Jump to content

  •  

- - - - -

Review: davejlec's Paralellogram Mount


Discuss this article in our forums

About me:

I’m a 50-something amateur astronomer. I started with my first telescope, a 2” reflector, in my pre-teens. I’ve been an active amateur astronomer for all but an eight to ten year period when my responsibilities as a young parent and my military career made it all but impossible to be active in astronomy. I currently own an 11” SCT, a 4.7” Short Tube Refractor and a 4” Long Tube Refractor.

A few years ago, back surgery forced me to modify my astronomy routine. I didn’t feel up-to-the-task of setting-up an 11” SCT daily. As a military member up for transfer every few years, the transient nature of my life didn’t allow for an observatory. As such, I integrated binocular astronomy into my routine. I currently own approximately one dozen binoculars, from hand-held 35mm binoculars to two 100mm models.

I live in southeast Virginia, east of Richmond, VA. My primary observing location is my home – located in what I would call a semi-rural area (a subdivision located on what was formerly farmland). There is a very distracting streetlight out front, but otherwise I feel lucky to have a fairly decent dark sky with a 5.5 limiting magnitude.

The following review is based upon my experience with a custom parallelogram I purchased on CN Classifieds. I want to be clear: I paid full-price for the parallelogram and I have no financial stake in the device. There has been no quid pro quo between the designer/builder and myself.

About the parallelogram:

I first became aware of this particular parallelogram from the 2015 Stellafane Convention web page. I was too ill to attend personally this past summer, but I saw CN member “davejlec” featured on their web page after the convention. He had entered his parallelogram in the “Mechanical” category and won “Second Place Special Award”. After a few months, I saw the parallelogram advertised on Cloudy Nights Classifieds, the other astro-classified site, and even the popular online auction web site. Several months ago I was in the market for a parallelogram and, after exchanging a few messages, I purchased his product.

Rating Scale:

My rating system will be on a 1-10 scale, with the higher number indicating a better rating. I will rate the parallelogram in each category and I will simply add up the results of the categories at the end for an Overall Rating.

Unboxing:

This rating includes packaging, padding, and organization of the items when they arrived to me.

The parallelogram arrived in two boxes. I opened and assembled the parallelogram in my garage.

Everything was extremely well padded. Each piece of the tripod and parallelogram arms were padded and individually wrapped in packing paper to ensure there would be no nicks, scratches or damage of any kind during shipment.

The designer/builder took the time to think of “the little things” – like including and taping two allen wrenches to the inside of the smaller box.

I unwrapped everything & laid-out the parts in an organized manner to assemble the parallelogram. The hardware was labeled and arrived in multiple plastic zip-type bags.

Unboxing Rating10 of 10

Assembly:

This rating includes the documentation included with the parallelogram and the ease of assembly.

The parallelogram arrived with some written instructions but no pictures, no diagrams, nor an overall Packing List.

Admittedly, I’m not the most mechanical person. I like and need pictures or diagrams when I assemble something. People who know me would likely say that I rarely, if ever, read directions. That’s not true – I look at the diagrams & pictures of the items I’m assembling, then and only then do I read the instructions after I get stuck! But in this instance, I had nothing but basic typed instructions to guide me through the assembly process.

When I began assembly, I queued-up every picture I could find online of the assembled product (from all posted ads as well as the Stellafane web site). This helped significantly. However, during and after the assembly process I emailed davejlec to ask a few questions and to verify my assembly was correct. To his credit, he was extremely quick to respond. Once he even gave me his phone number and asked me to call him.

I gave davejlec some feedback during and after the assembly process (and he subsequently told me a computer literate friend of his was going to help him create improved assembly instructions to include pictures). As I mentioned previously, I am not a mechanically inclined person. As such I feel I should grade and rate this category on a slight curve. However, pictures, diagrams, and/or more thorough instructions to include a Packing List would have helped me tremendously.

My rating: 7 of 10.

Here is the assembled product.

Attention to Detail:

This category is based upon the thoroughness & thoughtfulness of the design [and designer] and how well the parallelogram is engineered.

The designer/builder definitely thought about the small things.

The fact the designer/builder included extra hardware is commendable (how many times have we all gone to assemble something and we found one less screw or other missing hardware omitted from the box?). He even included an extra knob/wing nut and extra bearings for all of the connection points. I definitely have “spare parts & hardware” should I ever need it in the future.

