40$ USB Super Telescope, Easy to Make, Sees Craters on the Moon




Introduction: 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)

Step 1: 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.

Step 2: Connect the Webcam to the Lens

First you need to take the webcam apart until you're left with the pcb and the microphone and button. Unscrew the original lens of the webcam and remove it completely.

Next you have to go to the local hardware store and find the pvc part that fits your lens or gets very very close to fitting so you can easily fill up the gap with some tightly wound tape. I made 2 of these telescopes and didn't have problems finding a perfect match, but that could just be luck. You'll also need an endcap for this phase.

Make a hole just as large as the optical tube of the webcam exactly in the middle of the endcap. It must be exactly, or performance will reduce. Now you can put everything together. Fit the adapter to the lens, put on the endcap (I needed an extra piece of pipe to reach the endcap diameter) and put the webcam in. The hole in my encap was to tight I could just lock the webcam in. If yours is a little looser, use some tape. The webcam must be about 3cm behind the rear end of the tele lens.

Now you can try it. Hook it up to a pc and put it on a tripod. Aim at something more than 50 meters away and see if you can focus by turning the focus ring of the tele lens. If you can't, then you must play with the distance between the tele lens and the webcam. You may need to change the length of the adapter a bit. Once this is done, you can glue (or tape) everything together. Make sure that all the parts are perfectly aligned in a straight line, this is also vital for the best results.

Step 3: Make a Housing for the Webcam

It's very easy to make a housing, just use 2 encaps and a piece of pipe with a slot for the USB wire. It can all be glued or taped together.

On the pictures, you can see the various stages of assembly. One endcap needs quite a big hole, otherwise the parts on the pcb will touch the endcap tilting the webcam pcb which is bad for optical quality.

Step 4: Demonstration 1: Weather Station

These pictures show the weatherstation on my neighbors house. The first picture is made with my normal photo camera without zooming. The circle shows what the telescope is aimed at. The second and third picture are made with the telescope at 100mm and 210mm zoom setting.

Step 5: Demonstration 2: Antenna Mast at 450m

The first picture is made with my normal camera again. The antenna mast is in the circle. It's 450m away, I checked this with my gps. The second picture is with the telescope at maximum zoom.

Step 6: Demonstration 3: the Moon!

Here are 2 pictures of the moon.

You can easily see craters and mountains.

I hope you enjoyed this project!




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    176 Discussions

    eu gostaria de detalhes das lentes dimensoes e combinaçoes para alcance maior

    This is a pretty cool project. I'm thinking about getting this webcam https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BL5A3TQ/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3R8ZOHD1ZQZ0P&coliid=I1NN9ZVPGA5RFS and this lens https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019R0G07A/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3R8ZOHD1ZQZ0P&coliid=I2EEMUQSN7KKPN&psc=1 when I get the money to do so.

    How well will a 500mm focal length with a 60mm objective lens work

    Hi.I'm going to try this in the future but i wonder something.What kind of improvements should i do to see Jupiter.If I need to use lenses,how much should i use.Sorry for bad english,not a native speaker.

    3 replies

    I think you'll struggle to use it for Jupiter. Whist Jupiter is very bright, it is also very small. *if* you could point it at Jupiter, and keep it steady, you'd see a round white object, and possibly the four galilean moons.

    However it would be very difficult to use, and very difficult to keep steady, especially if you have wires everywhere to connect it to your compuer.

    By saying Jupiter,I was actually meaning any object that is farther to Earth than Moon.Jupiter was just an example.

    i am so going to do this .brilliant

    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???

    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.

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

    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?

    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.

    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
    4 replies

    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 :)

    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.

    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

    you could use ManyCam, it has a lot of nice options for adjusting different things with your input.