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Ideal travel mount - Altair Astro Starwave Mini AZ


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I recently started thinking about what mount I would be taking to the US eclipse in August.

My current set up was a Manfrotto 055 with a Manfrotto 501 video head, however when looking near the zenith the scope was unbalanced and tended to move unless the clamps were tight.

As a long term fan of alt/az mounts I was interested to spot Altairs offering at an astro show and it seemed to tick all the boxes.

My requirements were simple, an un-counter balanced load capacity of 4kg (i.e Vixen FL80S) and if necessary up to 6kg with counterbalance (102mm Ikharus)

So here it is in all its glory (minus the included 80mm side extension).

Very pleased with it so far and I hope to try out later tonight.

One other point, TS do an identical version which works out at £230 (€270) compared to Altair's £180!

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I recently started thinking about what mount I would be taking to the US eclipse in August. My current set up was a Manfrotto 055 with a Manfrotto 501 video head, however when looking near the ze

Travel set up now complete, a new baby has arrived.

I'm using a C6 SCT or an ST80. The C6 is pushing it a bit, but I think this is more done to the tripod I'm using, which is a Horizon 8115.  I hope to replace this with a carbon fibre one for less weig

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I really wish i still worked at the engineering company, i would get some Ali and Stainless and turn up a decent alt ax mount, that looks nice, whats the payload and what tripod does it fit

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Hi, i have been looking at this mount too and was wondering if balancing the scope is critical for it to work well or does it have friction stiction so to speak - does it stay where you point it?

Looking forward to your findings ... :-)

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On 1/4/2017 at 19:31, nightfisher said:

I really wish i still worked at the engineering company, i would get some Ali and Stainless and turn up a decent alt ax mount, that looks nice, whats the payload and what tripod does it fit

I used to be a Turner too Jules :) Used to program and set/run CNC lathes. I'm often tempted to buy a mini lathe...I've come very close to doing so in the past and it's still on the list :)

I doubt anything I turned up would look anything as nice as this little Altair beauty or their Sabre mount though.

Edited by Chris Lock
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The mount performed faultlessly which is more than can be said for the tripod. I was using it with the central column extended to get clearance, so the next step is to fit the included 80mm side extension, this will allow me to drop the column fully.

Will report back if things improve.

Re the ED100 (f9) I think the mount can handle it but unless its on a very sturdy tripod its a no go. In addition this additional tripod weight would then make it unattractive as a cabin baggage grab and go set up.

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9 minutes ago, moriniboy said:

The mount performed faultlessly which is more than can be said for the tripod. I was using it with the central column extended to get clearance, so the next step is to fit the included 80mm side extension, this will allow me to drop the column fully.

Will report back if things improve.

Re the ED100 (f9) I think the mount can handle it but unless its on a very sturdy tripod its a no go. In addition this additional tripod weight would then make it unattractive as a cabin baggage grab and go set up.

I've found this to be a problem too with many of the alt az mounts I've used. Even something like a mini Giro will handle a significant load if the tripod is up to it.

I now have a Gitzo GT5542LS CF tripod now which is a good balance between portability and stability. Stupidly expensive but worthwhile. I've had a C925 and Tak either side of an Ercole on the Gitzo and it handled it ok. I reckon the Giro-WR would handle it too, and will be trying this out soon.

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So do you have to rebalance the scope if you change from a heavy to light eyepiece? Or do you set the tension a bit higher? 

I have a giro mini, which is great but does need to be rebalanced when changing from the hype zoom to an ortho! No surprise there. I would love a discmount but ......

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With a single scope on, I find that you do need to rebalance a fairly amount. Even using an eyepiece which is similar weight but focuses in a significant different position can change the balance a little, though tensioning the clutches correctly gets round this.

With two scopes, the errors seem to cancel out more, perhaps there is just more momentum so the balance is a little less critical. You can normally leave the heavier scope as is and move the lighter one a small amount.

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I find the giro works better with a counterweight. I had some made from some stainless lumps I had lying around. 

The mini-az looks good and I was wondering if it needs as much rebalancing as the giro. I have been thinking of getting a mount made by the guys who did the counterweights for me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Looks lovely. I wonder how this would work with the FS-60 with its focuser being made from cast unobtainium! With the Giro mini, the scope has to be adjusted very forward to balance with the Hyp zoom.

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@moriniboy you have now been using this light weight alt- az mount for several months - has it worked to your satisfaction?

