Mounting the Vortex Solo RT on an Impulse200LR

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M.W.Taylor
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Mounting the Vortex Solo RT on an Impulse200LR

Post by M.W.Taylor » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:59 pm

Erik's recent post inspired me to attempt the Vortex Solo RT install onto one of my extra Impulse200LR range finders. Not only are the optics superior on the Vortex, but you get the benefit of a fine reticle scope which you can use for volume determination.

When shooting to the side of a tree trunk, the starting point for the reticle counting is already in it's correct place so you do not need to relocate the point the was targeted by laser before it. When measuring trunk volumes I often find myself doubting if I hit the trunk at the same height with reticle scope as I did with the laser shot previously. So then I do more than one laser shot to confirm I am hitting the same position. With reticle scope already used for laser pointing, this extra step is no longer necessary and hitting the same point is worry free.

One thing to consider when mounting the Vortex onto you Impulse200LR. The scope is offset a little. To correct for this offset, I mounted the scope offset so that the crosshair centers up with the laser in the left and right direction. This allows targeting fine pointy tops are a great distance without any guesswork.

To start, I pulled the 11mm plate off one of my non working parts Impulse200s. Then I did the following:
1)Drilled two 13/64 holes (this is the correct size hole for a 1/4-20 tap).
2) Used the tap die to create two 1/4-20 threads.
3) Cut a piece 1/8" aluminum bar stock from Ace Hardware with one end bent upward on a vise to allow it to fit into the bolt mount already on the Vortex Solo Rt.
4) Ground a radius into the top of it so it fits snuggly against the Vortex's curved surface.
5) Drilled the back hole on this 1/8" bar stock as a single pivot point and slotted the front part so I could swivel the mount left or right. The 1/8" bar stock bends easily upwards or downwards so this is how I adjust the elevation. I offset the holes on the 1/8" bar stock mount so that the scope is centered with the center of the Laser body and thus centered with the laser. See pictures.
6)Exchanged the 11mm top plate with a pair of 1/4-20 threads back onto a working Impulse200LR.
7) Mounted the Vortex onto the Impulse and tightened down the two 1/4-20 bolts until you can just barely move the Vortex left or right.
8) Mounted the Impulse200LR on a stable tripod and L bracket and target a pointy tree with no reflectable targets for the laser in the background. To center the laser I pivoted it left and right until it had the same distance in both the left and right fields when getting a return on the pointy top tree.
9) Bent the 1/8" aluminum upwards until you get the same distance of separation for the left to right returns on the point top. I basically centered the laser conic on the pointy top tree in the upper, left and right side by using the toggle noise to indicate when a target has been acquired. The width of the laser depends on the distance of the target being acquired. The key here is to center it in the left, right and top parts so it is equal in angular difference. From far away, this separation is big.
10) Once verifying it was centered, torqued down the 1/4-20 bolts to lock in place.
11) Used a thumb sized piece of JB plastic putty that has a 15 minute set time to fill in the spaces between the vortex scope and 1/8" bar stock. By filling in these gaps you will stabilize the mount and create a rock solid base with a semi-rigid plastic epoxy that does not move after setting. But it is not brittle like typically epoxy.

12) Allowed a good 30 minutes for the plastic epoxy putty to set and then checked alignment again. Once verifying the alignment is good, I applied a more generous amount of epoxy putty between the 1/8" bar stock mount and also between the 11m plate mount and bar stock. Fill in any gap that would allow any flexing or shaking. In other words, create a robust base using the epoxy putty. This putty is similar to plastic so it is rigid but it does not crack like typical epoxy.
13) Used standard 5 minute epoxy to anchor the bolts on the Vortex back mount to keep them frozen in place.
14) Applied liquid electrical tape over the entire mounting area and bolt areas to make sure they never unwind. The liquid electrical tape also protect the plastic putty by preventing it from chipping or scuffing. The black color is more cosmetically appealing than the white colored putty as well.

After allowing a good 1 hour to set I tested the instrument and verified the scope alignment was good, which it was.

What I found during this mounting process was several key areas to pay attention to.

1) mount the Vortex offset a little to center up the scope to the laser (center of Impulse200 body)
2) Center the scope prior to tightening bolts and after tightening, make sure alignment was not lost.
3) Apply small amount of epoxy putty in the gaps and check centering again to make sure the epoxy is not pushing up on the scope and thus taking it out of alignment. Adjust accordingly during the hardening process.
4) After the first application of plastic putty and letting it set for 30 minutes, check alignment and then apply generous amounts of the putty to create a strong support base. Fill in any gap that would cause the scope to flex or shake.
5) make sure to not let any epoxy to get into the focusing rings.
6) use Loctite or epoxy to freeze all the anchor bolts after final scope alignment and final application of putty.
7) use liquid electrical tape to protect the epoxy putty from scuffing and chipping and create a waterproof layer around it.

