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Scope Roller

Building specific solutions to your equatorial mount needs.

ScopeRoller Casters

Casters

Advantages and Limitations

The obvious advantage of the ScopeRoller product is ease of use. Right now, you have to take your telescope tube off the mount, disconnect cables, carry all the parts outside, and then reassemble. At the end of the evening, when it is cold and dark, and you are cold and tired, you have to repeat the process. With ScopeRoller, you just roll your telescope outside--and at the end of the evening, you just roll your telescope back inside.

There are some limitations, however. ScopeRoller raises the height of your telescope by a few inches, and for some observers, that may be the difference between standing at your telescope, and needing a stepstool. Of course, moving a stepstool out is still a lot easier than disassembling your telescope every time you want to use it!

Raising the height of your telescope also means raising the center of gravity--so you need to be a bit more careful to make sure that you don't tip it over while moving it. Hold onto your telescope fairly low, and make sure that you don't get one wheel caught on a sidewalk divider or a rock. Of course, if you take everything apart and carry it outside, you might trip and drop your tube or mount also....

Anything on wheels is going to be a little less stable than having a tripod sitting on solid ground, okay? A few customers have reported that while fine for visual use, there is a bit too much vibration introduced by the casters for astrophotography. We haven't had any problem doing astrophotography, but then again, we aren't doing 30 minute exposures, either.

A few customers have also complained about excessive play in the caster lock causing them to lose alignment on the North Celestial Pole, because the inertia of the telescope and mount couples energy down into the tripod. We have since added a plastic washer into the caster assemblies that reduces the play from a few hundredths of an inch when locked, to a few thousandths of an inch. (Existing customers can obtain this as a field upgrade kit.)

Even with this plastic washer, two customers have discovered that our product has a bit too much play when locked to do astrophotography. How much is too much play? As we measure it, we're talking about at most a few hundredths of an inch of motion as a result of moving the telescope after locking the casters, or fiddling with filters. If your primary focus is astrophotography, ScopeRoller might not be the best choice. We haven't done a lot of long exposure astrophotography with our product. Exposures of a couple of minutes seem to work just fine. (One of those customers tried ScopeRoller because ScopeBuggy had the same problem. There might not be a zero motion caster out there.)

One of my customers sent a picture of of his scope mounted on ScopeRoller Deluxe5 casters--and some long exposure astrophotos he took--more than two hours. You tell me: are these good enough?


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Here's another satisified customer:

"I'm still having very good success with the ScopeRollers. While I still have to polar align each time out, the benefits of having my entire rig mobile is awesome. I can set up in a fraction of the time as before, and break-down is as simple as rolling everything back into the garage - 4 minutes flat and I'm in bed for the night! Autoguiding is as good as I've ever had, so I know the ScopeRoller platform is stable. Here are two images taken with the casters in place:

http://www.astrobin.com/37359/

http://www.astrobin.com/35435/B/"

Our Competition

At the current time, we have two competitors: JMI's Wheeley Bars, and ScopeBuggy. We haven't actually used either product, so what you see here is what we hear from our customers who have bought those products--and then bought ScopeRoller. Depending on your needs, you may want to buy the JMI product, or the ScopeBuggy product--or ScopeRoller! We want you to buy the right product for you, instead of buying ScopeRoller, and being disappointed because it doesn't satisfy your needs.

If you need to transport your scope across very rough ground, the ScopeBuggy or the JMI Wheeley Bars with the 10" wheels is probably a better choice than ScopeRoller. ScopeRoller is really better suited to smooth surfaces--although the Deluxe wheels will work okay on grass and relatively smooth dirt.

If you have several different telescope tripods of about the same size, the JMI or ScopeBuggy products may be a more cost effective solution, because you can use the JMI Wheeley Bars or ScopeBuggy for several different tripods. ScopeRoller is specific to a particular tripod. ScopeRoller is much less expensive than the JMI and ScopeBuggy products, so you might find that buying two ScopeRoller sets is no worse than buying one ScopeBuggy or JMI Wheeley Bar.

