Today was just a wonderful day of discover. This morning my friend Mat had his monthly ATM meeting and I missed out on that due to a commitment I had made to my son. However, I called when I got home and they were heading out to Steve Dodd's home/property to see Mike Clement's 70 inch F6.2 (I believe, not sure on the F ratio) reflector that he is building. If you haven't heard of Mike's project, a local news station did a story on it and you can find it at this link. The story is archived so give it a few minutes to load.
Mike was very gracious and allowed us to take pictures and to share. So I here I go on the progress of Mike's 70 inch tremendous project. I have to state up front, Mike prides himself on keeping his projects very simple, very pragmatic and very relevant. He uses simple materials that are proven and work. I will share my personal opinion that I think Mike is a mechanical genius. He has not plans but works it out in his mind and goes for it. The pictures show his ingenuity and genius.
Here you can see the 70 inch reflector put together. It doesn't have the secondary mirror cell installed, instead up Mike has 3 weights up on the upper ring to stimulate the weight of the secondary. Here you have in order from left to right, Mat, Josh, Mike, Steve (garage door) and Charlie.
Here is the entire telescope with bags of snow melt and a wood box that is equal to the weight and size of the primary mirror. The red and white on the end of the scope is something Mike put on just because he could and because it looks cool and doesn't impact the weight or balance point of the scope.
Here is the lower cage with the rocker arms that have four roller points and where the primary mirror will be located. Motions on this scope are terrific for such a large scope. Azmuith had some ice on it and when that melted and was removed it was easy to move the scope. Altitude was also easy though the bar that Mike is going to install will help to move the large scope in both motions.
Here is the entire scope again in front of Steve Dodd's garage (Nova Optical is next door and in his main house).
Here you can see the mirror cell, the bearings, and the two arms that go up and connect to the upper ring and the focuser in the mid right part of the picture.
This is a close up of the base and the front of the bearings. You can see underneath the bearings the first of four rollers which move the bearings. Mike has designed this so well that there is no movement or shaking of the scope after you are done moving it.
Here is the upper ring and the fun red and white nose cone on the end. Just so you know Mike designed the scope so that it breaks into six foot sections so it can be loaded into his trailer and transported. The goal for Mike is to have it at a conference in May in Riverside CA to give it first public light (it will have first light hopefully in the next month and Mike invited all of us to be there so I really hope to be there).
At first I thought this was a finderscope, but Mike will be using a C8 for a finderscope for this truly Monster Dob! This is the focuser and Mike has some work to strengthen the focuser as it flexes somewhat but that will be resolved when he focuses on it over the next couple of weeks.
Here you can see the 29 inch secondary that Mike is going to use. It is fully completed and when the weather improves here in Utah (who knows when that is) Mike is hoping to install it on the upper ring and remove the three weights that stimulate the weight of the secondary mirror and support. I can state that the work is first class and inspired. The only thing I didn't ask was how Mike was going to work out such a large obstruction to the primary.
Here is the lower cage with the rollers again. Next to the rollers are two bolts that can function to keep the scope from tilting forward (if needed, the scope doesn't have this issue) or to lock or scope in place if needed by screwing down the bolts.
I include this image so you can see the lower rocker, mirror cell and the arms that connect up to the upper ring.
Mike and Steve were working indoors on this (I have forgotten but I believe this is the finderscope mount).
One questions we had was were was the primary mirror being stored. Mike and Steve showed us and it is in that box covered by tarps just down from the shop.
This is a group shot of us in front of Mikes 70" scope. It is Josh who is making a 30" F3.5 of his own. Me, then Mat and then Mike. Mike was a wonderful host and I wish I had simply recorded all the information he shared on the scope.
Here is make showing us the bolts and knobs he is using to collimate. You can see the pads that the mirror will sit on. Mike isn't going to be using a sling or glue to secure the mirror to the mirror supports. The design makes it to where the mirror won't have a shift.
This may not look like much but if you look close, you can see a ring (three actually) where the crane that Mike has designed to operate off of his pickup will hoist the upper arms in place. Great design again.
A close up of the mirror cell for those interested.
This is the crane that Mike has designed to lift the telescope parts in place. The long black tube on top fits into an attachment that fits into the hitch of his pickup. Mike then makes his pickup into a crane.
Well, that is all the pictures. It was a pleasure to talk and see what Mike has done to build this tremendous scope. Everything is coming together quite well and in March or early April the scope should see first light. Oh, the 31 Nagler will give just over 330x and that is the lowest power eyepiece for the scope right now. So those more knowledgeable can add their info (Mike, Steve, Mat or Josh) or others if they wish.