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Fozzie

Grab and Go Mount - Ball Head and Pan plate Combo

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Evening all,

I've recently being researching in to different camera mounts for my travel grab and go set up, mainly because the fluid pan handle is not the best and struggles holding about 3Kg without some settlement.  My last trip to Corfu I spent most of my time being infuriated with aiming above my intended target and hoping the scope would settle in the approximate area.... :mad:

So my mind has always been quietly thinking about how to make this better, without spending on a mini giro, is there a "budget" sense way of doing this..... :confused:

I wanted up, down, left, right and reasonably light weight, oh and good quality that could take circa 4-5Kg's with no problems, even though the intention is a small 70mm ed frac...  Simple Right....?

So there I was a few weeks back minding my own business at a wedding when the photographer loaded up a similar looking tripod with not only the biggest photo canon I've seen but also a video camera and slightly ridiculous microphone... 

Little did the photographer know I was his new bestest and annoying friend for the night :grin:

After much buttering up he finally let me had a good look at his set up and kit bag..

Two weeks later I have sat on top of my tripod a new ball head and pan plate combo.. which have been sourced at a reasonable £55 ish from Amazon.

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The ball head is rated to 8kg and weighs 422g, has locking and drag control, 360 deg movement and a quick release system with locking screw.  Its anodized aluminium.. feels well made.

The pan plate is again cnc machined with 360 deg and quick release system..

I've configured the two so that the ball head is locked at 90 deg and the pan plate is fixed, again, with the quick release, however this will change to a threaded nut when I source one long enough..

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The pan plate has an over size fixing plate to camera/scope so you can actually attempt to provide a degree of balance to the scope.

The movement is very clean in both axis and it appears to handle the weight of the ST80 very well with zero settlement, and that's with zero tension applied to the drag control.. 

First impressions are that this is a massive step up over the fluid head and i'll be trying it out tonight if the clouds stay away..

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Ill put some more photos in another post as these are 5mb each so take up some room..

Hopefully this works out as well as I hope, and it should make a nice little sub 5kg travel set up, excluding EP's of course!

thanks for reading

Fozzie

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That looks very impressive and would be a perfect addition to an EQ mount and camera/lens combination for AP where you have limited movement for framing a shot.

Alan

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I have feeling that the vixen polarie and skywatcher star adventure mount operate with a ball head somewhere in the set up so your probably correct, it could work for AP..

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That is an ingenious approach.  Look forward to hearing how you get on.  I agree about using fluid heads.  I have a Gitzo bird watching head, but above about 55 degrees the scope is so far over mount that it constantly drags down when you lock.

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That is very intriguing. Do you have a link to it?

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Much appreciated Fozzie. I have the ball head , well one very similar, hence the interest - makes for a versatile set up I imagine. See you next month!

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Very ingenious indeed, look forward to hearing how you get on with it, but it looks great

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That looks very impressive and would be a perfect addition to an EQ mount and camera/lens combination for AP where you have limited movement for framing a shot.

Alan

Only other issue I had was the 1/4 to 3/8 tripod fixing buy these adaptors are easily sourced... think I mentioned that before, my pan head actually turned up with one but I've got a 5 pack on order..

Other than that, no first light yet... clouds!

Will follow up shortly though!

Thanks for the posative feedback, love when a plan comes together!

Fozzie

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That looks great.  I'm going to Sri Lanka next year and have really puzzled over a mount solution...until now - many thanks for sharing Fozzie!

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Hello Fozzie.  That looks like a nice set up.  See you at Ingleton for a peruse, If you don't mind.   Could well fit my Borg 100 achro  :-)

Regards   John

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That looks great.  I'm going to Sri Lanka next year and have really puzzled over a mount solution...until now - many thanks for sharing Fozzie!

Hello Fozzie.  That looks like a nice set up.  See you at Ingleton for a peruse, If you don't mind.   Could well fit my Borg 100 achro  :-)

Regards   John

Thanks for the comments, I'll be bringing it with me to Ingleton so your more than welcome to borrow and see how you get on with it..

Fozzie

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Just as an update, as I've not managed to get out for a good test session, I decided to load up the mount to see what sort of loads it can take with out having to lock the pan head. 

I'm confident the Ball head is more than sufficient and, I should add, provides full rotation without the pan head however I didn't want to be constantly releasing and tightening the locking mechanism, hence the pan head..

So I loaded up the ST80 with my big heavy 50mm finder (700g) and rings and a 1,25 quartz diagonal.. around 2.7kg in all.. the pan head was happy until about 60deg where it started to slip and the tensioner needed to be applied..  Which is what I would expect, as the scope is tail heavy and realistically I would probably use a light weight red dot finder.. 

