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Home > Reviews > Mounts > Alt-Azimuth > Universal Astronomics Deluxe with Wood Surveyor's Tripod

Universal Astronomics Deluxe with Wood Surveyor's Tripod
By Steven Keaton - 10/3/2004

I stumbled into Amateur Astronomy quite by accident at the end of May 2003. I was looking for a small telescope as an anniversary gift for my wife. Little did I imagine what that would lead me to.

I picked up the book NightWatch while on vacation as preparation for this future purchase. Keep in mind that our anniversary is not until the end of October. However, I wanted to be well informed before I went looking for the best scope I could find in my price range.

After a thorough reading I settled on a Meade EXT90. I kept it for a few days and went back and traded up for the EXT125. That lasted for about a week and then settled on the LX90 with UHTC. Now we were getting somewhere.

Seven months later, I purchased a Takahashi FS102 and found happiness in an Apochromat.

To offset this huge purchase, I bought a simple but sturdy 20 lb. rated Equatorial Mount and tripod. This was to be a temporary mount/tripod combination until I could save enough for one of the Takahashi Goto Mounts with Wood Tripod. However, after just a short amount of time, I realized how heavy and bulky the equatorial could be. Still, I was determined to buy one of the premium equatorial mount/tripod combinations.

Meantime, I was gathering as much information as possible as to what was available in the Equatorial line. Then one day, I turned my attention to Alt/Az mounts. I reasoned that since I am only a visual observer, and that my observing time is quite limited, I should at least give consideration to an Alt/Az mount.

Maybe, I should also insert at this moment that I have decided to move to a 5" aperture scope. Most likely the Takahashi FS128. This became a concern in deciding on the next mount, since weight on the mount would also become an issue.

At this time, three available Alt/Az came into the picture. One of these showed up quite by accident, which is the reason for this article. The Universal Astronomics Deluxe Alt/Az mount with handle, coupled with the Surveyor's Wood Tripod. What a beauty as you can see from the picture.

All my questions, fears, doubts and anxieties were answered and relieved in this setup.

In the first place, the weight issue. No problem, the mount only weighs about 7 lbs. and the tripod is a mere 15 lbs.

As far as the second concern, that being portability, which in my case means moving it from my office, through the hallway of my house, into the living room and out two doors, before exiting the patio door is always a hair raising experience. No problem, the mount/tripod is very light, and the tripod folds up easily and nicely and becomes very compact.

A third issue was, functionality and ease of use. At first, it is a bit of an adjustment moving from equatorial to Alt/Az, but now it is almost second nature. And being able to point anywhere is the sky within just a few seconds is a breeze. Just a general aiming of the scope by moving the camera handle that comes standard on the UA deluxe mount, a quick adjustment through the viewfinder and you are there.

A fourth question had to do with balance. A few adjustments the first evening before dark and balance was no longer an issue. I can go up or down in weight of eyepieces from a 1 1/2 lb. Nagler down to a 2 or 3 oz. 3-6 Nagler zoom or vice versa and maybe need to tighten the Altitude knob just a little.

Moving attention now to the tripod, it also comes with all kinds of little extras. To begin with its appearance is clean, simple, and attractive. The rubber feet inserts are overkill, (but I am not complaining). By the way they are adjustable for fine tuning the leveling of the tripod if you so desire.

Each leg extends quickly and smoothly with just the turn of a knob.

It comes with an attached shoulder strap that also wraps around the legs to keep them together during transport. And if that is not enough, UA has bored out a handle in one of the wood legs to assist in carrying the tripod.

The tripod can be fitted with other accessories that are listed and available on their website. Or if you just like the tripod, UA makes all kinds of adapter plates that can be used with almost any other mount available. This is a real plus for boosting the rigidity of many mounts now available on the market.

As far as the shakes are concerned, I found a vast improvement over my previous two inch steel legs on my old tripod. Any shaking is eliminated within a second or two.

After a somewhat windy review, I would like to conclude by offering a mountain of praise to Universal Astronomics and especially Larry for such a fine product, and for his sincere interest in my purchase.

I called Larry knowing full well that I would have to wait 6 weeks for this product, but even though he was that busy, he spent ample time with me, making absolutely sure that he knew exactly what I wanted, what my setup is and what I plan on doing with this Mount and Tripod in the future. I was in awe by his personal interest. He even called me 4 weeks later with a question, and on the day the Mount/Tripod was sent out. Now, that is service.

From an amateur with a mere 16 months of experience, I wish to give two thumbs up to marvelous little creation of Portability and a Simple Turn of the Handle.

Thanks for Reading,

Steve Keaton

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