There is also a small chain on the tripod head and a metal ring on the bottom of the binocular arm of the parallelogram. This is a safety to keep both arms stationary (and to stabilize the tripod) when adding weights to the arm. If you connect the arm to the tripod head through the hook and chain, there will be no unexpected movement that could harm the parallelogram and your expensive optics.

If you look closely, you might be able to see the gold ring under the binocular mount. The chain is on the side of the tripod head facing away from the photographer and is not visible in this photo.

Even the reflective tape helped me tremendously on several instances. Lastly, the tripod head has a bubble level to ensure proper set-up.

My rating: 10 of 10

Customer Service:
This category is self-explanatory: how well did the designer/builder support & help the buyer.

I have nothing but positive things to say about CN member davejlec’s customer centric attitude. Not only did he provide me his phone number to have questions answered as mentioned previously in this review, he also provided me pre-purchase customization.

I have a pair of 1980s vintage Celestron® 14x100 Binoculars. These 7.3 lb. binoculars do not have a center post. They were sold and packaged with a large metal tripod mount (see below).

As you can see, that’s a large binocular adapter! Davejlec asked me to send him this picture before he shipped the parallelogram. He then designed a special parallelogram-to-binocular mounting solution that is as long as the center of the 14x100’s adapter plate. His specially designed mounting solution essentially has three contact bolts that provide extra stability to the binoculars.

My rating: 10 of 10

Weight Balancing System:

The builder offered me two weight balancing options with his parallelogram. He could supply the weights (at an additional charge plus additional shipping), or the buyer/user can supply his/her own. I chose the latter (he told me that it’s not cost adventageous for him to supply the weights because shipping is more expensive than the value of the weights).

The counter-weight arm was designed to fit commercially available steel weight plates (not the thick, plastic weights). I already owned steel weight plates in 2.5 lb, 5 lb, and 10 lb increments that would fit the balancing arm. (see below):

Having 2.5 lb, 5 lb, 7.5 lb and 10 lb increments., I have considerable flexibility to support the balancing arm in multiple combinations. And yes, I can support 10 lbs on the balancing arm and my 10.3 lb. 25x100 binoculars on the optics end of the arm. I’m not aware of a weight rating for this parallelogram, but I’m confident I could support (but not exceed) 12.5 lbs on each end of the arm. However, my 10 lb weight plus a 2.5 lb. weight would be too thick to secure and to thick to lock-down with the standard size locking mechanism. I have no reason to balance more than 10 lbs.

Note: The design I purchased will not support a Binocular Telescope. However, the designer/builder recently told me he is customizing a more robust mount to support a 17 lb. Binocular Telescope for another CN member.

I do have one small problem with my counter-weights. The 2.5 lb weight, even with a spacer that was made for me, cannot be locked-down. I have a 3.1 lb. Pentax 20x60s that I’d use a 2.5 lb. weight.

Considering the fact I’m using my own weights and the system wasn’t necessarily designed for my specific TSA branded weights, I can not hold the builder responsible. If I can find large enough washers online, I plan to glue or expoxy several together to make a one-piece spacer that I can use with the spacer the builder made for me.

My rating: 10 of 10

Practical Application:

Now, the road test!

For the record, this is my second parallelogram purchase. I bought a parallelogram from a different source that was supposed to support my 10.3 lb 25x100 binoculars. But after owning and using that, I found that in reality I can’t go beyond 5 lbs. (a 70mm binocular) – that’s quite a difference. Since that first paralleogram under-performed my needs, it gave me a reason to consider and eventually purchase this parallelogram.

I have used a half dozen different binoculars on this parallelogram raging from 3.1 lbs to 10.3 lbs. You’ll notice from the pictures included with this review that my 14x100s are in every photo. Due to substantial and copious dew in my area, I decided to take all of my review photos over a brief period so I could promptly promptly store my camera.

I feel the practical operation of the this parallelogram is simple and straight-forward. For those without experience using one, within a few minutes you’ll feel like an experienced pro.

The tripod and parallelogram are extremely stable. I haven’t encountered any vibration issues in the 3-months I’ve owned it.

The movement is sillky smooth. And when changing altitude, the parallelogram works. I can raise or lower the parallelogram, once locked-on to a target, and the traget remains in the center of the FOV.

The builder also provided me two interchangable parallelogram-to-binocular mounting brackets: a center post adapter and one that attaches to the adapter screw of a binocular. Both tightly secure your optics. And both have silky smooth altitude movement.

