My first astrophotos really were not very good but they were pictures of deep space objects that I had taken myself! I was hooked! I also realized that I needed to gain experience and do some research before going to the next level. I started doing a lot of serious reading about mounts and cameras while I used the equipment I had to gain experience. A few months after building the observatory I ran across an ad for a very large equatorial mount located about 30 miles from me. I called the owner and drove out to take a look.

The mount was massive. It had started off life as a 1980's Starliner brand, commercially built mount. The right ascension and declination shafts were 2" solid stainless steel. These shafts were supported, in aluminum castings, by ball bearings. The worm drive gears were made by Aeroquest, 12" on the RA and 8" on the DEC axis. The original DC motor RA drive had been replaced with a

commercial, geared stepper motor system on both axis. The fellow who owned it had previously used it with a 16" Newtonian. He no longer owned the telescope and the mount had been in storage for several years. I bought the mount.

The photo above is the original SCT/LXD75 mounted in the homebuilt dome. The observatory interior painting had not been finished, just primer on the walls and dome. The Orion ST-80 and Meade DSI were my first autoguider setup.

The photo to the left is the modified Starliner mount. Notice the very small homemade counterweight. What you don't see is the two 3/4" aluminum plates bolted to the underside of the scope rail to offset the weight of 2" declination shaft. The counter-weight is just to trim the balance, without the plates on the telescope side, the mount is counterweight shaft heavy even with a full instrument load. Read more ...