Wixey/Allendale Electronics +44 (0)1992 450780 — was £26.95
Written: ~5 years ago
Your first thought may be why on earth I should be including this neat little angle measuring tool in a review of astronomical equipment. But think again — particularly if you own a Dobsonian or a telescope mounted in an alt-azimuth configuration and are looking for a cheap digital setting circle system. Used in conjunction with a hand-held computer or PDA running planetarium software, this little gizmo will soon help you point to objects by giving you the altitude of your telescope's tube. (Admittedly you'll need to sweep a little in azimuth, but there are digital compasses available too!)
So how does it work? The Wixey digital angle gauge is a small (50 x 50 x 32mm), self-contained unit with a built-in LCD display that measures the inclination of the surface upon which it is placed to an accuracy of 0.1°. Its base contains three powerful magnets, so if your OTA is made of a ferrous material like a lot of Sky-Watcher's, the Wixey will stick anywhere on the top of the tube where it's convenient to view. The picture shows it mounted on a Skyliner-300P, a Synta-made 305mm f/5 Dobsonian.
The Wixey is calibrated right out of the box to measure angles relative to horizontal, so you don't have to worry about levelling the base of your telescope in order to read the altitude of your tube accurately. I regularly use a Palm Zire 72 PDA running the fabulous Astromist software and found when used in conjunction with a Wixey-enabled Dobsonian it was a great way to get a rapid fix on one horizon coordinate. With a little judicious sweeping in azimuth you can soon find your target.
So where can you get one of these amazing little devices? An eBay search for "Wixey digital gauge" will quickly find several, or you may contact Wixey or Allendale Electronics directly.