A simple, inexpensive, SOLID telescope mount

Dec 23

Written by:
12/23/2012 10:57 PM  RssIcon

I've been considering what mount to build for my long, 6" f/10.9 reflector.  I thought I'd decided on a split-ring equatorial mount, but due to the length of the tube and the required size of split ring for that tube, I had second thoughts.  I posted on Cloudy Nights' forum about it, and some people made a good suggestion for me:

A pipe mount.

These are the types of mounts people use to make back in the 60's when it was much more of a "do it yourself or go without" era for telescopes, because many of the retail scopes were, comparatively, quite expensive.  And on top of the, fancy solid equatorial mounts were big, heavy and... expensive.

So what to do?  Build a mount from simple plumbing parts.

The thing is, as telescopes have come down in price over the decades, one things that hasn't changed is the cheap, flimsy tripod that goes with those mounts.  And what has gotten progressively smaller - and therefore less stable - is the actual mount between the telescope and the tripod.  

How to fix that?  Again, a pipe mount.

I have a few small refractors bumping around - a cheap 60mm f/9 or so, a 70mm f/8 and a 90mm f/10 that is quite good.  I've often put them on a Celestron CG-3 driven mount on a good tripod I'd made, but because I wanted to test out the plumbing pipe mount before building a "scaled up" one for my long reflector, I decided to make a "scaled down" version first, to see how it would work with those other refractors.

I got a bunch of parts, all in 3/4" plumbing pipe size:

1 - 3/4" tee

1 - 10" long 3/4" pipe

2 - 2" long couplings

1 - 1.5" long coupling

1 - 45 degree 3/4" coupling

2 - 3/4" floor flanges

I started out by lapping the threads as best I could, using a metal polishing compound.  The threads are certainly a lot smoother than they were before, but at the moment - not exactly knowing what I'm doing - I'm pretty sure the could be better.  But overall, I'm satisfied with the result I have so far.  Tighten up a few things here and there, make sure the "moving" threads are nice and smooth-moving, add a few clamps and a piece of wood plus a simple tripod I had laying around and "Voila!" - a pipe mount that now holds my 90mm f/10 Orion refractor.

I haven't brought it outside to use yet (of course, it's cloudy!), but it turns nicely, and is very solid, despite being on a rather lightweight tripod at the moment.  I think it will perform quite well, and others who have made these mounts give them high marks in general.  I think I'll be posting more about how to build one of these in the future, to help others overcome flimsy, wobbly mounts with 60mm and 70mm telescopes that are bought around Christmas.

But, it looks a little industrial, so I think it might need some paint.  What do you think?

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.