Updated: Dec 28, 2019
Mounting your brand new set-up can be pretty confusing, especially since you wouldn't want to break anything before even getting to use that shiny telescope!
We made a video showing exactly how to mount everything, balance the telescope, and polar align the mount, which you can see at the bottom of this page. Here is the text version of this video, in case you would like to keep it in your notes and take it with you for your first outing (even though we recommend you set everything up in your living room the very first time!)
STEP 1: We begin by putting the tripod out first. This will be the base of our entire mounting process. On top, there is a raised cube-like feature which will be important in the next steps. Make sure to point this cube exactly towards Polaris.
STEP 2: We attach the motorized mount. It is fairly heavy so we always handle with care! It goes in that raised cube we talked about. In order to secure the parts so far, we place a piece of metal which doubles as a lens holder and support for the tripod base. This will ensure the tripod legs are wide open and screw into the mount. Make sure it is tight for now, but know that you will have to loosen it later during the polar alignment step.
STEP 3: It is time to attach the counter-weights. The pole inside the mount is not long enough so we will attach an extender first. Make sure you secure the weights so they don't fall off abruptly or smash your toes by closing the end of the rod with the screw.
STEP 4: Now that the weights are attached, the telescope can safely be put on! Loosening the knobs on the top of the mount, we make enough room for the telescope’s attachment to latch on, then tighten it again. Never, EVER, attach the telescope before the weights, or the entire setup will fall on the concrete once you let go. We have marked the general area with a pencil so we do not have to waste time finding the right balance with the counter-weights.
STEP 5: Now we can attach all of our accessories. Remember you will have to balance the telescope, so if you plan to image, attach everything that will be on the telescope while it is tracking, so it counts as part of the weight.
STEP 6: Balancing: This part is extremely important, because without proper balance, the mount will constantly be under stress while tracking the stars. Start with the RIGHT ascension Axis, simply move each weight little by little until the telescope stays still. Then comes the Declination Axis, simply slide the telescope in whichever direction needed, try not to do this alone unless you are used to it. You’ll know you’re successful when you can swing the telescope gently in all directions and it stays still in place without tipping over.
STEP 7: Collimation: We now remove the camera and replace it with our collimation laser, which will help us collimate the telescope in seconds. Rotate the laser so that the target faces towards the back and never forget to bring the correct size screwdriver for the tiny screws you will need to adjust. Start screwing or unscrewing the 3 bolts in the front gently until the laser beam points to the middle of the mirror. Then use your hands to screw/unscrew the 3 thicker knobs on the opposite end of the telescope until the red dot is eclipsed in the target center. Note that you will need to unlock the metallic knobs before turning the thicker ones.
STEP 8: Prepare to polar align. Make sure your mount is pointing to Polaris. We are used to this location so we know exactly where the North star is even during the day, but if you don’t, use an app and hope that it will be good enough that you won’t need to rotate the entire setup when it’s dark. Finally, just plug everything needed for the night, such as the guiding camera cords, the laptop, the controller, and the power!
STEP : Polar Alignment: The most important thing about polar aligning the mount is that you successfully pointed the tripod towards Polaris during Step 1. You will need to use the 2 small metal handles the very first time to set the coordinates of your mount, but once this is done, those 2 handles should always be left untouched unless changing location. Make sure the mount is on, and look through the little mount lens. Rotate the declination (telescope) axis so that the big dipper and Cassiopeia's angles match the night sky. All there is left to do is unscrew the metal lens holder a little bit, and use both handles on each side of the motorized mount to slightly move left or right and put Polaris inside the little circle!
And that is it! Since the mount is already on, the telescope should always be pointing to whatever target you set it to. We highly recommend a guiding camera for an even better tracking, but we’ll talk about that more in detail soon.
Watch the Video below to see us complete each of the steps above.
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