Jump to content

  •  

* * * * -

My experience with the Starizona Landing Pad


Discuss this article in our forums

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 4 others like this


49 Comments

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'm glad Detroit and where ever else they build vehicles does not agree with your three thread rule. Vehicle manufacturers usually like to save money where ever they can, but they use thicker bolts and nuts everywhere that offer more than just three threads of fastening strength. No offense intended, but I just wouldn't trust that thin of lug nuts and that short of wheel studs on my diesel truck, or on my cylinder head, or on my Pittman arm, or on my seat belt, or on my brake calipers, and on and on.

    • donstar likes this

Comp[lete and total waste of money - and I am usually impressed with Starizona's kit, I don't have a downer on them.

 

The bolts are nowhere near long enough to provide the same level level of attachment that using the tripod bolts without the Landing Pad provide.

 

Plus, when you place the mount & OTA onto the Landing Pad it no longert turns and 'clunks' into place matching up the 'bolt holes. You literally have to guess where the holes line up. 

 

As for Dean at Staizona saying that in his opinion the bolts are sufficient - well, I suppose he would say that, wouldn't he?! I'm just really annoyed at being sold a complete piece of junk that is now being used as a paperweight - and the fact that the manufacturer is saying 'they all do that' IE there's nothing wrong with them.

 

Save your money, seriously. 

 

Thanks to all the other contributors on this thread who have shared their ideas and solutions to the CPC mounting issues. 

    • donstar likes this

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

Click here to view the article

Please, note that 3 threads engagement on bolts is considered adequate. Any more is just gravy. I would worry if it were only 1 or 2, but 3 is OK.

    • Neptune likes this

I've been using a landing pad on my CPC 1100 (w/GPS) for 3 years now, never had any issues....maybe they sent you the wrong one? But yes, I don't agree with showing a picture of a product and than sending a different looking one afterwards, I'd be annoyed. Is it green? Looks like green in the pic, otherwise if it's black no big deal, you will never look at the letters again anyways. Ordered mine from Opt...

 

https://optcorp.com/...tron-cpc-series

Photo
charlesgeiger
Sep 23 2020 02:08 AM

I bought my C11NexstarGPS landing pad about 2 months ago and got the model with the pad with the Starizona inscription and the three screws too mount it to the base on the stock tripod.  The add says they will send you 3 extended bolts for the base up through the tripod base and up into the base of the RA or AZ.  The add called for the three extra long bolts but I did not get them in the shipment.  I called and they sent them to me within a couple days.  It is a nice set up and I will put rubber or felt to line the tabs that lock the stock landing pad against the telescope base to keep from scratching the base and/or landing pad.

 

Charlie

ps the first time I lifted up the Nesxtar 11 it went right onto the pin and all I had to do was rotate the drive base for the holes to line up for the three bolts to screw into the base.  The second and third times I attempted this operation I spent maybe 15 to 20 minutes to get it (the scope) over the center pin without the landing pad.  My arms were tired and I almost lost the scope over the edge once!  I decided then that the landing pad would be a necessary option. So the landing pad is the best option.  

Charlie

    • markb and donstar like this

100% agreement with Charlie.

 

The Landing Pad is not junk.

 

Rather, it is absolutely essential for a GPS 11.

 

N8s and N5s are horses of a different color, although I still am thankful for it every time I drop my nexstar 8 onto the tripod or pier and can rapidly locate the oval holes.

 

Juggling 68 lb of GPS11 telescope and mount, and trying to find three blind holes on the bottom is no picnic, and can be a danger to both the scope and the user if the user loses balance or grip. 

 

Even finding the center pin-hole is often difficult without the Landing Pad, despite its main purpose being to provide the three ovals for the drop in alignment, not centering.

 

I am very glad for everyone buying newer scopes that Celestron has finally Incorporated the oval cutouts in the tripod head.

 

srarizona absolutely should change the description to omit anything that would lead one to infer they are getting longer bolts, but both the omission of the bolts and the omission of the printed name are undoubtedly knocking quite a bit off the price.

 

Bob's knobs has appropriate knobs for those requiring more than three threads of engagement.

    • Orion68 and donstar like this

Oh how I envy you folks with the models that can use a Landing Pad. Us EVO8 users are still juggling the OTA/Mount onto the tripod... sigh....

Actually, I don't think you're giving up much with the evo 8.

 

From the pictures I've seen and what I've read, the top of the Evo tripod already has the three cast in ovals to allow the ovals on the bottom of the mount to drop in to make bolt installation easier.

 

Those oval cutouts are the magic part of the Landing Pad.

 

The Landing Pad doesn't really solve the centering issues, but it does help quite a bit by giving points of reference, at least for me.

 

Once the pin fits into the center hole on the mount, one simply turns the mount until it snaps into the oval depressions, same is what I understand that you have now.

 

As to the centering aid . . .

 

A recent post, sorry I can't find the reference right now, suggested making a round foam core or wood piece to drop over onto the top of the Evo tripod, permanently, to give a centering frame of reference.

 

Sorry, I don't have one to verify this, that is my understanding of it.

