One of the problems with a 9.25” or larger fork-mounted SCT is that they tend to be
heavy, and as we get older it can be a real chore to lift and mount one on a tripod. However, the real chore is lifting it up from ground level - once it is lifted it’s not so
hard to carry it and place it on the tripod (at least for SCTs up to 11”). So, if you store your scope indoors and only need to carry it outdoors at your house, you can
save yourself some effort by storing the scope on a stand.
A number of vendors sell a “benchtop tool stand”, including Sears and Harbor Freight Tools, priced from $20 to $40 (the Harbor Freight stand is shown in the
photo above right). These tend to be adjustable in height but much larger in width and depth than you need (or want) for an SCT, but they are just a set of lengths of steel angle. The top and
lower spreader pieces can be easily cut with a good fine-tooth metal-cutting blade in a sabre (jig) saw, and
shortened by drilling holes in them and bolting them back together as shorter lengths.
I started with the Sears #92231 Benchtop Tool Stand and cut the horizontal pieces so that the top is 12” square - it is shown on the right here. You want
the height to be such that you don’t need to bend down to lift your scope, nor do you want to lift it up to place it on the stand. The height of my stand is 23”
, which is convenient for me (at about 6’ tall). So the stand ended up being quite a bit smaller than the normal configuration for these stands, but that’s
good - you don’t want to have to reach, to place or remove the scope from the stand.
Benchtop tool stand kits usually do not
include a top. You can add a plywood top or a metal top; I chose to use an aluminum top. I wanted to be able to bolt my NS11GPS to the stand with one of the scope’s tripod bolts so that it is held in place
securely, since at the base the stand itself isn’t much wider than the scope. I used a 12” square, 3/8” thick aluminum plate (available from McMaster-Carr or OnLineMetals.com), and for convenience I added a Starizona Landing Pad. The Landing Pad is held in place by screws into holes drilled and tapped in the
aluminum plate, and the plate also has appropriately located and sized holes for the scope’s tripod bolts. The completed stand is shown on the left, and on the right is a photo of the stand with the NS11GPS
in place (click on that photo to see a larger image).
You don’t need a lot of tools to create a stand like this - a sabre saw and drill press will do it. Altogether this came to a little over $100 including the Landing
Pad - if you skip that and use a plywood top you can do it for under $50.
One more note: most 2D counterweight systems come with a very long shaft for the counterweight - Losmandy’s is 5” long and others are similar. Except in
unusual situations the counterweight won’t need to be placed that far away from the OTA for dynamic balance, and the extra shaft length just tends to poke you in
the chest when you’re carrying the scope (at least for the NS11). You can, of course, remove the counterweight when carrying the scope, but you can also
make a shorter shaft. For example, Losmandy’s threaded shaft is a ½”-13 thread, and I simply replaced it with a 3”-long ½”-13 screw (you can see this in the larger version of the above right
photo). The screw needs to be threaded along its entire length and unfortunately most ½”-13 screws or bolts
carried by hardware stores are not - they tend to have an unthreaded shoulder underneath the head. So you may need to order some screws like this from McMaster-Carr. If you do this with the Losmandy
counterweight system, you should also taper the end of the screw as I describe at the bottom of the Balance Weights page.