This is a work in progress. Suffice it to say that I love the Celestron Nexstar 102GT telescope now available for $199 at Costco, but the tripod legs are where most of the cost came out. There are other beginner telescopes that could use stable tripod legs, and I’ve reviewed a number of them over the years, but the 102GT was just so darn good that I’ve been moved to do something. A little work in SolidWorks and I came up with what I think will be a pretty good design; this weekend I’ll put it together. This page will change quite a bit, but I wanted to post a graphic showing the general concept right away:
I have also published the 3D model to 3DVIA.com, if you’d like to explore it in 3D: http://www.3dvia.com/models/8168B7B7899BADBF
I plan to publish the design details once I run through an initial fabrication, so there may be some minor changes between now and then (I already see I forgot the steel pins pressed into the ends of the tripod legs). It’s looking really good so far, though!
Stage 1 is to work out the legs and spreader for the Nexstar and other scopes where the mount head is fine, only the legs need replacement. That will hopefully solve the shaky tripod leg problem for a lot of people.
Stage 2 will add a generic top plate that will allow the design to be used by other scopes. There are a lot of good tabletop scopes that could plop right on top (Starblasts, Funscopes, Astroscans, ETXs), so a flat plate would be fine for them. A center through hole in such a plate would accommodate a number of other small telescope mount heads, and I might also do something specific for the Galileoscope, too. The goal would be a standalone tripod design that’s as versatile as possible, while still being very simple and inexpensive to make.
PS: If you’re thinking about getting the Nexstar 102GT from Costco, I’d say do it sooner than later. Apparently, this was available last year too, but only from late October through the holiday shopping season. And it is a Costco exclusive, not available online, so if you’re not near a store get a friend to “ninja shop” it for you.