View Full Version : My best ever

fogged in
2007-Oct-21, 06:47 AM
I own no real 'astronomy' equipment. Tho I do however have some very high quality Canon lenses. I love looking up and just taking in the view, but when Hyukataki and Hale Bopp were on the way years ago.............. I had to nail em........ somehow!
I purchased a cheap, used and worn wooden tripod, mainly so I could figure out how they work. I bought this tripod after being intrigued by a succesful photo taken with my newly constructed barn door tracker. (new as in 1990)

I rebuilt the badly worn and knarled up main shaft using a bronze bushing and some thin wall brass tubing to re-sleave the unit.

The entire home contrived tracking contraption consists of a bucket full of stuff.

........ Skill Twist cordless screw driver............ actually two of them melded together to make a quadruple gear reduction.............. we are talking 2RPM at at 4 volts baby ...... aargh aargh aargh! :D

OK ....now this motor contraption was coupled to a Dremel tool flexible shaft to assist in reducing vibration caused by the modified screwdriver. I did not want the motor to be fastened to the tripod directly.

......the other end of the Dremel tool shaft was connected to an old Black and decker drill head mounted to the telescope drive gear.

Skill screwdriver > Dremel shaft > old drill gear head > tripod gear.

I used a 6 volt battery to drive the unit, and added a pair of potentiometers mounted in parallel to vary the speed of the motor............. I also added a digital volt meter to keep the voltage constant............ and two LED's to make it look sophisticated. Fred Flintstone would have been proud :D

I bought two used 9 power rifle scopes... one for guiding and the other for polar alignment. I drilled the scope bodies and inserted red LEDs to illuminate the crosshairs.

It took me many, many, many tries to discover my guiding errors........... not being an "astronomer", I was using a 24 hour time period to figure my gear speed.
.............. I discovered, just in the nick of time, that I needed to actually guide the camera for my 16 minute exposures. By my original arithmatic, I was fast by almost two minutes, making stars into jiggly lines.

After more than a month of experimenting with this contraption, then finally discovering my tracking error....I had one last attempt at Hale Bopp I nailed it. Happy Happy Joy Joy! :D I traveled 60 miles away to a place at about 3,000ft elevation to be sure the fog didn't mess up my last attempt.

............. one night later after taking these photos, bad weather set in and the comet went to low to photograph.
I felt like the luckiest man alive when the photos came back.

It's been a while as you know since Hale Bopp.............. I recall using Kodak 35mm 200 or 400 Elite slide film and a 16 minute exposure.
Photos are made with a 20 to 35L and 300L series lenses.

I literally wore myself out making this gizmo work. I was obsessed with not being defeated by this ice cube....... never in my life have I had such a difficult subject to snare.

Hope you enjoy them.

Pardon the way I presented them............... these are made from mounted 16 by 20 prints that I have.
I rephotographed them outdoors using my old digital camera............ I had to include the frame edges to get the digital camera to focus. You're looking at a picture of a picture.

I wish I had a high quality slide scanner and a good Photo Shop program to make this more professional. .................. and also a faster computer and a Lamborghini Diablo. :D

2007-Oct-24, 02:59 AM

Norm T
2007-Oct-24, 10:32 AM
Nice work Fogged In, you've gone to a fair bit of work to produce that contraption. It does a fine job....//

paul f. campbell
2007-Oct-24, 10:41 AM
Nice job on the barn door tracker, Your photos are great. Send More. Clear skies to you Paul

2007-Oct-24, 01:41 PM
A Very Hard effort but with Great results. It sure is a keeper!, looking forward to see more photos with this equipment you created Welldone and clear skies.

fogged in
2007-Oct-25, 03:48 AM
Nice job on the barn door tracker, Your photos are great. Send More. Clear skies to you Paul
The barn door tracker was my fist attempt at tracked exposure.
These photos were done on an old rickety wooden telescope tripod that I motorized in a very weird way.
I looked and looked for ways to make a variable speed drive for the tripod using a stepper motor with a variable speed control. Too many of the DIY tracker motors .... most of them actually........were computerized and I didn't want that.......... I just wanted a slow turning motor with extremely consistant speeds that I could control..... somewhere in the 1 to 4 RPM range.
I stopped chasing down the stepper motor idea after I got these photos.

Using a 300mm camera lens and exposures of 15 to 20 minutes or so, I don't need the accuracy that you guys do with your powerful telescopes. I don't have but a few photos with this Flintstone contraption.......... it's extremely difficult to use because the speed of the motor needs to be adjusted every 10 to 30 seconds.

I love tinkering, but can't justify the expense of a good motorized tripod.
Motorizing this contraption was done simply to get a decent photo of Hale Bopp........... If it was super accurate and easier to use and set up, I'd be more inclined to use it.
Some day I'll take a picture of it to give you guys a real good laugh. Not having a digital camera, I need to use my film camera and have a CD made along with the prints........ slow and a bit spendy, but it's all I have right now.

Thanks for the nice comments guys............ I wish I could show better photos of Hale Bopp by having my slide images converted onto a CD.
Nobody locally does any decent slide to CD conversions.

fogged in
2007-Oct-25, 04:00 AM
That has to be one of the most clever names I have ever seen. :D
Thanks for the nice comment.