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Ed Byers / a discussion

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#1 turk123

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Posted 22 August 2014 - 09:00 PM

Hello all

 

I was going to add this to the "history is slipping away" thread, but I did not want to hijack it with my comments.  After getting a PM from Mod Chuck about Ed byers health and the suggestion to do an article about him, I called Ed today.  We talked about a few products I bought from him and a little about his past.  He's got some big armor going up for sale pretty soon and he said he's selling off his research grade projects over the next year. ( Anyone for a 28" cassegrain and mount?)

 

Ed is a engineer and a machinist and he is a bit hard to talk to at first, but we got along fine after a few minutes.  I told him about an idea I had to do an article about him and ask him if he would spend a few afternoons talking to me about his life.  I told him about the "history" thread that was started here and the importance it meant to our group here on CN.  He wanted to start right away as he brought up his past projects and ideas, but I stopped him and said I wanted to prepare some questions as to not waste his time.

 

That's where all of you come in.  I would like to start a dialog here about Ed Byers and his contribution to telescope industry.  I would also like you to contribute questions for him to answer about his life.  As an example, I told him about the Cave website (he's reading it now!)  and he made the comment that after 1962 he didn't full around with those "toys" anymore and went into research grade quality optics and mounts.  I mentioned I owned a Unitron 5" telescope and he called it "a schoolboys telescope earned while running a paper route".  He's not being snobbish.  On the contrary, he's been locked in to building his high quality components for so long, he doesn't recognize the smaller stuff anymore.

 

Ed was in the service where he learned his machinist skills.  After leaving the service he went to work on the railroad.  How he got from there to telescopes is a question I will ask.  I have a friend who has told me a bit about Ed and he told me he would hook me up with two even closer friends for me to talk to. 

I told Ed that we would have our first session in a few days.  My friend says that he is a bit depressed over the loss of his wife, his son passing away recently, and his dog.  That’s a lot to take when your 88 years old.  I have a feeling he really wanted to talk.  I think it may help him remember some of the good times also.  Maybe that will help get his mind off of things.

 

So let’s have a discussion about him!   Please submit ideas to me here or in PM’s if you prefer.

 

Turk

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#2 R Botero

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 01:11 AM

This is going to be an amazing thread and your article is going to be outstanding!  :waytogo:  



#3 turk123

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 04:17 AM

A patent search shows 4 patents that Mr. Byers filed.

 

 

http://patft.uspto.g...edward-r&d=PTXT

 

 



#4 tim53

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 09:21 AM

I look forward to reading!

 

I saw Ed at RTMC every year since I started going in 1979, but I never really knew him.  His mounts and gears were always out of my reach, price-wise.  When he came to CSPAMP a few years ago, I got to talk with him a little.  He didn't strike me as snobbish at all.  And I was amazed at how well he got around and thunk on his feet at his age at the time.  

 

He's always been a rare breed.  Nobody lives forever, but sometimes I wish...

 

-Tim.



#5 Napersky

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 09:52 AM

I visted Ed the week before last drove out from Illinois.

He will be providing me with the gears to make a mount for my large refractor.

He looked like he was in good health, he has an awesome shop. Everyone in Southern California should go out to meet him.

Ill post some photos from my Iphone soon.

 

Ed said he was an astronomer before making his gears. In the 50s he couldnt find anyone to make a mount or the gears

for a large scope of his that is what got him started.

 

He recently sold 5 Unitron f15 lenses on Ebay. The first one for $1,200. The others he said went much hight at auction.

 

Mark



#6 amicus sidera

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:36 PM

Superb initiative, Turk! Getting Ed's story directly from him is performing yet another terrific service for the Classic Telescope community; my hat's off to you!


Edited by amicus sidera, 23 August 2014 - 02:37 PM.


#7 Bomber Bob

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 02:51 PM

Anyone for a 28" cassegrain and mount?

 

Pick me!  Pick me!!  (Wonder of I could roll the roof off my Man Cave?)

 

Turk, thank you for making contact, and getting the ball rolling.  This is gonna be good.



#8 Napersky

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:07 PM

His last shop the other location is closed.

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#9 Napersky

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:11 PM

$100,000 heliostat 

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#10 Napersky

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:12 PM

Ed and me

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Edited by Napersky, 23 August 2014 - 03:13 PM.


#11 Napersky

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:15 PM

Ed

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#12 Napersky

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:17 PM

32" Newt?

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#13 Chuck Hards

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 03:19 PM

$100,000 heliostat 

 

If that's the 18" heliostat, I watched the mirror being polished in Salt Lake. 

 

Ed's looking good!



#14 Mr. Bill

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Posted 23 August 2014 - 04:10 PM

Good that someone is preserving this bit of history...really enjoyed the Cave thread.

 

:waytogo:



#15 DocFinance

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 12:11 AM

This is great to hear/see.  Really monumental work can be done here.  I'm just so glad to see this, and in awe.

 

You should ask him about his greatest teacher, greatest student, his greatest success, his greatest challenge and his greatest unfinished challenges.  Ask him what he wants his legacy to be.  Helping him give that legacy may be one of the best things you can offer in exchange for his time.

 

Find out how those of us in the hobby can follow in his footsteps (what & how he learned from and who from, who he thinks leads the field now (so we can support them, etc.)).  

 

More as I think about it.  You're likely making history here, or at the least saving a huge part of the history of one of amateur astronomy's greatest contributors.


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#16 solarflare

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 12:23 AM

What's the cave website/ thread that everyone's discussing?

