Barn Door Tracker (astrophotography)

Hey All,

So my 40th bday is coming up here in August. One portion of my photography that has been less than "stellar" has been my astrophotography, and that is a new goal of mine. I am building a Barn Door Tracker to get some shots of the stars.

I have priced out some units, mainly the Star Adventurer setup which can run $400 - $2500 with all the bells and whistles. I have researched many, MANY articles about building one. There is one from Nuts & Volts that is nice, and plenty of others; so building one isn't going to be "out of this world" expensive. :lol:

Any of you build one yet? Seems pretty straight forward from what I've read, but wondered if anyone had first hand experience that could give me any tips.

Here are some links I've read so far:
http://www.nutsvolts.com/magazine/article/january2015_Wierenga
https://petapixel.com/2018/05/15/how-i-built-a-star-tracker-for-dslrs/
https://partofthething.com/thoughts/making-a-cheap-and-simple-barn-door-star-tracker-with-software-tangent-correction-for-astrophotography/

Comments

  • 12 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • jmgjmg Posts: 12,094
    JD wrote: »
    Any of you build one yet? Seems pretty straight forward from what I've read, but wondered if anyone had first hand experience that could give me any tips.

    Search on here for Solar trackers and you will find a few threads.

  • jmg wrote: »
    Search on here for Solar trackers and you will find a few threads.

    I see a lot of solar threads, but I'm going for night time photography.
  • jmgjmg Posts: 12,094
    JD wrote: »
    I see a lot of solar threads, but I'm going for night time photography.

    Yes, but the speed of the earth's rotation does not alter Day:Night - it is always 15 degrees/hour - so any 15'/hr solution will also work with the lights off :)

  • jmg wrote: »
    Yes, but the speed of the earth's rotation does not alter Day:Night - it is always 15 degrees/hour - so any 15'/hr solution will also work with the lights off :)

    Yes, I know that rotation doesn't change from night and day. lol Using Polaris seems to be an important part of the project too, maybe something can be added and just use the rotation for the camera. Have you built any of these?
  • jmgjmg Posts: 12,094
    JD wrote: »
    Using Polaris seems to be an important part of the project too, maybe something can be added and just use the rotation for the camera. Have you built any of these?
    Your second link appears to just use manual alignment to earth rotation axis, so any mechanical system that does 15°/h should be applicable.
    I've not built a 15°/h system, but many others have.

  • It's one of the many I've read over the past couple of days, I will keep up the research. I was hoping that someone had built one so I could get any tips on building one before I started. 15°/h is another detail that I didn't have before, thanks :)
  • twm47099 wrote: »

    Excellent Tom, I will check them out. I see that there is a suggestion to use a bent rod instead of a straight one to compensate for tangent error.
  • I added another link to that post by the author of the bent rod tracker. It is a smaller tracker that is built on a commercial strap hinge and is manually driven. Hard to believe, but he shows a sharp photo he made with that setup.

    There may (or may not) be other articles in back issues of Sky & Telescope.

    Tom
  • twm47099 wrote: »
    I added another link to that post by the author of the bent rod tracker. It is a smaller tracker that is built on a commercial strap hinge and is manually driven. Hard to believe, but he shows a sharp photo he made with that setup.

    There may (or may not) be other articles in back issues of Sky & Telescope.

    Tom

    How funny, that is one of the articles that I read. I thought it was crazy that he accomplished the task with so little tech. I have not heard of Sky & Telescope, I will check them out too. I'm in the information gathering step, so it's read, read, read before I start. Astrophotography is a picture I've always wanted to get but never tried seriously until now; it's always been a simple long exposure while doing night photography but the movement of the moon and stars were always too apparent to get a good shot. Do you play with night photography too? I subscribe to a couple photography groups on Google Plus and there is a guy in one of the groups, Will Vrbasso that does amazing work. It has inspired me to see what I can come up with. He uses a Star Adventurer, but I'm seeing what I can do on a budget. :lol:
  • I made one over 20 years ago from a couple pieces of plywood and a wind-up egg timer. I pulled the knob off and put a rubber roller on it which would drive an arc shaped section of plywood. Heck, in the old days people would turn them by hand while watching the second hand on their watch.

    Then I got a telescope with a tracking mount and it became redundant.
  • W9GFO wrote: »
    I made one over 20 years ago from a couple pieces of plywood and a wind-up egg timer. I pulled the knob off and put a rubber roller on it which would drive an arc shaped section of plywood. Heck, in the old days people would turn them by hand while watching the second hand on their watch.

    Then I got a telescope with a tracking mount and it became redundant.

    That sounds pretty simple and sweet. I think it's wild that twisting something by hand doesn't create blurry images, but I've been told and read that it can be done with good results though. If I look at my tripod wrong and it seems to create an issue with crisp images :lol:
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