Orders to be accepted for 12.5" Teleports
The past few years have seen a continued slowdown in Teleport production. Age is limiting the hours I spend in the shop and causing each one to not accomplish as much as it once did. I’ve never produced scopes at the rate of many professional telescope makers because it isn’t my nature nor the nature of a Teleport.
Another factor is that in recent years Linda and I have spent three months each summer building a home in the Pacific Northwest. It’s an addition to the home of Linda’s siblings in the woods on the Kitsap Peninsula by Puget Sound. To create a place for us and her mother, Linda combined her college architectural engineering studies and her graphic design experience. Over the past five summers it has become a wonderful place in spite of my help.
Last summer we got our final inspection and moved her mother up from Florida. and I had a steel garage erected. This summer we’ve put a few more touches on the house and I’ve set up a workshop in the garage. No LTFWT; it’s my little man-cave where I can putter in some sawdust and wrench on motorcycles. The photo is from the early stages.
Thanks to all on the notify list who have long waited to hear they will be able to place an order for a 12.5” Teleport. A few of you will soon find your patience rewarded. The wait before opening the order process has been long, but much has already been done on the scopes to shorten the delivery time after orders are placed. Most of the parts I machine in-house are now complete and delivery of the special components from suppliers will happen in the next few months. Carl Zambuto is creating more of his masterpiece mirrors and they are nearing their final stages. The photo is from June, when they were just rough-machined.
I’ve held off on the main structures while trying unsuccessfully to find some more “real” Apple Ply. For three years now, States Industries has not manufactured it with the Red Alder interior plies that gave it the low density and stiffness so great for telescopes. They continue to call it Apple Ply, but it uses birch interior plies imported from Poland. It’s now more like a high quality Baltic Birch with a Maple face. It’s an excellent product, but heavier than the Alder core material I’ve always used for Teleports.
After exploring many options I’ve switched to Okoume, a high-grade mahogany marine plywood, long proven in the boatbuilding industry. This summer I procured enough for the next run from a company in the Puget Sound area (a hotbed of boatbuilding) and hauled it back to Texas. It’s wonderful stuff, light, stiff, and tough, properties that are great for both boats and telescopes. Linda and I plan to make a couple of Kayaks next summer in the new shop in Washington using the same material.
Okoume hasn’t been used very much for telescopes by either ATM or PTM builders. It costs even more than Apple Ply and it doesn’t lend itself as well to being stained and varnished as other high-end Dob plywoods. The face grain isn’t as attractive as birch or maple and the end grain doesn’t easily take a smooth finish. With the Polane finish of Teleports, neither of those is a factor. Preparing it for the Polane does require extra steps but by doing them I can get an even better appearance than with Apple Ply. A little more work and cost will make these again the best Teleports ever, and instead of gaining weight, they will lose a little.
I will begin contacting those on the 12.5” notify list in early November and those placing orders will need to have their deposits to me by the end of the month. Delivery of the scopes is scheduled for late spring.
Note that, as stated in the Laser Collimator section, the LC125 and LC200 have been discontinued, as I can no longer get the type laser modules I used in them. Unlike when I developed the collimators 18 years ago, there are now a number of good ones readily available from other suppliers. Other items in Price and Delivery remain as they have been in recent years.
I said long ago that when I can no longer improve the Teleport design it will be time to stop, and I do expect these to be my last commercial Teleports. After that I plan to build that one-off 20” I designed several years ago, after some changes. I plan to eliminate the GOTO drive, something that would be an aid for serious observers, which I am not. I prefer the manual touch and I want to keep the weight and complexity to a minimum. Last year my age made my recurve bow become too heavy to draw. Instead of switching to a compound with an easier draw I went to a lighter recurve because the simplicity just feels more right.
I may look at making the 20” even lighter by using thinner Okoume plywood and glassing it the way we will make the kayaks. I considered that approach before making the first 10” Teleport prototype 18 years ago and even attended a seminar on building experimental aircraft parts to learn about it. For a single 20” that isn’t to be sold, it may be an interesting way to go. The 20” will transport as a 25” cube that contains everything, including the eight extending truss poles. It may not be in the ultralight category but it will be lighter than any 20” I’ve seen that is even close in features, and the set up time will also be much less.
