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The Questar Tristand

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#1 RMay

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 01:09 PM

While much has been written about the Tristand in other conversations, I thought I would post a few images of my Tristand so that those who have not seen one up close can take a look at it to understand just how robust it is. You’ll see it next to my other beast, the Gitzo 501 tripod, this one with a No. 3 head, which is small enough to accommodate the Q’s power cord.

 

As I noted in other posts, I know very little about the technology around CNC machining, manufacturing, and cost, but can declare that it is elegantly designed, expertly built, and the perfect companion to the mighty Q.

 

Ron

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#2 SandyHouTex

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 05:49 PM

I would think having that flat circular disk to attach it to would make it very stable, as opposed to just a normal photo tripod attachment.  Seeing your pictures, I now understand how the legs attach.  Quite ingenious how they just rotate up for carrying purposes.  I would think that the little stubs they rotate on and that are attached to the central column are probably welded inside the column, yes?
 

It reminds me a bit of my Losmandy G-11.  Very sturdy.


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#3 RMay

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 06:10 PM

You are correct in that the large surface makes it very stable, but the mechanical beauty of the flat plate is that it’s the exact diameter of the base of the Q, so even when it’s dark it’s a snap to connect it, as the spring loaded mounting screw mates perfectly to the female in the Q’s base. No weird tilting of anything and no flashlight effort required. Similarly, the center of gravity remains directly above the center of the mount, so it’s near impossible to tip over, whereas when mounted on my Gitzo, any more than about a 20% sway could knock it over.

There are no welds at all that I can see; looking into the center column only reveals the three screws for each leg holding them in place, visible in the photos above.

Ron

Edited by RMay, 20 January 2021 - 07:31 PM.

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#4 RMay

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 06:15 PM

Here’s a picture of the inside of the center column; you can see the screws mounted flush (again, elegantly over-engineered). 
 

Ron

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#5 RMay

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Posted 20 January 2021 - 06:22 PM

Below is a photo of the leg mounting, (*not* posted above).

 

Ron

 

 

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#6 SandyHouTex

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 11:02 AM

Looks awesome.  I have one on order.


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#7 Les Aperture

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 04:58 PM

And I appreciate the ability adjust the final position of the leg locks.

 

"Les"


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#8 Radiowaver

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 08:34 PM

I have been trying to purchase a new one for months and have been told none in stock (Company 7 and Questar).

Sandy.....where did you order from?

 

John


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#9 SandyHouTex

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 08:36 PM

I have been trying to purchase a new one for months and have been told none in stock (Company 7 and Questar).

Sandy.....where did you order from?

 

John

Put a deposit on one with our hosts, Astronomics.


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#10 Radiowaver

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 09:02 PM

I appreciate that, but did they inform you as to when you might expect to have in hand? It would seem to me that if Questar has none, it is unlikely any other retailer will either.

Certainly don't mind placing a deposit for one, but at the same time I'd like a realistic idea on delivery.

I'm sure Questar has a production protocol for Tristand/Astropier production and perhaps was caught off guard with recent sales growth as have many other vendors.

I'll give Questar a call tomorrow and see what's up.


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#11 vrotondi

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Posted 21 January 2021 - 11:28 PM

Those tri-stands are just beautiful. The fit and finish are amazing.


Edited by vitorotondi, 21 January 2021 - 11:29 PM.

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#12 Reid Girling

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 12:04 AM

I have been advised that the backlog may be as much as a year at this stage.

 

I am on the wait list for the tristand but hope my new Questar3.5 will arrive in a few weeks from C7.


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#13 Optics Patent

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 07:36 AM

My Tristand observations.  I'm an owner and love them for what they are, but find them to have some limitations.  Confession - I use a Linhof or picnic table when actually observing with a 3.5.

 

Strengths:

  • Beautiful Appearance and finish.  The ideal free-standing Questar display.
  • Excellent fine adustability for critical polar alignment.
  • Good seating position.
  • Cost is appropriate to a Questar.  (You thought this was going to be a con, didn't you!)

