Attendees of the Oregon Star Party Telescope Walkabout met the builders of ten telescopes, hearing of the trials, tribulations and triumphs of each unique telescope. In a non-competitive sharing atmosphere, each builder took several minutes introducing his creation then answered questions from the audience. The builders focused on ergonomics and enhanced views; one a 5th grader.

Brett Schaerer's 13 inch [33cm] collapsing ballscope

Sophia Schaerer's 6 inch [15cm] f8 reflector

Howard Banich's 8 inch [20cm] f3.3 single arm scope

R. Miles 12 inch [30cm] collapsing string telescope

Dan Bakken's 41 inch [1.04m] string telescope

Dan Gray's el-el computerized imaging telescope

Jerry Oltion's 12 inch [30cm] binocular telescope

Frank Szczepanski's 4 inch [10cm] bino-scope

Mel Bartels' 6 inch [15cm] f2.8 and 10.5 inch [27cm] f2.7 reflectors

Here's Mel Bartels holding the megaphone waiting for the crowd to gather prior to beginning the walkabout.

And his wife, Barbara Bajec, the walkabout photographer. Getting good images of the telescopes without blocking people's views while the presenter is turning to face different portions of the crowd's perimeter and disassembling and moving the telescope can be a real challenge.

Brett Schaerer's 13 inch [33cm] collapsing ballscope is a marvel of integrated design. Brett, known by his WikiKea scope from last year's walkabout, made the ball from a lighting globe, fiberglassing inside for strength. There's an 'infinity' or '8' sign painted in white just like the billiard ball on the bottom of the ball for humor's sake. The extending tubes are held in position by strings. The ball can optionally sit on a large 'rack' shaped just like in billiards. Brett observes sitting down.

Sophia Schaerer showed her 6 inch [15cm] f8 reflector that she designed, including the altitude bearings, the dust cover and the paint scheme. The bungee cords tighten movement in altitude. Her favorite object is Saturn. She's entering fifth grade.

Howard Banich's 8 inch [20cm] f3.3 single arm reflector is a testament to useful design. Inspired by the WikiKea scope, the single arm altitude arm is stiffened by boards that act as shelves, holding equipment. The single strut, actually two pieces of aluminum where one slides inside the other bought from Online Metals, tube assembly focuses by a very fine adjustment knob off the top and is supported in the arm by Teflon pads on both sides of the altitude circle. The pivot point in altitude can be adjusted for different weight eyepieces. Howard started grinding the mirror in the mid 1990's and finished with help from Steve Swayze. Howard isn't quite done with the scope, running out of time before the star party, building it to travel. The mirror box is a cake pan. Howard sits on an adjustable height chair. Howard extolled the exciting wide angle views possible with his 25mm ES and 21mm Ethos eyepieces with 100 degree fields of view.

R. Miles' 12 inch [30cm] collapsing string telescope is a marvel of woodwork. A yacht builder, Miles was inspired by Dan Gray's string telescope innovation to build this scope. After meeting John Dobson in San Francisco, Miles wanted to build a Dobsonian but wanted a scope that looked nice. Miles also found inspiration in Don Peckham's website on string telescopes. The telescope is designed to nestle its parts as the truss tubes are removed, twisting the strings as it collapses. The telescope travels in the front seat of Miles' small car. The truss tubes twist to loosen in their deep well sockets with coupler nut and are used to optically align the telescope. The telescope as pictured uses four truss tubes but works almost as well with only two tubes in place. The tubes are painters extension tubes that can be purchased for far less than if buying the aluminum from a metals supply shop. The mirror is from a recycled Zhumell telescope.

Dan Bakken's improved 41 inch [1.04m] string telescope features carbon fiber tubes and a lighter stiffer upper rotating end. He uses a small Dell computer mounted on a stalk that operates a Dan Gray SiTech II controller system. The system is extremely accurate, putting objects dead center in the field of view at relatively high magnifications. Dan built this scope to molify his aperture fever, not cure it. He started the f3.9 mirror in 1996. The mirror is silicone glued (professional grade) to the 27 point support with a spacing of 1/8 inch (wooden dowels were used for proper spacing while the silicone cured) and gives excellent star images with no edge or lateral support. He's switched to a wire spider and built the minimum sized baffle for good contrast at the eyepiece so as to not be blown about on windy nights. The focuser is a Don Clements model

Dan Gray's el-el or alt-alt computerized imaging telescope is the latest in computerized telescope control. The scope moves from horizon to horizon in three seconds at a speed of 60 degrees per second. The direct drive motors are homemade. The encoders are 26 bit absolute Reneshaws with an overall resolution of 26 million. Dan has spent seven years working on the design to arrive at success. All imaging is done unguided thanks to the precision pointing modeling capability of the software.

Jerry Oltion's 12 inch [30cm] binocular telescope is a marvel of working practicality. Jerry, a mirror maker, happened to end up with two 12 inch [30cm] mirrors on his hands that matched focal lengths to 5/8 inch [2cm]. The telescope uses homemade focusers and tertiary mounts and a nifty interpupillary spacing adjustment. The telescope stays aligned and images merged as it points from horizon to zenith and from low power to high power, thanks to Jerry's robust construction. The truss tubes are wooden dowels. The scope sits on a flex rocker and reuses the base from his 20.5 inch [52cm] telescope. The binocular effect proved striking, gaining a magnitude, obvious on all objects and stars, none more so than the galaxy cluster Hickson 84 where the bino view showed galaxies fainter than 17th magnitude whereas a single mirror struggled to reach 16th magnitude. The central star in M57 was visible and some saw the second star. The Dumbbell Nebula was quite striking - one of the best objects in the scope. Jerry entertained numerous visitors throughout the three nights, many not able to contain their astonishment and shouting out at the views. One person recalled a shootout many years ago where a 12 inch binocular was matched up against a 24 inch telescope with a binoviewer. Observers were hard pressed to see any difference. My judgment is that the scope performed equal to that of a 18 inch to 24 inch scope, depending on object. One object that stood out better in Jerry's binoscope than any other scope regardless of size was M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. The dark dust lanes were very striking.

Frank Szczepanski's 4 inch [10cm] binocular telescope is a side by side design, similar to his 8 inch binoscope, setup nearby. One mirror is positioned ahead of the other with a larger diagonal so that the views come out to side by side eyepieces. Frank's telescopes are a marvel of simple inexpensive often repurposed parts that adjust easily and stay locked into position. The scope is a real joy to use.

The three binocular telescopes setup together; a very rare conjunction of binoscopes! What a marvelous and unusual treat.

The walkabout ended with Mel Bartels' 6 inch [15cm] f2.8 and 10.5 inch [27cm] f2.7 reflectors. The 10.5 inch features a meniscus plate glass mirror that cools in minutes and does not change shape to an overcorrected shape during the very brief cooldown. Mel mentioned several unusually fait and large objects that he's been able to observe, not mentioned by other observers, including the Pleiades bubble, the Andromeda Shelf, the Double Cluster wall and the Albireo swish. These scopes were built in concert to explore sub f3.0 mirrors and their performance. The star images are wonderfully pinpoint sparkles all the way to the edge of the field of view in the 21mm Ethos 100 degree eyepiece. Many people stopped by and were quite thrilled by the views combining large field with good aperture.

Finally, though not on the Walkabout, two interesting images of a scope cluster and a Coulter, showing the eclectic and varied nature of telescopes at the Oregon Star Party.