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ukcanuck
Vendor (Skylight Telescopes)
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Loc: London, UK
Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF!
      #4318161 - 01/16/11 01:21 PM

Feeling somewhat inspired, I've decided to take a project that has sat on my back burner for some time and bump it up the to-do list.

The basics of the project is this: Take my 100mm/F15 Skylight Refractor, and shrink it to 60mm aperture proportions. The result will be the same fusion of Victorian design and modern engineering, but in miniature. This 60mm /F15-ish refractor will have the same quality of design and manufacture, and I aim to keep the design and build even more in-house than my 100mm...thanks to recent investment in workshop tooling!

My aim is to show the Skylight F15m (mini) for the first time alongside it's bigger brother(s) at NEAF in April 2011, where I will be presenting. But until then, I will update this thread as the design and build progresses.

Feedback at all stages will be welcome, either on this thread or via pm, and all thoughts and suggestions will be welcomed.

My ultimate goal is to create a refractor that ultimately ticks the box of upholding the standard of design & quality my 100mm has set, and that of a small, affordable package.

Watch this space for more to come...


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Astrojensen
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ukcanuck]
      #4318586 - 01/16/11 04:52 PM

Hi Richard

I'd like to make a few suggestions, if I may.

First, make the tube 3" diameter. This will ensure the possibility of using the 3" Sky-Watcher tube rings, which will make it easy to mount and put extra accesories on it, should that be desired. A oversized tube wil also be easier to baffle effectively.

Second, use a 2" focuser. A 60mm f/15 with a 2" 40mm widefield eyepiece under a dark sky must be seen to be believed. Ultra pinpoint stars from edge to edge without any field flatteners or the like.

Third, use the 2" Baader Steeltrack on this sweet little thing. We want the best.

Fourth, the Baader Steeltrack uses Zeiss M68 threads to attach the 72mm dovetail to the tube adapter. Put at least a 60mm extension tube between the tube adapter and the M68/72mm dovetail so that the scope can be binoviewer friendly be removing the extension tube. A 60mm extension tube should be enough if the scope is set up to accept a 2" diagonal coming to focus about 40mm out, at least with a Baader Maxbright bino. I am not sure about other binoviewers. Perhaps better make the extension 100mm.

Fifth, the finderscope. A long 25mm or 30mm straight-through would look classic on a small scope such as this. PLEASE make it in brass! Power should be 8x, no higher. 10x is acceptable on a 30mm version.

Sixth, tube color. Personally, I'd like it in white with black lens cell and focuser cell and with brass finderscope with black finderscope rings.

Seventh: Looong dewcap. At least 2x the lens diameter. More like 3x. Same color as the main tube.

Maybe not what you had in mind, but hey, you wanted suggestions!


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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Wes James
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/12/06

Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ukcanuck]
      #4318589 - 01/16/11 04:53 PM

I'll take mine with a Moonlight 3 knob focuser!
Very excited about this project, Richard... f/15's nice! CNC rings would seem to be a must... collimatable cell, as previously suggested.


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ngc2289
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/13/05

Loc: Corpus Christi, TX.
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: Astrojensen]
      #4318625 - 01/16/11 05:16 PM

I think the focal length should be at least 1000mm, although 1200mm would be even better.

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Doug76
Long Achro Junkie
*****

Reged: 12/05/07

Loc: Refractor Heaven
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ngc2289]
      #4318755 - 01/16/11 06:26 PM

I'm thinking in this 60mm it would be easy to be side tracked from the mission objective. So if you make it as a true mini version of the 100mm, I think you have a winner.

Edited by Doug76 (01/17/11 01:29 AM)


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Wes James
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/12/06

Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: Doug76]
      #4318768 - 01/16/11 06:35 PM

I'd like to see the tube leaning towards heavy wall thickness... something that feels like Takahashi quality... powdercoated vs. painted?
Wes


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7331Peg
Sirius Observer
*****

Reged: 09/01/08

Loc: North coast of Oregon
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: Wes James]
      #4318824 - 01/16/11 07:02 PM

Geez, this thing is quickly going into the unaffordable territory if all the suggestions (which really are great) were to be implemented.

I'll vote for somewhere in between.


John


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BillP
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 11/26/06

Loc: Vienna, VA
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: 7331Peg]
      #4319354 - 01/16/11 10:37 PM

Quote:

Geez, this thing is quickly going into the unaffordable territory if all the suggestions (which really are great) were to be implemented.

