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Littleguy80

Travel/Widefield/Solar in one.... can it be done?

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On 04/01/2019 at 12:26, KP82 said:

SW AZ Pronto

I was looking into this and found the following on FLO. That mount on a tripod for £125. I’m currently favouring the TS optics 80mm doublet suggested by Stu above. Does this seem like a good combination? My main concern is whether the tripod would be up to the job.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/alt-azimuth/sky-watcher-az-pronto-alt-azimuth-mount-tripod.html

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6 minutes ago, Littleguy80 said:

I was looking into this and found the following on FLO. That mount on a tripod for £125. I’m currently favouring the TS optics 80mm doublet suggested by Stu above. Does this seem like a good combination? My main concern is whether the tripod would be up to the job.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/alt-azimuth/sky-watcher-az-pronto-alt-azimuth-mount-tripod.html

The Pronto is a neat little mount, I'm just not sure it is the right one for your purpose. 

The weight of an 80 scope sitting above the axis of rotation means you would need the clutches tightened to avoid slippage.  This would preclude easily moving the manually - that said the slow mos do work well.  You might also find the scope is too long to enable you to reach zenith without a tripod extension (either more weight or less stability if using a standard photo tripod with anextendable centre column).

The tripod would not work though.  The folded length is too long for a standard suitcase, and it has too much flex for my liking too.

Helen

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1 minute ago, Helen said:

The Pronto is a neat little mount, I'm just not sure it is the right one for your purpose. 

The weight of an 80 scope sitting above the axis of rotation means you would need the clutches tightened to avoid slippage.  This would preclude easily moving the manually - that said the slow mos do work well.  You might also find the scope is too long to enable you to reach zenith without a tripod extension (either more weight or less stability if using a standard photo tripod with anextendable centre column).

The tripod would not work though.  The folded length is too long for a standard suitcase, and it has too much flex for my liking too.

Helen

Thank you, Helen. I feared the verdict would be along those lines! 

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I kind of agree with what Helen has said about AZ Pronto. Although I really love mine, if you don't already own a good photo tripod, then you may want to take a look at some other options, for example the Altair Mini-AZ. You would lose the slow motion control, but since it's side mounted you wouldn't have problem with the weight or pointing at the zenith.

Another option if you can put up with the weight is SW AZ5.

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16 minutes ago, KP82 said:

I kind of agree with what Helen has said about AZ Pronto. Although I really love mine, if you don't already own a good photo tripod, then you may want to take a look at some other options, for example the Altair Mini-AZ. You would lose the slow motion control, but since it's side mounted you wouldn't have problem with the weight or pointing at the zenith.

Another option if you can put up with the weight is SW AZ5.

The Altair looks like a neat little mount. Neat that it has the optional counter weight includes. Getting the balance right seems to be the one of the biggest factors with all the travel mounts on photo tripods. TS do the same mount too. That led me to finding this very reasonably priced carbon tripod. 

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p8276_TS-Optics-Optics-C255FMO-Carbon-Tripod---Height-up-to-1560-mm.html

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I have the TS version of the Altair Mini AZ. It is a very nice mount for travel. I have used it to observe planets at 135x with a Skymax 102, and also tracked aircraft at the same magnification. I have no experience of the counterweight so can't comment on that.

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22 minutes ago, Littleguy80 said:

The Altair looks like a neat little mount. Neat that it has the optional counter weight includes. Getting the balance right seems to be the one of the biggest factors with all the travel mounts on photo tripods. TS do the same mount too. That led me to finding this very reasonably priced carbon tripod. 

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p8276_TS-Optics-Optics-C255FMO-Carbon-Tripod---Height-up-to-1560-mm.html

Looks neat although I wouldn't trust the claimed 12kg max payload figure unless that's achieved when the tripod legs are fully retracted.

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7 hours ago, Littleguy80 said:

The Altair looks like a neat little mount. Neat that it has the optional counter weight includes. Getting the balance right seems to be the one of the biggest factors with all the travel mounts on photo tripods. TS do the same mount too. That led me to finding this very reasonably priced carbon tripod. 

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p8276_TS-Optics-Optics-C255FMO-Carbon-Tripod---Height-up-to-1560-mm.html

I do hesitate to give advice on tripods because I think they can be quite variable despite similar load capacity specs. I once tried a Redsnapper CF tripod, top of their range but returned it as I found the scope to too long to settle on it. I now have a Gitzo, which is amazingly stable given how light and compact it is, but they are silly money, so out of this conversation. Some of the more compact Berlebachs are good, Report 2012 I think I had, and I also had an Induro aluminium one which was very good, towards the top of their range and was probably £200 ish.

