ScopeBuggy Review

ScopeBuggy

Specifics:

  • Designed to easily help you move astronomy equipment around or in and out of storage, saving time (and your back!) from setting up, hauling and dismantling telescopes
  • This product has been tested to handle weight loads up to 600 pounds
  • Has three 10″ pneumatic wheels that will easily go over rough or soft terrain
  • All ScopeBuggy products are made in house and are made of steel with high-gloss, black powdered finish
  • Comes in four types: Standard (up to 52”), Extended (up to 62”), Mini-Buggy (narrower than Standard for going through doorways and halls), Super Buggy for the big guys on the block (non-adjustable, custom-width, made from heavier gauge steel)
  • Contact ScopeBuggy for special needs or custom configurations so that they may help you get behind your scope

Cost in US dollars:

  • Standard, Extended and Mini-buggy – $325.00 + shipping (shipping varies on country destination)
  • Super Buggy – $395 + $54 for shipping in USA only
  • Power Supply Tray accessory – $19.95 + shipping (free shipping if ordered with your ScopeBuggy)

My husband and I moved this spring and had to leave our observatory behind. Not knowing when we’ll be able to have a new one built, it left me with little opportunity to use my 16” reflector because of its weight and my husband’s work schedule. Although I can dismantle the scope and carry each piece individually by myself, the primary mirror is so heavy I can only carry it a short distance. It was obvious that I would require a cart to haul the scope around longer distances and also to keep from having to dismantle the scope every time I wished to observe. I had read reviews for the ScopeBuggy and made a decision to purchase one to use both at home and for outreach events.

The purchase was made online at http://www.scopebuggy.com via PayPal. Their website was easy to navigate and to ensure you choose the correct type, they ask for the size and make of your telescope as well as the mount used. I ordered a standard-sized one on May 3, 2012. The confirmation received said to allow 4 weeks for delivery; however, the reviews I read stated to expect 6 weeks. I emailed Larry from ScopeBuggy on June 15th to inquire on the shipment date, as a tracking number was not given at time of order. Larry responded via email the same day to say shipment would be there on June 18th and gave me his phone number in case I had questions.

Arrival of the ScopeBuggy:

The package arrived on the 18th and was delivered in good condition.

All pieces of the buggy were wrapped well and there were no scratches or dents.

Included were instructions on how to assemble the ScopeBuggy, contact info, tourist information on Elephant Butte, NM and information on how to mount Dobsonians to the ScopeBuggy.

There is no list of parts for the ScopeBuggy, but a quick scan through the assembly instructions confirmed that nothing was missing. Clockwise starting at lower left corner: front steering yoke, hardware, three 3/8” bolts to keep the buggy from moving, three foot pads (the smaller ones are shown in this photo), three 10″ pneumatic wheels, gooseneck bar, t-bar, two rear axles, push/pull handle. The tape measure is mine and did not come with the buggy.

Tools that I needed for assembly were two wrenches for the bolts and a pair of pliers for the cotter pins. Hardware included: five cotter pins, one clip pin, wheel bushing and front wheel axle, two bolts and nuts used to hold the gooseneck in place on the t-bar.

One of the footpads’ bases is larger than the other two and is used to slip on to the gooseneck. The two smaller ones are for the rear axles and are small enough not to slip over the rear section of the t-bar.


Assembly:

The picture below shows the larger footpad in place on the gooseneck.

The smaller footpad slides over the rear axle but not over the t-bar.

The gooseneck is held firmly to the t-bar with two bolts/nuts in the pre-drilled holes of the center bar. There are three holes to allow length adjustment of the gooseneck from 32” to a reach of 38”. If more length is needed, you can contact ScopeBuggy and request an extension bar.

The front wheel is easily put in place with the bushing and axle. One side of the wheel requires a bushing and the other side has a bearing hub already in place. The wheels are made of gold anodized steel.

The instruction pamphlet assumes that you are knowledgeable with cotter pins. Nowhere in the instructions does it mention where (or how) you are to use them. It’s pretty self-explanatory though, as they are to be used to hold the wheels in place.