Frankly, I could not be happier with how the parallelogram functions. A 10.3 lb. 100mm binocular performs flawlessly just like a 3.1 lb. 60mm Pentax.

Note: Make sure you become familiar with attaching your counter-weights. I initially thought I had lock-down problems with multiple increments. My only problem was not practicing first in the daylight!

My rating: 10 of 10

Quality & Workmanship:

This category is simply based on the quality of the product including the machined components & hardware, the quality of the workmanship, and the perceived durability of the unit.

As I have previously stated, I’ve only owned this custom parallelogram for 3-months. But I can readily tell this unit should last the rest of my lifetime.

The tripod is a heavy-duty - but not too heavy to move - wooden surveyor-type tripod. It has a large, heavy-duty head with a bubble level and sturdy legs. The 3-point tripod has a rope connecting each leg to make leveling a bit easier.

All of the knobs are large and ergonomically easy to adjust.

The parallelogram, like the tripod, is also made of wood. The parallelogram has finely machined metal components. Every joint or moving part moves silky smooth. Each arm has recessed metal washers and thus the joints never loosen nor does over-tightening of the bolts cause damage to the wood.

My only slight complaint: changing the binocular mounting solutions – the center post adapter and the binocular screw adapter components are difficult to insert, remove and swap. The fit, with the plastic bearing, is very tight no matter how loose the knob is. However, I’d rather have a tight connection than a loose connection.

My rating: 10 of 10

Summary:

It’s time to total the ratings.

Overall rating:

Unboxing:10 of 10
Assembly:7 of 10
Attention to Detail:10 of 10
Customer Service:10 of 10
Weight Balancing:10 of 10
Practical Application:10 of 10
Quality & Workmanship:10 of 10
 ------------------------
Total:67 of 70
 (96% or a 9.6 avg. Rating per Category)

Conclusion:

I believe the numbers speak for themselves. CN member davejlec designed and built an excellent product. His price was extremely reasonable (especially compared to the commercially available options for 10lb. capacity parallelograms), and he went above and beyond to support me – the buyer.

If you are looking for a parallelogram for 100mm binoculars and below, look on the CN Classifieds (or other source) and contact CN member davejlec before you buy anything commercially available. If you need something to support a heavier weight, I’ve already mentioned he is currently customizing a more robust parallelogram to meet the needs of a 17 lb. Binocular Telescope. In fact, as I was preparing this review he told me that each of his sales has involved some sort of customization, thus no two parallelograms are exactly alike though they do share the same DNA.

There is one last thing I want to stress: CN member davejlec is currently building his parallelograms to support fellow amateur astronomers. He builds these in his basement workshop and they are definitely not a mass produced product. With each build, he customizes and improves the design based on the feedback of each buyer. Having the ability to buy a quality yet customized binocular mounting solution for a reasonable price is great for the binocular community.

Clear skies to all of the amateurs out there – and thanks for reading my first Cloudy Nights Review!

T.V.R.

(CN Member “H-D Moose”)


  • Vesper818, deepspaceguy, okiestarman56 and 11 others like this


12 Comments

Photo
Jawaid I. Abbasi
Feb 09 2016 08:47 PM

Beautiful. Really loved it the way you wrote down and positive feed back..... and...... an excellent product from DAVE

    • Tyreay likes this

Hi all.

I am the amateur astronomer who bought the next mount. All I can tell you it's that this is the best mount for binoculars you will ever try. The level of workmanship it's incredible. The way the mounts swings to a target it's so intuitive. I have initial doubts putting all together but without any help I had the mount set up in just over half an hour. Dave it's a wonderful person who goes the extra mile and beyond to try to customize the mount for you. He is super detail oriented on his work and accepts any feedback from you. If there is any binocular mount out there you are  looking to buy, please give Dave your only consideration. I have been practicing astronomy for so many years and I cannot recommend his mount enough to any of you out there. I am so glad I reply to his sale add.

 

Roberto

    • Tyreay likes this

The parallelogram looks really nice. Dave is building one for me. In the process he is asking me for any feedback or specials needs I may need to build a true personalized parallelogram. 

    • Tyreay likes this

I received this mount/tripod combo from David a few weeks ago. He was very thoughtful and courteous in every step of the process, and made sure I received the options I wanted. I've only had it out for observing once, and I can tell you that the mount should be able to support nearly any-sized binocular you put on it. Mount movements in all directions were smooth and precise. Previously, I owned a Paragon Plus and a UA T-Mount. David's mount is definitely sturdier, with damping times from movement or bumps being short and insignificant.

