The Takahashi Teegul is an altitude-azimuth mount.
Payload: Standard Takahashi plate or 3rd-party dovetail plate system compatible
Weight: ~ 6 lb. [2.7 kg]
Loading Capacity: ~ 15 lb. [6.8 kg]
Tripod Connectivity: via standard 3/8-16 attachment screw
Pointing: Push-to manually-sighted
Tracking: Machined aluminum control knobs for precise slow-motion adjustment
Moving Speed: At-will
Altitude Range: 0°-90°
Polar Alignment: Not required
My August 2000 trip to Fort Davis revealed the need for a mount with alt-az slewing quickness and equatorial slow-motion accuracy to try wide-field sweeps of the Milky Way. The Teegul had been on my mind for some time, but I hesitated to buy it out of concern for the stability of the swing-arm and tripod when used with 3″ and 4″ scopes and heavy accessories. Having spoken with several owners about the mount, I decided to put my money down on Takahashi’s alt-az design.
The mount was pretty straight forward to set-up despite the Teegul’s manual being in Japanese. The swing-arm is shipped attached to the tripod, so there’s no hassle in putting it together. An adapter plate comes with the mount to allow the swing-arm to be offset from the perpendicular, which is needed if you want to view objects at the zenith.
To install the adapter plate onto the Teegul:
1. unscrew the swing-arm from the tripod & detach from each other.
2. attach the adapter plate using the extra screws [the small ones].
3. reattach the swing-arm using the diagonally drilled holes with the large screws.
Properly balancing your scope is just as important with the Teegul as it is with other alt-az mounts. Make sure to check the weight distribution of your scope with and without your heaviest and lightest eyepieces. Once the correct balance has been set, moving the scope from the horizon to the zenith position and back to the horizon position again should produce no extra motion. If your scope continues to move once you’ve let go of it, the scope is not in balance. The tension knobs should not have any bearing on the balance of your scope; in fact, leaving them loose really tells you whether or not the scope is in perfect balance [but be careful not to completely let go of the scope while initially testing the balance!].
One way that I chose to set my own scope’s balance was to use the finderscope as a counterweight to the back-heavy Takahashi FCT-76/TeleVue 22mm Nagler. The position of the finderscope can be slid forward and backward by way of the accessory ring to counterbalance all but the heaviest of eyepieces [like the TeleVue 31mm Nagler – I had to tighten the tension screws down to hold the scope in place].
*on a side note – One of the best additions to my observing equipment has been the accessory ring for my finderscope. Refractor owners understand how hard it is to use straight-through finders since they are placed so far back on the scope and close to the diagonal/eyepiece that they require crouching down low to the ground when observing near the zenith. The accessory ring conveniently allows the finderscope to be placed near the front of the OTA, just like on a Dobsonian. No more crouching!
So how does it work? The alt-az slewing motion is very fluid [similar to the TeleVue TelePod in that you can quickly move your scope around, except only better with the Teegul] and the slow-motion controls are of Tak focuser quality. There are also small tension screws that adjust how quickly either axis moves. I generally leave the azimuth setting loose but tighten the altitude setting for heavy eyepieces. What I find most interesting about this mount is how smooth the manual movement is – very much like a Dob.
Regarding the tripod’s stability, I can see why people with larger scopes might have more trouble using this mount; or as Ed Ting put it, “the tripod is a Slik, which is in the “good” to “very good” range. Not quite a Bogen or a Gitzo, but very nice in its own right”. I agree.
Problems? There’s some shake in the mount independent of its tripod which may be a potentially major problem. How much? At 54x magnification, the mount takes approximately 5-10 seconds to settle down! This problem lies in the swing arm and not the tripod. Even holding my hand up to the side of the swing arm I was only able to get the mount to stop vibrating after 5 seconds. Is this enough to negate the overall positives of this mount? Perhaps. If you plan to use the mount as a wide-field observing platform for low power sweeps [fully assembled for quick fix astronomy] and not for detailed lunar or planetary work, you may be alright; however, I will say that the shake is excessive. Some may eventually get use to it – I could not.
I have mixed feelings about the Takahashi Teegul. On the one hand, it’s a beautifully crafted and smoothly motioned mount; on the other hand, it has a built in impediment that reduces the mount’s appeal appreciably. If Takahashi can resolve the vibration problem, then the Teegul will be “as good as it looks.”
I also think that a 3-4 inch scope is the absolute maximum load this mount can take.
*Takahashi and Texas Nautical Repair have adopted a solution to the swing-arm vibration problem using the Lapides Modification. See my review of the Takahashi Teegul Mount w/ Lapides Modification for details.
Priced ~ $750 each [when available].