I started a thread about lessons learned in the refractor forum. We had a lot of valuable lessons learned posted and reached a bit of a consensus. The things causing the most frustration, for beginners and experienced observers alike, are:
1. Unstable, inadequate mounts.
2. Lousy focusers.
In thinking about what I'd recommend to a parent as a beginner's telescope, I realized we have an opportunity to take the principles of open source and apply it to coming up with a design for the ideal beginner's telescope. I think that will end up being plural. One for lunar and planetary people under light polluted skies and one for those under dark skies.
I'd like to keep it open source and let any manufacturer bring our general ideas to life, legally, in their products and if we end up coming up with a great, complete, design under $500, I'd like to see if we could actually get some corporate (or wealthy) sponsorship to get one donated into every K-12 school in our respective countries.
My first go at design principles are:
1. Frustration free from set up, to use, to take down.
2. Low maintenance and reliability as core principles of design
3. Help people learn to experience the joy and wonder of discovering the treasures of night sky.
4. Under $500 and shared with as many schools as possible
If you're interested, spend a few weeks coming up with ideas that you are 100% willing to share openly with the community, for the betterment of our hobby. If you have a proprietary idea you want to patent and start a company out of, please keep it private, and I'm sure if it's good, we will be your customers.
Here are a few component ideas:
An easy precision leveling system for the tripod, using large knobs and large, readable, torpedo style levels.
A super smooth push-to system to encourage a sense of exploration and awareness of the sky's apparent motion without being frustrating and with it being able to track smoothly by hand at 250x.
An absolutely rock solid, vibration free mount, possibly incorporating many passive vibration suppression features.
The vibration free experience of a motorized focuser, without the need for a motor.
I have a feeling the initial reaction from many will be that this dream list is unrealistic, but I have no doubt we can come up with innovative solutions that we are willing to share freely with everyone who has the resources to bring our ideas to life. Once again, I want to reiterate that if you have an idea and want to start a company, keep it private. Anything posted to this thread will be considered free for anyone to use after they've followed all their country's legal and patent laws.