It's been quite the journey over the last three years, but finally I can post about the impending arrival of the big dob.
These things typically start with the occasional look through big scopes at star parties and what not. Well, that's how it started for me. I couldn't take it any longer and decided I needed something big I could call my own to use when ever I wanted. The first year of the journey I spent contemplating exactly what I wanted and how I was going to use it. Initially, I settled on a 24" as the biggest dob I wanted to cart around. But, the more I thought about it and mixed with people who owned similar scopes, the more I realised I wanted to go in a different direction.
I found a great area for observing a few hours drive from where I live, where the sky is as dark as it can get. So I started thinking, what if I buy a piece of land out there where I can leave the big dob set up permanently, that would change the equation a bit. Then I thought, if I'm going to all this trouble to set up a dark site property, why muck around with a 24"? In the end, my final decision was based on the two things I thought were most important, eyepiece height and how much money I was prepared to pour into it.
I had my sights set on a metre class dob, but the eyepiece height was getting beyond what I was aiming for, not to mention the rather sobering cost of it all. The primary mirror alone was going to soak up the budget I planned for the entire dob. So at the end of the day a 32" f/3.3 satisfied my main requirements. That decision took me a year to arrive at, after I worked my way through all the issues.
Next up I placed orders with Peter Read at SDM for the build and Mike Lockwood for the mirrors. Then, I waited.
Mike was pretty quick with the mirror, though I wasn't in a hurry as I knew Peter had a lot of dobs to build before mine and he was going to be the limiting factor. Its been a little over two years now on the SDM waiting list, but finally construction is under way. SDM is probably not a widely known brand, being tucked away in my corner of the world, but if Peter was in the U.S. everyone would speak of him in the same manner as Roland and Al, and we would all be on a 10 year waiting list for our dobs. The man is a genius and makes dobs like no one else, which makes the long wait somewhat bearable.
As the build progresses I thought I would share a few photos and details about the dob. There's going to be some nice features not seen before which will make the scope even more unique, but importantly perform as well as a big dob can.
I also want to thank everyone who have helped me and continue to do so, in particular Peter Read, Mike Lockwood, John Pratte and Bob Schilling. I'm proud to call these people my friends now, which is another reason why I love astronomy so much.