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AOK VAMO Traveller with Encoders


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Although we thoroughly enjoy finding our way around the night sky manually, there are occasions when my wife and I elect to let our encoder equipped Dob and AYO II Mount assist us. While it's been nice to have the option of letting "technology do the work" from time to time, thus far this choice hasn't been available on our overseas sorties. However, during a recent conversation with Beat about improving our travel kit, he made mention that he and Serge at Astro Devices had worked on designing an encoder kit for his VAMO Traveller Mount.

With Beat confirming he had a VAMO in stock and available for shipping that day and Serge agreeing he could build and ship an encoder kit that same week I thought it worth a whirl to see if I could assemble a much improved travel set up before we head out at the end of this week for our regular end of year spell in La Palma...

Both guys, ParcelForce and DHL did their bit and at the end of last week I sat down to assemble everything.

As others (like @JG777 with whom I have been in discussion) may be interested in a lightweight, Encoder enabled "Grab & Go" or travel setup I've documented things below.

Serge's encoder package can be seen below:

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The magnetic discs were then pushed into each axis of the mount and tightened with the Allen Key to achieve a snug and secure fit

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The Encoder Reader is secured to the mount by screws if the new version of the mount is being used (the new version has the 3 holes seen above). If the older version is being converted, the Reader is secured by a sticky pad on its underside.

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Once installed each axis should look like this:

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And that's it... That took me 10 minutes.

Serge also designed a shelf which will accommodate either my Nexus DSC or Nexus II units.

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Allowing the final travel kit to be assembled like this

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I can report it is buttery smooth in both Azimuth and Altitude, even when a 2" diagonal and accessories are being used and is a colossal improvement over our Berlebach Castor. 

And although I haven't fully finalised the layout of the carry on case, having followed @Stu's lead for disassembly and use of neoprene lens caps (plus a couple of neoprene knee braces !!) it is coming together like this... With sufficient space remaining for eyepieces and the Nexus II unit.

The PeliAir 1525 fits within the strictest carry on allowances.

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I'll try and answer any questions and will report back on how it all performs, but initial testing this week has been nothing but positive.

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Although we thoroughly enjoy finding our way around the night sky manually, there are occasions when my wife and I elect to let our encoder equipped Dob and AYO II Mount assist us. While it's been nic

I got VAMO delivered in a few days. When I contacted Beat he was packing to go on holiday. Obviously I was in a hurry ( like with all astro toys he he ) so I asked him if he has any in stock and if he

@Stu As a follow up I have more or less completed the layout of the case. The photo below includes: Takahashi FC-100 DF with original focuser, AOK VAMO Traveller with Encoders, 2 Filters, Ne

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That looks increadibly slick! Beautiful engineering and machining - Beat does seem to know what he is doing!

An unrelated question: Are those TrekPak dividers without the usual red bits in your Pelican, or have you found an alternative source of the material?

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@heliumstar It is an old Gitzo Carbon G1325 Mk2 that I used to use for photographic purposes.

At high mag it seems to work fine. After focusing it takes a fraction of a second to settle as is to be expected, but is very stable. The MEF-3 fine focuser helps reduce disturbances, as does the helical focuser eyepiece holder. Between the two I can make fine adjustments without inducing too much wobble.

And whether the tension on either axis is tight or relaxed the mount moves exceptionally smoothly in Altitude and Azimuth... No criticisms thus far...

 

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Excellent kit you've put together there Simon. The Vamo appears to be a great option, particularly with those very neat encoders. How much does it weigh?

The Pelicase 1525 also is a great way to save weight. The 1510 I have is much heavier so I may look into the 1525 as a better carry on option. Do you know what the total weight with scope and mount? I need to fit into 10kg for my US flight coming up so was assuming it would need to be a rucksack job.

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@Stu The mount with encoders weighs 1.4kg. 

What you see inside the case picture - the case, FC-100 DF (bear in mind heavier focuser than your FT and even the DC focuser) and Mount - weighs in at exactly 8kg at the moment...

Any other dimensions / weights or combinations - just holler...

Edited by Stargazer McCabe
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2 minutes ago, Stargazer McCabe said:

@Stu The mount without encoders weighs 1.4kg. 

