Although I originally intended to use it on a Vixen Porta II/SXG Hal-130 tripod combination I discovered it would easily balance well on my Sky-Watcher AZ5. This made it even more of a grab'n'go scope for me. I never used it as stock and replaced its original focuser with a dual speed heavy duty TS Optics (
This was fine and worked really well after I added twin finder shoes, a Baader adapter, and sorted out all of the back or in-focusing problems and suitable accessories etc.
However, early last year I started experimenting with actually rotating the focuser. I'm physically disabled so this function can make life a lot easier for me, especially with a heavy 2” diagonal and eyepiece. After a while I noticed that the focuser was often less smooth and sometimes distinctly rough to turn. It was almost as if something internally was 'grinding' and causing friction. Even Guan Sheng Optical are surprisingly candid about the rotation capabilities of their focusers.
4. 360-degree Rotation
These focusers are rotatable, i.e., you can turn the entire focuser body/diagonal/eyepiece combination into a better observing position by loosening or tightening a large silver thumbscrew on the top of the focuser. However, please note that this is a relatively weak feature of this otherwise excellent product. We inspect every single focuser and tweak/lube it as much as we can, but the rotation is often not smooth over the entire 360-degrees and may bind in a few spots, requiring additional effort to rotate it. This is probably a minor annoyance since most people will not use this feature very often.
~ Manufacturer's description.
The trouble is I'm not 'most people' and after a while I had found this feature virtually indispensable. I had actually noticed the 'minor annoyance' of the uneven rotation early in use but initially dismissed it. However the 'grinding' happened with the focuser knob itself and I could even feel it through the fine focus knob. It seemed related to the rotation angle but was oddly sometimes just as smooth as it always was. I believe that it was related to the way the actual mechanism works. The rotating part of the focuser seemed to sag somewhat when the rotation knob is loosened and I think at certain angles the clutch plate didn’t always connect back properly when re-tightened. In retrospect I now believe this to be an inherent design flaw. It's intriguing, if slightly perplexing, that
Fortunately Sky-Watcher focusers are now equipped with finder shoe holes, which is a bit of a deal breaker for me. So I removed the TS Optics focuser and replaced it with the dual speed Sky-Watcher Crayford equivalent. I’m not totally positive but there is a good chance these are manufactured by Long Perng. They seem to have an excellent reputation.
There is a definite improvement in rotation. The rotating part of the focuser doesn't sag when the rotational screw is loosened and the mechanism seems as smooth as the focuser on my Altair Starwave. There is only one large set screw to hold the diagonal however, unlike the usual pair of screws on 2” focuser units. The one screw seems capable enough although I managed to obtain a second and use both.
The focal plane has now changed as the new focuser is physically longer (132mm + 80mm when draw tube fully extended). This did initially cause occasional in-focusing problems with some eyepiece and diagonal combinations. This was essentially remedied by trial and error. In fact I even thought that the focusing itself was smoother and more precise.
The main thing is that it still fits into my grab’n’go bag lol.