40$ USB super telescope, easy to make, sees craters on the moon

Picture of 40$ USB super telescope, easy to make, sees craters on the moon
Turn an old telelens and a webcam into a powerfull telescope that is capable of seeing craters on the moon. Next to the webcam and tele lens all you need are some standard pvc plumbing materials (pipes, diameter adapters and endcaps)

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Step 1: Needed materials

Picture of Needed materials
Here's what you need:

1. A webcam (I used a quickcam 4000 from logitech I still had)
2. A telelens, the more focal length the more magnification you'll get, the lens I'm using here is 80-210mm, you can get them at ebay starting from 12dollars. Many people have old tele lenses left from the analog camera era so there are plenty of them on the web.
3. Some standard pvc plumbing materials: pvc pipes, a diameter adapter to fit different diameters and some end caps. What you need precisely depends on your lens. More details on this can be seen on the next steps.
4. It's not part of the telescope itself, but it is important to have a tripod since the magnification is very large so any movement will ge greatly magnified. So without a tripod as a stable base, you won't be able to use your telescope.

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jblackrider4 months ago

i have a 18-55mm tele lens and cheap web cam i guess so about how much distance should i keep the web cam away from the lens???

MichaelN25 months ago

Did you have to take the aperture out of the lens in order for it to work? I'm assuming that's the thing that prevents you from actually looking through the lens.

cesar201 year ago

Is there a way to make this adaptation to a normal digital camera ?

mthomson891 year ago
Using a telephoto lens and I get a circle of image in the middle of the shot, which becomes smaller when I zoom in. Any suggestions?
Wish I had seen this and made one before the night Jupiter was so close. Wonder if it would have gotten a good shot
You will be able to see Jupiter even closer the next few days. Also there will be another Jupiter/Venus convergence this month and continuing through December until we will be able to see Jupiter 24 hours a day.
whenu3 years ago
Good project, I've put a Logitech 510 web camera behind a 75-300 mm lens and while the resolution is good, there is a bright section in the middle of the image.
Any ideas of how to disappear it?
test1.jpgSurf 3.jpg
flio191 whenu2 years ago
So in astrophotography, we use a noise layer for detecting lens errors, dust and whatever else that's in between the ccd and what's in front of the lens. These are called flats or flat lights. You could try this technique and see if you can get any results.

With the setup, take a picture of an evenly lit flat surface (you can do this by taking a picture of the zenith in the sky right after the sun has passed the horizon when setting). If you can get several, the better. You'll get a photo layer that represents all the dark vignetting and uneven lighting you're getting (unfortunately, you wont be able to fix the lens distortion without some more complex work that I'm unable to explain cause I don't know).

You can 1. do it the hard way by shoving your image and this FLAT FIELD image into Dark Sky Stacker (which is a free astrophotography stacking program... you'll have to look up how to calibrate an image using a flat field image).

2. the easy way by using photoshop or Gimp, and using this FLAT layer on top of your photo and subtracting the FLAT from the image, probably through layer blend effects (see: multiply, add, subtract, hard light, soft light, overlay, difference, exclusion)

either way, using non fitting ccd to a lens that fits a different focal length than how you set it up is gonna force you to have to be creative with your solutions. Just a friendly tip from a learning astrophotographer :)
tmihai whenu3 years ago
The bright section that you see is possible to be flare. Your web cam see a reflection of it self in the last element of the lens. A solution might be to cover your web cam with something black that does not reflect light.
whenu tmihai3 years ago
Thanks for the suggestion, doesn't seem to have made a difference but have eliminated most of the bright spot by zooming in with the software that came with the camera, cheers
neojep whenu3 years ago
you could use ManyCam, it has a lot of nice options for adjusting different things with your input.
linjoe3 years ago
that must be holland! easy to recognize ;)
MicioGatta3 years ago
This is interesting. I've already got a beautiful telescope (114/90, more or less like this one:, maybe I can put a webcam and use it with the PC. What do you think about it? I think a good webcam is needed, but I don't know them. Can you give me an advise? Thank you very much!
JohnnyVegas3 years ago
I'm looking to build something similar to zoom in on small objects from about 8-10" away with live video through USB.