What you see inside the case picture - the case, FC-100 DF (bear in mind heavier focuser than your FT and even the DC focuser) and Mount - weighs in at exactly 8kg at the moment...

Any other dimensions / weights or combinations - just holler...

Thanks, that's great news :)

Would you pack the tube rings in the case or in your hold luggage?

The dovetail also looks lighter than my ADM probably without being any less rigid?

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@Stu

Stuff like rings and dovetail will go into checked. Thus far, he said touching wood, whether it be Budget Airlines to La Palma, Scheduled to Southern or Eastern Africa and the usual light aircraft charters around those countries the Castor or Mini Giro, tripod, Dovetails, finder brackets and anything "not breakable" have travelled safely in checked.

Carry on has been limited to scope, eyepieces, filters, finderscope and Binoculars. This time I'm considering the mount in Carry On because of the encoder discs and readers. I spoke with Serge who said it would be best to not remove them too often as the screws into the readers go into plastic, and he feared widening the holes through regular insertion and removal - no matter how careful one tries to be.

Edited by Stargazer McCabe
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11 hours ago, Stu said:

Excellent kit you've put together there Simon. The Vamo appears to be a great option, particularly with those very neat encoders. How much does it weigh?

The Pelicase 1525 also is a great way to save weight. The 1510 I have is much heavier so I may look into the 1525 as a better carry on option. Do you know what the total weight with scope and mount? I need to fit into 10kg for my US flight coming up so was assuming it would need to be a rucksack job.

Stu, I find the Think Tank Airport Accelerator backpack great for travelling with children since it means you can keep your arms free for other purposes ?.

Not sure how long the Tak is when the focuser and dewshield are removed though...

The new AP Stowaway comes with a pelican 1525 so it must be pretty good though ?

Edited by GavStar
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14 minutes ago, GavStar said:

Stu, I find the Think Tank Airport Accelerator backpack great for travelling with children since it means you can keep your arms free for other purposes ?.

Not sure how long the Tak is when the focuser and dewshield are removed though...

It’s about 2cm too short for the DF tube. If the DC is shorter and comes in under 47.8cm it could work.

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@Stu

As a follow up I have more or less completed the layout of the case. The photo below includes:

Takahashi FC-100 DF with original focuser, AOK VAMO Traveller with Encoders, 2 Filters, Nexus II unit, SW 6x30 RACI Finderscope (without bracket), Baader T2 Prism including 2” nosepiece and helical eyepiece holder (but those bits are removed and in a separate pouch), ES24mm 68*, ES14mm 82*, ES8.8mm 82*, ES6.7mm 82*, Nagler 6-3mm Zoom

Weighed this morning, with all that, I’m at 9.95kg.

So I’m sure you could hit your 10kg target.

Admittedly I may ditch the 6.7mm or have a rearrangement and I will have to use checked luggage (for more robust stuff like brackets, rings and dovetail) and my “scope mule” Susie for other delicate stuff like binoculars etc ?

But it gives you an insight as to what can be achieved and included within your allowance 

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Edited by Stargazer McCabe
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4 hours ago, Stargazer McCabe said:

It’s about 2cm too short for the DF tube. If the DC is shorter and comes in under 47.8cm it could work.

I found my old thread on this and the shortened Tak measured at max 18.75", possibly a little less. So that is about 47.6cm, it might work.

Will do some thinking....

Thanks all.

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2 hours ago, Stu said:

I found my old thread on this and the shortened Tak measured at max 18.75", possibly a little less. So that is about 47.6cm, it might work.

Will do some thinking....

Thanks all.

Works fine with my tv85 which is 19” as shown below...(I did have lots of fun when on the way back the security check at tenerife airport asked me to completely empty the backpack for the scan - it was like a tardis with all the stuff that I had managed to pack in ?)31DD061B-748B-4A6F-A13A-22AF6F0DC6B7.thumb.jpeg.c9652f1ca98a1e5517f9a620d369077e.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Alan White said:

Looks most interesting,
is the Vamo more sturdy than it looks?

Seek and ye shall find... http://www.aokswiss.ch/ayo/vamo_traveler/main_vamo_traveler.html

It is rated conservatively to c 7kg. As shown, it holds my FC100 DF with ease...

