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My experience with the Starizona Landing Pad


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I wanted to provide a review of my experience with a Starizona Landing Pad I recently purchased for my CPC 1100.

First, the good news: the product does make “finding” the center pin on the tripod easier, thus facilitating attaching the OTA to the tripod. The 3 wings of the landing pad do a good job of assisting in setting the OTA in the correct position, and I found that positioning the OTA with the landing pad installed was quicker and easier than without the landing pad.

But the not so good news: adding the landing pad potentially compromises the stability of the OTA on the tripod because the added thickness of the landing pad reduces the number of threads the 3 OEM bolts that attach the OTA to the tripod have available from 5 threads to 2 - perhaps 3, at most. This is a serious flaw, in my opinion, in the design of the landing pad, although it is not obvious how it could have been designed otherwise, other than including 3 longer bolts to replace the OEM bolts. (Which is probably the correct solution.)

See the pic below. The credit card to the left helps to see how many threads of the OEM bolts are available when the landing pad is installed on the tripod. You can see that instead of the full length of the OEM bolts - 5 threads - as available to secure the OTA, only 2-3 threads are available when using the landing pad. (That’s about half of the OEM bolt length.) 2-3 threads is not much when securing a heavy OTA like that of a CPC, particularly an 1100, and may compromise the stability of the OTA on the tripod, as half of the OEM bolt length is no longer securing the OTA when using the landing pad versus without it.

Additionally, while not a functional deficiency, Starizona is no longer etching their landing pads with "Starizona," "Landing Pad," or "Made in the USA,” although the website product page still presents the etched version. According to Starizona, the expense of doing so has become prohibitive in their pursuit to keep the cost of the landing pad at $69 (plus shipping). So, you now receive a generic-looking accessory, which in my opinion diminishes the attractiveness of this item. (See pics below comparing etched and current versions of the landing pad).

 

I genuinely looked forward to receiving the landing pad, as it can be difficult to find the correct placement of the CPC OTA on the tripod, particularly with the heavy 1100. But the stability concerns are not insignificant. For the $80 cost, I’d like to see Starizona include longer replacement mounting bolts to address these concerns. And if I choose to keep using the landing pad, I will likely replace the bolts myself with a trip to the hardware store.


  • BinoGuy, SherwoodL, alstarjoey and 2 others like this


32 Comments

I also find my Landing Pads to be invaluable. I use glow in the dark tape to make centering and oval location on the bottom of the base even easier.

 

I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that longer bolts were provided in the past, at least with the GPS11 version.

 

Given the weight of the mount and OTA, as well as the depth of the threads in these large bolts,, I doubt longer threads are absolutely essential but I fully agree that the longer threads are preferable. Just using one or two turns to tighten would give the willies too.

 

You would have to contact them to make sure, but I believe Bob's Nextstar tripod knobs for, at least, the GPS says 11 version were long enough to work with the landing pad. But it does add $35.

 

For GPS11 users, the CPC version fits fine on my particular version tripod if the GPS is out of stock for an extended period.

 

I apologize for any errors on this information, I'm going from memory from five or six years ago.

Thanks for the post. I just purchased my landing pad directly from Starizona, and no new bolts were included. I contacted Dean at Starizona about this concern, and he insists that the 2-3 threads that are now securing the OTA to the tripod are sufficient. But I'm not so sure. That's not much purchase considering the heavy weight of the CPC 1100 OTA. And I believe these bolts are just low grade steel, so not particularly strong.

 

I'm not an expert by any means, but when a setup is reduced from 5-6 bolt threads as the OEM spec to 2-3, I have concerns. I would assume the Celestron engineers who designed the OEM assembly would likely concur. ;)

 

I'll see what Bob's Knobs has to offer, thanks.

 

Clear skies!

Sorry to add on a clarification, but you will pick up one or two more threads since the base ovals drop into the LP oval cuts, below the lower edge of the credit card. Perhaps count full turns from contact to tight to see what the actual number of threads is.

 

Nonetheless, I am on board with your concerns.

You actually do not pick up that much due to the base cuts. Those cost are quite shallow, as I'm sure you know - about 1/4 of the depth of the landing pad itself - so at most lend to 1 additional thread, certainly not 2.

 

I will get an accurate count of the bolt turns with and without the landing pad, and will post that shortly.

