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...is neat but can take some improvements. Here's how:

Safety first! So, to prevent breakage I limit the bottom knob's range, or someone unaware of its lacking design can tighten it too hard, and break the plastic clamp. Nearly happened when a friend turned that knob real hard, thinking he was making the mount more stable for photo, but the clamp couldn't split thanks to the washers that stop the knob before it causes damage. An undersize O-ring keeps the washers in place in case you remove the knob, they won't get lost.

Main knob washers.jpg

Next fault in design, there's a 2mm gap on each side of the spreaders. I fill it with washers and/or O-rings. Two washers are tricky to insert, better superglue them together to form a single thick one.

Anti play washers.jpg

Next large play and ungainly fit: the central aluminum stud plays between the others:

Tripod gap.jpg

Filing the plastic inserts to bring the outside tubes close to the central one:

Tripod gap rectified.jpg

And the result:

Tripod no gap.jpg

The three tubes now clamp together over their whole length, better stability, better looks, and improved feel. These tripods are too lightweight even for my 80mm achro; to make the complete scope assembly heavier with a lower center of mass, filling the tubes with aquarium (clean) gravel is an easy and invisible solution:

Gravel filling.jpg

Some fill it with cement, which is even heavier because it leaves no empty space between the stones but I prefer reversible mods.

Inside the clamp there is a rib that's supposed to guide or support the central tube but it doesn't even touch it, so I remove it with a file (masking tape protects the aluminum):

Tripod rib.jpg

Tripod rib removed.jpg

Instead ot the useless rib I stick two felt pads that press hard against the tube, making its motion silent and way more controlled. Since it is now much heavier, sliding free and bumping against the clamp would cause noise and maybe damage.

Felt pads.jpg

Note the piece of sponge that clogs the bottom of the hollow tube. Not indispensible with large gravel but it's needed when I use smaller grain sand.

The steel ashtray has dangerous corners that a lens could hit, so I take segments of a junk guitar cable (degrades the tone), and pile them up between clamps so the top one is at at a convenient height and easy to split open:

Cable segments.jpg

Like so, then I remove the cable's core:

Cable segments cut open.jpg

The ashtray itself is like a gong (steel is quite resonant), putting accessories on it always makes a nasty clunky sound that irritates me, and would annoy neighbors if the scope was in a backyard. So I put felt pads at the underside, around the screw holes, plus a large neoprene cushion in the middle. Besides making the thing look like a cool famous UFO, this dampens the noise that made me cringe every time.

Ashtray bottom.jpg

Finally, I slide the split guitar cable over the ashtray's edges, and add a sheet of the white material architects use to build models. I often moved my scopes around with accessories rolling aroung in the ashtray, simply because I forgot they were there for they are black on black. This happened even in the daytime during solar watching. However black on white is noticed even with the corner of the eye, no risk of that absent-mindedness again. The foamy white sheet holds thanks to a little strip of double-side tape, and helps dampen those irritating clunker noises in the still of the night. The difference in visual contrast is obvious, but even more so at night.

Black and white ashtrays.jpg

I'll replace the foam with tougher vinyl when I come across a leftover piece, in the meantime it does a good enough job. There you have it, several mods even an astro gearhead might not notice, except the white ashtray, but they do give a better feel, a better look, and even a better sound to the setup. The joints between cable rubber are just acceptable, I'll rectify them later, but what matters now is a danger of scratching lenses is done away with.

Hope you'll pick up a few ideas that can be useful to you.

Edited by Ben the Ignorant
typo
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Quite a few mods there. Well done. :) Can't say I've had any issues with any of the above really on my tripod, the only mod I did fit to my Az3 tripod mount head was a counterweight to allow better control when near zenith, especially with heavier EP's fitted. Due to LP I usually use the tripod in the lowest height possible to dodge the glare from street lamps on the road behind my house, or on the path in front of it, so stability has never been an issue for mine really. 

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Brilliant work, my eq2 is left idle in the garage. No more. I am going to do all these mods and my 130 newt will go back to this mount when I go night fishing as the ultimate light weight non powered set up.

Thanks for the info. M

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