Welcome to Sky Valley Scopes

Custom Built Telescope Tubes

It’s time for some changes at Sky Valley Scopes. For one, we will no longer be making complete telescopes. It has been fun – I am proud of every scope I built and wish I could have kept every one. That has been my quality control, if I want to keep it, it is all right to ship it.

When I started building telescopes I changed a hobby into a business. I did this because others were interested in what I made and also because arthritis keeps me away from larger projects. Now the arthritis is forcing a change again. I have been getting farther and farther behind because of the decrease in hours of work possible. Those that have tried to order scopes know that I been unwilling to take orders for more than a year and have recently finished the last of the telescopes I will make. At least professionally.
From now on I intend to restrict myself to the making of tubes for others to use in scope construction. I am still here to provide support for my prior scope customers.

I have been building the upper cages of my telescopes for some years out of honeycomb core. Last year I found a way to build honeycomb core tubes in smaller diameters and longer lengths than my previous methods. They are more costly to make than the solid tubes but require less from my arthritis. The advantages of these new tubes are the great reduction in weight and at the same time greater rigidity. There is a new page for more detailed information here. I will be making a limited number of honeycomb core tubes through 2003.

There are a number of pages on this site to give you information on newtonian telescopes and on our products.
Besides the pages on our truss tube scopes, there is information on our Scope Plan page showing how to build a telescope for yourself, with a diagram showing how newtonian telescopes work.

Our Images of Telescopes page has thumbnail pictures you can click on to see larger views of a few of our telescope projects. I have recently put a few more of the scopes we have built on it and a couple that have been made with our tubes.
Our Links page has links to some of the suppliers of parts for our scopes plus a large list of links to sites of interest to amateur astronomers that we have found on the web and add to regularly.

We hope you find this site usefull and if you would like more detailed information on our tubes or would just like to talk telescopes please drop us an email.


What is A Newtonian Telescope?

Inside The Tube

The Rest Of The Scope

A Simple Altitude Azimuth Mount

Balance point to bottom of tube. The first thing to determine in making your telescope mount is the point where the optical tube balances with all hardware installed, including the mirror and mirror cell, secondary mirror and spider, focuser, finder scope or Telrad, and even your favorite eyepiece. The tube must balance as perfectly as possible to give the best movement and to avoid the use of counterweights. All measurements start here.
Balance point to base of rockerbox. To find this distance you take the squareroot of the distance of the balance point to the bottom of the tube (A) squared, added to 1/2 the diameter of the tube (B) squared; squareroot of (A squared + B squared). Add this figure to the height of the shortest rockerbox side wall and add a half inch for clearance to allow the scope to swing freely in the mount.
Diameter of tube.
Distance between sides of rockerbox. The diameter of the optical tube plus a half inch for clearance.
Height of rockerbox sides. Take the distance of the balance point to the base of the rockerbox found in paragraph 2 and subtract one half the diameter of the altitude wheels plus one quarter inch to allow for the Teflon bearings. This will give you the distance between the base of the rockerbox and the bottom of the arc that forms the cradle for the altitude wheels. The arc should cover at least ninety degrees to allow the Teflon to be mounted at forty-five degrees left and right of center. This cradles the wheels well and provides the easiest movement.
Diameter of rockerbox base. This measurement is somewhat arbitrary but I find that if the diameter of the base equals the distance between the balance point and the base of the rockerbox the mount will be very stable.
Height of short rockerbox sides. This measurement is also somewhat flexible but I find that if you are using good quality materials two to three inches will suffice or one quarter of the optical tube diameter. Many scopes are built with a high back wall but with high quality plywood or hardwood this is unneccesary and does not allow the scope the freedom to swing over center when finding or following a target.
Distance center to corner of equilateral triangle. Measure radius of rockerbox base and add 1.5" to allow for rounding of the corner. Make center point and draw three lines of this length 120 degrees apart, then connect the outer points. To round corners, use the bottom of a soup can or something similar as a pattern to draw around. The feet of the groundboard mount directly under the Teflon bearings and can be simple blocks or some kind of adjustable unit for leveling your scope.
Diameter of altitude wheels. Another arbitrary design element. For this design I usually make the wheels 6" in diameter and 1.25" thick. I cut the wheels out with a hole saw on my drill press and turn them on a lathe. I recess the surface that rides on the Teflon to make the wheels self centering. I find that varnished wood makes a good bearing surface for the Teflon. There are many ways to make the wheels. you can make a simple plywood disk that fits flush with the sides of the rockerbox and cover the bearing surface with Formica, then mount a Teflon guide on the side of the rockerbox that overlaps the side of the wheel to keep things centered. I have shown a simple wheel installation method using two pieces of half round molding to align the wheels to the side of the optical tube and a central bolt for attachment.
.1/2" bronze bushing. You will find these available at most hardware stores. Sand the outside surface then use epoxy to bond it to the rockerbox.
.1/2" bolt. You can use a stainless bolt and cut the head off if you want the rockerbox easily seperable from the groundboard or for a more accurate fit you can use a shoulder bolt usually used for an axle bolt on a push power mower. In either case it must be tightly mounted to the groundboard and loosely fit to the rockerbox to allow freedom of movement.
.Teflon and formica bearings. The bottom of the rockerbox is covered with a pebble grain Formica that rides on the Teflon bearings on the groundboard. Formica is a brand name that has come to mean any plastic counter top laminate. You see telescope makers refer to using Ebony Star Formica. Ebony Star is a style of Wilson Art laminate (not Formica), and while it has a great sounding name, it is simply a glossy pebble grain laminate that allows smooth movement on the Teflon. Any similarly textured laminate would do just fine. Ebony Star is available from your local Wilson Art dealer, probably your local lumber or hardware stores.

