What a Finished DobStuff Looks Like Ready to Ship from Dennis

Well, Dennis has completed his wonderful structure and it is boxed and ready to come back to me. When I get it I will be making a video of how I assemble it so others perhaps may benefit from it in the future. Anyway, here are what the 3 packages look like: the struts, the rocker box and the OTA's etc.

 I can't wait to receive them later this week!

Another Adaptation on the Scope

Well for those who don't know it, Dennis can use new parts if you want or he can do what he so often does  which is to use the spider, secondary, mirror cell and primary of your current scope to make the new scope (I hope I didn't leave anything off!).  Here you can see how Dennis adapted the spider and secondary so that they work together to improve collimation.  Here is the image and the note from Dennis. I find it interesting how Dennis has really mastered the design of his build but is always seeking to tweak and improve it depending on the project. Not how he included the Bob's Knobs I had installed.

". . . the attached picture is the way your spider and secondary go together. Notice the spring on the top. It'll let you collimate quite easily. Make the spring TIGHT as the bolt is slightly smaller than the hole. It'll be more stable. Play with it, Not too tight!!"


Finished 14" DobStuff

Well Dennis has sure delivered on this scope. Here is what he said in his email to me:

"Hi Jay. Here's some pictures of your 14" telescope completed. I'll use it again tonight then begin packaging it tomorrow and over the weekend.

I used my laser collimator to test the strut flex with the strings installed. There is NONE!! The red-dot of the laser stays right in the center of the mirror. The motions are beautiful. Buttery smooth. I use Lemon Oil Pledge to lubricate the bearings and it works great. You can get it at Costco or any supermarket.

I'm very pleased with the telescope. Love the look and feel. The Zambuto mirror is excellent."

I am extremely pleased with the look and with the fact that there is no collimation shift from the strut flex. I'm also very excited of Dennis' description of the motions.  Bottom line, I definitely  feel like a kid waiting for that Christmas Day to open his packages! Remember that Heinz Ketchup commercial called "Anticipation?" That is how I am feeling.  Below are the images of the completed scope that Dennis shared with me. Oh, the wire coming down from the secondary is an anti-dew heater.


Rocker Box/Alt Bearings for 14" DobStuff

Here is a quick post to show you the rocker box and alt bearings for my new scope.  I've included the email that Dennis sent along with it. He continues to amaze me with the images and updates as I really wasn't expecting anything for a few days but this is incredible.! I can't wait to get it and assembly it, and try it out at home. Here's Dennis' email.  Powder coating the struts will take a week! I do think when it is all done I will have a wonderful structure to house the mirrors I have and that the motions will be very smooth.  I sure hope we have clear skies at new moon in November.

 "The rocker box/alt bearings are coming along nicely. I put the rocker box together with clamps to be sure everything fits nicely. All is looking good.

I took the struts to the powder coating this a.m. They tell me, because of a busy schedule, it may take a week or so!! Meanwhile, I can use other tubing to continue building the scope.

So far, so good. I'm very pleased with the fit and finish so far."


Next Post on my 14" DobStuff

As Dennis promised, I have more pictures and an update I"ll share from him on the build of the scope. I would like to point out that Dennis has been just outstanding, no, beyond outstanding to work with.  He has made suggestions, asked for my input and communicated daily since he has started working on my scope. I can't wait to get the scope back when it is done and give it a shakedown first light in the backyard during the day, use it that night and then after a few tweeks (every dob is a work in progress!) taking it to a dark site and giving the working scope the same beyond outstanding review that Dennis' communication and service has been so far.

So here is Dennis' comment to me:

"I've completed the OTA -- more or less. Just a couple of small things to do. I'll be working on the alt bearings tomorrow and Monday and later the rocker box. I'm pleased with the results so far. The wood is beautifully colored, smooth and shiny. Very nice I think.

Notice, too, that the dew shield slips into place and fits into the groove on the mirror board. Everything fits nicely.

Now that the struts are cut to length, I'll test it under the stars just for my own satisfaction and then take the struts and focuser bracket into the shop for powder coating.

More to come!!"

Here are the images he shared today.

In the first one you can see the lower OTA with the mirror cover in place and the light shield that will fit around the primary.  Dennis is right, everything looks outstanding right now.

Here is a full blown view of the upper and lower OTA, the secondary mirror in place, the black Moonlight Focuser in place (to my friend Jeff, I look forward to you trying out the focuser) and you can see the light shield in place which will help to protect the primary mirror from dust and other things from the ground and from ambient light and dew.

These next two show the upper and lower OTA in detail with a focus on each one.  Notice on the bottom OTA in all the pictures where it is present you can also see the attachments for the strings I've ordered to ensure that when the scope goes to zenith there won't be any movement of the collimation. I totally agree wih Dennis I LOVE the color of the wood and think it is coming together so wonderfully.

Here is a close up of the bottom OTA with the dew shield in place.

That's all for today.  As he sends me more I'll post more.  So far I am so pleased I went this route to build a new structure for the 14" Zambuto.


