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Optic Craft Machining Clock Drive Review

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108 replies to this topic

#26 t.r.


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:57 PM

Well, that review about sums it up. Now OC has some damage control to perform and some PR to attend to...at least to ever have my interest as a potential customer, which I have been. " You've got some splaining to do Lucy"!!!

Even if Mr. Clinard is perhaps winding down operations, or busy with other things, a vendor must, must, must take care of their customers, this hobby is too small not to (word gets around). If he is ending the business, at least he should care about his legacy and reputation and not go out like this, with this stain if true.

#27 rockethead26



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

I have no connection to the proprietor here. I just suspect that there is more to this, one way or another. I do not agree that this case is well-documented. We have one side of it and can make of it what we will. Clearly, the spur gear is damaged, but an offer to take care of that was made. Glen


I saw a lot more issues documented in the accompanying photographs that a "damaged spur gear". Let's just say the case is well documented from the customer's standpoint.

#28 andysea



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 04:11 PM

This is interesting.
In my line of work, whenever there is fabrication involved we request the fabricator to produce what is called shop drawings. That is to make sure that the design intent described in the construction documents is well understood. This gives everyone the opportunity to agree on the actual drawings that the fabricator will build from. Typically the shop drawings are reviewed by the designer and approved- or corrected/rejected - in writing. This is done in such a way that everyone involved in the fabrication process has one original copy of the approved shop drawings. If the fabricator fails to produce shop drawings then it's their responsibility to match the original design and if something is not correctly executed then the fabricator will have to correct the issue.
In essence not producing shop drawings becomes a liability to the fabricator.

In this case the first thing to do would be check the part for conformance with the original construction documents.
It looks like specific tolerances were given for all the specific dimensions. Even just not meeting the requested tolerances would be sufficient reason to reject the part. Furthermore it appears that the original design has been altered during fabrication.

This is a good reminder for all of us to be cautious and make sure that the expectations are understood from the outset.
I am also wondering if there are specific metal fabrication standards that should be referenced when ordering custom parts.
Unfortunately not having any machining experience I don't know but I would think that there should be specific standards for the various grades of machining, tolerances etc...

Just my 2c


#29 nebultick



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 07:55 PM

those bearings on the shaft are just a rod end ball joints the cheap ones cost like $6.28 for 1/2" id. I've used the for car suspension parts. I'd expect something a little better for a precision telescope drive system. Maybe some CNC housings with high tolerance cartridge bearings.

All the stuff the screwed up too seems like the easiest things to get right. I mean I could have built that whole thing in my garage minus - the round piece the gear is attached too, and the black anodizing.

#30 jhayes_tucson



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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:09 PM

Thanks for all of the ideas, comments, and suggestions. Let me simply add that there isn't much of a back story to tell about this incident and frankly, I'd be delighted if Mr. Clinard would respond to this review. Everything in it is true and the photos speak for themselves. Mr. Clinard may have delivered some good products in his day but IMHO, this sure isn't one of them. Smart manufacturers understand that customers can now more easily share their experiences, which makes a "take the money and run" way of doing business a more risky proposition. In the meantime, I've replaced the OCM drive with a new drive from Ed Byers and it is a work of art by comparison. Once I get some meaningful data I'll post a review of that drive. I'll be delighted if it works even half as good as it looks!

#31 herrointment



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Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:30 AM

The blacksmith in the town I grew up in could build anything....but in 1964 his days were numbered.

Could be the same case here except our blacksmith didn't have a web site (or phone, or toilet or broom!).

#32 sniperpride


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 07:03 AM

I note that most "satisfied customers" listed on his web site were high-profile institutions, and that may give you a tip right there that he may not be operating with the mindset of cosmetically-concerned amateurs. Glen

So for example, if someone produces parts for NASA. Wouldnt you expect them to have a reasonable quality control? I mean, NASA doesn't just hire anyone. If he produces things for high profile institutions and then gives an amateur something that looks like it was made in a high school,(no offense to young machinists) This is unacceptable.

#33 cheapersleeper



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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:04 AM

I know little about design or fabrication but I can say one thing after looking at those pics: That does not look like a thousand dollar piece of equipment.


#34 bykhed


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:55 PM

Wow. Appalling. I have some some minor machining in my garage with a drill press and bench sander and much of my work looks better than this....thing. I have seen precision machining and this is far, far from anything a true professional would sell.

#35 cspell


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 04:09 PM

Now, what does a thousand dollar piece of equipment look like? Check out the stuff at real observatories- Lick if you are ever in the neighborhood and the reflector used on public viewing nights that the grad students assembled....

#36 johnnyha


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 04:31 PM

For a couple hundred dollars more you can have this from a real machine shop.

#37 RogerRZ


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Posted 29 January 2013 - 05:33 PM

Or anything from ADM, Moonlite, or Starlight Industries...

#38 City Kid

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:27 PM

I am a machinist in a machine shop that manufactures fire fighting equipment. We throw away stuff that looks better than what the author was shipped. That is some of the worst machining I've seen. I've also had the opportunity to grade machining projects that students at Ivy Tech have made and I've never seen any work from any of the students that was that bad.

#39 Mister T.

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 09:32 PM

I have Opticraft drives here on a homebrewed (Novak) GEM. Age is unknown; I'd guess 1960s or 1970s vintage.

While some of it is a bit unorthodox, like the use of rod end bearings for the support of worm gear shafts, and some of the aluminum plate parts are a bit crudely done (ie, bandsawed), the finished product is CERTAINLY a lot better than that THING I saw here! I wouldn't call it high precision, but it's certainly BETTER.