I was normally using quite heavy loads, sometimes two 4" scopes or even a 4" and 8 or 9.25", so an 80mm scope will place a far low demand on your tripod. Everyone's expectations and tolerance levels are different too, I struggle with a a scope that takes more than a second to settle for instance.

All I know is that Manfrotto have a very good reputation and Induro may be worth a look although I don't know their current model range.  Getting actual model recommendations from people using them with similar scopes would be a great indicator obviously. Sorry not to be more help!

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Posted (edited)
On 04/01/2019 at 14:14, Littleguy80 said:
  • Small enough for airport hand luggage
  • 2 inch focuser so I can use existing eyepieces and filters
  • Could be used for wide field. I'm thinking of getting the Veil complex into a single field of view
  • Could be used for Solar

 

Possible combo:

Wedge: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p9409_TS-Optics-1-25--Solar-Prism-with-Polarizing-and-Narrowband-Filter.html EUR 139

Mount: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p9334_TS-Optics-Tilting-Head-and-Altazimuth-Mount-for-photo-tripods.html EUR 135

Tripod: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p10076_Skywatcher-Tripod-for-Star-Adventurer--AZ5--Pronto-and-AZ-GTI-mount.html EUR 69

Extension: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p10005_Skywatcher-Tripod-Extension-Tube-for-AZ5-mount.html EUR 27

So far EUR 370 of max EUR 1,100 or GBP 1,000, with EUR 730 to go for scope

The telescope I would recommend is based on a possibility that you may want to get into binoviewing  and this one has a removable section to allow for native viewing:

Telescope: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p9249_TS-Optics-Photoline-72-mm-f-5-5-FPL53-Apo---2--R-P-Focuser.html EUR 599

Other accessories needed:

Solar Finder: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p10239_TS-Optics-safe-Solar-Finder-for-the-finder-shoe-of-your-telescope.html EUR 33

RDF: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p303_Baader-SkySurfer-III---LED-Red-Dot-Finder-and-Solar-Finder.html EUR 39

Remaining funds: EUR 59 which will be applied against shipping cost.

This keeps you in reasonable weight / size limit and within the budget. Also note that the scope I recommended can be split into 3 parts, focuser, OTA and extension tube.

There you go, just under a thousand quid with money left for a few pints :)

EDIT: Needs a dovetail as well: https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p237_TS-Optics-Dovetail-Mounting-Bar-Vixen-style---100-mm-slotted-hole-and-1-4--screw.html EUR 24.89

Remaining funds barely cover shipping and a pint or two, if you ask for the lot to be sent with standard DHL packet (cheap option) which runs at EUR 20 or so ;) 

 

 

Edited by nicoscy
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On 08/01/2019 at 23:29, Ags said:

I have the TS version of the Altair Mini AZ. It is a very nice mount for travel. I have used it to observe planets at 135x with a Skymax 102, and also tracked aircraft at the same magnification. I have no experience of the counterweight so can't comment on that.

Thanks for the response, Ags. I have a few questions, I hope that's ok! How do you find using this mount without a counter weight and Skymax 102? Is balancing it an issue? Can you use heavier eyepieces with it? What tripod do you use with it? Sorry for all the questions!

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Balancing the scope is not an issue as you attach the scope at its center of gravity. The heaviest eyepiece I have is only about 250 grams, but I haven't had any issues while changing eyepieces.

A counterweight is likely to make the mount smoother however.

I used the mount with a Berlebach Report 112 tripod (Astro version).

Edited by Ags
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I upgraded from a DSV-1 to a DSV-2B mount to gain slow motion controls and axis locks.  I like to use 2+ pound eyepieces, but the scope (AT72ED) would swing wildly on the DSV-1 when swapping eyepieces.  Now, I just lock down the axes, swap eyepieces, unlock the axes, and continue observing with only light drag on each axis.  Either one would be on the big side for travel, though.  I guess what I'm saying is, what is the heaviest 2" eyepiece you're likely to use?  Many alt-az mounts may not tolerate a 2+ pound imbalance during eyepiece swaps.

When I travelled to Nebraska for the solar eclipse by car, I brought my old ST80, a Manfrotto micro fluid head, and an older 055 aluminum tripod.  I used a standard 1.25" mirror diagonal, a homemade Baader Solar Film full aperture filter, a GSO 32mm Plossl, and a Celestron Regal zoom.  I wanted to keep it cheap in case my car got broken into while in the hotel parking lot at night.  Unfortunately, organized criminals travel along our interstates looking for easy targets while people sleep.  Folks have even had their entire cargo trailer disappear from a parking lot at night.  As such, I tend to stay the night well off the interstates now.  The accomodations tend to be better as well.

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1 hour ago, Ags said:

Balancing the scope is not an issue as you attach the scope at its center of gravity. The heaviest eyepiece I have is only about 250 grams, but I haven't had any issues while changing eyepieces.

