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Z-Bolt Laser and aiming, a review.

astrophotography accessories dso equipment
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10 replies to this topic

#1 SonnyE

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 05:40 PM

Recently I decided to take the leap and get a Z-bolt laser (Green, Astro version, low temperature model) and the mounting for it.

I got it mounted where I had my previous laser. And since it had disturbed my Guide Scope and Red Dot sight, a full aligning was in order.

In the past, my laser was more of a novelty for the Grand-kids. "Whatcha lookin at, Grandpa?"

Zap! The green beam shot skyward drawing their attention into Space. lol.gif

 

Stepping up to the Z-bolt, we have a very handy aiming device that has shown it's worth especially during alignments. (Modeling in Losmandy terms)

Once I got my Red Dot zeroed, and the Z-bolt zeroed, and my Guide Scope, all zeroed to my Main Telescope's aim point I was ready to go aligning and hunting.

When the mount chose a particularly awkward high zenith star, I didn't want to do the contortions to get to the Red Dot sight.

But switch on the laser, bring the beam onto the star, and Wa-La, it was in the telescopes FOV for fine adjustment.

Hey, I LIKE this thing! A really nice option to getting bent up and trying to peer through my Red Dot.

 

I make sure that if any aircraft are in the vicinity, I'm mindful not to light it up in case they might see it. A private business jet flew over on it's way toward one of the Los Angeles airports and I shut off the laser I was columating on Polaris during my initial setting up.

I don't know if they saw the beam up there, but a little later our local sheriff's helicopter did a fairly low Look-See by me. After they were past, I did a few more test firings on Polaris, and when they returned Southward of me I kept the laser on, my red headlamp, and of course my Laptop was glowing away. Nothing to hide here, Deputies. wink.gif

I advocate sensible laser use. And I believe they know I'm down there just fiddling with my telescope. At least, Sargent O'Malley of the FBI hasn't come knocking on my door. bugeyes.gif

 

But the adjustability of the Z-bolt mount, the choice of momentary or stay-on beam, and not having to be a contortionist to look through my Red Dot. The mounting is quite precise if you need to remove the accessory for casing your telescope for transport.

And it came with rechargeable AAA batteries. Still waiting for the OEM disposables to go belly up, then I'll start using the rechargeable batteries.

But the Z-bolt has found a place in my gear and routine.

 

I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a primary aiming device where you don't have to get a kink in your neck.


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#2 coopman

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 06:55 PM

Welcome to the club.
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#3 M11Mike

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 07:03 PM

Yes - welcome to the LASER telescope finder club.  BEST telescope finder there is to me after 60+ years of observing.  Whether for just initial star alignment of your automated "go-to" scope or NO "go-to" serious star hopping to find things - it's hard to beat.  Now you KNOW exactly where your scope is pointed.  No contortions required. 

 

M11Mike   


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#4 derekpthomas

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Posted 11 August 2020 - 08:33 PM

I also invested in a Z-Bolt laser and, like you, I think it is great for the same reasons.

 

I would like to share some of the things I did with my laser.  I bought the GX-5-XT low-temperature green laser (14°F) which apparently is no longer available (replaced by the JS-5-XT it appears).  I ordered the Astro-1 mount for it and it did not fit very well, so I made new rings for it.  These rings allow just enough room for a laser heating pad and a layer of insulating wrap for when the temperature really gets cold.  Here are the drawings:

 

Z Bolt Astro 1 Rings Modified For GX 5 XT Laser
 
Like your laser, it has a maintained-on switch.  I took the battery out and replaced it with a battery-eliminator kit that puts a dummy battery with wires in there that can be wired to a 12vdc to 3vdc converter:
 
 
Your laser would need the following battery eliminator kit:
 
 
Be aware the you would need to drill two small holes through the side of your laser to feed the wires out.
 
The laser heating pad is from ScopeStuff and it plugs into a port on my Thousand Oaks dew heater.  When I turn on the telescope dew heater, the laser heating pad just turns on also.
 
 
My insulation layer is just a regular beer cozy cut and zip-tied to the laser over the heating pad.  Here is a picture of my setup:
 
Z Bolt GX 5 XT And Astro 1 Mount with Custom Rings And Heating Pad And Insulation

 

Finally, I took one more step and hooked up my 3VDC power supply to a "KMTronic USB 8 Channel Relay Board, RS232 Serial controlled MICROCHIP CDC" so that I can turn the laser and 7 other devices on and off from my computer.  These are available on EBAY for about $40.  You just turn the laser on, leave it on, and either provide it power or not to turn it on or off.  Neat little setup!

