I have had plans since last Fall to build me a Hiss Drive for the ol’ yard canon and today I finally got started.
Due to the fact that I have two little ones to watch and one more on the way, my shop time is as limited as my scope time, but this drive system should be both economical and practical. I want to observe in my limited time “off” (when the munchkins go to bed or before they get up in the morning) not spend my time nudging the Dob. Wow. That sounds dirty.
For those of you out there unfamiliar with a Hiss Drive, click here for some details. It’s not nearly as popular as equatorial platforms for Dobs, but if you google it you will get some neat info. Best of all, it doesn’t require a soldering gun and knowledge of electronics or access to motors. It sounds pretty cool and I can’t wait to try it. If it turns out to be an epic fail on wheels, it’ll make for a good laugh, some fire stock to get the marshmallows roasting, and inspiration to make an eq platform!
I live at 42.8* North, so I’m setting my box angle at 43* just for my own sanity. I’m making the sides framework out of 2x4s and the flat parts out of 1/2″ plywood left over from the Castle Bookcase I built for my daughter.
Using the Japanese razor saw I cut out some half laps (then realized its a LOT easier and faster to use the Versacut lol) at the proper angles. To get the angle, I used a framers triangle, transferred the angle to my angled bevel gauge and transferred it once more to the wood. Whew. After all that and then the cutting (lots of slices allow you to pop the waste out with a screw driver…neat!)….I had one 90* joint and then a long piece at 43*.
As you can see, I still need to trim the ends of the long side. Once it’s trimmed I will start the other side. The I can begin to assemble the base. Then it’s a matter of duplicating that for the top. Then it gets interesting as I plan to add wheels to this bad boy to make the scope mobile.
The old scope buggy/cart/cube is still very functional, but I plan to make the Hiss Drive Rover (Hiss Rover?) do it all…mobility, tracking, storage. So far, I have not seen a mobile Hiss Drive online so I may be pushing the envelope here. Though, maybe that is because the idea wont work. Time will tell.
Anyway, after the kids went to bed I retreated to the shop to continue work on the Hiss Rover. I hacked out two more half laps and assembled the first frame:
With one frame done, I just need 3 more for the project. The wood is all cut up (I did that today too) so it’s just a matter of cutting the half laps and gluing and screwing together the pieces. When this is done, it should be a box 20″ wide by 20″ tall. After the wheels are attached it should be a few inches shorter than the current base.
But woodworking took a backseat to stargazing. It was the first super clear night after a cold front since…maybe since winter. I couldn’t resist pulling the yard van n out of mothballs. I let it cool off while I worked and then took a look at Saturn (and was not disappointed!) before heading in.
Just for grins, I did a little afocal astrophotography with my cell phone. Here’s my best capture:
Certainly nothing to write home about but it is the first time I’ve successfully snapped the ringed planet. It was also the first time I’ve seen Saturn since 2010! I can’t wait to try my hand with the techniques I used for imaging Jupiter last year on Saturn! Looking forward to getting the Hiss Rover built and getting some tracking for extended views of my favorite planet…