University Lowbrow Astronomers

Lowtech, Lowbrow Hand Controller Holder.

by Harry L. Juday
Printed in Reflections: January, 2003.

Lowtech, Lowbrow Hand Controller Holder #1  Lowtech, Lowbrow Hand Controller Holder #2

Well.  Mark seems to be desperate again (or is it still), for some articles, so here is one on a little useful (to me), addition I made to my new mount.

3 long months after placing my order last August, (months with some fairly nice viewing ops, almost none since I got it), my G11 with the Gemini controller arrived.  Ironically on my wife Anna’s Birthday.  As this is, with all of the extra mounting plates, polar scope, optional clamps, etc., the single most expensive piece of astronomy equipment I have ever gotten, I felt a bit bad about that part, but she was extremely gracious about it - my excitement about the long awaited delivery was very great.

However, after assembling the mount and Gemini unit, I was a bit disappointed to see that there was nothing to attach the hand controller to, and no good place to store it when not in use.

The next day I called Scott Losmandy and asked him about it.  He said he had nothing available and most people just used Velcro to attach the unit to the mount.  I have not really had that much luck using Velcro in a glue on application that receives a lot of usage, even the “Heavy Duty” type.  As the mount has no flat surface to place one part of the Velcro on, given the constant stress of taking the controller off and on that it would get and the humid conditions the mount will be seeing, I decided that Velcro would not work for me.  I needed something I could set the controller on, or better yet, put it into.

A wood item did not seem to be the answer and I do not have the equipment to fashion what I would consider a suitable metal holder.  What I needed was a fairly sturdy molded plastic case to fit the unit in.  I wanted to have it quickly as it looked like some decent viewing weather was on the way at that time (didn’t happen though), and it had to be inexpensive (CHEAP).

So, I began scrounging around the garage and house to see what I could find, and I found just what I needed.  In a cabinet in the basement were some extra plastic food storage boxes (Tupperware and misc. brands).  I found one that was just perfect, an off-brand (Tucker?) food storage container & lid, i/s dims, 5”x7”x1.5”.  The .05” thickness seemed stiff and durable enough for what I needed.

Lowtech, Lowbrow Hand Controller Holder #3

I cut the top, leaving about 2.00” (see photo) and then cut that piece with enough clearance to get the cord in and out easily.  I notched the bottom wide enough clear the connector and within about 1/8” of the bottom.  I then dug around in my pole barn workshop and found a scrap piece of 1/8” Masonite pegboard big enough to make a reinforcing piece for the i/s bottom of the box (yes, I save all of that stuff and find it usually comes in handy someplace).

I superglued the two top pieces in the corner and painted the box using white Krylon semi-gloss spray paint (about 3 coats, not letting it dry as long as I should have, but it seems to be sticking well).  I used white to make it easier to see at night.

My plan was to attach the box to a mount leg with an “ss” hose clamp, which I thought I had.  Turned out I did not, so a fast trip to Stadium Hardware on Stadium near Liberty (they have EVERYTHING there, but most of you probably already know that).  Cost, $1.39 for a 3” to 4” “ss” hose clamp.  Also decided to buy some small “ss” bolts and nuts as long as I was there, instead of using the plated ones I already had.  #8, 3/4” bolts and the nuts about $.10ea, large washers to prevent pull-thru a bit more and cap nuts for the bottom (so as not to scratch up the mount legs) most of all, $.44ea.

Drilled some holes, bolted the reinf to the i/s of the box and added a small length, (about 2”), of copper coated strapping wire with holes on the bottom, between two of the upper bolts.  This piece holds the hose clamp to the box.  Attached it to the mount leg, with the bottom part resting on the upper mount leg clamp, which makes the unit quite steady.  I cut a piece of the foam material I use for make-shift dew shields (previous article) and glued it in place.  The box holds the hand controller nicely and is just oversized enough to make taking it in and out easy.

Simple, kind of crude,but effective.  A real low tech, low brow accessory.

Lowtech, Lowbrow Hand Controller Holder #4


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