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Tripod wheels and leveling blocks (DIY Project build)

Accessories DIY Equipment Meade Tripod
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#1 BobB-Calif

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 01:45 PM

I needed an easy way to both move my LX200 10" Meade around in and out of my garage and also needed an easier and more accurate way to adjust the leveling..  So using "off the shelf"  Amazon items, I completed the project as described below. Hope this helps!

 

I attached photos with the measurements and also included a list of components I purchased from Amazon.  The measurements do not need to be all that precise as widths and lengths can vary slightly and it will still work. The height has to be fairly close so that the wheels will clear the ground.

 

I used tri-wheel furniture units, one for each tripod leg. I have since seen where others have also used these units and they work well.  I happened to decide to secure mine permanently using a 3" long 1/4" standard threaded bolts.  I did not want the tri-wheel units to fall off and cause a tip-over of my scope. I mounted them by drilling the proper size hole and used a 1/4" tap in the bottom center of my tripod legs and then used a large fender washer under the bolt head and inserted the bolt through the center hole of the tri-wheel units and then threaded the bolt into the thread taped holes. Leave the bolt loose by about a 3/8" so that the tri-wheel unit can loosely swivel tilt to adjust for the tripod leg angles. (You can buy a tap and drill set and they are not that expensive or... perhaps you can borrow one. But.. be sure to return it and not like it more than they do! My son has done that to me! But I know where he lives...  Ha!)

 

The adjustment blocks are made of oak and I used what I happen to have in my shop stock so I epoxied three 3/4" x 4" boards together.  I then cut them to length and then cut out the indented section using my band saw.  I belt sanded and rounded the bottom inside edge as seen in the photo. The bottom inside rounding is about 1/2'" R.  That is the section of the block that will be touching the ground after and if the block height is adjusted.

 

I then sprayed polyurethane (Enamel type leftover paint will also probably work...) to seal the wood and also so that the self-stick rubber would stick. It does not stick that well to unfinished wood.

 

I drilled a 3/4 in dia hole about 1/2 inch deep indention on top centered so that the bolt head holding the tri-wheel units would fall into it and lock into that hole and keep it from slipping. (See photo)

 

The adjustment screw bracket has to be cut with a hacksaw about even with the top threaded plate that the adjustment screw threads through. (Not critical) (See photo) The bottom nut that is locked up against the foot pad on the adjustment screw needs to be backed off about 3/8" so that the foot pad can easily swivel and tilt. (That is important) The two bracket holes may need to be slightly enlarged depending on what screws you use to secure the leveling adjustment screw bracket.  I used #8 x 1" Lath screws.. but you can use #6 as well.. or...what ever you have in stock.  Secure the bracket after drilling pilot holes as seen on center in the photo.

 

The knobs I ordered came with a big variety of knobs in the package from Amazon and it was so inexpensive I just ordered the set... (more junk to keep in my scrounge bin!) even though right now I do not need all of the sizes. They are metric so they will work with the adjustment bolt.

 

Next,  I cut to size and installed the self stick rubber to both top and bottom sides of the adjustment blocks.  I extended the rubber around the bottom inside 1/2" R curve on the block as seen on the photo. I cut out the rubber around the top side indexing hole.

 

The blocks simply slip under the tri-wheel units after you roll your scope to the location you want.

 

To level your scope you can now simply make adjustments using the adjustment knobs. This makes leveling adjustments easy and more accurate as opposed to trying to manually extending each leg.. (Hard and time consuming work!)  If your viewing spot is already fairly level then you should have enough leveling block adjustment to center the level bubble, otherwise you may have to slightly adjust a tripod leg the "old" way.  If you are on grass or soft ground then it is probably a good idea to put plywood pads under each tripod foot area so that the adjustment foot will not sink in or settle. To roll the scope, just remove the adjustment blocks.

 

Some of you may come up with a better "mouse trap" design improvement for this.  Would be interested in your design! Hope this works for some of you...

 

All the best!

 

Bob

 

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From Amazon:

(You will have to copy and paste the product description into the Amazon search window.)

