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Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians?

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#1 92hatchattack

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:14 PM

Hello everyone. I was wondering if anyone here has had any experience with affordable tracking platforms for dobs and how they liked the particular model they have?

I was shown this website for the Atomic Equatorial Platform. http://atomicplatforms.com/ The price is very reasonable and it looks to be able to do what I need it to do, but im wondering if anyone has had any first hand experiences with this product? Or is thee a similar platform in this price range that may be a better performer or better value?

Thank you guys!

---Joe

#2 kfiscus

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Posted 04 March 2013 - 11:20 PM

I have an Atomic bought used on Amart and a Roundtable (a brand no longer made). I really like the craftsmanship on the Atomic. Mine runs forever on one 9-volt battery. I made it into the dedicated base of my Z12. This means the rockerboard attaches directly to the platform.

#3 nicknacknock

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:57 AM

Joe,

The platform is only sold on CN as the manufacturer does this on the side. They pop up on CN classifieds at a rate of one every month or so, so you need to keep your eye on the classifieds...

The only one I know is in Europe and it's from MF Dobson as sold by Teleskop Express:

http://www.teleskop-...obsonian-EQ-...

Deduct VAT, calculate shipping and it probably comes to the same price...

#4 92hatchattack

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 05:41 AM

So in other words, it may be hard to get your hands on one of these huh?

#5 nicknacknock

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:02 AM

Well, no! I guess you have to hit the classifieds daily until you come across one. Last one sold was Feb 25 and I see that the cycle has decreased. In a couple of weeks a new one should become available.

Just type "atomic" in the search field of classifieds and you will see what I am talking about...

CS,

Nicos

#6 kfiscus

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 12:01 PM

Not hard. If you're committed, monitor here and Amart. Amart usually has one appear about every two weeks.

#7 JLovell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:10 PM

I've been trying to get an Atomic for the last few months. They just pop up in the classifieds at random, and get bought VERY quickly. I've caught it within an hour of it being posted, and already there were 30-40 views. I sent a PM each time I've seen them, and was told it had already sold each time.

I looked around, and found a web site by fellow CN'er Ed Jones. http://opticaleds.site88.net/ He custom makes them starting at $400. I have one on order from him right now. Unlike Atomic, Ed has a waiting list, and takes orders. Atomic simply posts on the classifieds, and you'd better hope you get lucky.

Anyway, if you are handy and have some tools, Ed Jones has some threads in the ATM forum showing exactly how he builds them, although I'm sure he's tweaked the designs a few times since then. I've intended to build one of his designs for a long time, but haven't had the time, so I ordered one from him. One thread of his is here: http://www.cloudynig...2418954/page...

Another I've found, but haven't had experience with is someone named Ted Lafleur, who runs a business called TL Systems. He sells a kit for making a platform that includes most of the parts needed to build one, except wood, and claims only a jigsaw and drill with sanding drum to cut the semi-circular piece. http://pw1.netcom.co...tem/cablet4.htm

#8 JLovell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:38 PM

Ed Jones uses AC "timing motors" to run his platforms. They are the type of motors that drive old fashioned electric clocks. They are quite cheap, reliable, and accurate, and don't require fancy electronics like stepper motors. The speed at which they turn is directly linked to the frequency of the AC. Simple inverters that you plug in to cigarette lighters on cars, or jump boxes, can make it portable. He modifies inverters to be variable frequency for his higher end models. I asked him if he'd consider selling me one with my lower end model, and he agreed for a reasonable price. Inverters are not as stable in frequency as the AC in your wall outlets. It can fluctuate with temperature and other factors. It's still probably accurate enough for visual use, at worst very slowly drifting and not staying in view for quite the whole hour. With an adjustable inverter, you can tweak the speed of tracking a little. That helps tracking things like the moon, which moves at a different rate as the stars, too. I'm gong to be paying a total of $470, I think, for the fully built platform, the modified inverter, and shipping.

#9 Jeff2011

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 01:56 PM

I built my own platform because I thought it would be a fun project and it was. However, I have put into it about what Atomic sells theirs for. Ed has really good platforms too and he is a master at building them. Platforms are built for a specific latitude and can generally be used within 5 degrees of that, so if you buy one used, take that into consideration.

Here is the link to my platform pictures:
http://www.flickr.co...set-72157632...

#10 northernontario

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 04:51 PM

I have one...home made...but I've never used it.

Nudging simply becomes second nature.

And I can't figure out how to attach my wheel barrow handles to it...

jake

#11 GeneT

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:50 PM

I use an equatorial platform and highly recommend one. The object stays centered when doing high power viewing. Also, the image stays in the field of view when changing and switching eyepieces. I own a Tom O platform. They are expensive. Or are they? Mine is 17 years old and still works fine.

#12 kfiscus

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 06:54 PM

GeneT, you should post pix of it and see if we could give you some ideas.

#13 JLovell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:18 PM

You mean northernontario? About hooking wheelbarrow handles to it?

#14 92hatchattack

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:34 PM

Interesting stuff. Ed's platforms look nice as well. JLovell, how to you plan to power your platform?

#15 JLovell

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 09:46 PM

I'll just plug it in at the house, and use the inverter he's sending me plugged in to the cigarette lighter socket in my car or one of those jump start boxes when I'm away from an outlet. He puts resistors on the motors to keep them from pulling very much power.

