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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently?
      #6042700 - 08/23/13 11:28 PM

Hi All,

I recently got a new Vixen ED100Sf f/9 refractor that I intended to use on my old Vixen GP2 mount + HAL110 tripod. Unfortunately, the tripod turned out to be too short for the long tube. I am currently using a Vixen #3909 GP2 Half Pillar to compensate, but I would prefer just using a taller Vixen tripod.

I thought about buying a new HAL130 tripod to replace my old HAL110, but then I found out that on February 2011 Vixen Co. announced the "Unification of the Connection Specifications between Mounts and Tripods" and now Vixen GP Mounts and Sphinx Mounts use one tripod, the SXG Tripod. Regrettably, the new HAL130 SXG Tripod is not compatible with my old Vixen GP2 Mount, unless I purchase an expensive adaptor (Vixen#25169-8) that would bring the total cost to $320.00 and would only add to the complexity that I was trying to avoid in the first place.

New Mounting Base for GP2/GPD2

New Optional Tripod Adapters for GP2/GPD2

But then I found out that there is currently a promotion from Vixen Optics with a GP2/HAL130 combo for only $499.00.

http://www.vixenoptics.com/mounts/gp2mount.htm

I was this close to click on the BUY NOW button, but after a quick search I discovered that the advertised height for the new HAL130 SXG (from 25" to 39") is almost the same as my HAL110 (max. vertical height: 38.75" or 98.5cm, length of fully extended legs: 43.5" or 110cm). If the advertised specifications for the new HAL130 SXG are correct, then I would not gain anything by buying the new GP2/HAL130 combo.

HAL130 SXG Specifications

Has any of you acquired a new Vixen GP2 Mount + HAL130 Tripod combo recently? If so, how long ago? Would you be so kind to please measure the vertical height/leg length of your tripod for me?

I would greatly appreciate your help!


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BoldAxis1967
sage
*****

Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Kentucky
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6043081 - 08/24/13 07:19 AM

Castor,

I use a HAL130. The maximum vertical leg length from the top plate is 51.5 inches. Straight down from the top plate is 46 inches.

I use the HAL130 with the GPD2 so I did not make any measurements from the dove-tail saddle.

Hope this helps.

LB


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BoldAxis1967
sage
*****

Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Kentucky
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6043085 - 08/24/13 07:22 AM

I purchased the HAL130 in August of 2012.

LB


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #6043372 - 08/24/13 11:03 AM

I'd say stay with what you have, now. The pier is actually keeping you out of a non- obvious problem. If you didn't have the pier extension, the eyepiece end of the scope would be constantly in danger of hitting the tripod.

Alternatively, I suggest considering field pier options. Or, you could consider options to move the center of gravity for he scope forwards so the eyepiece end isn't so low. For example, the finder might move to the rings.

-Rich


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6044331 - 08/24/13 10:20 PM

Hi Rich,

Thank you very much for your input!

I have considered the possibility of the scope hitting the tripod if I use the mount directly attached to a tripod, but since I only use the telescope manually (non-go-to), I'm just careful when aiming it. But you do make a valid point here, because with the pier extension I can point the telescope in any direction without the obstacle of the tripod legs.

Regarding the center of gravity of the telescope, I currently use an 8x50mm right-angle finder-scope on top the rings and a 2" diagonal and I am quite happy with that arrangement.

The reason that I was considering buying a second GP2 mount, is because the one that I have now, does a fantastic job (sufficiently steady) carrying the TV-85 refractor (or the occasional C6 SCT) for quick looks when mated to a very light AL150 tripod. With the Half Pier and HAL110 tripod that would no longer be true for the smaller scopes. With a second GP2 with a longer HAL130 I could have each mount optimized for the telescope that is being carried.

So I am still on the fence of buying a new GP2 Mount with HAL130 tripod at the special $499 Price if the tripod legs are actually 130cm long!

Clear skies to you!


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: BoldAxis1967]
      #6044348 - 08/24/13 10:32 PM

Quote:

Castor,

I use a HAL130. The maximum vertical leg length from the top plate is 51.5 inches. Straight down from the top plate is 46 inches.

I use the HAL130 with the GPD2 so I did not make any measurements from the dove-tail saddle.

Hope this helps.

LB



Quote:

I purchased the HAL130 in August of 2012.

