Building a do-it-yourself telescope is an eventful project and for the astronomer it can bring hours of enjoyment once completed. Creating the telescope can be complicated or simple, depending on how in-depth you wish to make the project. The most common do-it-yourself telescopes are refractors made by Boy Scouts or in school in physics class, but this project can be as big as your imagination allows. Building a Dobsonian telescope can save you up to half off of retail value, but depending on the size desired this project can take up days or even weeks to complete.
Materials and Tools Needed
Mirrors manufactured exclusively for telescopes can be purchased new or used; and can also be obtained through a telescope company’s website if a local dealer is not available. While there, also pick out a chrome-plated eyepiece that suits your taste. A tube, preferably made from cardboard and obtainable from construction companies, is also necessary and it should match the mirror size in order for the project come out correctly. You will also need some exterior grade plywood, paint, PVC coupling, a wooden dowel, a mailing tube, leather scrap (a belt also works), Masonite, Teflon, glue, scrap cardboard, and a variety of screws, nuts, tacks, and bolts.
The required tools are a hammer, a saw, a drill, a tape measure, a compass, screwdrivers, a nail set, a crescent wrench, an awl, a hole-cutter, and a carpenter’s framing square.
The Construction Process
1) Start off building the telescope by scouring the tube down and painting it. Acrylic garage floor paint will adhere to the tube and provide some water resistance for those that enjoy star gazing outside.
2) Construct a tube box, or Rocker box, with the plywood, ensuring the box is perfectly square. Attach the main bearing to the bottom of the Rocker Box using countersunk screws.
3) Create three flawlessly round circles out of wood, cutting the core out of two. Attach the three circles together with glue and clamp them. This will serve as the base of the telescope.
4) Spray paint the interior of the tube intended for use as the scope. Create a spider out of thin wood slats and a dowel. Glue the mirror right onto the spider with RVC.
5) Create a cell using wood and steel fittings.
6) Fit the mirror into the cell and secure with six metal brackets to ensure stability.
7) Situate the Rocker Box in position where the telescope is going to reside, and carefully attach the tube to the Rocker Box.
8) Make the necessary adjustments to the alignment.
Alignment may need to be done several times in order to get the best results after the telescope is assembled, but once honed in your do-it-yourself one can perform just as nicely, if not better than store bought models. Once the telescope is functioning properly, the builder can pat themselves on the back, enjoy the stars, moon, and planets and bathe in a distinct feeling of self-accomplishment.