Jump to content


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Surveyors Tripod's

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Mbinoc



  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 486
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2019
  • Loc: 30 miles West Of Chicago (Split time in Dupage, and LaSalle County IL)

Posted 18 September 2019 - 08:28 PM

Surveyors Tripod's. I finally got a good look at a nice one.


For the last 20+ years I have been a IT nerd, but before that I put myself through college working many odd jobs, and have maybe 3-4 years woring in the renovation construction area, (Both Buisness and Residential)


I currently do not have a full time job. My brother in law owns a commercial sewage line company, and about a week ago he told me if I was ever looking for work, that he could toss me on one of his crews, (I was all in, and got the call last night). This morning I showed up on site 1/2 hour early.


Today was my first day on the job, and all I have to say is "Wow, these guys work really hard, and there work ethic is 2nd to none".  I was really impressed, and tried to put on a good effort from myself to try my best to fit in with the crew. I also enjoyed and laughed at a few of jokes that no longer get told in the corporate world, and if they did would result in a instant appointment with HR.


It was a refreshing change of pace. Today we put in in a 10 1/2 hour day with two 15 minute breaks. The opportunity to do some manual labor felt good, and I was happy to find that after all theese years I still got that capability in me. I'm starting to get up there in age, (Mid to upper 40's), but don't think I was the oldest guy on this crew, at least 1/2 of them were what I precieved to be a similar age.


Since I made some money today I also ordered a few in-expensive telescope parts I wanted for a while, but have had placed on hold.


There was a really nice tripod on site that they used about every 20 feet to check the drainage angles, I checked it out and it was very sturdy "Much nicer than the ones in my current telescope inventory". Tommorow I will ask one of the guys to show me how it is used, and also let the rest of them know they can call me over at anytime whenever they need help with other responcibilities.


How many of you have modified theese to be used with telescopes?

Edited by Mbinoc, 18 September 2019 - 09:39 PM.

#2 Brett Waller

Brett Waller

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 321
  • Joined: 18 Aug 2006
  • Loc: Staunton, VA

Posted 18 September 2019 - 09:14 PM

I use a surveyor tripod to mount my wide angle rig, a Kenko Sky Memo carrying Canon cameras and various lenses. It works fabulously, is easy to set up and take down, quick to level, and is quite rigid for it's weight. Far better than most tripods made for that purpose.



  • Mbinoc likes this

#3 Arthur NY

Arthur NY

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 99
  • Joined: 04 Dec 2017
  • Loc: Metro NY

Posted 18 September 2019 - 09:38 PM

I've looked at them on-line and thought the same. ( I've seen them in person a bunch as I've done some work as the "rod guy.")


They are generally quite sturdy and stable....and often not too pricey. The issue seems to be that there's usually no tray/central stabilizer. I'd have to make something for that purpose.


I think the center would allow a lot of alt az heads to be mounted on them, for example those nice ones from desertskyastro.

  • Mbinoc likes this

#4 clearwaterdave



  • *****
  • Posts: 4,903
  • Joined: 27 May 2014
  • Loc: Western Maine

Posted 18 September 2019 - 10:32 PM

I was also a rod man.,The tripods are great on dirt or grass as they have pointed feet that point straight down.,with a tab to step on to sink the foot into the ground.,making it very stable.,

#5 39.1N84.5W


    He asked for it

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,130
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2006
  • Loc: cincinnati

Posted 19 September 2019 - 06:15 AM

I used one with a giroIIdx mount for years. Needed some modifications but it was sturdy (visual only) and a heckuva lot more affordable than a Berlebach.
  • Mbinoc likes this

#6 Mbinoc



  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 486
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2019
  • Loc: 30 miles West Of Chicago (Split time in Dupage, and LaSalle County IL)

Posted 21 September 2019 - 12:02 AM

I'm not as tuff as I thought I was, come Friday and three days into the job I have several blisters on my feet.


It slowed me down today, but I have the weekend to heal. I will be back on come Monday.


20+ years stuck behind a desk took a toll. and did no justice to this here fellows feet. I was given a 10 day job that I accepted and plan to honor it. If the crew wants to extend it past that point I will continue. Its good money and I could use it.


After getting home today I am hurting. but will be ready to go another week on Moday for as long as they want to keep me, or until I find another job.


The other guys initialy had know Idea who I was in the family relationship, and spoke very highly to me of the management. Tonight I stopped by my brothers in laws house and shared there comments, he was very happy to hear them.


