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What portable tripod or pier do you prefer for Q 3.5?

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#1 Loren Gibson

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 02:23 PM

I'm thought it would be best to start a new thread rather than risk hijacking the current thread regarding tripod heads for a Q 3.5. The OP of that thread asked what head to use with his photo tripod, and I’d like to ask the converse: What tripod or pier do you prefer to use with a Tri-Stand head? (A couple of respondents in the other thread noted the adapter which allows use of the Tri-Stand head on a photo tripod.)

 

Phrased another way: For those of you who have used both a complete Tri-Stand, and just the Tri-Stand head on a decent photo tripod, which do you like better?

 

To put this question into context, right now I'm a mere wannabe Questar 3.5 owner, and I have zero experience using a Questar. I was traveling through eastern Pennsylvania a couple of months ago, so I made an appointment to visit Jim Reichert in New Hope. That was the first time I saw any Questar telescope, so it was well worth the detour to the Questar office. One of the things I did while there was to sit down on a drummers throne placed next to a Questar 3.5 mounted on a Tri-Stand. My viewing posture was excellent, and I was pleased to find out that the legs and pier of the Tri-Stand didn’t  interfere with my seated position. Fantastic. Prior to this I wondered if the Tri-Stand legs could be some kind of obstacle to comfortable positioning of my feet.

 

At this time, I occasionally use small telescopes mounted on tripods such that I can sit in a small adjustable-height chair on casters. I can roll up to the telescope and observe while my legs are beneath the equatorial mount head, situated between two of the tripod legs. It's usually very comfortable once I reorient the telescope diagonal and adjust the chair height. I can even lean back against the seat back. But it takes a few moments of scooting around and tweaking things so as to avoid bumping tripod legs during viewing. In other words, I may have to do adapt my position in order to accommodate the tripod legs. I don’t think this is an issue with the Tri-Stand.

 

So, for those of you who do seated viewing using a photo tripod with a Tri-Stand head, do you encounter any issues with tripod legs conflicting with your desired seated position? (For that matter, I suppose I need not limit this question to those specifically using the Tri-Stand head on a tripod.)

 

I hope my question and long-winded description of things make sense. Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide.

 

Loren

 



#2 Steve's 50th

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Posted 12 September 2015 - 08:37 PM

I prefer to sit with one of the tripods legs between my legs, I suppose that's because I only have to lift 1 leg over the tripods leg then to move about. Where if I sit between 2 tripod legs I would have to lift both of my legs over one of the tripod legs to move about. But other than that, no, I experience no conflicts with a comfortable seated or standing for that matter, position.



#3 TheQuestar7

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Posted 13 September 2015 - 06:06 AM

Is there a special adapter to mount my Tristand mount to another tripod?  Is this available through Questar?  The set up is perfect as I always carry the Questar outside attached to it and use the handle on the base and the accessory tray to use as a lift support but could see an even lighter way by substituting the attached tripod etc.  



#4 Loren Gibson

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Posted 13 September 2015 - 07:28 AM

Is there a special adapter to mount my Tristand mount to another tripod?  Is this available through Questar?  The set up is perfect as I always carry the Questar outside attached to it and use the handle on the base and the accessory tray to use as a lift support but could see an even lighter way by substituting the attached tripod etc.

 

Post #23 in the "Tripod Head to support a Q3.5" thread talks about this adapter, which is what raised my curiosity.

 

LJG



#5 NC Startrekker

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Posted 13 September 2015 - 09:05 AM

Questar7, yes. The adapter is called a "Questar Tilt Plate Adapter.  It currently retails for $85. You can order it from Questar or one of the authorized Questar retailers such as Astronomics (parent company of CN) or Company 7. I called Jim R. At Questar to order one but they are currently out of stock. So he took my order and will send when they get them back in. Although he did not give me any indication when that might be. 

 

Regarding Loren's original question - "What portable tripod or pier..."  Admittedly, I am very new to the Questar family and using the various pieces of kit, but I will offer my observations so far.  I received my Tristand last week.  When ordering, I discussed the Tristand weight with Jim R.  He told me that the total weight (pier tripod and head) was 18lbs.  After lifting it a few times it seems comparable to my Berlebach Uni 14 tripod which weighs about 18 lbs. The Questar Tilt Plate (head) by itself weighs about 5lbs.  The Questar Tilt Plate Adapter is listed at another 1.5lbs.  With the Q3.5 (about 7lbs total) attached total weight on top of the tripod will be pushing 14lbs (adapter + tilt plate + Q3.5).  A good rule of thumb is that for astronomical use, your tripod should be rated for at least twice the weight you intend to use on it.  I would suggest that you wouldn't want to go with anything rated for less than about 26lbs. With a lower rated tripod, dampening time for vibrations might become irritatingly long.

