview pro would suit?


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Ira
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: tonyt]
      #4467345 - 03/22/11 08:51 PM

Given your requirements, I would recommend the T-Rex. Never used it myself but have extensively perused the materials online. I use a Vixen PortaMount with a 4" refractor. For me, slo-mo controls are a requirement. The Vixen has very smooth and easy to use ones, the T-Rex far better still.

I can use the highest powers the seeing will support with my rig, but I have to admit it does get tedious after a while using the slo-mo manual controls. I can see much more, and more comfortably with my simple motor-driven C8. Hence, I am transitioning over to an iOptron MiniTower, hoping to maintain the ease of set-up of an alt-az mount with the convenience of motor drive (and goto).

/Ira


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NHRob
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: tonyt]
      #4470319 - 03/24/11 07:04 AM

Hi Tim,
I've pursued this goal before and found it only worked for me with a small apo (< 4"). I found that it was often dicey getting the whole rig out the door without the scope swinging and hitting something. Sure you can lock down the axes but, once I forgot and wacked the scope against the door frame. Nevermind that the porch door was spring loaded. I ended up having to be a contortionist to get the thing outside without dinging the scope. I've used a Gibralter, a Gyro, and Unistar mounts, as well as a Discmount "clone". The scopes I used were all sorts .. SV-105, FS-102, FC-100, Traveller, TEC-140, TV-101, TOA-130, and on.

In the end I found it was just best to do it in two trips ... mount first, then the scope. Fewer ulcers! With such a fine scope as your AP130GT, that's what I would do.

Once outside it was easier to move the whole rig, to reposition it.

That's my opinion ... given at no charge .... and worth every penny you paid for it!

: )


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t.r.
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: NHRob]
      #4470343 - 03/24/11 07:34 AM

Rob, Which of those mounts would say say was the better experience with the larger (5") scopes?

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NHRob
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Loc: New Hampshire
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: t.r.]
      #4472804 - 03/25/11 07:31 AM

Oh, I forgot .. I also had a Teegul mount, with my own DIY version of the Lapides mod (used baltic birch).

The DM clone was a homemade job with 5" diameter solid alum discs. The bearing surfaces were polished and moved against sheet teflon. That sucker was smooth! I used a FS-152 and TOA-130 on it and it didn't break a sweat! The structure was made from baltic birch ply and sat on a semipier. It was definitely NOT GnG!

Hard to say which was the best since I've used them at different points in time and with different scopes.

My opinions:

Gibralter: easy to use, classic good looks on the wood tripod. I found it fussy to achieve critical balance and for movements at high mag. I feel that the issue is that the bearing diameter is fairly small, relative to the moment arm of many refractors. Great for a short apo, IMO.

Gyro-II: very nice, smooth mount when friction is adjusted up. cantilevered design (which I am not wild about). A good option, IMO.
The 130GT is light enough that you prob don't need a counterweight.
Counterweights are a deal-breaker for me, to be considered a grab-n-go mount.

modified Teegul: also cantilevered but solid and I loved the slo mo controls. I think this is another great option - get a good tripod! I used it with my FS-102.

Unistar Deluxe: while this mount easily handled my scope (TEC140) I found that at high mags, there was a little bit of mechanical resonance (due no doubt to the long alum. arm ... think tuning fork!). It extended the damping a bit to maybe 1-2 seconds. Maybe I was being picky about that. It is incredibly easy to use, a friendly mount. My scope was a heavier load than yours so, you would do a lot better than I did. Use a good tripod!

I think a solid tripod is 70% of the solution. Don't skimp on that. In my experiences I did not factor in slo-mo ctrls. If that is important than I think you could get the Teegul to work, using a tripod extension head.

The HH looks intruiging and, if I had the $$ I'd think about going that way ... due to good reviews and slo-mo ctrls.

Hope this helps.


Edited by NHRob (03/25/11 12:10 PM)


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bbyrd
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: NHRob]
      #4472920 - 03/25/11 08:49 AM

Quote:


I've used a Gibralter, a Gyro, and Unistar mounts, as well as a Discmount "clone".





I never encountered a Discmount clone. What is it?
Thanks,
Bob


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FirstSight
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Bill Barlow]
      #4472949 - 03/25/11 09:09 AM

Quote:

I've had very good results with Universal Astronomics' Unistar altaz mounts on UA aluminum surveyor tripods.




I second the recommendation of UA's Unistar mount. The owner of UA, Larry, is extremely helpful to talk to, and is the sort of guy who won't gladly sell you something that is a poor fit for your needs, just to sell you something.


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NHRob
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Reged: 08/27/04

Loc: New Hampshire
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: bbyrd]
      #4473294 - 03/25/11 12:08 PM

It was a homemade mount, for my own use.

Quote:

Quote:


I've used a Gibralter, a Gyro, and Unistar mounts, as well as a Discmount "clone".





I never encountered a Discmount clone. What is it?
Thanks,
Bob




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NHRob
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: NHRob]
      #4473304 - 03/25/11 12:13 PM

I would also take a close look at the DM4, the Discmount4. That appears to be a nicely sized for the AP130 GT!