Limitations:

  • While the appearance is of a comparable quality of Questar, it misses the chance to showcase any element of the Questar design (e.g. polished or brushed aluminum, casting forms, straight knurled knobs).
  • The fine finish is worrisomely fragile for field use and the bumps.  This can't just be tossed in the trunk of the car.
  • Folding legs result is a still-bulky package.  First version stowing legs in the column was far more compact at the cost of a narrower footprint.
  • Heavy for a short mount for seated observation. With the tenderness owners will treat this, it could have been half the weight without sacrificing durability (or stiffness).
  • Head may not always be robustly secured against rocking in latitude (my early version suffered a bit that factory said was normal, the newer version does not).
  • Adjustment racks may be delicate.  I've been in version 1 and it has a tiny brass rack secured by very tiny screws.  Be sure to lock down everything after adjusting settings.
  • Head has some interference between vertical plate nose/tail and the scope for some situations.
  • Not height adjustable, not suitable for standing observation (consider Linhof with rising center post).
  • Limited footprint suggests care to avoid tipping. 

Suggestions to consider:

  • Clear finish would suit a Questar, and make minor scuffs inconspicuous.
  • A lighter model might perform as well.
  • Wider footprint to support a taller model?
  • Simplify the head and invest in a rising center post?
  • Simplify leg connections.  Simple bolt on might be fine without greatly slowing transition for travel.  The levers are functional, but off the rack is not to Q standards - consider custom round knobs.
  • A true travel unit would have the legs stow inside, have a slim and minimal head, and have the handle on the protective carry care, skipping or minimizing the tray.
  • A home unit would transition from display to patio without any change, and have facility for stable carrying of the setup.  Feet designed to resist causing or receiving door frame damage.

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#14 SandyHouTex

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Posted 22 January 2021 - 11:07 AM

I appreciate that, but did they inform you as to when you might expect to have in hand? It would seem to me that if Questar has none, it is unlikely any other retailer will either.

Certainly don't mind placing a deposit for one, but at the same time I'd like a realistic idea on delivery.

I'm sure Questar has a production protocol for Tristand/Astropier production and perhaps was caught off guard with recent sales growth as have many other vendors.

I'll give Questar a call tomorrow and see what's up.

When I tlaked to Jim at Questar, he said a couple of months, but he also said he was having trouble finding machinists that can work with a typical lathe, mill, and drill press.  He said all the kids coming out of school only know how to program CNC machines, which doesn’t work for Questar because CNCs are prohibitively expensive.  Typically they start around $20k from what I’ve seen.


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#15 Terra Nova

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 09:46 AM

When I tlaked to Jim at Questar, he said a couple of months, but he also said he was having trouble finding machinists that can work with a typical lathe, mill, and drill press.  He said all the kids coming out of school only know how to program CNC machines, which doesn’t work for Questar because CNCs are prohibitively expensive.  Typically they start around $20k from what I’ve seen.

I find this sentence clause rather ironic coming from Questar. :lol:

 

(I mean this in good spirits.)


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#16 Radiowaver

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:07 AM

I did speak with Jim yesterday and was informed that no firm time table for new Tristand production right now. He did add that they were very busy presently on the consumer side.


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#17 RMay

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 10:09 AM

I hope they’re working on completing the Five!

Ron

#18 Mike Allen

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 12:03 PM

A0C04DE9-160A-41C9-A101-CE040A17B097.jpeg

 

Much of the weight of the tristand is towards the bottom, even with the scope attached.  This makes the combined assembly very stable and not very likely to tip over.

 

 


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#19 John Noble

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 09:32 PM

When I tlaked to Jim at Questar, he said a couple of months, but he also said he was having trouble finding machinists that can work with a typical lathe, mill, and drill press.  He said all the kids coming out of school only know how to program CNC machines, which doesn’t work for Questar because CNCs are prohibitively expensive.  Typically they start around $20k from what I’ve seen.

 

With all due respect to Jim, who seems like a nice guy, but that's ridiculous. Drill press?!?! It's insanely cheaper to make most parts, even in small batches, on CNC mills & lathes. Modern CAD/CAM makes programming far easier & better, and the machines will outperform any human machinist that ever lived (including my father, whose mid-60s Machinery's Handbook I inherited years ago) in part-to-part consistency, speed, and probably even absolute accuracy.

 

FWIW, a small "real" vertical mill like a Haas Mini Mill (which would make mincemeat of most of the parts in a Tristand) is around $35k new last time I looked--but no one pays cash for these machines as it's a terrible use of capital. They are usually leased or financed, and parts cost is computed on a machine time basis. If you figure your little robot buddy will last 5 years, that means you only need to cover $7k/year plus tooling, power, and shop floor space. Your expensive machinist can devote their time to programming & setup and leave the parts loading, swarf removal, deburring, etc. to assistants.

