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First attempts at a homemade tripod


drofos
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Hello all, this is my first post on stargazers lounge!

I recently posted a few questions about tripod construction and leg angle on cloudy nights but was also wanting to put it up here as I am still after some advice on a potential Eq mount that can be fitted to a homemade construction and thought that being from the UK, it might be more appropriate here. 

I constructed (am in the process of) my own, partly out of cheapness, but also as I have reasonably good wood working, metal fabrication skills and thought it would be a nice project. Plus, I had heard about the fantastic vibration dampening properties of wood. 

I heavily adapted the Berlebach design for my own purposes and made something that is neither lightweight, nor portable but a tripod that will live at the house and take whatever I can mount on it. 

I started with two planks of ash from the workshop and an old ikea table (glued oak strips) as well as various scraps of mild steel. 

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I wanted to be able to extend the legs to various heights for leveling and  I wanted them to be big so that I could mount a future large refractor and still have the eyepiece at a sensible height. 

In the non-extended setting, they are 120cm long and can extend another 60cm. 

In order to keep the legs sliding in line with each other, I routered channels down both the inside and outside components before attaching dowels to the inner piece. 

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All articulation points are reinforced with mild steel plates...because it is not heavy enough already. 

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The hub is almost a mercedes benz shaped 3 pointed star made from table legs and later with steel inserts. There are steel discs on the top and the bottom to increase strength (and weight). 

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I don't have any of the in between construction shots but, I made clamps out of steel angle iron welded to size and tapped to accept a bolt (I made wooden handles for aesthetics). The bolts when screwed compress the legs together and prevent the sliding mechanism. I went for two on either size for security but it turns out I could have gotten away with one.  The legs sliding is actually at present a little sticky after the varnish and wax so I propose to polish them a bit more to free things up. 

Attached to the bottom of the hub, I have a removable wooden tube that covers the changeable mount bolt (currently it has a M10 cut to size to secure the Giro Ercole alt-az mount) and secures a centre rod that will at a later date accept a sliding spreader plate...exactly how I am going to do this, I am not entirely sure but I was thinking of routing a t-slot down the back of the central leg component with a captive rotatable nut and appropriate stops. 

On the bottom of the central leg component, I have inserted and epoxied a m22 extension bolt to allow interchangeable feet. In the house for terrestrial viewing or on hard ground, I have 100mm wide non-slip plastic feet. For grass, I have a modified (sharpened) M22 threaded rod spike. 

Here are the pictures of the tripod as it currently stands, the leg clamps and central hub attachments. 

Would love any feedback or suggestions to construct the spreader. 

Also I am looking for a EQ go-to mount although cannot find one that can be purchased without the tripod legs or that is not daft money. What I would like is something like the SW EQ-6 pro without the legs but I am struggling. 

Many thanks. 

 

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Your tripod is a work of art! Mine was made out of scaffold tubing some builder left behind in a back lot years ago. It gives a new meaning to the term 'agricultural' :).  I see you are Tayside, without asking specifics, I'm up in Aberdeenshire btw but was working in St Andrews last week and spent half the summer outside Carnoustie, before that, Broughty Ferry. I've worn a path down the A90 this year!  Beautiful work on the tripod!

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I Like that.

I like that a lot.

Are you looking for a spreader to hold the legs out or to stop them spreading too far?

I ask as I think that your tripod would look very asthetically pleasing with a brass chain spreader to stop over extension- or maybe even one made from repurposed bicycle chain?

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16 hours ago, Ships and Stars said:

Your tripod is a work of art! Mine was made out of scaffold tubing some builder left behind in a back lot years ago. It gives a new meaning to the term 'agricultural' :).  I see you are Tayside, without asking specifics, I'm up in Aberdeenshire btw but was working in St Andrews last week and spent half the summer outside Carnoustie, before that, Broughty Ferry. I've worn a path down the A90 this year!  Beautiful work on the tripod!

I see nothing wrong with an agricultural looking tripod...it's probably the way I would have gone but I spent more time making it pretty looking in the hope that I would be able to keep it in the house for the odd bit of terrestrial viewing...wife says no....

 

I'm just south of Dundee so yeah, you were in my neck of the woods. Not the best for viewing of the sky given the glow from Dundee but significantly better than when I was in Glasgow!

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2 hours ago, banjaxed said:

That is a very sturdy looking tripod, should last you a lifetime.

That's the hope although in all honesty I will probably make other iterations in the hope to reduce weight a little. I am also not entirely happy with the hub so might redesign it a little first. 

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3 hours ago, malc-c said:

I can see a small side line business here....

Very professionally made - well done

Thank you. I can't see it ever becoming a financially viable business. I take too long to do anything and looking at the Berlebach tripods, without having ever seen one in the flesh to see how big the legs are for how much wood is needed, I don't know how they make them at that price!

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15 hours ago, Swoop1 said:

I Like that.

I like that a lot.

Are you looking for a spreader to hold the legs out or to stop them spreading too far?

I ask as I think that your tripod would look very asthetically pleasing with a brass chain spreader to stop over extension- or maybe even one made from repurposed bicycle chain?

