Custom camera mount & telescope tracking motor

tracking.jpg smithplanets.jpg moon10.jpgCraig Smith of South Milwaukee, WI, wrote in to share the progress he’s made on his homebrew astronomy rig:

Since my moon photo was featured almost a year ago, I have a better telescope, a homemade tracking motor and some ok planetary photos. Saturn is currently on the other side of the sun, but earlier this year I took some shots. Also that brightest ‘star’ in the sky lately is Jupiter. In this shot there is a moon about one planet width to the left of Jupiter. The purpose of the tracking motor is that in the 4 second exposure, the subject moves almost an entire width due to the earth’s rotation. Also my shot of an almost full moon’s shadowline and crater detail.

The camera mount was a hacked table top mini tripod. I removed the 2 movable legs and kept the 1 fixed leg. The eyepiece clip was a 1″ PVC coupler cut short, then cut in half about 60-40. This made a ‘C’ that clipped onto the eyepiece tight. A small screw and epoxy holds the tripod leg to the clip. Then a custom PVC pipe and coupler was bored to accept the eyepiece on one side and my digital camera lens on the other side to keep eyepiece and camera perfectly aligned.

The custom tracking motor was added to the telescope’s equatorial mount tracking knob. The main axis is aligned with the north star. One rotation per day on this axis tracks any sky object perfectly and stays with it as the earth rotates.


My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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