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coopman
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: NHRob]
      #4474401 - 03/25/11 09:25 PM

I have a 127mm Antares f6.5 and a Sky-Watcher 120ED. These OTAs take turns on my Unistar Deluxe and UA heavy duty surveyor's tripod. These are enjoyable combos to use in my opinion and work very well for my purposes, but I am more of a rich field scanner and pump up the power when I run across something that I want to take a closer look at. I look at the moon a good bit, but the planets only casually. It is easy to nudge the OTA on the Unistar, but the control is all you, there are no slow motion controls or knobs to turn - that would be the one improvement that I'd love to see them make. Like was said previously, Larry at UA is a great guy and he will give you straight answers about what he believes your set-up should be. I don't recommend using the light alum. tripod because this will increase the shakes and dampening times so much that it will be annoying. When I first got my 127, I was planning to use it on my lightweight alum. tripod with the Unistar light mount. That combo was very unsuitable and I knew after the first night under the stars that I was going to have to beef up the mount and tripod if I wanted to use the scope without a lot of patience and frustration. Of course, I was exceeding the rating of the mount, so you can't blame the poor Unistar Light for it. I am now using a Unistar Deluxe and heavy duty surveyor's tripod on a Scopebuggy. This is a great set-up for me, because I can let up the garage door, grab the scopebuggy handle and pull it on out into the yard whenever I'm ready to observe. If you under-mount your 130 you will be miserable with it, especially if you want to do high mag. planetary observing. You should plan on taking the tripod & mount outside first, followed by the OTA. In my experience, refractor tubes are awkward to carry around when mounted and you don't want to bang up your scope.

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philrod
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Reged: 07/19/04

Loc: Fallon, Nevada
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: coopman]
      #4544152 - 04/25/11 09:52 PM

I don't know how I managed to miss this interesting discussion. Probably too much tv. Anyway,I'm considering upgrading my telepod to a light weight Alt/Az for my TV85 & SV102ED. My tenative choice is the DM4 with encoders installed on a Stellarvue heavy duty surveyors tripod. If it works out, I'll probably sell the telepod & GM8 as I don't have much storage space and, as t.r. says, it's all about "grab and go simplicity".

Philrod

TV85/Telepod
SV102ED/GM8
10x50 ultraview
Various Radians Plossls & Panoptics


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Jawaid I. Abbasi
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Reged: 06/19/07

Loc: LEVITTOWN, PA
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: philrod]
      #4544224 - 04/25/11 10:24 PM Attachment (35 downloads)

Three mounts but now a days; oly using P-mount.
22# P-mount capacity
25# Each side Orion AZ (dual mount)
22# Capacity Slik SH-909


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Jawaid I. Abbasi
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Jawaid I. Abbasi]
      #4544225 - 04/25/11 10:24 PM Attachment (31 downloads)

Another one

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Jawaid I. Abbasi
Carpal Tunnel
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Jawaid I. Abbasi]
      #4544228 - 04/25/11 10:25 PM Attachment (29 downloads)

And another one

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NHRob
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Reged: 08/27/04

Loc: New Hampshire
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Jawaid I. Abbasi]
      #4544736 - 04/26/11 06:38 AM

So Tim,
Which way did you go??


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Waxing Gibbous
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/19/10

Loc: Victoria, Australia
Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: tonyt]
      #4545421 - 04/26/11 12:32 PM

Much as I'd love to agree with Ira, I think the T-Rex is a little hefty for a "Grab & Go"
Mine is perfect in it's semi-permenant spot, but takes a bit of shifting unless you use a buggy.

The Half/Quarter Hitches were second on my list as they appear beautifully made and have good slo-mo capability.
I by-passed them because of:
a) Price. At the time the HH would have cost me over $2500 to import!
and
b)Lots of exposed bits are not condusive to long equipment life in my bit of the world : hot & dry, cold & wet, windy, dusty, muddy, gritty. Sometimes all at once.

But in less hostile places, I think the 'Hitches would be very nice.


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MattT
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Re: Alt/Az Experience needed... new [Re: Waxing Gibbous]
      #4546435 - 04/26/11 08:55 PM

One of the best and most dedicated observers on the old shallowsky email list observes with a 6" f9 (IIRC) refractor at powers up to 300x, on a homemade alt-az mount. When that list was more active he posted many amazing sketches and observations. So, it can be done.

I've used alt-az mounts often with my various refractors going back 15 years, from 70 to 100mm. I find it gets a little tiresome to track by hand at powers above around 150x. But that's ok, since with scopes of 100mm under my sea-level atmosphere I seldom want to push the magnification any higher. Keep in mind I like to sketch, so my 150x limit is based on an observing style that requires more time away from the eyepiece than others might require.

I have tried a few mounts with geared manual slow motions and haven't found one I've liked. Without polar alignment they seem to get in the way more than anything else. For one thing, you better have both hands free: if you have a spare eyepiece, flashlight, or sketchbook in one hand, good luck trying to turn two knobs simultaneously. With a smooth, free-moving alt-az mount I can just reach up with my pencil hand and nudge the scope along much more easily.

As for brands - I have a Unistar Light that I like, but the 130mm would be too heavy for it. The same maker, Universal Astronomics, also offers larger versions that I think are well regarded.

Clear skies,


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