| HOW TO ALIGN YOUR EQUATORIAL PLATFORM
The Easy Way
Getting your platform aligned can take hours following the "normal methods" of equatorial alignment. Here is how to do it in a snap:
First Time - One Time Only:
1. With your dob flat on the ground, mark your latitude on the altitude bearing using a protractor (picture - upper left). Don't worry too much about accuracy it is just for a quick reference (My location is 41 degrees north latitude).
2. Mount your dob on the platform.
3. Find the south center of your rocker box and mark it (picture - upper right). Align the mark with the center of your south bearing on the platform.
1. Level the platform
2. Point the platform at the Polaris.
3. Move your scope so the altitude is adjusted to you latitude mark. Rotate the scope so the south mark lines-up on the rocker box. Your scope should be pointing pretty close to Polaris.
4. Raise or the lower the platform to get Polaris in the finder. Rotate the platform to get Polaris in the finder. With Polaris centered and both marks lined up on the scope, you are getting very close.
5. Rewind the platform. Watch the North Star in your finder scope and fast-forward the platform to the max position. You see, you don't have to wait for the earth to rotate to tell you how far off you will be in an hour of tracking.
6. If the star moves left or right (real world) adjust the platform up or down. I am not giving acutual directions because I cannot remember anyway. Just move the platform and repeat step 5. Did it get better or worse? Go the opposite way if it got worse. Keep rewinding the platform and making adjustments until you are close.
7. If the Star moves up or down (real world) rotate the platform east or west. Keep rewinding and watch if you get better or worst.
8. You can improve your tracking by pointing at the center between the Polaris and the dimmer star next to it. That is pretty close to the north celestial pole. For really fine work, use the dob to view Polaris. All movement in the position of Polaris caused by polar alignment will be smooth linear motion. Any motion that is not smooth and linear, is caused by errors in the platform.
THE BIG TAKE AWAY -
POLAIS MOVES LEFT /RIGHT DURING FAST FORWARD - MOVE PLATFORM UP/DOWN.
IF POLARIS MOVES UP/DOWM MOVE THE PLATFORM EAST OR WEST - JUST DO IT AND DON'T THINK.
This method works better than the two star approach for me. The tracking rate accuracy is removed from the alignment procedure - a problem for DC motor driven tangent drives.