ScopeX 2016 ATM Awards
By ATM Judges Chris Stewart, Dave Blane and Francis O’ Reilly
The purpose of the ATM awards is to recognise accomplishment and to spur people to stretch themselves, thereby advancing the intriguing art of amateur telescope making (ATM). By highlighting the merits of certain exhibits, it is hoped that others will adopt the good ideas and perhaps find way to make further improvements.
Instruments that previously garnered awards are not generally eligible for another, but significant improvements to those instruments might well be. The judges may consider a component, a complete instrument or a body of work to be worthy.
The following characteristics are considered to be of particular importance...
Workmanship: Quality of finish, beauty, style, precision
Innovation: Application of new ideas, principles, materials, techniques
Ambitiousness: Difficult optical configuration, grand scope of project, courageous modifications
Ingenuity: Lateral thinking, unusual ways of solving old problems, interesting use of found materials
Once the selection has been made, the perceived needs of the recipients are as far as possible taken into consideration when deciding the allocation of the available awards. The items awarded are donated by commercial vendors, mostly in lieu of payment for exhibition space at ScopeX. We are grateful for their contributions to this special day.
This year, the usual judges (Dave Blane and Chris Stewart) were joined by Francis O’ Reilly -
In no particular order, here are the awards for 2016...
Rainer Jakob, famous for his ever-
Johan Jordaan was one of several who fielded a tracking platform. A number of these employed similar design principles, but his just edged out the competition. Notable is the paired curved threaded rod drive pioneered the previous year in our telescope making class, which has proved to be extremely effective. Johan had a Sun Finder on his platform to demonstrate its performance as it tracked faultlessly for hours. The platform is eminently capable of carrying his 10", or even larger scope, and we encourage others to follow this example. For his efforts, Johan received a 12V "emergency" power supply with built-
Gerhard Bloemhof fielded a particularly beautiful doublet refractor on a commercial mount. Gerhard made the carbon fibre tube, mirror cell, 3D-
Johan Smit, as usual, fielded an interesting collection of items. New work products on show included a camera tracker, an infinity focus assist device to enable DSLRs to autofocus on infinity in the dark, and a 10-
Chris Curry enjoys building compact, lightweight scopes. This year, his minimalist collapsible 8 inch f/4.2 telescope featuring a 3D-
Fred Oosthuizen, known for his huge Stevick-
As with Richard Berry and Chris Forder in years gone by, we like on occasion to have a suitably qualified visiting judge accompany us. This brings an outside perspective and allows us to recalibrate our mental benchmarks. Having such an experienced ATM judge as Francis O’Reilly from Stellafane (the Mecca of telescope making) this year, was wonderful. We are delighted that Francis, at his own cost, made his way from the USA to Johannesburg especially for ScopeX and we greatly enjoyed his company. He was very complimentary in his assessment of the standards of workmanship and ingenuity on the field; we can be sure that South African amateur telescope makers are still well in line with world standards and in some respects ahead of the field. We would particularly like to thank Francis and the Springfield mirror makers for their extremely generous donation to our ATM class of a number of 8 inch Pyrex mirror blanks, as well as a precision flat for testing purposes – all of which Francis himself couriered. Such materials are very scarce in South Africa, so these will be doled out sparingly to deserving individuals as and when suitable opportunities arise. In addition, Francis made two of the Springfield-
Again, a big thank-