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Here are some of the 2013 TSP Amateur Telescope-making entries!
Eliot Neel (Fayetteville, Arkansas) – 4¼” Reflector
1st in Telescope Category
Eliot had made the mirror when he was 14 and recently decided to make a new telescope out of it. The elegant design, evocative of the famous Porter’s Garden Telescope was beautifully executed in hardwood and was just a pleasure to admire. Eliot clearly has some craftsman skills as the wood and brass work was all finished to a high standard. Definitely a scope with “wow factor”
Eliot Neel (Fayetteville, Arkansas) – 16″ Dobsonian Reflector
2nd in Telescope Category
Alongside Eliot’s winning 4¼“ Reflector was another very well made and finished telescope. This time a 16” Dobsonian, made almost entirely from wood including some fine walnut truss members. Again the workmanship was very good and the judges liked the novel design whereby the optical tube assembly can be swung right over the zenith to observe the other side.
Dale Eason (Roseville, MN) – Ultra lightweight 16” Dobsonian
This wasn’t a new project, and was described by Dale as an “ongoing project”. Aren’t most ATM projects! It was certainly lightweight with the OTA coming in at less than 35lbs. Creative use of materials and salvaged parts made for an interesting assembly. The judges were particularly impressed with his design and implementation of a system to collimate the mirror while standing at the eyepiece.
Jean-Paul Pelletier & Jean-Claude Berlinguet (Quebec, Canada) – 10” Dobsonian Travelscope
The judges liked the way all the parts packed down into a single box formed out of the rocker box and its stand. This just left the mirror and truss poles to be carried separately. The wood components had been well finished and protected. It was noted that the scope had already made a return trip to Chile.
Craig Colbert (Santa Monica, CA) – GoTo for Losmandy G8 mount
1st in Major Upgrade Category
Craig had just bought a new astrophotography set up but wanted to add a GoTo drive. Faced with quite a steep cost, he decided to have a go at building his own. He replaced all the drive motors and built a drive box using Phidget servo and processor boards, and then wrote 2,000 lines of code. To top it all off he added his own design of motor focus and implemented autoguiding too. This was all done in about 12 weeks, just in time for TSP2013! It can be difficult to judge software but in this case it was seen to be working very well, producing some really excellent goto’s and auto-guiding.
John Love (Whitesboro, TX) – Modified DSI-II and TEC
John took his Meade DSI-II apart and replaced just about everything except the sensor ccd and drive board. His new ccd housing incorporated an impressive TE cooler that could maintain 35F below ambient within 0.1F. A separate control box contained the drive and control modules. Everything was designed and constructed to a very high standard.
Doug LeGrand (Plano, Texas) – Ladder modifications and 30” mirror handling aids.
1st in Accessories Category
Doug’s wife Christina had suffered a back injury just as she took delivery of her new 30” Dob, and so he set made some modifications to enable her to continue to use her scope – what a gentleman! First he modified the 6ft ladder to make it easily carried on her shoulder, added an extension to the top, and inserted intermediate steps so that she always had a straight back whatever the eyepiece height. All the modifications looked really well thought out and constructed.
Then Doug came up with a procedure and some fixtures by which he could fit and remove the mirror assembly on his own – it weights 120lbs!
Doug entered these as two separate entries, but the judges felt they should be combined and receive 1st place in the accessories category.
Gary Meuller (Watauga, TX) – Polar Scope
2nd in Accessories Category
Gary has an ATM scope he made some time ago, which doesn’t have a hollow polar axis and hence polar alignment can be a problem. Using entirely components from his scrap box, Gary assembled a polar scope based on an old finder to which he added a reticule and a home made illuminator. This then mounts on to his Telrad base when he wants to do his polar alignment. The reticule needs rotating for the time and date, and so Gary designed and made his own circular look-up table, complete with rotating transparent overlays.
Richard Kline (Boston, VA) – Raspberry PI & display dock
Richard has managed to get KStars graphical planetarium software to run on a Raspberry Pi (they cost about $35!). He modified an old Motorola Lapdock to act as HDMI display and keyboard and has a good, low power, low cost set-up. He went on to make a handy dock so that it could be mounted on his Dobsonian – just where he wanted it.
Jacques Dubé (Quebec, Canada) –New Power system for telescope & a travel counterweight
The first part of Jacques project was to use his Telrad as a distribution and control point to supply dew heater power to his finder, secondary and filter slide. This greatly simplified the wiring on his scope. The second part was an empty plastic bottle. Well actually it was a bit more as the bottle conveniently attached to the counterweight bar on his telescope and can be filled with stones or small rocks up to the required weight. A great travel scope idea!
John Love (Whitesboro, TX) – Telescope windshield
We have seen telescope windshields before, but John’s was particularly well thought out and made. We saw an 8ft by 8ft version, but he says he can configure it as an 8ft x 16ft thereby accommodating another scope set-up.
Craig Colbert (Santa Monica, CA) – Flat frame light box
Craig made this very low cost light box out of foam board, paper and some LED torches. Simple construction meant that it was light enough to simply hang from the telescope dew shield. The judges noted the effective use of Duct Tape as the main construction feature!
Willie Yee (New Paltz, NY) – 20¢ Solar Finder
Willie came up with two versions of a solar finder. One using part of an old VHS cassette would cost nothing to make, the other used two “binder clips” that attached to his telrad base and did the job. Very creative!