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Q7 Usability, Mounts, and Viewing

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#1 Optics Patent

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Posted 09 August 2018 - 04:23 PM

Perhaps my greatest sin as a Questar enthusiast is my eagerness to acquire, repair and restore, but with some lethargy at observing. 

I spent the winter and spring restoring a Questar Seven mount, as well as two barrels (one successfully).  But the finished product (with the restored barrel, as another good barrel awaits) has sat on display in my office for several months.  As others recount their impatience awaiting the factory delivery of their first Questar, I’ve been bringing out one or another of my 3.5 scopes for actual viewing and neglecting the Seven.

That thing is a little scary.  In my mind it’s 60 pounds, and perhaps on the scale it’s 50.  After seven months of working on the project and fussing over every detail, it’s a daunting task to contemplate picking up the whole docked scope and taking it outside.  And that’s if I even had a decent support for it, which I don’t, yet. 

Docking is a worrisome strain as one struggles with the awkward weight and the fine finished surfaces banging and scraping on each other.  It’s such a relief to tighten up the connection that one never wants to repeat the process.  Perhaps for a start party event, but certainly not for just a quick evening of viewing, each time.

Regrettably, I lack a suitable support.  The Questar support (big brother to the Tristand) is ferociously priced to one whose initial investment was less than $1500 (plus well more than that for a barrel, but it affects the mindset).  Realistically, putting a $3500 support under a $4500 scope is hard to swallow.

For first viewing, a folding workbench provided a table, and I set it up flat on the base for alt-az viewing.  I didn’t trust the legs to be stable on the small table.  Carrying the docked scope involved having the barrel pointed up and locked, and grabbling under the fork arm bottom ends with fingertips, holding it against my hips, belly, and chest, with the eyepiece pocking me, and the base rim banging against my thighs. 

What I really need is a tripod dolly.  The scope is in my office with double doors, and near the double front door that accesses a front yard with southern sky view.  No steps, so I could roll a 100-pound setup, then lock the wheels or deploy feet.  Don’t need it to fold because I have floor space in the office.  Even a $129 utility cart would provide a mobile tabletop for quick deployment, if not an ideal office display platform.

If carrying and setting up is a pain in the back, viewing alt-az on a fixed table top isn’t a picnic either.  I’m spoiled by a 3.5 on a Linhof elevator post, adjusting for perfect standing height for each object.

I used a 16mm Brandon.  Spoiled by a number of 3.5 scopes, only one of which has disappointed optically (working on it) Saturn took my breath away, with Cassini’s division running full circle, visible even low over hot rooftops across the street.  Jupiter rewarded with ample detail the 3.5 can’t quite capture.  The size of the scope enables very satisfying magnification.  Mars was too low to appreciate, but the shimmering image still was a pleasure, with more detail than expected.  As I observed the fine star image of Vega, I found the double-double easily resolved, and was startled to find the Ring Nebula distinctly visible in an urban sky that makes all but Vega in Lyra invisible to the naked eye.

I could wax poetic about the pleasure of viewing with the scope, as heavy as it is, and as awkward to observe without a decent mount, but all I can say is: It’s worth it.

And it makes me ready for a Q5, which promises an insignificant loss of convenience, and a major gain in performance.


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#2 scadvice

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Posted 09 August 2018 - 04:43 PM

However, you have to admit the Questar large astro pier is really nice looking and would complete your scope.

 

(Are you writing your post in Word first then putting it in to CN? That's what I do and found I need to double space between paragraphs or I get all the words running together like yours did.)



#3 Matt Looby

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 03:45 AM

Hey Ben,

 

If the seeing is 'good' through the 3.5 that might be the time to roll out the Q7.  I suggest a heavy duty table with large wheels (locking).  The idea is to roll the telescope outside and be up and observing in a matter of minutes. I am not keen on rolling a tripod outside- especially a pier, unless you could lower the height of the pier before and after.   

 

I use the observing table always- for my Q3.5 and the Quantum 4.  You may even find a table that could accommodate the 3.5 and the Q7 side by side.  That would be one heck of a show!

 

Matt


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#4 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 04:39 AM

[....]

I could wax poetic about the pleasure of viewing with the scope, as heavy as it is, and as awkward to observe without a decent mount, but all I can say is: It’s worth it.

And it makes me ready for a Q5, which promises an insignificant loss of convenience, and a major gain in performance.

Great way to put it Ben: the Q7 is worth it. Amen to that.

 

It seems the Q5 fit's in a nice slot for you and many others in between the Q 3.5 and Q7.

Although your post is mainly about the Q7, I think you meant your last sentence above to end with "compared to the Q 3.5"?\

 

One thing I can say about mount g the Q7. If you mount it on a solid (picknick) table, it is rock solid and convenient on it's table top mount. With space handy for books, sketchbook, pencils, accessories and perhaps a cup of coffee. Prefer that to a tripod or stand for the Q7.