 

Your lightest but potentially most expensive option would be a heavy duty carbon fiber tripod at 8lbs or so. A little heavier but significantly cheaper option would be a heavy duty aluminum tripod like the Manfrotto 475B at about 10lbs.  In the wood category, I don't think you can beat the Berlebachs. I think the Uni series is an ideal compromise between weight and rigidity for a small Q. Downsides are weight at about 18lbs, expense, and availability (German made with limited US distributors). 

 

A couple of final thoughts. First, if using the adapter option with a camera tripod, I would be cautious to ensure that the 3/8-16 mounting stud on the tripod is sufficiently long enough to fully engage the adapter. I would be concerned with putting my Q on one that only allowed a couple of threads of contact. I would also want to make sure that it is well seated (firmly attached). The adapter and the base of the tilt plate are significantly larger in diameter than the typical top plate of a camera tripod creating some potential for increased off axis torque on the mounting stud.

 

Finally, if you are considering either a carbon fiber. Tripod or a Berlebach along with the Questar Tilt Platehead and adapter, the total cost is likely to exceed the cost of a complete Tristand. The tripod would offer the advantage of adjustability in height to allow seated or standing observing or to compensate for I level terrain. If those are important considerations for you then that would seem the way to go.  If not, then perhaps the Tristand package would provide the best overall value (price vs. weight vs. performance). 

 

I hope this helps you both. I know that there are others with infinitely more experience with all of these combinations that can weigh in with sage advice. But, this may provide a few considerations for you to research before committing one way or the other. 

 

Alan



#6 Billydee

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Posted 13 September 2015 - 06:42 PM

Loren,

 

Here is a link to the Company 7 site and is an article on the adapter plate.

 

http://www.company7....ateadapter.html

 

Bill



#7 NC Startrekker

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:36 PM

My Q just returned from New Hope after having its drive upgraded from AC to the Power Guide II.  Below is a photo of the Q sitting atop its new Tristand.  This is the first time that the two have been mated.  Wouldn't you know it, it is pouring down rain outside and cloudy/rainy weather is forecast to remain over the course of the next week!  Alan

Attached Thumbnails

  • Q on Tristand.jpg

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#8 NC Startrekker

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Posted 27 September 2015 - 01:55 PM

For those considering the Tristand and/or tilt plate head, here are a couple of observations.  First, I have attached a picture showing the power port cutout in the tilt plate.  Note that the PG II hand controller connection port is offset in the cutout.  Although it is not centered in the cutout and the lateral tolerance is a bit close, there is no issue with being able to connect and disconnect the controller cable.

 

Second, I attached a picture of the leveling feet which I elected to purchase along with the Tristand.  Though I believe they will prove helpful in use, I really question the $125 price tag.  IMO, they really should be included as a standard component on each Tristand.  Note in the attached picture that the end of the bolt on each leveling foot protrudes vertically through the Tristand legs.  I was a little concerned with leaving the somewhat sharp edges of the protruding bolt exposed.  So my solution was to purchase a package of screw end protectors at my local big box hardware store.  The size that fits correctly is those for 5/16" screws.  In my case, they came in a package of three for less than a dollar.  I also believe that the largest size end protectors for Closet Maid wire shelving would work equally well.

 

Alan

Attached Thumbnails

  • Tilt Head Power Port Access.jpg
  • Leveling Foot.jpg

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#9 ehallspqr

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 11:27 AM

Curious to see a photo of the Tilt Plate Adapter with Tristand Head mounted on a tripod, when Questar finally ships it to you that is. I don't ever think I've seen a Tilt Head/adapter mounted on a regular Tripod before. I have a couple heavy duty Bogen Tripods that are begging for this setup. However I understand that just the Tilt-head wedge & adapter are about $800 or so?

