Basic, Deluxe, Super Deluxe, or Super 8 Deluxe?
(These descriptions pertain to UniStar, UniStar Light, MicroStar and MacroStar which are all available as Basic, Deluxe or Super Deluxe. UniStar Light Basic is shown at above right, UniStar Light Deluxe is shown at bottom left)
The Basic models are comprised of a long flat plate with a slot cut fore and aft to accept thumbscrews for mounting typical tube rings. Because there are no means to attach anything near the center of the plate, scopes with clamshell-type tube rings or a single camera tripod mounting hole, require our Clamshell Adapter Plate which attaches to the scope then allows attaching to the Basic model with thumbscrews. The benefit of this accessory is that it provides 2" of balance travel as it is designed to slide back-and-forth in the slots that are cut into the Basic Head.
The Deluxe models are a Saddle/Plate system. The scope requires a male dovetail mounting plate (or rail) attached to it and can then attach to the Deluxe Head which has a female dovetail saddle design. This allows for quick installation and removal of the optics, as well as allows for balancing the optics for and aft. The amount of travel for balance is dependent on the length of the mounting plate. The UniStar Light and MicroStar Deluxe heads hold the plate with a single clamping knob and is designed to hold rails from 1.5-2.25" wide. This includes Vixen, Orion, Celestron, Meade (these are all Synta rails from China), Astro-Physics, etc, and our own 2" saddle plate.
The MicroStar or UniStar Light Super Deluxe incorporates the saddle design reserved for the larger UniStar/MacroStar Deluxe (description can be found in the next paragraph). Its a $50 upgrade from the standard Light Deluxe head. The advantages of this design is that the moveable jaw is non-marring, but its largest benefit is its ability to accept any dovetail plate between 1.5-3.25" wide.
The larger UniStar Deluxe incorporates a moving jaw on one side that clamps the saddle plate with a single handknob. This is available with a choice of either our 2" or 3" Jaw. Which one to choose can typically depend on the equatorial mount that the UniStar may share duty with or if the scope has a particular dovetail plate of its own. If neither of these factors pertain, then the customer can choose the saddle/plate based on the size of the scope. Best recommendation is that for over 15 lbs, the 3" jaw will carry the load better. The 2" jaw will carry all the rails listed above, the 3" jaw will carry Losmandy, Astro-Physics and Celestron's wider plate, etc, and our own 3" plate. Even if only one jaw size is required, purchasing both jaws ($25 additional) allows many benefits in that it will allow the UniStar mount to accept any dovetail rail between 1.5-3.25" which means no future problems with EQ mount compatability. And it will also ensure easy resale in the future as the mount will not be restricted to compatibility with only certain EQ mounts. UniStar Light and MicroStar can be upgraded to this head, its actually a necessity if you are trying to use a 3" mounting plate, or if you prefer the non-marring design of the clamping jaw rather than the clamping screw.
The Super 8 Deluxe is the same design as the larger UniStar Deluxe but with a longer saddle with 2 clamping jaws. This is recommended for loads over 25 lbs or for longer refractors. Its a $50 upgrade from the standard Deluxe UniStar.