I was wanting to make a spreader to push the legs apart. Hoping to have the spreader design slide down the central column so the legs will open evenly as at the moment it is very much adjusting each one to roughly the right angle then finer adjustments to level. 

The plan was for a spreader at mid leg level then a chain around the bottom of the threaded bar at foot level. One part to push the legs out and the other pulling in for a super rigid system. I like the idea and probably the look of the brass chain, I just can't figure a way to make it adjustable to tighten things down other than have a karabiner or similar to move between chain links. That would unfortunately leave a dangly bit. I thought instead of using black nylon webbing and cam buckles to be able to cinch it tight but again, there would be a dangly bit...

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17 hours ago, UKDiver said:

I like the channel/dowel slide arrangement.

Thank you- I'm not exactly sure how professionally made tripods ie Berlebach keep the legs together but I suspect it is along similar lines. 

It keeps everything in line nicely with the double tracks but is proving a little sticky. Probably could have gotten away with just one channel per leg rather than two. After clamping down, the dowels are getting a bit caught in the channels. I suspect this is due to the furniture wax and that a little polish will solve it. It's not the end of the world as they are not too bad to free up and I prefer it this way rather than being too slippy and the clamps not holding

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Lovely looking bit of kit you've put together there! I keep thinking about it but time and skill are lacking 🤣

Love the old school black and decker workmate, many a nice thing was built on my grandad's, I will have to get my hands on one eventually...

As you said mount heads only are limited, the only one I know of is https://www.firstlightoptics.com/equatorial-astronomy-mounts/sky-watcher-eq8-r-astronomy-mount.html although I'd be confident your tripod could handle it, probably better off getting a full setup and just popping the existing tripod in the attic. Or you could make your own...

 

 

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44 minutes ago, drofos said:

Thank you. I can't see it ever becoming a financially viable business. I take too long to do anything and looking at the Berlebach tripods, without having ever seen one in the flesh to see how big the legs are for how much wood is needed, I don't know how they make them at that price!

Just googling that brand and they retail between £484 and £620, and I'm guessing they are mass produced on a CNC.... If you focused on the fact yours are hand crafted and offer selected woods then I'm sure the calibre of person who is looking at spending £500 on a tripod, may well pay that little bit more for a one off hand crafted one. 

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3 minutes ago, doublevodka said:

Lovely looking bit of kit you've put together there! I keep thinking about it but time and skill are lacking 🤣

Love the old school black and decker workmate, many a nice thing was built on my grandad's, I will have to get my hands on one eventually...

As you said mount heads only are limited, the only one I know of is https://www.firstlightoptics.com/equatorial-astronomy-mounts/sky-watcher-eq8-r-astronomy-mount.html although I'd be confident your tripod could handle it, probably better off getting a full setup and just popping the existing tripod in the attic. Or you could make your own...

 

 

Thank you for the link- Yes, I have seen similar and the price is massive! What I really want is something like the EQ-6pro but without the legs. Apparently that is not a thing. I would have thought a mount only option would be offered. For those that have a tripod or pillar, and you want an EQ mount what do you do?  I suspect though if you have an observing pillar though you might be able to afford a mount such as that though. 

I think building a mount, particularly with go-to/tracking is well outwith my skill set.

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51 minutes ago, doublevodka said:

Love the old school black and decker workmate, many a nice thing was built on my grandad's, I will have to get my hands on one eventually...

 

How did you know it was a Black and Decker? You are bang on the money from seeing only the legs! Surely other companies make them? This one is approaching the end of it's working life and will be the second one that I have had...they have decreased in sturdiness over there subsequent iterations but as you say they are great little pieces of equipment!

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19 minutes ago, malc-c said:

Just googling that brand and they retail between £484 and £620, and I'm guessing they are mass produced on a CNC.... If you focused on the fact yours are hand crafted and offer selected woods then I'm sure the calibre of person who is looking at spending £500 on a tripod, may well pay that little bit more for a one off hand crafted one. 

My tripod is probably larger (certainly heavier...need to stick it on the scales!) than their top end model but I do not doubt that theirs will be far more professional, ergonomic and overall better than what I have produced. 

All in, the materials (most of what I had anyway) probably come to around £150. What is not costed though is my time and although I could probably do the subsequent ones quicker, I don't think I could compete with a professional outfit, even if people were willing to pay a premium for a more solid but ultimately probably inferior product. All my construction time is in the evening when the kids are in bed and there is only so much time you can spend in a cold/unheated workshop. 🥶

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15 minutes ago, drofos said:

All in, the materials (most of what I had anyway) probably come to around £150. What is not costed though is my time and although I could probably do the subsequent ones quicker, I don't think I could compete with a professional outfit, even if people were willing to pay a premium 

I know what you mean.  Over the past decade I developed a multi-channel thermostat controller, basically 8 thermostats and two timers in one unit.  Parts wise probably around £180, but the time spend on R&D, and then to assemble and wire everything up priced the item well above what people wanted to pay (and that's not including the £25,000 I would have had to spend on having the unit tested to be able to CE mark the unit).  The only saving grace was that there is nothing like my design on the market that is commercially available 

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