    • markb likes this

Ok, I tested this:

 

1. without landing pad: OEM spring-loaded mounting bolts take 5.5 full turns to secure the OTA to the tripod

 

2. with landing pad: OEM spring-loaded mounting bolts take 2.8 full turns to secure the OTA to the tripod

 

So, with the landing pad installed the purchase of the OEM bolts is about half of that without the landing pad.

 

The pic below shows the relative depth of the OEM base cut versus the depth of the landing pad.

 

A fun exercise, thanks!

 

landing Pad

 

    • markb likes this

I made my own landing pad for $12 out of white cutting board material from Walmart.  It attaches to the top of the tripod legs with velcro and provides the visual reference to get the pin centered every time.  It was cut using a table-top jig saw.

 

4_Installed_small.JPG
3_Velcro_small.JPG
5_Ready_small.JPG
    • markb, Neptune, Jaimo! and 1 other like this

I am keenly interested in this topic as I have been suggesting to Starizona (I live just several miles from them) to make an LP for the Evolution 8.One big obstacle that I see is that the supplied EVO tripod has no holes for attaching anything to the base- the only holes are the ones for the bolts that secure the mount.

 

I have considered some home-made solutions myself but have yet to come up with one that is consistent, accurate, and attachable.I don't see how the white surround of your home-made LP helps center the mount. The Starizona LP physically prevents the mount from hitting the tripod off center, whereas with yours (if I'm interpreting your photo correctly), you still have to visually center it as there is nothing to prevent it being off center. Am I correct?

 

As far as the length of the bolts, I'm sure a hardware store will have the required length and thread to resolve the length issue, but I doubt you will find the "knob" on one end for hand tightening.

The white cutting board is exactly the same diameter as the base of the CPC, so it works perfectly to align the hole with the pin.   I just visually align the base over the white ring and it never misses.  The bottom of the CPC has a tapered opening to the hole, so you don't have to be perfect.  If you're close at all it just goes right in.  

    • markb and AstroCub like this

I have and use two LPs.

 

The real value of the LP is helping to line up the mounting bolt holes of the tripod and mount, utilizing the 3 oval cut outs, not really the centering.

 

Spin and drop down for easy bolt alignment. The oval cutouts are at the wing location.

 

The arms help with centering, but are not absolute, since the arms and base cannot be permitted to interfere, so clearance is needed. Also, the center pin fit is loose enough that the bolts can still be off radially even if rotation is correct, without the LP.

 

Poolemarkw's circular plastic (or wood) adapter that extends just past the base will make centering easy, similar to the LP, and I had suggested something similar for the Evo tripod in another thread (too lazy to draw or make an example though).

 

I would suggest anyone with an Evo or other recent Nexstar mount that has the ovals already cast in think about making one.

 

The reference provided by the plastic/wood adapter can be both visual and tactile.

 

Adding notches or protrusions to the circle, as well as matching RTV bumps and glow tape to the base would help with bolt location matching too. Even with the LP I use glow tape to simplify aligment.

 

The wings and oval cutouts in the Landing Pad are a superb aid to mounting the big Nexstar, minimizing juggling of the 68 pound GPS11 beast, while trying to match a threaded hole, a through hole and install a lockdown bolt (no captive bolt). Center in the 3 wings, find pin, spin to drop the ovals into the oval cuts, done.

 

Heck, I use one on my N8 as well. Aggravation factor drops from 8 to 1 out of 10. On the GPS11 it goes from 11 to 2 out of 10. My N8 is being modded to have threaded holes in the N11 location. What WERE they thinking using two locations.

 

Landing Pads are worth their weight in gold on the Nexstar flat top tripods (no cast in locating ovals, no triangular top to indicate bolt hole location).

I'm fascinated that this is a problem. I have a 9.25. Never really noticed the centring being an issue. Is the 1100 that much harder to centre? I guess it is a bit bigger. Is there much of a market for this?

 I can't imagine a 9.25, heavier than my 8" being easy unless the tripod is that different...

    • ALman likes this
Photo
Howard Fink
Aug 31 2020 12:33 PM

I have a Starizona landing pad for a Meade 10" LX200 which is no longer made, and I find it essential.  There are three tabs with threads for knobs, so the central threaded rod is not involved in securing the telescope.  I used a similar method to attach a 12" fork to a 10" tripod.

landing
Pad
 
Two layers of 1/2" baltic birch for each piece.  All circle cuts on a CNC router.  The six bolts for the tripod are symmetrically placed, but the piece for the fork has three holes in an isoceles triangle, which I found out the hard way.  Threaded inserts on the tripod piece and allen bolts on the fork piece secure the connection.

