Dale Keller's Parallelogram Binocular Mount
Dale Keller built this parallelogram binocular mount. It's mounted
on an old surveyors tripod and carries a pair
of 20x80 binoculars. This mount (not including the tripod) can cost less
than $25.00 to build if you have some scrap metal laying around, and is better than the commercial ones costing over $200.00.
The arms are made of 1" square aluminum tubing, and are longer than the commercial ones. This gives extra vertical travel so tall people can look directly overhead, and little kids can see too.
The top side pieces are 1/8" aluminum plate, and the bottom ones are 3/8"
thick. The extra length arms requires a heavier counterweight than the
shorter ones would use. Of course you can make the arms shorter or longer
to meet your needs.
Some expensive mounts don't provide any handles at all, or the handles they do provide are awkward to use. The V-handles on this mount make it very easy to point the binoculars. With the extra leverage from the long handles, you can easily track moving objects like airplanes and satellites. These handles are made from PVC pipe, heated, bent, and flattened on the ends. Before mounting these handles, clamp them on and look through the binoculars in all positions. This will help you to place the handles correctly, so they don't hit your face or chest.
The binocular rocker (the wooden thing at the top) has a large surface area which is clamped between the aluminum side pieces. You adjust the friction with a large knob which is a nut on the axle. The side pieces should be spaced just slightly wider than the thickness of the wood to allow free travel. The binocular bracket is a pair of inverted T bars screwed to the wood with a block of aluminum in between. A captive 1/4-20 screw is placed in a hole through the block, and a large knob is attached. A rubber washer is glued to the
face of the block for the binoculars to rest against.
With 20x80 binocs, it can be hard to find objects because of the high power. A simple sighting tube was made from thinwall steel tubing. This sighting tube rests on a bracket on top of the binocular bracket. The binoculars slip over the sighting tube to attach to the bracket.
You don't have to use metal everywhere on this mount. You can substitute wood for the swivel base if you're more comfortable working with it. The dimensions aren't critical. Feel free to change the sizes to fit your needs.
I used very thin washers (cut from sheet metal) on each side of the arms. This separates the arms slightly from the side plates and provides smooth motion. You can also use teflon or fiber washers.
The base is an aluminum disk riding on an aluminum block. A vertical 1/4-20 hole goes all the way through the block. A stud is placed in the top half of the hole, and held with Locktite. This is the azimuth axle. A warpy washer and nut provide the tension. The bottom half of the hole is used for the tripod screw. White grease lubricates the disk.
The counterweight shaft is 1" steel round. The end is filed square to fit in the aluminum tube, and a screw holds it in place. Assemble the mount, put your binocs on it, and then hang a basket on the counterweight shaft. Clamp or tape it on. Place rocks in the basket until it balances. Then make a counterweight which weighs as much as your basket of rocks. The counterweight used on this mount is a steel weight from a weightlifters set, which is made for a 1" shaft.
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