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Improving the CG-5 Equatorial Mount

Tripod Tips

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Note: The tripod with tubular steel legs supplied with newer CG-5s is nice and solid and requires no improvements for typical use. However, if you own a CG-5 with the original aluminum tripod, the following section is for you!

After you have improved the equatorial head of your CG-5, it's time to consider improvements to the tripod. The springy aluminum tripod that comes with most CG-5s is too flexible. The result is significant vibration, especially if you have a long and/or heavy telescope on the mount.

For a brief time, I owned a 120mm f/8.3 refractor, which I mounted on a CG-5. At magnifications greater than about 100x, vibrations took many seconds to damp out, and focusing at high power was nearly impossible. On the other hand, the standard tripod is perfectly steady with a short, lightweight scope such as a C5 5-inch SCT.

Below, in no particular order, is a brief list of tripod fixes for the CG-5, gleaned from the web, from newsgroups, and from private correspondence. I have not personally tested any of these remedies.

11 Tips for a Better Tripod

  1. Replace the nuts and bolts connecting the tripod legs to the base. One suggestion is to get quality stainless steel hardware, so the nuts and bolts can be tightened down very tight without breaking. But be careful – you can break the tripod hub or deform the legs if you tighten the hardware too much.

  2. Another idea is to drill out the legs and tripod hub to accept 3/8" shoulder bolts. The larger diameter bolts are alleged to help stabilize the tripod.

  3. Buy or build a set of wooden legs for the tripod.

  4. Put your CG-5 equatorial head on a pier. Ken Dauzat offers the KDPier, a portable pier for the CG-5.

  5. Buy a surveyor's tripod. Universal Astronomics sells a variety of tripods and an adapter for attaching the CG-5 equatorial head to a surveyor's tripod.

  6. Fill the aluminum legs with sand, lead shot, or expanding foam.

  7. Fill the aluminum legs with tightly packed shredded newspapers. Use a wooden dowel to force the newspaper down the legs. Variation: Use wet newspaper, then bake the legs in an oven at 200°F to dry the newspaper. Supposedly, the newspapers dampen vibrations and make the legs less "springy." One guy swears this works!

  8. Build a triangular wooden accessory tray/brace to replace the existing accessory tray. This has to be removed to fold the tripod but makes the tripod much more stable.

  9. A variation on the two ideas above: Fill the hollow aluminum legs with cement, and add a plywood stiffener in place of or in addition to the accessory tray. You end up with a heavy – but very steady – tripod. (credited to Gary Hand, Hands On Optics)

  10. Suspend a weight from the center of the tripod base, hanging above the accessory tray.

  11. Buy the Celestron vibration suppression pads. Nearly everyone agrees that these work well. Read Ed Ting's review.

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