DIY Telescope mount pier HEQ5 PRO

The bane of astrophotographers is, in my opinion, the routine of setting up and dismantling the gear on every session. As time accumulates this becomes a rather tiresome process, hindering the excitement of astrophotography where the need for really accurate polar alignment is paramount.

That is where a permanent installation, a.k.a pier comes into play (provided you are ok, to just securely cover up your gear for protection of the elements).

My mount is a skywatcher HEQ5 PRO Synscan, though the pier can host any type of mount by changing the top adapter.

The design had to comply with the following goals :
a) The leveling of the pier would be on the bottom and it would have to be massive for two reasons:
— Contrary to popular belief, the top does not have to be level. It is better to have a really stiff top since you will be doing drift alignment anyway with a permanent setup.
— There is no point, mechanically speaking, to mount a 40kg steel tube on M13 rods (there alot of tops in the internet with M13 bolts for adjustments which just scream flexure with anything heavier than an ED80 and even more so the same goes for the bottom design
b) There would be no holes in the rooftop in order to protect the water seal in the construction.

So here is the photo story of the building!

Measuremements of the baader adapter for HEQ5 PROTaking the approppritate mesurements for the fitting the HEQ5 PRO head adapter to pier’s top plate.

 

Preparing the top plate of the pier HEQ5 PROUber lathe work on aluminium by my brother in law (Thanks Tom!)

Finalized top plate of the pier Finished product, top plate ready to be welded on the tube.

Top plate with baader heq5 pro mount adapter test fittingTesting the fit 🙂

Base plate welding for the pierWelding the M30 threaded bars to the base plate. By Tom of course!

Pier top finishedThe pier is ready

Finished pier top to bottom viewAnother view of the finished pier.

Transporting the pierThe pier and the base plate ended up weighing some 75kg, which we had to haul in the 5th floor (rooftop) by the stairs since there is no elevator yet 😀

Ready for the fumes!Oil paints, 2 part epoxy glue, white spirit solvents and in general chemicals require some kind of protection. Thus the mask for the fumes and the glass (i am nearsighted(myopia) but they work as protection from splinters, most of the time at least..)

Materials for the gluing and paintingVarious assortments for gluing, sanding and painting of the pier

Two-Part Resin Epoxy Glue preparation2 part epoxy cement. Yes, this stuff is from hell so do wear gloves, berathing mask and general protection.

 

Base plate "tagging"The base plate orientation was tagged with white spray the previous night after a rough polar alignment.

IMG_20150604_225232Finally ready after two hands of oil painting, sanding in between and gluing the base plate to the floor. By the way the 2 part epoxy resin turned out to be massively better than its description. After allowing the 24 hour requirement for it to be properly cured i would need some kind of demolishing device to remove the base from the floor!

Mad design skills for the eyepiece - accessory holderSuper design skills at work here in order to make the blueprint for the holes and cuts needed on the plexiglass accessory tray.

Finished pier ready to receive the HEQ5 PRO mount head

 

Finished pier ready to receive the HEQ5 PRO mount head with controllerFuture upgrade plans include building a proper astronomy shed – observatory around it but that will have to wait for a while 😀

Kudos to Tommy, for the help!

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IC1396 Elephant’s Trunk nebula in HA

ic1396_37_frames_HA

This is a “quickie” of IC1396 the Elephant’s trunk nebula with minor noise reduction and stretching.

The Elephant’s Trunk nebula is a concentration of interstellar gas and dust within the much larger ionized gas region IC 1396 located in the constellation Cepheus about 2,400 light years away from Earth. The piece of the nebula shown here is the dark, dense globule IC 1396A; it is commonly called the Elephant’s Trunk nebula because of its appearance at visible light wavelengths, where there is a dark patch with a bright, sinuous rim. The bright rim is the surface of the dense cloud that is being illuminated and ionized by a very bright, massive star (HD 206267) that is just to the west of IC 1396A. (In the Figure above, the massive star is just to the left of the edge of the image.) The entire IC 1396 region is ionized by the massive star, except for dense globules that can protect themselves from the star’s harsh ultraviolet rays.

The Elephant’s Trunk nebula is now thought to be a site of star formation, containing several very young (less than 100,000 yr) stars that were discovered in infrared images in 2003. Two older (but still young, a couple of million years, by the standards of stars, which live for billions of years) stars are present in a small, circular cavity in the head of the globule. Winds from these young stars may have emptied the cavity.

The combined action of the light from the massive star ionizing and compressing the rim of the cloud, and the wind from the young stars shifting gas from the center outward lead to very high compression in the Elephant’s Trunk nebula. This pressure has triggered the current generation of protostars.

Technical details :

Sky-Watcher 80ED Pro Black Diamond
SBIG 8300M
HEQ5 Pro
Guiding camera: QHY CCD QHY5 mono
Filters: Baader 7nm Ha 2”
Accessories: Starlight Xpress Starlight Xpress FW 5*2”
Resolution: 2504×3314

Dates: Oct. 14, 2014
Locations: Home obs
Frames: Baader 7nm Ha 2”: 30×600″ -5C bin 1×1
Integration: 5.0 hours

Darks: ~20
Flats: ~20
Bias: ~100

Avg. Moon age: 20.49 days
Avg. Moon phase: 67.31%
Bortle Dark-Sky Scale: 8.00
Mean FWHM: 1.60
Temperature: 14.00
RA center: 323.617 degrees
DEC center: 57.559 degrees
Pixel scale: 1.856 arcsec/pixel
Orientation: -89.351 degrees
Field radius: 1.071 degrees

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