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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Thomas Karpf
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Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Considering a small alt-az mount
      #5634622 - 01/21/13 10:04 AM

I'm planning on buying a small alt-az mount at NEAF this year for . It will typically be used with my little StellarVue SVR70ED (4.5 lbs plus diagonal, red dot finder, eyepiece, etc.), but might also be used with my AT6RC (12lbs plus diagonal, finder, eyepiece, etc.).

I'm considering the Astro-Tech Voyager, Versa Go III, Vixen Porta II Mount, and the Explore Scientific Twilight. They all retail for about $300, give or take $20.

Any suggestions one way or the other would be appreciated.


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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5634698 - 01/21/13 10:51 AM

I would add to your list the Desert Sky DSV1 mount. Purchased with their lightweight contractor's tripod it is just a little over $300. Add a few bucks and you have a dual scope mount. In fact, you could put both your scopes on there easily.

I just got one. Very smooth and stable.

-Dan


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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5634712 - 01/21/13 10:59 AM

Dan,

Thanks for the suggestion.


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mattyfatz
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Reged: 12/27/06

Loc: Boise Idaho
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5634717 - 01/21/13 11:02 AM

I use the Universal Astronomics Dwarf Star mount. I have the SV70 on it quite often.
Here is the CN review!
Notice that the scope used in this test is an SV70
I had a Portamount before I purchased the Dwarf Star.. I've since sold the Porta since the UA mount is far superior.

http://www.universalastronomics.com/

Good luck and feel free to pm me with any questions.
Matt


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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: mattyfatz]
      #5634751 - 01/21/13 11:21 AM

Matt,

Thanks. Looks like Universal Astronomics has a LOT of mounts I should consider.


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BCNGreyCat
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Reged: 08/06/12

Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5634752 - 01/21/13 11:22 AM

I wound recommend universal astronomics micro star deluxe. It will handle your sv70 without any problem. And should be as well for your at6. It's my travel mount with my TV85. Good luck.

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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: BCNGreyCat]
      #5634817 - 01/21/13 12:07 PM

BCNGreyCat,

Thank you. I'm probably going to hold off buying something until NEAF, and at this point I think I'll be spending the day at Universal Astronomics!


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coopman
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Reged: 04/23/06

Loc: South Louisiana
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5634974 - 01/21/13 01:23 PM

Make sure that they'll be there, Thomas. UA is a one man business, as far as I know.

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coopman
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Reged: 04/23/06

Loc: South Louisiana
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: coopman]
      #5634978 - 01/21/13 01:26 PM

I've even seen a C8 on one of those very compact UA mounts (see iceblaze's posts in the "post a picture of your CAT" thread - I think that it's on page 52 of that thread.

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Kfrank
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/20/08

Loc: Northern Colorado
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: coopman]
      #5635133 - 01/21/13 02:51 PM

Quote:

I've even seen a C8 on one of those very compact UA mounts (see iceblaze's posts in the "post a picture of your CAT" thread - I think that it's on page 52 of that thread.




I had a C6 SCT on a UA MicroStar. It was adequate but far from ideal.
Lots of vibration when focusing and took a while to settle after moving the scope. The MicroStar works well for my SV80ED but the C6 is at or a bit above the weight limit for this mount - same for the DwarfStar. A C8 would be way to much scope for one of these mounts.


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coopman
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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Kfrank]
      #5635363 - 01/21/13 05:08 PM

My bad. What iceblaze showed in his posts is the Stellarvue M2 mount with the 12" column extension. A PM to him asking about the performance of the mount would probably be helpful to you. There are lots of good choices on the market for small, portable alt-az mounts.

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Bill Barlow
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/03/07

Loc: Overland Park KS
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5635628 - 01/21/13 08:03 PM

I currently own three UA Unistar mounts and really like them. I use the Unistar light with the 4" refractor and a C6. I have the sings,e clamp Unistar deluxe with my Meade 8" SCT and have the duel clamping Unistar deluxe with my 12" Meade SCT and a C14. I would see Lary at NEAF and he will match you with the right gear for what scope you want to mount.

Bill


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stevew
Now I've done it


Reged: 03/03/06

Loc: British Columbia Canada
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5635833 - 01/21/13 10:15 PM

I just purchased the ES Twilight 1 and think its wonderful for a small alt az mount.
Pictures can be seen in this thread.
http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/5634083/page...

