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telescope techniques

Pipe Mount and Storage Rack


for a C90
F
or several years I used a 3-inch What I needed was a whole new ap-
f/15 refractor to view the Moon, proach to observing. I started looking at
planets, double stars, and bright the standard 34-inch galvanized pipe fit-
deep-sky objects. While it performed quite tings sold at hardware stores, and the re-
well, I found that the time needed to set sult of my experiments is pictured here.
up the tripod and tube assembly deterred
Home-Brew Pipe Mount
By Charles Lerner me from observing as
often as I would like. For a better way to aim the telescope up
Much better, I thought, would be a very and down I made an L bracket out of 1-
compact telescope that I could take out- by-4-inch pine. I drilled a hole in this
doors at the drop of a hat, even if only to brackets horizontal arm for a 14-20
look at the Moon for a few minutes. thumbscrew the same thread size
Recently I bought a used Celestron found on camera tripods to hold the
C90, an ultracompact Maksutov-Casse- scope securely in place. I also screwed a 9-
grain with an aperture of 312 inches. But inch-long strip of wood under the bracket
my first night using it on a standard cam- for steering the scope around the sky.
era tripod proved frustrating because of To the brackets side I attached a 34-
imbalance around the axis of the tripods inch floor flange, which fits on the male
tilting head. Also, I didnt like the time it end of a 90 street elbow. This elbow was
took to take the C90 out of its case, take then tightly screwed to an 8-inch-long
off the end caps, put in the diagonal, put
in the eyepiece, and attach the scope to Most people use the Celestron C90 on a standard camera tripod, but Charles Lerner has a bet-
the tripod. When done observing, I had ter idea. His one-arm pipe mount provides easy access to the eyepiece no matter where the
to repeat these steps in reverse. telescope is aimed. He provided all photographs for this article.

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1998 Sky Publishing Corp. All rights reserved. Sky & Telescope October 1998 123
telescope techniques

Left: A simple wooden extension of the tripod platform keeps three spare eyepieces within holes have barrels that are approximately
reach. Right: As seen from below, the folding tripod legs bolt to short blocks screwed under- 3
4 inch long, so they fit nicely in the pine
neath the platform. The legs are fully extended when their top ends touch the hexagon. (because 1-inch stock actually has a fin-
ished thickness of almost exactly 34 inch).
pipe section. Both the floor flange and 90 street elbow. As a result the center of Under the last hole I glued a 34-inch PVC
the mounting hole in the brackets hori- gravity of the C90, wood bracket, and pipe cap as an extension; my third extra
zontal arm were carefully located so the pipe fittings lies approximately above the eyepiece has a long barrel.
telescope would remain in balance when final flange that defines the azimuth axis.
pointed at any altitude. The threads turn more smoothly on each The Telescope in Use
To the lower end of the 8-inch upright other if this condition is met, though an So there would be essentially no setting
I added a standard 90 elbow, a horizontal offset here wont actually cause the tele- up or breaking down time with this tele-
4-inch section of pipe, and then another scope to drift in azimuth. scope, I made a handy wall hanger for
it in a utility room that has exposed
Tripod studs. First I nailed a pair of 14-inch
I made a very simple, sturdy tripod by arms to each side of one of the studs and
first cutting a hexagon with 5-inch sides screwed a 5-inch piece underneath for
out of 34-inch plywood. As connection support (see the photographs at left).
points for the folding legs, I screwed three The tripod simply slides into place with
8-inch-long pieces of 2-by-2 underneath one leg in the gap between arms. After
this hexagon. The legs themselves, also 2- hanging up the tripod with C90 at-
by-2s, are attached to these pieces with 516- tached, I place a cloth dust cover over the
inch carriage bolts and wing nuts. optics, including the exposed eyepieces.
Each leg extends slightly above the top (I leave a low-power eyepiece in the diag-
of the tripod so that when the legs are onal even during storage so the scope
splayed out their inside edges bear will always be ready to go.)
against the top of the plywood hexagon. The whole setup works extremely well.
This limits the angle by which they swing When I want to use the telescope I re-
out to 25. And because the legs are move the cover, lift the unit from the
about 33 inches long, the overall height rack, and carry it outside using the hori-
of the tripod with legs open is around 30 zontal section of the pipe mount as a
inches. This puts the scopes altitude axis handle. Im then ready to observe. The
42 inches above the ground. tripod height and minimal eyepiece
Underneath one edge of the tripod top movement of this telescope make for
I attached a small piece of 1-inch pine in easy viewing from a chair, regardless of
which I had drilled three holes for extra where in the sky I look.
eyepieces. To keep dust
from entering from un- With interests in music and woodworking,
derneath, I glued a short Charles Lerner has made mounts and
section of thin pine under tripods for a number of small telescopes and
the first two holes. The binoculars. He can be reached at 11405 Raleigh
eyepieces stored in these Dr., Omaha, NE 68164; calerner@uswest.net.

Lerner hangs it up! Without disassembly in any way, the scope and tripod
slide between two wall brackets (see inset) for quick stowing. Not shown is
the dust cover that protects the instrument as a whole.

124 October 1998 Sky & Telescope 1998 Sky Publishing Corp. All rights reserved.