A number of customers have pointed out that the JMI and ScopeBuggy products, because they use a large frame to hold the wheels and the tripod, can sometimes block getting as close to the telescope as you would like--and if you aren't careful, it is possible to trip over that frame in the dark! ScopeRoller doesn't change the "footprint" of your telescope, and never prevents you from getting close to your telescope or mount.

The JMI Wheeley Bars have leveling screws, and this may be an advantage in certain circumstances.

The ScopeRoller solution weighs less than eight pounds (sometimes as little as four pounds), so you aren't paying a lot of money for shipping. Especially if you are outside of the United States, the shipping charge for our competitor's products can be quite substantial.

Three Different Versions

Most ScopeRoller caster products are available in a Standard, Deluxe, and Deluxe5 version. 

Standard

The Standard version uses 3" diameter wheels, and adds about 5" to the height of your mount.  The foot-operated brake locks only the wheel.  For visual use, this is generally sufficient.  The wheels on the Standard model have a recommended weight capacity of 135 pounds each--in most cases, far in excess of the weight of your mount, tripod, and recommended load. They add less than two pounds to the tripod, and require no alterations.

Deluxe

If you plan to do astrophotography, or you are going to be moving to a surface that is not completely level, order the Deluxe version, which also uses 3" diameter wheels, and adds about 4" to the height of your mount.  The foot-operated brake locks both the wheel and the caster.  Even after vigorous shaking, the mount  will return to its orgiinal position.  The Deluxe model casters have a recommended weight capacity of 210 pounds each.

Deluxe5

If you need to roll across gravel or grass, order the Deluxe5 version, which uses 5" diameter wheels, and adds about 6" to the height of your mount.  The foot-operated brake locks both the wheel and the caster.  Even after vigorous shaking, the mount  will return to its orgiinal position.  The Deluxe model casters have a recommended weight capacity of 2300 pounds each.

Tolerances

A couple of customers have emailed with concerns about the caster assemblies feeling a little loose.  When I ask them if they have actually used them for observing, the answer is always, "Not yet."  That's the last I hear from them. 

In order to make sure that the caster assemblies will fit Losmandy tripods built over quite a range of years, I have to make sure that the fit isn't too tight.  For the ScopeRoller 8, the leg inserts are .98" to .99" wide, so that they will fit into 1.00" tripod legs.  This sounds pretty loose, and you might be able to feel it when you wiggle the mount vigorously.  In actual use, it won't be a problem.  Even at 300x and above, everything is about as stable as if you put the tripod legs directly on the ground.  I have built a ScopeRoller 8 Deluxe using  leg inserts that failed my quality testing because they were only .96" by .96"--and while they felt ugly, they worked fine.

Until recently, ScopeRollers that went inside the Losmandy round tripod legs sometimes had tolerance problems that had to be fixed with silicone sealant.  We have recently changed the design so that there is now a socket head screw on the bottom of the caster assembly.  After installing the caster assembly, you tighten the socket head screw and the caster assembly locks down very tightly.

What tripod leg sizes do we build ScopeRollers to fit?  Most G-11 tripod legs are 2.360" inside diameter.  One customer measured his G-11 tripod, and found that two of the legs were 2.362", and a third was 2.358".  With the new design used for ScopeRollers for the round leg Losmandys, tolerances aren't much of an issue--but we encourage you to borrow a micrometer before you order.  You may find that one or more of your legs have been dropped or damaged--or are perhaps not exactly identical to current Losmandy production.  If so, contact us; we may be able to find the right size leg inserts for your particular mount, or we might turn a set for your particular mount. 

We provide dimension details below. It isn't a bad idea to measure your legs before you order. If you don't have a micrometer or calipers, you can buy them at Lowe's or Home Depot. (Lowe's sells an inexpensive one that measures to hundredths of an inch; Home Depot sells a very nice Starrett caliper that measures to about the same accuracy. Harbor Freight sells a range of calipers from cheap analog to thousandths of an inch. Little Machine Shop sells a range of calipers as well. Once you have a precision measuring device, you will wonder how you lived without it.

Vibration

What about vibration in the casters?  Remember that rigidity sometimes increases vibration--having a little play between the caster assemblies and the inside of the tripod legs doesn't necessarily create a problem.  Some customers have actually reported less vibration with the ScopeRoller 8 Deluxe casters unlocked.  If you need absolute rock solid rigidity for your five hour exposures of Pluto, this may not be the best choice.  In general, I don't see that ScopeRoller adds any vibration to an existing Losmandy mount.