 

Nothing beats the Questar on a Tristand for looks and function as long as you have a relatively flat surface to set it up. The total package is greater than the sum of its parts  :waytogo:


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#10 NC Startrekker

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:49 AM

I will definitely post some pictures when I get the adapter.  I probably need to give Jim R. a call and follow up on the status.  I'm sure they are a low demand item and that there are any number of more pressing priorities ahead of it on their list.  Alan



#11 GR1973

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 05:38 AM

My Q just returned from New Hope after having its drive upgraded from AC to the Power Guide II.  Below is a photo of the Q sitting atop its new Tristand.  This is the first time that the two have been mated.  Wouldn't you know it, it is pouring down rain outside and cloudy/rainy weather is forecast to remain over the course of the next week!  Alan

 

I dreams to own one of the dark blue or purple glossy Q like yours.

 

    Looks beautiful.

 

    Best regards



#12 93711dude

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Posted 02 April 2016 - 06:47 PM

Astronomy Shoppe also markets their own adapter to mount a Tristand head to a camera tripod


Edited by 93711dude, 02 April 2016 - 06:51 PM.


#13 Loren Gibson

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 04:53 AM

I see that it was six months ago that I started this thread. Belated thanks to all who chipped in. It looks like I was negligent in thanking you earlier.

 

Incidentally, I'm no longer a wannabe Q owner. I now own a Questar Standard, and I bought the Tristand for it as well. When I set up in either my driveway or porch/patio, I sit in an adjustable office task chair on castors, roll up to the scope until the chair seat almost touches the pier, chair castors between two Tristand legs and the other tristand leg pointing away from me, and my legs then straddle the pier, feet placed on the "far side" of the two close Tristand legs. (Hope that description makes sense.) Wonderful posture. The task chair I have has adjustable seat height, seat angle, and backrest angle, which is very nice.

 

My only complaint is that the Tristand, in part due to the orientation of the polar axis at 26 degrees N latitude, is an inch or two too short for me when viewing near the zenith. (The chair seat is at its lowest position.) I have to alter posture slightly from ideal, backing the seat away and "hunching forward" a bit. I adjust the chair back angle to put a little pressure on my back, and it's still a decent posture.

 

So far I can't find a similar chair with a lower seat height than the one I have, but I'm finding this to not be a serious issue.

 

I'm very glad I budgeted for the Tristand. (Also, the Tristand's geared motions in altitude and azimuth are wonderful for polar alignment!)

 

Loren



#14 BYoesle

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 08:01 AM

 

In the wood category, I don't think you can beat the Berlebachs. I think the Uni series is an ideal compromise between weight and rigidity for a small Q. Downsides are weight at about 18lbs, expense, and availability (German made with limited US distributors).

 

:waytogo:

 

Questar & Uni 14.jpg


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#15 NC Startrekker

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 08:22 AM

Loren, if you did not purchase the leveling feet with your Tristand, you could easily gain the additional two inches you need by adding them.  They will also allow you do make minor adjustments to level the Tristand.  If you have a sturdy photo tripod, another option is the tripod adapter for the Tristand tilt head that others have mentioned. I have one I purchased from the Astronomy-Shoppe.  It allows you to take the tilt head off the Tristand and mount it on a photo type tripod. This gives you a wide range for customizing the height and more flexibility for un-level or sloped terrain.  I find I mount my Q this way as much, possibly more, than on the Tristand. But it's nice having the Tristand. It is a match made in heaven for the Q and a work of art.  I find its the form and function debate with the Tristand winning on form but I have to concede function to the tilt head mated with a sturdy tripod like the Berlebachs or Manfrottos. Alan



#16 Loren Gibson

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Posted 03 April 2016 - 11:25 AM

Alan, thank you. I do have the leveling feet, although I have not yet "jacked up" the Tristand with them simply to gain height, only to adjust for leveling purposes. Nice idea. Another thing is that I can get another 1/2 inch or so height gain with my vibration damping pads that go under tripod feet. (They're not needed for vibration damping, and most of the time I forget to use them anyway.)

 

I do recall that those of you who are using tripods rather than the Tristand generally have skewed towards the relatively "heavy duty" tripods. I can see that looking at the pics in other threads. By "heavy duty," I mean heavier duty than my Slik DX700 AMT photo tripod. My tripod is very nice, lightweight medium-duty tripod, but I discovered that I am not quite satisfied using it as a tripod for the Q. It doesn't feel as steady as I'd like. (I've only tried it by removing the Slik pan/tilt head and threading the Q base right onto the tripod legs; I haven't puchased a tilt head adapter from Questar or Astronomy Shoppe.) When I see those other heavier duty rigs with bracing between the legs and center posts, or those nice Berlebachs (excellent, Bob!), or other rugged homemade tripods or piers, well, I now know why. :-)

 

What I'd really like to have is a tilt head adapter to mate my Tristand tilt head with my surveyor's tripod, with its 5/8 by 11 tpi mounting screw. Does anyone make such an adapter?

