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Scopetech Zero Mount


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FLO have been kind enough to ship me one of these to try out, so I’ll post up my findings in this thread.

It arrived this morning, nicely packaged so first off here are some unpacking shots. First impressions are very good. I like the way it packs into a compact configuration for travel, and is very easy to re-assemble for use.

The quality of the castings seems high, and plenty of effort has gone into keeping weight down with that cutout lattice structure in the arms meaning they should be strong but light.

The clutch knobs are nice and large, and look like they should be easy to set just the right tension. Having two pins on each worm gear is handy in terms of being able to position the slo mo controls where you find them most comfortable. It looks like you can assemble the mount in whichever way suits you, with adjustable rake on the upright arm giving the ability to reach the zenith by the looks of it (depending on length of scope and whether it hits the tripod)

Will pop it on my Gitzo tripod later. Given this is a lightweight travel mount, it makes sense to try it on the type of tripod I would normally use. In the past I’ve found even my Gitzo-WR to be rock solid with a reasonably heavy scope when placed on an EQ6 tripod for example.

The comparison between these two (Zero and Giro WR) will be interesting. The Giro is very compact and solid, but is likely more prone to imbalance and lacks slo mo controls. The Zero May have a little more flex due to the design but looks like it should handle imbalance a little better, time will tell.spacer.pngspacer.png

More to follow.

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FLO have been kind enough to ship me one of these to try out, so I’ll post up my findings in this thread. It arrived this morning, nicely packaged so first off here are some unpacking shots. Firs

@Stu Please stop hitting your scopes or I will report you to the RSPCT 😂

I can comment on both, having had both in a direct comparison. Firstly, I completely agree with the review @Stuhas just posted, concurs with my findings too. The AZ5 is a fine mount, easy to

Posted Images

Scopetech STL-80a Maxi f15 refractor meet Scopetech Zero Mount

Just popped the mount on the Gitzo and the scope on the mount. Looks very fine, very lightweight and easy to pickup and move around.

I need to have a proper play around with it obviously, but initial impressions are good. The Az slo motion control is quite stiff, so I need to see if there is some adjustment in that. Alt is very good.

With a shorter scope I’m sure the control rods would be fine, but they are perhaps a little short with the f15 on it; no surprise really. The way I have it setup, the Az control points out to the left of the scope and stays well clear of it which seems best. The Az one remains well positioned near the scope which is good.

For what it’s worth, I’ve attached a video of the damping time when tapping the scope (hope it plays). Settles down quite quickly although perhaps we need an industry standard tap! Sure we all vary 🤣

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

The Az slo motion control is quite stiff, so I need to see if there is some adjustment in that. Alt is very good.

For what it’s worth, I’ve attached a video of the damping time when tapping the scope (hope it plays). Settles down quite quickly although perhaps we need an industry standard tap! Sure we all vary 🤣

With mine I found the azimuth as smooth as the altitude initially, but I’m sure scope size/weight will affect it.

I think your tap seems about the same as mine 🤣

Really good to see another review, my replacement mount arrives tomorrow 🤞

Edited by HollyHound
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Just to clarify, I’m not sure the slow motion control rods are supplied as standard with the mount. I didn’t get any with mine, but will check the replacement unit tomorrow.

This was a review copy I presume, so perhaps supplied for that ?

Edit:

From FLO website:

  • Flexible slow-motion control cables available separately - uses the popular 6mm diameter
Edited by HollyHound
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51 minutes ago, HollyHound said:

Just to clarify, I’m not sure the slow motion control rods are supplied as standard with the mount. I didn’t get any with mine, but will check the replacement unit tomorrow.

This was a review copy I presume, so perhaps supplied for that ?

Edit:

From FLO website:

  • Flexible slow-motion control cables available separately - uses the popular 6mm diameter

Yes I think that’s correct, they are a separate purchase but were supplied to my so I could test the mount out fully.

