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"a mount is only as good as what it rests upon..."


Right: Vixen 102 ED "SS" 4 inch Apo with SPHINX SXW German equatorial mount which includes STAR BOOK,
SX-HAL110 aluminum Field Tripod, and SX Half Pier (30,171 bytes)
Click on the image to see enlarged view (51,922 bytes).
Selecting A Stand

By the 21st century we have come some distance improving equatorial heads and their platforms, this is in part due to better materials and alloys but also to computer aided design which can ameliorate resonance's, and other undesirable characteristics. These improvements in design are in part what make the Vixen series of German equatorial mounts so lightweight and competitive.

The equatorial mount head determines much about how the telescope or other attached payload may be used, but the design and materials used in the tripod or pier will in good measure determine:

    1. how long and heavy the payload can be on the Mount Head
    2. how quickly all will dampen if disturbed (by touching the telescope, by wind gusts, etc.)
    3. the orientation and overall comfort of the observer
    4. ease of how the stand will be set up
    5. how easy it will be to pack and transport the stand

The choices of stands offered by Vixen are:

  • Aluminum Tripod: adjustable height and models of varying rigidity and cost
  • Wood Tripod: adjustable height with good rigidity and a fair cost
  • Tabletop Tripod: fixed height with good rigidity and excellent portability
  • Portable Pier: fixed height with good rigidity and somewhat higher cost

Raw Materials and Arrangement: Vixen tripods are the best in their class (kg per kg) in terms of rigidity, resistance to lateral flexure, and dampening. Tripod hinges and clamps, and the platform upon which a mount head will rest are generally made of cast metal alloys ground to precise tolerances processed through numerous quality control steps. The pins, hinges and clamps provided by Vixen are among the more precise that can be found in tripods of this price. The Vixen tripods legs are extending designs made of aluminum or wood. There are ultra lightweight Carbon Fiber tripods on the horizon, but presently these are very costly when scaled to manage the requirements of a telescope system.

The Vixen tripod are two section extension designs, these are too long to carry onto an airliner for example, but are quite easily managed by most people. The advantages of an extending tripod are: 1. the height can be adjusted to suit the operators preference, 2. retracting the legs facilitates transport, and 3. being able to adjust the height means one can very nearly level a German mount head during set up and thereby minimize the need to make changes of elevation to the head to attain Pole Alignment.

Generally speaking hard wood tripods tend to do a better job than aluminum at dealing with vibrations and resonance's. The wood will absorb much of these while an aluminum tripod may resonate, transmitting these back and forth for notably longer times than the wood alternative. There is also the aesthetic appeal of fine wood work, this is not to be underestimate when one needs approval from a spouse to bring a new telescope home. Appearance is a matter of taste, but few people who compare the look of a good wood tripod to a metal one will if given a choice choose the metal tripod. So why do we not make all tripod of wood? Well first of all a wood tripod may weigh three or more times more than a similarly rigid tripod made of alloys. Wood is more likely to require maintenance in the form of cleaning, maybe applying some polish or sun light resistant oil finish. Wood legs can tolerate minor scrapes or dings, but they may split (as aluminum may buckle) or suffer other catastrophic failure if it handled recklessly. Wood legs will contract in response to drops of temperature, so one will have to periodically tighten leg clamps if the temperature drops throughout the night.

Metal tripods tend to hold up better to abuse in transport, and in harsh environments since they are impervious to moisture, sunlight, and resist salt air better. The aluminum tripods made by Vixen in Japan do well in terms of rigidity and resistance to flexure at supporting their designed payloads. Do not hesitate to choose the lightweight aluminum tripod for visual applications where lightweight and transportability are a concern; remember, the best telescope is the one that gets used.

Deciphering the Vixen Tripod Code:

    1. AL is their abbreviation for Aluminum
    2. HAL is an abbreviation for Heavier Aluminum for added strength
    3. the suffix "110" for example on the HAL110 indicates a maximum height of 110 cm

The Vixen HAL110 tripods made for the GP and SPHINX SXW German equatorial mounts are similar in most respects except trim paint. The cast alloy components of the GP tripods are painted in green to match the GP series, these carry the 3xxx series part numbers. While the cast alloy components of tripods painted in a pearl white match the SPHINX SXW series, these carry the 2xxx series part numbers. The same applies for the Half Pier (or Half Pillar), it is available as Part No. 3584 in green for the GP mounts, while the SXW mount unit is Part No. 2516 described as the "SX Half Pillar".

Tripods Specifications, Illustrations

Accessories for Vixen Tripods


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