Dang! After reading this thread I think we need a geriatric forum! I totally understand the safety issue but did everybody get old at once? ... Well, maybe. Seems like a safe solution could be had for less than the $5k premium of a faster scope. Good idea even for youthful 'invincible' types. I had enough close calls when I was "agile" that I really try to use extreme care now. Got me thinking I might add LEDs to the edge of the steps on my ladder.
I really do agree that step ladders are pretty marginal for observing even though it's been a go to big DOB accessory for decades. The narrow steps are one of my biggest peeves. Another is the spacing.
Seems a shame to miss affordable views of a larger scope due to bad ladder tech.
You make some good points.
A better ladder was my approach. I wasn't going to spend big money on a fast scope so when I bought my 25 inch F/5 seven or eight years ago, in soon realized that a step ladder was not a good thing for a scope that's 10 feet tall. Working on this with Jeff Morgan, we both ended up with Cotterman rolling folding ladders.
A top notch ladder is like a top notch observing chair, it defines the experience. I had that scope for about 6 years and customized the ladder with an eyepiece/accessory tray so everything I needed was at my fingertips, no climbing up and down the ladder to swap eyepieces. With the railings, to lean against and hold onto, the wide steps, the shallow angle, I could easily and safely observe with 2 hand free for observing. It made observing much more comfortable and a much more pleasurable experience.
Still, as I was zeroing in on 70, I was up there one December night on the top platform looking around at the night sky, at the country side, it's a pretty good view when your eye is over 10 feet off the ground, and I had that Eureka moment. I observe alone, the nearest medical facility was 50 miles. If I slipped and fell, it would be sometime the next morning when my nearest neighbor found me. It was time to downside.
So, soon enough, I found a never been used 22 inch F/4.4 Starsplitter on Astromart, I bought it, sold the Obsession and haven't looked back. This photo shows just how much more reasonable the 22 inch F/4.4 is than the 25 inch.
The smaller scope is less demanding from a safety standpoint but I wasn't going to give up the luxuries and comfort of a platform ladder with railings and advantages of having my eyepieces and gear right there. So.. I put together a rolling ladder pretty much the way I wanted it, learned a few lessons from the previous ladder. I could probably use something more easily transported but I would not like it, I am spoiled. It's just so nice to have a railing to lean against, to not have to hoist the ladder to move it, have the ladder stocked with eyepieces and filters and food and drink.. My neighbor Rollie suggested the water bottle rack.
- I like your suggestion of a custom ladder. i know you have the skills to build a really nice aluminum ladder, I don't. But a rolling folding aluminum ladder that was designed specifically for observing with a large Dob would be very nice to own and I would be willing to pay at least $1000 for one that was designed for the 22 inch. It would probably have more closely spaced steps, the railings would be designed around observing, the wheels would be large diameter to handle the sometimes irregular and softer surfaces I observe with. The accessory trays would bolt on. It would be light enough to transport. It might even have a built in medical alert system.
When I am at supermarket or big box store I look at their ladders, the aluminum ones are light and sturdy, yeah..
- Aging. Money, time and energy, those are three quantities that go into observing with a large scope. Most young folks have the energy but probably not the time or the money. Older folks often have the time and money but not the energy. There is a window in there when one has time and money and enough energy.
But clearly a 25 inch F/5 is best as a young man's scope. One thing I was concerned about when I was selling the 25 inch F/5 was whether a potential buyer had the size and strength to deal with a scope that size. I was very relieved when the eventual buyer showed up to spend a night with the scope that he was probably about 30 and about 6' 4"..
He was the right guy. He fit the scope with the 2 upper cages and second mirror plus all his junk in a small Ford Transit van and he hoisted the Cotterman Rolling Folding ladder up on top.. It's been nearly two years, I talked to him the other day, he just hauls the scope out and sets it up, ladder and all.
When you are 30, you can do these things. When you are 70, you remember that once, years ago, you could do those things.
- So Mike, when are you going into the custom ladder business?