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Telescope Making for the Relatively Unskilled

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#1 xrayvizhen

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Posted 03 December 2016 - 11:58 AM

I’ve received several private messages from a few people on CN who have seen some pictures I’ve posted of the telescope I made, which is also my icon picture, and asked if I had a build thread. I didn’t. But all along I had an idea of writing this article because while I have seen many pictures and build threads of outstanding scopes built by people who are obviously either machinists, carpenters or engineers or just very experienced builders with a full suite of shop tools, I am none of those and I only have a couple of hand tools and minimal skills & experience. But I built this thing and it’s outstanding, so I figure that maybe there are folks out in the world who would like give telescope making a try but might be a little intimidated by some of the beautiful work displayed, especially on the DIY forum. This is NOT another “How to Build a Telescope” article. Rather, it’s more of an idea on why I built what I did, some of the planning and thought processes involved and how to get around the lack of tools or skills. (Hint – subcontract the hard stuff.)

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#2 TOMDEY

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 09:14 AM

Greetings, xrayvizhen; nice article!  I like the detail you present and the anecdote regarding upside down assembly “Whoops!”  Many builders, especially novice, are so concerned about the possibility of screw-ups, that they never get started.  Best attitude is to be careful and accept that mistakes happen and best we can do is to mitigate/correct.  I fondly recall building scopes up in my parent’s attic with precious little $ and only hand tools.  Even the smallish mirrors, walking around an oil drum.  Now I’m working on a 36-inch… yep…  hoping to have it operational in about 6 months.  Something positive about savoring the view thru a telescope that you built yourself!  PS My 1st mirror 8”… I got it done and admiring it, dropped and broke it …  Gave up for 6 months then built a nice 6-inch scope!  Tom Dey



#3 Augustus

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 05:41 PM

Greetings, nice article! Where did you get a 12.5" f/5.2 mirror?



#4 xrayvizhen

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 08:38 PM

Greetings, nice article! Where did you get a 12.5" f/5.2 mirror?

Hi Augustus - as I wrote in the article, it appeared in the Cloudy Nights "Classifieds" section. I was just about ready to buy a new 12" F/5 GSO mirror set from Agena Astro but was procrastinating, when all of a sudden, there it was...at a very good price and the previous owner threw in the mirror cell also. The fact that it was a premium 12 1/2 from the 1990's, 2" thick pyrex weighing 25 lbs actually helped me avoid some balance issues that would have occurred with the lighter GSO mirror.


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#5 Augustus

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Posted 04 December 2016 - 08:43 PM

 

Greetings, nice article! Where did you get a 12.5" f/5.2 mirror?

Hi Augustus - as I wrote in the article, it appeared in the Cloudy Nights "Classifieds" section. I was just about ready to buy a new 12" F/5 GSO mirror set from Agena Astro but was procrastinating, when all of a sudden, there it was...at a very good price and the previous owner threw in the mirror cell also. The fact that it was a premium 12 1/2 from the 1990's, 2" thick pyrex weighing 25 lbs actually helped me avoid some balance issues that would have occurred with the lighter GSO mirror.

 

Cool. I am considering making a 12" Dob next year and found your article very helpful.



#6 EJay

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Posted 05 December 2016 - 07:44 PM

Thanks for sharing this with us!



#7 Soarrunwalk

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Posted 07 December 2016 - 09:55 PM

Ditto - thank you for sharing!

 

I appreciate your writing style and the fact you took the time to put this together for us to learn from and enjoy.  Many clear skies to you!



#8 xrayvizhen

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 08:43 AM

Thanks for the nice comments.

 

This article as written before I submitted it to CN was originally a lot funnier, mainly because of the language that spewed out of my mouth before, during and after the screw-ups occurred and just the plain dumbness of some of the things I did or didn't do or didn't even anticipate. While not "R" rated, it was definitely PG-13, and definitely more entertaining. However, somewhere along the line, I decided to tone it down and make it more "family friendly" and figured that some ignorant soul out in the world not yet familiar with this rather bizarre hobby of ours might want to do a google search about telescope making looking for some true life experiences and would stumble upon this. The result may not have been as humorous as originally written but might be a little more valuable to them.   



#9 TOMDEY

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 06:44 AM

I know the feeling. Built many scopes, observatories... each with its own humiliations and triumphs. The reward is when you get to the eyepiece and IT WORKS!  Tom



#10 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 18 December 2016 - 11:46 AM

That's a very nicely produced article with a lot of useful information, nice diagrams, and good tips!  Well done.

 

John



#11 DrewFamily

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 10:31 AM

Great article (even in the family friendly version)! We have highlighted this as the "Link of the Month" at the Stellafane Links page, thank you for taking the time to write it for future generations of telescope makers. Jay



#12 John O'Hara

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 07:10 PM

What's the thickness of your mirror?  Did you mount it using RTV adhesive?