Yes.Someone made a white surround and it goes around the tripod. But the Landing Pad, from what I've seen, actually provides tapered wings to guide the scope mount to the center pin. That is the part that I struggle with. Once it's on the pin, rotating and dropping into the tripod oval holes happens with no effort, with or without the LP.

On mine, at least, the little wings are far enough from the base that they are more of a frame of  reference than an actual slide-on guide.

 

But don't get me wrong, that frame of reference is absolutely invaluable.

 

I'm still waiting to meet up with my already-moved GPS 11, and will try stick on felt pads on the wings to see if that will allow more of a slide in type guide. But frankly, I'm happy to just have the tactile and visual reference of the wings.

 

You should try the tripod topper and see if it does the trick for you. I'd probably start oversized and then cut it down in increments to see what is most comfortable for you. You can mock it up in thin poster board before going to wood or foam core.

Photo
charlesgeiger
Sep 30 2020 12:52 AM

I wanted to add that I have mounted the Nexstar 11GPS for the first time the other day.  Studying the new bolts they are not physically longer but the area below the threads (towards the head) are deeper so the bolt will extend up into the telescope base further.  The first time set up was not at all easy.  For one thing, I think I need to extend the 'pin' in the center of the tripod so that it sticks up further.  The landing pad metal is about 1/8th " in thickness so the pin does not stick up far enough to really center the scope base.  What I did find out was that securing the bolts with the allen wrench (threads in many threads so no problem there) caused my azimuth clutch to bind hard.  I could not move the clutch which has never happened to me before.  So thinking the bolts might be the problem, I backed them off.  I had to back them off to finger tight before the clutch lever released.  I have heard of the problem but did not experience this without the landing pad in place.  Pre landing pad I cinched down the bolts with out ever experiencing binding.  As I got all the bolts to screw in by hand before tightening them down, I am having difficulty understanding what the problem is.  Maybe extending the center pin in tripod might help with this problem.  If it isn't centered properly (which sounds unlikely as the bolts all went in by finger) maybe the base is not completely sitting flush on the tripod.  Maybe someone can comment on that.  I think I will add felt pads to the wings so the base of the Nexstar doesn't get scratched while attaching base.  It appears there is some space between the wings and the mount base; possibly 1/16th " for felt to be applied.

Hope this helps others of their first install does not go just right!

Charlie

Comp[lete and total waste of money - and I am usually impressed with Starizona's kit, I don't have a downer on them.

 

The bolts are nowhere near long enough to provide the same level level of attachment that using the tripod bolts without the Landing Pad provide.

 

Plus, when you place the mount & OTA onto the Landing Pad it no longert turns and 'clunks' into place matching up the 'bolt holes. You literally have to guess where the holes line up. 

 

As for Dean at Staizona saying that in his opinion the bolts are sufficient - well, I suppose he would say that, wouldn't he?! I'm just really annoyed at being sold a complete piece of junk that is now being used as a paperweight - and the fact that the manufacturer is saying 'they all do that' IE there's nothing wrong with them.

 

Save your money, seriously. 

 

Thanks to all the other contributors on this thread who have shared their ideas and solutions to the CPC mounting issues. 

Hi. As the original author of this review, I understand your frustrations. One note though: to get the OTA to "clunk" into the recesses of the bolt holes, as it does without the landing pad, you need to extend the center pin a bit more than it is set from the factory due to the additional height the landing pad imposes. Once you do this, your OTA will clunk into those recesses again. (I had the same issue when I first installed the landing pad, and Dean at Starizona suggested this. It works.)

 

As an update to this thread, while I remain disappointed that the landing pad is not provided with longer bolts, as well as the fact that Starizona is still advertising it on their website as the etched version despite no longer providing that version (and despite my bringing this misrepresentation directly to Dean Koenig's attention), I do find with repeated use that the landing pad does make setting up my CPC 1100 quite a bit quicker and easier. So, for that, I am generally satisfied with it.

I made one of 'poolemarkw' Landing Guiders (if you will).  The thing really works.  The first time I tried it it went right on Perfectly.  The cutting board from which it was made, was from Walmart. This is a cheap alternative to anything more elaborate (read expensive). If you have some hand skills and a jig saw and sand paper you're in.

 

Also, the thickness of the material works out perfectly. Not to thin as to be to flexible or floppy. Not to thick to impede the 3 shallow 'feet' to drop down in their respective indents. It's perfect and very easy to work on. The material is basically white milk jug plastic about .35" thk.

David


Attached Thumbnails

  • Attached Image: Lamding Guider.jpg
    • markb and poolemarkw like this

another pic of fabrication...


