Dovetail and Saddle plates allow you to securely attach one piece of equipment to another. A dovetail plate (usually just called a dovetail) is an anodized aluminum bar with precision rail-like dovetails along the length. The dovetails are typically male. The most common use is to mount your OTA to your telescope mount. The dovetail plate screws securely onto the bottom of your OTA. The saddle plate screws to your telescope mount. You then slide the male dovetail plate onto the female saddle plate on your mount. The saddle plate has a clamping mechanism. Secure the clamping mechanism and your telescope is now securely attached to your mount.
“D” and “V size Dovetails
Dovetail plates come in different widths and lengths, and you choose the size based on the equipment you plan to mount together. The most popular widths are 4", also called "D" Series dovetails (made popular by Losmandy) and 1.7", also known as a "V" Series plate (made popular by Vixen). In general, larger or heavier mounts and telescopes call for "D" series plates or a customized plate that is made specifically for the system, and lighter weight telescopes and mounts, use the narrower “V” dovetail plate. Usually your telescope mount will determine what size dovetail you will use.
“D” Size Dovetails, Radius Blocks and Screws
The “D” series dovetails require radius blocks (for some telescope OTAs) and screws to attach to your OTA, and these will vary depending on the OTA that they will be attached to. Our Farpoint “D” sized dovetails are sold as a kit that includes the required radius blocks and screws.
Mounting “V” Size Dovetails
Meade 7, 8, and 10 inch “V” series dovetails screw directly to your OTA without radius blocks. The Celestron 8 requires radius strips and a spacer puck. Celestron 9.25 inch, and 11 inch OTA’s require radius blocks. All dovetails still require screws, which again may vary depending on your OTA. Sometimes the screws and/or radius blocks vary depending on the year that the OTA was manufactured.
2nd Accessory Dovetail
Quite often, you have a second dovetail plate on the top of your OTA. You can use this second dovetail to attach several saddle plate mounted accessories to your scope. Examples are scope rings for a finder scope, counterweights, piggy-back photography accessories, etc.
Consider your weight load when choosing accessories. If you have any questions regarding which plate(s) you should use for your setup, give us a call at Cloud Break Optics. We're here to help.