#13 xrayvizhen

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Posted 27 December 2016 - 09:50 PM

The mirror is a full 2" thick pyrex and heavy! When mounted in a standard 9 pt. flotation cell (no adhesive) it and the cell together weigh 29 lbs.

 

I should also add that it's not a total mirror mount. I removed the back part and bolted the front, the flotation part the mirror sits on, to the rear tailgate using the three large collimation bolts. Thus the tailgate takes the place of the rear portion of the mount.


Edited by xrayvizhen, 28 December 2016 - 08:02 AM.


#14 solarviewer

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Posted 29 December 2016 - 02:31 AM

Thank you so much for writing and sharing this wonderful article, your hard work is very much appreciated!



#15 dawsonian2000

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 06:48 AM

I’ve received several private messages from a few people on CN who have seen some pictures I’ve posted of the telescope I made, which is also my icon picture, and asked if I had a build thread. I didn’t. But all along I had an idea of writing this article because while I have seen many pictures and build threads of outstanding scopes built by people who are obviously either machinists, carpenters or engineers or just very experienced builders with a full suite of shop tools, I am none of those and I only have a couple of hand tools and minimal skills & experience. But I built this thing and it’s outstanding, so I figure that maybe there are folks out in the world who would like give telescope making a try but might be a little intimidated by some of the beautiful work displayed, especially on the DIY forum. This is NOT another “How to Build a Telescope” article. Rather, it’s more of an idea on why I built what I did, some of the planning and thought processes involved and how to get around the lack of tools or skills. (Hint – subcontract the hard stuff.)

Click here to view the article

Hi xrayvizhen!

 

Congratulations on a job well done! It is indeed a pleasure to read your article and know that there are others that have the same mindset when it comes to conveying the skills of building their own telescope. The absolute thrill and feeling of accomplishing this effort does more for the spirit than can be imagined; let alone to the many wanting to build their own instruments. I, too, have followed the same premise by showcasing the telescope builds I have completed via a comprehensive and detailed overview of each project on my website: http://www.vega-sky-center.com

 

 

Again, congratulations!

 

Mel



#16 jim4nd

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Posted 08 January 2017 - 08:57 PM

Thank you for the informative and very entertaining article.  I have not laughed this hard in years!  Especially the tube part.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Jim



#17 robosharkatlanticron

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 04:00 PM

@jdjetson check this out = )



#18 PhilCo126

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Posted 21 January 2017 - 08:09 AM

http://www.kijkerbouw.be/en



#19 maglothinm

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Posted 03 February 2017 - 10:39 AM

Excellent article! Thank you for taking time to share your experience, lessons learned, and recommendations.


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#20 laurenrayjohn

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Posted 18 July 2017 - 04:21 AM

Haha, "for the Relatively Unskilled" nice put it! I will definitely share this article with some of my friends who are passionate about this entire process of making a telescope. Thanks for sharing!



#21 Jacek67

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Posted 12 September 2017 - 07:12 AM

A big thumbs up !!

 

Very nice article with full of needed inf.,indeed.



#22 xrayvizhen

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Posted 16 September 2017 - 08:25 AM

Just a few comments now that it's nearly 2 years since I finished this scope. Thanks to all the posters for the nice words.

 

There have been a few enhancements to the original scope. First of all, I added an ultra wide angle eyepiece to my collection and found the extra weight upset the scope balance a little bit. So I took a 2 1/2 lb barbell weight, stuffed it inside an old athletic sock and hung it from a bungee cord to one of the handles on the mirror box. This was just enough to offset the extra weight of the EP and restore everything to perfect balance. 

 

The wheelbarrow handles I made are now more or less permanently mounted to the sides of the mirror box. I found that screwing and unscrewing the handles from the embedded T-Nuts loosened them so much that they no longer held fast in the wood so I replaced the prong style T-Nuts with screw in type and now don't bother to remove the handles. They're hinged and fold in on either side out of the way.

 

The last thing I did was buy a Nexus II DSC kit from Astrosytems consisting of the Nexus II, a pair of  8192 encoders and mounting hardware. I emailed Serge (Astrosystem's owner) my drawing and he asked for several other key measurements and I got everything I needed. I can tell you it's well worth it. The printed 22" diameter azimuth circle around the base and digital angle gauge worked OK, but the Nexus II, when used in combination with Sky Safari on my phone, greatly increases the number of objects that can be located in any given evening of observing. Highly recommended.



#23 Tyson M

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 12:07 PM

My gf is the exact same way. "OMG the chemicals" lol. I will begin my first dob build, complete with fiberglass sonotube




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