Synta AZ-3


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Brand and Model:Synta AZ-3
Price ($USD):$129-$139
Type:Alt-Azimuth
Attributes:un-checkedMotorized un-checkedPEC un-checkedGoto
Electric Power:
Weight (lbs.):9.7 lbs
Description:From the Orion website:
"Indulge your interest in daytime observing, or nighttime stargazing without setting circles, latitude scales, or polar alignment. The AZ-3 mount makes observing easy and natural. Add tube rings or 1/4"-20 adapter (sold separately) to attach your spotting scope or refractor. All-metal altazimuth head provides smooth up-down and left-right rotation, with slow-motion cable controls on both axes. Sturdy aluminum tripod adjusts in height up to 53". Includes accessory tray. Weighs 9.7 lbs."

Vote Highlights Vote
Synta AZ-3
The Chinese AZ3 mount is a clone of the Vixen Custom alt-az mount. However, unlike the Vixen mount it lacks two features: a dove-plate head and a counterweight. The dove plate is convenient detail, but not essential for performance. But the lack of counterweight is an important issue.

The AZ3 is very solidly built and quite stable. Its biggest advantage over most alt-az mount (eg. Gibraltar, UniStar) is that it incorporates slow motion controls. It can carry much bigger load than Borg alt-az mount. And it is cheap.

So what's the catch? The only real bing problem of the AZ3 is balancing. Something that the Vixen guys realized and properly addressed via the counterweight in the original Vixen Custom D mount - but the Chinese "copiers" omitted. The AZ3 relies on friction to keep the scope positioned at the correct altitude angle. It works fine when the altitude angle is small - depending on the scope's weight. However at higher angles (above 30-45 degress) and with heavy OTAs the scope inevitably "slides" into vertical postion. The problem can be partially mitigated by re-positioning the scope forward, but it only works with long OTAs and up to certain elevation angle - above 70 deg it does not work anymore. Adjusting the tension screw on the altitude axis will "fix" the scope at the desired angle - but then repositioning and adjusting the altitude becomes very heavy and difficult.

The only definitive solution to the problem is to add a counterweight just as in the original Vixen Custom D mount. Eventually, I designed one and had it manufactured at a friendly mechanical shop. For $15 approx. they fabricated for me a counterweight system which can be easily fixed to the bottom of the mounting plate with a pair of screws. The counterweight is only 1kg, adding little to the overall weight of the mount / tripod combination, but the shaft is long so it can be used with scopes up to 4-5kg and still keep the system in perfect balance. The altitude adjustment screw is now adjusted to allow easy repositioning of the scope with little effort and the mount is very smooth. It is not pretty, but it works like a charm.

There is another small problem with the AZ3 that can be fixed very easily. It comes lubricated with the typical glue-grease. The friction surfaces, especially the ones involved in azimuth adjustment, are big. In cold weather the mount gets stuck and is almost impossible to move. The easy fix is to clean the whole mechanical assembly thoroughly with gasoline or WD-40 and re-lubricate with good quality light grease.

Overall Rating: 8
Performance:7 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.215.115)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=343845


Synta AZ-3
I bought an Orion ST80 f5 Scope which I first used on a standard Aluminium Tripod. Tracking objects with this arrangement quickly became an irritation at all but the lowest of magnifications.

I now have the AZ-3 with an Orion adaptor bracket. I now have a near-perfect casual setup with a lightweight but rock-solid tripod with the all-important slow-motion controls, and a great little scope - excellent !

Overall Rating: 9
Performance:8 Ease of Use:9 Value:8
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.50.1)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=297772


Synta AZ-3
I brought a 150mm f/5 refactor for a quick look scope and wanted a simple mount not an GEM, just a ALTz, the place I brought the OTA from was selling the AZ3 on smaller scopes the largest a 102mm F/5 refactor. I was warned by the slaesman that my 150mm would be overloading the mount, but I brought it anyway. Well I have the mount at its limit for sure. But it handles the 150mm OTA very well.

Damping when viewing low is three to four secounds, but viewing higher than about (roughly) 45 deg the damping drops down to one maybe two secounds deping on the surface you have it on. The Zenth is a pain with a refactor, but this would not be a problem with a small Newt, but thats part of a mount like this and I was expecting this.

The fine control nobs are great and the fine control is perfect. The finish is very good and the mount takes dove tail connections as well as having screw hole to connect your tube rings directly which I have done. The feet do have those pointed rubber ends, but its still good on payment.

The accessoury tray is a good size whith a inch high lip so nothing will roll out, I often have 5 - 7 eyepieces in it.

I am surprised that it handles my OTA so well (Ive even mounted a 60mm F11 on top of my 150mm for guiding while photographing the Moon and Mars and no change to how well the mount preformed. I have done some nice shots of the moon through the 150mm on this mount, Mars not so good but it was not the mounts fault, A chinese 150mm F/5 refactor is not a plantery scope. But I bounce around viewing deepsky objects very easily on this mount.

Oh one plus its very light, I know have my 150mm OTA set up on it full time and when I want to do some viewing I lift the whole assembly up with the busness end of the scope resting on my sholder, fold the legs in and easly walk outside with it, fold the legs out, I may or may not attach the tray and Im in business.

If you are looking for a cheap ALTz mount for a small refactor (not too long mines just under 1 meter and I would not go any longer than that with a refactor). Or a small Newt (6 inch or under) this is real value for money, I paid $189 (Australian) that about $125 US, for mine.

Overall Rating: 9
Performance:9 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.176.4)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=296532

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