I yielded and got the ASKAR FMA180mm lens. Always on the quest for smaller and easier. This allows me to use my AZ GTi without the extension, with only a 2 pound counterweight and using a smaller tripod. Here's how it looks ready to do business and here's everything (sans tripod) in the case I will use. I added a 30mm M48 extension to the front, to add as a dew shield and protect the filters I use (and cut down on glare), since the filters are screwed to the front end. Let's not talk sampling - I'll be using my ASI533 Regardless, it should work superbly for large objects as I get 3.6° x 3.6° with the 533. For small objects I'll be using my 5" SCT.
Hopefully I will be able to conduct limited testing tonight