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The Frugal Astronomer

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#1 eric_zeiner

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:26 PM

I have been thinking for a while that having a forum dedicated to the frugal pursuit of astronomy would be a great thing. There are many of us who are or need to be conscious of every dime we spend and I can attest that a great time star gazing can be achieved while not breaking the bank. There are also tons of great products available that will support this endeavor as well. I respectfully ask the moderator of this forum to "sticky" this to the top to see what kind of response we get and the viability of such an undertaking.
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#2 hfjacinto

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:36 PM

I am frugal (not cheap) I would join :)

#3 Tim A.

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:51 PM

Chopstick fine focusing:

With inexpensive single-speed rack-and-pinion focusers, you can make achieving fine focus adjustments as easy and precise as a dual-speed Crayford.

Take off one of the focus knobs, and drill a series of 3/16" (4.75mm) holes around it's perimeter. Next wrap the tip of a chopstick (from a Chinese restaurant) with a band of electrician's tape.

When you get close to focus, insert the chopstick in one of the holes in the knob, and use the far end to make ultra-fine adjustments to your focus.

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#4 eric_zeiner

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:56 PM

Chopstick fine focusing:

With inexpensive single-speed rack-and-pinion focusers, you can make achieving fine focus adjustments as easy and precise as a dual-speed Crayford.

Take off one of the focus knobs, and drill a series of 3/16" (4.75mm) holes around it's perimeter. Next wrap the tip of a chopstick (from a Chinese restaurant) with a band of electrician's tape.

When you get close to focus, insert the chopstick in one of the holes in the knob, and use the far end to make ultra-fine adjustments to your focus.


And there you have it!

#5 ylem

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:25 PM

Sounds great to me, I've been selling off some of my older hobbies to pay for this one. Besides I only have time for 2 hobbies. Too many people have way to many hobbies and this not only drives spouses nuts, but there is not enough time to devote to the hobbies or family.

Astronomy seems to have a reputation of being expensive but it can be quite cheap, if you keep it to one good scope and a barlow.
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#6 mathteacher

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:32 PM

I understand the support for such a forum. I've been known to do things like stick tennis balls onto my tripod feet for vibration dampeners, and make dew shields out of construction paper.

I just don't know if having a separate forum would engender the best discussions. For example, something that is asked in the "Frugal Astronomer Forum" may be best answered in the DIY forum. If you want an good, inexpensive reflector, ask in the reflector forum, etc.

Again, I fully understand the sentiment (who's tired of hearing about 'superior' apos that cost $1k/inch?). I just think the existing forums can address frugality within their focus. Then again, if there is a forum dedicated to Questars, why not one dedicated to frugality?
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#7 magic612

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 06:44 PM

I vote in favor. Yes, there's probably some overlap with others, but there's also overlap with a lot of things in the ATM and Beginner sections with many other subforums as well. I think it would be a worthwhile section, and I'd likely spend a lot of time there.

#8 dusty mirrors

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:18 PM

i am with you on this! when i first joined cloudy nights i asked about a forum for those of us with cheap telescopes. no luck. i am sometimes discouraged because of the high end discussions, they are not in my pay grade. the only problem i forsee is that the smartest guys around here are usually the ones with the most invested in their stuff! if they dont frequent the "cheapskate lounge" we will be the without adult supervision! then we will have to lurk in their forums anyway. everybody is helpful on every forum, i am just hesitant to break into the upper strata with my earthbound issues.
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#9 eric_zeiner

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 07:40 PM

i am with you on this! when i first joined cloudy nights i asked about a forum for those of us with cheap telescopes. no luck. i am sometimes discouraged because of the high end discussions, they are not in my pay grade. the only problem i forsee is that the smartest guys around here are usually the ones with the most invested in their stuff! if they dont frequent the "cheapskate lounge" we will be the without adult supervision! then we will have to lurk in their forums anyway. everybody is helpful on every forum, i am just hesitant to break into the upper strata with my earthbound issues.