#16 92hatchattack

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Posted 05 March 2013 - 10:52 PM

Nice. I would need a jumper box. I wont really be able to observe from my apartment or anywhere near my car.

#17 Astrodj

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 12:02 AM

I'll make a brief pitch for the Atomic Platform. I bought mine last fall. I watched for it to show up in the classifieds on CN, offered to buy it, and "got lucky" the first try.

Tim Nuebert turned out to be great to deal with and stands behind his product 100% (I have no affiliation whatsoever with Atomic Platforms, for the record, and don't know Tim personally outside of this transaction).

The motor on mine had a factory defect that became evident well after I took possession and Tim gave me a choice of sending out a new motor for me to replace if I felt comfortable with that, or, pay shipping both ways to replace the platform entirely if that was my wish. When he says "100% satisfaction guaranteed" he means it. I opted to replace the motor myself, it was very easy, and Tim stuck with me until I was completely happy with my purchase.

My platform is used with an XT10 and performs flawlessly. It is a joy to use high powers with my dob and be able to concentrate on details for more than a few seconds. The 9V battery enables "unplugged" simplicity at remote sites, and lasts for several nights. Kind of like my trusty C5+.

It serves my needs perfectly.

#18 92hatchattack

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:45 AM

^^^ That sounds very nice! And the physicaly look great too. Allthough I dont really plan on purchasing a platform for a few months (Havent even ordered the scope yet) I do wish these Atomic platforms were more readily available. I'll be keeping my eye out for one but if it takes too long I may end up with an Ed Jones platform. I have yet to run across any other platforms that are affordable really without having to make one yourself.

#19 Astrodj

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 09:21 AM

I'm sure you will be happy with any platform of good quality, several have been mentioned here. Price was an important consideration for me. I have heard good things about all the ones in this thread. Another one you may want to check out is made by a guy named George Blandin, I believe. Very good reviews from several CN'ers.

Best of luck to you!

#20 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 01:35 PM

I'm happy with my Atomic Platform also. After a year the drive circuitry died, and he sent a replacement for $40. So far so good on the new one. The drive circuitry is from a Celestron product.

I would like to add wheelbarrow handles, but the platform/telescope setup is not really able to be picked up and moved all at once. There is too much danger in having the platform shift and have the telescope fall over. There would have to be more design put into it to make it easily moveable. Plus the base needs leveling and often need wooden spacers put under some corners, not easy when the weight of the telescope is on the platform. An idea for the Atomic II?

Mike

#21 wirenut

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 03:46 PM

I built my own EQ platform mostly cause of price/available but one other reasons was features. I wanted my feet to have 12" of adjustment since my yard isn't very level and to be able to move the whole set up with a hand truck/dolly. it's not as pretty as Atomic's or Ed's but it's a thing of beauty to me.

#22 Tim Gilliland

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 05:30 PM

I'm happy with my Atomic Platform also. After a year the drive circuitry died, and he sent a replacement for $40. So far so good on the new one. The drive circuitry is from a Celestron product.

I would like to add wheelbarrow handles, but the platform/telescope setup is not really able to be picked up and moved all at once. There is too much danger in having the platform shift and have the telescope fall over. There would have to be more design put into it to make it easily moveable. Plus the base needs leveling and often need wooden spacers put under some corners, not easy when the weight of the telescope is on the platform. An idea for the Atomic II?

Mike


I have removable wheelbarrow handles on my Discovery 17.5 split tube. I drive it on my blandin platform drop in my center bolt and add a lock nut on bottom. Easy peasy. Encoders work fine by setting them with the platform at the start of travel. Just reset platform and switch off before trying to find targets.

#23 JLovell

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 10:53 AM

One thing about Ed Jones...

He stops taking orders on Halloween, and won't take new ones till March 1st, although I talked to him by email starting in early February, and gave him all the measurements on my scope, sent the deposit, etc. I made sure he knew I wasn't expecting him to start until March, and that whenever he considered my order "accepted" would be fine with me. He seemed glad to get all the numbers and such so he could do all the math, and order motors, etc, to get a head start. He's been very nice, and emailed me with updates such as getting my deposit check, order status on motors, etc.

Just keep in mind his "winter break" if you plan to wait on an Atomic for a while, then switch to him if you are not successful. If you wait too many months, you may have to wait a few more.

#24 JLovell

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 11:01 AM

I agree with the post that most people would be happy with most any one of these platforms mentioned in this thread. As long as the platform is designed for the center of rotation of the platform and center of gravity of the scope to be close to the same, or the CoG of the scope to be a bit below the CoR of the platform, there should be no problem with any of them. As long as they've been built to handle the weight of the scope (They all seem way over engineered in that respect for rigidity) and the CoG of the scope is managed so it won't tip over or have too much of the weight lifted off the drive mechanism, causing slippage, I'm sure they all work just fine. Just choose the power option that fits where you will be using the scope most, or the one that becomes available first.

#25 Jeff2011

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 12:32 PM

These platforms can be multi use as well. I have placed my DSLR on a tripod on my platform and was abe to get 2 minute exposures with round stars using my 35mm lens and that was with just an eyeball polar alignment of the platform.






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