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 Customer Comment of the Month    Updated 03/23/09 

 Astrophotography with a Platform
 MallinCam Imaging
 Image of the Month Updated 04/2//09



Equatorial Platforms
Phone/Fax 530-274-9113


Visits Since March 1999

Customer Comment of the Month


"Hi Tom,

Unit arrived safe and sound. Looks great! It was actually clear the night it arrived - tried it out and it worked flawlessly. It was such a joy to be able to turn it on and have it work with no fiddling around. Quiet and smooth performance - thanks for a great product! I really appreciate you taking the time to get the base from Mag-1 and install it. It was a lot of fun to be able to slew around as usual and have the scope stay on target wherever it was pointed."

Steve C. -- B.C.   


Previous Customer Comments of the Month



Though it was back in the late summer when you sent me my platform, I want to apologize for not providing feedback sooner. In a word, awesome, so I wanted to provide a little feedback.

Despite a very wet and cloudy fall and winter, the few chances I have had to take out the scope have been fantastic. The platform works without a hitch and without any fuss. In the city, planetary viewing is always a good option, but the old nudge method of viewing the scope wore out its welcome for me. With the platform, even at hi-magnification viewing (5x barlow on a 10" DOB on one evening), Mars just hangs there. Works great as a planetary imager. My platform has turned a great scope into something much more than that. I'm able to take my time and see things with much more detail. I never expected to be able to capture the ice caps of Mars on the first try, despite the poor seeing. Thank you so much. A great addition."

Mike Fulmer, Avondale Estates, GA -- owner of a 10" Dual-axis Platform  



"After nearly two weeks of clouds I was finally able to use my new Compact Platform Tuesday night, and I can report that it works great! Even with very approximate leveling and pointing North by dead-reckoning, it tracked more than adequately for my purposes. It was great to be able to go into the house and return to find things still centered in the field of view. But more than that, I was staggered by the extra amount of detail I could see on Jupiter (and I just happened to catch an eclipse in progress).

I felt that the increase in the amount of detail I could see was more than just being able to catch the moments of good seeing. I was used to that without tracking. Maybe just having the object stay still and not having to move my eye at all contributed to it. It was really quite striking. Of course on nights that support cranking up the power, the difference will be amazing. "

Chuck Cunningham Seattle, WA   

"Hello Tom,

Thank you for making a masterpiece! My new 18” Compact Equatorial Platform is absolutely what I wanted and needed. It performed flawlessly last night, Saturn at just less than 500x was just breath-taking and never budged from the center of the FOV for over 20 minutes! Last night was a Public Open House for our club and being able to grab my scope and manually move it from object to object or what I refer to as “point & shoot” astronomy is the way to go. It’s the way I learned and its my preferred method; add flawlessly tracking to that without having to release clutches or disengage belt-drives and it is the best of both worlds!!! It’s great to be able to crank up the power and study those faint details for more than the few seconds that non-tracking affords you. I spent 15 minutes observing Arp 6 or NGC 2537 (the Bear Paw Galaxy) at 295x and was easily able to see the 3 “toes” of the paw. WOW!

My observing buddy was so impressed with the design and workmanship, and the fact that it only uses one 9v battery that he will be calling you soon to make one for his 13” dob! Thank you again Tom!"

Mark Deprest - Ann Arbor, MI

"Thank you, I am a happy man now! Last night was the first chance to use the platform and we had exquisite
seeing! Till now I used at max 800x on my 20"/5 dob. (3mm Nagler zoom + Paracorr). Due to the platform tracking last night, I was able to use a 2x barlow and still the stars would not dance !

This drive is really doing a superb job and I could switch around oculars and barlow without losing the target. It simply wouldn't move from center! Now I could really take full advantage of the Zambuto mirror:

Pease 1 at 1500x without OIII blinking, just identifing the planetary as a patch between the star at right and left.
NGC 604 (1200x) in M33 showing additionally a number of individual stars or clumps of stars.

Although Einstein's cross wouldn't resolve into members, just a bright core in the feeble host galaxy, it was nevertheless a great experience.

Mars showing a wealth of detail for the 9" size diameter....The egg-nebula...it went on and on.