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Without going completely off topic... you mentioned comparing it against the Giro WR in the first post... Is that similar to the Berlebach Castor, as it does look pretty similar ? I have the Castor, and have been using it to hold binoculars (with an L bracket), but never thought to try the StellaMira on it, as I wasn't sure of it's load capacity... but it's apparently 8kg, so may give it a go sometime.

I also didn't realise how light that ScopeTech refractor is... the OTA is only just over 2kg 😮

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Here it is with the Vixen FL102S fitted. It’s a significantly heavier and bulkier scope , although shorter of course.

Still seems fine, my industry standard tap test settles down quickly. There is movement when focusing of course, but it damps well. Need to try it at night of course to see how it really performs and at higher power. I will try it next to the Giro-WR when I have some time to see how the damping time compares.

Reaching the zenith seems possible although obviously the scope will hit the tripod legs if not positioned correctly. I’ll try it with the AZGTi pillar I have to see how that works. 

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1 minute ago, HollyHound said:

Without going completely off topic... you mentioned comparing it against the Giro WR in the first post... Is that similar to the Berlebach Castor, as it does look pretty similar ? I have the Castor, and have been using it to hold binoculars (with an L bracket), but never thought to try the StellaMira on it, as I wasn't sure of it's load capacity... but it's apparently 8kg, so may give it a go sometime.

I also didn't realise how light that ScopeTech refractor is... the OTA is only just over 2kg 😮

Yes, very similar to the Castor. Give it a go, they are very capable mounts. I’ve had a 106mm triplet apo on my Giro-WR With no problem. A lot of the stability comes from the tripod as we’ve discussed.

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If it looks even vaguely clear tomorrow morning I shall head up to the local heath which has a good horizon to try to see the comet. I’ve put my 72mm on the Zero Mount which handles it with ease. The scope is surprisingly heavy for such a toddler, mind you the ADM dovetail adds quite a bit to it, must get a lighter weight one.

One thing to note, I wasn’t happy with the stiffness of the Az control so I slightly backed off the locking nuts on one end of the worm gear, then locked them back together again. This has eased it nicely without creating any excessive backlash so was well worth doing. Highlighted in the last image.

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9 hours ago, Stu said:

One thing to note, I wasn’t happy with the stiffness of the Az control so I slightly backed off the locking nuts on one end of the worm gear, then locked them back together again. This has eased it nicely without creating any excessive backlash so was well worth doing. Highlighted in the last image.

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Thank you for this useful bit of information. I had mine out briefly last night, and it behaved really smoothly, but noted that the azimuth feels a little stiffer than altitude. 

I will give this is a go, and then it will make the mount pretty much perfect for my grab and go requirement 😃

Edited by HollyHound
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  • 2 weeks later...

I’ve had a few more opportunities to use this Mount now, and can say I do like it. Setup on the Gitzo it is very lightweight and easy to carry around, in fact I have taken it on a half mile walk up onto the Heath to view the comet carrying my Genesis in a case and the tripod/mount on top and it is still easy to carry one handed. The Gen isn’t particularly lightweight either.

For low and medium power use with the Genesis it was excellent. You can either pan manually or use the slo mo controls which work well provided the scope is balanced. There is a little backlash which gets taken up when you reverse direction but that should be adjustable. Most of my scopes are setup so they mount with the dovetail on the right (from the eyepiece end) and in that configuration the Az slow motion control rod points away from the scope out to the left which works well. If you have the mount setup the other way ie dovetail on the left, then the slo mo points under the scope and is a little more difficult to use and could potentially clash with the scope at high pointing angles. It works both ways but the first is better I think. The second picture shows the setup which works best and you can see the rod pointing out to the left, clear of the scope.

The mount handles any of my 4” fracs quite easily. The Genesis is probably heaviest, the Vixen is longest and the Tak is lighter and shorter than both, but even loaded up with Binoviewers and a 9x50 finder it is fine.

