Friday, March 27, 2009

In search for smoother action

I think I did it! I have obtained a much smoother action with the 12.5" ballscope. After a few emails were exchanged with a fellow ballscope maker in California, I discovered the magic formula for the right amount of static friction.

You may recall that the scope had way too much static friction (stiction as some call it). When you start to slew the scope, it would lurch from the effort of getting it going. Originally, I was using 24 1" square teflon pads at a 45 degree angle. I then cut it in half at 12. It was not improved. If anything, it got worse.

Jay (the ballscope maker in California) suggested cutting a notch around the inside ring where the ball would rest. Then use some PTFE tubing to sit in the notch. The weight of the ball would hold the tubing in the notch. So I built a new mount following his suggestions and ordered some of the tubing from McMaster-Carr.

The scope works like a dream! Nice smooth action with minimal stiction.

I will post some pictures soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


In celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, the Galileoscope cornerscope project was born in an effort to get a quality telescope at an affordable price in the hands of millions of people world wide. Their efforts have yielded a $15.00 telescope that can be assembled pretty easily. I plan to purchase one to use for my planned activities with the public.


Some updates:

- In my effort to refinish the 8" Ballscope, I have applied the first coat of Rustoleam Primer. I will be ordering the new white, polycarbonate ball to replace the old one. I hope to have the scope done over the next few weeks. I need to replace the red dot finder brackets with something more secure, but don't know what. Some aluminum would work just fine if I can get something that is angled. I also need to replace the hardware with stainless steel as I think that looks better with the black finish.

- I finally cleaned my eyepieces which really needed it. I am hoping that I can duplicate the views that my observing buddy gets with his eyepieces. I finally have my dream eyepiece set, but I have neglected them when it comes to cleaning. I think it comes from me not cleaning primary mirrors because you seem to do more harm than good.

- I continue to enjoy reading Brashear's autobiography. He is now one of my heroes.

- The Columbus Astronomical Society is having its monthly meeting this weekend and so far, the forecast is showing favorable conditions so the 12.5" Ballscope will be joining the trip up to Perkins. I will also be working on my 6" F/6 mirror. I need to get the mask made as I am close to start figuring. The surface is still rough, but I am not completely done with polishing, so I hope I can get the surface nice and smooth soon. The surfaces of my mirrors tend to be rough. Oh well.

- I continue to be amazed at my little University Optics Orthos. I plan to get a complete set someday. My next eyepieces will be the 7mm and the 25mm.

- I have started a new article on the 12.5" Ballscope that I plan to submit to Astronomy Technology Today. Hopefully they will find it acceptable when done. Stay Tuned!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Kepler Launched!!

Yesterday Kepler was launched and I am very excited about this mission. The goal of the mission is to find Earth like planets around other stars. Kepler will do this by watching the same section of sky for three years looking for eclipses by the planets that orbit those stars. How can this be possible? Well, amateur astronomers have already been doing this. Having a space telescope built designed for it will make it even more possible to look into depths of space for other worlds.

I also found out that L3-Brashear made the primary mirror for Kepler. I am currently reading John Brashear's autobiography who founded L3-Brashear. Pretty cool.

I will be following this mission closely.

More at:

Sunday, March 1, 2009

8" Ballscope Update

Today I took apart the 8" ballscope in preparation for the refinishing work I will be doing. Started to sand it, but it was pretty cold out in the garage. When it gets warmer, I will be doing the refinishing. I did get a new label made for the scope as well.