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LX200 Rotating Workstation

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by J Nordby <j_nordbya_tyahoo.com>

I built a rotating workstation which I've never seen advertised anywhere. It keeps the keypad always in the same place with respect to the eyepiece, where I can always find it without looking. A picture of it appeared in an issue of "Observatory Techniques".

Workstation--1

The device is simple to describe. I use my LX200 as an alt/ azimuth telescope, so it is easy to make a workstation that slides onto the fork base, which then rotates along with the telescope's azimuth movements. It is wide enough to accommodate variable star charts on the left side and a notebook on the right. Since I found the level of the fork base itself a bit too high for comfort as a desk, I added a lower level that hangs down from that about 7 inches or so, which is just above the base of the LX200 and clears the leveling screws I have in the 16 x 16 inch plywood base I made. This level thus ends up at a comfortable desk level. This workstation or table should be as light as possible so as not to overwork the azimuth gearing and I leave the azimuth clamp slightly loose so that in case the workstation encounters some obstacle during a slew, it will merely slip and the gears will not be overstressed. I have used this arrangement since 1992 and have never needed any repair. In the event the azimuth clamp slips, it is very quick to command a slew to a star and move the telescope in azimuth in order to quickly re-align.

workstation--2

Details: Rotating Workstation for LX200

The base of the workstation is basically in the shape of a capital "E" from overhead. With the center stroke of the E passing thru the forkarms and resting on their base with no physical attachment other than gravity to hold it in place. The 'E' has 4 tines, that is, the center tine of the E is split so that the eyepiece end of the telescope is not limited by the E in any way. Otherwise certain attachments would be limited by the E rather than by the base of the fork mount.

The dimensions of the E are as follows:
   Total length is 39 inches.
   Total width is 20 inches.

The top and bottom tines of the E are each 9.75 inches in width and extend 12 inches from the cut, that is, the cuts are made to leave 8 inches connected with the original 20x39 piece, to help with stability.

The bifurcated center tines are each the width of a 1x4 piece, which means 3.5 inches in width. These are shorter than the outer tines: they are each about 14.5 inches in length from the back edge of the plywood. The left one is tapered back about an inch for easier use to see high altitude objects with a star diagonal.

The gap between the center tines, accommodating the eyepiece end, is 5.75 inches but tapering to perhaps 7 inches due to the above. The gaps on each side between the outer and central tines are each about 3 3/16 inches.

I put additional bracing underneath the E because without bracing it gets a bit floppy. If the E were made of aluminum it could probably be considerably lighter and also less flexible. However, as built, it is stable enough.

I used only one 1/4 x 20 stove bolt; not a big deal, but with one bolt, and the two arms of the Lx200's fork holding the E in place, it is quite stable.

There is actually a small wooden platform underneath the 'E' which tends to clamp itself around the fork-arms which, as you probably know, tend to widen as you approach the base. This platform is made separate from the 'E' because it has to be turned and twisted to get into place, (something the 'E' itself is topologically prevented from doing) and it seemed like the only way to provide a stable base that wouldn't easily move out of place; the 'E' is then placed on that and has a 1/4 x 20 boltsin it that interface with corresponding holes in the abovementioned platform -- although I use no extra attaching nut for this bolt, the fact that this bolt stick down into the platform below tends to hold the platform quite securely so it doesn't slide around.

The outer strokes of the E are outside the forkarms and serve as the shelf for your charts and notebook. On this shelf are attached the upper & back sides of the workstation.

These are also attached by gravity using a similar kind of system as above; actually the 'E' has a few protruding studs perhaps 1/4 inch above the rest of the board, which restrict movement of the upper and back sides of the workstation, which are all attached by hinges; that is, the back and sides are all one folding assembly.

Thus the entire assembly can be assembled without using any fasteners or turning any screws or nuts.

I added a lower level that hangs down from that about 7 inches or so, which is just above the base of the LX200 and clears the leveling screws I have in the 16 x 16 inch plywood base I made.

These are actually 2 separate pieces (which I nicknamed 'barneys' due to their sort of ugly appearance, and in remembrance of a certain purple beast on children's television). They tend to hold their position because they tend to bind against the LX200 fork arms - this is rather crude and could scratch the fork arms over time - but they are also individually adjustable back and forth which tends to be very convenient in use.

I also have an optional shelf which hangs across in front of the 'barneys', meant to sometimes hold a chart more conveniently, but I seldom use that.

On top of the left barney I have drilled a hole about 1.25 inch in size to accommodate an adjustable LED flashlight which thus illuminates charts from above but also can be dimmed and placed right on a chart for illuminating a small area of a chart.

It is worth noting also that the Dew-Zapper cord is taped permanently to the telescope and I cut the cord short so it is easy to connect so that it can go behind the telescope in the crook of the 'E' so that it is never in the observer's way.

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