Last night I used the Scopetech 80mm f15 on it at x200 on Jupiter. The actual view at that power was not very good due to poor seeing and floater visibility at a 0.4mm exit pupil, but vibrations damped down very quickly after focusing and it was very stable despite the length of the scope. Despite the poor view, I spotted a shadow transit in progress, the first I’ve seen for a long time. The biggest problem was that the slow motions are a bit of a stretch from that far back, not the mount’s problem, just the nature of an f15 scope I guess.

Dropping down to lower power was better from an image perspective and the shadow became clearer although my floaters were quite intrusive even at lower power.

Wanting a better view, I switched to the Tak with binoviewers and could see the benefit of the additional resolution and exit pupil due to the increased aperture contributing towards reduced floaters, helped by the binoviewers. I did also try a nag zoom at about x150 and actually think the detail was a little better. I’ve generally found that binoviewing works for me for solar and lunar observing, and whilst it improves floaters on planets there is still an additional sharpness which I get from cyclops views. The shadow transit was clearer, as were a couple of festoons and some good belt detail beyond just the two equatorial belts.

This is supposed to be about the mount though, and what the above tells me is that the mount was quite capable of carrying a 4” scope with binoviewers steadily enough to enjoy high power views with slo motion control. The Gitzo clearly contributes so don’t underestimate the importance of the tripod in the equation.

Pros

Lightweight

Easy to pack into travel configuration

Easy to adjust the angle of the mount arm and to reverse the setup if needed

Well placed and effective slo motion controls

Good clutch control of the tension

Ability to pan manually or using slo mos
 

Cons

Only a single scope mount (vs Giro mini or WR)

Some backlash in the slo mo controls and they can be stiff, although this can be adjusted.

When assembled with dovetail to the left of the scope from behind, the slo mo control passes under the scope and can be less convenient. Not a big deal but worth noting.

Hope that is of some interest.

Stu 

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Those thoughts on the mount are very useful Stu. Thanks very much :smiley:

Jeremy's point is a good one in that it raises the issue of other options and, dare I mention it, value for money.

The Scopetech Zero is quite an expensive item at £379 for the mount head. Are there lower cost options such as the AZ-5 and maybe others that folks should consider as well ?

 

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I did a comparison betwen an AZ5 and my Manfrotto 405 gearded head (modded) and while the AZ5 worked it did have that cheap budget feel about it Best descibed as fiunctional I think. The Manfrotto head felt like a precision piece of equipment whereas the AZ5 felt a bit sloppy and imprecise in comparison.

Think the AZ5 is value for money though and so long as you accept that it is a budget bit of kit it will do the job quite well. 

 

Edited by johninderby
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Vixen Porta II ? - how does that fare ?

I'm thinking of lighweight alt-az mounts with slow motion controls which is the niche that the Scopetech Zero sits within.

 

 

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I have an AZ5 atm and it's pretty good with the Tak FC 76 DCU, when mounted on the Berlebach Report. Definitely better than the Vixen Porta I on it's stock tripod (I don't have a Porta II).

So I agree that the AZ5 is actually very good value for money.  

My dilemma is whether to switch to the Zero. Obviously the Zero is better for travelling, but in terms of performance in the filed, would be keen to know....

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I can comment on both, having had both in a direct comparison.

Firstly, I completely agree with the review @Stuhas just posted, concurs with my findings too.

The AZ5 is a fine mount, easy to use, more than capable. However, it is heavier and larger. The free movement, whilst reasonably smooth, did seem to have certain points where it had some “stiction” in both Alt and Az. Slow motion was ok, quite smooth, but of course the clutches have to be locked/unlocked in order to switch between them, and they are quite small and a bit fiddly.

In testing, I did find the AZ5 to take slightly more time to settle after moving/focussing, not terrible, just slightly longer. The head can be adjusted to one of two positions only (angled back and almost vertical) and this requires removing two bolts with an Allen key.

