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92hatchattack
member


Reged: 11/09/12

Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians?
      #5713582 - 03/04/13 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


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kfiscus
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Reged: 07/09/12

Loc: Albert Lea, MN, USA
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: 92hatchattack]
      #5713591 - 03/04/13 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.

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nicknacknock
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Reged: 02/20/12

Loc: In a galaxy far far away...
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5713723 - 03/05/13 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-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p5419_Dobsonian-EQ-...

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


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92hatchattack
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Reged: 11/09/12

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: nicknacknock]
      #5713888 - 03/05/13 05:41 AM

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

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nicknacknock
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Reged: 02/20/12

Loc: In a galaxy far far away...
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: 92hatchattack]
      #5713897 - 03/05/13 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


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kfiscus
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: nicknacknock]
      #5714302 - 03/05/13 12:01 PM

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

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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5714448 - 03/05/13 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.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/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.com/~tlsystem/cablet4.htm

Edited by JLovell (03/05/13 01:13 PM)


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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5714513 - 03/05/13 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.

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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5714536 - 03/05/13 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.com/photos/jeff-guck-in-die-luft/8257785049/in/set-72157632...


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northernontario
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Reged: 07/01/09

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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5714877 - 03/05/13 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


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GeneT
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Reged: 11/07/08

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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: 92hatchattack]
      #5715089 - 03/05/13 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.

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kfiscus
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Reged: 07/09/12

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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: northernontario]
      #5715097 - 03/05/13 06:54 PM

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

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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5715386 - 03/05/13 09:18 PM

You mean northernontario? About hooking wheelbarrow handles to it?

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92hatchattack
member


Reged: 11/09/12

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5715414 - 03/05/13 09:34 PM

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

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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: 92hatchattack]
      #5715438 - 03/05/13 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.

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92hatchattack
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Reged: 11/09/12

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5715553 - 03/05/13 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.

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Astrodj
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Reged: 08/24/11

Loc: Missouri
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: 92hatchattack]
      #5715655 - 03/06/13 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.


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92hatchattack
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Reged: 11/09/12

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Astrodj]
      #5715853 - 03/06/13 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.

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Astrodj
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: 92hatchattack]
      #5716026 - 03/06/13 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!

Edited by Astrodj (03/06/13 09:24 AM)


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MikeRatcliff
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Astrodj]
      #5716412 - 03/06/13 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


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wirenut
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Reged: 09/21/06

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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5716693 - 03/06/13 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.

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Tim Gilliland
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Reged: 03/28/09

Loc: Sand Springs Okla.
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5716910 - 03/06/13 05:30 PM

Quote:

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.


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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Tim Gilliland]
      #5718138 - 03/07/13 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.


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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5718156 - 03/07/13 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.

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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5718342 - 03/07/13 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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kfiscus
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5718605 - 03/07/13 02:54 PM

Yep. I put my PST on a small tripod riding on the platform.

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Tim Gilliland
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Reged: 03/28/09

Loc: Sand Springs Okla.
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5718719 - 03/07/13 03:58 PM

Quote:

Yep. I put my PST on a small tripod riding on the platform.




Now that is something I will have to try!


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kfiscus
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Tim Gilliland]
      #5719028 - 03/07/13 06:39 PM

I have the PST on the Orion EZ-Trac (I think that's its name). This gives me very fine pan/tilt motions while the EQ platform does the main tracking.

I made a safety disk of 1/4" plywood that rides the surface of the platform and has 3 rings that capture the small tripod's feet. Nothing can slide off.


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Metalmanstan
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Reged: 07/02/12

Loc: Oneonta, NY
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5719170 - 03/07/13 07:37 PM

That stinks that he only sells like 2 per month. I understand why(labor, time consuming and all) I'm really anxious on getting one of these or trying to make my own. It's just very confusing on how to make and assemble everything. I've looked on every Page that has information on the platforms and I just don't understand alot(plus I don't want to mess it up so it doesn't work right!!)