By the way, a letter of Ed's was recently posted in another thread (http://www.cloudynig...-6#entry6174821) regarding this telescope: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Qnrjve2AEhY
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#17 turk123

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 06:40 AM

This is great to hear/see.  Really monumental work can be done here.  I'm just so glad to see this, and in awe.

 

You should ask him about his greatest teacher, greatest student, his greatest success, his greatest challenge and his greatest unfinished challenges.  Ask him what he wants his legacy to be.  Helping him give that legacy may be one of the best things you can offer in exchange for his time.

 

Find out how those of us in the hobby can follow in his footsteps (what & how he learned from and who from, who he thinks leads the field now (so we can support them, etc.)).  

 

More as I think about it.  You're likely making history here, or at the least saving a huge part of the history of one of amateur astronomy's greatest contributors.

 

Thank you for the wonderful questions.  That's 2 hours of conversation right there!    

 

I've contact several newspapers that have done articles and requested permission to use them but more importantly, to acquire pictures they have.  If anyone has images of Ed and/or his shop or events, please send them to me.

 

Leads I'm following up on.

 

The Crosby observatory in Florida has an Ed Byers mount and I believe telescope.  Largest refractor in Florida.  Custom made by Ed.

 

Ed participated in the discovery of the background radiation by providing key parts (gears) to a balloon probe lunched at the South Pole.  The 15" gears had to be designed with such precision to operate with no lubrication due to the cold temperatures.

 

Ed was ask to design the first questar mount.  He did not get the job but questar "used" most of his ideas.


Edited by turk123, 24 August 2014 - 07:07 AM.

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#18 Herr Ointment

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 08:37 AM

An obvious question but I'm curious about his deal with Celestron......20,000 telescope drives.


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#19 turk123

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 09:50 AM

An obvious question but I'm curious about his deal with Celestron......20,000 telescope drives.

 

I am curious also.  I didn't realise it was 20,000 though.   Did he make the drive or just the gears? 


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#20 Chuck Hards

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 11:03 AM

Tom, in the industry speak, the "drive" is the gears (and clutch).   No drive makers make their own motors, to the best of my knowledge.  Ed told me on the phone that he had to order motors in a minimum quantity of 100 at a time, and they were made to order.  Not sure if Celestron supplied their own motors, or if it was part of the package Ed provided.  Worth asking.

 

I would be curious to know if he feels any commercial telescope ever made doesn't fall into the "schoolboy paper route" category.  There would certainly be a lot fewer commercial telescope owners in the world if the typical amateur instrument cost tens of thousands of dollars.



#21 turk123

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 11:17 AM

Tom, in the industry speak, the "drive" is the gears (and clutch).   No drive makers make their own motors, to the best of my knowledge.  Ed told me on the phone that he had to order motors in a minimum quantity of 100 at a time, and they were made to order.  Not sure if Celestron supplied their own motors, or if it was part of the package Ed provided.  Worth asking.

 

I would be curious to know if he feels any commercial telescope ever made doesn't fall into the "schoolboy paper route" category.  There would certainly be a lot fewer commercial telescope owners in the world if the typical amateur instrument cost tens of thousands of dollars.

 

Thanks for the clarification.

 

I have a feeling he has a bit "tilted" view in this matter.  I certainly will ask that question though.  We had a discussion about his 812 mount.  He said It was a consumer level mount and not to be considered research quality. He was interested in selling me one of his remaining mounts that fit the research quality that he so much likes.  After explaining the technical side of it and how it would be the best mount for me, I ask him what it goes for.  He said he would let it go for $250,000 without batting an eye!  He has worked in this realm for so long, I don't think he ever wanted to go back to the "paper route" market.

 

He has some very good quotes about this that I will certainly include in my articles.


Edited by turk123, 24 August 2014 - 11:18 AM.


#22 jwheel

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 04:06 PM

:cool:



#23 starman876

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 07:03 PM

Wow and wow. This is going to be really interesting.   Wonder when he got his first CNC.  Something I always wanted.  Wonder how many special mounts Byers made for the government and what they were used for?  These questions can go on forever with such a fascinating career.



#24 Chuck Hards

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 07:04 PM

 

I have a feeling he has a bit "tilted" view in this matter.  I certainly will ask that question though.  We had a discussion about his 812 mount.  He said It was a consumer level mount and not to be considered research quality. He was interested in selling me one of his remaining mounts that fit the research quality that he so much likes.  After explaining the technical side of it and how it would be the best mount for me, I ask him what it goes for.  He said he would let it go for $250,000 without batting an eye!  He has worked in this realm for so long, I don't think he ever wanted to go back to the "paper route" market.

 

 

 

In my entire life up to now, I have probably spent 10% of that price on all of my hobbies combined!


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#25 starman876

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Posted 24 August 2014 - 09:51 PM

 

 

I have a feeling he has a bit "tilted" view in this matter.  I certainly will ask that question though.  We had a discussion about his 812 mount.  He said It was a consumer level mount and not to be considered research quality. He was interested in selling me one of his remaining mounts that fit the research quality that he so much likes.  After explaining the technical side of it and how it would be the best mount for me, I ask him what it goes for.  He said he would let it go for $250,000 without batting an eye!  He has worked in this realm for so long, I don't think he ever wanted to go back to the "paper route" market.

 

 

 

In my entire life up to now, I have probably spent 10% of that price on all of my hobbies combined!

 

I wish I could say that.  I would be a rich man if it were not for this hobby.   However, $250,000 for a mount. Well, that is for far deeper pockets.   It is interesting that there are astronomers out there that have that kind of cash available for this hobby.   I am sure that between Byers and astro physics they know who these people are.




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