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Making photo tripod useful


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I want to have really lighweight setup - I ordered SVBony SV501P 60mm/400mm refractor as something I can put into backpack. It is on the way from Ali.

I'm absolutely aware of the fact that the tripod is horrible. However the tripod and OTA weights only 1.4kg and OTA something like 0.6kg. No more than simple camera.

I've seen a video from "Small Optics" about improving it to make it useful

  1. Adding weight below
  2. Extending it as little as possible
  3. Adding graphite to alt axis to make it smoother

Have anybody tried it and have more tips?

Another problem is that scope can't be really balanced. I have AstroMaster 102AZ and I added a simple DIY counterweight that made it from mediocre mount to excellent allowing me to track planets at x165 with ease  (see image below)

image.png.19754c5dc6eb4921a4b0615ccdd9f826.png

Now I can try to do something similar for this simple photo tripod but it adds weight and keeping it light is important for both travel and I think stability,

So I'm wondering what other alternatives you can suggest. The good thing it is connected with 1/4 inch screw that means all photo accessories can be used with it.

  1. Keep the "Astro-Bottle" counterweight solution but in small scale - weight issues?
  2. Adding rubber band or a small spring to provide balance when I point the scope to high elevation - but probably can be hard to control proper tension over various angles.
  3. Since the head is 3 way I can put it sideways and add some photo plate to put in on side lower much closer to pivot point, But I'm afraid of it moving CG aside too much and thus compromisng the balance and maybe less comfortable
    image.png.cc50c99d46aacf6cce3a9e8b55a4b733.png
  4. Adding a plate to slide it forward to keep CG over the pivot, but requires moving the scope forward/backward for different azimuth
  5. Adding gimbal head (can be ordered from Ali for like $10) - but it adds more weight.
    image.png.ffd8b28791b5a55468046e9ebbc7331e.png
  6. Using ballhead as altitude axis  (so it pivots on the side)

Any more ideas?

 

 

Edited by Artik
Added more idea (ballhead) and images
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A 60mm/400mm refractor makes a lovely low power wide field scope.  If the mount is not great then low power will give the least wobbly view.

If it were me that would be how I’d be using it. A great low power eyepiece would be a TeleVue 24mm Panoptic, it’s small and light for traveling.  It would give 17x and around 4 degrees of sky.  Add to that a UHC filter.  Without the filter you would have an excellent low power for things like sweeping along the Milky Way in the autumn.  Add the filter as appropriate, like the North America nebula near Deneb.

Do not underestimate what can be seen under a good dark sky with a 60mm.  Once I took my 70mm Pronto to a star party in the UK leaving my larger instruments at home.  The lightweight simplicity was great and I did not regret my decision.

Your suggestions may certainly help, like a water bottle counterweight, take it empty for traveling then fill it for use👍

Even at home under my light polluted sky my Pronto is great, it transforms a seemingly blank bit of sky into loads of stars just below what’s visible to the unaided eye.

Whatever….enjoy your scope and let us know you get on😊

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I've seen a ball head used in a way that makes the tripod a smooth push to like a dob. The ball head neck is dropped into the groove and the tension is such that the base gives smooth azimuth and the head in the groove smooth altitude adjustment (keeping the ball head dropped the telescope pivots to raise and lower the front). Perhaps if the balance is right it would naturally hold altitude with no tension.

Edited by happy-kat
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I use a dual pano ball head on its side as mentioned by Happy-kat and its very smooth, the addition of a long mounting plate means that you can get good balance too. It does move the CofG away from the center of the tripod and you do need a center column to avoid the scope hitting the legs but is OK for small scopes.

Alan 

Edited by Alien 13
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8 hours ago, NGC 1502 said:

A 60mm/400mm refractor makes a lovely low power wide field scope. 

I know that is why I got it. It can be both travel scope and wide FOV scope filling the gap between 7x50 bios and large 102mm scope.

 

8 hours ago, NGC 1502 said:

A great low power eyepiece would be a TeleVue 24mm Panoptic, it’s small and light for traveling.

I have SVBony Aspheric 62deg/23mm. It is very light and works fantastically with my F/6.5 scope. So I should be great with this little scope giving 3.5 deg of FOV.