They all told me how great of a compony it is to work for, 


"Durring some down time, while waiting for another truck to show up, I sat down. Another emplyeee walked up to me and told me to stand up. He said its not a good look, and this is is not the image we want to share with customer". I shared this story with my brother in law, and he told me that this guy was best employee they ever hired.


Actually, All the guys I met are great, and I made sure to tell this to my brother in law. As the new guy on the crew some of them  rode me harder than others, but they are all very skilled and dedicated to there job. I'm definately the weekest  link, and have been given the least respocibilities.


Today I was asked how I hooked up with the job, so I told them.

Edited by Mbinoc, 21 September 2019 - 12:25 AM.

#7 Sky Muse

Sky Muse

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,414
  • Joined: 26 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Mid-South, U.S.

Posted 21 September 2019 - 01:12 AM

I've never really cared for the modern, metal, telescope tripods.  I had those of wood for the first thirty years...


wooden tripods.jpg


Then, I got my first of metal, aluminum...


ATVI tripod legs4.jpg


...and that was about fifteen years ago.  Since that time, all of my successive tripods have been of metal.  Not my choice of course; rather that of the industry's.


When I think of surveyors' tripods, I think of those of wood.  Wood is generally known to have the best damping quality.  I've seen other surveyors' tripods, of fibreglass, which is good too.  I almost got a surveyors' tripod myself, but then...


My latest and best wooden tripod was fouled during a fire many years ago.  I thought they were lost for good, but then recently I found them, all three...


Vixen wooden legs5b.jpg


I then restored them...


'Bird Jones'2b.jpg


There's nothing like getting a telescope up off of the ground; stability-wise, and in style.

  • areyoukiddingme likes this

#8 SteveG



  • *****
  • Posts: 8,456
  • Joined: 27 Sep 2006
  • Loc: Seattle, WA

Posted 21 September 2019 - 01:20 PM

The key to surveyors tripods is the large spacing between the leg mounts and the hub. You will note that highly regarded aftermarket tripods use this same design. I'm a huge fan of these provided they have a spreader or tray to hold the legs firmly in place. A good surveyors tripod can and will increase any given mount's stability.



  • BFaucett likes this

#9 izar187



  • -----
  • Posts: 4,177
  • Joined: 02 Sep 2006
  • Loc: 43N

Posted 21 September 2019 - 04:43 PM


The broader the hinge point at the top of the tripod leg, then the less likely for rotational vibration in azimuth.

The tripod leg is then a kind of truss in structure. 

The tripod head is then more rigidly attached to that leg, over a greater area.

A lot of the long dampening times for under mounted tripod scopes... comes from this rotational flex up top.

Spreader leg supports and ep trays and such, will help, but often not completely.

Rigidity against rotation at the tripod head is what makes for fast dampening times.

In my experience making tripods. 

  • SteveG and ngc6352 like this

#10 JohnnyBGood


    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 375
  • Joined: 10 Mar 2016
  • Loc: Panama City Beach, FL

Posted 23 September 2019 - 09:40 AM

Survey tripods are usually made of fiberglass these days and don't have spreaders, usually to make them quick to set up and tear down and easier to set up on uneven ground since you can have the legs in all sorts of asymmetrical configurations. This isn't that big of a deal once you get used to it. They're also made to take abuse which is good. I've used them with survey instruments (well, optical levels mostly) quite a lot but never with a telescope. The biggest challenge is finding a way to attach the telescope mount to the tripod, which may require some fabrication. Most survey tripods have a large hand-turned bolt in the top that threads into a tribrach, which is a wonderful device for creating a perfectly level alt-az surface for an instrument to sit atop. Most survey equipment is made to bolt onto the tribrach, which seems to be a fairly standard bolt arrangement across different makes/models/equipment types. Naturally, telescope makers are not standardized and naturally they don't line up with survey equipment bolt holes. You can probably remove the tribrach attachment bolt and make some sort of backing plate to fill in the hole and get a threaded bolt long enough to connect your mount head to that. It may require you to add a wrench to your telescope equipment to aid in set up and tear down.

  • izar187 likes this

#11 39.1N84.5W


    He asked for it

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,130
  • Joined: 24 Oct 2006
  • Loc: cincinnati

Posted 26 September 2019 - 08:08 PM

I removed the horizontal bar that was in the tripod and then made a thick spacer block out of Baltic birch plywood. Also used a large thick metal washer behind the hex head bolt. My mount never left the tripod.

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Recent Topics

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics