In 1992 I built a mount for a 12.5" mirror. The components were ordered from AstroSystems. I followed the instruction manual to assemble the mirror box and the rocker box using 3/4" grade plywood. I had AstroSystems make the upper cage assembly. The mount has performed well. In order to transport it, I removed the passenger seat from my '83 Volvo. The mirror box fit, but it was snug.
Last June I called AstroSystems and ordered a Telekit, an advanced design that uses pre-cut Baltic birch plywood. Instead of screws, slow-drying epoxy is used to bond the finger joints. Eight clamp blocks are recommended to tighten the corners. I made do with less, but larger scopes would need 8. I found an electric sander essential to smooth the joints.
There are only 4 tube blocks each of which has 2 holes angled for proper positioning. This is a big improvement over my previous mount which had 8 bulky blocks, six of which fitted outside the box. The Telekit uses 1" instead of 1.25" tubes through 14" scopes. To adapt them to my upper cage assembly, I cut 2" sections from the old 1.25" tubes and epoxied them to the ends of the 1" tubes. It works great.
Another big improvement is the altitude bearings. They are less bulky than my originals and fit in predrilled holes of the mirror box. This removes guesswork for determining the balance point.
A real gem is the mirror cell. It is made of wood which makes it lighter but strong. The strap is held by dowels instead of slotted steel rods. Eight turns of the three adjusting screws (halfway), and I get perfect focal travel. You can easily install the mirror from the top of the box, or you can loosen two acorn nuts which allows the hinged mirror cell to drop down for access from the bottom.
To finish the mount I used Minwax semi-gloss outdoor urethane. I avoided stain - too much work! Not only does the great looking new mount function well, it also has other advantages. It is lighter and more compact - the mirror box is 5-1/4" x 2" less in size and don't forget those inside tube blocks. My light shroud fits better, and the upper cage assembly stores in the rocker box.
I received the components at the end of November which was a six month wait from the time of ordering. I often got impatient and considered canceling the order, but I held on and the wait was worth it. My particular kit size was not highest priority as the company had to fill orders for larger sized kits first. I heartily recommend the AstroSystems Telekit, but just remember, if you order, you may have a long wait.
[Editors Note: If you'd like a Telekit of your own without the wait, be sure to see SJAA People.]
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