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Losmandy StarLapse AstroTrac Hybrid Rig

Posted by Dan Pollock   11/21/2014 12:00AM

Losmandy StarLapse AstroTrac Hybrid Rig
Wanted to get back into AP with my DLSR. I'd had a Losmandy GM-8 before and loved it so when I found out about the StarLapse it was a no brainer. Good results right out of the box. Using the polar scope for align I was able to get 300+ sec subs immediately. Since then I've been able to get 7 minute subs with just a polar align. I'm new to this so the processing isn't the best but the stars are nice and round.

Mounting to the Astrotrac equipment is easy. Take off the mount plate on the Astrotrac wedge. There are 4 bolts. Make a pattern of the holes and drill and countersink them into the dovetail that comes with the StarLapse. The bolts you need are 25mm in length for the dovetail. Once you do this you are set. Its very sturdy and very lite. Looks heavy but its not. You can add sandbags to the inside of the tube if you need more weight. The legs and wedge store inside the tube for travel.

Decided I wanted a DSC push too system so I called up Gary and he fixed me up with the Losmandy DSCH kit. I used that for the axis on the Starlapse and the reader from the other encoder in the kit for the modification I made. The shaft for the camera saddle plate will mount an encoder wheel. Its a 1 inch wheel from USDigital. A Hammond 2x2x1in enclosure is the other piece you need. You mount the bottom of the enclosure to the bottom of the top arm on the camera mount using auto trim tape. Use trim tape to mount the reader onto the bottom of the enclosure with the new encoder wheel on the shaft. Attach the bottom and the bottom arm and you are all set. You have to drill one hole in the enclosure for the shaft and cut a 1/2x1/2in slot in the side for the cable. Attach to your favorite DSC and you are good to go. My DSC is on the way so I haven't tested it yet but I have high confidence its fine. I've done some robotics in the past so I have experience with encoders.

This is the third image 7 minutes unguided without drift align. 200mm lens.

So if you are looking for a nice DLSR rig this might be the one for you. In the hands of someone with more experience than me it will produce great images. And I'm blown away with what I've gotten so far. Nothing cheap or flimsy about this rig. And if you want to upgrade to a full GEM add the DEC module to it put the reader back in the other encoder you have from the kit and you are good to go. Gary Pierson has been through this whole process with me. He can fix you up.