How to balance a German Equatorial mount

Step 1: Install counterweight shaft

Thread the counterweight shaft into the counterweight shaft mounting house.

The counterweight shaft is designed to counter balance the mount’s own weight (as shown below).

Step 2: Install counterweight

Counterweights help balance the load attached to the mount, the camera box in this case.

Before putting on the counterweight, make sure the mount is at its zero position, i.e., the counterweight shaft pointing to the ground (as shown below).

Disengage the R.A. gear switch to set the R.A. axis free before loading the counterweight.

Remove the counterweight safety cap at the end of counterweight shaft.

Glide the counterweight over the shaft with the larger hole opening facing down. Tighten the counterweight locking screw to hold the counterweight in place.

Place the counterweight safety cap back onto the shaft. Move the counterweight to the bottom of the shaft and tighten the counterweight locking screw. Re-engage the R.A. gear switch.

Never operate the mount with only the counterweight or only the load on it. It may damage the precision engineering of the mount drive system.

Step 3: Attach camera box

Loosen the locking block on the vixen dovetail saddle of the mount.

Slide the camera box vixen dovetail onto the mount saddle and lock tighten the locking block to secure the camera box. The cameras should face the side with the counterweight shaft when mount is set to the zero position.

Step 4: Balance the mount

Balancing the weights help optimize the performance of an equatorial mount for smooth and precise motions. Balancing the mount is an essential part of being able to track the night sky properly. As you are building your unit you may have to re-balance the mount a number of times as more weight is added to the camera box or every time the camera box is removed and placed back on the mount.

As part of the final deployment the mount must be balanced before attempting to do a polar alignment.

Be careful when releasing the clutches on the mount as it is possible for the mount to swing rapidly if the balance is off and there is the potential for causing damage.

Always keep one hand on the head of the camera box until you are comfortable with how the mount will move with the clutches released.

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