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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived.
      #5733943 - 03/15/13 11:31 AM

I love reading threads about people's new gear. Every time I get new stuff, like this eq platform, I like to share too. So here is a thread about my experience.

For those who aren't familiar with EQ platforms they are placed on the ground, aligned to polar north, and a dobsonian telescope is placed on them. The platform is cocked or reset then turned on. A stepper motor, moving the same speed as the Earth's rotation, then cancels the earth's rotation. This has the effect of keeping a viewed object in the center of the eyepiece without touching the telescope. Without an eq platform the astronomer would have to keep nudging the telescope to follow the object as the Earth rotates. Eq platforms make viewing easier and allow for using higher magnifications since you don't have to manually track an object speeding trough the field of view while zoomed in.

I looked into building a platform as many astronomers do. After all was said and done I felt having a pro do it suited my needs best. Looking around I found three platforms I liked. The Terry O aluminum platform was at the top of my list but also at the top of the price list. Atomic Platforms are still made and are also nice. However, they were a tad undersized for my Lightbridge 16's weight. They are also only sold on Cloudy Nights on a first come first serve basis and come for sale intermittently. The final contender was the Blandin Technical Solutions "Crossbow" eq platform. They had two models of all aluminum platforms priced right.

At the end of November 2012 I ordered a "Crossbow" EQT-200 equatorial platform from Greggs Blandin of Blandin Technical Solutions, 42B Union Way, Vacaville, CA 95687. He can be reached by email at Greggsblandin@earthlink.net. Gregg offers two sized single axis plaforms, an EQT-120 and EQT-200, given their names from their load limits. Greggs makes them in batches so I was on the list for his next batch.

I first contacted Greggs and talked with him extensively about his products. He is an excellent guy to chat with and very knowledgeable. We talked about the genesis of his platforms and their function. He emailed me a flyer and an order form. The order form asked basic information like the weight of your telescope, the diameter of the teflon pads needed, center bolt size, thickness of rocker box, observing latitude, etc. After filling it out and sending Greggs half of the money he went to work.

I selected the Crossbow EQT-200 platform for many reasons. With a load capacity of 200 lbs. it would easily handle my LB16 and also handle any new larger telescope. Greggs said others have placed up to 28" telescopes on these platforms. For $900 it was a steal. A comparable Terry O would go for $2000-$3000. I also like the minimalist all black look of the Crossbow. It matched my telescope well.

Recently Greggs notified me it was completed and he had tested it extensively. It was ready to ship. I sent him the balance and it arrived in the mail this week. The box was well padded on the inside with foam lining. Each part was bubble wrapped extensively and squeezed into the padded box. Greggs had also emailed me assembly instructions. To save on shipping he partially dismantles each platform so there is some assembly required. Everything was perfect after unwrapping. Finish of each piece was impeccable and professional.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5733948 - 03/15/13 11:35 AM

First was to build the lower bearing and drive assembly center support. Two arms swiveled out on each side easily. There are two wires that need to be attached. These go to the stepper motor. I found out that these wires can be switched to switch the direction of the motor. This allows the platform to be used in the southern hemisphere too. After I had it set up and the platform was tracking in the opposite direction I thought I emailed Greggs. He replied immediately letting me know about the wires. The arms are secured with screws on top and bottom.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5733964 - 03/15/13 11:44 AM

The polar axis support assembly has an on off switch for the platform. A plastic connector and four bolts went together perfectly and secured the axis support soundly. Fit and finish are above average for this platform.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5733972 - 03/15/13 11:50 AM

The plastic end cap at this end of the plaform comes off revealing the battery pack. It came from the maker with batteries in place. Four AA alkaline batteries will run this unit for approximately 40 hours.

At the other end of the lower bearing and drive assembly center support the cap comes off too. This reveals a small circuit board. This board regulates the voltage giving just the right amount of power to the motor. You can use a 9v battery, four AA, or two D cells. Each will be regulated to the correct amount going to the motor. Versatile.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5733974 - 03/15/13 11:53 AM

The bottom of the platform is equipped with three leveling feet.

Completed lower part.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5733999 - 03/15/13 12:08 PM

The platform uses a stepper motor with metal gears. It makes a tad bit more sound than other motors however it is nearly bullet proof. Greggs prefers these for their durability.

