Intro: Standalone Mount for Astro Photography
This little mount allows a light camera to follow the stars as they move through the sky. Exposure times of a minute are no problem. To get great astro photos you can stack several images.
small tripod, at least the top part or camera head
clamp and/ or insert with camera thread
white power cord
kitchen cabinet knob
optional: 'angle meter'
scrap wood pieces
costs: 10 - 15 E or $
Step 1: Mounting for Camera on Timer
Electromechanical timers have a clock which rotates once in 24 hrs. The earth rotates in a similar time frame. The timer has to be positioned toward the North star and the camera will follow the sky! (the axis of rotation has to point to the North star)
The camera head has to be connected to a cap for PVC sink pipe. A small piece of PVC sink pipe has to be glued on the circular part with all the levers for switching on and off. This is the rotating part.
The cap with the camera head is NOT glued on the sink pipe. This allows the contraption to be set up without the camera attached (in the dark). When everything is ready the cap with camera can be gently pushed over the sink pipe. If you don't have a camera head in your drawer buying a mini tripod is the way to go: very cheap.
Step 2: Board to Hold Timer
This board ('timer board') is going to be tilted perpendicular toward the north star. There is a hole in the center to receive the timer. Underneath this hole is an outlet, stripped of its casing. When the timer is inserted in the outlet, it is held in place nicely.
VERY IMPORTANT: the outlet underneath this board has to be shielded so it is impossible to touch any live parts. After all you will be working with this device in the dark, when dew might be forming!
That is why the power cord should be white, to prevent tripping over it.
This board will be connected to the base board by a hinge. The base board has a strip of aluminum with a slot sticking up. The timer board has a kitchen knob on the side which sticks through the strip. This way the timer board can be set at the proper angle, even when traveling.
To help adjustment I attached an 'angle meter' to the side. I live 52 degrees North, so I have to set it at 38 degrees (90 - 52).
Step 3: Base Board
The picture shows the inner side of the mount. The base board has a clamp attached to it. The clamp can rotate, not too easily. To suit your needs, you could also put an insert for your tripod in it.
The hinge and the aluminum strip, with the kitchen knob for adjustment can be seen at the bottom of the pic. A simple wooden box construction keeps the live parts of the outlet out of reach.
Step 4: Steam Punk Version!
The device works great!!! Only there is one problem: you need electricity. Often there is a lot of light pollution near your outlet.
So, just when I finished and tested this mount, I found a mechanical 24 hrs clock!!!
Since it was all brass, I built the mount in style (neo renaissance/ steam punk????). This mount works similar. One problem: the clock went the wrong way. I used 2 identical old printer gears to reverse the rotation.
This mount works great as well!
If you live in the southern hemisphere, your clock has to turn the other way. You might have to do my trick with the gears. But perhaps the clock can be turned around (????).