Your platform is the key to this type of observation: you just don't notice its presence, none of the backlash of the former drive anymore, just grab the tube to reorientate and then observe.....

Thanks again for your help all along to come to this happy end."

Marc Mathay, Luxembourg

"After nearly two weeks of clouds I was finally able to use my new Compact Platform Tuesday night, and I can report that it works great! Even with very approximate leveling and pointing North by dead-reckoning, it tracked more than adequately for my purposes. It was great to be able to go into the house and return to find things still centered in the field of view. But more than that, I was staggered by the extra amount of detail I could see on Jupiter (and I just happened to catch an eclipse in progress).

I felt that the increase in the amount of detail I could see was more than just being able to catch the moments of good seeing. I was used to that without tracking. Maybe just having the object stay still and not having to move my eye at all contributed to it. It was really quite striking. Of course on nights that support cranking up the power, the difference will be amazing.

I think I will also, with the Platform tracking, be able to refine my collimation by using high powers on a star test. The azimuth motion of the scope is maybe even a little better than it was with the original ground board.

By all means feel free to post my comments on your website. If people read them and decide to buy one of your platforms, they will be doing themselves a favor."

Chuck Cunningham Seattle, WA


"You made me a Compact Platform for a Starmaster 11" f5.4, a little less than a year ago. I had it out just last night, for the umpteenth time, and on a whim took it down to the street level (in Manhattan), and let passers-by take peeks at Saturn and Jupiter through the binoviewer. What fun, hearing the cries of sheer astonishment and delight.

I have to say that your Platform just totally transforms the experience of using a mid-range dob. I've always had fun with it by myself, but even sharing it with one other person has always been a bit of a chore, particularly at the high powers you need for planet-viewing. Before, I had to jump in front of people and re-center it for every glance. Now I can easily share it with a dozen people, and I can spend my time talking about what they're seeing, as they line up to look. All of this without being very careful about pointing it exactly north, or getting it exactly level. And when I'm by myself, I can just take the time to look, which is priceless. If I'd understood all this, I would have bought the Platform as part of the scope. Thanks for all the fun."

W. Tucker McCrady         New York, NY

"I've wanted a high performance newtonian ever since I viewed through a friend's superb 10 inch equatorial. However, I needed a portable scope, which led me to a Dobsonian. It was your Platform that prompted my purchase of a Starmaster, which I have used now with your Platform for the past three years. The Platform has worked flawlessly and allowed me to enjoy the superior image quality of the Starmaster. The setup is easy (especially with the optional polar alignment unit power finder) and the tracking is sufficiently accurate to use with the Sky Commander computer/digital setting circle setup. When I polar align with the finder I don't notice any image drift for the period I observe the object. This is exactly what I want it to do and I have been very happy with it. I also find the build quality to be excellent and you did a good job of matching the finish of the Starmaster's oak."

Phil Kavitsky

"Hi Tom, Well, I've had my Platform for about a month now, and I just wanted to let you know how it's working out. In a word, fantastic! Managed to get enough breaks in the weather to use it 7 or 8 times so far and it has performed flawlessly each time. I am very impressed with your workmanship and the fit and finish. Had it out for the first time at our monthly star party last night and everyone was very interested in the Platform and were all suitably impressed with it as well. I am very happy with the Platform and it is the perfect accessory for any dob."

Tim Davis         Vice President Tulsa Astronomy Club

"I just realized that I had never gotten back to you to let you know how happy I was with the Compact Platform that you made for my Teleport.

It works like a charm and I use it almost every time I set up the scope (which works like a charm too).

I've attached a picture which shows it set up just prior to a public viewing session on the grounds of the David Dunlap Observatory just north of Toronto. (The scope in the dome is a 74". ) The Platform has made it just soooo easy to share the views. That and the Zambuto mirror always brings comments like "I like that one the best" from both kids and parents.

You might also notice that I've got an Argo Navis on the scope. I had Tom Noe put on high resolution encoders and the system works exceptionally well with me being able to reset the platform and EQ TABLE timer and not having
to re-align.

All in all, I am very grateful to you for having produced such a well-engineered product."

