Building a New Telescope

No, I am not talking about TMT. I have something a bit smaller in process. For the first time in many years I am building a telescope. Just a little one.

Makaʻiki
The design for a 6″ f/5 travel telescope Makaʻiki

It has been a while, my cred as an ATM is in jeopardy of being revoked.

When I say a little one I am being serious, a 6″ f/5 is the design specification. This is the same optical specification as Primero, my first telescope. The difference here is in building a travel telescope, something that will fit in carry-on baggage with room for clothing.

I am modelling the telescope off a small telescope built by Brett Schaerer he named WikiKea, a telescope I had a chance to examine at Oregon Star Party a couple years ago. He incorporated a clever focus mechanism into that ‘scope that got my attention.

Brett built his telescope for a trip to Hawaiʻi, thus the Hawaiian influence in the name. I will follow suit and have decided that I am building Makaʻiki, which translates as little eye.

I have generated a full set of plans based on a couple photographs of the original telescope. That exercise itself was fun, I love designing things like this. When these plans are complete, a few details are to be settled during building, I will publish them here on DV.

I have manufactured many of the mechanical parts over the last week. A couple more days will be required to make the remainder. I have sourced many of the materials from my stash in the garage, including the plywood, scraps left over from building other telescopes including Deep Violet. I have found that the selection of stainless steel hardware at the Waimea ACE truly sucks, they are out of stock on everything.

Other parts are coming in from eBay merchants, like knobs and HDPE tape. The optics will likewise be from the eBay, most likely GSO. Later today there will be a stop at Home Depot, I am out of wood glue, the last bit thrown out as it had hardened in the bottle. And unlike the local ACE, their hardware selection is pretty good.

Update! The new ‘scope is complete, you can read more about it here.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i.

3 thoughts on “Building a New Telescope”

  1. Are you buying a f/5 mirror or are you grinding it yourself? I’m almost finished grinding a 6″ f/8 (polishing phase – still needs to be figured). The actual building of the scope seems like the most daunting task to me.

    1. 6″ mirrors are cost effective to buy. Not sure I would grind anything less than a 12″ these days. Of course it is fun to do it just for the experience. Finished a bunch of the parts this evening and the knobs arrived in the mail.

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