The Mini Hitch II:  Redesigned to Include Nova Hitch Refinements


Pick your telescope up move it set it down and start observing again.  Take it out the door in one assembled unit.  Hopscotch to look around trees.  Walk a quarter mile to a dark clearing where no lights interfere.  Carry your telescope around the neighborhood or a campground to share views with others.  Take a scope on a trip when there is little room to spare.  Travel to a dark site in a fuel-efficient vehicle, with space left for a picnic basket or camping gear.  Get a quick look from the backyard after dinner.

That's grab 'n go astronomy.  Not just portable astronomy instantaneous astronomy!

The greatest increment of observing power comes with the first few inches of aperture. 
Galileo changed the world with a telescope feeble in comparison to a modern two-inch refractor.  Charles Messier cataloged most of the best deep-sky objects with a telescope that wouldn't match a modern three-inch refractor.  Even if you have a much larger telescope, a true grab and go scope will expand your pursuit of astronomy.


The Mini Hitch II is optimized to extract maximum performance from convenient photo tripods.  At only 6.8 pounds complete with dovetail plate, finder bracket, encoders and DSC, the Mini Hitch's cross-braced structure is uncommonly rigid able to fully exploit rigid astro tripods, yet light enough to be a perfect match for carbon-fiber featherweight tripods.

Like the larger Nova Hitch, the Mini Hitch is a premium visual mount that uniquely combines adjustable two-axis balancing, centerline payload configuration, and slow-motion controls.  No-tool, two-axis payload balancing allows for smooth, low-friction rotation with no worry about an unexpected, top-heavy flop-over.  Plus, the adjust-on-the-fly clutches permit dialing-in the perfect grip for a given load variation simply by turning a single knob on each axis again, without using a tool.  If a tighter grip is needed during eyepiece changes or to tame a temporarily unbalanced load caused by a monster eyepiece, then just flip the cam-lock axis "brakes" to cinch the clutches very tightly.  The powerful slow-motion controls always remain operable.

The Mini Hitch is CNC-machined from aircraft-grade alloys for strength, precision, and beauty.  And it features preloaded, roller-type thrust bearings, creating solid, slop-free connections with the mount structure.


Summary of Features:

  • Versatile, lightweight mount for fully-loaded refractors to 92 mm; 105 mm refractors without bino-viewers; or 6-inch Cassegrains.

  • CNC machined, cross-braced structure.  Rigid, precise, and beautiful.

  • No-tool, two-axis balancing.  No chasing balance by shifting the load.  No counterweights.

  • Slow-motion controls with adjust-on-the-fly clutches for perfect "feel."  Large 1.25-inch machined aluminum control knobs.  High-reduction in a single, slop-free stage for precise, responsive control.

  • Cam-lock braking.

  • Preloaded roller thrust bearings.  Zero slop.

  • Stainless steel fasteners.

  • Dovetail plate system for fast, easy attachment of payload.  Cam-lock clamping.  Dovetail plate included in purchase price.

  • Attaches to tripod via standard 3/8-16 screw.

  • Provides excellent tripod clearance and keeps the load near the tripod center axis.

  • Horizon and zenith stops to protect scopes from accidental bumps.

  • Built-in bubble level.

  • Finder bracket.

  • Optional 4096-step encoders and folding DSC bracket

  • Adaptable to the Robotic Slow-Motion Control System

What Makes the Mini Hitch So Good on a Camera Tripod?

  • Optimized combination of payload offset (from the tripod's centerline) and height.  This combination reduces the stress on the tripod while allowing excellent zenith clearance.  (No tripod extension column required reducing weight and the "crowbar effect" of an extension column.)

  • Low mount weight.  Lets the tripod focus on carrying the payload.

  • Low-friction, fully-balanced (in two axes) motions prevent winding-up the tripod legs like a spring.

  • Slow-motion controls.  Prevents vibration from being transferred to the tripod while centering and tracking objects.

  • Finder bracket.  Relocates the finder to reduce the moment-of-inertia of the payload.

Photography is a much larger market than astronomy and is also very competitive.  In response, photo tripods have been refined to a degree that isn't practical for telescope tripods.  For quick-fold convenience, portability, and quality-to-price, it is hard to beat a photo tripod.  But camera tripods were not designed for the high-magnifications of telescopes.  So, special thinking is needed to extract good performance from a photo tripod.  Carefully targeted to this problem, the Mini Hitch taps the grab 'n go convenience of photo tripods and allows satisfying telescopic viewing.

Photo tripods suitable for astronomical viewing with the Mini Hitch range in weight from about 4 pounds for carbon-fiber models up to about 9.5 pounds for an aluminum model with a crank-up center column (good for viewing with a binocular).  Tripods with three leg sections are preferred over those with four leg sections from a standpoint of rigidity but those with four leg sections are great for airline travel.  In most cases, the tripod should have a load rating of 23 pounds or greater.  The Mini Hitch attaches with a standard 3/8-16 screw found on virtually all photo tripods.


Of course, the Mini Hitch is also a very solid mount on astro tripods.


What Is the Load Capacity of the Mini Hitch?


Load capacities of mountings can not be meaningfully specified by weight.  The moments-of-inertia around the various critical axes are what really matters.  But the Mini Hitch II is well matched to 90 mm refractors with bino-viewers; 105 mm refractors without bino-viewers; or a loaded C-6 SCT.  In general, the Mini Hitch's two-axis balancing makes it a great mount for bino-viewing or large eyepieces.


As a rule of thumb only, combined OTA/accessory loads up to about 18 pounds can be considered.


Note that this a conservative guideline intended to establish solid performance as the norm.  The Mini Hitch is more rigid than most small mounts with "ratings" as high as 25 pounds.  Don't be fooled by this common marketing ploy!


Keep in mind that the Mini Hitch is most remarkable for being lightweight AND rigid.  The extraordinary portability of lightweight scopes would be a virtue lost with heavier/bulkier mounts.

Mini Hitch and Nova Hitch User Group

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