Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Home Observatory Pier - The Finishing Touches

There's a great deal of satisfaction in undertaking a new project and finally reaching the point where it all comes together. Most importantly, it's a relief to finally give it a test to make sure that it actually does what you envisioned it would do.

After several weeks of digging, pouring concrete, cutting lumber, nailing, drilling, measuring, leveling, and tapping threads, the telescope pier and pier adapter I set out to fabricate and build is finished and it is exactly what I had hoped it would be - a rock solid means of mounting my two Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes in a way that will give me the stability and absence of vibration that I yearned for.
In the first of this three-part post, I delved into the challenge of designing and fabricating the pier adapter (above) for the telescopes. I was forced to make my own since no one seems to make an adapter for these telescopes and even if someone did, I figured I could make one for a whole lot less than what it would cost to buy one.
In the second post, I described how I built the pier for the telescopes. After completing the pier, I built an observing deck around it. The final step in the project was to drill the attachment holes in the pier adapter and install it on the pier.
After drilling four 1/2" holes on the underside plate of the pier adapter using a template I made that aligned the holes with the four threaded bolts that protruded from the top of the concrete pier, I threaded 4 nuts, one on each bolt, flush with the top of the pier. Large, square washers were then placed on top of the nuts to serve as the surface on which the pier adapter would rest. I placed the pier adapter through the bolts and placed identical square washers on the top surface of the bottom plate and threaded nuts on each of the bolts.

There was a reason for using nuts and washers on both the top and underside of the bottom plate instead of simply letting the pier adapter rest on top of the concrete - with 4 attachment points, I could tighten or loosen the bottom nuts to level the pier adapter so that after everything was snugged up tight, the telescope would sit on a perfectly level plane. For tracking purposes, this is critical. After tightening/loosening the nuts while using a torpedo level resting on the top plate, I had a level and secure pier plate mounted on the pier.
Attaching the telescope to the pier adapter was simply a matter of inserting three cap screws through the underside of the top plate into the underside of the telescope mount and tightening them with an allen wrench, which is precisely how the telescope mounts on the tripod that it came with.
With the pier and the adapter project complete, all that is left to do is finish moving equipment into the shed observatory and get everything up and running. I have to put the finishing touches on the observatory shed, run power to the pier for the telescope, and get the computer and the telescope talking to each other so I can control the telescope from the computer. My first trial run for visual observing will be on the first clear pre-dawn morning with Venus as the subject. Right now, Venus is shining like a beacon before sunrise and I hope to not only get a good look at it, I may try to snap some images.

1 comment:

Jun said...

I like your work! You are a handy man.