Telescope to Go!  

by Mark Blanton

The Telescope Mover (see Telescope Mover.jpg at right) is a modified Home Depot
hand truck. I attached a 2x4 across the bottom and drilled holes to accept
two of the tripod legs. Near the top I added a piece of 3/4" plywood notched
to capture the top of the tripod legs just below the accessory tray. The
tripod is set in the holes and tilted back into the notches and a bungee
cord is used to secure it for transport. The handle and ends of the 2X4 are
painted light gray so I won't trip over them in the dark (again). The
telescope is shown with its Orion solar filter attached. Also shown are the
6X30 RA finder with solar filter attached.

The Battery Box (Battery Box.jpg) is an old Igloo Lunchbox containing two
12-volt gel cell batteries wired in parallel. I designed a small circuit
board with a 6-volt regulator and a battery level monitoring circuit which
is mounted into a cutout in the side of the box. The box has 12V (large
jack) output for the dew heater circuit and 6V (small jack) output for the RA
drive motor and an LED bar graph battery voltage indicator. A switch (to the
left of the LED bar graph in the photo) is used to turn the bar graph off when
not needed to conserve power. The Battery Box is secured to the bottom of
the hand truck with a combination of Velcro and a bungee cord. The battery
charger is plugged into the 12V port for charging and stored inside the box
when not needed.

The finder scope solar filter is built from an 1" PVC pipe coupling hollowed
out to be a tight fit on my 6X30 Right Angle finder and secured with three
6-32 Nylon thumb screws from Scope Stuff. A small piece of Bader Solar Film
is attached to the front of the PVC with double sided tape and covered with
a layer of black electrical tape for added strength.
The Dew Heater contains a circuit that monitors the temperature sensors for
the OTA and the ambient air. The circuit is designed to keep the OTA
corrector lens, finder, and eyepiece at a user-selectable temperature above
ambient. In use the heater is set for about 3-5 degrees above ambient and
increased as needed during heavy dew conditions. The circuit will cycle on
and off as needed to maintain the set temperature. Turning the temperature
all the way up will force the circuit on full to burn off any dew that
accumulates. The temperature should then be set back to a few degrees higher
than the original setting to keep more dew from forming. The tripod platform
shown in this picture was my previous transport idea which proved to be
somewhat heavy and was scrapped for the current setup.
Clear Skies,
Mark Blanton
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