365Astronomy PHOTO UNO Counterbalance Upgrade Kit with 1 Rod and 1 Counterweight
This product can be seen at our premises in Worthing! Casual visitors are welcome, but please call for an appointment as we are not a high street shop...
FREE SHIPPING TO UK MAINLAND ON ORDERS ABOVE £240!
If you already own a Fornax 10 Lightrack Mark II, an Astrotrac, a Vixen Polarie Star Tracker or a similar mobile tracking mount, this counterweight system would be a great addition to increase the payload of your mount, however please refer to the respectful manufacturers' recommendations about the max payload of the mount that you have. Please also note that payload is only one of the important factors to consider when you put together a mobile tracking system. Always consider what is the weakest mechanical point in your system and try to improve it. There are also uncontrollable factors, like wind, although you can try to manage it to a certain degree by either finding a shielded place or by creating one. Another important factor is focal length. Even if you have everything else perfectly setup, above a certain focal length your mount will not work perfectly due to the limitations of that mount. This is different for each mount, but unfortunately there is no official values available from manufacturers or at least these are not yet supported by empirical evidence. Our guestimation (based mainly on drive wheel sizes) is that the smallest mounts like Baader Nano would be able to support shorter focal lengts, i.e. widefield camera lenses, the Vixen Polarie and Skywatcher Star Adventurer would support camera lenses with longer focal length 100 - 200mm or maybe even small telescopes, the Astrotrac and Fornax 10 Lightrack Mk II would support camera lenses and small telescopes with focal lengths up to 400mm or maybe even more... The difficulty to tell precise values comes from the fact that each setup will be different and have lots of factors infuencing the stability and precision of that setup... (precision of polar alignment, counterbalancing, stability of tripod, stability of wedge, wind and of course precision of the mount)
This kit is available in two versions, plus there are other optional acessories available.
This version contains two counterweight bars and one counterweight to achieve about 2.7kg payload. There is also a version that contains two counterweight bars and two counterweights for further increased payload or alternatively you can buy this version and if you need it then you can buy extra counterweights at a later time...
Both versions come with a black clamping device with a photographic platform for easy attachment of a dSLR camera or a small telescope (see above image), however the clamping part of the photo platform is unfortunately not wide enough to accommodate a Vixen dovetail bar, therefore a Vixen-style clamping device is also available as an optional accessory. Consider that many dovetail bars would come with a 1/4" photo thread, so you don't necessary need the below clamp (i.e., see image with a Vixen VMC110L), however if you think that that is the weakest point of your setup or with the help of such clamp you have more freedome of moving the telescope forth or back for counterbalancing purposes, then you might be better off with this additional Vixen-style clamp... (note, image shows a version with a 1/4" photo thread, but we will supply a version with a 3/8" photo thread that will be compatible with the counterweight bar.)
Above image: Optional Vixen-style mounting clamp (not included)
Optional mounting clamp shown on the above image installed instead of the included photo platform. This would give the ability to install a small telescope with a Vixen-style dovetail bar.
Counterbalance Upgrade Kit installed on Fornax 10 Lightrack Mk II. (Fornax 10 is not included, but available separately)
Please note, as the mounting block can be rotated, plus the dovetail bar can also be rotated within the mounting block, therefore three dimensional positioning of the camera (or telescope) can be achieved without an additional ball head. Actually, it is better not to use a ball head as it might introduce further mechanical weakness as well as it puts the center of gravity of the camera (or telescope) further away, thus allowing counter balancing of a smaller payload only. The fact that the photo platform can also be rotated might seem to be an extra, unnecessary feature, however, if you want to achieve repeatable positioning of an object, then this can be achieved as both parts come with a scale.
With this kit you will be able to counterbalance a lightweight camera+lens with a weight of about 1.5kg (or 2.7kg if you add one more counterweight bar - one bar is supplied.)
We've made some measurements and calculations and came up with the following results (2 counterweight bars were used!):
|Number of counterweights||Total weight of counterweights||Payload (usable weight of equipment)|
|1 c/w||0.5kg||appr. 2.7kg|
|2 c/w||1.0kg||appr. 4.5kg|
|3 c/w||1.5kg||appr. 5.6kg|
|4 c/w||2.0kg||appr. 6.8kg|
Above measurements were taken by moving the camera platform completely in, so that it touched the mounting block. Maximum payload with a certain counterweight can be achieved only in this position. If the camera platform is further away, less usable payload will result. Always two counterweight bars were used and the counterweights were placed at the very end of the second counterweight bar.
In this kit you will receive 1 counterweight bar and 1 counterweight only.
A version with 2 counterweights and 2 bars also exist: 365Astronomy PHOTO DUO Counterbalance Upgrade Kit with 2 Rods and 2 Counterweights. See below image:
Additional counterweights and round slide bars can be purchased separately. Please note, due to limited availability, we can supply these additional accessories only if you purchased a PHOTO UNO or PHOTO DUO from 365Astronomy or their official UK dealer.
This product consists of:
1 pc Round Dovetail Slide Bar / Rod (19.60mm diameter, 250mm length)
1 pc 0.5kg counterweight
1 pc Rotating Mounting Block with 3/8" Photo Thread connection (i.e. this would be screwed into the top of a Fornax 10 LighTrack Mk II as shown on one of the images above...)
1 pc Rotating Photographic Camera Platform with 1/4" Photo Thread (i.e. a dSLR camera could be secured into this as it comes with a photo shoe feautring a 1/4" male thread, but note, the clamping on this is narrower than a Vixen dovetail bar, so you'd need an optional Vixen style clamp if you wanted to attach a small telescope via a Vixen-style dovetail bar.)