It looks like Opticraft's standards have slipped some if he's shipping bricks like THIS. :bigshock:

Here's what I've got.


#40 johnlynch



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Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:28 PM

Post deleted by iceblaze

#41 polaraligned


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Posted 30 January 2013 - 05:57 PM

There are plenty of opticians out there making mirrors of this quality level....Too bad you got screwed on this drive.

#42 orion61


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Posted 30 January 2013 - 06:19 PM

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#43 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 01:47 AM

I thought that my problem with Mr. Clinard was a fluke all of these years. At the time I bought the mount upgrade from him, Byers went out of business. He was the only machinist left that would make the right sized gear for my particular mount. I was thinking on a Parks drive or mount, but I could not find any reviews of any kind for that mount. I did find a few for Optic Craft though.

That initial problem with the gear on the motor should of tipped me off. I worked on consumer electronics repair and for a known telescope machine shop afterwards doing gofer work and making their encoder assemblies for the after market mounts. In both places the QC was paramount. In the telescope shop, we tested the devices assembled before we shipped it out. Clear instructions were sent along with a CD with the other products in the line we made. We made the special mounting brackets himself and powder coat them along with the other items we made.

I was able to fix the problems with that drive assembly, but other people do no have that kind of skill. That is the major problem.


#44 dawsonian2000


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:48 AM

I read John Hayes' review of one of Optic Craft Machining's clock drive and was utterly floored! I am so happy that I was able to purchase an Ed Byers' drive. Additionally, my Byer's drive of 9" inches cost much less!!! :shocked:

Unfortunately, I had to remove OC from my list of vendors on the VSC website.


#45 polaraligned


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 07:18 AM

I hope somebody has forwarded him the link to this thread...

#46 opticcraft1


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 02:32 PM

It is not good that Mr. Hayes and I have come to this misunderstanding. I would like to make a few commnets.
1—He asked for basic design dimensions that I provided to him. The assumption on my part is that I assumed he would realize that on a 5.6” worm gear with 359 teeth,that the gear would have to be 64 pitch. During the construction of his order I was going through a bad case of the flu and should not have been working. I see that I missed a debur on the ID bore of the clutch and I did not straighten one of the tie rod ends properly. They can easily be repositioned. I offered to replace the damaged worm gear at no cost him to include shipping charges.
2—Comments were made about rough finish on the clutch plates. This is done deliberately as I found that creating a sanded surface finish works well against the clutch gasket to get the proper clutch tension. I have been making the drives this way for over 15 years.
3—It is apparent that many of the commentators wish to condemn my work. It should also be known that we have provided 100’s of clock drives and well over 340 equatorial mountings over the past 28 years. These systems are all over the world. There are 56 systems supplied to various Universities and Institutions. We have been contracted seven times by NASA agencies for mountings and clock drives. Just last summer we provided a 2.5” head with 12” drives to JPL in Pasadena, CA. for an infra-red project. I do not get negative reports from the field and consider this situation with Mr. Hayes to be an anomaly.
4- Do to limitations on photo postings, I will be sending additional comments and photos on this issue in tandem.
Terry Clinard Optic Craft Machining Co.

#47 opticcraft1


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:10 PM

Further comments from Optic Craft Machining Co. These comments are primarily directed to Dr. Hayes only.
Dr. Hayes, thought you might be interested in a solar dish array we provided to Raytheon Corp., Tucson, AZ. in 2009-2010 time frames. I see that you are an Adjunct Professor with “The University of Arizona” and have an impressive listing of patents under your authorship. I present this to you to somehow show you that are field quality standards are recognized by others including the University of Arizona.
The participants were the following: Dr. Roger Angel (Director of the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory). Dr. Angel provided the parabolic glass optical panels for the 10 foot solar dish. Raytheon provided the dish frame and had operational authority over the project. I provided (2) 24” clock drives with GO-TO system provided by my British partner AWR Technologies. The primary solar converter was made by Dr. Ugur Ortabasi (inventor of the first 41% all light solar to electric converter).
The project was successful and my clock drives moved and tracked the sun as intended. The payload was in excess of 550#’s.
At present this program has now moved to the University Of California. The main changes to the dish will be utilizing my new patent for plastic reinforced parabolic panels with 98.8% reflectivity in place of the glass parabolic panels. This reduces the cost of the panels by a large factor. This is a very existing project for me, because development of a 41% efficient solar collector will outperform any existing 16% maximum flat solar panel.

Terry Clinard Optic Craft Machining Co.

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#48 opticcraft1


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

Continue comments from Optic Craft Machining Co.

Dr. Hayes here is a close up of the right ascension 24.4” clock drive used on the solar dish.
Once again the system performed flawlessly.

Terry Clinard Optic Craft Machining Co.

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#49 opticcraft1


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:26 PM

Continued comments from Optic Craft Machining Co.

The attached photo is one my systems using two 9” clock drives coupled to a GO-TO AWR Technologies systems. The pillow block bearings in this case are enclosed and the shaft diameters are 2.5”.
My customer is extremely pleased and has sent me many astro CCD photos using this configuration.

Terry Clinard Optic Craft Machining Co.

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#50 opticcraft1


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Posted 31 January 2013 - 03:36 PM

Further comments from Optic Craft Machining Co.

The attached photo is a system I manufactured four months ago. It uses two of my 9” RA drives, 1.5” shafts, wedge and my fabricated pier. Once again no problems. System performs to all operating standards.

Terry Clinard Optic Craft Machining Co.

Attached Files


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