This is my first instructable. I hope it goes well.
As an avid astrnomer on a very tight budget, I have to make do with what I have. I star hop to my targets and have no motorization on my scope. But I have found an easy way to shorten the time it takes to reach my targets. I have attached my green laser pointer to my scope and use it to aim my scope.
If you have visited a star party or sidewalk astronomy session you may have seen how wonderful these green lasers are at pointing out the wonders of the night sky. It seemed only natural to put it on my scope. This instructable will tell you how I did it.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
Ok, Heres what you need:
Strong Magnet(s) big enough and strong enough to hold your laser stable on your telescope. (I used a big speaker magnet but a rare earth magnet should work as well.)
1/4" aluminum U channel about 6 inches long
sheet tin or steel (as long as it's magnetic)
1/8" wall aluminum angle with 1" sides
brass strip 1/2" wide
#4-40 allen screw about 3/4" long
#2-56 wing nut
#2 nylon washer
#2-26 steel nut
#2-56 brass nut
#2-56 machine screw (2)
green laser pointer
drill and bits
Step 2: Start Building
Sorry, I don't have a good picture for this step.
First, we need to make a few pieces
1. Make the aluminum channel by drilling 2 holes to accept 2-56 screws and one additional to tap for 4-40. Make sure the holes are placed to match the function of the screw.
2. Cut two tabs in the aluminum channel and bend them slightly out to accommodate the brass assembly.
1. Cut a strip of brass shim long enough to wrap around the laser housing plus just enough to allow the ends to be soldered to the brass nut. (see the exploded picture in the previous step)
2. Solder the nut to the brass strip. Any standard soldering iron should be able to accomplish this. It will be easier to solder if the brass pieces are tinned (a thin application of solder is applied to the surfaces to be joined before the actual solder process)
1. Cut a 1" long piece of aluminum angle and drill a hole to accommodate a #2 screw in the vertical side near the top edge.
2. epoxy the magnet to the bottom of the mount assembly. ( I was fortunate that the magnet i found was able to be screwed to the aluminum angle, but I don't think this is necessary.)
3. I applied electrical tape around the magnet to protect it, but again, this is not strictly necessary.
4. epoxy a 1.5" square piece of tin or steel to a flat spot on your telescope tube. (if you use steel, be sure to protect it with paint to prevent rust)
Step 3: Put It Together
1. Insert a 2-56 machine screw into the middle hole of the u-channel to the threads point out the back. Use a nylon washer between the angle and u-channel and fix it together with a wing nut.
2. Slide the brass collar on the laser and position it to line up with the second hole. Insert a 2-56 screw through the channel and engage the brass nut. If the collar fails to pull tight , an additional nut may be required on the outside of the u-channel. If it still fails to pull tight, re-soldering the brass assembly to fit more closely will fix the problem.
3. screw in the 4-40 screw and align it to hit the momentary switch on the laser.
Your laser mount is ready for use!
Step 4: Use It!
Ok, slap that laser on your scope and point! Take time to align the laser with a known naked eye object that the telescope is pointing to. Simply turn the entire assembly against the steel/tin plate to adjust the relative azimuth and adjust the channel relative to the angle aluminum to adjust the relative altitude. For greater usefulness, use your binoculars to view fainter stars and increase your pointing accuracy. You can also pull the laser off and use it hand-held or put it on a different scope, just make sure to re-align when you put it back.