“ Brand: Watch House / Type: Astronomical Mount - Ideal for Dobsonian mounted telescopes „
Owning a Dobsonian telescope has many benefits, chiefly, it allows the astronomer to get hold of the largest aperture for the lowest £££. In this hobby it has to be said that size does indeed matter. The main tube of the telescope sits on an incredibly simple and incredibly cheap mount and it's this cheap mount that is the making and breaking of the Dobsonian.
The simple mount of a Dob does not allow accurate tracking of the night sky which is where the equatorial platform comes in. Placing your Dob (along with its mount) on this platform will allow you to track objects as you observe them. That is to say- as long as the platform is aligned to the north- objects will remain centered in your eyepiece rather than drifting accross the field of view, the more accurately the platform is aligned, the longer an object will remain centered.
My experience of the watch house platform was initially marred when I received the package only to open it up and pour out the shattered contents onto the floor. Although highly distressing it did give me a chance to experience the excellent customer service demonstrated by watch house. They arranged for the package to be collected at their expense and promptly sent another one in its place, this time it arrived in perfect order. I must stress that the problem was caused by the delivery service and not at all by watch house. The package had been labelled 'Scientific instrument, please handle with care' and someone had clearly seen this as a challenge and gone to some considerable and persistent effort to dismantle this hated object.
On receiving the second platform I ran into a problem of my own making which again was not due to watch house at all, in my mentioning it here, I hope to save any hassle for anyone considering the purchase. I had read on watch houses website that you need a sturdy, level place to operate the platform, being an idiot and far too hasty as I usually am I dismissed this warning, thinking my back lawn would be fine. Needless to say I was wrong, you really do need a level patio to run these things on. Since receiving my platform I have levelled a paving slab with a spirit level in the garden and now it tracks brilliantly.
I still think £445 is an absurd amount to pay, especially when you see how basic it is. When I first received the platform, I was a bit surprised by how bare it looked, there are no bells and whistles and re-setting the 50min-1hr tracking run is done by hand. Watch house remain the only major platform retailers in the UK (I guess thats how they can get away with charging that amount).
Although bare, and a little bit rough and ready looking, there's no denying that the platform performs well. If enough care and attention is paid to aligning the platform accurately then any object will remain centered in the eyepiece even at high powers for the duration of the tracking run.
One of the most important applications of the platform is in astrophotography, it allows the Dobsonian owner to get involved in lunar/planetary imaging and I've even been able to get some reasonable results on some of the brighter messier objects such as m57 and m42.
To summarise, Watch house as a company are reputable and employ great customer service. The platform (provided it has an appropriate area to operate from) runs smoothly and consistently and although I believe £445 is too much for what it is, the watch house remains the lowest cost solution to Dobsonian tracking for those who are rubbish at DIY.
Anybody whose handy with a hammer would save themselves a bundle as platforms can be built for about a quarter of what Watch house is charging but as they have the monopoly in the UK they can charge pretty much what they like.
***It is important to note that every 100 hours or so the rubber grip on the roller will need replacing, but you can obtain the part easily from watch house themselves and it equates to about a tenner every 6 months or so.***