As mentioned before in prior threads, six or eight times per year, I would like to take short flights to Maui or the Big Island to observe under observing conditions far better than what I have here at home in Honolulu. Here at home, I use an AP Mach 1 to mount my three scopes (AP 130 GTX, Takahshi Mewlon 210, and a Tele Vue 85). Although the vast majority of my observing is done here at home with a Mach 1, I hope to be able to observe on Maui or the Big Island on occasion with an alt/az mount capable of being transported to the island of choice.
Being so close to such exceptional skies presents a definite temptation to take a good scope there with as much aperture as can be practically transported (and, of course, and pair of Leica 10x50 Ultravids). For various reasons, I prefer a refractor for this task. A small part of my decision to buy the AP 130 GTX was based on the fact that it is specifically designed to be disassembled into two parts, both of which can be hand carried on board commercial flights, thereby giving me the option to hand carry a five inch refractor to a nice location for observing.
In a previous thread I was given some good advice to start taking these trips with the TV 85 rather than the AP 130 GTX, and I will do that. And, of course, it is also a good point that much of the mounting difficulty is caused by the weight difference between an 85 mm doublet and a 130 mm front-heavy triplet.
But, if I am to discover what the sky on Maui at 7,000 feet looks like through an AP 130 GTX, the most obvious question is, “Once my scope is safely on Maui (the TV 85 for the first session or two, and then the AP 130 GTX, once I done it with the TV 85), how will I mount the scope?”
I think that the solution to transporting the mount itself is not difficult, because there are several mounts of which I can think that could be safely hand carried in the airliner’s cabin. What concerns me is the tripod/pier question. As to counterweights, any necessary weights could simply be sent ahead via the US Postal Service flat-rate boxes and picked at the post office once I arrive on Maui (or the Big Island).
The tripod or pier is a thornier issue. One possibility would be to try to transport in the same manner as golf clubs. Another, more likely, possibility would be to see what happens if I check in a tripod that I can live without if things go awry. And, I currently own just such a tripod.
In addition to the Mach 1, I also own a Vixen Sphinx, along with the tripod with which it came (HAL 130, or maybe it is the HAL 110). Is checking in this tripod, after careful packing, a reasonable option?
If I were to do this, I would probably buy for an alt/az mount, an AKO Swiss AYO digi II. I would do this because it can be used, as is, with the Vixen tripods, such as the HAL 130 or the HAL 110.
My question are these:
(1) While it seems like the combination of such a Vixen tripod and this alt/az mount could handle the TV 85 with no problem, would this combination be sufficient to mount an AP 130 GTX (for visual observation only)?
(2) Would I be better off subjecting the Sphinx SXW to the ravages or airline baggage handling and checking it in and going with GEM? The box for the Sphinx is the original box manufactured for this particular mount, and it is an excellent box with excellent padding and I think that it would be under the weight limit. Alternatively, is it possible that the Sphinx could be hand carried if the box is left home?
(3) Are the two options above doomed from the beginning because the tripod is not up to the task of mounting a five inch refractor?
If so, I would appreciate alternative mounting solution suggestions. I am open-minded to other options. If there were a safe way to do it, I would prefer to ship my Eagle pier, and then I would use something like a DM-6 or DM-4 for my alt/az. However, I suspect that subjecting my Eagle Pier to shipping just for this type of a two-day visual observing session might be more risk than I would be willing to take.
The main advantage of using a Vixen tripod is that I own one already. Another advantage of using it would be that, while it might be irritating to have it damaged, it would not be catastrophic. On the other hand, if those with more experience with traveling type mounts think that using this type of tripod is ill-advised from the beginning, then there would be little advantage to subjecting the tripod to possible damage if it will not work well with this type of scope anyway.
So far, My best guess is that I should just try to use the Vixen HAL along with the AOK AYO digi II for the mounting solution. However, this choice assumes that the tripod can be safely transported in some manner. Is this true?
Also, will this proposed combination of mine even work, or is it simply an under-mounted solution that is asking for trouble from the start? I simply do not know, and would appreciate all opinions about this.
Finally, if it turns out that the Sphinx can be hand carried (without the box, of course), would that be a reasonable option? It all gets back to the question of, is the Vixen HAL tripod up to the task?
For the TV 85, the answer is, “Of course.” I hope that it will also be adequate for the AP 130 GTX, but i have some doubts, even if the use is limited to visual use. I will appreciate all suggestions and any answers to my questions.
Edited by HonoluluWalt, 16 August 2018 - 08:56 PM.