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Custom Case Built - 12" LX200

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#1 ih8usrnames

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 09:57 PM

This thread is for those who may search for case ideas in the future.

I am the new owner of a 12" LX200 and needed a case to transport it. I could not find one I liked or could afford so I decided to build one myself.

Criteria:
- protect the scope
- ability to move up/down two flights of stairs alone
- assure load/impact stress is on the base/yoke and not the optical tube
- wicked strong without excessive weight
- manageable with one person
- ship-able (ATA style case); I may decide to ship to DR Clay Sherrod in the future.


Construction:
- All hardware is manufactured by Penn-Elcom and sourced from http://www.diyroadcasesstore.com/
- 3/8" plywood
- black formica
- 1/4" plywood for interior cavity
- 3/16" foam (it was free and as a benefit I was able to build layers for a progressive custom fit)
- rivet only construction (no glue or screws)

I am still finishing the case but for all intense and purpose it is done.

Top (opposite the wheels).
The handles are low so when rolling the case it is near its natural balance point.
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Bottom
The wheels are at the outside edge for maximum stability and rated for 250lbs. The handles are above the bulk of the scope when laying down, this will offset the low handles at the other end when carrying with two people - it will be naturally stable.
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Lid Open
I have not finished the lid interior however it is obvious what I am doing. The strip in the middle holds the optical tube in place. The two foam blocks seal in the contents of the four pockets during transport.
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Vertical orientation
When I completed the case I realized I could insert and remove the scope vertically and doing so would minimize potential back issues from bending over. Also, I discovered the 12" OTA is nose heavy and does not like being laid down in a case, thus this is a nice solution. ignore the 2x4, it will eventually be replaced with appropriate feet.
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Left Shoulder
The gap between the yoke/pocket is smaller than the gap between the OTA and top of the case. The yoke will absorb shock, not the OTA.
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Right Shoulder
Essentially the same as above. BTW, there is a 1/2" difference between the width of the yoke on the drive side and non-drive side.
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Bottom Detail
The 1/4" ply under the base is sitting on an inch+ of foam. The foam compresses when the scope is put in place and expands when the case is laid down creating a nice snug fit.
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Empty Case Pad detail
The foam gets progressively thicker as the scope is inserted; full thickness would make insertion more difficult. The thicker pads on the sides eliminate potential yoke rotation during transport. The large openings conveniently hold cables and other whatnot.
Posted Image

So there you have it, an ATA style custom built case for a 12" LX200 telescope. Now I need to find time to use it.

#2 scopethis

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 03:23 PM

That's a really really really nice case (trunk). I wish I had the talent to build stuff..just putting up a shelf (leveled) in the garage is a challenge for me. Might I ask how much it cost to build the case?

#3 ih8usrnames

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 03:59 PM

Material cost is under $400.

I have between 40-50 hours invested, most due to figuring the best way to support the base and how large to make the pockets.

#4 Starman27

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 09:24 PM

Really well done.Shaping the interior in that manner creates a secure and protected cavity for the scope and room for accessory pockets. Is that memory foam?

#5 ih8usrnames

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 06:40 AM

Thanks.

This is not memory foam, this is the type of foam usually used in musical instrument cases; I can never remember if it is polyurethane or polyethylene.

I was somewhat concerned about scope size/weight initially, now I have a case and learned how to load/unload the case from my car I am sure I will be using it relatively frequently.

#6 imjeffp

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 11:02 AM

Just from the pictures, I'd be concerned that there's not enough foam. I'd want at least 2" all around. The idea is that you never want it to be completely compressed under g-loading from any direction. The more distance the contents have to decelerate, the lower the impact forces.

#7 ih8usrnames

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 01:31 PM

Initially I intended to have 20" of foam on all sides but when I started calling case builders I quickly learned 1" is the industry standard; transporting a $30k mixing board = 1" of foam on all sides.

When you consider the total surface area of the cargo/foam mating, the compression ratio of the foam, it becomes fairly obvious an inch is enough.

The surface area of the lens hood is over 145 sq inches, though I have the shoulders taking the brunt of any impact.

I do, by the way, have 1.25-1.5" of case clearance between the lens hood/case, and base/case. Nearly 2" on each side of the yoke. The scope lays on about 1.5" of foam with another 3"+ above it in the lid. The extra room in the lid will allow attachments (finder scope, dovtails, etc) to remain installed during transit.

I am not going to claim it is perfect but it I am confident my cargo is safe while in my hands. If I ever want to ship it to Clay Sherrod I make crate my case with an additional 1-2" of foam just to be safe.

#8 imjeffp

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 02:34 PM

Well done then! I trust your research. Like I said, it's had to tell from just the pics.

#9 Ham Radio

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 10:04 AM

That is a great looking case... Very well done..

#10 TALK2KEV

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 05:10 PM

great looking case!

Its been over a year how is the case holding up? Any Mods you have done to the case in that time? And If you was to build it again what if anything would you do different?

Thanks for sharing you project very nice case.

#11 luisdent

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:17 PM

that's awesome.

#12 ih8usrnames

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Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:55 PM

Thanks.

I will try to take a few photos this weekend and a bit of an update.

#13 clmbr256

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Posted 13 May 2013 - 07:47 PM

To avoid any damage to the gear train transport the scope with both clutches unlocked. If there is any movement you don't want the gears taking any stress.

Agree on the strength of foam. My JMI case has 2" or more in most areas, but only about an inch in some areas. In six years of transport I have not seen any degradation of the foam or any sign of wear on the scope from the foam compressing more than it should. The foam is thinnest at the top and bottom, but the forks are secured so there is no movement at all.

JMI has a customer that had a large scope in one of their cases that was ejected through a van window in a rollover accident, and the scope was fine. This surprised me because the case closures on my JMI case don't seem to be the most secure. I am often finding one or more of them unlocked when I arrive at destination.


At the end of the day, if you suffer damage to the transport case you can expect the potential of scope damage. That's why I have insurance on my scope.

#14 Craig Yamamoto

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 02:02 PM

Hi,
I'm new to this form and just stumbled accross your post. It surpised me that it's pretty much the same as the case I made ten or more years ago, My criteria however was not for maximum protection with inche(s) of foam (for shipping) but for storage protection and transport in my cer into the field and holding all of the accessories. These road cases can be very heavy, especially for shipping, so my case was made of 1/4" plywood which gives me the lightest case. I was wondering if you have utilized the voids in the corners. I made storage compartments as well in the cover. with all the accessories installed, the case has become very heavy, so I move it with a hand truck. Great build!

#15 ih8usrnames

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 09:51 PM

All four corners now have doors installed that are held closed by the lid during transport. During transport I remove the spreader bars and the threaded rod, spreader bar, and a level are mounted to the underside of the lid.

I found two little cases with dividers that fit into the upper chambers quite well, I put all my wiring, fiddly bits, and whatnots in those cases.

The bottom chambers hold counterweights and other whatevers.

In the field the case acts as a desk.

#16 SteveRosenow

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Posted 08 April 2014 - 12:43 AM

Ugh, I want one for my 10-incher!

Seriously, that is awesome work!






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