Steve


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314Sprout
member


Reged: 06/27/12

Loc: San Diego
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5635943 - 01/21/13 11:20 PM

+1 on the DSV-1, especially with an Oberwerk Surveyor tripod. Mine is set up for two scopes, and I couldn't be happier. Usually an AT-72 and C-90, but occasionally a 6 inch Newt in the mix.

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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: 314Sprout]
      #5636383 - 01/22/13 08:28 AM

Well, it's been an interesting ride so far; start with four mounts possibilities and end up with fourteen. I've added half of UA's stable (Dwarfstar, Microstar, Macrostar, Unistar, and Milennium Unimount), two of Desert Sky's mounts (DSV-1 and DSV-2), a Stellarvue mount (M2), and even a NexStar computerized mount.

At this rate, I fully expect that I will have fifty mounts on my list by NEAF. And will have serious analysis paralysis.

I'm currently leaning towards a mount that has dual attachments so I can have two scopes set up at the same time. It seems silly to spend $200-400 for a single-scope mount and be $100 short of being able to handle two. Typically I will be mounting my SVR-70ED on one side and either my Lunt 35mm Solar scope or my AT6RC on the other side. When using the Lunt, I will have a white-light filter on the SVR70ED. With the AT6RC, the SVR70 will be a 'finder', and the AT6RC will have the higher power views.


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kevint1
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Reged: 04/19/11

Loc: West Michigan
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: 314Sprout]
      #5636403 - 01/22/13 08:46 AM

+2 for the DSV-1. I also used my AT72 on one. Very solid and well made. I liked it so much I bought the bigger DSV-3 for my self. These are made completely in the US if that matters to you.

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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: kevint1]
      #5636420 - 01/22/13 08:58 AM

Kevin,

Yes, made in the US matters to me. Especially when the DSV-2 is less money than the Explore Scientific Twilight II.

The DSV-2 is currently in the lead for what I'm likely to purchase.


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turk123
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Reged: 07/09/10

Loc: N.E. Ohio
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5636484 - 01/22/13 09:30 AM

Hi Thomas

I Own a Stellarvue m2 with losmandy saddle and extension column. I mounted it on an old Polaris aluminum tripod. I have a William optics 98mm flt refractor that weighs a bit and I was concerned about the weight distribution over the tripod. The M2 hangs the scope off the side. I added to the spreaders on the tripod legs making it lower and wider and filled the lower legs with sand (epoxy sealed). It is now solid as a rock.

My concerns for you is that you are looking for an inexpensive tripod, but want to put more weight on it than is practical. Pushing the limit of the weight capability of the mount and tripod is asking for an expensive accident. The m2 is approaching $350-370 (with column) and you have to add a tripod. I actually bought a travel tripod from stellarvue to use with this mount. It arrived the other day (waited 8 months) and it is not acceptable for the upper rating of the tripod. I will stay with what I built.

Look for a stable tripod with the mount you choose. You're not running motors here, but pushing your scope around and worse, tripping around in the dark. Don't forget the weight and size of diagonals and eyepieces and cameras also. You also, like I did, have the choice of adding the right tripod that is stable to some of these mounts. I also went to Neaf last year to search for a mount. You will find many choices and be able to make the best choice for you.

Edited by turk123 (01/22/13 09:32 AM)


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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: turk123]
      #5636513 - 01/22/13 09:53 AM

Turk,

Thanks for the information.

I picked up a surveyor's tripod at NEAF a couple of years ago from Universal Astronomics for ~$200 (it looks like the heavy duty tripod on the left on http://www.desertskyastro.com/Tripods.html). Adding sand and epoxy to the legs sounds like a good way to add some weight. As is, however, it is very stable. And with TWO scopes (total weight about 20 lbs plus diagonals and eyepieces), the weight should be centered over the middle of the tripod.


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skullpin
sage
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Reged: 03/13/09

Loc: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5637302 - 01/22/13 04:36 PM

Quote:

The DSV-2 is currently in the lead for what I'm likely to purchase.




I had both the DSV-1 and DSV-2. I preferred the simpler one as the friction was variable. The DSV-2 is well machined and the slow-mo controls work reasonably well, though balance was critical. Simple eyepiece changes are not possible without locking the altitude axis (if I had a nickel for everytime I forgot to lock/unlock). The balance aid worked as advertized, though adjusting it was rough and would inevitably throw the scope well off target.