LB



Hi BoldAxis1967,

Thank you very much for taking the trouble to measure the HAL130 tripod of your GPD2 mount!

The maximum vertical leg length that you measured (51.5") is in agreement with the info from old on-line ads (from 31.9" to 51.1") and once converted to centimeters (130.8mm) it's consistent with the original Vixen tripod nomenclature for their tripods (HAL110=110cm max. leg extension, HAL130=130cm max. leg extension, AL90=90cm max. leg extension, AL150=150cm max. leg extension). Also, the maximum vertical length from the top plate that you measured (46") is also very close to the on-line advertised specs. (from 25.5" to 44.5") of the original HAL130-GP Tripod.

Your date of purchase (August of 2012) gives us a base line for helping establish the most recent date when a brand-new HAL130 tripod agreeing with the original specs was last delivered.

By posting here I was hoping to find out if the new specs advertised by the U.S. Distributor (Vixen Optics) and various sellers are just a typo or if there has been an actual change in the specifications with the new model (HAL130 SXG).

Thank you again for your feedback and I'm hoping others are willing to post here their own measurements to help refine our data!

Summarizing:
August 2012 - GPD2/HAL130 - Tripod Specs.: length: 51.5 inches ; vertical height: 46 inches.


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Geo.
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 10/01/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6046805 - 08/26/13 11:24 AM

I have a HAL130 and the D2 and like the combination, but use the tripod a lot more with my Giro III. I also have a older HAL that should be designated a 160. It's from the pale green paint era. I've never seen another.

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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Geo.]
      #6048146 - 08/27/13 02:50 AM

Thank you for your feedback GEO!

I have the light duty version of the longer tripod (AL150), alas not it's not as strong as a HAL.


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Starhawk
Space Ranger
*****

Reged: 09/16/08

Loc: Tucson, Arizona
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6048454 - 08/27/13 09:34 AM

You can stuff the legs with foam by getting an inexpensive foam sleeping bag pad and stuff it in the leg sections to absorb energy. Cut the pad into strips and stuff them in. You won't be able to get two legs to be identical, which is good, because it causes destructive interference in their natural frequencies, so the mount stops shaking very quickly.

-Rich


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #6048480 - 08/27/13 09:50 AM

Hi Rich,

Thank you for the tips for improving the stability of the tripod!

I would still prefer getting the Vixen Heavy Duty Aluminum tripod (HAL) for the long refractor (ED100Sf), but it's good to know there are options to improve the performance of a lightweight tripod.

Take care!


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Agatha
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 06/04/12

Loc: Coulee Region, Wisconsin
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6048558 - 08/27/13 10:38 AM

Castor,

I purchased a Vixen SXG-HAL 130 four months ago. I got it for one of my Porta mounts. It is a very nice tripod. It is in another state (I'm moving). I am going to Wisconsin with another carload of stuff in a couple of days and if I can get to it, I would be happy to take some measurements.

It may be the same as what BoldAxis1967 measured. I purchased mine separately from OPT.

I'll let you know what I find out.

Best,


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astrobug
member
*****

Reged: 10/31/06

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Agatha]
      #6049064 - 08/27/13 03:12 PM

Castor-
I just picked up a Vixen ED100sf myself. This has replaced my 5" f/8 Burgess achromat. I have a Meade LXD-75 instead of the Vixen GP/GP2, but IIRC, the mount head height is pretty similar. I got rid of the stock Meade tripod long ago in favor of a home-built tall cherry wood tripod (the Meade was the first run, 1.75" tubular steel version, actually plenty sturdy, just didn't get very tall).
Anyhow, here's my $0.02 on tripods:

1) I would prioritize stability over height
2) wood dampens vibrations better than metal
3) a locking spreader/fixed eyepiece tray contributes immensely to stability
4) fully extending the tripod legs will greatly decrease their stability (my rule of thumb: overlap at least 1/3 of the leg length)
5) with a long focus refractor like this, you can choose between standing and sitting or sitting and kneeling .

So with all this in mind, have you considered a wooden surveyor's or photo tripod (e.g. Leica, Wild, Sokkia, CST/Berger, Berlebach, Zone VI, or perhaps a lucky find on a Tak or A-P)? Survey tripods tend to cover a very large height range, so you could probably get by with just one mount and one tripod for all of your scopes (and just extending the legs accordingly). I think Universal Astronomics sells an adapter that fits the older-style Vixen GP mounts.

