A Battery Caddy for the AM5

The ZWO AM5 telescope mount is a great piece of kit… It integrates very well with software allowing easy computer control, just click and go. The mount tracks wonderfully allowing excellent astrophotos. It is small, does not require a counterweight for smaller ‘scopes, and precise polar alignment is a breeze.

A 3D printed battery caddy on the side of a ZWO AM5 telescope mount
A 3D printed battery caddy on the side of a ZWO AM5 telescope mount

The mount is not without issues… Without a camera integrated into the system the GOTO accuracy is awful, using the mount as a visual mount is frustrating. You really need to have at least a guide camera and the ASI Air computer connected to allow to plate solving and automatic correction of the position at the end of each slew to a new target.

Another issue is that the mount has no concept of cord wrap. It will happily spin around and around as you wander across the sky. In equatorial mode this is not an issue, in alt-azimuth mode this runs the risk of damaging your equipment if you do not notice the power cord getting wrapped up on the mount in the dark.

Yes, I did that.

Destroyed a power cord in the process.

At least the power connector on the mount only got slightly bent.

A 3D rendering of the AM5 Battery Caddy
A 3D rendering of the AM5 Battery Caddy

Most mounts will not continue to spin around, the software keeping track of azimuth rotation and if necessary reversing to spin all the way around the long way to keep from wrapping a power cord around the tripod.

After an evening observing session cut short with a ripped up power cord I resolved to fix the issue.

The idea? Take the same power tool battery pack I was using for other astro gear and create a little caddy that bolts to the side of the mount such that no power cord needs to cross the azimuth axis.

An evening worth of 3D design work, an overnight run on the printer… Done

The 10" f/4.5 travel 'scope Holoholo at Oregon Star Party 2023
The 10″ f/4.5 travel ‘scope Holoholo at Oregon Star Party 2023

A cute little caddy that holds a power tool battery, a switch and DC-DC converter to create the 12V the mount needs from the 18V battery pack. There is also a convenient place to holster the mount hand controller while leaving the butons exposed so that they can be accessed without removing the hand controller from the caddy.

The caddy was easy to mount as the ZWO designers provided a couple M3 screw positions on the side for mounting an accessory, most likely intended for an ASI Air telescope control computer.

The 5Ah battery has proven sufficient to run the mount from dusk to dawn with lots of slewing. If running a full astrophoto rig including cooling the camera it will make it about halfway through the night.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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