 

As I shared with David yesterday, I'm currently searching for a solution to make the tripod a bit more secure. Don't read me wrong here, the tripod is solid! I'm speaking in terms of adding a rigid, perhaps even adjustable spreader, where a leg cannot be moved independently. I have big feet (it seems) and at least a few times have managed to kick a tripod leg while observing, which of course sends the whole system out of level.

 

Bottom line:  I like it and feel it was a great buy when compared to other sources. When I find my spreader solution, I'll LOVE IT!  Thanks, David!

I would like to 'Thank' H-D Moose for this review. I was actually looking to buy a pair of Oberwerk Binoculars and during a review of them saw a guy using a parallelogram mount. It made a lot of sense to have a mount when using heavier binoculars so my search changed a bit to see if I could find one.  During one of my Internet searches I found this site and this review and as they say, 'the rest is history'.  This thing is more like a piece of fine furniture compared to the ones I saw on other sites. So my personal advice to anyone that might be looking for a parallelogram mount as I was is to just stop wasting time searching the Internet and buy one of these, you won't be sorry.

 

I should note that I am a Noob when it comes to astronomy.  I started to get into the field while in the Navy but had so little time while being deployed that I dropped the hobby until recently.  Now being a bit older then most (yes, older then even H-D Moose), I figured that Binoculars was a better option in getting started again and a mount like this makes it even better as age makes holding anything for any period of time a bit harder/shakier.

 

Since the initial review I think Dave has changed a few things:

  • He's improved the design to handle a bit more weight.
  • The carrier design has been improved so that the altitude bearing can be positioned above or below the parallel arms depending on whether you are standing or reclining.
  • The instructions have been re-done to include pictures and he has a short video to help show how things go together if needed.

I was impressed with the whole process, from my initial contact with Dave, through the building process and follow-up emails checking on my experience using the mount. This was truly a “one-of-a-kind” buying experience. If you shopping for a mount like this you better consider getting one while you can.  You never know when he might stop building these and you will regret not having one for yourself.

    • Jerry Barnett, deepspaceguy and precaud like this

I'll add my voice to the growing chorus of happy owners of Dave's p-gram mount. This is my first bino mount so I can't make any comparisons, but I'm pleased as punch with it. And Dave is a pleasure to work with and conscientious to the extreme, both in customer service and attention to product detail. Even if the mount wasn't as superb as it is, we want guys like this to succeed.

    • Jerry Barnett likes this
Photo
Jerry Barnett
Jun 28 2016 11:02 AM

Another very satisfied owner of Dave's mount. His craftsmanship is really superb and his design elements are well thought out. If you are looking for a nicely crafted and functional parallelogram mount, look no further.

 

Dave is a one person shop and he will work with you on creating something unique to your needs. Not only is he a very nice man but he is great at keeping you informed on his progress as he builds your mount. He truly understands the importance of keeping the customer in the loop. His goal is to produce a very high quality product and create a satisfied customer. 

 

Another thing that impressed me about Dave is that he solicits feedback and constructive criticism about his mount. He uses this feedback to improve his product and is very appreciative for the input. 

 

I highly recommend Dave's product to anyone who is looking for a very well made, reasonably priced parallel mount. Not only will you be getting an outstanding piece of equipment, you will be supporting a fellow amateur astronomer who really cares about our community.

 

Cheers! 

Hi, I would like to thank the CN members here along with others that have been very generous with their time and effort, compliments and feedback on these binocular parallelogram mounts and tripods. I welcome any positive or negative feedback on the functioning or aesthetics as it does help to make a better product.  - thanks for sharing your comments!

    • Bill_H, deepspaceguy, Emeryh and 1 other like this

Hello, Christmas is coming and I would like to buy a parallelogram binocular mount for the husband. He has talked about building one for years, but work and other astronomy obligations have prevented him from doing so. I have looked through the classifieds here on CN, on the other $15/year mart, and on eBuy but I have had no luck finding Dave's mount. Is it possible to order one? Thank you for any help. Amy W

http://www.cloudynig...m-mount-tripod/

 

Hello, Christmas is coming and I would like to buy a parallelogram binocular mount for the husband. He has talked about building one for years, but work and other astronomy obligations have prevented him from doing so. I have looked through the classifieds here on CN, on the other $15/year mart, and on eBuy but I have had no luck finding Dave's mount. Is it possible to order one? Thank you for any help. Amy W

