Does this count as a mod? Spring load the center bolt (iOptron AZ Mount Pro to Tri-Pier)
I’ve read that several of us have the iOptron AZ Mount Pro and Tri-Pier.
Am I the only one who thinks that the process necessary to attach the mount to the pier is more than just a little bit awkward? Trying to hold the center bolt up against the bottom of the mount with one finger, while using another finger to spin the short through-bolt to start threading the center bolt to the bottom of the mount... all while working within the tight space between the mount and the pier is unreasonable.
See the attached photos 1 & 2.
When this center bolt came apart in the field and I had to disassemble the mount to retrieve the bits, I swore to improve it before it goes outside again.
During the waning daylight hours a week ago Saturday night, I initially setup my new manual alt-az mount and tripod (StellarVue M2C on an Oberwerk TR-3 tripod.) This manual alt-az setup worked great initially and I had fully intended to stay with it for the entire viewing session, but well after sunset, the Oklahoma wind picked up substantially making the views at high magnification "jittery." And so, it was after dark when I decided to try to set up and level my new AZ Mount Pro and Tri-pier and balance my telescope -- for the very first time with the telescope -- in the field, in the dark.
My real issue was that I started off very frustrated as I began the assembly in the field. The tiny nut had come off the thin through-bolt during transport in my SUV on Saturday night to our club's dark-site -- and the through-bolt had fallen out of the center bolt. I didn't realize either of those things until I picked up the tri-pier from the dark trunk of the SUV and heard a sickening sound as the center bolt fell down inside the pier. Luckily a club member had the 2 mm Allen wrench needed to remove the three screws securing the top-plate of the pier allowing me to retrieve the center bolt. Miraculously, I easily found the through bolt and tiny nut which were still lying exactly where they had fallen out in the back of my SUV; having vibrated loose during transport.
My first lesson learned is to use Loctite (or fingernail polish or locknuts) to accomplish the primary objective of not allowing the bits to disassemble unintentionally.
Add a light pressure spring* between the top plate and the through bolt to apply the gentle upward pressure on the center bolt which is needed to help start the threading of the center bolt into the bottom of the mount head far more easily. This is the critical component that I hadn’t thought of.
If you do nothing else, I highly recommend this $1 expenditure for a spring and flat washer.
And simply centering and maximizing the length of the through-bolt** (or an equivalent pin) will also help to reach the through-bolt more easily to spin it to tighten or loosen the center bolt in the mount.
Version 1.0 was a 4” piece of all thread with acorn nuts. (See photo 3)
Today, as I stopped by the hardware to pickup the blue (removable) Loctite, I transitioned to v.2.0 which transitioned the through-bolt to a 4” aluminum binding post (binding barrel.).(See photo 4).
Having since made 2 practice runs, I’m happy again and am confident that I could easily set this up in the dark.
A note of appreciation to *Graham (Biz) for brilliant idea of the spring (and obvious idea of Loctite) and to **Eddgie for the idea of simply lengthening the through-bolt...for these are truly their ideas...