Of Mice and Mounts


Roland Christen
 

Lat week during an imaging session in my observatory I happened to see a mouse rappelling down the power cord on my nearby 1600 mount. Rather strange, I thought, that mice would use wires as highways up and down a telescope pier.

Then last night, as I was getting ready to do some imaging with the 17" astrograph on that 1600 mount, I ran into a familiar problem. The Dec axis ran for 1 second and stopped, with the yellow light coming on in the CP4 controller. I looked up the open hole in the back of the RA (yes I forgot to put the plug back in last August) and saw some shredded paper way up in the Dec axis cavity. I knew then I had to get into the Dec axis and check out the damage.

Since I had a large astrograph on the mount, I decided to put the mount counterweight down, scope on top and lock the axes clutch knobs tight. Without removing the scope, I removed all the counterweights, the counterweight shaft and unscrewed the counterweight adapter from the end of the Dec axis. Here's what it looked like:


After cleaning out the mess:


The mice had chewed on all the wires and broke several of them. Fortunately I have lots of practice soldering. I pulled out the Dec connector wire along with the crossover box:


The mice had damage 6 of the 8 wires. With some matching pieces of wire, some heat shrink tubing I spliced in the damaged portions:


Finished cable wrapped with some electrical tape. Did it work? YES, the mount is back in business and the scope is imaging again.

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