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Mounting a Hand Controller on Your Tripod
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If you are using a Celestron NexStar scope, youíve probably noticed that during an observing session there isnít a good place to rest the Hand Controller (HC). You really donít want to keep it stored in the fork arm while youíre observing, and because its connecting cable emerges from the rear of the HC you canít really lay it down anywhere.  Some folks have suggested that you can Velcro it to the NexStar emblem on the fork base, but that doesnít work particularly well for two reasons: a) it can be knocked off if you have a long train of of accessories mounted on the rear cell and youíve given the scope a command that causes it to swing the rear cell to the fork base, and b) in cold weather, when you pull the HC away from the Velcro on the emblem it can actually pull the emblem off of the scope base.

After a lot of experimenting Iíve found a way to mount the HC on the scopeís tripod legs during an observing session. Itís shown in the photo on the left and explained below.

Hardware stores sell Velcro in strips with a good (ďIndustrial StrengthĒ) stick-on adhesive, and also Velcro "Cinch-Straps". Get three of the Velcro "Cinch -Straps", and mount them on each of your tripod legs, above your EP holder tray (or the spreader if you're not using an EP tray). Wrap them around the tripod leg with the "loop" surface facing outward, which means that you'll need to turn the end of each strap around to get it to hold the strap on the tripod leg. The strap may be a bit loose but it won't fall down below the spreader or EP tray - don't worry about the fact that the strap may be a bit loose.

Then, fasten a long, narrow piece of the Velcro hook strip with the stick-on adhesive, to the back of the HC. You want this strip to be narrow (no more than 1/2" wide). The reason is that the HC doesn't weigh much so you don't need a lot of Velcro-to-Velcro adhesion to get it to stick to the Velcro strap on the tripod leg, and if you make it too wide it just means that you've condemned yourself to a lot more effort to pull the HC off of the tripod leg.  In the photo above, you can see one of the "Cinch-Straps" wrapped around the tripod leg, and a long, narrow piece of the ďhookĒ strip mounted to the rear of the HC (laying on itís front, to the left of the tripod leg in the photo - black-on-black isnít easy to photograph <grin>).

The photo on the right shows the HC stuck to the tripod leg.  This is a convenient place to stick it while youíre viewing an object, and you can easily pull it off of the tripod leg to enter a new GoTo object. 

In the photo on the right, you can also see a beige and gray cable connected to the end of the HCís coiled cable. The NexStar HC is easier to use (in the concept Iím discussing here, or just in general) when its cable is a little longer.  David Carter made me a 12"-long extension cable and then he added it to his inventory, at  I recommend that you purchase that extension cable (for US$7.00) - it adds just enough length to make using the HC more convenient, whether you adopt the above mounting concept or not.

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