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"Non-astronomy" equipment adapted for astronomy?

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#1 Jack Tripper

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 08:53 PM

I am curious to hear if someone has adapted a "non-astronomy" purchase into something useful for this hobby.

I intend to use magnets as counterweights. They cost much less than a counterweight set, and they require practically no installation. I got the idea somewhere on CN, and would like to thank whoever the originator was!

Any other unusual purchases out there that has made your astronomy life easier?

#2 sailor70623

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 09:13 PM

Nice used wood TV tables. They had gotten wet and were stained so only like $5 for 4, at a yard sale. They hold lap tops, eyepieces, sky charts, and fold up nice to store in the shed.

#3 helpwanted

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Posted 17 January 2010 - 10:29 PM

pvc pipe and tarps as light shields...

around halloween, i bought these red flashlights for kids to put on the fingers with velcro, to help them see as they trick-or-treated... work great for reading charts!

a sears mechanics stool for use with a refractor

foam from a craft store as a dew shield

#4 TimD

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 01:22 AM

speaking of PVC pipe....I used some to make one of those "copyscopes" out of a 6 element 3 inch copy machine lens when I was back in high school and the article had come out in Astronomy magazine. It performed pretty darn well, with very little color for it's short FL.

#5 BajaPaco

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 12:45 PM

An extra secretarial chair from my home office with the back removed makes a great observing chair. The castors roll nicely and the lever raises or lowers the seat hydraulically and smoothly.

Works for me and it was free! (at least I already owned it, so I didn't have to spend extra money on astronomical gear) :grin:

#6 Takman

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 01:07 PM

I've adapted deep cycle batteries for power, flashlights for reading, foam tape to protect gear, a hockey bag to carry my tripod, a tool bag to carry weights and even a barbecue cover for protecting my telescope.

#7 JayKSC

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 01:17 PM

I have an inexpensive Walmart stool I use for observing, and an ex-Army tilted head flashlight with a plastic red lens insert for chart reading and sketching. For one of my refractors long ago, it'd get dewed up quite often so I made a dewshield for it out of dark blue poster board and aluminum flashing.

- Jay
South Florida

#8 dan777

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:15 PM

I almost hate to admit this...
I was looking to get an eyepiece case. I had one picked out and had put it on my birthday/Christmas list (they are close together).
When one of our girls was home for Thanksgiving, she wanted to donate some stuff to the Salvation Army. So we filled up my car with her stuff and drove to the local S.A. store.
As we were walking out of the rear of the store, a van had parked next to us and two guys were carrying things into the store. One guy had a sewing box. I turned around and started walking with the guy towards the store but all the while I'm eying the sewing box. Just before he entered the store I asked him if I could have it. He handed it to me and I put it in my car and went home.
This turned out to be a perfect case for my eyepieces and other miscellaneous stuff. But my daughter was sooo embarrassed and also thought that what I did was steeling or at least immoral.
...yea, maybe it was, but...I have donated lots of stuff to that same Salvation Army store, so I don't feel too bad.
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#9 zjc26138

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:28 PM

Lowe's has aluminum tool cases. I bought one and it is my main eyepiece case. :)

#10 JayKSC

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 02:51 PM

Lowe's has aluminum tool cases. I bought one and it is my main eyepiece case. :)


I forgot all about this! :foreheadslap: Yes, I use one of these, too. It's been a fantastic performer and the various dents and scratches on it (with no damaged gear inside) tells how sturdy it is.

- Jay
South Florida

#11 Scott2526

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:33 PM

I just love my 'Tinker Toy' micro focuser.

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#12 Eddgie

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:41 PM

Now THAT sir, is a SUPERB example.

Some black paint and a little wooden knob on the end, and who would know!

VERY clever.

#13 Luigi

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:46 PM

I always look for non-astro specific solutions. It usually saves a bunch of money. Check out the strong nylon padded mount bags below that are $25 new. Buy two and get free shipping (they are sold as speaker stands).

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#14 reddog15

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 03:56 PM

Dew shield from a camp pad,heard about it here but took it a little further flocked the inside with black felt wrap the out side with black duct tape and made a thermal blanket from a windshield heat shield really helps with tube currents and of course the well known "Skippy focus" ;)

#15 starrancher

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 04:11 PM

Here's a half price alternative to the Celestron or Orion Power Tank . They are 39 bucks at Pep Boys . I have two of these & have been running my LXD75 mounts with them for almost 3 years . I can pull all nighters with these & not just tracking but slewing across the sky from one object to the next to the tune of better than 50 objects with power to spare . They would probably go two nights in a row before needing a recharge . They come with a wall plug & a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug for both home or auto charging . They even have a built in compressor to blow up your air mattress or a flat tire if you become so unfortunate .

