This project came about for a few reasons. First, I needed a tripod to mount the wedge for my old 10" SCT. Secondly, I wanted a tripod that I could set up and leave outside without fear of weather damage. The criteria were that it should be weather resistant (or weather indifferent), and robust enough to carry a 10" SCT with minimal shake. In other words, it had to be fairly beefy. And of course, it had to be affordable.
The ability to leave the mount outside means that set-up and take down can be faster, and polar alignment can be maintained. Ifthe weather is not predicted to be too hideous, I can even leave the scope out for a prolonged period, meaning that setup and take-down can occur during daylight, so an observing session can involve little more than removing and replacing a tarp.
Thus was this project born. Because of it's solid wood legs, I have dubbed this the "tristipes" (because "tricodex" sounded to computerese...). So I give you
The tripd is made of pressure-treated 4x4 lumber, bolted together with 3/8" carriage bolts. The head is two pieces cut from the headboard of a discarded IKEA bed frame - 1.5" thick particleboard with a thin pine laminate. The two layers of the head are held by three 1/2" levelling bolts. The upper part has four convenient holes for holding EP's. Because particle board will tend to swell if it gets wet, both pieces are coated with many coats of urethane.
The ground is always going the be somewhat uneven, and the leveling bolts are really just for fine-tuning. So to level the tristipes, which obviously does not have lesescoping legs, I use the latest in litho-Wedge technology. My dark sky site is fortunately on the Niagara Escarpment, a source of naturally occuring Silurian limestone - aka "litho-wedges". In other words, I jam a rock under the legs. But it works!
Using wedge-shaped flat rocks lets me adjust and level the tristipes quite effectively.
The sucker is heavy, but it sopports the scope well. With the ten inch, vibration damping is on the order of two seconds - more than sufficient for visual use. Due to the hideous weather we have been having I have not had a chance to test its suitability for astrophotography. I may be able to make it a touch more rigid by using some wires between the lower plate of the mounting head and the legs. Since much of this project was made from scraps lying about, the cost was minimal - making it a budget astronomy DIY project. If you had to buy everything, the bolts would probably end up being the most costly part, but it could still be constructed for about $60 CDN.