I'll vote for somewhere in between.


John




I agree...and look forward to some affordable pricing.


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RAKing
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 12/28/07

Loc: West of the D.C. Nebula
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: Doug76]
      #4320059 - 01/17/11 10:03 AM

Quote:

I'm thinking in this 60mm it would be easy to be side tracked from the mission objective. So if you make it as a true mini version of the 100mm, I think you have a winner.




I agree with Doug and I hope to see it at NEAF.

Ron


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Jim Curry
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/29/07

Loc: STL
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: RAKing]
      #4320148 - 01/17/11 10:45 AM

Hey Richard:
Fantastic idea. I recently picked up a Unitron 60mm so I'm into it!
How about offering some lens/cell sets for sale as well, for the most part I'm an ATM type guy and I'll bet you'd do well with ATM sales as well.

Regards,
Jim


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eric_zeiner
Phoenix's Dad
*****

Reged: 12/09/06

Loc: Georgia USA 34 31'57.18N 83 53...
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: BillP]
      #4320171 - 01/17/11 10:54 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Geez, this thing is quickly going into the unaffordable territory if all the suggestions (which really are great) were to be implemented.

I'll vote for somewhere in between.


John




I agree...and look forward to some affordable pricing.




Me too.


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zjc26138
Loved By All
*****

Reged: 02/24/05

Loc: Mingo Junction, Ohio
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: eric_zeiner]
      #4320290 - 01/17/11 11:51 AM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

Geez, this thing is quickly going into the unaffordable territory if all the suggestions (which really are great) were to be implemented.

I'll vote for somewhere in between.


John




I agree...and look forward to some affordable pricing.




Me too.




Me three.


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donnw
sage
*****

Reged: 08/03/08

Loc: Maryland
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: 7331Peg]
      #4320469 - 01/17/11 01:19 PM

Hi All:

I agree with John - a balance is good ;-) Since this should be much more affordable than the 100, it should result in a higher volume of sales if priced at the right point. I know if your facility is not set up to do large quantity, then too low a price would not be a good thing for the supplier, but if priced like a Takahashi, it won't be a good thing for the buying community.

This could be likened to my pet peeve on the automakers - especially US: why on earth won't one of the big three give us a car that is styled like a supercar (low, wide, gorgeous curves but not too many) but performs at the 80% point so it could sell for less than $30K? I mean, how much would it hurt the bottom line to make a reasonably priced beautiful sportscar, vs a bunch of me toos? Same thing here - give it the look and feel of a fine vintage refractor of a century past without the stratospheric pricing. How about gloss black or deep red with brass (or gold anodize) cell, focuser, etc.? (There's eough white tube scopes in the world ;-) Just my two cents...


Quote:

Geez, this thing is quickly going into the unaffordable territory if all the suggestions (which really are great) were to be implemented.

I'll vote for somewhere in between.


John




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ngc2289
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/13/05

Loc: Corpus Christi, TX.
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: donnw]
      #4320558 - 01/17/11 02:02 PM

I for one want the scope to maintain the Victorian look!!

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ukcanuck
Vendor (Skylight Telescopes)
*****

Reged: 11/07/06

Loc: London, UK
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ngc2289]
      #4320818 - 01/17/11 04:00 PM

Quote:

I for one want the scope to maintain the Victorian look!!




Me too.

Ok…there’s some nice balance in the posts here, thanks. I like balance.

First of all, I’d like to open about my schedule…I’m exhibiting at Astrofest in London on Feb 4th & 5th, and am currently working flat-out to get another new refractor ready for then. So work on the F15m will not get underway until the second week of February.

Also (like any other commercial venture) there are restrictions that I will need to work within. Building a 60mm refractor that does absolutely everything for everyone and sells for 4 figures or more is not sensible or practical... see here: The Homer

When designing my refractors, I will unashamedly admit that I build them to look at, as well as through! I think my 100mm is drop dead gorgeous (if I do say so myself )…and the F15m will be quite literally a miniaturization of this refractor. I love the way brass looks on black, so the F15m will be black. Out of necessity, I also have to be careful with the use of brass…brass in the modern world is treated (& often priced) like some kind of precious metal, and getting off the shelf parts can be difficult (if not impossible). However, there will definitely be brass on the F15m.