Being a Newbie, my opinion might be suspect, but I know excellent craftsmanship when I see it. I have seen it in Dave’s P’mount design and execution of that design. His work is nothing short of “awesome”, you can see and feel the care and pride he takes in his making of this delightful mount. Other’s have described it better than I can, and pictures tell the tale of wood and aluminum fused together into a work of “useful art”. Not only does the big “P” work wonderfully, it is lovely to behold, a visual delight. Very pretty compared to a contractors transit and a plain metal parallelogram.
Once set up and adjusted for your particular bins, you adjust your recliner, pull the arm holding the bins over to you, lay back and relax without having to even hold the glasses! No more shaky views, no Popeye type forearms required, bring on the high magnification bins. Woohoo!
If your like me and a bit clumsy, no worries as the wood absorbs much of the vibrations and bumps settle down quickly. Dave includes some glow stickers to attach to the legs, helps avoid bumping the legs in the dark.
I must mention the packaging…Crazy good! It’s obvious he pours his heart into the mount, it’s so well wrapped and packaged you’d think it was one of his kids inside…LOL
This mount has increased my enjoyment in binocular astrogazing. I was tiring of the shaky views if I used more than a 7 x set. I can see more objects, and for a much longer time. I’m having to track the stars now.
Dave will modify or custom build your big “P”, just let him know what you want. I had no clue, just asked he make mine a standard unit. It’s perfect for me! Here’s a great example of “Homegrown Engineering” at it’s finest.
A big Thanks Dave, for making these Pmounts, and at an affordable price. Best money I’ve spent on this obsession/hobby.

Kevin, owner of #26 “P” mount.

Another satisfied customer...

How to say with words how much I appreciated the exchanges with Dave. It had been a real treat to deal with him. From the initial enquiry, to the post-delivery advices, not mentioning the entire construction and customisation process.

 

img_0210.jpg

 

Construction Process

- Dave adapted the dimensions of the tripod as I needed it to fit in my Celestron's tripod carrying bag.

In order to keep the mount well balanced despite of its new size, he had to redesign several parts, particularly the carrier beam where the binoculars are attached.

- When I suggested that it would be nice to be able to adapt a laser pointer to the mount, he responded beyond my exceptations, crafting a wood adaptor for a Rigel quick finder to mount on the binoculars center post. So added to the fantastic mount Dave constructed for me, I have now a nice pointing device on my binoculars.

Delivery

- The delivery was also a great experience : As I live in France the shipping and customs costs were almost as much as the mount price. So I asked Dave if it would be possible to send it in Brooklyn, at a special Air BnB address where I was travelling during september. Construction and shipping were to be kept in a very tight time-frame.

- Guess what? The two parcels where shipped precisely on the planed day, arrived at my Brooklyn appartment without any trouble. Travel back to France was smooth with the two parcels in the cargo hold of the AirFrance B777.

Assembling

- The day after I got back to France, I immediately assembled the mount. Everything went great, thanks to Dave's clear and precise instructions.

- The mount is of great quality. This man really knows what he's doing. Every single part has been thought through, carefully designed, crafted and assembled. The result with the brown stain finish looks fantastic.

 

dsc07614.jpg

 

- Dave's care in small details go as far as inserting some small luminescent discs in each leg of the tripod, making it slightly visible at night so as you won't give it a kick...

Post Delivery Service

- Dave provided some extra-parts, free of charge : a 2nd bearing block to be used with an extra pair of binoculars, some extra-parts for the Rigel quick finder. He also proposed to send at his charge a new redesigned carrier beam as he wasn't totally satisfied with the one he had delivered (which is just perfect in my opinion...).

- He was also of great help when I used the finder for the first time, explaining how to configure it and how to adjust it on the binoculars.

Using the Mount

The usability of the mount is fantastic. I used to mount my Helios Apollo 15x85 binoculars on a Manfrotto standard tripod. I can assure you that I have the feeling to have a totally new observing device : each move goes smoothly on all the axes. You can switch in a breeze from one observer to another, keeping the pointed object within the binoculars' field of view.

 

CONCLUSION

I can't say enough to praise Dave professionalism and kindness, in every step of the process.

We even had the occasion to talk about our lives, our jobs, music and our expectations from life.

A great guy I'd really love to meet in person to have a beer and endless jazz and stars conversations....

    • precaud and Spokey like this


Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics