EQ Tracking Platform "Trackie" for Dobsonian Telescopes

Many dobsonian telescopes do not have an integrated tracking system. Without such a system the rotation of the earth causes astronomical objects to drift out of the field of view over time so that the telescope's direction needs to be adjusted manually to compensate from time to time.

So think about this: Wouldn't it be great if this manual compensation was not necessary and instead one could just be completely relaxed and enjoy the view through the eyepiece without keeping the object´s drift in mind constantly? There is a solution to this problem: an equatorial platform! This platform counters the rotation of the earth and keeps the object steadily in the center of the field of view.

Especially when observing the moon and our neighbouring planets using an equatorial platform makes a huge difference. To observe the finer details of these objects a high magnification is essential. Unfortunately increased magnification means that manual readjustments of the telescope´s direction are needed much more frequently to keep the object within the desired position in the field of view. Owner´s of an equatorial platform do not need to worry about this, they can enjoy the view of the object without interruption. Full concentration on the finer details is possible and waiting for those wonderful moments, when the air is absolutely still and the view of the object becomes most sharp, becomes a real joy.

If you enjoy the drawing of Deep-Sky objects you will also greatly benefit from using an equatorial platform, having that much more uninterrupted time for observing and actual drawing.

You like to show the wonders of our universe to your family, friends and want to bring others closer to what´s out there? With an equatorial platform joined observation events are that much more fun and especially with showing an object to non-astronomers or beginners the platform is a real asset. Everyone can take turns looking at what you´ve positioned within the field of view without the object drifting away in the meantime, leading to a comfortable and wonderful shared experience.

1) Short Description

2) Detailed Information

The equatorial platform offered by Spacewalk Telescopes is suitable for dobsonian telescopes up to the size of 20“ and up to a weight of 80kg. Telescopes of any manufacturer can be used with this platform as long as they meet those three criteria.

The mechanical design of the platform is optimized for high stability with emphasis on a stiff and low-vibration construction. To achieve this goal the upper as well as the lower subassembly of the platform consist of generously-sized aluminum profiles with a powder-coated finish in matt black. Despite the extremely stable design the platform´s weight is only 6.6kg making it an ideal companion for light-weight telescopes.

The platform is firmly supported by three feet that are easily adaptable to tilted ground due to their rubber coated joint form. The southern foot is connected to a long adjustment screw with which the rotational axis can be comfortably adjusted towards Polaris.

The exchangeable elliptical segments can be ordered for 45, 49 and 53 northern degree latitude depending on which of those is closest to the geographic latitude of one`s observing location. With this distinctive adaptations a higher tracking precision can be achieved. Additional segments can be ordered at any time and the exchange of the segments can be easily done in a few simple steps.

The drive of the platform consists of two strong gear motors in combination with a worm gear. Using two motors instead of one not only increases the tracking precision of the platform (escpecially when the midpoint of the tracking path is passed) it also very effectively prevents the platform´s upper part from loosing grip with the drive unit at any time. The two motor shafts are manufactured of turned steel and are based within housed bearings. The platform´s speed is adjustable via a small remote control box so speed adjustments and occasional corrections can be made while looking through the eyepiece. Escpecially when for example taking photographs of the moon this fine adjustment of the tracking speed is extremely helpful.

The platform is powered by 6 mignon batteries type AAA. With fully loaded batteries it can be powered between 10 and 15 hours which easily covers a complete nightly observation session.

3) Lunar photography with an equatorial platform

In combination with a camera dedicated to lunar and planetary photography (e.g. the ASI-120/178MM) plus some practice and patience a platform makes wonderful astrophotographs of those objects possible. Especially when the seeing is good a resolution of details with sizes less than an arcsecond is possible. Missing astronomy in between new-moon phases? This might be an interesting new area waiting to be explored.