Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spotting Scope sight mount

For a long time I have been trying to figure out a way to mount a sight of some sort on my Nikon ED82 (angled) spotting scope. As a birdwatching enthusiast I find it very hard at times to spot a bird with my scope. Especially if it is a lonely bird on a cloudless sky, eg. a predator looking for pray.

Many scopes come with a sort of sight-system, eg. the Nikon ED82 has two rails on the side at the back and at the front made for use as a front and back sight system. But Nikon, if you are reading this, they are completely useless! The only usable solution for a sight I have seen is on Vortex scopes that come with a weaver-rail attached to the body. It is possible to attach scopes, sights, lights, laser...on theses rails. Smart!

Many Finns have solved this problem by tightening a long zip-tie around the scopes "barrel", and leaving the end sticking up in front of the ocular. Which leaves a sort of two point aiming device, similar to those on eg. rifles. Because I use a "stay-on-case" this solution wasn't feasible for my, as I would have had to bend the "sight" back and forth under the case.

My solution was a red dot-sight that I mounted on a camera accessory arm. It took me a while to figure out this setting. At first I sought a way to attach the sight directly on the scope body. However, there were two problems with this: first of all I didn't want to alter the structure of the scope body by eg. drilling or gluing on it, second there isn't one straight surface on the scope except for the sun-shade which is too flimsy. So I had to come up with some way of attaching the scope to the quick release system or tripod head. After many hours of thinking and searching the web I learned that photographers use "arms" made of metal and compound materials for attaching accessories, eg. flashes, to the camera or tripod.

So I ordered a "camera-c-accessory bracket"-arm from amazon UK for 15€ including shipping. Some Weaver-rails from a airsoft store(these can also be found at gun stores/smiths, but at least here in Finland prices were 50€ up!), for 10€ a piece and some weaver to 11mm adapters. And of course the red-dot sight: a Sightmark sight for around 50€. At first I bought the cheapest I could find, a Luger red-dot sight, but it broke as I was trying to switch it on!

I mounted the c-bracket on the quick-realese plate with one 1/4UNC camera screw and by drilling a 4mm hole right through the bracket and the plate and a 4mm bolt through there. I used the same method for attaching the weaver-rail to the bracket, one bolt through existing holes and drilling one 4mm hole right through. From there on I simply attached my spotting scope to the QR-plate and the sight on the weaver-rail and after some adjustments: voila! A working red dot-sight on my spotting scope.

After a successful field-test at Vik in Helsinki I can say that the thing works as a charm! I can not understand how I managed to live without it. Aiming and "finding" a bird with the scope is super easy and super fast! I was even able to find a tringa flying fast on a cloudless sky!

On the page of Nordöstra Skånes fågelklubb is a simliar solution for a older swarovski tube, read it here.

Here are some pictures(the tripod is a Benro C-458 (C4580T) Mg- Carbon Tripod with a Sirui VH-10 head):

Sight in use in the field.

Sight in use in the field. Viewed from the side.

4mm bolts used.

The C-bracket attached to the QR-plate with a 1/4-screw and 4mm bolt.

QR-plate from the underneath.

Weaver-rail attached to the C-bracket, view from underneath.

Weaver-rail attached to the C-bracket, view from side.

Sight viewed from side.