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#16 Rob E

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:08 PM

Several examples..
-Drum Cases and Equipment cases for scopes and tripods.
-Double pistol cases as EP cases and A friend has even used a rifle case to house his EP collection..(Coolest EP case I've ever seen BTW.)
-Automotive LED strips for case lighting.
-Lumbar support for scope cradle.
-Rack rail as EP holder (The holes are the perfect size)
-Computer cable harness as 12v/5V power bus..
-Elastic trash can band as a holder for my shroud
- home made shroud made out of a black bed sheet and plastic Halloween table cloth
-Embroidery hoop as a scope LTA cover
-metal spring hoops from a laundry bag as stiffeners in the shroud to keep the material out of the light path.
-LED flasher out of an old Logitech mouse box for my degree circle window illumination
-Desk Cable Pass through and old close up lens make up the window itself

#17 Joe Lalumia

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:22 PM

A white light maglite with red taillight tape; an aluminum eyepiece case picked up at the local Thrift Store for $4 dollars; and a Northern Tool rolling tool chest that carries my LX90 for $59 dollars.

Also found a nice former computer bag with padded foam inserts for a SECOND eyepiece bag for $5 dollars at the same Thrift store, along with a small two step step ladder plastic, so kids can reach the eyepiece at our public observing events.

I would say your local Thrift store (Goodwill) might have several things you can use for VERY low cost.

#18 starrancher

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 05:25 PM

Several examples..
-Drum Cases and Equipment cases for scopes and tripods.
-Double pistol cases as EP cases and A friend has even used a rifle case to house his EP collection..(Coolest EP case I've ever seen BTW.)
-Automotive LED strips for case lighting.
-Lumbar support for scope cradle.
-Rack rail as EP holder (The holes are the perfect size)
-Computer cable harness as 12v/5V power bus..
-Elastic trash can band as a holder for my shroud
- home made shroud made out of a black bed sheet and plastic Halloween table cloth
-Embroidery hoop as a scope LTA cover
-metal spring hoops from a laundry bag as stiffeners in the shroud to keep the material out of the light path.
-LED flasher out of an old Logitech mouse box for my degree circle window illumination
-Desk Cable Pass through and old close up lens make up the window itself


It's all worth nothing without the pictures ! :grin:

#19 Rob E

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 06:49 PM

Several examples..
-Drum Cases and Equipment cases for scopes and tripods.
-Double pistol cases as EP cases and A friend has even used a rifle case to house his EP collection..(Coolest EP case I've ever seen BTW.)
-Automotive LED strips for case lighting.
-Lumbar support for scope cradle.
-Rack rail as EP holder (The holes are the perfect size)
-Computer cable harness as 12v/5V power bus..
-Elastic trash can band as a holder for my shroud
- home made shroud made out of a black bed sheet and plastic Halloween table cloth
-Embroidery hoop as a scope LTA cover
-metal spring hoops from a laundry bag as stiffeners in the shroud to keep the material out of the light path.
-LED flasher out of an old Logitech mouse box for my degree circle window illumination
-Desk Cable Pass through and old close up lens make up the window itself


It's all worth nothing without the pictures ! :grin:


I'll see what I can do...Probably will be its own thread though..

#20 yowser

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 08:27 PM

I use a pizza pan for a tripod tray, attached to a Vixen tripod with velcro. It also stores nicely in a Pelican 1600 case with the mount.

#21 Darenwh

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 08:48 PM

From a cereal box when the latest Star Trek film was released I got myself a great little red flashlight in the shape of a Klingon insignia. Works great, cost nothing extra, and I would have bought the cereal anyways.

#22 reddog15

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:04 PM

I just love my 'Tinker Toy' micro focuser.

Never would have guessed those were still being made :rockon: ;)

#23 hfjacinto

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Posted 18 January 2010 - 10:11 PM

I wanted a red light flashlight, checked the prices and almost passed out. A couple of weeks ago I went to target and they had maglights on sale for $5.66. I purchased 1 (should have gotten 2) and got some red light tape from the automotive light. I could have paid $20 for a red light flashlight or $7.65 for a maglight and red tape, the maglight is better and cheaper. BTW I still have ALOT of red light tape.

#24 mich_al

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 08:47 AM

Music stand to hold atlases, star charts etc. It's height adjustable and the head rotates from horizontal to vertical. Very handy, got the idea here.

#25 caheaton

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Posted 19 January 2010 - 12:17 PM

I've found that the world is full of stuff that can be diverted to astronomical use. Some that I've used so far:

A red light wand (meant for trick or treaters use) with neck lanyard. Makes a handy flashlight and (now that I've received a red/white/green laser combo for Christmas) a handy marker for hanging from the scope to keep it getting bumped in to.

A children's sleeping bag as a scope case and extra padding for the scope now that I have the Orion case (also from Christmas :D ). I also will spread this on the ground to protect the scope while setting up and tearing down. Works great as long as you don't mind characters from Disney's "Cars" smiling at you! ;) (My other bag option was Barbie...)

A genric fanny pack, coupled with foam that is meant for sealing a window air conditioner makes a handy ep and filter case when at the scope.

A pair of harbor freight tool boxes (nearly identical to Orion's accessory cases) and some foam from Hobby Lobby make for fine EP & accesory cases. I've also used a Plano real case (it came with foam) to hold my 2" EP's.

A pillow case serves as a dust cover for the ETX-80. A carry on luggage back pack serves as the ETX's travel case. (With beach towels used to provide extra padding...they also then do double duty for wiping off dew prior to transporting home).

A folding padded bar stool serves as a comfortable scope chair. A Black & Decker jump starter provides portable electrical power for powering the ETX (and soon a travel hair dryer).






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