Saturday, December 11, 2004

Branching Out

If you know someone with a Losmandy GM-8 telescope mount, you might want to tell them about this little gadget that I have started manufacturing in my garage. The GM-8 mount is an excellent equatorial mount for telescopes up to about 30 pounds--nicely machined, and amazingly enough, still made in the United States (at least, until California decides to seceed from Jesusland).

The only "problem" (in quotes because it isn't really a deficiency, but a missing feature) with the GM-8 mount is that it doesn't come with wheels, so if you want to set up your telescope, you either need to be strong enough to pick up the mount, the tripod, and the telescope (typically about 70 pounds total), or you need to take the telescope off the mount, disconnect the cables, take out the three screws holding the mount to the tripod, then carry each of these parts out to where you are planning to set up. This is typically a 5-10 minute process--perhaps more at the end of your observing session, when it is now dark, cold, and you can't find one of the three screws that holds the mount to the tripod.

So my solution was to put wheels under it--which is a bit harder than it looks--at least, to do it elegantly. Unlike the competing product, which is general purpose, large, heavy, and costs $179.95, what I am making is specific to the GM-8, weighs less than two pounds, and has an introductory price of $40 plus shipping. There are many thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of Losmandy GM-8 mounts in use, so I am hoping that this can turn into a small money maker. As my son-in-law observed over Thanksgiving, "Why, this could make tens of dollars!" Well, let's hope it's bit more than that.

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