An oversize tube is not really an option for me (sorry Thomas), as the aesthetic result would simply be too lumpish for my tastes. Also, the focuser is one of my tougher decisions, as I’m unconvinced that a Steeltrack or Moonlight is the way to go…but I’ll deal with this when the time comes.

I’m not set up for volume…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! As with the 100mm, each F15m will be a labour of love, and will be unique. However, even with this in mind, affordability remains a key point for me.

At the moment, here are the few thoughts in my head (it’s mostly empty at present).
  • Extra long dew shield (Thank you Thomas), made of brass (just like its’ big brother)
  • Brass finder (I have some ideas here)
  • Long, elegant, slender powdercoated gloss black OTA (just like its’ big brother)
  • Collimateable cell
  • Focuser…???

More later...


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Gone caving
Vendor- Lunt Solar Systems, Lunt Engineering
*****

Reged: 04/02/07

Loc: Underground... really
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ngc2289]
      #4320819 - 01/17/11 04:00 PM

Another reason to come to NEAF 2011 .....Who know's this year it's built your own scope????????

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Astrojensen
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ukcanuck]
      #4320947 - 01/17/11 05:04 PM

Hi Richard

No need to be sorry! You wanted suggestions and I gave you some. Here are some more:

Focuser: As you're clearly concerned (rightly) about the scope getting too expensive, I'll suggest going for a more economical 1.25" focuser. This will also fit well with the narrower tube you seem to prefer. A good bet (ask Doug!) would seem to be the CrawMach 1.25" crayford focuser, the only 1.25" crayford made for refractors. They can customize them for you, including brass anodizing, which I think will *really* look outstanding with the black tube and yet not be as expensive as a real brass focuser. Coupled with a small brass finderscope and I think you'll have something that really stands out in the crowd!

Oh, I prefer white refractors, being a Zeiss man through and through, but that's just me.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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eric_zeiner
Phoenix's Dad
*****

Reged: 12/09/06

Loc: Georgia USA 34 31'57.18N 83 53...
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: Gone caving]
      #4320954 - 01/17/11 05:09 PM

I for one am thrilled by the prospect of this and by my equipment list it is clear that I love 60mm achro refractors. I also looked at some of the items on the wish list of posts and the thing that concerns me is that and yes the SkyLight 100 is a gorgeous scope indeed, but I could conceivably see the 60 f/15 being more than the much maligned Parks PRT-46 at $1999.00 That scope has been the brunt of many posts that bash it and its price point. Now don't get me wrong, I know that the SkyLight will be a far superior scope but will it be within the reach of the common man such as myself or will it be elevated to the realm of only those with immense amounts of discretionary income.

I truly believe that there is a resurgence of interest in this genre of telescope and a foray into that market should be wholeheartedly embraced but it should be done so with caution and restraint.


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Astrojensen
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 10/05/08

Loc: Bornholm, Denmark
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: eric_zeiner]
      #4321167 - 01/17/11 06:28 PM

Quote:

I know that the SkyLight will be a far superior scope but will it be within the reach of the common man such as myself or will it be elevated to the realm of only those with immense amounts of discretionary income.




I don't know the price yet, of course, but the 4" f/15 that Richard makes and sell goes for the equivalent of $2,400 in the UK, so I think it's fair to assume that the 60mm f/15 will be substantially more economical and nowhere near that Parks joke. Heck, the 4" Skylight is just a little more expensive than the 60mm Parks...

My guess will be $400-500. Hey, it will have features no other commercial 60mm has had for more than four decades!


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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7331Peg
Sirius Observer
*****

Reged: 09/01/08

Loc: North coast of Oregon
Re: Project: Skylight F15m (mini): launching at NEAF! new [Re: ukcanuck]
      #4321176 - 01/17/11 06:32 PM

Sounds like you're on a darn good path on this one, Richard.

I can see where the focuser will be an issue, though - it certainly doesn't need to be anything as heavy duty as the Baader Steel Track. The suggestion of using a Crawford Machine focuser (single speed) is really a good one, and wouldn't add a whole lot of cost. And .... they're typically black, which would match the black tube (which is a GREAT idea!). The only other version that is easily available is the Antares model, which I would describe as average, mainly because its much stiffer than the Crawford focuser.


John


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