 

Here's how I mounted mine, wood is about 2" thick:

 

Q7 Cn.jpg


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#5 davidmcgo

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 09:01 AM

There were some posts from CN user Seefive some years ago that showed a really nice weighted rolling table:

 

https://www.cloudyni...e-3#entry752038

 

Dave



#6 ehallspqr

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 12:07 PM

Always used the Q7 on a quality aftermarket mount. It made setting up & using the “beast” manageable. Once setup it’s viewing heaven. Going from the easy peasy Q-3.5 to the Q-7 is somewhat of shock for most people. Big scope, big scope issues.

 

The new 5” should be very manable compared to the 7”. Having used a 3.5, Q7 and a 5” ETX  I feel the Q5 will be much closer to the 3.5 than the 7 in terms of size, ease of setup and optically right inbetween. The sweet spot indeed, IMHO.



#7 Matt Looby

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 12:33 PM

Great way to put it Ben: the Q7 is worth it. Amen to that.

 

It seems the Q5 fit's in a nice slot for you and many others in between the Q 3.5 and Q7.

Although your post is mainly about the Q7, I think you meant your last sentence above to end with "compared to the Q 3.5"?\

 

One thing I can say about mount g the Q7. If you mount it on a solid (picknick) table, it is rock solid and convenient on it's table top mount. With space handy for books, sketchbook, pencils, accessories and perhaps a cup of coffee. Prefer that to a tripod or stand for the Q7.

 

Here's how I mounted mine, wood is about 2" thick:

 

attachicon.gif Q7 Cn.jpg

This is the way I would use the Q7- with its' tripod legs.  I would find a stout table (not hard to do)  with large wheels and brakes.  The table could be wood (preferred).  Roll the unit out and get to it.  Roll it back in after my standard 30-45 minute observing session- go to sleep. 



#8 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 12:38 PM

For portability reasons, I sometimes used a small low profile table to point the Q7 at something not accessible from my sturdy picnic table. It also worked well for it's intended purpose:

 

Q7 tabletop.jpg


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#9 jag32

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 04:32 PM

I have never seen a Q7 in person, but wow Erik, that really puts it into perspective! What make of table is that?
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#10 jag32

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Posted 10 August 2018 - 04:33 PM

Ben, do you have any photos of your Q7 on the portable table/cart you could share with us. 


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#11 Erik Bakker

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 02:12 AM

[....] What make of table is that?

 

Don't remember, had it long before the Q7 came, a wonderful fit by coincidence.



#12 Erik Bakker

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 02:16 AM

To put size into perspective from another angle:

 

FS102 Q7 fork.jpg

 

 

 

 


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#13 Erik Bakker

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 02:18 AM

And here are the FS-102-NSV and Q7 next to each other observing the Sun:

 

DSC_0252.jpg


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#14 NC Startrekker

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 09:45 AM

Erik, is that a TSA-120 on the Q7 forks? Clever idea. 



#15 Matt Looby

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 10:52 AM

Erik, is that a TSA-120 on the Q7 forks? Clever idea. 

I think it is a 4" Tak-


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#16 NC Startrekker

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 12:54 PM

You're right Matt. I should have read Erik's posts more carefully. He states that it is an FS-102 in another photo above. Regardless, it's still a clever use of the Questar fork mount as long as you don't want to observe objects lower in the sky. Like the Q itself, the optical tube would hit the drive base. 


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#17 Erik Bakker

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 04:04 PM

Just a fun experiment. But the Q7 was much more at home on that fork mount than the FS-102 NSV wink.gif


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#18 Optics Patent

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 07:47 PM

I was daydreaming on the subject and came up with the idea of a base like a Weber Kettle’s. Two legs with wheels and one without. The A frame formed by the wheeled legs might be in the plane of the base for lower latitudes like my 33. The third leg could have a swiveling wheel like a tricycle and a spike or leg that immobilizes and fine tunes the latitude.

I need to do some sketching and then some prototyping.
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#19 Billydee

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Posted 11 August 2018 - 11:43 PM

Ben,

 

Think like the Little Giant Ladder wheels but on the inside of the two wheeled legs.  A simple channel attached to the legs that allows an inside wheeled channel to ratchet down say 2 inches to allow wheel use the when you reach target raise the wheel channel and use a solid tripod.

 

Bill


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#20 Optics Patent

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Posted 12 August 2018 - 12:29 PM

Bill I like that direction. Maybe send me a sketch of your idea? I’m thinking a rigid (when tensioned up) tetrahedral form that doesn’t need to fold up, with deployable wheels or a dolly (like used for concert pianos). It could even be a welding project like a bicycle frame.