Attached Thumbnails

  • Attached Image: Landing Guider cut out.jpg
    • spongebob@55 likes this

I wanted to add that I have mounted the Nexstar 11GPS for the first time the other day.  Studying the new bolts they are not physically longer but the area below the threads (towards the head) are deeper so the bolt will extend up into the telescope base further.  The first time set up was not at all easy.  For one thing, I think I need to extend the 'pin' in the center of the tripod so that it sticks up further.  The landing pad metal is about 1/8th " in thickness so the pin does not stick up far enough to really center the scope base.  What I did find out was that securing the bolts with the allen wrench (threads in many threads so no problem there) caused my azimuth clutch to bind hard.  I could not move the clutch which has never happened to me before.  So thinking the bolts might be the problem, I backed them off.  I had to back them off to finger tight before the clutch lever released.  I have heard of the problem but did not experience this without the landing pad in place.  Pre landing pad I cinched down the bolts with out ever experiencing binding.  As I got all the bolts to screw in by hand before tightening them down, I am having difficulty understanding what the problem is.  Maybe extending the center pin in tripod might help with this problem.  If it isn't centered properly (which sounds unlikely as the bolts all went in by finger) maybe the base is not completely sitting flush on the tripod.  Maybe someone can comment on that.  I think I will add felt pads to the wings so the base of the Nexstar doesn't get scratched while attaching base.  It appears there is some space between the wings and the mount base; possibly 1/16th " for felt to be applied.

Hope this helps others of their first install does not go just right!

Charlie

Haven't checked the forum for a while so you may have already resolved this.

 

I experienced the very same issue of a binding AZ clutch lever when tightening down the mounting bolts.

 

The issue seems to be that without using the landing pad the rubber feet on the bottom of the scope raises the metal base of the scope about 1/8" off  the tripod when everything is secured. However, when the landing pad is used the rubber feet on the scope base drop down into the oval cut outs of the landing pad. This allows the landing pad surface to push hard against the metal base of the scope and then bind the AZ clutch lever which rides right against the metal base of the scope.

 

My resolution was to fill in the oval holes in the landing pad with a 1/8" thick fiber washer material. This totally solved the problem.

 

Good luck.

Photo
EmeraldHills
Nov 16 2020 11:24 AM

Maybe with a CPC 8", it's a ton easier? Because I just don't let the tripod have the weight until it "settles" into center pin - and then I keep it cradled as I rotate it -- and when it finds the 3-bolt location, it kind of locks into place. Is that just because my CPC 8" is lighter and smaller?

Photo
charlesgeiger
Nov 16 2020 04:27 PM

I just saw these last two comments today.  Thank you, I will take the scope off the landing pad and review and see if I can buy some teflon or fiber washer material to raise the base off the landing pad a bit if I understand this correctly.

Charlie

Photo
charlesgeiger
Nov 16 2020 05:18 PM

Orion 68,

After rereading your response above, I have a question.  You said you "refilled the oval holes with a 1/8" fiber washer material".  Does that mean you filled in the complete holes?  Thinking about this, the holes are for the three tripod bolts which fit up into the base...so does this mean you just put fiber washers on the bolts themselves to fit up through the oblong holes or did you put something like teflon pads into the oblong holes and drill the holes for the bolts?  Sorry if I am a bit thick on this.

Thank you for your response.

Sincerely,

Charlie

Emeraldhills, yes, a CPC8 IS a ton easier than the 11s! 

 

I'm tempted to say literally a ton, but 68 pounds for the base GPS11, plus whatever I left on it, like back, diagonal and finder, and sometimes the darn CW, just feels a ton heavier than the N8 when doing the dead weight lift. Literally.

 

Add the vertical lever arm of masses and eyes two feet above what you need to look at (perhaps a foot less if lifting the featherweight 8) but can't actually see, and the Landing Pad becomes indispensible.

 

I have added a Manfrotto 130 pound capacity, 5 inch wheel, video dolly (thanks to that forgotton CNer!) to allow tripod or tripod/scope relocating even over gravel, and a weird big wheeled luggage style cart fron Amazon with a 12x12 aluminum platform for the Beast itself, over gravel as well. I still have to photograph and post that one. Road trips with the big cutie (Beast!) become far easier, as do house to yard transfers and tree avoidance movements. The Chinese ones are scope killers but the Manfrotto is solid. $500 new but easy to find on Ebay at $100-200 shipped.

 

And I still have a second LP for the N8, it makes even that flyweight easier to mount up.

I've struggled with this also. My OTA is the CPC Deluxe 800 HD, which weights 42 pounds. One surprisingly simple technique is to straddle one of the legs of the tripod. By feeling the tripod leg with your legs you automatically align the OTA center hole over the tripod positioning pin. Then lower the OTA till it just touches and slide it forward until it drops into the hole. Believe it or not this works quite well and simply.

Photo
Johny_Johnson
Jan 14 2021 09:57 AM

Interesting stuff, would research more about it

Is the new generic version made in the USA?

Easy to find the bolt holes on the GPS mounts if u look or feel between the on/off switch and the power port there is a raised ridge or divider plastic between them. You line that small ridge up with the middle of one of the tripod legs and all the bolt holes in mount and base will be lined up or very close.

I have the Landing Pad for my C925... makes a world of difference setting up by myself in the dark.  Never counted the threads, but have also never noticed any kind of stability issues.  I bought a second one a couple of years ago with thoughts towards a permanent pier in the yard.



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics