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We took our scope on holiday with us last year and while it was fun it sure takes up a lot of room :) so I was considering getting a StarTravel 80 for grab and go and holidays and such. I was wondering what the best way to mount it might be.

On FLO it comes OTA only or with an EQ1 mount. I think an EQ mount would be overkill, it would take longer to set up and be heavier since it would have counterweights etc. Is it possible to just use a fluid head tripod like you use with camcorders etc? If so, how do you attach the dovetail plate to it? Would something cheap like this do?

Pro Heavy Duty Camera Photo Tripod 62" with case on eBay (end time 06-Feb-11 06:15:53 GMT)

I am really looking for the cheapest, lightest, quickest to set up and use tripod I can get away with without compromising the viewing too much :)

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The ST80, whilst being small and comparatively light, actually turns out to be quite a heavy lump when put on a tripod... my concern with the one you linked there is the tilting top plate to allow you to rotate the camera through 90 degrees... I had a Velbon tripod (far more expensive) and the mountings for that caused me no end of problems, to the point I gave up using it for the scope. I know it's more expensive, but the redsnapper tripods are very good value for money and very sturdy... but not that light...

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As for how to mount the dovetail... the dovetails I have are taped for 1/4" UNC bolts already, so just either attach that directly to the tripod head or to the quick release plate as appropriate. The ST80 (or my Konus clone) is a great fit in a Maplins flight case.

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I have an ST80 and am thinking of getting an AZ4 Alt/AZ mount for grab and go. You can get these with stainless steel or aluminium tripod legs, I think the aluminium legs would be plenty with a ST80 and a good few quid cheaper.

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The whole thing takes up a lot less room than an EQ and even a lot less room than our AZ4. It's also perfectly happy with the 102 version of the Startravel.

russ-albums-scopes-picture7231-st80-giro.jpg

Edited by russ
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The problem with mounting any scope for astronomy use on a photographic tripod

is that it is unbalanced for the altitude movement, as the pivot point is well below

the scope. As you raise the scope to view higher, this becomes more apparent. It

might seem ok when you try it during the day without looking through it, but becomes

frustrating try to point it at sky objects at night, even at the low/medium

powers the ST80 is very good for. You have to secure the alt. lock very tightly, then

slacken & retighten to track. Perhaps ok at the lowest mags.

The examples in the above posts avoid this problem, as the altitude pivot is along

side the scope, not below it. The pics fom Russ show this well.

A photo tripod does work, but is a frustrating exercise. I have an Orion ST90, (not in

my sig.) and tried all the options.

Best regards, Ed.

Edited by NGC 1502
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Thanks for all the advice! I think getting the AZ-4 or the Giro is pushing things a bit out of my price range! £130 is probably the limit leaving around £50 for the mount :)

If this isn't do-able I will probably just go with the EQ1. The Redsnapper tripods look promising but the comment about tripods being difficult to use is off-putting.

Which would you pick given the situation? Or are there any more suggestions...

That's a sweet setup btw, Russ, I am very envious :)

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I spent several months using an ST80 clone on a camera tripod... I bought a tracking mount when I started looking at the moon. It wasn't well balanced, but it worked ok... I use my redsnapper with the ST80 when I go away...

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A Giro mini on a (decent) photo tripod is a good compromise of size, weight and stability. (You don't need a head on the tripod, that's what the Giro replaces.)

It really is the ultimate grab'n'go holiday setup. Simply takes up no room at all. The Giro head fits in a coat pocket but it incredibly stable with a good tripod. It also fits a normal EQ5/HEQ5 tripod for extra stability at home.

There's always the AZ3 and the ST80. Not sure how the budget works out but the scope is £89 new. And £40 should be enough for a secondhand AZ3.

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TBH I don't find the ST80+EQ1 that heavy, though it's certainly no lightweight. Normally when I come in from the field I carry it on the tripod in one hand.

If you could get rid of the counterbalance weight and use something you can pick up wherever you are that might make life easier. Inflatable counterbalance, anyone?

James

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The counterbalance issue was with the EQ1 was discussed the other day on Steppenwolfs thread, and the suggestion was take an emtpy water bottle, drilled to fit on the counterweight shaft and fill it to the correct level with local balast. I like that idea..

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It is true that the camera tripod head is a pain because it pivots below the scope.

However, it might be possible to use the EQ1 in improvised alt az mode simply by setting the polar axis to horizontal, as if you were on the equator. Then it would work as an alt az. I once did this with an EQ3 when the need to shelter from the raging wind made it impossible to see Polaris. I'm not sure if the mount will work down to a horizontal polar axis position but it might. Then you might get away with no copunterweights. Without having one in front of me I am struggling to visualize this!

Olly

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