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wcstarguy
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Reged: 12/04/08

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: kfiscus]
      #5719199 - 03/07/13 07:56 PM

I have one of the previous generation Atomic Platforms. It works well and I just made a three armed attachment for it so I can mount my AT Voyager tripod and another tripod (double scope pipe mount I made) to it. It bolts to the platform base (top part that rotates) and I use an eyebolt through each tripod leg to an eyebolt on the attachment with a small turnbuckle between the eyebolts. Throw a couple of weights in the middle, works great and the tripods are very secure...actually part of the eq platform. I don't have a pic tonight but will put one up if anyone wants to see it. WC

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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5720330 - 03/08/13 11:31 AM

Quote:

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.




I plan on doing exactly this myself.


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tag1260
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Reged: 10/07/12

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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5720725 - 03/08/13 03:13 PM

I would love to make my own but have yet to find any plans anywhere that give detailed dimensions for N40 lat. I'm not much on math so having to make all the figuring is out of the question.

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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: tag1260]
      #5720842 - 03/08/13 05:00 PM

The following website has a link to a spreadsheet that does the heavy math for you. I used it for my platform.

http://members.ziggo.nl/jhm.vangastel/Astronomy/Poncet/e_index.htm


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VectorRoll
super member


Reged: 11/27/12

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5790495 - 04/10/13 02:46 PM

Quote:

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.com/photos/jeff-guck-in-die-luft/8257785049/in/set-72157632...



I was looking at your design and was wondering. Is it made to be adjustable to the Latitude? I ask because it looks like the north and south bearing arcs and guides can have there angle adjustable with those threaded eye-hooks and turnbuckles.


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buddyjesus
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: VectorRoll]
      #5791173 - 04/10/13 08:01 PM

don't believe they are adjustable for different latitudes, but will still work for visual use if reasonably close to the latitude it was built for.

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kfiscus
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5791218 - 04/10/13 08:17 PM

Most are adjustable about 5 degrees +/- their designed latitude. For instance, I bought a used Atomic EQ platform that was built for 45. I live at 43.6. I bought 2 steel collars and shortened them to the calculated length before adding them to the two south feet. I'll probably make a large "shim plate" for my planned trip a little farther south for this summer's Nebraska Star Party.

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JLovell
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 01/12/10

Loc: Georgia
Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: buddyjesus]
      #5791255 - 04/10/13 08:30 PM

Well, from what I've learned about the platforms, yes, they can be adjusted SOME for different latitudes. The bearing arcs, geometrically, are simply slices of a cone that when aligned with Polaris, the center line, or axis of rotation, passes through the center of gravity of the scope, and through Polaris. The width of the cone, or the angle of the vertex, is determined by your latitude.

Essentially, you look at your latitude, and draw a tangent line at the Earth's surface at that latitude, then draw a line to Polaris, and measure the angle between them, and that is the width of your cone. It works out through geometry that it is also your latitude.

If you are lowering or raising either of the North or South ends of the platform, you are essentially changing the angle of the tangent to the Earth's surface to the center line of the cone, which is also changing the latitude at which it is set.

The main problem with adjusting the latitude with that method is with the CoG of the scope. When you tilt the scope/platform assembly relative to the ground, yes, you do adjust the axis of rotation of the cone. However, you do NOT adjust where the CoG of the scope is. Many (most?) platforms will have problems if adjusted too far from where they are designed to operate, and the scope may become unstable and even fall off, or the platform will slip off of its bearings. Also, the CoG shift may remove enough weight from the drive shaft that there is no longer enough friction at that point to drive the platform.

Edited by JLovell (04/10/13 08:34 PM)


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kfiscus
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5791431 - 04/10/13 10:14 PM

You are correct about gravity being a concern. My Z12's rockerboard rides directly on the platform. I didn't even make a ground board for it when making my redo. I have 3 teflon pads on the platform's table that contact the EbonyStar laminate.

Also, when adding small amounts of height to one end or the other, the real tipping concerns are still perpendicular (Right Ascension) in nature. I haven't had ANY problems yet.


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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: VectorRoll]
      #5791723 - 04/11/13 02:05 AM

Quote:

I was looking at your design and was wondering. Is it made to be adjustable to the Latitude? I ask because it looks like the north and south bearing arcs and guides can have there angle adjustable with those threaded eye-hooks and turnbuckles.




