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iOptron TriPier Spreader Mod and Easy ADATRI Connection w/Pictures

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#1 Monkeybird747


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Posted 25 May 2019 - 10:35 PM

After a few years of use I recently upped the payload on my original ioptron tripier (with a Mach1) by adding 60lbs of newt and gear on top. The overall weight is fine, but my one complaint about the tripier is the stance does not seem sufficiently wide enough for the payloads it can handle. I wanted a wider stance for improved stability. I also wanted a shorter overall height without lowering the central pier, and thus losing clearance for my camera gear on my TEC140 rig (which is pretty long when using the flattener). The shorter overall height would also make loading the scopes less back-breaking.


I sourced some 1" x 1.5" x 12" aluminum bar stock from Midwest Steel Supply. $26 for three 12" bars. I unbolted the existing spreaders (don't forget to loosen the locking grub screws on the bolts first!), and used them as a template for each end of the new 12" spreaders. The originals were something like 7" long. I used a sawzall with a good metal blade to make the cuts. Machine oil was critical to this process!! Otherwise the aluminum clogs up the teeth of the blade in the first 1/32nd of the cut. With the machine oil it cut like butter. Huge difference. Drill press for the new bolt holes at the ends, and bench grinder to round off the corners to match the originals. The cuts were not beautiful, but were effective. If you have something to cut and drill aluminum this is a very easy mod to do. 


You can't see the markings on the tape measure, but the original distance between legs was 42" at max spread, and post mod they were at 51" at half spread, and probably around 55"+ at full spread. The narrowest stance post-mod is roughly equivalent to the widest stance pre-mod. I have so much extra width I'm considering trimming down the stainless steel leg tubes a bit. They seem like a potential weak point at such a wide stance, and with only 2.5" or so inserted into the main leg assembly, but also seem very strong and don't flex at all. I ditched the rubber vibration pads. They seemed to squishy to me and I was worried about the mount shifting/settling after polar alignment. Fears that were based on nothing, really.


Somewhat unrelated, but FWIW you don't need the very expensive Mach1 adapter from iOptron to use the tripier. The much cheaper and very well made ADATRI adapter from Astro-Physics will bolt directly to the top plate. Just use through-bolts and backup nuts for the connection, and don't worry about trying to use any of the threaded holes on the tripier top plate.


I also re-drilled, tapped, and replaced the three stock bolts holding the top cap to the pier. I used 1/4"-20 hex head bolts and locking washers, instead of the super tiny M4 (or something like that) stock ones that were always loosening up on me. 


Pre-mod stance:

IMG 3555
The new 12" spreaders. 10" would have been fine. 12" is almost overkill. The swivel connections are easily transferred (one fixed to pier, one on spreader that you transfer to new spreader). They have a safety grub screw that needs to be loosened first before removing the pivot bolt.
IMG 3770
IMG 3772
IMG 3774
IMG 3776
Post-mod stance at half spread:
IMG 3777
IMG 3778
ADATRI bolted directly to the ioptron stock top plate using through bolts. The nuts and bolts I used fit neatly though three of the threaded bolt holes (without engaging the threads). Very secure. The fit couldn't be more perfect. Jut make sure you orient the edge of the backup nut with the edge of the ioptron top plate as shown (so it will insert back into the pier)
IMG 2086
IMG 2087
IMG 2088


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