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Astronomy by Michelle

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Great Polaris Tripod Replacement

I've used the GP mount and tripod for years now.? My original, which came with a Vixen Flourite refractor had aluminum legs.? I quickly swapped those for wooden legs from an old Vixen Alt AZ mount.? With the Vixen 4" scope, it seemed to handle okay.? Jitters would dampen out quickly.
After using much heftier mounts with my equipment, I yearned for still better stability.? And after putting on a Televue Binoviewer, there was no doubt about it. The ole GP mount just couldn't compare to my Losmandy G11. But there are times when it's still pretty handy to have a more portable mount.??
I like the GP mount.? It works well.? I knew that the head could carry the weight and that it was the tripod that was my weakest member in the setup.? I toyed with several ideas for how I would construct a new tripod.? I thought of laminating strips of hardwood.? Paul has some steel unistrut which would be the bomb for stability.? All of these require some work ... and time to build. Time I did not have.

I finally decided that I had better get going on a replacement.? I had an observing run over the Christmas holiday planned and 4 days to go.? I decided to go the cheap easy route. If the new tripod would be made of hardwoods, it was probably a really good idea to see if I would be satisfied with a set of cheap wooden legs before investing in some nice hard rock maple.

Televue SDF with Binoviewer on the new pine tripod

I picked up a couple of kiln dried 2x4's at the local Home Depot, took them home, hacked at them for a half an hour or so and wallah! New tripod legs.

I cut the timber in half, giving me legs that would be 48" long.? I typically use the tripod legs extended to this length while observering and it was just darned handy to be able to use the purchased wood wisely.? The legs were trimmed to 3" wide. I angled the feet "Takahashi" style so that they would be less likely to move around.? The outer, left, and right edges are mitered at 45 degrees to make a point at the bottom. I cut 1.25" notches for the head assembly and ran a blade width cut down the middle of the legs from the notches for about 8 inches or so.? This allows flexibility in the wood when you tighten the legs to the head.

I planed the sharp edges with a hand plane and did some light sanding.? I attached the Vixen hardware tray assembly in about the same spot as the old tripod.??

The new tripod went from garage directly to my spot out front under the street lamp. It's pretty crappy conditions for all but the brightest night objects.? Jupiter was up and a transit of the great red spot was just starting.? The difference in stability was absolutely amazing.? The setup for the evening was a Televue SDF with the Televue Binoviewer. This was a heavy load for the original equipment and a brush with the eyepiece was enough to send the view into spasms for several seconds. Now the jitters dampen out in a second or so. The viewing was quite pleasant. Telescope shakes are really quite distracting for me. The problem was solved.

I like the change very much.? I might go ahead with the maple but you know what?? These cheapy pine legs might just get me through the next season!