By fortunate happenstance, I managed to acquire a somewhat dirty and disused, but quite serviceable 10" newtonian telescope. Since then I've had great fun finding nebulae, examining planets, and gazing in awe at the detail that can be seen on the moon.
I've had some trouble finding things though. Using a finder scope (the small telescope mounted on the side of your larger one) is a big pain in the rear. At one of the monthly star parties hosted by our local astronomical society I saw that someone had a green laser mounted to the side of his telescope in place of a finder scope. It was amazing! He didn't have to mess around with anything, he just turned on the laser, pointed it where he wanted to look, and there it was!
I of course thought to myself, "I can make one of those!" So here I'll show you how you can as well, and save a few bucks off the cost of buying one of them new. This is a very simple and cheap fix that will definitely make amateur astronomy a lot more fun!
If you should decide to make one of these yourself, make sure to post a picture in the comments section below, and I'll send you a digital patch!
Step 1: Supplies
- a cheap green laser (less than 10 bucks at dealextreme.com)
- some stiff speaker wire
- a 2xAA battery holder
- a flashlight type clicky switch (pack of five for less than 2 bucks at dealextreme)
- some sugru
- a strap or some electrical tape
- something to mount it all on.
For the "Something to mount it all on," you can use pretty much anything that is straight, relatively stiff, has two level sides, and is about 6-8 inches long. No innuendo intended. The idea is that if you place something along these lines on the side of a telescope, it will naturally center and straighten itself along the telescope tube. My original plan was to saw a piece of 1 1/4" PVC pipe in half, but I found this plastic case lid in my stuff drawers, and figured since it was already level and had a flat top it would probably work better. All I had to do was slice off the ends!
As to tools, you'll need:
- a dremel
- soldering iron
- a hot glue gun
- a pair of pliers
- a small flat head screwdriver
- a ruler
Finally, you'll want to have some strong epoxy on hand, and some sugru to cover everything up.