Proper drive friction is essential to platform performance. The ideal amount of drive friction is slightly more friction than the minimum needed to drive the platform through its entire range. Excessive drive friction will make resetting the platform difficult and put stress on the drive gears. The drive friction is increased or decreased by raising or lowering the drive friction lever on the drive side arm. Raising the drive friction lever increases the drive friction by lowering the black drive side bearing. This allows the weight of the telescope to rest on the orange drive wheel and be shared by the black bearing. This gives the orange drive wheel traction to move the telescope without having to bear the entire weight thereby increasing drive effort and wear. Lowering the drive friction lever decreases the drive friction, by raising the black free wheeling drive side bearing shifting weight off of the orange drive wheel completely. To reset the platform, switch the platform electrical switch to the “off” position. Lower the friction lever as shown. While holding the lower assembly in place, push the platform top away from that side until it reaches the stop. Raise the lever as shown, then switch the platform electrical switch to the “on” position.

I was told by Greggs that this is the first batch of platforms with this new friction lever. It really makes resetting a breeze. When the lever is released resetting takes minimal effort.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734003 - 03/15/13 12:11 PM

The upper arm assembly was the next thing to assemble. Two arms pop out. Two other support arms are then attached to the main body. The ends of the arms are held in place by a small bolt on each side. Then the center is tightened.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734007 - 03/15/13 12:13 PM

The upper arm is then attached to the polar axis support assembly. Ready to roll.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734011 - 03/15/13 12:15 PM

There is a center retaining bolt with a knob on it that is used to hold the upper arm to the lower bearing and drive assembly center support during transport. The retaining bolt fits into a threaded hole on the lower bearing and drive assembly center support. When tightened both the top and bottom are held together when you lift or move it. This prevents lifting the upper part up alone and bending the polar axis support.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734016 - 03/15/13 12:19 PM

Here it is completed. It took me 15 minutes to assemble and take pictures. Pretty straight forward. It weighs just over 19 lbs. and is about 5 inches tall. The teflon pad placement was chosen based on my current telescope's size. Switching the location of the pads is easy by drilling three new holes. This makes the mount infinitely adaptable to any sized scope up or down. When you mount a telescope a long bolt is put through the base's center pivot and then screws into the platform via threads. Very easy and fast.

This platform was custom made for my latitude. However, if I change locations the feet can be raised or shimmed to adapt to the new viewing location on the globe. By lifting the north or south end 1/2" it will adapt to one degree of latitude. Very flexible.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734023 - 03/15/13 12:24 PM

Here I have put the telescope's rocker box/base onto the equatorial platform. This is not a stock LB16 base. I built it from birch plywood and laminated it in flat black. The new base completely disassembles with the knobs and breaks down for travel. It is way stronger and lighter than the stock press board mess it came with too. The eq platform takes the place of the ground board which is not used.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734036 - 03/15/13 12:28 PM

Here it is "cocked" or reset and ready for just over an hour of tracking before needing to be reset.

There have been cloudy nights since it came so it still awaits first light. However, setting it up and running it indoors lets me know it works perfectly.



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btb
sage


Reged: 07/07/06

Loc: Northeast Indiana
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734196 - 03/15/13 02:03 PM

Nice looking rig. You did a fine job explaining the assembly.

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rockethead26
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/21/09

Loc: Arizona, USA
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: btb]
      #5734214 - 03/15/13 02:13 PM

Congrats on the new platform. After you get a chance to use it outside, I'm curious to know whether or not the "tail" that sticks out is a trip hazard in the dark.

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Chucky
sage
*****

Reged: 04/16/10

Loc: Dublin, Ohio
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: rockethead26]
      #5734314 - 03/15/13 03:15 PM

<< However, setting it up and running it indoors lets me know it works perfectly. >>

.....perfectly indoors doesn't necessarily equate to perfectly outdoors under the stars in the heat of battle. I bet it will work fine outside, but one never fully knows until real world application.


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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Chucky]
      #5734444 - 03/15/13 04:24 PM

After this platform was finished Gregg Blandin, the maker, ran it through complete testing under the stars with a telescope installed. When I talked with Gregg when it was completed he told me that it tracked effortlessly and accurately as he described the testing process. This is a custom manufacturing process with low numbers. Quality control is very high. I have every confidence that this platform works perfectly even in the heat of battle.