#21 Matt Looby

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Posted 12 August 2018 - 09:54 PM

Bill I like that direction. Maybe send me a sketch of your idea? I’m thinking a rigid (when tensioned up) tetrahedral form that doesn’t need to fold up, with deployable wheels or a dolly (like used for concert pianos). It could even be a welding project like a bicycle frame.

Ben do you have a Q7 Fork Mount?



#22 Optics Patent

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Posted 13 August 2018 - 12:03 AM

Matt, search for the “Greek Goddess” thread here for the story of my (happily successful) Q7 mount restoration.
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#23 Matt Looby

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Posted 13 August 2018 - 12:06 PM

Matt, search for the “Greek Goddess” thread here for the story of my (happily successful) Q7 mount restoration.

I am impressed Ben- nice work. 

 

I look forward to reading about your Q7 transportable platform; if it will roll out in a couple of minutes- I would say you are firing on all 6 cylinders.  That's the deal- it must be a quick set up. 

 

Here's what I suggest- when you drag it out, ensure the platform is vibration free- you do not want the guts of the scope rattling around inside.  Large tires are a must- you want the scope to be riding like it is inside a Cadillac.   

 

One last thought- include a flat surface for your pencils and paper, etc.



#24 Optics Patent

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Posted 13 May 2019 - 02:21 PM

After modeling some options for a tripod for supporting the complete mounted Q7 scope, I have headed toward the purchasing route.

 

The eye-watering $3500 price (2016, plus shipping) of the Questar Astro Pier was simply out of the question.

 

I'm sure there is a Meade option to work with, but I went a different direction.  My criteria simply required a visually pleasant appearance for display in my office, the ability to roll-out the double doors of my office and nearby front door for driveway viewing, and a cost proportionate to a used Q7 that cost under $5000 plus hundreds of restoration hours (target $1000).  This is not intended to travel so significant latitude flexibility beyond 33N isn't needed, and speedy and precise polar alignment isn't super critical.

 

From the ground up I started with a Manfrotto 114 Cine/Video Deluxe Dolly that retails for $410, but I got a nice near-new one on EBay for $170.  18 pounds, 132 pound capacity.  Clean look and the kicker is that it receives 2" diameter tripod legs.   The wheel skirts are removed for crossing household thresholds and lack of cables on the floor as one might have in a movie studio. 

 

Enter the iOptron Tri-Pier.  $600, weighs 26 pounds, supports 220 pounds.  And has 2" diameter legs that fit the Manfrotto like a glove (with the pier feet removed).  It looks nice, with a "lunar lander" appearance.  In person it's very clean and good quality with nice aluminum castings.  The leg spread has some accommodation and works ideally within the range of the tripod to fit the dolly locations. 

 

The only catch is that one learns only upon delivery that it's made in China.  I suppose that might not have prevented my purchase, and perhaps everyone else knows, but I think it's deceptive not to reveal the country of original when selling a product of this caliber. 

 

My only possible mods to the Tri-pier will be changing out the bolts (with sliding bars for finger tightening) with socket head bolts for a cleaner appearance and less to catch.  Tool-less take-down should never be needed.  And the wing nuts on the ends of the dolly legs look like ankle-scratchers and will be replaced by nylon lock nuts.  Not sure about the protruding thumb screws on the dolly.  The leg fit is so snug they really aren't needed, or could be chopped off and ground flat (or a pair of jammed nuts installed) to reduce the protrusion.  I hjave also moved the black supports that support the lower pir rign to angle downward for more stability and connection with the lowest level on the pier.  Either way it feels rock solid.

 

IMG 1589
 
In progress this month is a Milburn Wedge.  Ken is making one for the Q7 from his stout 3/4" aluminum plate.  $439 plus shipping for a ~35 pound package.  Not sure if I'll get the black anodized and let the scope do the shining.  I'll bolt a stop on the side of the pier near the top for the wedge's azimuth adjustment to engage.
 
The whole base assembly should be 75 pounds, making the whole shebang about 130 pounds and rollable on the 5" rubber wheels.  Total cost of $1250 makes me happy ($1500 if going for a new dolly).  Realistically, the unsentimental solution is a $5000 Q7 barrel on a nice ~$2500 GEM instead of putting a mounted $10,000 scope on a $1500 tripod.  But I'm sentimental...

 

 

 


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#25 Kevin Barker

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Posted 14 May 2019 - 05:41 PM

Looks good Ben

This set up should easily handle your Q7.

A friend of mine George Ionas has used the Ioptron tri pier to good effect. I think he mounts a  14 inch SCT and a heavy Ioptron GEM  on it and it handles it well. Like you I think he uses a dolly and rolls it out of a garage. He is on CN??

 

He has glued location washers to his driveway so he can quickly locate the optimal alignment. He is an avid astro-imager.

 

Kevin




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