Finishing the Mount

After assembling the mechanical parts of the mount, the project can be completed by making the variable DC  power supply for the motor. I purchased most of the parts for this at my local electronics store. The 10-turn potentiometer for adjusting motor speed was purchased on-line. With a little planning, I was able to fit all of the electronics into a rather small plastic project box, which also houses the 9-volt battery. The box's metal cover serves as a heat sink for the adjustable voltage regulator integrated circuit. When the power supply is not in use, it can be disconnected from the motor by use of a set of quick disconnects on the wire leads.

My experience shows that with simple tools (jig-saw, drill press, screwdriver, hacksaw, soldering iron, etc.) it is possible for someone with limited skills to construct a workable tracking mount.

When describing this mount, I have used the term “inexpensive”, which  is of course relative. I estimate that my mount has cost around $185 (US).  If one is needed, a heavy-duty photographic tripod can easily add more than $100 to the total. Take note of the following link to “Mounts for Astrophotography” by Jerry Lodriguss:


 http://www.astropix.com/HTML/I_ASTROP/MOUNTS.HTM


In that reference Jerry states “… good, inexpensive German-equatorial starter mounts for astrophotography are difficult to find for less than about $750 - $1,000.” So in light of that observation, the roughly $200 cost of the Barn-door mount is very reasonable. And the results can be quite good.

For those so disposed, a Barn-door type mount can be purchased at

http://www.astrotrac.com

for $580 ( plus tax and shipping, subject to the current exchange rate for Euros). There are other commercially available tracking mounts such as inexpensive equatorial mounts for telescopes.