Computerizing a 16" StarMaster

Page Modified: 4 September, 2000

 

 

 

 Parts List
 Altitude Sector
 Azimuth Gear
 Mechanical Assemblies Part 1               
 Mechanical Assemblies Part 2                 
 Mechanical Assemblies Part 3               
 Mechanical Assemblies Part 4             Mod 5/19/00  
 Mechanical Assemblies Part 5                Mod 7/9/00
 Mechanical Assemblies Part 6                Mod 7/11/00
Motor Assemblies                                     Mod 8/13/00
 Electrical and Data Hookups                 
 Testing and System Integration            Mod 9/4/00

 
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 7/30 Again, not much has been happening here. Most of the past 3 weeks has been spent sitting and looking at the scope while trying to come up with a new approach to mounting the motors. I received a good tip on the SCOPE-DRIVE list and have ordered some 1/4" x 1/2" shaft couplers from MSCDirect. They look like they might be the workable replacement for the rubber hose I've been trying to use to join motors to threaded rod. I am also going with a more minimalist approach towards the motor mounts. Whether they will work or not remains to be seen. There is a deadline for getting a working scope: September 1st. Here in the south, observing season really starts with the first cool blast of air that usually comes in near the end of September. If the scope is not working by then, I will be returning it to its original configuration as a conventional Dobsonian in order to not lose the 2000/2001 observing and star party season. This next month will either make or break the project until next summer! Will keep everyone posted as progress is (or is not) made.

What telescope owner can look at Mel Bartels' page on Computerizing a telescope without dreaming of doing the same with his own instrument? As I found myself returning to Mel's page time and again it became obvious that I would have to give it a try.

Rick Singmaster of Starmaster Telescopes offers his own computerized system and I have thought long and hard about going with it. However, I believe I can put together one of Mel's systems for under $300. (Well, it was an optimistic figure. I will be going over the $300 mark shortly!) This figure is based on the fact that I already own an old Compaq LTE 5100 laptop. If it were necessary to buy a computer, Mel says his system will run on a very basic 386 and these can be found for just a few dollars on E-Bay or other auction sites.

So many of the project scopes are magnificent pieces of ATM art. On these pages, you are going to see what can be done (or, quite possibly, NOT be done) by a guy who is all thumbs and whose most sophisticated power tool is an electric drill. I will be requesting help from Harry Gelblat, an amateur astronomer and construction type guy who does have most of the contractor type electric tools, but will try to keep this help to a minimum. I expect the most used tool will be a DeWalt bench mount table saw that is available from Harbor Freight for around $170.

Project Goals

  • To provide acquisition and tracking suitable for visual observing;
  • To keep the telescope as "stock" as possible;
  • To maintain the portability of the telescope and;
  • To keep the cost (at least for the first version) as low as possible.

This is a work in progress. Whether it will turn into a functional computer driven scope remains to be seen. If you have any comments or questions, please send them along.

Eric Greene