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demiles
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5734627 - 03/15/13 06:18 PM Attachment (65 downloads)

I've been using one of Gregg's platforms for the last 10 months and it truly a great product. You won't be disappointed.

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demiles
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: demiles]
      #5734654 - 03/15/13 06:34 PM Attachment (49 downloads)

I have kicked that end just once while viewing straight up at zenith.

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ZuoZhao
sage


Reged: 10/16/12

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: demiles]
      #5735768 - 03/16/13 09:29 AM

it can use for plantes imaging ? I means use F20 or more.

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demiles
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: ZuoZhao]
      #5735950 - 03/16/13 10:51 AM

I suppose you could, I'm able to view planets at f15 on a regular basis. I'm not an imager so there could issues I'm not aware of.

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demiles
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: demiles]
      #5736237 - 03/16/13 01:00 PM

I forgot to mention that the biggest advantage to Gregg's platform is stability. It's every bit as if not more so than the original ground board. Most other platforms are a compromise especially on a grass field.

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Mantis707
member


Reged: 08/14/12

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: demiles]
      #5736601 - 03/16/13 04:32 PM

Very cool! thank you so much for taking the effort to do such a thorough job / write up..... This is immediately on my wish list when I get a light bucket.....

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bilgebayModerator
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 11/06/08

Loc: Turkiye - Istanbul and Marmari...
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Mantis707]
      #5736673 - 03/16/13 05:15 PM

Congratulations on the new mount!

This is a great write up! Thanks.


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G Blandin
Vendor (equatorial platforms)


Reged: 03/12/12

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5736894 - 03/16/13 06:47 PM

Thanks for taking the time to do such a thorough and detailed write up! I'm really glad people like the product. I've put a lot of effort into designing and building these so having happy customers makes it really worth it.

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Aperturefever
super member


Reged: 12/12/10

Loc: Lake Macquarie, Australia
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: G Blandin]
      #5738017 - 03/17/13 04:45 AM

Hi Doc,
I really must stop looking at your posts ... every time I do it ends up costing me money! Excellent write-up - this is something I've been looking into for a while to help with my sketching. I'm looking forward to hearing a review of its performance. In the meantime, I'll start swinging the hammer at the piggy bank!


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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Aperturefever]
      #5739627 - 03/17/13 09:21 PM

I am glad you all enjoyed the posts.

Today I fine tuned my new rocker box to work with this platform. Stock the LB uses a lazy Susan bearing. This mod involved adding an Ebony Star bearing and increasing the teflon pad size to accommodate my heavier telescope. The width of the bearing is 1.5 inches. That means there will be 9 square inches of surface area for the teflon pads. This is more in line with a 15 lbs per square inch of telescope weight recommended. It works great now.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5739630 - 03/17/13 09:23 PM

I do believe this baby is star worthy. Tonight will be windy but doable. I am excited.



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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5740598 - 03/18/13 12:16 PM

First light with the Crossbow eq platform was a charm. Last night viewing conditions weren't excellent but they were doable. It took moments to set up. First I laid the eq platform down and eyeballed north, leveled the feet, and set the telescope up on top of it. Then after a quick collimation routine I spun the telescope around, turned on the fan, reset the platform, and put in an Orion 20mm illuminated centering eyepiece then focused in Polaris. A flip of the platform's on switch brought the crossbow to life. Now I went inside and left the telescope to cool and track for a bit. It took me about 10 minutes to get it set up to this point.

After 15 minutes I went back out and checked Polaris. It had moved ever so slightly from the cross hairs. I almost nailed alignment by eyeballing it. Pretty cool. I have to say the long axis of the north/south part of the platform gave me a nice long part to eyeball while setting it up. Nice. I bent down and nudged the south end of the platform to make the correct drift alignment. I was glad there was the part that sticks out on the south end. It gave me a great point to push and lever the platform while it was set up like this. Polaris was re-checked for center then I went back inside.

After 10 more minutes I went back out and checked Polaris. No appreciable shift. I was excited now. The platform had gone through almost half of it's radius by now so I reset it. The Great Orion Nebula/M42 was hanging above just asking to be looked at. I spun the telescope around, put in a 13mm Nagler T6 and focused on the target. The nebulosity just hung there in the center, not drifting, not moving, just being. I watched for a few minutes marveling and getting my head around the new experience. My big dob was tracking effortlessly.