A counterweight is likely to make the mount smoother however.

I used the mount with a Berlebach Report 112 tripod (Astro version).

Thanks Ags! I just found and read your tripod purchase thread. The Report 112 looks good. Did you get the extension pillar in the end? 

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Yes I got a Berlebach UNI extension colmn, 25cm long. It works out well. I'm very happy with the tripod, real quality.

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The smallest set up I've travelled with has been an st80 and horizon 8115 tripod. It was good for packing down but the one thing I didn't really like was using a mount that goes out of balance and needed clutches to hold it. The smallest mount I use these days is a Porta2 which is much nicer and allows a scope to balance naturally but its quite a bit bigger.

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I've traveled with an ST80 and an AZ3 (not recommended, although the views made it worthwhile) and with a Skymax 102 and Berlebach Report 112 tripod. The latter combination was very enjoyable to use.

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6 hours ago, Paz said:

The smallest set up I've travelled with has been an st80 and horizon 8115 tripod. It was good for packing down but the one thing I didn't really like was using a mount that goes out of balance and needed clutches to hold it. The smallest mount I use these days is a Porta2 which is much nicer and allows a scope to balance naturally but its quite a bit bigger.

I found the same with my TV Ranger which came with a nice Slik Master Classic tripod. I replaced the pan/tilt head with a UA Dwarfstar mount and it's worked very well:

http://www.universalastronomics.com/DwarfStar.html

 

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What are people’s thoughts on the SkyWatcher Evostar 80ED? £359 for the OTA with mounting rings and dovetail bar or £469 with above plus diagonal and finder seems like a good price. Slightly longer focal length than the TS Optics scope at 600mm. 

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SW 80ED from what I've heard is very capable and is one of the best budget small ED doublets. However with its 600mm focal length and non-retractable dew shield, I'm afraid it probably wouldn't fit into a carry-on luggage.

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15 minutes ago, KP82 said:

SW 80ED from what I've heard is very capable and is one of the best budget small ED doublets. However with its 600mm focal length and non-retractable dew shield, I'm afraid it probably wouldn't fit into a carry-on luggage.

Thank you. I thought there was something I was missing! The value of throwing ideas out to more knowledgeable folks once again proven :) 

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Actually, it can fit if you are willing to split it to parts.

ED80 dew shield is friction fit and can be easily removed. Focuser is held in place by three screws and can easily be removed. Just remember to take that small screwdriver with you before going on said travels!

I guess, it depends on your "motivation" to do so. In 3 parts, it will definitely be airline transportable and there are plenty of both soft camera backpacks as well as hard cases which can be used.

It's a great scope, tried and tested AND looks beautiful!

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Also spotted the Vixen Porta II mount with the Vixen APP-TL130. £353 plus shipping for both on link below. Thee seem to be some positive reviews for the tripod, it's £189 on FLO so doesn't seem to be a cheap and nasty option.

https://www.astroshop.eu/alt-azimuth-without-goto/vixen-porta-ii-mount-with-app-tl130-tripod/p,49957?utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=49957&utm_campaign=1901&utm_source=froogle&gclid=Cj0KCQiAm5viBRD4ARIsADGUT24FmInQLZusHtvMsJbDmezVmTidE3Lca1xaWewLK1ukBaUPTqYlJ8MaAtPJEALw_wcB&utm_content=

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2 hours ago, Littleguy80 said:

As I enjoy torturing myself by considering too many options, I found myself looking at Altair's 80ED scope. Their shop is only about a 10 minutes drive from mine. Any opinions on this scope:

https://www.altairastro.com/Starwave-ASCENT-80ED-Refractor.html

 

I think that it's the same scope as following two (if that helps for finding reviews):

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p8637_TS-Optics-PHOTOLINE-80-mm-f-7-FPL53-Apo---2-5--Focuser.html

and this one:

https://www.stellarvue.com/stellarvue-sv80-access-ed-apo-refractor-telescope/

I'm myself considering "older brother" - 102mm F/7 version (also branded by TS, Stellarvue and AltairAstro - was looking at TS version). I think reviews on 125mm F/7.8 have been very positive (same series of scopes also branded by those three vendors).

I'm not 100% certain that scopes are indeed the same optically as TS for example advertises them as being Lanthanum + FPL53 glass, while AltairAstro does not mention lanthanum glass (they don't state glass type as far as I can tell) and Stellarvue states it's "FCD100 and Lanthanum" combination. Other than that, specs are identical and they look exactly the same except for branding (AA version might have different looking focuser casing on closer inspection, but I believe internals are the same).

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Purchases are finally complete. Here’s the thread for the new setup. Thanks to all for your advice :) 

 

 

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