Unconventional Telescope

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A simpler version of the telescope mounting shown here was first conceived as a father/daughter/son project at a local museum. The components were pre-cut and then later assembled in a class of about 8-10 scopes. This allowed parents and their children to learn how telescopes and mountings worked together.

The mounting shown here is a deluxe version of the one that was built in the class. It has several unique features:
• Latitude adjustment from 44-28 degrees (which covers most of North America).
• Focuser/Camera position quick change adapter (it allows you to switch from eyepiece viewing to prime focus camera position in seconds without the need to physically move the mirror cell forward or backwards to reach focus).
• Sector Drive Gear capable of 1 hour and 15 minutes of tracking (the sector drive is equivalent to a worm gear drive 29.5” in diameter). Sector drives similar to this have been around for at least 30 years. Previous versions were called “captive nut” design and took several minutes to reset the drive to the starting position. Our invention uses a spring loaded tangent bolt design that allows resetting the drive in seconds with zero back-lash.
• An internal sliding counterweight (in the declination arm) accommodates the added weight of heavy eyepieces and camera bodies.
• A latitude adjustment tool for setting the mountings angle after travel to different latitudes.
• Thrust and radial bearings made of Teflon® provide smooth controllable movement in both right ascension and declination. The large 4” diameter pipe provides a large cross-sectional area for stability.
• The wood and plastic construction materials dampen vibrations better than most metal mountings. Damping times are in the 1-2 second range (many scopes take up to 5-10 seconds to stop vibrating after removing a hand from the focuser knob).
• Easy to adjust knobs for setting personal preference on the declination and right ascension break-away torque needed to move the scope from object to object.
• Easy to build and gives children a pride of accomplishment when completed.

These are the many features of the deluxe version of the “Unconventional Telescope Mounting”. We would like to find a way to mass produce these many beneficial features of the deluxe mounting into a kit for others to enjoy. This telescope mounting would not compete with high end telescopes nor was it ever created to do so. It was developed as a kit telescope for adults as well as a learning tool and project for parents with children to work on together.

Some may believe that because this mounting is made from Plywood and plastic (sch. 40 PVC) that it is in some way not a sturdy mounting. The former editor (Mr. Richard Berry) of “Astronomy” and “Telescope Making Magazine” said in “Telescope Making Magazine #17”, “At Stellafane and again at Astrofest, Kevin Hotten and Jack Roach showed a breakthrough instrument of PVC pipe riding on Teflon® pads. I thought it was a flaky idea for about 30 seconds – then realized that these guys have something that’s really exciting.


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  • Name:
    Jack Roach
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Jack Roach
    Kevin Hotton
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Jack's favorite design and analysis tools:
    Excel. Pencil and paper
  • Jack's hobbies and activities:
    Astronomy Fishing Riding Bicycles
  • Jack is inspired by:
    To design and develop unique products that provide real usefulness to an end user.
  • Patent status: