Summertime: Hot weather, garage sales & a telescope

by Erick Vega

Summertime Telescope

Ah, summer time!! The sun, hot weather, outdoor events and most importantly – Garage Sales!!

Garage sales are full of treasures, gadgets, and surprises that can be purchased for as little as a few bucks. Well, last week I was beyond lucky to find a 4.125 in aperture, 400 mm focal length reflecting telescope with a 15 mm eyepiece, all for only $15. This is a steal!

telescopeSeriously, they don’t make them like this anymore. Most are so rickety and frail but not this one!

Let’s check out the condition of this telescope.

The telescope itself looks to be in great condition. There aren’t any bumps on the outer tube, the angled lens is still aligned, reflecting mirror is in one piece and it is crack free. It looks like it could take a beating; fortunately, it seems it never did. That’s not the case for the tripod, unfortunately. The legs are made of wood, hinge pins are missing and have been replaced and held together by circuit wire and leftover angle brackets.

telescopeThe entire telescope shakes. And, mobilizing the telescope involves loosening at least two of the wing nuts while fumbling with it and keeping it from crashing down. Not fun.

So, what do we do here at GoEngineer when something is not fully functional?  We use SOLIDWORKS and our Stratasys Rapid Prototyping team to bring it back to life with a little panache.

telescopeOne Quick Swoop

The attachment points on the legs were pretty sturdy so I decided to keep them and model around them. I wanted to be able to pick up the tripod and close the legs in one quick swoop. At first, I wanted to 3D print the entire assembly as one print, no assembly required. But, it turns out, the overall size and material necessary to print the assembly would have made this a 21-hour print job even after detailed optimization with Insight. And, I wanted this to be done fast.

So, I decided to print all the parts separately making the pivoting pins in two parts so they snap together. The pins will press-fit in the center part and freely move around the arms. All parts oriented in the right direction in the 3D printer turned this into a 7.5-hour print job which was much, much better!

telescope

 

telescopeNext, I set the part to start printing, clocked out, went home, slept in, hurried to the office, clocked in, put the part in the wash and was able to assemble the whole thing in less than 5 minutes by 5 o’clock. Then, I drove home and installed it into the tripod.  Efficient!

Here it is! A nice and sturdy piece of equipment to allow my reckless meandering of the stars, safely supported by Stratasys technology brought to you by GoEngineer!

telescope

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