I don't need anything sturdier as a travel mount. If I want sturdier for the ED120 & 8" EdgeHD which often get mounted side by side, I reach for Beat's AYO II...

Edited by Stargazer McCabe
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Simon,

What I was 'seeking' was your opinion and findings as an owner.
Thanks for the web link though.
I have looked at that very website many times lusting after an AYO II.

The Vamo just looks small in all its images to me, but then again at 7 Kg rating, that is a fair load.

Sadly the long delivery on AYO has stopped me buying any to date.
 

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@Alan White I phoned Beat and same day it was in the post. Swiss post and Parcelforce led to a “delay” of a week...

Give him a call or an email. You’ll be surprised at his current stock levels and production capabilities. Even for a bespoke AYO II with Encoders I only waited a month...

And Beat is a master engineer. His AYO II has had my 8” EdgeHD one side with a 20mm Lunt 100* eyepiece in it with an ED120 holding a 30mm ES 82* the other.

That’s the beauty of his design and engineering. It doesn’t have to look like a tank to be as “sturdy” as one...

Edited by Stargazer McCabe
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1 hour ago, Alan White said:

Simon,

What I was 'seeking' was your opinion and findings as an owner.
Thanks for the web link though.
I have looked at that very website many times lusting after an AYO II.

The Vamo just looks small in all its images to me, but then again at 7 Kg rating, that is a fair load.

Sadly the long delivery on AYO has stopped me buying any to date.
 

I got VAMO delivered in a few days. When I contacted Beat he was packing to go on holiday. Obviously I was in a hurry ( like with all astro toys he he ) so I asked him if he has any in stock and if he can send it the next day before he goes. He did actually! Great service from him. He answers emails quickly as well. Highly recommended.

It might look small but in reality it is not and can handle 80mm and 102mm tubes quite good. 102 f6.5 on Berlebach Report and Vamo is steady!

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56 minutes ago, heliumstar said:

I got VAMO delivered in a few days. 

There you go @Alan White !! That’s two of us that got our VAMO within a short while... ?? 

Beat’s obviously getting his production timings shortened. As I say my AYO II with Encoders was only a month in manufacturing. 

Look forward to hearing your thoughts when you get whichever you plump for...

Edited by Stargazer McCabe
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  • 1 year later...
On 02/10/2018 at 14:56, Stargazer McCabe said:

Seek and ye shall find... http://www.aokswiss.ch/ayo/vamo_traveler/main_vamo_traveler.html

It is rated conservatively to c 7kg. As shown, it holds my FC100 DF with ease...

I don't need anything sturdier as a travel mount. If I want sturdier for the ED120 & 8" EdgeHD which often get mounted side by side, I reach for Beat's AYO II...

Hi McCabe,

Just resurrecting an older thread. I'm considering the Vamo Traveler by Beat for my Tele Vue 102 (4" / f8.6 frac). I'm strictly a visual observer and fully loaded with binoviewer my scope weighs in at 6.8kg. Is this too near the limit of the Vamo for smooth operation?

Thanks

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6 hours ago, bond19 said:

Hi McCabe,

Just resurrecting an older thread. I'm considering the Vamo Traveler by Beat for my Tele Vue 102 (4" / f8.6 frac). I'm strictly a visual observer and fully loaded with binoviewer my scope weighs in at 6.8kg. Is this too near the limit of the Vamo for smooth operation?

Thanks

Without wishing to sound like a politician hedging his bets; "That depends"...

Weight and smoothness wouldn't be a problem I don't think. I have used it with my Tak with a 2" diagonal and 100* eyepieces on occasions and it acquitted itself well. 

If the Binoviewers are heavy, like the Leica or Maxbrights, and you're loading them with heavy eyepieces, you may find yourself having to work out the balance carefully, but then again that would be the same with most mounts. The only difference being that if I get balance and clutches wrong on my AYO II, it merely swings down (I use a pillar) missing anything to damage the scope or eyepieces depending on which end is heaviest. 

If you're confident of getting balance and clutches right the Traveller is a great mount. Particularly with the encoders Serge can provide... 

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