ATM: Amateur Telescope Making

Jan van Gastel's astronomy site

One of the most rewarding aspects of astronomy is ATM: Amateur Telescope Making. Most self-built telescopes are Newtonian telescopes on a Dobsonian mount. My first self-built telescope, a 12 inch f/6 Dobsonian is pictured here. For transport purposes, I rebuilt it into a truss telescope. I also built a 20 inch f/5 Dobsonian. A picture of both telescopes in Jou-sous-Monjou, Southern France (summer 2004), is here. In 2006/7 I rebuilt my 20 incher into a mucht lighter trilateral telescope (see menu at the bottom of this page). In 2009 I bought a new 20 inch f/3.6 mirror from Mike Lockwood (see menu below for a link to more information) and rebuilt my 20 incher for the second time. On the picture below I am preparing for an observing night (april 2010) with this telescope, at the 'Domaine de Pradines', in the French Cevennes. We had plenty of room to place our telescopes and there was no need to disassemble them before going to sleep. The night sky was very dark: SQM between 21.5 and 21.6.

For tracking, I built a two-sector equatorial platform. You will find an article with a very detailed description of how it's done by clicking here. There are two versions of the article: a Dutch and an English version. After using an equatorial platform for a couple of years I decided to computerize my 20 incher with Mel Bartel's stepper system. The results for my old 20 incher can be seen here, for my trilateral here.
Another activity I thought I would like when I just got into astronomy, was photographing the stars. Not through my telescope, but with a camera with standard lens or small telelens. To compensate for the movement of Earth I built a 'Scotch mount' or 'barndoor mount'. But already after using it twice it turned out I didn't like photographing at all, but that I was a typical visual observer. Detailed plans for two types of scotch mounts, moved manually or with a drivemotor are here. This article is only in the Dutch language, but I have links to articles in English.

An important, recurring activity is collimating the (Newtonian) telescope. I have translated Nils Olof Carlin's excellent article on this topic into Dutch. There are links to the English and French versions as well. From here you can go to the version you prefer.

Sometimes good binoculairs are better suited to view certain objects then a telescope. Especially for big and heavy binoculairs a good, steady and easy to use mount is very important. Therefore I built a lightweight aluminium binoculair mount.

Articles (alleen in het Nederlands/all only in Dutch)
I wrote articles for the Dutch and Belgian astrononomy magazins 'Zenit and 'Heelal'. These (and other articles I wrote) can be downloaded in .pdf format from here

Test report
Sometimes I test telescopes. In 2009 I tested the Meade 16 inch LightBridge and wrote a review about it. The English version is here. The Dutch version can be downloaded from here.

Spiegeltest- en correctieservice (only in Dutch)
Wil je een objectieve interferometrische test van je telescoopspiegel en/of wil je je spiegel laten verbeteren (opnieuw paraboliseren), lees dan verder op deze pagina

Go to: main menu

Go to: A 20 inch f/3.6 computerized Dobsonian Go to: Building a trilateral computerized 20 inch f/5 Dobsonian
Go to: Project: five 12 inch lightweight Dobsonians Go to: Motorizing a 12 inch lightweight Dobsonian
Go to: 20 inch telescope Go to: Equatorial platform Go to: Scotch mount Go to: Binocular mount Go to: Dobsonian tips
Go to: Bending aluminium Go to: Collimating Go to: Making a Krupa collimator Go to: Dotting the primary
Go to: A ballhead type telrad/finder mount Go to: Mirror making log of 300 mm mirror Go to: Astronomy
Go to: Using digital finder charts at the eyepiece Go to: Astronomy links Go to: Building a spherometer
Go to: Building a Bath interferometer Go to: Interferometrische testservice (Dutch) Go to: A Foucault-Ronchi-Lyot tester
Go to: Building a mirror making machine
Go to: My Nature Photography website
Go to: My YouTube channel

Email to: jhm.vangastel(AT)

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