John Ginder         Toronto, Ontario

"I wanted to tell you how pleased I am with my Dual-axis Aluminum Platform. I can use it either with my 13.2" Cass or my 15" f/5.5 Newtonian. I really appreciate how the wireless remote pad works for centering Mars in the field at high magnification. Thanks for a great product."

Dick Wessling        Milford, OH

Sandy Chang of Pearland, TX, recently took delivery of a 15" Compact Aluminum Platform for his Obsession Telescope. Here are his remarks:

"I just wanted you to know what a great performer my Platform is. Using a 4mm Radian on Mars at around 430x is no problem at all -- image is detailed and rock steady centered in the fov. I cannot believe how well it tracks with just a
simple sighting from the Polar Alignment Tool. Thanks for making such a great product."

"First of all, let me say that the quality of the work appears to be absolutely first rate. Everything arrived well packaged and in good shape. The wood work and finish is the same high quality as in my Starmaster telescope, and even though the shade of the finish is a slightly different, the scope and platform look like they were made for each other (which they were). Set up is easy, and it only adds a couple of minutes to my normal set up time. I presently don t have the luxury of setting up the platform in the same location each time, but I have developed a way of getting the polar alignment reasonably close, and pretty quickly, so that there is no noticeable drift in Jupiter at 300x in my eyepiece. It is great to be able to just observe, rather than the push and drift, push and drift routine that I was doing previously. I have recently read of the user of a different platform complaining of some noticeable vibration with the tracking of another brand of platform, but the image with your dual axis platform is rock steady, even when the scope is placed on an elevated wooden deck.

The platform performs and looks exactly as promised and does both at a very high level. Thanks again for the excellent quality product."

Chuck Story        Mentor, OH

"Our skies have refused to let us fire up your platform since receiving it several weeks ago. We had hoped to get out there for a test run prior to our public viewing scheduled for tonight. Several people planning to attend called to ask if we were still on. I looked out the window and saw only deep blue sky. I told them absolutely. What better way to honor 7 brave astronauts. I closed the store early and raced home to get everything set up. The platform was so simple to run and set up. Dad and I noticed how steady the sky seemed which is a rarity 1st night after a front pushes through. We set up on Saturn, turned on the drive and watched for any noticeable drift. None, so we stuck an 8mm in. No drift and tracking extremely well. Tried a 2 inch barlow and the 8mm and I have never seen Saturn so detailed, so sharp. The seeing was as close to perfect as I have ever seen here. Your platform is incredible, highly accurate, and very simple to operate. You have given our Dob a new life. And sent 12 people home very happy and excited to have been out here on this perfect evening."

Kevin and Dave Kussow         Franklin, NC


"I wanted to wait until I had a chance to use your Aluminum Platform under my 15 Obsession several times before I sent you feedback. I have been to two local star parties with it and used it several times in my driveway. At the local star parties it was a showstopper. Everyone was impressed with the flawless tracking; no one had ever seen a finer quality platform. Ease of setup, low profile and buttery smooth operation make it a must have for any Dob owner. Viewing at high power is now the norm instead of the exception with your platform. Thank you for making your talents and craftsmanship available to the amateur astronomy world."

John E. Stefan         Albany, OR


"After getting your e-mail, I got to work and successfully married the Equatorial Platform and the 15" Obsession together in the living room. It was sort of a test run. Then I broke down the various components into manageable units and moved everything out to the back yard and set everything back up. I started to view the Moon just to get a feel for how the system tracked. I had only a rough polar alignment using a set of bench marks on our patio roof. The Platform tracked the Moon for an hour with only a minor nudge about half way through. Eventually as it got dark I viewed Venus, M4, M22, M8, M57, Albireo, and M13. I can not believe how flawlessly, and quietly, the drive tracked everything. It is also amazing how smoothly the telescope can be moved in azimuth. The viewing pleasure with tracking is immense. You can be sure that I shall give unequivocal good endorsement of the platform at any star party where I see someone with a big Dobsonian using the nudging method.

Thanks again for a wonderful product and the pleasure it gives to observing."

George Varga         San Diego, CA

"I haven't had a chance to write and let you know how pleased I am with my Platform until now.

The first thing I noticed was how well you packaged it, labelled various details of the Platform with cards and arrows, and included both the wrench for the bolt and the battery for the hand controller! Wow, someone who thinks like me!

