Conceiving a Tube

Simultaneously I was puttering away on the tube. Innumerable websites and the regulars at the Chevy Chase workshop were generous with advice. Within the amateur telescope making community there is a admirably strong streak of thriftiness and DIY-ness. I drew the line at using scavenged toilet plumbing for the focuser and eyepieces. But I was determined to do as much on my own as I could. At home I had access to a table saw, drill press, and belt sander as well as, among other hand tools, a router. At the ATM workshop there was also a mill, tapping equipment, and of course expertise.

The typical first tube for an ATMer is a Sonotube: a cylindrical concrete form out of treated cardboard, readily and inexpensively available at larger hardware stores. What I remember of my grandfather’s now disintegrated telescope is a four-sided whitewashed plywood tube and a lead pipe mount. The Chevy Chase ATMers indicated that this was a typical set up for the period. The memory inclined me to a wooden tube. I started googling around and looking for plans. I found, as you might imagine, quite an array of elaborate and beautiful wooden scopes. In the course of 45 hours of pushing glass, my imagination wandered and I became hooked on the idea of a wooden, octagonal tube … and more wildly yet, on the idea of a collapsible, easily transportable two-part tube. Take a look at the 6.6” twins here, which inspired these thoughts. I knew my craftsmanship could not approach this ATMers … after all my last woodworking project was for a pinewood derby almost four decades earlier. But the idea wouldn’t go away.



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