The simplest way to align the platform is by using a compass to point the platform north for users in the northern hemisphere and south for users in the southern hemisphere. The side of the platform with the orange drive wheel is the direction of the hemisphere where you are located. For example, users in northern hemisphere will orient the platform so that the orange drive wheel is on the north end. When using a compass, remember to compensate for the magnetic declination (error between true north/south and the magnetic north/south) After aligning for the correct direction, use the adjustable feet and bubble level to level the platform. Users in the northern hemisphere may also use Polaris to align the platform if the star is visible from their telescope’s location. The most accurate method is the “drift alignment” method. This method requires observing the direction that the star drifts in the eyepiece and moving the platform accordingly. For more details on platform alignment click here.
Can I use the platform for latitudes other than the designed latitude?
Yes, the platform can used for other latitudes by raising or lowering either the south or north end of platform. The platform is level north to south for the design latitude so correcting it for any other latitude will make the platform unlevel. When correcting latitude, the platform will be at a north-south angle equal to the difference between the design latitude and the observing latitude. Corrections of up to 5 or 6 degrees are generally manageable. The height correction required to change latitudes is approximately 1” for every 2 degrees of correction. Small corrections can be made by adjusting the platform’s feet but larger corrections are made by placing shims (typically wood) under the adjustable feet after leveling it. Example: A user has a platform designed for 40 degrees and is using the platform at 45 degrees north latitude. A correction of 5 degrees would be required. 5 / 2 inches/degree = 2.5”. In order to correct the latitude, 2.5” shims would be added to each of the north feet of the platform.
Can the platform be used in the hemisphere other than the design hemisphere?
Yes, all platforms are designed to be used in either the southern or northern hemisphere. The direction of motor can be changed by reversing the connectors located inside the drive arm of the platform. These are the connectors you connect when assembling the platform.
How does the Dobsonian telescope mount to the platform?
The platform is meant to replace the “ground board” of the telescope which is the lowest section (base) of the telescope. Typically, the base has 3 PTFE pads and a pivot bolt connecting the “rocker box” which is the section of the telescope with the altitude bearings that support the optical tube assembly. Based on the customer provided information, the platform is shipped with a new, longer pivot bolt in order to reach the threads of the platform and 3 PTFE pads mounted on the platform matching the distance of the original ground board pads.
Can I use more than one telescope with platform?
The platform is designed to be adaptable for use with multiple telescopes. Additional PTFE pad screw holes may be added to accommodate different sized telescope rocker box sizes. The pads can be quickly and easily moved between locations.
Can I mount my entire telescope with it’s ground board?
Some telescopes have digital setting circles built into the ground board or use “lazy susan” style bearings. Telescopes can be mounted on the platform with the ground board attached with the use of custom clamps which are provided at additional cost. These clamps are designed to clamp the ground board directly to the platform so the telescope’s original pivot system and encoders can be used.
How long does the platform track before it needs to be reset?
The platform will track for approximately 1 hour before needing to be reset.
What is the starting tracking position and how is the platform reset?
The starting tracking position is at the western most mechanical stop. The platform will move from west to east, eventually stopping at the eastern most mechanical stop. To reset the platform, raise the reset lever to remove the drive wheel friction. While holding the bottom section of the platform with one hand, slowly push the platform until it reaches the western stop. Lower the reset lever to engage the drive friction. The platform does not need to be turned off while resetting. This video shows how reseting is accomplished.
Can my scope be kept on the platform when not in use?
Wheel kits are available to allow the telescope to remain on the platform and stored when not in use. The entire telescope and platform can be rolled out and lowered off the wheels for use and easily rolled back for storage. Click here for inquiries and pricing
Can I use digital setting circles with the platform?
Yes, digital setting circles can be used for the platform. In order to use digital setting circles, a modified pivot is required. The modified pivot bolt has a 1/4” diameter center hole and a set screw to lock the azimuth encoder shaft to the pivot bolt. The body of the encoder has an arm which is fastened to the rocker box base with a screw. Digital setting circles have a mode for use with equatorial platforms that turn the clock off. A star alignment needs to be performed after each reset. Click here for a picture of the encoder setup for a typical Dobsonian telescope.
How much assembly is required before using the platform?
In order the reduce shipping costs, the platform is partially disassembled before shipping. Assembly takes approximately 45 minutes and is very straight forward. The platform can be disassembled back to the shipping configuration for easy transport in a suitcase. For details on platform assembly click here
Are the platforms star tested?
Yes, every platform is star tested with a 10” f/6 dobsonian telescope at 305X with a 42 degree apparent field. With a basic alignment, the platform is accurate enough to keep a centered star in the eyepiece for at least 20-30 minutes.
Is there a warranty on the platform?
The platform has a one year full parts and labor warranty. The customer is responsible for shipping costs. We will make every effort to solve warranty issues by phone or e-mail working with the user. The platform also comes with a full money back guarantee if the product is returned within 60 days.
What is the approximate lead time from receipt of deposit?
Production times vary, but are typically between 4 and 8 weeks from receipt of deposit to shipping.
What are the shipping costs?
Typical shipping and handling costs inside the continental U.S. are between $65 and $100 depending on the customer’s distance from northern California. International shipping ranges from $100 to around $175.
What types of payment do you accept?
We accept payment by personal check, cashier’s check, money order or wire transfer. Credit cards and Paypal are not accepted due to the additional cost.
How do I order?
Click here, fill out the form, and we'll get back to you with payment data.