Instruction sheets for every product are available online, listed under each product.

Why Did My Caster Set Arrive With Scratches And Dirt on the Wheels?

No, we're not recycling returned merchandise. Before we ship a caster set, if we have that model of tripod, we install them, and take them a spin to verify fit and function. Scratches on the insert models are because we make these to be a pretty close fit--and sometimes that means that there will be some scratches where the insert squeezed into our tripod leg.

Currently Supported Tripods

  • ScopeRollerTM 8, which allows you to roll your Losmandy GM-8 mount without disassembly, removing the telescope, or disconnecting any cables.
  • ScopeRollerTM 8LW, for the new Losmandy Lightweight tripod, which uses a somewhat different leg. If the end of your Losmandy tripod leg looks like this, you are in the right place.
  • ScopeRoller TM 11, for the Losmandy G-11 tripod. 
  • ScopeRollerTM  700, for the Celestron CI-700 tripod. 
  • ScopeRollerTM  HGMT, for the Losmandy HGM Titan.
  • ScopeRollerTM  HGM200, for the Losmandy HGM-200.  (This may fit some of the other older Losmandy mounts--contact us for details.)
  • ScopeRollerTM 93493  for the Celestron 93493 tripod, which used to be used on the CPC 9.25 XLT, and perhaps some other mounts.
  • ScopeRollerTM 93497  for the Celestron 93497 tripod, which is used on the CG-5 and ASGT mounts.
  • ScopeRollerTM NS  for the Celestron NexStar tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM NSSHD for the super-heavy-duty tripod used on the CGE and NexStar GPS mounts.
  • ScopeRollerTM CGEM  for the Celestron CGEM tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM CHDADJ for the Celestron Heavy Duty Adjustable tripod (Celestron model 93494)
  • ScopeRollerTM EQ3  for the Synta EQ3 and Orion EQ-3 mounts. (Probably will fit some other mount tripods--contact us before you order).
  • ScopeRollerTM EQ6  for the Synta EQ6 and Orion Atlas EQ mounts. (Probably will fit some of the other Synta mounts, and apparently the Celestron CPC-800 tripod--contact us before you order).
  • ScopeRollerTM CG4  for the Celestron CG-4  mount, and the Orion EQ-2 mount. (Probably will fit some of the clones--contact us before you order.).
  • ScopeRollerTM VSQ  for the Vixen AL150, AL130, AL90 and PORTA tripods and some of the Meade LXD-55 tripods (the ones with the square legs).
  • ScopeRollerTM ATSPP  for the Advanced Telescope Systems Portable Pier. (Note: this only fits the late production.  If you have the removable foot pads, or there are threaded holes in the bottom of the tripod legs, these will fit.)
  • ScopeRollerTM M2080 for the Meade 2080 tripod.  These aren't current Meade production, but there's a lot of these out there.
  • ScopeRollerTM MLX for the Meade Field Tripod used for the LX200 (8" and 10" mounts) and probably several other Meade LX tripods.
  • ScopeRollerTM MGFLT for the Meade Giant Field Tripod used for the 12" and 14" LX200 tripod, and probably some other Meade telescopes.
  • ScopeRollerTM LXD55  for the Meade LXD55 tripod with the round feet. If it is has the square legs, go here--it uses the same legs as some of the Vixen tripods.
  • ScopeRollerTM TakEM400 for the Takahashi EM-400 tripod. (It may fit some other Takahashi tripods as well--check with us before ordering.) DISCONTINUED: Too much work; life is too short for this.
  • ScopeRollerTM SVP for the Orion SkyView Pro tripod. (It may fit some other Orion tripods as well--check with us before ordering.)
  • ScopeRollerTM CGE1100  for the Celestron CGE 1100 tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM VHAL110  for the Vixen HAL-110 tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM VHAL130  for the Vixen HAL-130 tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM OptMini  for the iOptron Minitower tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM TSL6  for the Stellarvue Maple Tripod tripod.
  • ScopeRollerTM DM  for the DiscMounts tripods.