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Skywatchwer Avant Mount (as bought with 114p)

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There is very little mention of this mount on the forum probably because its not available as a seperate item (yet?) but I thought I'd pass on my view on it and I hope its of interest. I bought the 114p reflector on the Avant mount a  while back when I was hunting around for a lightweight grab 'n' go  to take to a caravan. If i'm honest I've not got on well with fast reflectors in the past (and this one is f4.3) but I thought the mount looked interesting and it was going at a cut price so on impulse I hit the button. The 114p (as sold with the Avant) is one of the new generation  of reflector OTAs with a non-collimatable primary but the secondary can be adjusted. The focuser is the cheap plastic/metal type usually found on these types of scope but without being anything special it does work OK. To my relief the collimation was spot on (to my eye through a collimation cap) and have to say the views are not at all bad. Since buying it I have partially flocked the ota which involved removing the spider/secondary and I have also tweaked the focuser a little. All put back together with collimation checked and adjusted just a wee tad and its a serviceable little scope. That said the Avant mount is mostly used with either my Opticstar 90/500 or the Se4 Mak - see photos.  The Avant mount itself is both equatorial and Altazimuth and is to all purposes an AZ Pronto mated to the equatorial mount part of the Star Adventure Pro. It seems to be be engineered well enough (for the price that is) and is nicely finished. The EQ is adjusted by the usual screw arrangement and locked by the central large lever/screw.  Set at 90 degrees it functions as an Altaz mount. The Altaz consists of two teflon (I assume) bearings adjusted for tension using the large  knobs on each axis. Note that the scope is not held in place by a dovetail clamp but via the 1/4"  bolt which tightens the dovetail directly onto the round rubberised flat surface of the mount. I was suspicious of this arrangement at first thinking it would slip, but it has not proved to be the case so far. I have however, as you will see in the photos, fitted a clamp, which makes mounting scopes a more convenient process. The mount has slow motion controls on both axes, in the form of small rubber gripped knobs. The knobs are held in place by two small allen headed grub screws and as the slowmo shafts run all, the way through the mount, the knobs  can be fitted on either side for convenience. For that matter the knobs can be replaced with flexi controls if so desired. All well and good - well no not quite. To begin with the movements of the mount were on the stiff side, something I think I've seen in a comment about the Pronto and thinking this would ease with time I did nothing. It did not ease with time so I inevitably did a partial dismantle down to the flat bearings where there are small screws which, as far as I could tell, adjusted the bearing tension. These were tight and so adjusting the tension,with a little bit of trial and error, the mount now moves nice and smooth in both axes. The slowmo movement had a little bit of backlash but this can be also be adjusted.  The mount weight capacity is given as 3Kg with the supplied tripod. I had my doubts about the sturdiness of the tripod, the same item as supplied with the AZ5, but had intended from the beginning to use the mount with my heavy duty photo tripod which I had deemed to be better. In  practice it didn't make that much difference in terms of stability, in fact I have tried various combinations of using the mount with and without its pillar extension, tripod legs in shorter or longer positions and the mount behaves pretty much the same. With the scope loaded on the mount it settles after movement in about a counted second.  Compared to my old 130EQ that is quite good (in fact its very good) but depending on personal tolerances of such that may not be so good, however I can live with it. I have tried the Avant on an old Aluminium legged EQ5 tripod and it is better but there is still obviously some flex in the mount. Perhaps I'm being too critical or asking too much after all it is a lightweight mount, however I would not want to put anything longer heavier than the scopes I am using with it - like the 130PS which is one of the scopes its sold with.  Coming back to the original tripod/pillar - it looks a bit spindly but it is probably better than I first thought and in reality is fairly well matched to the mount. As mentioned I tend to use my Opticstar 90/500 and Celestron Se4 mak (as an alternative to the GOTO) on it and it works pretty well, I can move scope and mount around as one with no problems. Interestingly although I bought the Avant  to have the equatorial and Altaz  options. I've rarely used it in equatorial mode, so maybe I should have gone for the Pronto!  Would I buy it again? Mmmm  - things have moved on a little since I bought it so probably not, but on the other hand I'm in no rush to sell it - or the 114p for that matter so it must be doing something right.

Avant Mount a.jpg

Opticstar on Avant 2a.jpg

SE4 on Avant 2a.jpg

Edited by Alfian
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Nice, and seems to suit that rather nice Opticstar frac

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9 minutes ago, nightfisher said:

Nice, and seems to suit that rather nice Opticstar frac

Its a very nice Opticstar frac that I'm very pleased with - thankyou.

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