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Does this count as a mod? Spring load the center bolt (iOptron AZ Mount Pro to Tri-Pier)

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#1 grahamtv

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:17 PM

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.

 

Problem Statement:
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.

 

Backstory:
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.

 

Lesson Learned:
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.

 

Modifications:
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.

 

Tom Graham
Oklahoma City

 

Shout Out:
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...


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#2 grahamtv

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:18 PM

Photo 1:

 

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#3 grahamtv

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:20 PM

Photo #2:

This is the installation per the instructions. 

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#4 grahamtv

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:23 PM

Photo #3. Version 1.0. Notice the spring and flat washer. This is the magic sauce. This version was all thread and acorn nuts. 

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#5 grahamtv

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:26 PM

Photo #4. And this is today’s V.2.0. Transitions the through bolt to the aluminum barrel. Not more functional, but a little more aesthetically pleasing to me. 
 

 

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#6 biz

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:43 PM

Photo #4. And this is today’s V.2.0. Transitions the through bolt to the aluminum barrel. Not more functional, but a little more aesthetically pleasing to me. 
 

Hi Tom,

looks good , glad the spring and washer worked for you .

Enjoy

cheers

Graham.


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#7 Xeroid

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 07:46 PM

BRAVO!!



#8 jupiter122

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:08 PM

I have the top plate mounted to a TR3 and have found the center bolt problematic too, so I’m going to try some version of this. A few questions: what size spring? how did you get the through-post through the center post? Where did you use the loctite on the final version?

Thanks!

Tim

#9 jupiter122

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:08 PM

I have the top plate mounted to a TR3 and have found the center bolt problematic too, so I’m going to try some version of this. A few questions: what size spring? how did you get the through-post through the center post? Where did you use the loctite on the final version?

Thanks!

Tim

#10 grahamtv

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Posted 27 September 2020 - 10:24 PM

I have the top plate mounted to a TR3 and have found the center bolt problematic too, so I’m going to try some version of this. A few questions: what size spring? how did you get the through-post through the center post? Where did you use the loctite on the final version?

Thanks!

Tim

Tim,

I would be surprised if anyone didn’t find this problematic. 
 

I would suggest that you take the top plate loose (mine had three 2mm hex head screws) and take the top plate and bits (Center bolt and through bolt) with you to the hardware store to pick up the parts. That’s what I did. But I can help you get close: 

 

Spring: I found the thinnest spring (least pressure) that would fit around the center bolt which Itself is about 1/2” O.D. (so the spring will need to be about 9/16” - 5/8” I.D.) and it will only need to be about 1” long, but the only one that I could find was about 1 1/2”- 2”. Sorry that I can’t be more specific. At Ace Hardware, their springs are simply numbered and let’s just say that the bins weren’t well organized. I selected the lightest pressure spring I could find and realized that if it was too long, I could easily trim it shorter. Here’s a Link to a similar example. 

 

Through-post: This is a 3” long 1/4” aluminum screw post (or barrel post) (currently I also have a 1” extension. Here’s a Link to something similar. Note, I will likely remove the 1” extension. 3” is probably optimal.  One end of this barrel is a screw that allows you remove the screw head and insert the 1/4” barrel through the hole in the center bolt before re-attaching the aluminum screw head. 
 

Loctite: On all but only the joints of the through bolt. I just don’t want it vibrating apart again. I did place some on the through bolt as I centered it within the center bolt (though I don’t expect this removable Loctite will hold this joint since both surfaces are smooth. 
 

Good luck,

Tom
 

Here’s a photo of the mount and pier: 

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#11 lphilpot

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:42 AM

That's a good idea. Before I made a single one-piece center bolt for my AZMP (https://www.cloudyni...nfo/?p=10443261) I substituted a longer bolt and put a couple of washers underneath the T-bolt to raise it a bit, but the spring is more elegant. I was actually surprised, though, that it wasn't any more difficult to use (the default design) in general than it was. A nice flat 'knob' with a knurled edge would be more aesthetically pleasing but far less functional.



#12 jupiter122

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:42 AM

Thanks Tom!

#13 SonnyE

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 12:51 PM

I would say Yes, that counts as a Mod.

But anything you do to improve on the manufacturers shortcomings, to me, is a mod.

 

I don't know if you ever would, but anytime a bolt is drilled through such as you've done, it inherently is weakened.

So just don't overtighten it, or over load your mount. Because I could see it breaking where the hole pierces it.

 

Respecting that about the modification, I think it is a great improvement.

Great idea!



#14 Winks

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 01:09 PM

He didn't drill the bolt. That is how it comes from iOptron. Great mod idea, BTW, with the spring.


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#15 Vanyar

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Posted 12 October 2020 - 02:04 PM

Simply brilliant idea Tom! Thank you!!

 

Quick question - did you retain the original through bolt or added a new one with longer length? If longer one by how much?

 

Regards and Cheers!



#16 biz

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Posted 12 October 2020 - 02:28 PM

I would say Yes, that counts as a Mod.

But anything you do to improve on the manufacturers shortcomings, to me, is a mod.

 

I don't know if you ever would, but anytime a bolt is drilled through such as you've done, it inherently is weakened.

So just don't overtighten it, or over load your mount. Because I could see it breaking where the hole pierces it.

 

Respecting that about the modification, I think it is a great improvement.

Great idea!

Sonny.

In this situation having a 6mm bolt hole thru the M12 main tripod bolt is really “not “ an issue at all.

There is really no need to tighten the mount down to the level that you might break this bolt.
I know over the many years of servicing mounts that some have a tendency to really clamp down on nuts and bolts etc and have caused problems because of this .. a little tuition and they get the picture.

When Tom emailed me about him finding this stock fastening system to be awkward to manage I suggested the washer and spring.. it’s something I’ve used on other mounts over the years and it just works. Tom followed that idea and it works fine for him so that’s all good and it’s a system you can all revert to as it requires no machinery to accomplish.
Again the hole thru the bolt will not be an issue in this case.

 

cheers

Graham



#17 grahamtv

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Posted 12 October 2020 - 02:29 PM

Thank you, Vanyar. But I must give credit to Graham (biz) for the idea of the spring.

 

I did replace the through-bolt: I used a 3” long 1/4” aluminum screw post (or binding post or barrel post). 3” is about optimal. (4” is too long. I removed the 1” extension that I tried initially.) And here’s a link to something similar. One end of this barrel is a screw that allows you remove the screw head and insert the 1/4” barrel through the hole in the center bolt before re-attaching the aluminum screw head.

Don’t forget the removable Loctite. I used it on all but only the joints of the through bolt. I don’t want it vibrating apart again. I even placed some on the through bolt as I centered it within the center bolt. This holds it nicely centered. 
 

Good luck!

Tom


Edited by grahamtv, 12 October 2020 - 04:16 PM.



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