The Mounting Assistant,
as reviewed by Rainy Day Magazine
A 10" SCT telescope tube is a very light-weight
and compact design when compared to its refractor equivalent. However, the
tube and fork together can still weight around 60 lbs! Trying to put the
assembly on top of the tripod is a difficult one-person operation. We
know. We tried it when we first brought the Meade LX200 into the
office. Some of the folks thought there had to be an easier way. That was
when we came upon this thing called the
Mounting Assistant designed by Pete Peterson.
The Mounting Assistant is an aluminum plate which enables one person to precisely align the scope assembly on the tripod for the insertion of the mounting screw. The instructions seem simple enough. We love the photos of Pete mounting a 12" scope all by himself.
The design is very clever. Three steel pins on the plate precisely guide the base so the mounting hole is aligned without fumbling around with it. The plate can stay on the tripod and need not be removed unless we decide to change over to an equatorial wedge.
Here is the base of the Meade 10" LX200 GPS scope. The plate will sit between the drive box and the tripod. Looks to be a pretty simple installation project. We'll have the write-up of the installation in the next day or two.
The Peterson Mounting Assistant (PMA)
installation was a lot easier than we had anticipated. The hardest part
with the whole project was
getting the scope off the tripod :-) It was a LOT heavier than we
The base of the tripod has six predrilled and pre-threaded holes. The main anchoring bolt is the one in the center. The PMA has three holes and they match precisely those on the base of the tripod. The installation kit has three stainless steel screws for anchoring the plate.
Attaching the three guide pins and screwing down the plate to the anchor is all there is to the PMA installation. The guide pins make sure the base is positioned such that the main bolt is directly aligned with the hole in the base of the mount of the scope. Just one try was all we needed to convince us.
The Peterson Mount Assistant is a rock-solid platform and a "must have" upgrade for the tripod. It is a bit unwieldy to pick up the scope with just one person. However, once the scope is lifted, getting it centered and locked down was fast and simple. If you have a big scope, don't even bother wondering whether you need this. Just get it. Spend your time deciding which finder (red dot or laser) to get instead.
We hope you enjoyed our week-long focus on Astronomy. Next week we will mix it up a bit, but the focus will shift to more home-improvement related topics. The weather is getting drier, so we hope to give the painting project one more go before the cold weather takes over. Have a fun weekend!