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Starting Minimal - Part 2

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Thanks to the track-and-trace phenomenon, I was ready and waiting when the courier arrived, perfectly positioned to witness the guy open the passenger side door of his van, and for my box of optics to come tumbling out onto the pavement. "Don't worry, it's just a telescope", I called to him. He looked worried, and in need of a pint of blood. I was already immensely enjoying this hobby...(I know, I know, someone else has already told this story, but it happened again and it's still just as good.)

Strange as it may seem, I wasn't at all bothered by this; as it was, I was laughing and knew that this box had already been through much worse; such is the nature of things - stickers saying "fragile - handle with care" seem to be interpreted as "kick me - hard" in transit for no apparent reason, but with surprising consistency. At least this guy felt bad about his clumsiness.

What was of some concern to me was that there was no way a tripod would fit in that box - and there was no other box, either. A call to the supplier cleared it up - the tripod would arrive as a separate shipment. With a separate tracking number. Which had not been provided beforehand. At a date equal to that at which it would have arrived if I had ordered it five minutes ago. Makes one wonder whether it would have arrived at all without me having called...but, in fairness I was given prompt, helpful service and the issue was resolved without further ado.

That did leave me without a mount, for a couple of days. But with some unboxing and inspection to do. As a newbie, how does one tell whether one has been dealt a dud? Still don't know the answer to that one...everything seemed clean inside and out, unused, straight where it should be and round likewise, moving parts smoothly moving in expected directions as intended. Not hand-crafted perfection, mind you, but as good as I would expect from a decent Chinese factory (pleonasm, oxymoron or other labels are available to the reader at extra cost but with no warranty from the author). The eyepieces looked new, as did the diagonal. As a final check, I combined scope, diagonal and eyepiece, rested the assembly on a piece of furniture and verified that light was coming through and the picture could be focused, repeating for the other two eyepieces...learning right away that that was not going to happen until I had the mount and could target a distant chimney.

And arrive it did, my new tripod, a sturdy affair which seems well-made and easy to use, and not easy to break, more than enough to keep my ED 70 aloft, surely? With no experience with photographic equipment (well, sure, a camera or two, but never would you have accused me of anything journalistic), I was a bit apprehensive when I discovered that the scope would be held in place by...a single screw. Tightened using thumb and finger. It worked fine, of course. The 3-D panning head was easy to figure out, and seemed to work well - having an extraneous "D", surplus to my requirements not giving me cause to worry.

Still plenty of daylight left, so to work practicing on birds and chimneys. Learning to focus. Building muscle memory to track a mirrored image. Getting an idea of how my eyepieces differed (a lot!). How a small bit of movement of the panning head affected the image. Already thinking: this panning head is not going to be my final solution... I was ready for darkness.

To be continued.


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