I'll second the recommendation to make the eyepiece end as heavy as possible (easy to do on a scope this light). Moving the optical finder as close as possible to the focuser may help.

And finally, as to whether you need a second mount, that's between you & your wallet/CFO/credit card company (as applicable). My Meade is a little more wiggly than I'd like, and really not suitable for anything but piggyback photography. I've been tempted by the Vixen GP2/HAL130 deal myself, as I expect it would work great out of the box without any fiddling (unlike my Meade). But the add-ons (polar scope & motor drives) more than double the price. So I'm thinking that something along the lines of a new Orion Sirius or iOptron IEQ30 or a used Losmandy G8 might fit my needs better for the same money.


I hope this info helps.
-Brett


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: astrobug]
      #6051794 - 08/29/13 01:27 AM

Hi Brett,

First let me thank you for your very detailed and thorough reply!

It's always wise to listen to the advice from people who have more experience using the same observing equipment, so I am all ears here! Just by coincidence, I also own a Meade LXD-75 mount with 2"/1.54" tubular steel legs and I concur with your remarks: "plenty sturdy, just didn't get very tall".

Considering the long effort you made to help me, I'll try to give you a detailed reply, but my English is not very good, so please bear with me.

Yes, I have considered a wooden tripod for my Vixen GP2 Mount, but being the mechanically challenged person that I am and given my limited payment resources (no PayPal account, no cashier checks, etc.), I have a hard time ordering from specialized sellers or adapting accessories that were not designed for a specific product. So, I checked for off-the-shelf tripods available for Vixen GP Mounts and these were the models that I found (at OPT):

- Vixen UNI 18 Astro Wood Tripod For Vixen GP/SPX Mounts ($499.00).
- Vixen Planet Wood Tripod for Vixen GP/SXP Mounts ($699.00).

If I owned the higher capacity Vixen GPD2 Mount and it was my most used mount, I could justify the expense. But for a light duty GP2 and just for casual lunar/planetary/double star observing, I would have a hard time rationalizing it. I have never ordered from Universal Astronomics and haven't checked on their products, so I can't comment.

On the recommendation to make the eyepiece end as heavy as possible by moving the optical finder as close as possible to the focuser, it already is as close as it's possible within my mounting ring system (TeleVue MRS-4011). I would not like to attach the 8x50mm right-angle finder scope to the finder base on the focuser because it's too close to the eyepiece and I'd be bumping it with my forehead all the time, or worst yet, scratch my expensive eyeglasses.

And finally, as you wisely pointed out, as to whether I need a second mount, "that's between you & your wallet/CFO/credit card company (as applicable)". In my case, for the modest mounting requirements of the Vixen ED100Sf refractor for visual use, I would prefer spending my limited budget on a brand-new Vixen GP2 Mount with HAL130 Tripod at a special price of $499.00 plus shipping, than just a tripod that I could not be 100% sure that it would be compatible (due to the changes in 2011 of the coupling standards of the Vixen GP mount/tripods). If one day I am fortunate enough to own the heavier and more expensive Vixen GPD2 Mount, I'll consider again your recommendation of buying a wood tripod for it.

Since you mention that you were thinking that something along the lines of a used Losmandy GM8 (among others) might fit your needs better, I should warn you that the height of the LW tripod that comes included with the mount, is exactly the same as the one of the Meade LXD-75 Mount. I measured the vertical height of the fully extended Losmandy LW tripod of my Losmandy GM8 Mount and it's just 42.5 inches from the floor to the top of the semi-pier (where it connects to the mount head).

By the way, I placed my order for a Vixen GP2/HAL130 SXG Tripod package today!

Thank you again for your good advice!


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Agatha]
      #6051805 - 08/29/13 01:36 AM

Quote:

Castor,

I purchased a Vixen SXG-HAL 130 four months ago. I got it for one of my Porta mounts. It is a very nice tripod. It is in another state (I'm moving). I am going to Wisconsin with another carload of stuff in a couple of days and if I can get to it, I would be happy to take some measurements.

It may be the same as what BoldAxis1967 measured. I purchased mine separately from OPT.

I'll let you know what I find out.