 

I offer as proof the Losmandy GM8, which is a much more involved product made in the USA of machined aluminum. The non-goto versions sold for only $300 or so more than a Tristand, and I never heard anyone criticize Hollywood General Machining's workmanship (nor seen anything to criticize in person).

 

If part of the appeal of these devices is Old World Craftsmanship, cool--but please let's be honest about it.

 

Just my opinion. flowerred.gif


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#20 Radiowaver

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 09:57 PM

I'm taking Sandy's advice, get my name on a vendors waiting list and sit back and relax. If I need something to worry about, Covid19 will do the trick.

Stay safe my friends.


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#21 SandyHouTex

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Posted 23 January 2021 - 09:58 PM

With all due respect to Jim, who seems like a nice guy, but that's ridiculous. Drill press?!?! It's insanely cheaper to make most parts, even in small batches, on CNC mills & lathes. Modern CAD/CAM makes programming far easier & better, and the machines will outperform any human machinist that ever lived (including my father, whose mid-60s Machinery's Handbook I inherited years ago) in part-to-part consistency, speed, and probably even absolute accuracy.

 

FWIW, a small "real" vertical mill like a Haas Mini Mill (which would make mincemeat of most of the parts in a Tristand) is around $35k new last time I looked--but no one pays cash for these machines as it's a terrible use of capital. They are usually leased or financed, and parts cost is computed on a machine time basis. If you figure your little robot buddy will last 5 years, that means you only need to cover $7k/year plus tooling, power, and shop floor space. Your expensive machinist can devote their time to programming & setup and leave the parts loading, swarf removal, deburring, etc. to assistants.

 

I offer as proof the Losmandy GM8, which is a much more involved product made in the USA of machined aluminum. The non-goto versions sold for only $300 or so more than a Tristand, and I never heard anyone criticize Hollywood General Machining's workmanship (nor seen anything to criticize in person).

 

If part of the appeal of these devices is Old World Craftsmanship, cool--but please let's be honest about it.

 

Just my opinion. flowerred.gif

Did you miss the part about one CNC machine costing around $25k?  You can buy a metal lathe for around $5k, a drill press for $1k, and a mill for around $5k.  Awhile back I bought a combination mill, drill, lathe from Smithy for $3.5k.

 

I think it’s more about economics.


Edited by SandyHouTex, 23 January 2021 - 10:03 PM.

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#22 John Noble

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 12:06 AM

Did you miss the part about one CNC machine costing around $25k?  You can buy a metal lathe for around $5k, a drill press for $1k, and a mill for around $5k.  Awhile back I bought a combination mill, drill, lathe from Smithy for $3.5k.

 

I think it’s more about economics.

Please re-read my post, in which I posited $35k for a specific machine and proceeded to lay out the economics.

 

$35k may seem like a lot to a hobbyist, but it's nothing for a real shop.

 

But we are getting offtopic.


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#23 Optics Patent

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 07:09 AM

When I visit my clients’ manufacturing facilities they are usually proud of their array of million-dollar CNC machines. Which are expensive only when they’re idle.
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#24 Wisconsin Steve

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 08:58 AM

I did own a Tristand briefly after buying used on another astronomy site. It arrived with a piece of metal broken, that maybe I could have fixed and maybe not. In the end I sent it back to the seller for a full refund, minus my shipping costs.

 

To be honest while a very nice stand for my Questar, I have difficulty justifying the cost ($1k in my case). I do not mean this as a negative for others who own and enjoy them, just my humble opinion. It is possible that because it arrived with a broken piece it kind of soured me on it...

 

Clear skies.

 

Steve


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#25 drprovi57

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Posted 24 January 2021 - 10:10 AM

I have had on order a Tristand since may of 2019 with C7 and have talked with Questar directly - as mentioned earlier, Questar has decided to make the Tristand in-house, CNC, and getting the necessary skills appears to be still in the works.. As i understand it, there is no date for delivery - they have not even started any production as I understand it.  Questar should notify dealers that the Tristand is no longer available and not "take" customer $$ (note, C7 has NOT taken any $$ for Tristand) until production starts and an estimate delivery date can be determined.. IMHO

 

Jason


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