Would this lens and setup work for this purpose? If not what lens would do the trick?
cleage0013 years ago
Throw a portal at the moon!
Woops. Spoiler.
Do you know of any software that shows a decent quality full screen live view from USB?
its not software, its hardware. Buy a better webcam, read reviews. cheap webcams means crappy video.
Yes, but i have no means of accessing any live video from a usb video device on my computer, do you know of any programs to do this. Sorry for not making this clear.
the hardware that you buy should have a driver with it ( usually a mini disck) this is so the computer will know what to do with the new hardware. it usually comes with a software to take videos also.
storeyc topper23 years ago
Best free webcam software I've found is Yawcam -
camera software called bison cam, or software usually given with webcams AMCAP or something like that...
But after that, i think he was looking for something that will show the video in real time.
ac1D3 years ago
I decided to modify it abit, I replaced the webcam by a socket to install my cel phone. So I can have a "live view" directly on it, from my cel phone camera. It work nice, but my phone some time have a hard time focusing.
sbdesigns6 years ago
I recently built this, thanks for the great 'ible. I found when pulling of the webcam's focus ring that mine had tiny orange filter on it, this needs to be included or, as I found out on my original tests the colors are washed out as the reds have been removed (I think other 'ibles have said to remove it and make an IR cam). Check out my pic taken from Melbourne Australia at 6:30PM Sept 13, 2008!!!
Auskid huh? That makes two of us. Nice shot.
4, I'm a melbournian also
I need me on of those PRO patches. So elegantly put next to the name... I'm so ashamed.
I don't really notice it to be honest, so there's nothing to be ashamed about.
Well you have a cardgame named after you. Thats impressive. Sorta. Well done for your contributions.
92033 sbdesigns4 years ago
GREAT shot. Curious...what MM lens did you use?
sbdesigns 920334 years ago
Hanimex HiTec 70-210mm 1:4.5-5.6 52mm
netcandyman4 years ago
Very nice Instructable. However, that particular lens is way out of my price range. Can I attach it to a department store telescope somehow?
u can go to and thrift store to find these dlsr camera lenses, i found many for $5
martzsam4 years ago
I just finished building mine. I am stunned by the abilities of this mod. This is waaaaaay cool.
martzsam4 years ago
I came across this while browsing, and I when I saw the parts list, I looked at my web-cam, my old film SLR, my old tripod, and a stack of PVC, and I almost exploded. Awesome project!
jamesfd24 years ago
...still working on mine. Started with a Nikon back lenscap to simplify mounting. BTW the focus plane is 46.5mm behind the lens mount on nikon-mount lenses. The CCD in my webcam is so tiny that at 30' a 50mm lens on the sensor creates an image of a doorknob that fills the frame.
NCBob4 years ago
Simply awesome. I built this with a very cheap web cam and a Kiron 300 mm telephoto lense I had on my K-1000. At first I had the sensor WAY too far from the back of the lense, after re-reading the instructions I removed the majority of the distance and just holding it together and holding it by hand I was able to see some craters on the moon. I can't wait to get the right length PVC and make it permanent and also install it on the tripod I have. I only had the zoom at about 100mm and was seeing the moon in the entire screen. I also have a Clique HD webcam that I think I'll sacrifice for the final version, the cam I have now only has about 320x240 resolution, and only has 640x480 by interpolation. The Clique has native 1280x1024. As soon as I get it put together and have some pictures I'll definitely be posting them. Great instructable!!!!
NCBob NCBob4 years ago
Here's my first pictures, I still have it just a hair too long so I need to cut it down just a bit so I can get good focus.
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