ScopeX 2009 ATM awards
By Chris Stewart
Because ScopeX is an initiative of the ASSA Telescope Making class, the presence of the ATM community and their handiwork is a fundamentally important component of the exposition. Once more we were gratified by a good turn-out: twenty one entrants presented an interesting variety of 24 exhibits of generally high standard, several of which embodied several innovative ideas.
It is always heartening to see new items on display, indicating that the ATM community continues to be active and inventive. Nevertheless, we urge the participants to keep bringing their old work as well. Not only does it enable visitors to see a progression and appreciate a body of work, but there will always be those who have either not previously seen the items or who would relish the opportunity to examine them again. Similarly, even the most humble submission can be an inspiration to those who wish to enter the hobby but lack the confidence to start. Work in progress is equally useful for visitors to understand the process of telescope construction.
The purpose of the ATM awards is to: promote the advancement of ATM as a hobby; highlight achievements; draw attention to particularly interesting or exceptional items; inspire others to higher levels. Hopefully the anticipation adds to the excitement of the event, encouraging continued participation.
As usual, the criteria for judging involved…
Workmanship: Quality of finish, beauty, style, precision.Application of new ideas, principles, materials or techniques.Difficult optical configuration, grand scope of project, courageous modifications.Lateral thinking, unusual ways of solving old problems, interesting use of found materials.
Naturally, the most interesting contenders would embody a mix of these attributes, and all exhibits are carefully examined with a view to finding them. It may be that a single element or component is considered particularly noteworthy or, at the opposite extreme, a body of work comprising several disparate items may be deemed exceptional as a system. Work in progress may well incorporate a special “something” that is especially noteworthy. An instrument that was previously the subject of an award would only be eligible for another in the event that significant improvements should be recognised. One never knows beforehand what will appear at the event; there is no room for preconception. Similarly, available prizes are usually only known virtually at the last minute. So every event is different.
Prizes are of course allocated with some regard to matching the value of the award to the magnitude of the achievement. More importantly, we also try as best we can to match the prize to our understanding of the recipient’s needs. This year we were in a position to make five awards. Fortunately the judges independently arrived at the same “top 5” list, leaving us more time to debate the disposition of the available prizes, the conclusion being as follows:
Keith Lou, a long-term practitioner of the art, always has something new that is worthy of attention at ScopeX. This year, his minimalist 12-inch truss tube telescope on alt-az mounting was certainly more than worthy of attention. One of the most difficult aspects of such designs is to find an effective means of coupling the trusses to the components they hold together. The unique method he arrived at deserves emulation and is but one innovation embodied in this instrument. In recognition of these advancements to the art, he is now the proud owner of an eyepiece kit sponsored by Eridanus Optics, which comprises 3x Plossl eyepieces, a Barlow lens, a Moon filter and 3x colour filters in a hard carry case.
Rainer Jakob put on a spectacular display of sundials of various types that kept him fully occupied all day answering questions and explaining how they work. He also displayed one of the most unusual telescopes ever fielded, an f/25 folded Herschelian of impeccable finish, featuring a collapsing tube strut that reduces the considerable length of the instrument for portability. Figuring mirrors of such extreme f/ratios is particularly difficult. This intriguing instrument garnered him a Baader Planetarium Hyperion 8-22mm zoom eyepiece courtesy of Eridanus Optics.
Rodney Hyman has been rendering an invaluable service to the ATM community, i.e. the aluminising of their telescope mirrors. Following the emigration of Walter Bacchio, who previously did this, there was much relief all round when Rodney picked up the reins. A stalwart supporter of the ATM class he joined the team manning the ATM stand at ScopeX. Further, he determined it would be useful to have a fully functional but transparent instrument for instructional purposes. The resultant telescope, beautifully-fashioned largely from Perspex, was certainly eye-catching; first it attracted many visitors to the stand, then served its purpose in facilitating explanations. For this he was awarded a 2-inch mirror diagonal from Telescope SA. Rodney would like to acknowledge the invaluable contribution of Malcolm Hogg, who did the laser cutting for this project.
Joop de Jager presented his imposingly black instrument on a foldable split-ring equatorial mount with electronic drive control. In his search for a portable equatorial mounting capable of handling the load presented by a large instrument, he was inspired by Willie Koortz’ website to explore designs of this type. With some care, these mounts can be constructed of simple materials with common hand tools. Their smooth friction drives make them capable of supporting long duration astrophotography. Joop’s efforts were rewarded by a 10mm eyepiece from Telescope SA.
Eric Brindeau, a consummate deep-sky observer, found that in order to take advantage of the rare free evenings his busy work schedule allowed, he needed something quicker to set up than his heavy 12-inch Newtonian. Doggedly he used spare moments over an 8-year period to bring to completion his hansom 8-inch alt-az instrument. The mount, constructed of plywood sheet, employs ball bearings in azimuth, incorporates a useful drawer whose frame contributes to rigidity, and can be easily disassembled to an essentially “flat pack” state for storage or transportation. The specially fabricated brackets that hold the legs together also support the azimuth bearings. A joy to use, the recently finished scope has rejuvenated his observing. We trust that his prize, a 20mm eyepiece from Telescope SA, will contribute to his enjoyment in this.
Congratulations and well done to our prize winners. Also, thank you to all who took the trouble to bring their precious equipment and to answer interminable questions from the public. We look forward to seeing you all again at the next event.
Exhibitor / Exhibit
Chris Stewart/Equatorial platform on surveyor’s tripod
Gill Stewart/4” Meade Schmidt Cassegrain, German Equatorial mounting on pier
Peter Fyfe/6” F/8 Dobsonian
Evan Dembskey/6” Square-tubed Newtonian on alt-az mount
Percy Jacobs/6” f/6 Dobsonian and 10” f/6 Dobsonian
Johan Smit/6” f/8 Dobsonian and Binocular stand
Dave Hughes/4” f/20 Kutter Schiefspiegler and 6” f/10 Dobsonian
Rold Deffur/8” Schmidt Cassegrain
Joop de Jager/12” f/5.6 truss tube Newtonian on split-ring equatorial
Rudolf Strydom/6” f/8 Dobsonian
Johann Grobler/Model Rocketry exhibit
Pat Kuhn/6” Dobsonian on equatorial platform & observing chair
Gary Alter/4,5” Newtonian on single arm alt-az mount
Eric Brindeau/8” Newtonian on collapsible plywood alt-az mount
Bosman Olivier/6” Dobsonian
Keith Lou/12” truss tubed Newtonian on minimalist alt-az mount
Rodney Hyman and Malcolm Hogg /5” Dobsonian demo scope in Perspex
Graham Mephius/4” Newtonian work in progress, tube secured by Helix Clamp
David Rick/8” Dobsonian
Rainer Jakob/150mm f/25 Folded Herschelian
Julian Shellard/6” f/7.5 Dobsonian