Monday 4 June 2018

Steampunking an old telescope!

Hi folks,

Here’s something a little different.  With conditions having being so poor for so long, I’ve still been keeping my astro mind occupied with another project.

I have an older big 6” f/8 refractor.  For being an older achromatic refractor, it actually throws up a very nice image.  However, it isn’t a first preference scope for me.  It is just too big, too heavy and too bulky for my liking.  However, it is an excellent outreach scope, especially when there are other scopes around.  As a refractor is what most people consider as what “a telescope looks like”, at outreach this scope attracts people like moths to a flame.  Yet the purpose of this scope is in reality as a tool for making people aware that there are actually other telescope designs, and that these can be much more compact and others larger in aperture, and as people view through the different scopes on offer they will come to realize not only the differences between scopes, but that those “odd” looking “things” are actually better astronomical instruments than this refractor.

Yet the appearance of this big blue scope is lacking a certain “something”, a certain BIG scope look that early 20th century refractors had.  It occurred to me that this was a fantastic candidate for receiving the Steampunk treatment.

With this Steampunk treatment, there were a few things that the project had to accomplish:
·          *  Provide an exotic Steampunk appearance
·          *   Lots of brass and quasi electronic gizmos
·          *   Lots of lights as astronomical telescopes are mostly used at night
·          *   Not impede any of the functionality of the telescope
·          *   If possible enhance the telescope’s performance
·          *   Make use of the existing power source of the mount that the telescope mount’s uses.

So here it is!

The large focuser knob is completely functional and acts as a fine focus in the same way as the large focuser knobs that I made for the SCT’s of mine.

The long brass rod does spin a little wheel at the front end of the unit and goes over an LED.  This particular assembly is my brand new invention – BEHOLD! the “Alien Detector Device”!

The studded brown leather wrap is made out of kangaroo leather. 

At night, the exotic look continues with the use of 8 LED lights on the big unit, seven of which are flashing RGB.  The focuser knob also has a flashing RGB LED.

This project was a ball of fun to design, create and put together.  My Steampunking won’t stop here though.  I’ve come up with a design for my SCT that I’ve been wanting to transform for some time, but its stumpy shape presented a few design challenges that I’ve only just resolved.  I’ll also be giving my 8” f/4 solid tube dobbie the same Steampunk treatment.




  1. Alex! As usual your work is astounding. Keep it up - Australia is lucky to have you!

  2. Thanks Dan. Plenty of tinkering happening here!