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Project by Tom Clark posted 02-22-2010 05:13 AM 3268 views 12 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thirty years ago the only way to get a good large telescope was to build it yourself. Unfortunately, I built nearly 40 telescopes before the shop ever had a tablesaw. Being a machinist, it was easy to cut everything out on a bandsaw. Today the woodworking has progressed a little, but it is still just a fun hobby for me. Here are a few of the scope projects. The observatory was my first ever construction project. What fun! I drove the building inspector nuts, but eventually it all worked out.

-- Tom





26 comments so far

View damon's profile

damon

31 posts in 2268 days


#1 posted 02-22-2010 05:18 AM

these are fantastic- I’ve always wanted to try one as a project – are there resources you could recommend as to the nature of the design – or even – plans?

-- Damon, Right Angle Construction

View StevenAntonucci's profile

StevenAntonucci

355 posts in 2589 days


#2 posted 02-22-2010 05:19 AM

I love it. How big is the mirror in the big one? I bet you get a lot of light with that!

-- Steven

View davidroberts's profile

davidroberts

1002 posts in 2136 days


#3 posted 02-22-2010 05:39 AM

I saw yor workshop in the initial Dream Shop magizine, and now in a book, IIRC. Isn’t Chiefland home to a pretty large astronomy community? I think I have read your posts at Astromart. I have an old 13.1” Coulter mirror in a red sonotube that one day will reside in a truss mounted dobsonian. At a dark site and good seeing, I’m still amazed at the view though that old girl. Your shop is about as close to a dream shop as I have ever seen in print. I pretty much had to wipe the drool off the pages. Actually if I ever retire, I would like to buy an 18” mirror and build a scope around it. I’m 6’4” so zenith is within reach. Big dreams.

-- God is great, wood is good. Let us thank Him for wood......and old hand tools.

View Jeison's profile

Jeison

947 posts in 1758 days


#4 posted 02-22-2010 05:41 AM

that is beyond badass :)

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View ratchet's profile

ratchet

1290 posts in 2437 days


#5 posted 02-22-2010 05:44 AM

Amazing and awesome. I think you will probably know when the earth will end before the rest of us. Did you get to view / record SL9?

View tomakazi's profile

tomakazi

646 posts in 1933 days


#6 posted 02-22-2010 07:53 AM

Great projects, I had no idea you could build one of these.

-- I didn't go to college, I was too busy learning stuff - Ted Nugent

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112066 posts in 2228 days


#7 posted 02-22-2010 08:01 AM

They are all amazing fantastic work.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View GaryK's profile

GaryK

10262 posts in 2639 days


#8 posted 02-22-2010 08:36 AM

Very cool!

Do you buy the mirrors of make your own?

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View savannah505's profile

savannah505

1700 posts in 2237 days


#9 posted 02-22-2010 08:42 AM

Thats very cool, you do some fine work.

-- Dan Wiggins

View PineMan's profile

PineMan

71 posts in 2245 days


#10 posted 02-22-2010 09:04 AM

Cool!

-- I never started a project I couldn't screw up.

View toyguy's profile

toyguy

1358 posts in 2488 days


#11 posted 02-22-2010 01:14 PM

Like the rest of the Jocks here… I am in awe of this project. I also never even thought about building something like this. It really perks the curiosity. No I am not a star gazer, but after seeing this project, maybe?

-- Brian, Ontario Canada,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2472 days


#12 posted 02-22-2010 02:19 PM

Wow, this is a really cool project. And the observatory is a wonderful addition to house your scope as well.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Tom Clark's profile

Tom Clark

53 posts in 1671 days


#13 posted 02-22-2010 02:50 PM

damon: Scope plans? I wrote a book (The Modern Dobsonian) on building telescopes. (and another on building shop cabinets.) See my web site tomclarkbooks.com

StevenAntonucci: The big scope in the observatory is a 42”. The smaller one in the driveway was a 36”.

davidroberts: I live right in the middle of the Chiefland astronomy community. Google Chiefland Observers. Also see my scope making book and Tectron Telescopes on my web site. Scope building is a great hobby – and we get to play with our woodworking tools too!

GarageWoodworks: A Dob mount is the easiest thing in the world to track by hand. The bearings are made with Formica and Teflon and move very easily.

ratchet: We watched SL9 with a 30” from our driveway in Sarasota. Fantastic! If it had hit the Earth we would no longer be hereā€¦

GaryK: I made one mirror just to see what it was like. The rest are left to the pros.

toyguy: Google starfest, nyaa. It’s Ontario’s largest star party. Go some time. Lots of people will let you look thru their telescopes. You will find another whole new world out there. It happens every night right over your head.

-- Tom

View CaptainSkully's profile

CaptainSkully

1190 posts in 2209 days


#14 posted 02-22-2010 04:40 PM

That is so cool! I just watched a documentary about how an astronomer from Lick Observatory helped prove Einstein right with telescopes just like that. The sun’s gravity warped space just enough to slightly move the apparent location of known stars near the corona during a full solar eclipse.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View John Harris's profile

John Harris

56 posts in 1694 days


#15 posted 02-22-2010 05:32 PM

Wow. I took a group of 8th graders camping in West Virginia last year. On top of one of the mountains they had a hand-built observatory like the one you built. As the kids were amazed looking through the telescope, I was significantly more amazed at the craftmanship that went into it.

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