Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Thinking of a telescope rebuild

20 years ago, I built Big Blue:

It's been a great telescope.  But it is, well, big.  About 120 145 pounds, hard to take apart, hard to transport.  I've been reading up on alternative designs, and I came across this one by legendary Mel Bartels.  Here is my take on it.  A very light scope, easy to disassemble, and easier to transport.  First, the assembled scope:



It will easily disassemble and fold up for transport:



And the plywood bits will all fit on a single standard 4x8 sheet:



I'm not sure when I'll get around to building it, but it is fun to think about.

Edit (Nov 10 2014): I started disassembly, and found that the scope is actually 20% heavier than I realized (and includes 25 pounds of counterweights).  From initial estimates, the new design will weigh:

Upper cage: 6 pounds (was 11 pounds)
Mirror box: 46 pounds (was 53 pounds)
Rocker box: 30 pounds (was 41 pounds)
Counterweights: 8 pounds (was 25 pounds)

Overall, a 35% weight diet.  The mirror box/mirror combo is not that much lighter - but that does not take into account the bulk of the old box and the fact that it was really 78 pounds because I never removed the counterweights.  I'll make the new counterweights much easier to remove and reattach.

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