The platform is wonderful and tracks very well. It is so nice to be hunting Herschel II objects without having to keep moving the scope back to my starting position! The platform is quite smooth and very quiet. Anyway, thanks again for such a fine piece of machinery."

John Karaffa         Verona, VA

"I own a Tom Osypowski Equatorial Platform and I believe that it is one of the two ESSENTIAL "accessories" for dob owners (the other would be a Parracor). You're almost crazy not to have one. The Platform takes up minimal space, doesn't weigh a ton (like a German EQ), and is ready to go in seconds. And it also is much cheaper than a GEM that could carry your scope."

Jeff Morgan         Fresno, CA

"Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that the star drift alignment procedure you sent me worked very well. I performed the procedure at TSP on the first evening and never had to touch it for the rest of the week. That is one solid platform. I must admit, it dwarfs all the other platforms I saw. The acid test was a 4mm Radian at 456x. The platform held the star to with in about 1 minute of the center of the field for the the entire tracking run of about 65 minutes. I am extremely pleased with the performance of this 9 year old unit. Further, it works in perfect harmony with the SkyCommander system. Every 'reset' was on the money. Your product is truly well engineered, durable, accurate, and easy to use and I can highly recommend it."

Lynn Gibson         Burnet TX

"Tom, I had the new platform out for the first time this weekend, and wanted to let you know what a difference it made in my observing. The seeing was only so-so, but after only a casual eye-ball alignment with Polaris, Saturn stayed dead-center for as long as I wanted, and I was able to take advantage of the times when the air settled down for a minute or two and really see some detail. The whole night went like that; objects I would look at for a few seconds in the past, at low power, became available for prolonged study at magnifications as high as the air would allow.

The best scope is the one you can use the most, and adding the platform hasn't changed the appeal of my 18". I can carry the platform with one hand, and it adds only about 90 seconds to my setup time, but it completely transforms the scope without changing the feel or stability at all. I knew the quality of your carpentry & electronics work before I ordered the platform, but I admit that I was surprised at the way it has changed what it is possible for me to see with my telescope. Thanks again for such a fine product."

Michael Deneen         Boxford, MA

"I have not corresponded in awhile. Just thought I would let you know that I still own the platform that I bought several years ago. I use it every time I set up and the platform still performs flawlessly. It is as necessary to my viewing as the scope itself. The platform that I was fortunate enough to purchase from you is a perfect match for my 15" f/5. At the Mid Atlantic Star Party in Oct. 2001, the seeing was exceptional one night, and Saturn was really rockin at about 600 power. I would never have been able to see it so clearly without the platform."

Allen Davis         Enfield, NC

Rodger Blake recently took delivery of a 20" Dual-axis Aluminum Platform for his fine Obsession Telescope. Here is his comment:

"I love the platform. I'm long winded.

I got to use the platform at the Seneca Shadows camp ground this weekend. This site is 21 miles (road, less by crow) from Spruce knob, which is - arguably - the best dark sky site in WV. And it was the new moon. And as it would happen my Son's BSA troop was camping near there at Seneca Shadows so ...

I put up the scope and we started out with M13. Having been Platform-less since November I have gotten used to observing sessions with the scouts going something like this: Aim at object, check in low power EP, run down ladder, get one maybe 2-3 kids up to see object before one says "I don't see anything", run up ladder, recenter ... repeat.

Friday was different.

I switched on the platform and set it. I aimed at M13. I checked in the EP. I told the kids to first look in the finder (80mm Orion Short Tube mounted on the UTA) and then in the telescopes EP. One scout goes up the ladder, then another, then another, then a leader, then a mother, then a scout ... I begin to wonder what they are looking at. I keep thinking I must go check in the EP but the line is long and I hate to interrupt. Only by watching the kids and listening when they look in the EP could I reassure myself that it was tracking. The response was the same. Look in the finder ... do you see it ... fuzzy yes good ... now look in the EP ... "WOW". This happened again and again and again. Finally I could stand it no longer, I butted in line (well it is my scope), ran up the ladder ... "WOW" ... there it was M13 - still in the EP. Thanks. Platform works great."

