Re: Portable Tripod for Mach2

Woody Schlom <woody@...>


I can only comment on the Berlbach Planet wooden tripod since that’s the only one of these I have.

1. Weight is relative, but at 25 lbs., I think it’s heavy.
2. I think it’s very solid. Berlbach rates its weight-carrying capacity at over 286 lbs. (130 kg.) with the double leg clamps!
3. Since this is a flat-top tripod, you might want a pier extension for long scopes.
4. I’m pretty sure A-P now only sells the double-clamp version of the Planet tripod. I highly recommend the double-clamp option (it’s optional from Berlbach, but I think A-P only sells this version now). I started out with single clamps and once had a leg slip after the tripod had been out for two very hot days (96° F during the day), and two cool and very damp nights. The wood apparently expanded and contracted with all the temperature and humidity fluctuations and then got slippery when wet and slipped. This has never happened during single-day/night sessions, and now that I know it can happen, I’m very careful about making sure all the clamps are tight – every time I pass by the tripod. The time mine slipped, I was at a large star party and a Tele Vue representative saw it happen. He came over and told me the same thing had happened to him and his wooden Tele Vue tripods. So he’s now very careful about making sure he checks each clamp multiple times during the day and night. After that experience, I contacted A-P and ordered the optional second set of clamps, which I installed myself. And I think that’s when A-P started ordering the double-clamp versions from Berlbach as standard. And I’ve never had this happen again.
5. At least when I ordered mine, it came with Berlbach’s nasty (super sharp) SS spike tripod feet. Fortunately I’d ordered the optional rubber cone-shaped feet. Those are all I’ve ever used. The stock sharp SS spikes will destroy just about anything – including you if you’re not careful. I see in the Berlbach catalog that they now have yet another style of foot pad with square flat bottoms. If you buy one of these Bareback wooden tripods, make sure you get feet that are suitable for your uses. I made ¾” thick plywood discs with an indentation in the center for mine when I use the tripod on “soft” ground (sand, loose dirt, grass).
6. I’m a wood guy (nickname “Woody” – from Sherwood my middle name), so I’m naturally biased towards beautiful wood. And to be honest, that’s why I went with the more expensive and heavier wood tripod. The other advantages (non-galling when the legs get dirty or sandy, super vibration damping, comfortable feel to the hands and fingers in extreme hot or cold, etc.) are just excuses and justifications.
7. If I was only concerned with weight and function and cost, I’d have bought one of the much lighter weight aluminum tripods – even though the lightest weight ones don’t have adjustable length legs.
8. I like my Berlbach wooden tripod so much, I’ll probably buy the smaller Uni for my little 6” SCT – even though that tripod costs as much as the scope!


From: ap-gto@... <ap-gto@...>
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2019 8:16 AM
To: ap-gto@...
Subject: Re: [ap-gto] Portable Tripod for Mach2

To continue discussion on a tripod for the Mach2. I was originally going to buy the AP Eagle but the discussion here has convinced me that I should at least look at the alternatives. I’ve narrowed my search down to the Losmandy folding HD tripod, the Planet wood tripod and the Avalon TPOD. It seems that people have used all of these tripods with Mach1’s with success. Part of the reason to look at alternatives is the cost, as the Eagle as-is, seems to need additional purchases to make it usable, or at least this is my impression. I am almost 6’ tall and I’ll use my mach2 for both AP and visual, and my impression is that the Eagle is quite short and I’ll want the $400 8” pier extension. My understanding is that the other tripods likely need extensions as well to make them usable for visual with long refractors, but in each case the tripod and extensions are about 1/2 the cost to acquire new.

A few questions for the A-P astronuts:

1) If I buy a non-AP tripod, is this going to force me to cobble together a way to attach the CP4 control box and/or hand controller? On that same vein, do the AP tripods provide this facility or do I have the same issue and have to cobble something together or buy another accessory? I’d really like a solution that just bolts together and is neat and tidy.

2) I’ve read that the Losmandy HD folding tripod has a bunch of sharp edges that will destroy the interior of my car if I have to transport it. Is this real or an exaggeration? I am really more concerned with my hands than car.. as my trunk has a liner and in Vt we have a truck. Roland seems to advocate the Losmandy which seems a good recommendation on build quality. The other downside of the Losmandy seems to be weight at 35 pounds (without extension and adapter). This is one beefy tripod!! given the head is heavier than this, it’s not going to be the limiting weight..

3) On the Planet, I’ve not really heard downsides other than weight and some irrational concerns with using wood. And weight is relative since it is lighter by 10 pounds than the Losmandy but some seem to have issues with the weight.

4) On the TPOD, at 15 pounds without all the adapters, seems to be the lightest. It seems very minimalist, but people have said it’s very stiff. Is there any downside to the TPOD that anyone has found? Has anyone built a setup with the mach1 here that includes extension and adapter, and can comment on experience?

I’m really looking for a solution I can just bolt together, have reasonable height for visual with a long refractor such as the tec140 and maybe tec160, and not have to make adapters, etc.



On Sep 12, 2019, at 7:40 PM, biker123@... <mailto:biker123@...> [ap-gto] <ap-gto@... <mailto:ap-gto@...> > wrote:

A third alternative is to get a Meade Giant Field Tripod. It uses 3" diameter legs and has a large flat round top. It is rock solid and works very well for solid vibration free mounting for larger AP mounts up to 1100. I mounted the flat surface AP adaptor that takes both my 900 and 1100 mounts. I support a 6" APO refractor w SBIG STL 6303 camera or alternating with a 11" SCT with Hyperstar. I needed a tripod that would put the mount high enough so I don't have to kneel in the weeds to get to the eyepiece of the 6" reftractor. I usually set it up so the height of the top of the tripod is around 44" for the refractor. If you aren't using a long refractor you could set the tripod up lower. It will require a bit of basic metal work such as drill and taping to take the mount.

Meade uses that tripod with a lot of their heavier scopes and I suspect a lot of people bought it with their scope/mount and later upgraded to piers so you can often find these for sale on line. Note that some of the models came with extra long legs that were designed to work with their largest refractors. Make sure that you verify how long the legs are on any specific one you are buying.

Besides mine, two of my friends have both cases I modified them to take their AP mount and in one case shortened the legs a bit as it was from one of the big Meade refractor versions and was too long even at the lowest height with a big SCT.

There is one safety tip I recommend though.....the spreaders are connected with steel drift pins into aluminum. They are notorious for backing out after extended opening and closing and could fall out causing the tripod to collapse. I pushed the drift pins out and replaced with stainless steel screws and lock nuts.

They work great with one caveat....since it is a true tripod (legs to all the way to the top) if you use it with a big refractor you MAY run into cases where the telescope and camera setup may get close to one leg when tracking close to zenith. You just need to watch for that in use. SCTS and shorter refractors will have no problems.

I have used mine for 17 years and no issues.

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