 

Regards,
Derek P. Thomas, M.E.
President of the soon-to-be "Thomas Observatories, LLC"

Edited by derekpthomas, 11 August 2020 - 08:35 PM.

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#5 SteveG

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Posted 12 August 2020 - 12:13 PM

Welcome to the club! 

 

FWIW, this is a very good bracket that fits a standard Synta shoe:

 

https://www.ebay.com...dAAAOSwv4FcjHMQ


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#6 kklei940

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Posted 12 August 2020 - 02:12 PM

I received a Z-Bolt SG-2 blue laser for a gift last Christmas and have been extremely pleased with it. I've had a bunch of the cheap Ebay lasers and the Orion green laser pointer, and this beats them all hands down. I had it out on some very cold Central Wisconsin evenings this past January and February and the cold didn't bother it one bit. 

 

In the past I've tried Telrad finders, red dot finders, right-angle finders, etc. and this for me is definitely the way to find things in the night sky! It's been very helpful in my quest to track down all the Messier objects. I find where the object should be in my Jumbo Sky Atlas, point the laser to that spot in the sky with my 32mm Plossl in the focuser, and most of the time it's right there! And if it's not right there it usually doesn't take me long to find it. I have no problem recommending this as one of the premier finder options available.


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#7 SonnyE

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Posted 12 August 2020 - 02:41 PM

Thanks Guys! I didn't know there was a club. grin.gif

 

I'm still dialing things in, but I think I'm almost happy with my adjustments. tongue2.gif

As long as I'm aiming at stars, it's good.

But I'm having trouble with the light pollution from Condoland across the mote behind me.

 

But it sure is nice to not have to do contortions to see how close I am to my alignment stars. cool.gif



#8 clearwaterdave

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Posted 12 August 2020 - 03:58 PM

I use these on my scopes.,get them at Amazon.,$25+-.,They use an odd size battery but they work down to 0*f.,and come with a remote switch and mounting rings that can be easily rigged onto a reddot mount.,

  Z-bolt's are great but pricey.,and the battery size is common.,this is a plus.,either way.,using a laser to aim your scope is much more user friendly for your back and neck.,cheers

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#9 SonnyE

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 08:26 AM

I use these on my scopes.,get them at Amazon.,$25+-.,They use an odd size battery but they work down to 0*f.,and come with a remote switch and mounting rings that can be easily rigged onto a reddot mount.,

  Z-bolt's are great but pricey.,and the battery size is common.,this is a plus.,either way.,using a laser to aim your scope is much more user friendly for your back and neck.,cheers

That is exactly what I replaced, Dave. My switch failed. And the special batteries were also a PITA.

Temperature isn't really an issue for me. Our winters consist of 1-3 days when it actually gets down in the 20's overnight. But then, that's why I am a remotest. I can WiFi from inside the house to avoid the weather.

But then, Californian's are use to Freezing at anything below 60° F. Time to dawn the Faux Fur fashion jackets then. lol.gif

 

I happen to be one of the very rare Natives who actually has insulated Carhartts to sit out in. wink.gif



#10 clearwaterdave

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 08:37 AM

That is exactly what I replaced, Dave. My switch failed. And the special batteries were also a PITA.

Temperature isn't really an issue for me. Our winters consist of 1-3 days when it actually gets down in the 20's overnight. But then, that's why I am a remotest. I can WiFi from inside the house to avoid the weather.

But then, Californian's are use to Freezing at anything below 60° F. Time to dawn the Faux Fur fashion jackets then. lol.gif

 

I happen to be one of the very rare Natives who actually has insulated Carhartts to sit out in. wink.gif

The switch is a weak spot.,lol  I have 6 of these and only 2 of the remote switches still work.,.but not a deal breaker for me.,I like being able to aim them by the unit itself instead of the mount.,and I found rechargable batteries.,so I'm good to go.,

  I keep my scopes in an unheated porch where the temps are the same as outside.,and these lasers always work.,right down to 0* and below.,I don't observe when it's that cold so again., I'm covered.,


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#11 SonnyE

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Posted 14 August 2020 - 02:53 PM

The switch is a weak spot.,lol  I have 6 of these and only 2 of the remote switches still work.,.but not a deal breaker for me.,I like being able to aim them by the unit itself instead of the mount.,and I found rechargable batteries.,so I'm good to go.,

  I keep my scopes in an unheated porch where the temps are the same as outside.,and these lasers always work.,right down to 0* and below.,I don't observe when it's that cold so again., I'm covered.,

Well, it was a deal breaker for me.

Something as simple as a switch should not fail so easily.

I did like the adjustments on it.

But holy moly, Dave. 6 of them? Lots of spare parts I guess. lol.gif


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