nam2525 New Member
- Skill Level
- Time with Product
May 3, 2007
- User Notes:
Great Mount for true Middleweight scopes up to 20 poundsPros:
Light, compact, fluid motion, 20-lb rating, steadyCons:
Balancing can be a bit tricky, no DSCsComments:
The MacroStar is an Alt-Az mount from Universal Astronomics. It does not have slow-motion controls, but it really does not need them. I will say that slow-motion controls are a nice feature, but after having used a mount with slo-mo and now using this mount, I really do not miss the slo-mo controls too much.
The mount head weighs only 5 pounds, but is rated to carry up to 20 pounds. It costs about $350 for the mount head and $150 for the tripod. My 4 inch refractor with all the stuff loaded onto it weighs 15 pounds on a bathroom scale. I also got the "Light Surveyor" aluminum tripod (wanting to keep the weight down), and this completes my "grab-n-go" set up for high-power planetary and lunar observing, and low to no power star field exploring.
I can carry the whole set up (mount, scope, tripod, diagonal, binoviewer all put together and ready for viewing) with 1 hand while bracing it against my body!!! From the time I pick it up to go outside to the time I start observing is a matter of seconds!
Before I made my purchase, I did A LOT OF RESEARCH trying to find an Alt-Az mount that would carry this kind of load for a decent price, and would weigh as little as possible. The MacroStar was the only one I found that could handle the job AND had published weight capacities (rather than having to email or call someone to find out how much their mount can carry). The MacroStar also allows your scope to point to the zenith, which is a huge advantage!
The mount and tripod are an excellent combination. I have gotten the maginification up just over 200x and the view remained STEADY...not very steady or kind of steady....but Perfectly STEADY!! This was even in some wind. I do use a 6:1 fine focuser on my scope, which helps keep the jigglies to a minimum when trying to find focus (which is easy to do with this mount and with the fine focuser)....so it is a very stable mount. For even less jiggle while focusing, you could always add the cheap focus motor from Orion (about $50) to your scope.
Balancing the mount is important, and I do find that the Altitude axis can be a bit of a pain at first. If you change eyepieces from light ones to heavy ones, it may cause an imbalance and the scope might try to move on its own either up or down...so you have to tighten the tension knob to prevent this from happening....BUT, this stiffens the altitude axis and makes it a bit harder to tilt the scope up and down.
After some experimenting, I have finally found a good "balance" and now can move the scope up and down with a bit more effort, but I can still track an object even at over 200x magnification.
I don't believe this version can have Digital Setting Circles applied to it, so keep this in mind. I did take the tripod legs apart (kinda tricky to do) and applied grease to certain points to help make it easier to fold and unfold in order for the setup to squeeze through house doorways. (Then again, this review is about the mount, not the tripod). :) You can get an eyepiece tray and guide handle as options, but to hold my Powermates and extra eyepieces I just used something like the Orion waist case and put the strap around the mounting post. I also rigged my own guide handle, and this has worked fine.
So....to sum up: This is one of the few (perhaps only) mounts that can handle a 20-pound load, can reach the zenith, AND is lightweight and small, and has a decent price. I have been very pleased with the mount and tripod combo. Universal Astronomics and many other companies sell Alt-Az mounts that handle higher loads or smaller loads....so just check reviews and do your homework before you pick your Grab-n-Go mount.Sort by