The heavy part would probably be diagonal replacement - since stock 45 diagonal isn't really good.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

Does your telescope have a fixed mounting point or is it adjustable

If I'm not mistaken 2 points (I need to see when it arrives)

Anyway ballhead I ordered (costs 1/3 cost of the scope and rated for 10kg) has adjustable plate so I assume I'll have some room for balancing.

image.png.459bc7cf5ff05437c7ff818ba351a74f.png

Edited by Artik
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8 minutes ago, happy-kat said:

Have a look at the recent diagonal review shoot out there was a surprise inexpensive light diagonal by celestron

Since I already have 1.25" dielectric diagonal from SVBony that I use on my 102/660. I replaced the erecting prism diagonal I had. The previous diagonal had strong reflections issues and after doing some testing on globular clusters dielectric diagonal passed noticeably more light.

I'll use it on 60/400 as well unless there are going to be major balance issues. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The scope arrived and below 3 things I tried.

Use ballhead, old-good bottle counterweight and a small rope and rubber loops...

image.png.549a6d60a4a32fba38cc21824c20ee86.pngimage.png.b6aef673dd7c04dfbd38368aa91506c0.pngimage.png.67bcea637e0edaf13dca602bfbd1888f.png

 

  1. The ballhead didn't work - its rotating part interfered with mounting plate. And this tripod does not have replaceable mount. So till I have different tripod or make some adapter it just didn't work
  2. Counterweight did the movement actually very smooth, but it significantly increased momentum of inertia (like a mass just for rotation) and made this wobbly tripod twice as wobbly
  3. A rope with several rubber rings put on different distances. Actually worked the best. I do need to add/remove a loop when I need to change altitude significantly but I worked from 20 degrees to almost 70 and it hold well (with adjustments of number of rings you put)

    image.png.022d36558372e505de21c04e499d0a7d.png

 

Simplest solution and it works quite well. I managed to watch and find stars and Saturn with x100 quite easily.

 

 

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Would suspending a weight (from your bottle solution) from the hook at the end of the centre column not help to improve the tripod stability further.

Otherwise a great bit of experimenting there and elastic anchoring of the objective end seems to have helped a lot to achieve more usability 🙂 

Edited by DaveL59
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Posted (edited)
24 minutes ago, DaveL59 said:

Would suspending a weight (from your bottle solution) from the hook at the end of the centre column not help to improve the tripod stability further.

Actually I did this. Originally the hook was for the weight to improve stability.

With the tripod fully extended (all 3 sections of legs and central column) it is unusable - it takes about 10s for shaking to stop.

However with central column down and tight, two sections fully out and the last section out in 2/3s of its length the result is acceptable - it takes about 5s for shaking to stop after I adjust the direction or refocus (checked with x100 magnification).

Adding the weight below reduces shaking by ~0.5-1s. I noticed that most flex goes from the mount head itself and not the tripod (unless you take the central column out) I was surprised that its contribution of the weight wasn't that significant. However it is troublesome to add/remove loops to adjust tension when the weight on the hook.

But you actually gave me an idea of little bit different way to balance the tripod... I need to check.

Edited by Artik
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I wonder if you could get something like this that is sized to fit around the centre column so it can be sat onto the leg stays?

image.png.160732534d2c6b5d500202e3934dd616.png

That way the hook would be free to use. 

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2 hours ago, DaveL59 said:

I wonder if you could get something like this that is sized to fit around the centre column so it can be sat onto the leg stays?

 

I thought of it but I'm afraid that it isn't strong enough:

image.png.f83b584ad88f0d3defcd5ee88c9453b5.png image.png.ee752f6272860e92770503c9ceae3c57.png

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Third variant, it has several advantages:

  1. Advantage of the counterweight - it gives +- accurate torque in all range of motion (from 0 to almost 90 degree)
  2. It does not add moment inertial to the scope itself
  3. The rope provides natural dampening for Alt axis.
  4. Additional tension on the hook

The motion had become surprisingly smooth. Very good dampening. 

image.png.480175985c8354d3c280f1b6774a20ad.png

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For holidays, I have used the bottle weight technique. Usually to make it more difficult to kick over the tripod.
Sand being more dense than water it is easier to get a good weight. Valid only for coastal and desert holidays😄

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Posted (edited)

And now improved build - all you need is chopstick, Allen key, sticky tape, few zip-ties and a rope.

For a hook you need, hook, sticky tape and dry wall plug and of course a weight (bottle?)

And cheap shaky tripod becomes fairly usable.

 

Edited by Artik
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