Yes, the turnbuckles allow for some adjustment in latitude. They are very stable as well. I have not tried it out at a different latitude yet. I believe the comments about COG are true even with the turnbuckles, but the XT8 is not as heavy as bigger dobs so I am not as concerned about that. With other platforms you have to raise or lower one end to adjust for lat. With the turn buckles, you can keep the platform level and still change the lat. The other benefit of the turnbuckle is that you don't need to worry about getting the angles cut exactly for the sector supports.

Edited by Jeff2011 (04/11/13 02:12 AM)


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VectorRoll
super member


Reged: 11/27/12

Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5792134 - 04/11/13 11:09 AM

Quote:

Quote:

I was looking at your design and was wondering. Is it made to be adjustable to the Latitude? I ask because it looks like the north and south bearing arcs and guides can have there angle adjustable with those threaded eye-hooks and turnbuckles.




Yes, the turnbuckles allow for some adjustment in latitude. They are very stable as well. I have not tried it out at a different latitude yet. I believe the comments about COG are true even with the turnbuckles, but the XT8 is not as heavy as bigger dobs so I am not as concerned about that. With other platforms you have to raise or lower one end to adjust for lat. With the turn buckles, you can keep the platform level and still change the lat. The other benefit of the turnbuckle is that you don't need to worry about getting the angles cut exactly for the sector supports.



Very Interesting. Not having to worry about that angle cut could benefit many. I can see many not having the tools or maybe just the skill to get the cut right. Having to not worry about that would help such people.

One thing I was wondering about these platforms is if anyone has decided to forgo making it a separate piece and just make it part of the base itself. Basically having the top EQ Platform as the bottom of the Rocker Base. It would be another way to get a little lower profile to the scope.


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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: VectorRoll]
      #5792162 - 04/11/13 11:34 AM

Quote:

One thing I was wondering about these platforms is if anyone has decided to forgo making it a separate piece and just make it part of the base itself. Basically having the top EQ Platform as the bottom of the Rocker Base. It would be another way to get a little lower profile to the scope.




Can be easily done by drilling a hole at the center of the top board of the platform and mounting the telescope directly on it. You would have to remove the bottom part of of your Dob mount to do this and add some teflon pads to the platform top. I decided not to do this because I like the flexibility of not mounting the Dob directly to the platform. Not that it cannot be unmounted, just that it requires more work to do so. I put some thin rubber gripper pads on top of my platform to keep my scope from sliding off. Easy on and easy off when I need it. To me if I am doing low magnification high field of viewing, I don't really need the platform if I want to setup quickly. If doing high magnification planetary or glob cluster viewing then I use the platform.

Edited by Jeff2011 (04/11/13 11:36 AM)


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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5792177 - 04/11/13 11:41 AM

One more thing. It is easy to cut the top and bottom of the platform on a table saw. Just google "how to cut a circle on a table saw". When I saw the YouTube video for that, it look simple and it was. You will need to build a sled for the table saw but that is easy too.

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VectorRoll
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5792511 - 04/11/13 02:28 PM

Yeah cutting a circle with table saw is very doable. In fact I have actually done that myself a few times. It is all a matter of having a table saw and the skill to make a jig for it. Like I say they will need the tool, then have the skill to use it.

I personally like the Router method. I have used it quite a bit on Jobsites. Plus in my opinion it is a bit safer.

I have seen many people try to use jigsaws to make projects like this. Even with a jigsaw you will need to have the skill to use it. You can easily mess up a cut with a jigsaw. In my opinion, doing the circular cuts may be easier than doing a 45 with a jigsaw. I personally do not like to use the Jigsaws much. The cuts are just not clean enough for me.

If I had to choose my tools of choice for this project I would select my Table Saw and Radial Arm Saw for the straight cuts. Then use a Router for the radial cuts by either a jig made for the router table or the router itself. Thankfully I have pretty much all of these tools and many more at my disposal.

Tomorrow I plan to go out and get some more Lumber. I think that I will be trying my hand at making one of these EQ Platforms over the weekend. Not sure if I will get to any of the electronic parts or even rollers. Just mainly the wood parts. One thing at a time.