By no means is it my desire or intent to exclude anyone from this forum regardless of how shallow or deep their pockets may be. We can all stand to learn from eachother and it is this synergy that will make us greater.

#10 Retentive

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:13 PM

I am always looking for frugal advice here but it is hard to find.

The astonomy business is different than other product markets. Many times people tell you in forums that something is better because it cost more or because it is made by manufacturer X because everyone knows manufacturer X makes the best when I would rather here that something is worth buying because there is tangilbe evidence that you can actually see more or it will maximize the quality of what you can see.


Phil
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#11 vinnie

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:33 PM

I guess that what you propose, Eric, can be looked at in a few different ways.

The first is that CN is already a very big and possibly unwieldy Bulletin Board. Adding more forums not only makes any BB harder to navigate, but also makes it harder to administrate, and tends to slow the server. (I have been an Admin for a board at least as big and busy as CN, and am currently an Admin on a much smaller board)

The second is that there would be a big crossover with the ATM/DIY areas. Of course ATM doesn't necessarily automatically imply "saving money", but it can.

Personally I do own quite a bit of mid range to higher end equipment, but this is stuff accumulated over 45+ years and doesn't imply that I have money to burn. Fact is that I don't. So I do take your point that being "frugal" doesn't have a fixed monetary limit per se.

Here is an example of the sort of thing that I get into to keep costs down.
http://www.astroholi...hread.php?t=242

I would certainly support your proposal, but I doubt that it will come to fruition, not because of a lack of merit but more for practical Administration reasons

#12 Jason D

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:45 PM

I do not see the need for a new forum. Anyone can start a new thread in the DIY or Equipment forums asking about the most cost effective (or cheapest) method to do this or that.
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#13 Greg Keys

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:46 PM

I work in industrial automation, and have many idea about how to apply my knowledge to this hobby. I also have seven kids so as you can imagine, money is tight. I like the idea of a frugal forum, and who knows? I just might have some stuff to contribute over time. As time permits, I am looking at building some truly low cost digital setting circles, and possibly a full blown goto mount. A frugal forum would be a good place to share such stuff. My mind never quits, and once in a great while something interesting manages to free itself :smash:

#14 cheapersleeper

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 09:48 PM

With regard to the need for another forum I can say that it is nearly impossible to do a search in the main forums if you are trying to find an inexpensive solution. A frugal forum would allow easy searching. Also, I believe that a lot of the people that have eyepiece cases whose contents are worth more than my car probably would be happy to post in a "fill my eyepiece case for 150 bucks thread. The fact that they are in a position to be able to enjoy the good stuff, doesn't mean that they have never had to watch their money.

#15 vinnie

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 10:44 PM

With regard to the need for another forum I can say that it is nearly impossible to do a search in the main forums if you are trying to find an inexpensive solution. A frugal forum would allow easy searching. Also, I believe that a lot of the people that have eyepiece cases whose contents are worth more than my car probably would be happy to post in a "fill my eyepiece case for 150 bucks thread. The fact that they are in a position to be able to enjoy the good stuff, doesn't mean that they have never had to watch their money.


Good points

The fact that the contents of my most used EP case would cost around $3,000 US to replace new tomorrow only proves how I managed to squirrel away a buck or two here and there over years to be able to treat myself with a nice EP every year or so. (and for the records those "nice" EPs are either Vixen or Pentax. TV has been and still is out of the question)

#16 werewolf6977

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 05:49 AM

Moderators note: This issue has been presented to the Admins. As soon as they get back to me, I'll let you all know. I feel there is such a need myself. Read my sig-line. I've got some fairly nice stuff, but the only new scope I have is the Spaceprobe 130EQ.

#17 geckomanz

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 06:12 AM

Well said! Many newbies to astronomy, including me, would benefit more from those tangible ideas. I believe most of CN's members don't dare to spend their money on expensive stuffs as seasoned astronomers do.