I hope the DSV-3 with its variable clutches clears this issue up. I twice wrote these concerns into Raul and asked whether the DSV-3 offered an improvement, though no response. I am a strong supporter of the "local" (this side of the world) economy and I want Desert Sky to succeed.

I have moved on to a DiscMount DM4 and have not looked back; soooooooo stable and easy to use. I still have the DesertSky DSV-M which is more akin to a DiskMount than to its larger siblings, and I enjoy it for travel with my TV85.

My $0.02


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davidmcgo
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Reged: 10/09/04

Loc: San Diego, CA
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: skullpin]
      #5637789 - 01/22/13 09:18 PM

For super small and versatile, I'm really pleased with a used Manfrotto 410 geared head I picked up on an older Bogen tracker tripod. Handles my Lunt LS60, an 4" f15 Celestron SCT (1965 guidescope), and the geared motions are very nice and it is quite insensitive to imbalance. So it handles sticking a camera on back of the scope just fine.

This is the only camera tripod type setup I've had any luck with and it is a joy to use.

Dave

Edited by davidmcgo (01/22/13 09:19 PM)


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Midnight Dan
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Reged: 01/23/08

Loc: Hilton, NY, Yellow Zone (Bortl...
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: davidmcgo]
      #5637955 - 01/22/13 11:01 PM

Quote:

I have moved on to a DiscMount DM4 and have not looked back; soooooooo stable and easy to use. I still have the DesertSky DSV-M which is more akin to a DiskMount than to its larger siblings, and I enjoy it for travel with my TV85.




That DiscMount looks awesome, but ouch, the price!

-Dan


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kenpo154
newbie


Reged: 09/06/10

Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: skullpin]
      #5638162 - 01/23/13 01:27 AM

You can always use the Telepod head from televue, I put mine on a Manfrotto 3211 tripod and it is great. My televue 85 works great on it! Grab and Go!

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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: turk123]
      #5638351 - 01/23/13 07:47 AM

Quote:


Look for a stable tripod with the mount you choose.






The difficulty I see is that this one mount has to serve too many purposes. A 5 pound refractor is an easy to use scope that can double for birdwatching and is very easy to deal with. It needs a mount that is sturdy well but well matched for a smaller scope. A mount suitable for 2 scopes or a 6 inch RC will reduce the easy to use aspects of the 70mm ED scope.

That said, for me, slow motion controls are a strict requirement. Hand tracking Dobsonians is straightforward because their tubes provide a long mechanical level so such fine motions are not necessary. But a refractor is short and there is no long lever, slow motion controls make high magnification tracking much easier.

Jon


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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5638388 - 01/23/13 08:20 AM

Okay, so if slow motion controls are a strict requirement (which seems quite reasonable to me, especially if viewing at 200-300x), then I'm back to...
Desert Sky DSV-2,
Explore Scientific Twilight,
Astro-Tech Voyager, and
Orion Versa GO III.

Sounds like the DSV-2 is still in the lead, since it can handle two scopes!


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Midnight Dan
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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5638636 - 01/23/13 10:45 AM

Hi Tom:

I've always been a fan of slo-mo controls, but now that I have the DSV-1 I'm rethinking that. I still prefer them over a pan-handle but for me they are not a strict requirement.

I just got my DSV-1 and we've had nothing but cloudy weather so I haven't had a lot of time to evaluate it. But I have used it with my WO 90mm refractor and found it pretty easy to aim at Jupiter and keep it in the view at 155x. Reports from other users say it gets tricky to aim at 175-200x and above. Wider field eyepieces help here. But if your plan is to use it frequently at 200-300x, you're probably better off with the slo-mo controls of the DSV-2.

-Dan


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mattyfatz
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Reged: 12/27/06

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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: turk123]
      #5638651 - 01/23/13 10:52 AM

Quote:

Hi Thomas

I Own a Stellarvue m2 with losmandy saddle and extension column. I mounted it on an old Polaris aluminum tripod. I have a William optics 98mm flt refractor that weighs a bit and I was concerned about the weight distribution over the tripod. The M2 hangs the scope off the side. I added to the spreaders on the tripod legs making it lower and wider and filled the lower legs with sand (epoxy sealed). It is now solid as a rock.