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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: VectorRoll]
      #5792567 - 04/11/13 03:00 PM

Sounds like you are much more skilled at woodworking than me and you have more tools too. My previous woodworking experience was 8th grade shop class and the backyard deck I built a few years ago. I definately agree about the jigsaw. I would have slaughtered it had I tried to use that.

One thing that helped me was that I built a full size model out of some foam board I bought at Hobby Lobby. This allowed me to get confidence in my design and to be able to recognize problems before I cut wood.


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VectorRoll
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5792628 - 04/11/13 03:38 PM

My father is the real woodworker in the family. Growing up around him is what gave me my skill in it. I now work a little bit as a Carpenter in Construction, among other things. When jobs come around for it that is.

Building a model sounds like a sound plan. I was thinking of cutting out some test templates first with some of the scrap I have laying around. Lumber is expensive, so it is best to get a solid plan down first. This way you do not waste valuable material.

I was thinking about using Oak, but prices for that are high right now. I may go for some 3/4 AC Ply. 3/4 Pine was another choice. The local lumber store near here did not have a piece wide enough in pine. I will have to go out of town to get that. Plus the prices are a little less out of town. That is why I am waiting for tomorrow to get my lumber. I have to do something else tomorrow so I am killing to birds with one stone.

Looks like yours is made out of 1/2 Ply and 3/4 pieces of Oak. At least from the pics. I'll probably have a mix as well. Ply for the top and bottom and and stock for the bearing supports.

I was also thinking on making a new Rocker Box for my OTA just for the heck of it. So I need to get enough to spare.


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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: VectorRoll]
      #5792895 - 04/11/13 05:14 PM

For the top and bottom boards I used 3/4" Birch plywood. For the sectors and supports, I used 3/4" Oak. You will want to use a hardwood for the sectors. The wood was the easy part of the project. The hard part was finding all of the hardware including the drive components. I spent many of near sleepless nights studying and searching for that stuff. The place I got my gears and pillowblocks at is https://sdp-si.com/eStore/

I got my DC motors and drive kit from a local mom and pop electronics store.

If I had it all to do again, I would go with the direct drive over the tangent. The tangent is OK for visual, but if you want to dable with AP, you might get better results with a direct drive design. I planned out how to convert mine to a direct drive, but have put that on hold since I bought a AVX mount and no longer find it necessary to improve the tracking of the platform since I will be doing DSO AP from the AVX.


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VectorRoll
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5793204 - 04/11/13 08:08 PM

For most of the hardware there is a store I have here in town called Big R. I can get a lot of it there. The only thing they really do not have is the electronic stuff. Like the motors and speed controls. They should not be to hard to find though.

That site you linked has some real nice stuff. I just might have to pick up a few things from them. I already see a few things they have that I want and a lot of ideas are popping in my head.


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JLovell
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: VectorRoll]
      #5794124 - 04/12/13 10:32 AM

Making the platform actually part of the base would also make it a good bit heavier. Ed Jones is making one for me (done except for the motors which are on back order!! YAY!) and I think I'm going to drill holes in the top of it for the feet to sit down in. That'll lower it a bit, and keep it from moving around. Also, some scopes, like my Intelliscope with the electronics in the base, don't lend themselves well for having the platform built into the base. Not without a bit more work...

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Wol
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5857145 - 05/13/13 10:19 AM

Just to be clear...when you mount a dob on one of these equatorial platforms, this stops you using any alt/az analogue/digital setting circles with any accuracy?

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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Wol]
      #5857158 - 05/13/13 10:29 AM

That is correct. Once you tilt the platform, you can't use the settings circles. I have added setting circles to my Dob also and only use the setting circle when I don't use the platform. However, if you start with the platform level with the ground, you could use the settings circles to locate your target, and then turn on the platform once you have located the target. However, this would only give you half the tracking time of the platform.

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Tim Gilliland
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5857532 - 05/13/13 01:26 PM

I use a a platform and start with the platform in the reset position. Align my DSC's and goto the target then turn on the platform. When I change targets I just reset the platform to the start position again and find the target. My blandin platform has an hour travel. And does not start level. Works good for me. And I have removed the ground board and mount the scope directly on the platform.