More on the DobStuff 14

Well Dennis continues to make wonderful progress on the new 14.  To explain what your seeing above I'll quote Dennis from his email update to me today:


Here's a couple of pictures of your OTA with the "test struts" and optics in place. I calculate the length of the struts then take the scope out under the stars to be sure that all my eyepieces come to focus. Once that's done, the OTA is a day or two from complete and work on the rocker box begins.

FYI, the struts are 57" long. Not bad, actually.

As you may know, I live in Palm Desert California. We have about 340 days of sunshine and clear skies. Tonight, so far, it's cloudy!! Go figure??"

So the OTA is coming along very nicely.  You can see the clips that will hold the 14" Zambuto mirror in place and the rest of the wonderful wood work Dennis has done.  I love the cover for the mirror!  Remember there will be a light shield that I put around the mirror in the field that will protect it from dust and other material and ambient light.  You can see the black Moonlight focuser I added to this structure as well.  Also, as Dennis points out the struts are 57" long, which seems to be shorter than the XX14's 62" for the length of the optical tube. Man, I am sure hoping that by November's new moon, I'll have this new scope in the field working.  First light for me though will be in my backyard as I do a breakdown cruise so to speak.  That will be an exciting night! More to come, that's for sure!

Edit: Well, yep, there is more to add.  Dennis replied with following:

"Well, it does turn out that the sky cleared. I was able to take the scope out and confirm that the strut length is fine. So, I'll make the permanent struts and get busy with alt bearings and rocker boxes. The stars were pin-points, beautiful -- although I didn't collimate the scope properly. My goal was to be sure the struts were correct.

I finished modifying the mirror cell. The "clips" were about 1/2" too high, so I fixed those. Just a bit more to do with the mirror cell, but it's working perfectly.

More to follow!!"


DobStuff 14" Structure Coming Along

Dennis sent me some more photos today of the items he's gotten done.  Above you can see the upper OTA, with the spider and my Moonlight focuser attached for my new 14 inch Dobstuff Telescope that will hold my 14" Zambuto Mirror.  You can also see the mirror cover Dennis has made to cover the mirror when not in use.  The primary mirror in the field will also be protected with a dew like shield that will protect it from dust and other items on the ground.  The bottom left is the rear cell with the mirror cell attached. This is from the back end of the telescope for that image.

Here you can see the mirror cover sitting on top of the mirror cell and the upper OTA as well.  I like how the mirror box fits nicely over the mirror and cell for transport and storage.  I also have to state that I like the natural Baltic Birch color.

Here you can view the 18 point cell we are using from the XX14i with the mirror clips.  Dennis wanted me to use silicone to secure the mirror to the cell but I was very uncomfortable with that.  Everything I have read and studied said not to use silicone and that it adds astigmatism to the mirror. Dennis, assured me that is not the case and he has glued mirrors up to 23" (I have read silicone is great for 12" and under) but to reassure me Dennis is going to leave the clamps so I am comfortable.  I have to state what outstanding service! Dennis I believe really wanted to glue in the primary but he did what made me comfortable as his customer.  Now that is service!


Yet another Project? DobStuff Dob

Well, shock, two posts in two days! This one won't be long.  Over at the site/blog that I use to keep all or most of my sketches in one place, Interstellar Sketching, I was looking at my Messier Sketches.  Some of them using the Mellish method I really have enjoyed doing and am very pleased with. Others, like the ones I did in 2008 or 2009 when I was first taking up sketching leave something to be desired I think.  Now I realized that I haven't uploaded all of my sketches over here so I think I see a project next time I have a day off.

My current projects are to finish the Herschel 400 II, and then on to the Herschel 2500 since I'll have 800 of them down.  I am also going to continue to go though some of Sue French's objects from Deep Sky Wonders and observe and sketch the objects I choose.  Finally, I think its time to redo the sketches from the Messier when the new 14 is up and ready to go.  It's not that I want to redo the Messier, I look at them often enough.  I just want a more accurate sketch of these objects.  So I'll break them down by season  using the RASC's list found here.  That will mean for the fall I'll need to sketch the following objects if everything comes together:

M2, M72, M73, M15, M30, M52, M103, M31, M32, M110, M33, M74, M77, M34 and M76.  The question is can I get these in for October and November and will the weather cooperate? Hopefully as there are some very good objects to sketch there.  My targets in order are to do the 5 galaxies, the 1 PN, the 4 globs, the 3 open clusters and the 1 asterism in that order.  Since these are revisits I can take my time, sketch and enjoy myself.

So, if you've never done it, now might be a great time to consider to do or redo sketches of the Messier objects.

One other thing I want to mention. I want to keep a log of the building of the new DobStuff 14" that is going on.  First, let me state that Dennis has been just outstanding to work with.  His communication is top notch and he updates consistently (to be honest, two updates the last two days and I think he is spoiling me!).  Today he sent me the first two pictures of the upper and lower OTA's. I thought I would share them here. Probably not overly exciting to most of you, but I'm thrilled! More to come.