Best,



Hi Agatha,

Thank you for your kind offer, but I know how complicated and tiresome moving can be, so please don't go out of your way to measure your Vixen tripod.

Wishing you all the very best settling in at your new home,


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6051838 - 08/29/13 02:18 AM

Hi All,

A good fellow CN'er was kind enough to measure the tripod of his very recently acquired Vixen GP2/HAL130 SXG combo. Thank you Keith!

According to his measurements, the legs extend from 33" to 52.5" and the overall tripod height with legs fully extended and spread is 45.5".

These measurements are close to the published specs of the original Vixen HAL130 GP Tripod, and they differ from the ones advertised for the new HAL130 SXG on various sites.

Based on this recent update, and the assumption on my part that the current advertised specs for the HAL130 SXG are inaccurate, I decided to act upon my initial plan of acquiring a new Vixen GP2/HAL130 SXG and placed my order today!

When I receive my mount, I'll post my own measurements here. Thank you All for your help!

Summarizing:
August 2012 - GPD2/HAL130 - - - Extended Tripod Specs: length: 51.5 inches ; vertical height: 46 inches.
August 2013 - GP2/HAL130 SXG - Extended Tripod Specs: length: 52.5 inches ; vertical height: 45.5 inches.


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astrobug
member
*****

Reged: 10/31/06

Loc: Portland, OR
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6053005 - 08/29/13 05:29 PM

Castor-
You're welcome for the input. I started out in astronomy as an ATM, and tend more towards tinkering, but with two kids under 10 now, my free time is in short supply, so I am learning buy stuff that 'just works' without modification.

Thanks for the feedback on the GM-8 tripod, this seems a little short for my needs. Plus the whole package is rather heavy for the payload spec, so this will go to the bottom of the list, is not off entirely.

Yes, some of the nicer wood tripods cost more than the mount head, but there is likely a reason (aside from looks ). That said, you are correct in thinking that many of these are meant for much higher-end mount heads (e.g. the Berlebach Planet for the A-P Mach1).

Please report back on how well the GP2/HAL130 combo works out for you in terms of height & stability with the ED100sf. I think it should work great, given how light the scope is. And if that is the case, I may need to reconsider this option. From what I've heard, you don't _have_ to use the Vixen drives on it (e.g. Meade LXD 55/75 motors fit with just a shorter mounting bolt or two). Hopefully I can make a decision and save up the dough before the deal ends.
-Brett


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Nippon
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 10/22/09

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: astrobug]
      #6053147 - 08/29/13 06:49 PM

My GP2 and HAL 130 is about two years old. The mount has a machined aluminum collar 45 to 60mm that adapts it to the tripod it came with. To use my mount with the SXG tripod just requires removal of the adapter. If your mount has this collar you can remove it and attach to the SXG. The collar is unpainted aluminum with three allen set screws

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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Nippon]
      #6055386 - 08/31/13 12:38 AM

Hello Nippon,

Thank you for your interesting contribution to this thread!

From the description of your GP Mount/Tripod and the dating, it seems that it was purchased right in the middle of transition period when the new standards were being adopted.

So, you have a GP2 Mount head with a 45mm dia. mounting base (the new standard) that includes the 45mm to 60mm adapter collar to attach it to your tripod, that was designed to accept the old standard (60mm dia.) mounting base. In my view, you have the best of both worlds, because you can use your mount with any Vixen tripod designed either for GP or SX mounts!

If you check the pictures from a current GP2 at this Vixen GP2 unboxing thread, you will notice that now, mount and tripod adhere to the new 45mm standard, and no adaptor is required.

My old Vixen GP2 Mount has a 60mm dia. cast mounting base, so I would need a special adapter (Vixen #25169-8) to be able to use it with a new HAL130 SXG tripod. Once you add the cost of the adaptor ($70.00) to the cost of the tripod ($250.00), the GP2/HAL130 package at the current special price looks like a good deal!

Take good care of your special GP2 mount/tripod set!


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Castor
sage


Reged: 03/26/08

Loc: GMT-6 / North
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: astrobug]
      #6055488 - 08/31/13 03:36 AM

Quote:

Castor-
You're welcome for the input. I started out in astronomy as an ATM, and tend more towards tinkering, but with two kids under 10 now, my free time is in short supply, so I am learning buy stuff that 'just works' without modification.