Ultimately I wanted to see how close it tracked so I put the Orion illuminated cross hair ep back in and moved down centering Rigel. Again, I just let it drift. After 5 minutes it still was dead on. I figured this was a good time to take the dog for a walk and earn brownie points with the wife. Coming back 30 minutes later Rigel had no appreciable shift. I was so happy.

I spent the night hopping here and there for another hour or so. I was able to go back to M42 and put a 2x Barlow on the 13mm T6. It was so sweet to not have to nudge and track the target with it zoomed in. At one point I tried to use a 3.5mm T6 but seeing conditions prohibited clarity. I can say that while switching between the 13mm to the 3.5mm eps I could tell the target remained centered albeit unclear for good viewing.

Stability was outstanding. The Crossbow eq platform is more stable than the stock ground board and lazy Susan set up. The radius of the telflon pads on the new eq platform is wider than the radius of the lazy Susan bearing. This has the effect of giving more stability and less rebound time after moving the telescope. The actual platform is rock solid. It takes a significant amount of pushing the telescope in ways it isn't designed to wiggle it at all. In normal viewing the platform doesn't wobble a bit. The platform also tracked through over 60 minutes before needing to be reset. There were no problems at all through all ranges of the tracking radius. It never slipped, stalled, or otherwise stopped tracking accurately the whole night.

Before breaking down I marked the position of the three feet on the ground to speed up set up next time. By not having to drift align I can be viewing much faster now.

I would give the Crossbow EQT-200 a solid "A" grade.


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G Blandin
Vendor (equatorial platforms)


Reged: 03/12/12

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5740708 - 03/18/13 01:21 PM

Thanks for letting us know how it worked. Just a tip for faster alignment: you can move the lever up into the reset position and bring it to the beginning of tracking travel. Center on Polaris and just push it through the tracking range manually. That way you don't have to wait. If Polaris drifts: UP- scope too far left, DOWN-scope too far right, RIGHT-Scope pointing too high (shim south end), LEFT- Scope is pointing too low (shim north end).

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Project Galileo
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 11/14/07

Loc: Jefferson County, Colorado
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: G Blandin]
      #5740756 - 03/18/13 01:47 PM

Gregg, I thought about tracking manually like that. I had the extra time and other things to do so waiting was not a problem last night. I know when I take it to a dark site setting up manually like you suggested will help. Thank you for making me a wonderful tracking platform.

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G Blandin
Vendor (equatorial platforms)


Reged: 03/12/12

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Project Galileo]
      #5741474 - 03/18/13 07:17 PM

The scope moves really easily with the reset lever up so what I do is just put some gentle pressure with my foot on the east arm until you feel the stop. Then center Polaris, walk around to the other side and do the same thing which moves the platform through the tracking cycle. Then check to see if it moved.

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GWING
member


Reged: 04/23/11

Loc: Clifton Park, NY - USA
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: demiles]
      #5765439 - 03/29/13 06:05 PM

Great report! Thanks for sharing it. Greg W

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CarsRfun2
super member
*****

Reged: 04/20/09

Loc: Ohio
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: GWING]
      #5831589 - 04/30/13 05:19 AM

Hello,
I have a question. How do you transport the scope? My 18 inch Obsession is heavy and requires wheelbarrow handles and wheels to move.

Clear skies,
Keith


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Alvin Huey
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/18/05

Loc: NorCal
Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: CarsRfun2]
      #5832388 - 04/30/13 01:48 PM

My 22" is heaver than an 18" Obsession. I disassemble the scope and carry the three main parts one at a time.

Normally, I put the platform where I want it. Then grab the rocker box, place it on the platform, next grab the mirror box (in your case, you may need two people to carry it from your vehicle) and place it on the rocker box. Assemble trusses, etc.

Note: The round ground board is removed from the rocker box as the platform replaces it.


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G Blandin
Vendor (equatorial platforms)


Reged: 03/12/12

Re: New Crossbow EQT-200 Equatorial Platform Arrived. new [Re: Alvin Huey]
      #5905014 - 06/05/13 11:37 PM

I pretty much use the same method as Alvin. I am rebuilding my 25" with a low-profile rocker which I plan to leave mounted on the platform when transporting it. I'll post some pics when it's done.

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