Tracker Improvements – Better Stability!

Stabilizing

 

My first couple usages of the tracker went pretty well, but it was a nightmare to setup the polar alignment. There was a lot of wiggle where the tripod mount screwed to the tracker. I didn’t feel safe with the amount of wiggle, and every time I adjusted the camera it would mess up the alignment.

 

Most of the wobble seemed to be where the T-Nut was set into the plywood. The T-Nut sticks out too much so the tripod mount isn’t flush.

From this angle you can see how much gap there is
From this angle you can see how much gap there is

To fix it I just bought two metal ‘hobby’ brackets at Lowes. 2 of them seemed to be about the same thickness of the T-Nut. I had to cut holes for them to fit over the T-Nut.
IMG_9506

Now the mount is much more stable

The holes weren't quite right so they are skewed a bit.
The holes weren’t quite right so they are skewed a bit.

Alignment

I also added a small finder scope to the tracker. You can set the alignment of the scope by putting a straw on the hinge and aiming it at something relatively far away in the house. Then you can adjust the finder scope to calibrate it.

IMG_9509 IMG_9508

 

In practice

I took some test shots but I apparently messed up the focus after I initially set it up. All the stars looks like big orbs instead of points.

The alignment was much easier though, and I noticed even less movement from shot to shot over 30s exposures and I couldn’t see any trails.

Out of focus, but kind of cool
Out of focus, but kind of cool