StarBound Observing Chair
Maybe I'm a lazy astronomer but I find sitting down while observing much more enjoyable than standing. Recently a few manufacturers have come out with adjustable height observing chairs. I did some research and found that a company named StarBound makes the most popular chair. It is not cheap, costing about $150.00 but I wanted a quality chair that would last a long time.
The StarBound observing chair is made out of welded steel tubing and finished in black powder coated paint. It unfolds into the shape of a letter "A" and a padded seat rides up and down one side. The design is similar to the Denver Seat that was featured in the newsletter several months ago. I purchased the StarBound chair before the annual LCAS New Mexico trip with the intension of giving it a serious workout. Well, the weather in New Mexico didn't cooperate like I had hoped but I was still able to form some conclusions about the chair.
First, I found it difficult to move the seat to different positions. The adjustments are made by first lifting the seat up at a slight angle. The seat can then be raised or lowered to any height. The problem is that the seat bracket is a little too snug causing binding. As the seat is lifted, the entire chair lifts off the ground. Every time I needed a slight adjustment I needed to get up, put my foot on the bottom of the chair to hold it down and then jiggle the seat to the right height. This became aggravating after awhile. Perhaps after the chair wears a little it will be easier to adjust.
Another problem with the StarBound chair is in the design of the front feet. Thin walled steel tubing is inserted into two rubber feet. As you put weight on the chair, the tubing quickly cuts through the soft rubber leaving the bare metal to contact the ground. I spoke with two other owners and they had the same problem. To fix the problem, I inserted a couple of steel washers into the rubber feet. A friend found that a couple of quarters fit well also. The idea is that the tubing will press against the washers and distribute the force through the rubber feet. I was recently told that replacement feet made out of a harder material could be obtained through medical equipment dealers. I think I will replace the feet soon because even with the washers installed the original ones are wearing very quickly.
I was also a little disappointed that the hardware used to hold the chair together was not made of stainless steel. I expect to have to replace the screws and bolts when they start to rust.
Negatives aside, I am very pleased with the StarBound chair. It is fairly compact and lightweight. The seat is comfortable and adjusts to any height I would ever need. It certainly makes long observing sessions more enjoyable which is why I purchased it to begin with.Published in the May 2002 issue of the NightTimes