Expect a little bit of play between the wheel and the cotter pin. ScopeBuggy states this is normal and will not affect its performance. I will confirm that statement is true, having used the ScopeBuggy on several occasions.

The photo below shows the yoke attached with the key pin.

Assembled ScopeBuggy – assembly took about 15-20 minutes after removing all materials from its box.

Putting the mount on the buggy:

To my dismay, the t-bar was too long for the feet of my mount. The t-bar was 30” wide and the two rear feet of my mount were only 23” apart.

Close up of the footpad and one of the rear feet of the mount:

I phoned Larry to explain the situation. He apologized and told me that he had upgraded my order to the larger ScopeBuggy based on the size telescope I had and that evidently the smaller foot pads were put in the box instead of the larger ones. I assumed that he meant the square base of the footpad needed to be larger to fit over the rear section of the t-bar.

When the new footpads arrived, the square bases of them were the same size as the original ones, only the round footpad sections of them were larger. I called Larry again and reiterated the measurements. Larry was very apologetic stating that he misunderstood the first time, although I’m certain the fault was likely mine for not explaining the problem very well. He told me the best thing to do was to cut the excess length off of both sides of the rear section of the t-bar with a hacksaw, being very careful to get the measurements correct. He set my mind to ease stating that to do so would not weaken the integrity of the buggy. For anyone wondering how the rear axles remain in place without the use of bolts to secure them to the t-bar (as the gooseneck is held in place), the weight of the tripod/mount is responsible for locking the axles in place. I have to admit I was a bit dubious until I used the ScopeBuggy several times and discovered they did indeed remain in place and didn’t slide outward, even with turning the buggy around corners.

The scope now fits firmly into all three footpads.

Larry told me to keep the larger footpads in case I might be able to find use for them at a later date.

I’ve read reviews that stated the handle of the buggy has potential for people to trip over it during the night. The handle that came with mine slips easily under the buggy when I turn the wheel ~ 180 degrees. If you find that yours doesn’t, the handle comes off easily by removing the key pin.

The three securing bolts can be screwed down to the ground to keep the buggy from moving while observing. I’ve heard that some people attach a crank handle onto them for faster turning.

If you have rough terrain, you may want to keep in mind that there is a 1-½” clearance from the bottom of the ScopeBuggy bar to the ground. My yard is fairly uneven and rough but I have yet to encounter a problem with moving the scope around on the buggy. ScopeBuggy suggests using a bungee cord to secure your mount or tripod while moving the telescope. I tilt my scope down toward me and hold on to it with one hand while wheeling the buggy around in the yard for ease of mind.

How easily does everything pack up to take to another observing site? I simply remove the two rear axles (remember, no pins or bolts hold them onto the t-bar) and lay them on top of the gooseneck/t-bar section to the side of my mount. They take up very little space even with those 10” tires. I have a CRV and packed up my 16” reflector with its Dobsonian mount, my LXD 75, a refractor, and my other accessories and still had room to spare. You can barely spot one of the wheels of the buggy off to the right under the white step stool.

I looked at other carts and casters before purchasing this buggy. All of them had too small (and hard) of wheels that would have made it nearly impossible to use on anything but pavement, whereas the pneumatic rubber tires of the ScopeBuggy are perfect for rolling a scope across a yard or field to pick the best observing location that session. I also think the the three wheel design makes it more maneuverable. It’s very easy to steer and pull and there’s no worry of pushing the scope off the buggy like I’ve seen in other designs.

All in all, I’m very pleased with my ScopeBuggy and would certainly recommend it to others. It’s a great product with terrific customer service. Larry was very pleasant, helpful and supportive (and accessible!) by email and phone conversations.

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~ by Erika Rix on August 9, 2012.

One Response to “ScopeBuggy Review”

  1. Hi Erika,
    thanks heaps for explaining the assembly in detail. I stumbled over the cotter pins, and thanks to you I don’t need the help of a DIY specialist. I got my scopebuggy today and found the instruction for the assembly a bit tricky ( my mother tongue not being English, and DIY is not my hobby).
    Clear skies,
    R.Weissenegger
    Austria

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