I'm anticipating the planned 70mm ed will be a similar weight, but more equally balanced.

With the tensioner in use the scope appeared to be steady beyond 60 deg so looks hopefull.

The horizontal movement also seemed to cope with the load too and remained smooth through the 360 deg..

You do get vibration through the mount, but then it is a light weight camera mount.. will get it out and expose it to some weather soon to see how we go, but all in all a positive little play around last night..

Will post more when I get time..

thanks

Fozzie

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Looks a really nice setup Fozzie, and one I'm interested in to mount my g&g 90 Mak. Currently use a Manfrotto basic fluid head, which is ok but your solution looks a whole lot easier (and no 'settling'). Before I throw some funds at Amazon, I just wanted to check the pan head mounting: will it fit to a standard dovetail or is there another plate involved? Despite your great pix, I can't quite make it out (new to dovetails to boot).

Thanks for any guidance to a ghostdance :)

Steve

Edited by ghostdance

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HI GD, the pan head has a "photographic" Dove tail attached to it.. similar to the quick release type on a camera tripod. Hence why the ball head is compatible, its a snug fit too..

I'm not sure that the quick release will take a standard sky watcher dove tail plate, I've only got my F11 scope with one as the ST80 has the camera tripod block. the pan head release plate fixes to the underside of this.

I'll have a look tonight when I get in, but my gut feeling is that the astro dove tail is wider than the photo one and there for you'd need to screw fix as you would a spotting scope or camera.

Hope that makes a bit of sense..

In the interest of fairness I'm going to ask people to give comment on the system at the ingleton star camp, for a bit of fun, just to see what they all think honestly.. (will probably take the pan handle too so they can see what an improvement it is)  That's at the end of august so hopefully a balanced opinion will be formed then.

thanks

Fozzie

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Thanks Fozzie.

My Mak is attached to the fluid head by screw so it may still be viable - but I'll keep my fingers x'd that a dovetail will slot nicely into the pan head.

Thanks for your advice :)

Steve

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I can confirm it doesn't fit the standard skywatcher dovetail, as an indication of how the scope us fixed.. The pan head comes with a quick release dovetail specifically with a threaded not to fix into a spotting scope small scope..

This should explain it a bit more..

Ta

Fozzie

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I went through the same exercise recently.

My brief was to find a suitable method to mount my Camera/lens combo, about 4kg, on my EQ6.

I immediately thought of a ball-head for the range of adjustment it would allow for me to align my camera with the mount. To this end I bought an iOptron ball-head, rated to 20lbs. First up, it dropped past 90° and when set to 90° it wouldn't support the weight and drooped, and the ball twisted in the socket. I have a Markins Q10 which would do the job but I wanted a dedicated set-up for the EQ6.

While heading back to the drawing board I had a light-bulb moment. I had a Kirk monopod head which drops to precisely 90° and no further. OK, no adjustment available, but it was always my intention to use my Wimberley Sidekick and that gives me heaps of finesse in the DEC plane and I can release the clutch on the RA axis for lateral adjustment. It's just tacked onto the plate for the pic at this stage while I wait for the correct socket head screws and SynScan kit to arrive.

Pretty happy with the result and it seems very solid with no flex or movement. I guess it's just another way to skin the cat.

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Thanks Fozz... very informative. .. I've the same :mad experience with my celestron eq mount. But will look to the ball and pan solution at my next visit to Amazon (grin)

Sent from my SM-A500F using Tapatalk

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As weastronomers want to take our scopes everywhere this is an amazing thread Fozzie thanks for kicking this off as I currently have my small frac mounted on a camera tripod with a ball head but I have the problem with ap that I still get slippage when attaching any of my Cameras to the mount for ap useage. I noticed you used theball in the slot rather than the to circle rather similar to an altaz mount on the altaz5eq so I might try that. Thanks yet again for such an informative thread. Itvmight help next time I trave would dearly love to get to either the great Karoo or the eastern transvaal and see the southern skies in their glory like I did as a youngster. Mind you I would get aperture fever wanting a bigger scooe.

Geoff

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This is an interesting thread, thanks very much for the report and update Fozzie. I'm wondering if the ball head and/or panning plate could be used with the iOptron SkyTracker at all? I'm trying to settle on a ball head for that.

Thanks in advance

/p

I can confirm it doesn't fit the standard skywatcher dovetail, as an indication of how the scope us fixed.. The pan head comes with a quick release dovetail specifically with a threaded not to fix into a spotting scope small scope..

This should explain it a bit more..

Ta

Fozzie

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