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Old 28-01-2014, 03:12 PM
julianh72 (Julian)
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julianh72 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Kelvin Grove
Posts: 1,264
Well, for the benefit of anyone else who might be interested:

I bought a generic WT600 tripod dolly on eBay (there are dozens of them listed), as an experiment for my father’s Meade 8” LX90 ACF. I would rate it as a “partial success”.

The only real problem is that the radial arms are slightly too short to take the standard Meade Field Tripod in even its lowest height / smallest footprint. The three arms are each 450 mm radius, but it turns out that they need to be at least 500 mm long to take the Meade tripod properly.

I’ve manage to rig it up, and it certainly makes the telescope a LOT easier for my father to manoeuvre. (And yes, it does wheel easily through a standard doorway, by “dancing” it one leg at a time around the door frames as you go.)

To install it on the dolly, the tripod is not quite fully spread, because the dolly arms are slightly too short for the fully spread tripod, but it effectively uses the tripod dolly to act as the bottom spreader, and it’s surprisingly robust. I’ve lashed the Meade Tripod onto the Dolly using cable ties, to make sure it doesn’t dislodge. The other consequence of “jacking up” the tripod slightly is that the supplied top spreader / eyepiece tray doesn't quite fit. (The tripod has a slightly narrower base, so the spreader needs to be slightly lower to fit between the tripod legs, and I can’t quite lower it enough using the supplied threaded bar, but I think I’ll be able to fix that by slacking off the bottom nut a bit - something to try next time I visit my father.)

The main thing to note is the the whole scope is a little bit higher - partly because the height of the dolly itself raises the tripod feet by about 100 mm above ground level, and partly because the tripod is not quite at its lowest height. However, the eyepiece is still well and truly accessible over a full range of inclinations, so it’s not really a problem.

The good news is that it is remarkably stable - better than I had expected. The castor locks fix both the wheel turn and the castor swing, so if you lock the three castors so that they are all pointed radially outwards, they lock the whole assembly very rigid, and the rubber tyres do a nice job of damping out any vibrations. The 3” castors are good at getting over small obstructions like paving joints, gaps in patio deck floorboards, etc, but are still prone to getting stuck in deeper obstructions or soft ground, which could easily topple the tripod if you weren’t being careful. It’s really only suitable for moving around on solid surfaces like timber, concrete, paving, etc - this is NOT an “all terrain” buggy!

I am sure the arrangement wouldn't satisfy an experienced purist or a serious astrophotographer, but they do say that the best telescope is the one that you can use, and fitting wheels has made the scope a lot more accessible for my elderly father. I think if I can fix the top spreader issues, and come up with a more permanent lashing arrangement, we’ll both be pretty happy.

If anyone is contemplating something similar, I think the slightly larger FT-9911 Extra Heavy Duty Tripod Dolly (search for it on eBay) would actually do the job perfectly. The arm diameter is 1050 mm, which should be big enough to take the Meade Field Tripod (but don’t quote me on that - make your own measurements, and check with the supplier first!), and it has a heavier load rating too.
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