 

Yaegoo 4 Pack 6 Inch Steel Tri-Dolly Set for Moving Furniture and Appliances, 220lbs Load Capacity

==========================================================================

 

SUNMALL 4 Pack Heavy Duty Leveling Feet, Furniture Levelers Leg, Adjustable Table Legs Leveler for Furniture, Pool, Cabinets, Workbench, Machine, Shelving Units

==========================================================================

 

Non Slip Furniture Pads for Hardwood Floor - Silicone Self Adhesive Anti Scratch Floor Protectors, Cuttable Rubber Heavy Duty Furniture Pad 4 x 40 Inch, Black

==========================================================================

 

Swpeet 32Pcs M4 M6 M8 M10 7 Star Knob Female Thread Nut Clamping Knob Grip Assortment Kit, Star Shape Hand Knobs Black Plastic Screw-On Handle Clamping Knob for Mechanical Equipment

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Edited by BobB-Calif, 13 September 2022 - 02:46 PM.

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#2 Couder

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Posted 13 September 2022 - 04:21 PM

Made mine from 1" x 3" rectangular metal. Through the years I have changed out wheels, etc., but it works like I want it to. Welding is easier, but you can also simply drill holes and use bolts and nuts. I don't seem to have a picture, but on the outer end I welded a 1/2" coupling nut vertically and use a long threaded rod with a crank on top and pad on bottom to adjust height. If you want, I can take a picture of the rod in place.

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#3 speedster

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 12:13 AM

IMG_1846sm.jpg


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#4 Sacred Heart

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 09:12 AM

Bob, That is really nice.  I like the rocker style wood.  Keeps mount stable, leveling bolts have little to no load bearing.  I built mine about 15 years ago, when I had a C14. I downsized to two refractors.   I roll over grass to a concrete pad.  I have a portable pier, I also use a rat cage for fine adjustments in leveling and left / right movement.    Those wheels will add years to your back and body.

 

Joe

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#5 bthrel

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 09:43 AM

Tell us about them wheels Jim, is that a celestron or meade tripod... I've a celestron AVX tripod that I'd like to mobilize like that

 



#6 BobB-Calif

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Posted 16 September 2022 - 11:34 AM

Nice designs all and thanks for sharing!  I can totally see the need for larger wheels for grass! Those look great!

 

I had to laugh though... because boys being boys and some girls too... Since this topic involves wheels, I am surprised that there are no telescope tri-pod races!  Just need a good tyranny and a ram air 454 ci hooked up and then belt into a lawn chair with a helmet!  Ha!

 

When I was younger I had a couple of very inexpensive refactors and they still worked wonderfully for planets... But in my retirement, a few years ago, I purchased an Orion 10" go-to Dob (Good bang for the buck and so I was able to spend more for some better great 2" eyepieces..and filters..) (They no longer sell the go-to anymore... for now at least I think..) But I made a circular wheeled platform for that as well with the same levelers...  Larger pneumatic swivel wheels.  I love the Dob but it is big! 

 

A friend had a 10" LX-200 still sitting in its shipping box in a closet. I think it is about 2000 vintage or so according to the serial number. A wealthy relative bought it but could not figure out how to use it! Too big too soon for them so they just gave it to their relative.  That is kind of like buying a Ferrari just to take a driving test! Using them is a lot more work than it looks like on the surface. But... They were tired of storing it and offered it to me for free. I insisted on paying for it because I know what they are worth new and the optics have not really changed that much if at all. So they were happy for a fair price I gave and I was happy for the price I paid! She is beautiful and in perfect condition..  It was missing the controller, cables and power supply so I bought those and a controller that a guy refurbishes and changes them to a led display... Hard to find working used ones..  It works great... no electrical issues..etc..  I use a Samsung pad with bluetooth link and SkySafari to control it.  Works great! I did Open the LX-200 up and (using proper fluid, cloth and technique) cleaned the slight film off the optics that normally builds up on them over time.. It was still perfectly collimated after I finished. I was a bit surprised.. Youtube videos are a great help!

 

Anyway, I will probably eventually sell the DOB.. I don't need two... 

 

I got long winded here!  But started out just wanting to thank all for the ideas and sharing pics!