A word about construction materials

To match my oak tubes you can use either red oak hardwood or plywood. If you dont like the looks of the plywood edge, iron on veneer trim can be found at your local lumber store that can be attached and sanded flush so that only a very close inspection can tell it’s plywood. Plywood is often easier to use, provides a truer surface, and is less expensive. A sheet of cabinet grade 3/4" oak plywood can be usually found for 50 to 60 dollars and will probably leave you with enough material for a matching chart table. The small increase in cost from buying quality materials will seem very small indeed when looking at and through you beautiful scope ten years from now. I include a Teflon set with my oak veneer tubes. Mirror cells and spiders can be obtained from University Optics (800 521 2828) or Astrosystems (there is a link to thier site on my links page), There are too many mirror suppliers to list here including both of these companies.

For What It’s Worth

This plan is here to give you some basic information on dobsonion telescope construction to show you how easy it is to build your own scope. No magic involved at all. For more detailed info there are many good books on the market and many other ways to build one. Join a local club and go to some star parties to learn what you might want before you buy. My favorite customer is one who knows why he wants one of my scopes.
For a handy newtonian telescope design program check out Newt25 for windows by Dale Keller. It’s a fully functional $10 shareware application that will crunch all the numbers for you and show you how the different componets effect each other. It can also be found at shareware.com, search for newt. An older dos version, Newt20 is available from the SEDS ftp site at; ftp://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/pub/software/pc/optic/ . Both versions seem to work equally well.

Here’s a few links to quality suppliers of parts used in Sky Valley Scopes;

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Protostar at; http://www.fpi-protostar.com/ makers of high quality spiders and secondary holders with optional anti dew heaters.
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Tech 2000 at; http://www.accnorwalk.com/~tddi/tech2000/ makers of the Dob Driver II–an easy to use, computer controlled altitude and azimuth drive for dobsonian type telescopes.
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Swayze Optical at; http://www.europa.com/~swayze/ makers of high quality newtonian optics.
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Astrosystems at; http://www.astrosystems.biz makers of excellent focusers and assorted telescope parts for the home and professional telescope builder and a line of telescope kits.

Astronomical Product Sources

mypulsar.gif (3399 bytes) Rex’s Astrostuff; Newly on the web at; http://www.astrostuff.com , phone (501) 331-3773, fax (501) 331-3131.
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D.G.M. Optics. Makers of fine F10 off axis reflectors on dobsonian mounts in 3" to 7" sizes. Phone (978) 874-2985. Address P.O.Box120 Westminster, MA 01473 New Website at: http://www.erols.com/dgmoptics
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University Optics, longtime maker of parts and optics for the amateur telescope maker is now on the web at; http://www.universityoptics.com/

