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Build a Barn Door Tracker

Helpful Links

Nyx Tracker – The only inexpensive, ready-built barn door tracker of which I am aware is the $89.00 Nyx Tracker from Nyx Tech. If you want a barn door but don't wish to build one from scratch, this is your only option.

The Nyx Tracker uses a curved drive screw, which eliminates the need for a double arm design. This makes the Nyx Tracker smaller and lighter than the double arm type I built.

There are some more elaborate star tracking camera mounts on the market, but they 1) aren't barn doors and 2) are typically three times the price of the Nyx Tracker.

Drive Mechanism
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If you are building your own barn door, here are some very useful web sites. I could not have constructed my own barn door without them.

The Double Arm Barn Door Drive – It all begins here. This is Dave Trott's original article describing the double arm barn door, published in the February 1988 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine, along with a followup from the April, 1989 issue. Read this material to learn how barn doors work and to understand why the double arm design is superior to the single arm type.

How to Build a Double-Arm Barn Door Tracker – Steve Gagnon's page provided the dimensions I used in constructing my barn door. You'll also want to read about his experiences in building a very large, mostly-metal version.

A Quartz Controlled Scotch Mount – This site from Ray Grover features a wealth of valuable information and ideas, including the schematic diagram for a stepper-motor drive circuit upon which I based my own circuit. There are excellent discussions of polar alignment, calculation of dimensions, and sources of tracking error.

555 Oscillator Tutorial – The operation of the 555 timer chip in its astable mode is explained at this site. When used in this mode, the 555 chip serves as an oscillator which you can use to drive a stepper motor control circuit.

555 as an Astable Multivibrator – This online calculator will help you determine the component values for a 555-based oscillator, also known as a multivibrator.

Stepper Motor Driver Circuit – Rob Paisley has designed a simple circuit to drive unipolar stepper motors. You can purchase printed circuit boards, complete parts kits, and even fully assembled boards from Rob.

A Hand-Driven Scotch Mount – This page explains how to construct an ultra-simple hand-operated barn door, suitable for exposures of up to 10 minutes with the "normal" lens on your 35mm SLR.

"Scotch Mount" Camera-Tracking Platform – This excerpt from the first edition of Phil Harrington's Star Ware book includes plans for building a very simple single-arm barn door.

Motorize Your Telescope – This section of Mel Bartels' excellent site describes his computerized telescope drive system. In contains much useful information about stepper motors and driver circuits.

Heavy Duty Tangent Arm Drive – Not a barn door, but based on the same principles, this beautiful camera mount built by Kevin J Kilburn is a work of art.

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