Rodger Blake         Huntington, WV

" I had a decent sky a few nights ago, and the Compact Platform tracked beautifully. I just kept leaving and coming back later, and it was always still there. Some kind of magic that stops the earth from turning, I suppose...! It's also quite beautiful (see photo). You really did a great job. It's more compact than I expected, and is a real class act. "

Tom Noe         Teleport Telescopes         Wylie, TX

"I would like to comment on the purchase of the Dual-Axis Equatorial Platform for my 25" f/5 Dobsonian. I've been a serious deep-sky observer for nearly 35 years. For the past 15 years, I've been using a 12.5" f/6 Newtonian mounted on a Byers 812 equatorial mount. The long-discontinued Byers has always been a delight to use.

When I was ready to move up in aperture, there was little option other than a Dobsonian. The new 25" telescope performs superbly. Objects are 4 times brighter than in the 12.5". But there's one serious drawback: the lack of having it equatorially driven.

A few months ago, I decided to buy Tom Osypowski's Equatorial Platform. I am able to set the telescope on top of the platform single-handed in a matter of minutes. I was a bit dubious about how well the unit would perform. Let me say it is worth every penny of its cost. I simply aim the center-line of the platform toward Polaris for initial setup, flip the switch, and presto, I now have a giant telescope that can track the stars. My first test was Saturn. At 200x, it remained frozen in the center of the field of view, even without careful polar-alignment. At 360x, it still remained in the field of view for 15 minutes or so. The next night, I was a bit more accurate on polar aligning, and tracking was as accurate as my Byers mount.

Can one see a difference with a telescope that tracks the stars? You'd better believe it! I am able to instantly see the central star in the Ring Nebula. I had seen it before but not as easily as I can now that I don't have to battle the constant drifting of object across the field of view. As an avid planetary nebula observer, I enjoy examining a star field at high powers without having to re-center the suspected planetary. Last night, while observing NGC 2392 (Eskimo Nebula) in Gemini, I was able to use a 6mm TeleVue Radian eyepiece yielding 529x. The detail in the nebula was as I've never seen it before. I then tried a 2.5mm Lanthanum eyepiece at 1200x! It's a cinch to center the object at such high powers using the slow-motion controller included with the Platform. The nebula practically filled the entire field of view and remained centered as I studied the intricate detail.

M42, the Great Orion Nebula, is a sight to behold in a 25" telescope at 300x. I am able to see not only the 5th and 6th stars within the Trapezium (stars E, F), but also the 7th and 8th stars (G & H) as well. Prior to using the Equatorial Platform, I have never seen these two stars.

What amazes me is the compactness and quality of engineering of the platform. How did I ever live without it? And it raised the already tall telescope only 7", not all that objectionable. The stability of the telescope is virtually identical to using it without the platform.

Lately I have read about the availability of several home-made, and one commercially-made, GO TO & computer tracking kits for Dobsonian telescopes. The concept sounds intriguing indeed. However, as a serious observer, I can tell you that the idea is better on paper than in real-life use in the field. They slew too slowly for my taste, even at 1000x times the tracking rate. It'll still take 60 seconds or longer to slew to opposite ends of the sky, not to mention the battery consumption of these GO TO units. Tom Osypowski's Equatorial Platform consumes minimal battery power. In fact, the optional rechargeable gel-cell battery generally lasts three observing evenings, even in cold weather when observing up to 6 hours per night. Another advantage is that, with a Dobsonian telescope riding on the Platform, all the motions of the telescope remain the same as without the Platform. Furthermore, there are no gears to engage or disengage.

Rather than a GO TO unit, I much prefer to use a Dobsonian fitted with standard digital setting circles on the Equatorial Platform and manually move the telescope towards the deep-sky object until the digital setting circles count down to zero. What could be more simple and foolproof? I can slew to opposite ends of the sky in less than 5 seconds, much faster than any motorized GO TO telescope. If the battery in the platform should die, you can still use the telescope as you normally would, albeit without the drive capability.

I find Tom Osypowski's Equatorial Platform hardly an accessory for my 25" f/5 telescope. It should be considered a necessity for any serious deep-sky observer."

Kent Blackwell         Virginia Beach, VA