Astronomy Publications
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Astronomy Magazine at; http://www.astronomy.com
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Phil Harrington’s Starware at; http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pharrington/
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Amateur Astronomy Magazine at; http://www.amateurastronomy.com
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Sky and Telescope Magazine at; http://www.skyandtelescope.com
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The Astronomer (UK) at; http://www.theastronomer.org
Local Amateur Astronomy Clubs

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small red pla.gif (407 bytes) has a new website at; small red pla.gif (407 bytes) http://members.tripod.com/everett_astronomy/ , the club we’re proud to be members of, meets monthly with star parties organized in the drier months.
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Seattle Astronomical Society at; http://www.scn.org/ip/sastro
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Whatcom Association of Celestial Observers at; http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~trekka/
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Olympic Astronomical Society at; http://www.silverlink.net/oas
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Tri-City Astronomy Club at; http://www.stargazing.net/TCAC

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Rose City Astronomers at; http://www.rca-omsi.org/
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Battle Point Astronomical Association at; http://bicomnet.com/ritchieobs/ This website has great information for beginning amateur astronomers everywhere.
Star Parties and Events
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Table Mountain Star Party at; http://www.tmspa.com/
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Optics Workshop at: http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~skywise/optics.html
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Texas Star Party at: http://www.metronet.com/~tsp/index1.html
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Universe 98 at: http://aspsky.org/u98/u98.html
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Stellafane at: http://www.stellafane.com/
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Enchanted Skies Star Party: http://www.nmt.edu/~astro/essp.html
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Mason-Dixon Star Party at: http://home1.gte.net/dmdewey/mdsp.html
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Nebraska Star Party at; http://www.4w.com/nsp/
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The Oregon Star Party at; http://www.oregonstarparty.org
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For information on attending the Riverside Telescope Makers Conference go to; http://rtmc-inc.org/
For the Latest Astronomy News
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To stay up to date on the latest space news CNN has an amazing site at; http://cnn.com/TECH/space/index.html
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For up to date news on space missions and astronomy go to; http://www.universetoday.com
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For Space News Online, an online magazine with email news bulletins go to; http://www.spacenews.com/
Other Links of Interest to Amateur Astronomers;
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Mel Bartels Home Page at; http://www.efn.org/~mbartels/
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Windows To The Universe at: http://www.windows.umich.edu/
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The Planetary Society at; http://www.planetary.org/
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The NASA Homepage at; http://www.nasa.gov/
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Astronomy at the Mining Company at; http://space.miningco.com/
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SEDS Students for the Exploration and Development of Space at: http://www.seds.org/
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J-Track Real-time Spacecraft Tracking at; http://liftoff.msfc.nasa.gov/realtime/JTrack/Spacecraft.html
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Links to space images at; http://desktoppublishing.com/spacen.html
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The Astronomy Mall at; http://www.astronomy-mall.com
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The Astronomy Net at; http://www.astronomy.net/
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Explore Space at; http://www.explorespace.com
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Mike Boschat’s Astronomy Page at; http://www.atm.dal.ca/~andromed/
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Bob Lombardi’s ATM’s Resource List page has links to all sorts of suppliers at;http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/~blombard/
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The Astronomical League at; http://www.astroleague.org/

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For lots of solar system info and pics; http://samadhi.jpl.nasa.gov/
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For a neat program for newtonian telescope designing for PC download Newt20 (dos version) from the SEDS ftp site at; ftp://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/pub/software/pc/optic/ . It’s also available at http://www.shareware.com . It’s a handy $10 shareware program.
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For a search engine to NASA Online and related space information go to; http://www.nasa.gov/search
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HEDS, Human Exploration and Development of Space Enterprise at; http://www.hq.nasa.gov/osf/heds/hedsplan.html
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The National Space Society at; http://www.nss.org/
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The Starry Night astronomy related search engine, links, and articles can be found at; http://www.livesky.com
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Alpha Centauri’s Universe, an ineresting astronomy site with articles and links to many astronomical resources can be found at; http://www.to-scorpio.com/me.htm
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Home Planet 3, a neat freeware astronomy program that can be had for the downloading at; http://www.fourmilab.ch/homeplanet/
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Excellence in Education, downloadable astronomical freeware and slide shows from the Space Telescope Science Institute at; http://www.stsci.edu/exined/exined-home.html
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A new links page that is growing quite fast can be found at; http://home.att.net/~astrolinks/