Mini Dob update

Fairly clear skies last night, so I took the Dob out for a test viewing. I found that the bolts I was worried about hitting when adjusting the telescope up and down were the least of my worries. I think they only hit once or twice, and even then they weren’t too jarring because the glides are rounded, and I used an angle grinder to cut the protruding all-thread flush with the nuts, so it’s not bad at all. There does need to be a bit more friction there, however, as the telescope would tend to drift down on its own when at low viewing angles and one of the heavier eyepieces in. All in all, though, altitude adjustments are not a problem.

What was a problem is the azimuth adjustment. Remember those felt feet that felt right? Nope. WAY too much friction, even with the wing nut backed all the way off. So much so that trying to guide the scope by holding the optical tube would sometimes yank it right out of the rocker box, so I’d have to hold on to the rocker box to get the azimuth changed, and it was a bit herky jerky. Very frustrating.

Adding to my frustration was the fact that I thought I’d be clever and pull the other scope out, and hook it up to a web cam and a laptop to see if I could do some astrophotography. For some reason the webcam and this laptop will only talk to each other intermittently, even though the web cam works fine on the desktop PC. Grr. And every time I’d look at the laptop, my night vision would get ruined due to the brightness of the screen.

Lessons learned:

  1. Pay attention to what other telescope builders are doing. If they are all using Teflon and/or milk jug washers, go with that, at least for a first attempt. There is probably a reason none of them are using felt for the azimuth turntable.
  2. Stick to one new technology at a time. Trying to work out quirks in the Dobsonian mount, *and* trying to troubleshoot webcam issues at the same time just lead to increased frustration.
  3. Get some night vision friendly lighting. Between using my cell phone as a flashlight and looking at the laptop screen, my eyes never did adjust to the dark, or at least what passes for dark here in the city. I did later setup a night vision theme on the laptop, all reds and blacks, so that will help when using it, but I still need a light source for picking up dropped lens covers, and sorting through eyepieces.
  4. Keep a star chart handy. I have Stellarium on both the laptop and my tablet, but did I use either one? No… I was attempting to find the Orion Nebula, and I know right where to look, but even zoomed out with the 26mm eyepiece I was getting lost due to the fact that I was seeing so many more stars through the telescope than I was with my naked eye. Being able to compare the telescope view with the star chart should help me get reoriented. Of course it didn’t help that I was unable to smoothly track back and forth due to the aforementioned azimuth friction issue. That will be addressed….