 

All the best... and happy sky dot viewing!

 

Bob 



#7 speedster

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Posted 17 September 2022 - 03:23 PM

Howdy bthrel!

 

Wheels are 5"? polyurethane casters with 1/2" threaded stud.  Double locking so both rolling and swiveling locks.  Little wheels tend to trip on pebbles and thresholds.  These roll very well and can go over grass if you are careful.  Wheels are about $20 each.  3" steel round plate with 1/2" hole off ebay for few bucks.  Weld a 1/2" nut over the hole for threading the caster into.  Get 8" pipe nipples that are just a bit bigger OD than tripod leg (this is Celestron).  Get a sheet of fiber gasket material from local auto parts store ($6?) and it makes a perfect shim to get the nipple tight on the leg.  Cut the threads off the nipples and cut the angle of the tripod leg and weld it over the nut.  One nice thing is that the tripod stills folds up.  Also rolls through a 30" door carrying a C8 on a wedge if you are careful.  Drill through the sleeve and the leg and put a bolt through it.  The tripod leg extension clamp has to be tight so the extendable section doesn't rotate.  Another bolt through the fixed leg, and through the extension would prevent rotation.  I think it's needed but I never got around doing that. 

 

I wish I could find a picture of the whole rig.  There was an underslung spreader that attached to the legs and held 3 Pelican cases (large, medium, and small on top) so I could wheel everything out in one go, lock the casters, and be running. 

 

I went the observatory route and haven't used the wheels in a few years.  They've been on a shelf waiting for a new home.  If anyone needs them, PM an offer.



#8 bthrel

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Posted 17 September 2022 - 03:39 PM

Excellent! I've just started to learn myself to weld, no way as near as pretty as your welds so will need much more yard art practice before I attempt this project, but it's on my list now  ..LOL

 

CS

 

Brian

 

Howdy bthrel!

 

Wheels are 5"? polyurethane casters with 1/2" threaded stud.  Double locking so both rolling and swiveling locks.  Little wheels tend to trip on pebbles and thresholds.  These roll very well and can go over grass if you are careful.  Wheels are about $20 each.  3" steel round plate with 1/2" hole off ebay for few bucks.  Weld a 1/2" nut over the hole for threading the caster into.  Get 8" pipe nipples that are just a bit bigger OD than tripod leg (this is Celestron).  Get a sheet of fiber gasket material from local auto parts store ($6?) and it makes a perfect shim to get the nipple tight on the leg.  Cut the threads off the nipples and cut the angle of the tripod leg and weld it over the nut.  One nice thing is that the tripod stills folds up.  Also rolls through a 30" door carrying a C8 on a wedge if you are careful.  Drill through the sleeve and the leg and put a bolt through it.  The tripod leg extension clamp has to be tight so the extendable section doesn't rotate.  Another bolt through the fixed leg, and through the extension would prevent rotation.  I think it's needed but I never got around doing that. 

 

I wish I could find a picture of the whole rig.  There was an underslung spreader that attached to the legs and held 3 Pelican cases (large, medium, and small on top) so I could wheel everything out in one go, lock the casters, and be running. 

 

I went the observatory route and haven't used the wheels in a few years.  They've been on a shelf waiting for a new home.  If anyone needs them, PM an offer.



#9 sunrag

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Posted 19 September 2022 - 08:29 AM

I have put 1.25" ID PVC tees at the tip of each tripod leg. The Tee sits nicely in the cup of the 3-wheel dolly (more secure than putting the tripod leg directly on the 3-wheel dolly. You can also use Zip ties to attach the dolly to the legs.

 

 

Tripod Casters_R.jpg

 

 

 

 

 



#10 BobB-Calif

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Posted 19 September 2022 - 11:18 AM

sunrag...   Thanks for showing us! Lots of ways to peel a potato so they say...  Looks good.  Yes those "T's" sit nicely.  I just wanted mine to be permanent so that is why I used a 1/4" bolt threaded into the end rods of the tripod. Your method is faster to make though.  Either way I like the wheels. You can collapse the tripod... fold it in a bit and still wheel it around easily.. (without the scope attached of course.)




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