Thanks for the feedback on the GM-8 tripod, this seems a little short for my needs. Plus the whole package is rather heavy for the payload spec, so this will go to the bottom of the list, is not off entirely.

Yes, some of the nicer wood tripods cost more than the mount head, but there is likely a reason (aside from looks ). That said, you are correct in thinking that many of these are meant for much higher-end mount heads (e.g. the Berlebach Planet for the A-P Mach1).

Please report back on how well the GP2/HAL130 combo works out for you in terms of height & stability with the ED100sf. I think it should work great, given how light the scope is. And if that is the case, I may need to reconsider this option. From what I've heard, you don't _have_ to use the Vixen drives on it (e.g. Meade LXD 55/75 motors fit with just a shorter mounting bolt or two). Hopefully I can make a decision and save up the dough before the deal ends.
-Brett



Hi Brett,

After reading about your ATM roots, I now have a better understanding of your logic for choosing astronomical equipment. I place myself at the other end of the spectrum, the type who is always afraid of causing damage by tinkering and who goes to great lengths to make sure that two items are 100% compatible before buying. Maybe I'm exaggerating, perhaps 99% might do.

Don't discard the Losmandy GM8 Mount from your list just yet! It's a very good mount for visual observing, it's just that the LW tripod is not the best match for it. My final goal would be buying a G11 HD tripod for the GM8, but for the moment an old Meade Standard Field Tripod with a GM8/G11 Meade Tripod Adapter will have to suffice. I just ordered the adaptor!

Just as you, I love wood tripods and would willingly accept to pay a premium for their looks and vibration dampening properties. But sometimes, their cost is almost prohibitive! And there's always the thought in the back of my mind that due to their wide contract/expand ratio in concert with the fluctuations in ambient humidity, one day without previous warning, a leg could get loose and in the process collapse the whole tripod, damaging it's precious cargo (mount, telescope, accessories, etc.).

I would be happy to report back on how well the GP2/HAL130 combo works out in terms of height & stability with the ED100sf! But the weather rarely cooperates with my plans. I agree with you that the ED100Sf is a lightweight scope for 4 inch f/9 scope, however in order to adapt mine to the Gibraltar5 mount, I replaced the original lightweight rings for a 4" Mount Ring Set from TeleVue. The only negative result of this upgrade is that the scope is now heavier, so stability was affected when used on lighter mounts like the Vixen GP2. With the original Vixen rings, I could balance the scope on my GP2 mount with just one 8.1 lb. counterweight placed about two thirds of the way down the CW bar. Now, after replacing the rings, I have to slide the same counterweight all the way to the end of the CW bar, pass the safety knob. So my ED100Sf scope might not be a representative sample. The initial tests with my old Vixen GP2 plus Half Pier extension on a HAL110 Tripod seem to indicate that the mount can carry the scope reasonably well for visual use, but far from rock steady. I don't have any reasons to believe that the new GP2 on the fully extended HAL130 would do better -as a matter of fact, it could do worse. But I should mention that the ED100Sf on a GP2 Mount is my lightweight choice for casual visual lunar/planetary/double star observing, nothing serious. Observing comfort, portability and equipment readiness are more important for my enjoyment when doing casual observing than extracting the last ounce of optical performance.

Regarding the drives, my budget would not allow me to buy the Vixen DD3 Dual-Axis Motor Drive Set right now, but I plan to acquire one in the future. I have a Vixen Single-Axis Motor Drive on my old GP2 Mount, so I plan to use that one for the time being.


You can read more about the upgrades and find a few pictures of the scope here: Vixen ED100Sf+TeleVue RMS-4011 Rings on Gibraltar5


Thank you for your help!


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Nippon
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 10/22/09

Loc: Central Florida
Re: Anyone got a new Vixen GP2+HAL130 combo recently? new [Re: Castor]
      #6055837 - 08/31/13 10:59 AM

I bought a SX half pillar to use my Porta head on my HAL 130. It works but the pillar is not as ridged as it would be on the flat top SX tripod. The pillar was $250. I should have bought the SX tripod instead for the Porta. The pillar is made to work on the old HAL 130 but at a compromise due to the fact that the old HAL has a smaller flat area and the pillar just contacts on three ribs on it's underside. On the SX it would contact across the whole base. So the pillar is heading to the sale table at my next star party.

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