Reflections from the Past

I started a thread over on Cloudy Nights about reflecting on when one got started in the hobby.  As I have thought about it, I thought I would reflect here on a more personal level.  My first memory of being interested in the science and hobby of astronomy is from my childhood.  My father had a Tasco Spotting Zoom scope that I have shown before on the blog.  The image of the scope is above on a camera tripod.  It does a really good job of showing the moon, Jupiter and the other viewable planets.  My father as I have mentioned, passed when I was 17, and this is one of the few things I have that connect me, my childhood to my father. It has a deep and lasting personal and emotional connection. I remember my dad taking me out and showing me the moon. From that I remember my first Astronomy Book, a book that had rockets that went to the moon, a Baum Wheel Space Station and other things. I am not sure if it was a late 1950's book or an early 1960's book.  That roused my interest in astronomy.  In the depths of my mind I also remember the Apollo launches and the moon landings.  I can remember the black and white TV that we watched them on in Portland, Oregon.  

The 1970's saw several moves, my dad being shot and then later, having a heart attack at 38 and my forage into adolescence.  I followed the development of the space station, became a Star Trek and a Star Wars geek and astronomy stilled held an interest for me.  It is the reason I took physics in high school. For that matter growing up in Livermore California, the home of the Lawrence Livermore Lab and Sandia Lab, two labs that played a major role in nuclear weapons development during the cold war.  A slight detour got me off task in my early 20's and my desire seemed to fade away. I attended college as a non-traditional student, graduating in four years and then had my business and now my education career.  It was education that brought astronomy to be a prime focus in my life.  

I attended several clinics put on for educators by Clark Planetarium about 10 years ago and in one them, I got what I considered to be my first real scope, an Orion XT8.  I was thrilled as I built the base, mounted the focuser and bought a Telrad for it.  I remember the anticipation of setting it up in the backyard for the first time, and then waiting for dusk to settle on that warm August night.  Finally, I was able to take a look at Jupiter and was blown away with the color and stripes (belts)! I remember trying to use Turn Left at Orion and to find several of the objects in there with no success. I wanted to view M81 and M82, objects at the time I had no inhibitions to view in August, but now would probably not look at in an early August night. After forty minutes of building frustration, I finally realized that I needed to turn both Turn Left at Orion and the Sky Pocket Atlas upside down to mirror what I was seeing in the eyepiece. Boy did I feel stupid but I now quickly and accurately star hopped to both galaxies and viewed them! The excitement was pure, the thrill real and more importantly, I was hooked.  If I was a Brook Trout, I would have taken the fly presented to me hook and all.  

Here is my XT8 which I no longer own.  It was a wonderful scope, one that I don't regret selling whenever I use my 14mm and 10mm Pentax XW, but I wish in a way I had held on to it.  I loved its size, its portability and its ease of use.  It was a fine first scope. I remember the thrill of saving up to buy my 21mm, 13mm Stratus eye pieces and the 5mm Hyperion. I remember my daughter giving me my 17mm Stratus as a birthday gift.  I can remember my first wide angle eyepiece, an Orion Q70 32mm 2 inches and the thrill of using it in the XT8.  I hand't heard of TeleVue, Pentax or Nikon or Brandon's but Clark Planetarium sold the Orion Products and I was happy using these eyepieces at the time.  It brought a thrill to put a new eyepiece or a new filter on a eyepiece and anticipate the views I would get. 

It was in the XT8 that late one cold February morning that I accidently stumbled upon Saturn and was blown away. It was about 1:30am or 2:00am and I ran inside, woke my wife up, who to her credit was a sport and came out a looked at.  She was impressed, but not as impressed as I was. I remember also showing my son at age 10 or 11 the great nebula in Orion or M42 and the excitement that he had.  The thrill of these days as I discovered new objects each time I observed was marvelous.  I endured learning to star hop, and yes, I mean endure. I think anyone who stays in this hobby without a computer to assist them, endures the process of learning to star hop successfully.  I have no complaints because now I can use any star atlas and star hop to any object I want to get to.  I love star hopping and for me that is part of the fun of observing an object, the trail that leads to it.  

Here is my next scope, not a major jump from the XT8 but I really have enjoyed my XT10. I still own it, still use it and for now, it is my scope of use in northern Utah.  On this scope I not only finished the Messier Catalog, I did two thirds of the Herschel 400 on it.  Again, good memories here, some frustrating ones, many learning moments but a wonderful scope overall that needed an upgrade only to its primary mirror. 

So, what is the purpose of this post? More for me to reflect on those first days of being in the hobby. The thrill of going out in the backyard, not knowing much about light pollution, sky glow or caring about the phase of the moon, but just going out to see the objects I could find on my list.  The thrill of observing in those days was perhaps naive, but nonetheless, it was fun.  In the end, I hope we all find ways to keep the fun in this hobby for ourselves be it chasing faint, faint objects, or working a list or program, or just going out and enjoying the night sky.  Most of all, I think of the people I have met and the friends I have made and I have to say, that though I consider myself  pretty seasoned observer, and my knowledge of astronomy has grown immensely, it is the friendships and the meeting of the new people in this hobby that I treasure. I have not met one person that I have not enjoyed observing with and getting to know as we observe out at our dark sites. I hope that each of us find our meaning, our joy and our pleasure in the pursuit of this hobby.  Happy fall observing!