#18 Retentive

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 06:47 AM

If you cant do a forum then could you just moderate those posters who are always posting that the equipment us "plain folks" buy is no good?

In all fairness it is disheartening to try to find out what 100.00 eyepiece works best with my 120ST and get told that I need to buy a 500.00 eyepiece, scrap my achro and get a $6000.00 apo because my telescope has too much CA when I am actually happy with my telescope.

Phil
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#19 eric_zeiner

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 07:47 AM

So this is exactly what I was looking for. We have varying points of view made with cogent arguments for and against and the moderator has taken notice and sent it to the powers that be. This is good and as for whether or not CN can or cannot handle another forum, I really think that is up to the admins to decide. Like any other organization it will or will not grow based on its popularity and success or the lack thereof. I think it is safe to say that CN is indeed the benchmark for this kind of venture and it is only right that it grows with the changing times. I do not know the demographics of our members, but I would bet that it is safe to say that the economy as of late has hit all of us, and probably some of us more than others. With that said, there are still many viable alternatives for people to get into or continue in astronomy without breaking the bank. I think CN should also show those who have never even looked through an EP that it is a fun and approachable hobby and they need not be scared off massive price tags, when quite honestly can get involved adequately and enjoyably for a lot less. I think it is incumbent of the current CN membership to guide first purchasers away from the true junk that is out there and make them aware of the good quality products that will get them off and running.
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#20 weezy

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:19 AM

The motto should be "The scope that gets used is the right scope"
I've seen "get the largest dob you can afford" to an apartment dweller with 3 flights of stairs to contend with, also the same advice to an older user with a bad back.

Those that reply need to read the posts and don't be too quick to criticize another's choice. There are circumstances that some don't post, and I feel we should help others make the most of what they have. The more, the merrier.
Weezy
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#21 eric_zeiner

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 09:29 AM

The motto should be "The scope that gets used is the right scope"
I've seen "get the largest dob you can afford" to an apartment dweller with 3 flights of stairs to contend with, also the same advice to an older user with a bad back.

Those that reply need to read the posts and don't be too quick to criticize another's choice. There are circumstances that some don't post, and I feel we should help others make the most of what they have. The more, the merrier.
Weezy


ABSOLUTELY!!!
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#22 StarmanDan

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:22 AM

To me, being frugal isn't about how much money I spend. It's about how well that money is spent and getting the most out of what I spend. It's also about keeping your eyes open to great deals and being creative with what you have. I spent quite a pretty penny (to me at least) on my main scope (the LX200) because I felt that scope would give me the most flexibility with what I can do be it visual or photographic and I bought it with the intention of putting it into an observatory doing automated science projects. That was 10 years ago and I'm just now getting around to building my observatory. The other items in my sig, I've spent less than $200 for each and either built myself (the 10" dob) or "discovered" at garage sales, astromart, vendor discounts, etc. and with a little TLC brought them back to useable condition.
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#23 desertstars

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:29 AM

Well, we are going to make this one stickie. There won't be a seperate forum for the subject, however, since the topics it will likely include overlap existing fora on CN.
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#24 mathteacher

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 10:47 AM

I was thinking, if not a separate forum, at least a stickie. Thank you, Tom and other mods for making a swift decision. The idea can grow from this point.

#25 magic612

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Posted 02 February 2010 - 11:30 AM

To me, being frugal isn't about how much money I spend. It's about how well that money is spent and getting the most out of what I spend. It's also about keeping your eyes open to great deals and being creative with what you have. I spent quite a pretty penny (to me at least) on my main scope (the LX200) because I felt that scope would give me the most flexibility with what I can do be it visual or photographic and I bought it with the intention of putting it into an observatory doing automated science projects. That was 10 years ago and I'm just now getting around to building my observatory. The other items in my sig, I've spent less than $200 for each and either built myself (the 10" dob) or "discovered" at garage sales, astromart, vendor discounts, etc. and with a little TLC brought them back to useable condition.


TOTALLY agree!! :waytogo:


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