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I am the owner of a small 4", f/6.3 tabletop Dobsonian telescope with a 102mm aperture and 640mm focal length.

It is based on a Dobsonian mount but I would like to use a tripod instead because of the complications of having to cary a table with me everywhere I would like to use the telescope. The alternative is to but the telescope on the ground which makes viewing uncomfortable and is not very stable.

A good tripod could be foldable or collapsible and make my rig much more portable and bring the eyepiece up to a more convenient viewing height, without having to bring along a "telescope table".

Is this possible? If so, are there any specific tripods I should use or other pointers on how best to proceed?


This is not me or my telescope or mount, but it gives an idea of viewing with a similarly-sized tabletop telescope. I'd like to mount the telescope on a tripod instead.

enter image description here Source

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    $\begingroup$ Of course you can, but should you? Why do you want to do this? How are you planning to stabilize, and to track? $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 20 '18 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ Using a tripod, it'll make it easier for me to position my telescope towards specific degrees and radians which will in turn help on locating deep-sky bodies. Can you advise me on which tripod would be the most suitable for my telescope ? $\endgroup$ – Marc Nov 21 '18 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ Surveyor's stores carry good tripods. Camera tripods are usually too flimsy. $\endgroup$ – Wayfaring Stranger Nov 21 '18 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ +1 This is a perfectly reasonable question and should not be closed. I've made an edit to point out what should have already been obvious. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 25 '18 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ man the light pollution must be BAD in that photo! $\endgroup$ – Fattie Nov 25 '18 at 14:59
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First, a tripod won't help you point to a particular location in the sky. For that you would need a correctly-aligned equatorial mount with setting circles, or a mount with digital encoders (you can get these for dobsonians) that when correctly configured can convert the telescopes position to a position on the celestial sphere.

It is possible to convert a dobsonian to a different kind of mounting. If your telescope doesn't already have a tripod bracket, you would probably need to buy tube rings such as these, and put one on either side of the circles on the sides of the tube that sit in the rocker box, so that the center of gravity of the scope was between the rings. Then you'd probably need a plate connecting the rings and providing a mount point between them that you could attach to a tripod or a more complex mount (like an equatorial).

My suspicion is that rather than trying to adapt the dobsonian to a different mount, you'd be better served either by buying after-market digital encoders for your dobsonian, or just getting a whole new telescope with the kind of mounting you want.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've added a bit more explanation to the question, but I think your answer still covers it nicely. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 25 '18 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ I liked your answer here and up voted. I like many of your answers; they add a lot of knowledge to the site. I think it's worth keeping; I've deleted the comment in case it appeared discouraging. (I added the identical comment here , Carl doesn't seem to be discouraged by anything ;-] ) Please feel free to un-delete and if you find anything else relevant in the future, to add it as well. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 26 '19 at 0:08
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There are a couple of simple approaches that would work.

If you have a system tripod that lets you swap the tripod head, Manfrotto do a 183 aluminium projector table attachment (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Manfrotto-183-Aluminium-Attachment-Projectors/dp/B001HS697C) that attaches to the 3/8" thread usually used for the tripod head.

Or, if you have access to the appropriate tools, you can tap a 3/8" or 3/4" threaded hole into a metal block, and screw that to the bottom of a piece of wood for a DIY equivalent - that's what an uncle of mine did years ago when I was a youngster :).

Depending on the design of your mini dob, you might be able to attach a similar block to the bottom of your baseplate. (As a side note, I think there are a few mini reflector scopes around that already have a tripod socket in the base - Though tripod sockets are a lot more common with small refractors, maks, and spotting scopes, since they're usually designed for use with a tripod in the first place)

If you want to go the photo tripod plus platform route, and you want to keep the weight down, then if your budget is big enough, it may be worth looking at one of the carbon fibre tripods. They're more expensive, but noticeably lighter - which can feel like a bargain if you're lugging one around all day... They also have the advantage of not freezing your fingers off after a session outdoors in cold weather.

if you're looking for a more compact tripod, it's fairly common to find similar models with different numbers of leg sections - for example, 3 or 4 section legs. The 3 section ones are longer, compared to the 4 section versions, so they're bulkier when closed - but tend to be a bit more stable than the 4 section ones since they have a thinner fourth section (to fit inside the other three).

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