The First Community Made Tracking Mount

If you’ve ever gone shopping for a new astrophotography mount you’ll know that these things get expensive very quickly. Many people will say the Celestron AVX, a $1000 mount, is the absolute entry point if you’re buying new. Now though is a new era with consumer 3D printing being more popular than ever. This has created a merger of two growing communities, the astro and 3D printing communities. An interest in both hobbies led to the creation of Open Astro Tech, which now has guides and kits to build its small star tracker like a Sky Watcher Star Adventurer for significantly less money, even including features like auto polar alignment.

Now, this venture has expanded to larger mounts that can take a real telescope, called the Open Astro Mount. It is a combination of 3D printed and metal parts that, once built, can be used for deep sky astrophotography with a real telescope with very good accuracy. As you may expect this offers many benefits over a standard tracking mount.


In my opinion the biggest advantage over a regular mount is repairability. This mount is built entirely by you from scratch, if something were to break you can simply buy that part and replace it with ease. Mounts these days are highly integrated, heavy and difficult to repair, not great when you consider they are very expensive and designed to be used outside in potentially harsh conditions. All of the parts used are widely available and fairly inexpensive, while the design allows for easy disassembly if needed. I know from building my own 3D printer that knowing what each part does and how the thing goes together that it is invaluable for repairability and even just getting the most performance out of it.


The other big advantage is obviously price. The project is open source so you are effectively not paying for research and development to build one, just the parts themselves. This shrinks cost by hundreds of dollars and the final price of the mount is estimated at between $300-$500 depending on your local prices. I would highly recommend looking at somewhere like AliExpress for parts as they can be much cheaper, but of course if you want better reliability and prefer to support more domestic businesses than by all means these parts can be bought closer to home.


How many mounts can you name that polar align themselves without you ever touching it? None, the answer is none. This was a feature on the smaller open astro tracker and it has been migrated over to its bigger brother. Any extra automation is greatly appreciated and especially something as routine as polar alignment getting an exact alignment can be difficult. Things like the polemaster exist, but they are manual assisted devices, this uses motors to be fully automated.

The firmware is also regularly updated and features can be proposed and bolted on later if someone figures them out. After all, if you need to change the design you can print out the new parts and bolt them right on with any extra electronics. Someone has already added a display to the mount for easier setup.

The mount has its own ASCOM driver so it works with much if not all available software and the only knock on it really is that its heavier than other mounts and its just less portable as a whole. That being said, I haven’t seen someone who has maxed out its payload yet so the capabilities of it are still be discussed and haven’t been fully realized.

Should You Build One?

This is a bit of a complicated answer. You may be reading this and saying “this sounds great, I’m going to get right to work!” Hold it there though, this gets complicated fast. There is a huge list of parts needed for this project and you need to have a certain level of experience building electronic devices and tapping screw holes etc. If you’re comfortable with that and you’ve done something like building a Prusa printer, you’ll probably be ok as long as you take your time and think through everything. However, don’t jump into this with zero experience and expect to have a good time. Anyone can figure it out, especially if you join their discord, but this is not a project for the faint of heart and the build guides aren’t even finished yet.

If you’re interested you can check out their website here:

Open Astro Mount render from their github

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