The ScopeTech is of course lighter and can pack into a much smaller space if required. The head angle can be adjusted easily by turning the locking knob and moving the arm, I have even managed to do this with a lightweight scope (C5) onboard. It is also possible to switch from left to right orientation whilst switching scopes if needed. The AZ5 can only operate in one orientation.

Free movement is super smooth and the clutches can be adjusted very easily and are a nice size to grip in the hand. Slow motion is also very smooth (having made minor adjustment to Az as suggested by @Stuand with scope balanced). Importantly (for me) there is no need to lock/unlock the clutches, in fact I now leave them set to moderately tight (don’t overtighten) and I can switch from free movement to slow motion without touching them, even switching scopes.

The saddle can be changed if required, I’ve swapped mine for an ADM (from my third SkyTee saddle). This is of course optional, as the existing saddle is very good, but having a screw bolt, it does mar dovetails. The AZ5 saddle can’t (I think) be changed and also has a screw bolt.

I’ve now mounted my ScopeTech on a recently bought Berlebach Report 372 Astro Tripod, which (at 4 kg), is significantly lighter than the Uni 28 I had it on previously.

This allowed me to carry the mount, tripod and ST80 one handed out to to a spot 100 yards from our house the other night, to get a good view of Comet NeoWise, so it’s very portable.

For reference, I have also used the StellaMira in this setup and the “tap test” now settles in just under 2 seconds, so almost twice the settle time compared to the Uni 28, but still fine. This is a long and quite heavy refractor (6kg).

The one issue the ScopeTech has is simple... price!! This is not cheap, but then arguably quite a lot of astronomy stuff isn’t either 🤣 It also doesn’t come with any slow motion cables either, whereas the AZ5 does. 

However, if you don’t need the excellent portability, are happy to lock/unlock clutches as required, then the AZ5 is very good indeed and excellent value for money.

For me, I have sold my AZ5 to a nice gentlemen on here, and as I understand it, it’s performing very nicely 👍

As a developer of mobile applications, I think of the ScopeTech and AZ5 as similar to comparing Apple to Android... both get the job done very well, but the ScopeTech has a touch more finesse (to me)... and as can be seen in the photo, the whole combo does look damn fine too as a setup 😃

Cheers

Gary

Edit: Added a reference shot of the AZ5 too, on the Uni 28 (overkill) with my C5.

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Edited by HollyHound
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1 hour ago, John said:

Are there lower cost options such as the AZ-5 and maybe others that folks should consider as well ?

You know well there are options out there John. I think the main benefit of the Zero is its portability because it can pack down into a more compact configuration than an AZ5, and also that it can be reconfigured very easily to suit different scopes or situations.

I get that it’s expensive, and I’m not trying to push it on anyone, just describe how I found it so people can decide if it suits their needs.

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5 hours ago, Stu said:

The Gitzo clearly contributes so don’t underestimate the importance of the tripod in the equation.

I would certainly agree with this (and it has also been pointed out by @John), that the tripod is a big part of any stability/rigidity in any setup. There is certainly a difference between the ScopeTech on the Uni 28 and when on the Report 372 when using the heavy/long StellaMira refractor, but it settles fast enough for my use and the massive difference in tripod weight/portability makes it much more portable. Using the C5, there is virtually no difference between the two tripods, I guess due to it being much lighter and a short tube design.

2 hours ago, Stu said:

I get that it’s expensive, and I’m not trying to push it on anyone, just describe how I found it so people can decide if it suits their needs.

Likewise... I would wholeheartedly say that the AZ5 is a great, versatile mount and very good value for money. For me though, the ScopeTech is just that bit better, whilst being a lot more expensive. I guess it's a similar comparison between the SkyTee II and the Rowan AZ100, although I haven't compared these two myself... yet.

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3 hours ago, Stu said:

..... I’m not trying to push it on anyone, just describe how I found it so people can decide if it suits their needs.

I'm very glad that you do this Stu. Thank you :icon_salut:

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