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Telescope Stability Systems

I’ve got a nice Takahashi EM-10 mount. While its GOTO system is a bit quirky (an understatement), it sure is a nice and smooth mount. Its polar scope is also a real joy as in about 5 minutes I’m aligned well enough to image all night long. In fact, here’s a shot I took without any alignment over 100 minutes of exposure using PHD and a QSI 540wsg (integrated off-axis guider) following under 5 minutes of polar alignment. Overall, a very fine mount.

Its tripod is really designed to be nicely portable and while sturdy, still isn’t a rock. Tak intends the mount for lighter payloads than I often put on there, which does make the tripod start to show signs of weakness. Recently, I reviewed a Telescope Stability Systems tripod, the “Stable Max” for Astrophoto Insight magazine. The tripod is such a wonderful addition to my aresenal, I bought it. From the beefy legs and center column to the precision machined bushings everywhere to the nicely modular approach that lets you use the tripod with any mount (by means of an adapter plate), this thing is a real joy.

One thing I can’t really convey in the format of the review is just how this stacked up to the stock tripod in real use. When out testing it, I prepared a series of videos doing things like tapping on the OTA and dropping (padded) objects onto the mount while recording the resulting bounces with a camera. PDF just doesn’t capture video all that well. So, you get ot see them here. This is me tapping the OTA with the rig on the TSS tripod and the stock Tak tripod.

Here I am dropping a heavy weight onto the tripod’s countershaft (rope attached to scope and to padded weight, dropped from the same position each time) with both setups:

If a picture is worth 1,000 words this video was worth buying the tripod. I don’t fear the wind nearly so much as I used to. Sure, you hit the countershaft with a weight and the image moves. But it settles down very quickly getting you right back on track and helps show just how solid the setup is overall (a quick blip in a 5 minute image isn’t nearly so damaging to your image as a long time bouncing.)