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tezster
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Tim Gilliland]
      #5857781 - 05/13/13 03:35 PM

To put it simply, all that's needed for DIGITAL setting circles to work with an EQ platform is to disable the sidereal clock. The computer no longer accounts for Earth's rotation, since the EQ platform is already compensating for its motion.

I'm not familiar with manual setting circles, so I can't comment on how those might work.


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JLovell
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: tezster]
      #5857872 - 05/13/13 04:24 PM

I remember reading a way to do that (disable sidereal clock) on Intelliscopes. I need to find that, since I have an Intelliscope, and just got a platform.

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JLovell
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5857911 - 05/13/13 04:49 PM

From the manual ( http://www.telescope.com/assets/product_files/instructions/29229_08-11.pdf ) page 23-24:

Clock
This function allows use of the IntelliScope system with equatorial platforms for Dobsonian telescopes. If you are using your IntelliScope with a Dobsonian equatorial platform, press Enter when the selection “CLOCK” is displayed from the available “hidden” function choices. The LCD screen will then show the word “ON” blinking. For normal operation of the IntelliScope system, the controller’s internal clock should be on. For use with a Dobsonian equatorial platform, use the up or down arrow button to change “ON” to “OFF,” and press Enter. The controller is now ready to be used with a Dobsonian equatorial platform. Now, when you press Power to turn the controller on, the LCD screen will state “CLOCK IS OFF” on the second line of its introduction screen. To turn the controller’s internal clock back on, access the hidden functions, select “CLOCK,” press Enter, change the “OFF” back to “ON,” and press Enter again.


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Jeff2011
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5858120 - 05/13/13 05:49 PM

Good to know that the digital setting circles work on a platform. I have manual circles on mine so I was not familiar with the digital variety. Should have mention that in my reply.

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tezster
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Jeff2011]
      #5858220 - 05/13/13 06:17 PM

All DSCs should have this capability. On the Sky Commander, it's under the Setup menu, for example. And if you happen to be using SkySafari instead of a traditional DSC, you simply select 'Equatorial Platform' as the mount type.

I have one on order, so I made sure to do the proper research before making the purchase


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davidpitre
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: tezster]
      #5858566 - 05/13/13 09:07 PM

I have an Ed Jones platform for my 10" dob and would absolutely recommend it. It is very well made and tracks beautifully. I have walked away from the eyepiece, come back an hour later, and the object was still centered. I have not found the tracking to vary with temperatures. For what it is, it is a steal. The finish was better than the one Atomic I have seen.

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JLovell
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Reged: 01/12/10

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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: davidpitre]
      #5858727 - 05/13/13 10:15 PM

David, the one I just got is an Ed Jones as well. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, though. Our years long drought has picked the last couple months to break. Go figure...

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Wol
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: JLovell]
      #5859229 - 05/14/13 07:13 AM

Thanks all. Not sure I follow why digital setting circles still work when the platform is tilted...? something has not quite clicked in here

regards


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azure1961p
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: MikeRatcliff]
      #5859270 - 05/14/13 07:42 AM

I'd contact Ed Jones and ask him to make one for you rather than waiting for whenever this guy happens pop one out. Ed is quite the craftsman and an all around nice guy. That's where Id put my money and confidence. Plus the more you get to know and appreciate his kind help on these boards the more you'd want to patronize his business. He IS an exacting craftsman.

Pete


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JLovell
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Re: Equatorial tracking platforms for Dobsonians? new [Re: Wol]
      #5859277 - 05/14/13 07:49 AM

The Intelliscope system simply needs to know the point where it is pointing straight up. As long as you set the vertical stop accurately when it was on level ground, it no longer matters how level the base of the scope is.

The reason DSC's work when the base isn't level is that they are aligned with the stars. It figures out where and when it is located by where the stars are relative to its base. If the base is tilted in any direction, It essentially simply changes the effective latitude and/or longitude and/or time for where it is located. Earthly distance measurements are so tiny compared to celestial distances that there is essentially no parallax error caused by the location of the base being incorrectly calculated. In a nutshell, the computer simply calculates where the stars are relative to the base after learning where a couple of known stars are located. Everything else is geometry and trigonometry.


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