My concerns for you is that you are looking for an inexpensive tripod, but want to put more weight on it than is practical. Pushing the limit of the weight capability of the mount and tripod is asking for an expensive accident. The m2 is approaching $350-370 (with column) and you have to add a tripod. I actually bought a travel tripod from stellarvue to use with this mount. It arrived the other day (waited 8 months) and it is not acceptable for the upper rating of the tripod. I will stay with what I built.

Look for a stable tripod with the mount you choose. You're not running motors here, but pushing your scope around and worse, tripping around in the dark. Don't forget the weight and size of diagonals and eyepieces and cameras also. You also, like I did, have the choice of adding the right tripod that is stable to some of these mounts. I also went to Neaf last year to search for a mount. You will find many choices and be able to make the best choice for you.




... You are absolutely right Turk. I remember reading someplace that the tripod weight should be at least 1/2 the weight of the OTA and mount combined. A skimpy lightweight tripod will ruin the setup. Of course a big heavy tripod is not convenient for grab and go...
A UA Microstar or dwarf star on a Bogen Tripod would suit the needs of the OP fine in my opinion. Good luck and please post your decision


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mattyfatz
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Reged: 12/27/06

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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5638686 - 01/23/13 11:07 AM

Quote:

Okay, so if slow motion controls are a strict requirement (which seems quite reasonable to me, especially if viewing at 200-300x), then I'm back to...
Desert Sky DSV-2,
Explore Scientific Twilight,
Astro-Tech Voyager, and
Orion Versa GO III.

Sounds like the DSV-2 is still in the lead, since it can handle two scopes!




My SV70 has never been above 100X. The sweet thing about this scope is the wide FOV for big deep sky objects. Maybe that 6" can do it but I doubt the slow-mo capabilities of these mounts at 200-300x.
If high magnification is a big deal.. And since we are already talking about a big tripod and all... You might just want to buy the NEXTAR GoTo mount and tripod.. You will be able to mount either scope.. And track at high magnification. Apples and oranges IMHO. Sounds like you need both a lightweight grab and go setup, and also a heavier field mount with tracking capability.
.. And this is why I have a house full of Astro- gear


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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: mattyfatz]
      #5638694 - 01/23/13 11:10 AM

Quote:


You are absolutely right Turk. I remember reading someplace that the tripod weight should be at least 1/2 the weight of the OTA and mount combined. A skimpy lightweight tripod will ruin the setup. Of course a big heavy tripod is not convenient for grab and go...
A UA Microstar or dwarf star on a Bogen Tripod would suit the needs of the OP fine in my opinion. Good luck and please post your decision




Neither the Microstar nor the Dwarfstar are rated to carry the AT6RC (12 lbs before diagonal, finder, and eyepiece).

I already have a VERY sturdy surveyors tripod (capacity: lots) and a Benro A2190T folding tripod (capacity 26 lbs), so I'm in pretty good shape whether I want very portable grab-and-go or something more stable for a bigger scope.

A decision probably won't be made until NEAF (April 20-21) at the earliest, when I plan to look at Universal Astronomics' options. I'd love to look at a DSV-1 or DSV-2 before then, but I don't know anyone in the Northeast who owns either.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: mattyfatz]
      #5638745 - 01/23/13 11:37 AM

Quote:

My SV70 has never been above 100X. The sweet thing about this scope is the wide FOV for big deep sky objects. Maybe that 6" can do it but I doubt the slow-mo capabilities of these mounts at 200-300x.




I have a Portamount on a Hands on Optics Wooden Tripod and Stellarvue MG-2. The Stellarvue is fine with the NP-101 at 300x, the Portamount is adequate but a little shaky. It's fine with a 80mm apo at any usable magnification...

My caution here is to make sure the mount for the little guy does not get in the way of getting the scope out for a quick look. A mount sturdy enough for a 6 inch will be bigger than necessary and represent something of a hindrance.. The nights I use my 80mm instead of the 101mm its because the 80mm is just easier to manage and it's not the scope that is easier to manage but the mount required for the scope.

Jon

Edited by Jon Isaacs (01/23/13 06:40 PM)


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Thomas Karpf
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: mattyfatz]
      #5638779 - 01/23/13 11:55 AM

Quote:

If high magnification is a big deal.. And since we are already talking about a big tripod and all... You might just want to buy the NEXTAR GoTo mount and tripod.. You will be able to mount either scope.. And track at high magnification. Apples and oranges IMHO. Sounds like you need both a lightweight grab and go setup, and also a heavier field mount with tracking capability.





