I like doing things in a unconventional manner, so I decided to try building my own telescope mount for astrophotography instead of going out and buying one. I’ve made all manner of astrophotography gear in the past with varying degrees of success. A camera kit, my own focuser, my own OAG, lots of different adapters etc, but a telescope mount is a giant project compared to anything I’d done before.
I’m not very fast when it comes to building things. I like to take long pauses for thought. Often sufficiently long to forgot what I was thinking about in the first place. As a consequence, this project has been pottering along for a few years now, but this summer I’ve eventually got the thing in the shed and polar aligned.
The main benefit of building a mount yourself is the satisfaction factor - probably on a par with using a mirror you’ve made yourself. The pleasure derived from an image which involves even a tiny bit of DIY kit is many times that which is gained by using commercial kit. I find it far more interesting and fun to try making something instead of going out and buying the same EQ6 that everybody else owns.
I can’t easily compare it to commercial mounts. Making your own telescope mount is a completely different approach to solving the problem. Commercial solutions suit those with little time on their hands whereas making your own suits people who are totally barmy (more so than the average astrophotographer). It is difficult to even estimate the load capacity. I wouldn’t have a clue how to design a mount for a specific load capacity. Designing is not the word. You work out how to make these things as you go. I just aimed for “strong” most of time.
With projects like this, the design has to be sympathetic to the tools you have available. There is no point aiming for 20 inch worm wheels on a 7 inch lathe. You also have to work within your skill set. I don’t have any engineering training, I’m a computer programmer in real life. I don’t have a workshop full of CNC machine tools: I have a manual tabletop lathe in a corner that you can buy on Ebay for a few hundred quid. Therefore I’ve probably done all sorts of things wrong according to the experts in the field, but if I was an expert at this, it would rather defeat the purpose.
Most of the major components are machined by me from aluminium plate and billet plus a few bits of steel and brass as required. The worm wheels and gears are all homemade, but the motors are a Meade DS motor kit controlled by Autostar (and thus easy GOTO). Various things have been purchased such as bearings. The smaller parts are anodised at home, and the larger bits are simply painted to look nice. A longer description and other photos of the mount can be found here.
Homemade GEM german equatorial telescope mount - how I made my own DIY mount for astrophotography
The proof of the pudding is in the imaging. There is little point me posting some pictures of a complicated metal contraption without some results to prove that my efforts haven’t been entirely wasted.
I’ve only just got beyond setup and aligning, but I could resist squeezing off a 30 minute frame. More details on the first light image and my other antics can be seen here. Still lots of tweaking to do but hopefully we are getting there.
Astronomy, Astrophotography and Telescope Blog » Homemade telescope mount is polar aligned and first proper light
A rather poor gallery of various construction photos is here (needs tarting up a some point)
Homemade telescope mount
Edited by MikeP, 05 June 2011 - 11:17 AM.