1998 Oregon Star Party Scope Walk About

A couple of years ago Randy Johnson of Seattle proposed the telescope walk about to re-invigorate amateur telescope making activities at major star parties.  Randy led a most successful scope walk about at the Riverside convention that next year.   Since then Randy and others have led scope walk abouts at major conventions including the Table Mountain Star Party in central Washington.

At major conventions where hundreds of amateurs show up, it is impossible to track down all the innovative telescopes, let alone find the owners to ask questions.

A scope walk about is a large group of amateurs moving from scope to scope.  Amateurs from beginner to advanced get to ask questions of the scope builder in a relaxed informal atmosphere.  As a group we take advantage of questions that individually we might not otherwise think of.  No judges are present so owners are free to describe the plusses and minuses of their innovations.  And the owners get the chance to thoroughly talk about their telescopes in a single session.

I was quite taken abaclescopes in a single session.

I was quite taken aback at the 98 OSP when literally half of the star party showed up for the scope walk about!  With such a large group, we restricted ourselves to a smaller number of telescopes in order to complete the walk in an hour and a half.  I personally crave innovation and new twists in telescope making.  These pictured scopes by no means represent the innovative sum of the 98 OSP, as on the final day we made the rounds to outlying regions of the star party and discovered some very innovative telescopes.  But they are a start.

Frank Szczepanski's 8" binoculars feature wonderful adjusting screws near the eyepiece that merge the images, that focus the images, and make binocular viewing a most enjoyable experience.  If the test is that one wants to go right out and obtain a similar telescope, then Frank's passes with flying colors.

Dan Gray's 14" computerized telescope features a machined cylinder that the drive rollers ride upon upside down, each drive roller being driven.  The telescope is of foam core construction and very lightweight.  As with many computerized telescopes, the pictured telescope represents the tip of the iceberg of the design and building effort, as so many more hours went into the software programming and circuitry design.

Dan Peterson's 12" featured a nerson.jpg">Dan Peterson's 12" featured a number of hidden innovations, such as motorized collimation.  Ideas like this make observing more precise and enjoyable.

Bruce Sayer's 20" is an all machined aluminum mount that is extremely minimalist in design.  This telescope breaks down to a very small size and moves very smoothly among the stars.  Truly state of the art!

Greg Babcock's 18" ultra light weight scope features a rocker and ground board design where the altitude bearings almost touch the ground.  Total weight of the telescope is 40 pounds sans the primary.  It breaks down to occupy only a modest portion of his Ford Explorer.

Finally, a little bonus: the Mars Rover track, where we all found out that driving a rover on Earth was hard going!

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