Other things to consider. This is a non moveable mount so if you want to use the Vortex on its own you will need to break the mounts. If you need to realign the scope it will be necessary to scrap the epoxy putty out and start over. This is a somewhat time consuming process. Also, you only have about 15 minutes to get the alignment right. If the epoxy putty sets and the scope has not been aligned, you'll need to start over. The height of the scope is over 4 inches above the laser so it has a rather tall profile. This makes is more prone to bumping and levering. The plastic putty should be able to absorb most knocks without moving position but if you really knock it hard it will probably need to be cleaned up and reset. This set up is rather heavy too. The Criterion 400 scope is much lighter and it can also be adjusted while still on the Impulse200LR. Unfortunately those Leupold Criterion 400 reticle scopes are very hard to get and expensive.
Attachments
Vortex and Criterion 400 reticle scopes mounted on Impulse200LRs
Vortex and Criterion 400 reticle scopes mounted on Impulse200LRs
CIMG3648.JPG
CIMG3641.JPG
CIMG3642.JPG
second application of Epoxy plastic putty. Filling in gaps under the mount and add more support material under scope body
second application of Epoxy plastic putty. Filling in gaps under the mount and add more support material under scope body
first application of epoxy putty. Note scope still shakes when looking through it hand held. Another application will be needed to stabilize it.
first application of epoxy putty. Note scope still shakes when looking through it hand held. Another application will be needed to stabilize it.
CIMG3635.JPG
Note the offset mounting. This is necessary to have a truly centered scope.
Note the offset mounting. This is necessary to have a truly centered scope.
Vortex now mounted. Now time to align it and torque down anchor bolts
Vortex now mounted. Now time to align it and torque down anchor bolts
pivoting left
pivoting left
pivoting right
pivoting right
two 1/4-20 drill and tap threads on 11mm top plate
two 1/4-20 drill and tap threads on 11mm top plate
be careful not to lose these o rings that waterproof the instrument
be careful not to lose these o rings that waterproof the instrument
CIMG3627.JPG
CIMG3623.JPG
CIMG3620.JPG
CIMG3619.JPG
CIMG3618.JPG
Last edited by M.W.Taylor on Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Don
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Re: Mounting the Vortex Solo RT on an Impulse200LR

Post by Don » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:39 pm

Michael-
I too saw a synergy in combining a reticled monocular with a laser hypsometer for modeling tree volumes.
My solution doesn't have the simultaneous mounting that makes for consistent parallax factor that yours does. I chose to do them sequentially, that is to say mount the monocular to one quick-attach tripod mount, while mounting my Trupulse 360 to another quick-attach mount. With careful detachment/re-attachment, and a stable tripod mount, one can get fairly close, almost parallax free.
Following your approach, I can see that my system will need some fine tuning, but it does have portability/detachability/reasonable cost. The image below is from several months back...
An image and brief description follows:
Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 6.58.37 PM.png
SunPak has a lightweight carbon fiber tripod with pistol grip ball head that provides good control in vertically tracking up the bole. Mine is easily collapsed into a daypack, yet rises to 72". I believe they can still be found at less than $60 online.
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
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BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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M.W.Taylor
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Re: Mounting the Vortex Solo RT on an Impulse200LR

Post by M.W.Taylor » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:44 pm

Nice Don. Your set-up allows you to use the Vortex independently and portably.
Don wrote:Michael-
I too saw a synergy in combining a reticled monocular with a laser hypsometer for modeling tree volumes.
My solution doesn't have the simultaneous mounting that makes for consistent parallax factor that yours does. I chose to do them sequentially, that is to say mount the monocular to one quick-attach tripod mount, while mounting my Trupulse 360 to another quick-attach mount. With careful detachment/re-attachment, and a stable tripod mount, one can get fairly close, almost parallax free.
Following your approach, I can see that my system will need some fine tuning, but it does have portability/detachability/reasonable cost. The image below is from several months back...
An image and brief description follows:
Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 6.58.37 PM.png
SunPak has a lightweight carbon fiber tripod with pistol grip ball head that provides good control in vertically tracking up the bole. Mine is easily collapsed into a daypack, yet rises to 72". I believe they can still be found at less than $60 online.
-Don

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Mounting the Vortex Solo RT on an Impulse200LR

Post by Erik Danielsen » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:56 pm

Great writeup and photos- really glad to see it can be done. I spent a little while looking at rifle scopes with reticles- it seems that by the time you get into reticles with graduated and labeled hashmarks, you're looking at well over a thousand dollars.

Good thing the vortex is so inexpensive- looks like I'll need two, eventually! While I just have one I do need the flexibility of using it independently, at other orientations to get the lengths of limb segments in hardwood crowns.

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