SCT's fixed to their fork mounts do tend to be a bit clumsy. Any help you can get is useful. I guess there is a tool for every problem. ;-)

I purchased my 2 most recent Landing Pads about 1.5 years ago, for a NexStar11 GPS and a CPC9.25.  Both came with a set of Longer Bolts.

    • markb likes this

I purchased my 2 most recent Landing Pads about 1.5 years ago, for a NexStar11 GPS and a CPC9.25.  Both came with a set of Longer Bolts.

Did you buy them directly from Starizona?
Thanks,

Yes.

Yes.

Very interesting, thanks. 

I've had one for over 15 years for my old Nexstar 11. It works great for me.

As far as the number of threads being inserted into the 'nut', being an ex Mechanical Designer, I was taught that 3 threads were all that was required for maximum fastening to take place in a mechanical threaded faster. Regardless of the size, just 3 threads.

 

I do agree the attachment of my C-11 EDGE Deluxe CPC is a real nightmare. Sometimes you get lucky other times you are left with a lot of fiddling in order to get it lined up.  That scope does not get any lighter the longer you hold it.

    • markb likes this

Just to clarify, with my white cutting board solution I just eyeball the bottom of the mount to get it closely aligned with the plastic ring and it goes on the pin every time.   Once it's on the pin, then I just rotate the mount either direction until it falls down into the thumbscrew locations and then tighten the thumbscrews.  

    • Neptune and AstroCub like this

Creating a Landing Pad for the EVO has one huge obstacle- where would you attach it? The only holes the supplied tripod has are the 3 mount bolt holes. There is nowhere to screw on a Landing Pad or anything to the top of the tripod.. Using the the white surround that Poolemarkw created, but going further (and more precise) it should be like a shallow bowl  but tapered, so that the mount gets centered as you lower it.( And not completely round either, as the tripod incorporates a bulge at one side that contains the bubble level.) 

This would work but unfortunately it may be beyond my ability to create.

As far as the number of threads being inserted into the 'nut', being an ex Mechanical Designer, I was taught that 3 threads were all that was required for maximum fastening to take place in a mechanical threaded faster. Regardless of the size, just 3 threads.

 

I do agree the attachment of my C-11 EDGE Deluxe CPC is a real nightmare. Sometimes you get lucky other times you are left with a lot of fiddling in order to get it lined up.  That scope does not get any lighter the longer you hold it.

Thanks, Neptune. It's good to have a mechanical designer's (engineer?) perspective!

 

I guess the 2.8 full turns of the bolts that I'm getting with the landing pad installed is close enough to 3 threads then. In any event, I've let this one go - don't sweat the small stuff, right?

 

I do think the landing pad makes alignment easier. The 3 wings "cradle" the mount so that placing it on the pin is much faster than without the pad. I added some stick-back felt to the wings to protect the mount, and am happy with it. I agree with you that holding up that heavy CPC 1100 Deluxe for too long is not fun!

 

Clear skies,

Marc

    • Neptune likes this

I like the felt idea. They had 30 mm long x 10mm wide x 5 mm thick (all approximate) precut stick-on felt furniture pads at Wallymart, IIRC, last year.

 

For me, not to protect the mount but to simplify centering on the big beast.

 

They should work well, but my main scope is still 2500 miles away, so I can't try it myself yet.

    • Neptune likes this

I have a Celestron CPC 11"". Since the tripod bolts are steel, and they are screwed into aluminum threads in a cast aluminum base, I put a very small amount of grease on the threads to prevent galling. This actually happened to one bolt when I tightened the bolts on a Celestron 11" Scope I had in the past. If a bolt begins to bind before you are actually tightening it down, stop immediately and wiggle the scope's base a little to get better hole centering.

 

Ideally the scope base would be steel, or cast aluminum with steel Helicoil inserts, for the bolts to screw in to, but I can't imagine Celestron ever doing this because it would increase the price.

 

Theoretically, 3 threads are OK, but it makes me nervous too.

 

Kevin 

 

 

I use a Starizona landing pad with my NS11 GPS. Scopestuff has some nice replacement mounting bolts with plastic knobs to make attachment of the scope to the tripod tool-free. He was good enough to modify the bolts so that the threads are long enough to solve this problem. They work beautifully.

    • markb likes this


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