Polar Alignment Issue Resolved


After weeks of trying to figure out why I couldn't align Bertha on the wedge, I decided to take a fresh look at the problem in the daylight. I wanted to see if I could track down the source of why I was unable to move the scope on the wedge far enough to align it with Polaris in the polar home position. As I turned the horizontal adjustment knob, I noticed that I only had a few degrees of movement, yet the groves on the base of the pier seemed to allow it to move much further.

Base of Wedge and Mounting Bolts
Base of Wedge and Mounting Bolts
In frustration, I grabbed the Allen wrench that came with the wedge and loosened the mounting bolts that held the wedge to the pier. I turned the horizontal adjustment knob again, and to my surprise, the scope had all the movement I needed.

In the end, what I learned was that in my concern over the scope falling off the pier, I had tightened the three mounting bolts on the base of the wedge too tightly. I had aligned the base to the pier very carefully, assuming I had the pier pointed at Celestial North. However, given that I did a "gun site" alignment with a laser level on Polaris, which is 390 light years away, there's no wonder why I was off a few degrees. By tightening the bolts too much, I had reduced the movement capabilities of a very capable wedge, and there was my problem.

After loosening the bolts, I was able to steal a few minutes of somewhat clear skies to attempt a true polar alignment. I only had a chance to do the two star alignment before the clouds blew back in, but I'm confident I will be able to get Bertha aligned properly now. Fortunately my friends at LVAAS came to the rescue and provided excellent advice and guidance on how to polar align the scope. As you can see by this photo,

Alignment of Wedge to Pier
Alignment of Wedge to Pier
which shows the location of the wedge in relation to the pier AFTER alignment, I was way off course without being able to move the wedge. Now with the scope in the right position, I should be able to begin a formal drift alignment procedure.

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