I notice from the attached website that the cost is £179 but it mentions optional extras which is a bit confusing when you read 'what's in the box'.

https://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/starwave-mini-az-Mount.html#SID=568

Anyway it would good to receive an update of your opinion on this mini mount.

 

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I have been using this mount for approximately a month now and I'm relatively happy with its performance.  It does require a degree of fiddling to get the best out of it and balance is critical.    I was looking at Jupiter last night at 150x and with a bit of practice was able to nudge the scope to keep the target in view.  This is my first non-GOTO AZ mount, so I'm a relative newbie and haven't used anything else to compare my experience of this mount with.

The counterweight and shaft is included in the mount as well as the extension tube.  I will post a photo of my setup when I get the time.

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49 minutes ago, Starpaw said:

I have been using this mount for approximately a month now and I'm relatively happy with its performance.  It does require a degree of fiddling to get the best out of it and balance is critical.    I was looking at Jupiter last night at 150x and with a bit of practice was able to nudge the scope to keep the target in view.  This is my first non-GOTO AZ mount, so I'm a relative newbie and haven't used anything else to compare my experience of this mount with.

The counterweight and shaft is included in the mount as well as the extension tube.  I will post a photo of my setup when I get the time.

Thanks Starpaw - what scope are you using on the mount? The photo would be very useful.

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Very interested in this too! 

How much mag this AA Mini AZ or Giro-WR can handle? How about the scope balancing with medium size eyepiece (e.g.  .5 kg)? 

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3 hours ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Thanks Starpaw - what scope are you using on the mount? The photo would be very useful.

I'm using a C6 SCT or an ST80. The C6 is pushing it a bit, but I think this is more done to the tripod I'm using, which is a Horizon 8115.  I hope to replace this with a carbon fibre one for less weight and more rigidity. I will get a photo up when I can.

1 hour ago, Piero said:

Very interested in this too! 

How much mag this AA Mini AZ or Giro-WR can handle? How about the scope balancing with medium size eyepiece (e.g.  .5 kg)? 

TS do an identical mount with the quoted maximum payload being 4kg, unbalanced, and 6kg with counterbalancing.  This, I believe, is higher than payloads quoted by Altair (where I got my mount from), but Altair sell it for less.

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p9115_TS-Optics-Altazimuth-Travel-Mount-for-astro-and-photo-tripods---support-up-to-6-kg.html

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2 hours ago, Piero said:

Very interested in this too! 

How much mag this AA Mini AZ or Giro-WR can handle? How about the scope balancing with medium size eyepiece (e.g.  .5 kg)? 

I've found with the Giro-WR that it will take a pretty good load so long as it is balanced. If anything, it copes better with two scopes as the lateral weight is easier to keep even, other wise the counterweight really help keep everything smooth. Heavy eyepieces are ok but can be an issue pointing towards the zenith as they are away from the axis of rotation. I have found that a counterweight hanging down underneath the front of the scope can help to balance this effect and keep everything balanced in every position.

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Thanks Starpaw - I guess that a Celestron C6 weighs about 4.5 kgs. I am thinking of using a Skywatcher Heritage 130P which weighs about 3 kgs so this mount would be okay. Don't worry about the photo you have provided very useful information.

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28 minutes ago, Mark at Beaufort said:

Thanks Starpaw - I guess that a Celestron C6 weighs about 4.5 kgs. I am thinking of using a Skywatcher Heritage 130P which weighs about 3 kgs so this mount would be okay. Don't worry about the photo you have provided very useful information.

I have read the quoted weight for a C6 is actually wrong, when weighed on scales it's closer to 3.5 kg.  I haven't actually tried weighing it myself though...

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  • 6 months later...
On 16/04/2017 at 16:14, Mark at Beaufort said:

Thanks Starpaw - I guess that a Celestron C6 weighs about 4.5 kgs. I am thinking of using a Skywatcher Heritage 130P which weighs about 3 kgs so this mount would be okay. Don't worry about the photo you have provided very useful information.

Hi Mark, 

Just reading through this post and came across your comment about using this mount for the 130p. Did you end up going for it and if so, how does it perform? I'm also looking at this mount at the moment for the heritage 130p.

I have in the back of my mind that you've already told me the setup you use for the 130 but I can't find the post so sorry if this is a repeat question.    Jeremy

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  • 2 months later...

I’ve just noticed that telescope express now sell the mount head (without the clamp or counterweight) for only 99 Euros - seems like a good deal to me for an ultra portable setup.

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p9115_TS-Optics-Altazimuth-Travel-Mount-for-astro-and-photo-tripods---support-up-to-6-kg.html

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