Eyepiece Holder and Shelf

Nothing like a few months of usage to determine what additions and variations ought to be made. An obvious one from my very first night out has been something to hold the eyepieces in and possible something to prop my tablet against. This week I’ve been working on and have brought, if not to absolute completion, to a point of usability an eyepiece holder and shelf.

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Raw materials

The goal: a shelf that holds the eyepieces, that makes them easily accessible for quick swapping in and out, and that fits in style and doesn’t detract from the telescope’s portability. Thus I decided to make a removable shelf, one that I could hang and take away easily and also store in my equipment bag.

The first image shows my materials:

  • red oak plywood scrap from the mount: heavier and thicker than ideal, but it’s what I had on hand.
  • two piano hinges: they came in 1′ lenghs; I trimmed them with a bandsaw and grinder.
  • The one unusual piece of hardware you’ll note in the “raw materials” are the interlocking hangers: two will go on the telescope mount; two on the shelf to allow for easy placement and removal.

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    Interlocking hangers

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The shelf from below: assembled, but unattached

The plywood triangles provide support underneath the shelf (not that it’ll be carrying too much weight and will also fold under so that when I pack up the shelf will fit in my kit bag. I trimmed one point off one triangle so that the two could fold flat underneath the shelf when I store it in my equipment bag.

In drilling the holes, I drilled more holes than I have eyepieces … to leave room for growth. I could drill a third row of holes if only to lighten the shelf, but I decided I could do that in the future if necessary, and I wanted to think a little longer about how to use the shelf to hold my tablet/star charts.

Here are the interlocking hanger pieces on the mount itself, on either side of and slightly below the front handle.

Here are the interlocking hanger pieces on the mount itself, on either side of and slightly below the front handle.

In planning the shelf I changed my mind about where to situate the hinges after I drilled the holes. As a result I had to grind away some of the hinge on one side so that it would not block the eyepiece holes. In other words, that’s a correction, not part of the original plan.

What you can’t see in the picture are the felt pads I put on the triangular braces so that the mount itself doesn’t get scratched.

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Shelf in place and in use on the mount.

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Shelf in place and in use: awaiting field use!

I’ll follow up once I’ve used the shelf in the field. The basement test run went fine … I was a little concerned about how the shelf would affect the center of gravity, but with the sack of gravel I use anyway, there’s no measurable effect.

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