 

Loren



#17 NC Startrekker

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Posted 04 April 2016 - 04:32 PM

Loren, if you know that you definitely want to use your surveyors tripod, the Astronomy-Shoppe adapter plates that allow you to mount the tilt head on tripods other than the Tristand come in several options for center hole size.  I believe that one of them is 5/8-11 but please double check with them.

 

Another option that would allow you more flexibility is to replace the 5/8-11 bolt in your surveyors tripod with a 3/8-16 bolt.  I have a surveyors tripod that I routinely use with several of my mounts.  I simply removed the original 5/8-11 and replaced it with a stainless steel 3/8-16 cap screw and washer.  Works great and only cost a few dollars at the local hardware store.

 

Alan


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#18 astronomy-shoppe.com

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Posted 05 May 2016 - 10:56 AM

We can machine any size thread you need, currently I have, 3/8 o 1/4-20 in stock , I personally like the floating head Davis tripods, you find them on EBAY anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars, we have the adapters for those as well

Tony C



#19 Larry Geary

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Posted 06 May 2016 - 02:43 PM

We can machine any size thread you need, currently I have, 3/8 o 1/4-20 in stock , I personally like the floating head Davis tripods, you find them on EBAY anywhere from 50 to 100 dollars, we have the adapters for those as well

Tony C

 

I have the old Davis & Sanford tripod you speak of, and I had an adapter made to allow me to mount the Tristand head on it. I found that this combination didn't work very well. For some reason, there was excessive vibration whenever I touched the focuser, and they took unacceptably long to damp down. This is with the legs extended and the feet in the normal position. I found that I could reduce vibrations to an acceptable level if I collapsed the legs completely and turned the legs over so the spikes point down, but this makes the tripod uncomfortably small and more prone to tipping. I ended up abandoning that combo and put the Tristand head on a large Gitzo carbon fiber tripod. This combo works very well. I use the D&S tripod now with a Bogen geared head and Pentax 75mm refractor, and it's stable.



#20 Loren Gibson

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 08:27 AM

Tip of the hat to Tony C. at Astronomy Shoppe: He made a Tristand head adapter for me with a 5/8" by 11 tpi threads for surveyors' tripods.

 

Attached is a pic showing the adapter and head of my tripod. Couple more pics to follow...

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_1333.small.jpg


#21 Loren Gibson

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 08:28 AM

Another pic. (oooh... I'm getting seasick looking at this tipped picture!)

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  • IMG_1335.small.jpg

Edited by Loren Gibson, 21 May 2016 - 08:29 AM.

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#22 Loren Gibson

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 08:28 AM

One more:

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#23 Steve's 50th

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 01:42 PM

Loren, in my opinion you have the ideal setup for the Questar with the Questar tilt head mounted a tripod of your choice. The 2 things that keeps me from purchasing a tristand besides the cost, is the limited amount of adjustment available for leveling, and not being able to use it sitting or standing. The tripod takes care of that. Congrats on your solution, it looks great and I'm sure functions just as well!



#24 Wisconsin Steve

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 01:52 PM

The Meade 884 tripod works quite well for a low cost option. I recently purchased it used for less than $90 with shipping. It also has a built in "wedge" for adjusting to your latitude. Someday I'll probably pick up a fancy tripod, but this works for now.

 

Steve

Attached Thumbnails

  • WP_20160515_004.jpg

Edited by sgorton99, 21 May 2016 - 01:53 PM.

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#25 Loren Gibson

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Posted 21 May 2016 - 03:50 PM

Loren, in my opinion you have the ideal setup for the Questar with the Questar tilt head mounted a tripod of your choice. The 2 things that keeps me from purchasing a tristand besides the cost, is the limited amount of adjustment available for leveling, and not being able to use it sitting or standing. The tripod takes care of that. Congrats on your solution, it looks great and I'm sure functions just as well!

 

Thanks. The complete Tristand (head and portable pier) will still see the most use, given my current circumstances. Even given that, since I already have the surveyors tripod and the Tristand head, there is a lot of bang for the buck resulting from buying the Tristand head adapter. As you note, there are circumstances where the tripod w/Tristand head will likely be better than using the complete Tristand.




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