You mean this one?
http://www.astronomics.com/celestron-nexstar-nx-68-se-go-to-computerized-moun...

The Celestron mount was already being considered. That having been said, I like the idea of NOT having to spend time aligning the mount or dealing with 12v batteries (or piles of disposables, for that matter).


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mattyfatz
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Reged: 12/27/06

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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5638944 - 01/23/13 01:30 PM

Yup that the one. Thats why I don't own it either. Folks at the club have it, and its nice for outreach and all that. But the batteries are an extra element of hassle.

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mattyfatz
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/27/06

Loc: Boise Idaho
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5638945 - 01/23/13 01:30 PM

Yup that the one. Thats why I don't own it either. Folks at the club have it, and its nice for outreach and all that. But the batteries are an extra element of hassle.

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Midnight Dan
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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5638954 - 01/23/13 01:34 PM

Quote:

I'd love to look at a DSV-1 or DSV-2 before then, but I don't know anyone in the Northeast who owns either




Well, I live in the Northeast, but I doubt you're willing to drive to the Rochester area, NY to take a look at a DSV-1.

I think your contractor tripod will be fine with the DSV-1 or 2. I went with a "shorty" Nedo contractor tripod for mine:
http://www.lascolaser.com/product/Nedo-Short-Medium-Duty-Aluminum-Tripod-with...

My goal was to try to keep things lightweight and small. I can pickup the tripod, mount and scope in one hand and take it outside. Plus, it folds up pretty small for travel.

When It's fully extended, it's about the right height for me to use while seated with my 90mm or my C5 or ATRC6. If I had a longer refractor, I would not want to use it on this short tripod. And when fully extended it is pretty solid at 155x with the WO 90mm. I haven't yet tried it with the other scopes.

For me it was a decision between the lightweight tripod offered by Desert Skies (with the spreader), and this one. They weighed about the same so the tradeoff was a taller, thinner tripod from desert skies, or the shorter, more stout one from Nedo. I wasn't sure which would be more stable. As it is, I'm happy with my decision and with the performance of this tripod.

I suspect the tripod you have is more like the heavy duty Desert Skies model, but without the spreader. I don't think you'll have any trouble with that at all with any of the scopes you mentioned.

-Dan


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coopman
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Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Midnight Dan]
      #5639609 - 01/23/13 09:48 PM

The small moment/lever arm is a problem that I am encountering with my C6. I have it on a Unistar Deluxe, and as such it is plenty stable, but tracking the object is kind of difficult since physically grabbing the OTA is necessary. It is even more difficult to make the very small movements necessary to follow the object.

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stevew
Now I've done it


Reged: 03/03/06

Loc: British Columbia Canada
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: coopman]
      #5639688 - 01/23/13 10:35 PM Attachment (11 downloads)

Try using wide field eyepieces. The extra FOV makes manually tracking an object much easier. That's what I have found with my E.Z.Touch mount and a C8.
Even using almost 300X [6.7mm UWA]the E.Z.Touch is smooth enough to easily nudge the scope along to track Jupiter.

Steve


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stevew
Now I've done it


Reged: 03/03/06

Loc: British Columbia Canada
Re: Considering a small alt-az mount new [Re: Thomas Karpf]
      #5639724 - 01/23/13 10:51 PM Attachment (17 downloads)

Quote:

I'm planning on buying a small alt-az mount at NEAF this year for . It will typically be used with my little StellarVue SVR70ED (4.5 lbs plus diagonal, red dot finder, eyepiece, etc.), but might also be used with my AT6RC (12lbs plus diagonal, finder, eyepiece, etc.).

I'm considering the Astro-Tech Voyager, Versa Go III, Vixen Porta II Mount, and the Explore Scientific Twilight. They all retail for about $300, give or take $20.

Any suggestions one way or the other would be appreciated.



But all this talk of heavier Discmounts and EZ Touch mounts are not what the O.P. asked for.
The O.P. stated he wanted a small mount for a small refractor that he can easily take out with little effort.
I also found my self in the same situation, and I went back and forth for a few months between the Voyager, the Porta mount and the Orion Versa Go 111/ ES Twilight 1.
I'm sure any of them would be very suitable for the requirements the O.P. is looking for.
In the end I went with the Explore Scientific Twilight 1 as I perferd the stainless steel legs.
But I'm sure there is not a huge difference in performance.
I'd say go for the model with the best price.

Steve


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