Many people continue to ask if I’m interested in having someone else make the Teleports. I would love that and would go out of my way to help make it happen. When setting up my little shop in Washington, I’ve not moved any equipment to it from the LTFWT. That remains intact and ready to make more Teleports. It would be wonderful to find someone to buy our place in Wylie and keep the Teleports going, as well as our almost 20-year house concert series. If living on 4 wooded acres in a nice big steel house with a matching annex that includes a very well equipped telescope factory appeals to you, well, you have my email address.
Thanks again to all of you who have believed in Teleport over the years and helped to make this great adventure possible. I do hope to support all my customers for as long as I can, and I do plan to update this website now and then.
First 12.5" deliveries, web site updates, and future plans
The first five Teleports of the new 12.5" size were finally shipped in early April. Several factors prolonged this production cycle, most of them personal. The scopes themselves also proved to take considerably more time and work than expected. The many small improvements incorporated in the new size added up to make these the most labor intensive Teleports ever made by quite a bit.
They are also the highest performance scopes to come out of the LTFWT. It's very satisfying to me to know that and to know they will give their new owners the finest possible views for many years. It's also satisfying to me to know they can be passed on to their owner's children or grandchildren or to others and that they can continue connecting future generations to the universe.
This web site update includes a new price list for all Teleport sizes and accessories. It's based on current estimates of production time and component costs. I plan to begin another run of the new 12.5" size in a few months. Once they are less than a year from completion, I will begin to notify those waiting on that list that they can place orders and deposits. They should be accepted in the winter of 2010 - 2011.
Plans beyond that run are still being considered. When those next 12.5" scopes are delivered I will be almost 70 and it will be time to consider winding this great adventure down. I would very much like to see the Teleports still be made by younger person who would continue with their established standards of excellence. That would require a substantial skill set, a significant investment, and a willingness to work for more fun than money. It will be interesting to see if such a person turns up.
Details of the new 12.5" Teleport are now on the web site, accessible from any page like the other three sizes. The first production run is underway and a few Apple Ply parts are shown below. Carl Zambuto is fabricating the first mirrors and is shown holding one of them in the second photo. Other parts are scheduled and I will soon notify those on the 12.5" list to place their orders. Deliveries will begin this fall.
The mirror photo above and the group photo below were taken when I visited Zambuto Optical on a recent motorcycle trip to the Seattle area. Left to right are Chuck, Fredda, Joycelyn & Carl. We had a good visit, a nice dinner, and the next morning Carl demonstrated his new glass machining operation. We weighed the machined blank for my 20" Teleport and I was thrilled to find it under 33 lbs. I will begin that one-off personal scope after completing the first 12.5" scopes. More photos from this visit and the rest of my bike trip are at http://www.teleporttelescopes.com/07West
Last spring John Dobson came to Dallas to speak to the Texas Astronomical Society and to join us for astronomy day activities at the University of Texas at Dallas. The left photo below shows John at UTD with the 12.5" Teleport prototype. Soon after that Carl Zambuto finished a special 12.5" mirror for John. It had Carl's usual great figure (the mirror's figure, not Carl's) but it was also made of quartz and polished on all surfaces. Even by the high standards of a ZOC mirror, it was truly work of art.
I made John a storage/presentation case for it and Carl and Chuck presented it and the mirror to John at a workshop in Oregon a few weeks later. They made a scope for it, and yes, that incredible Zambuto quartz mirror is to go in a traditional Sonotube Dob. (Lower right corner of the right photo below.)
In December, 2005, Linda and I had a very special overnight guest. To me Dr. Story Musgrave is the astronaut's astronaut. He was the only one to fly all five Shuttles and he also flew a record six missions. Yes, he's the one who installed the corrective optics in the Hubble telescope. Story came to Dallas to speak at Southern Methodist University. My friend Allen Morris, a teacher at Wylie High School, arranged for him to also speak there and for me to pick him up at the airport and be his host. I was honored to do so and to cook his breakfast the next morning while he told us how the Hubble mirror came to be flawed. It was quite a "Story-story." The photo below shows Story in my living room with a 10" and 14.5" Teleport. (Yes, I know I look smug. I couldn't help it.)
The photo below shows the wall above my desk in the LTFWT. The poster to the right of the painting of Carl Zambuto shows the film processing machines I built for 22 years before I began to make Teleports. Below the propeller is a souvenir flag from the STS121 Mission Story gave us. Below the flag is the standard NASA photo of him in his space suit. In the next one he's hanging from the shuttle arm working on the Hubble, and in the third he's installing a mirror cell in a 7" Teleport. I don't normally let anyone else work on my scopes, but in this case an exception seemed in order. Somewhere there's a 7" Teleport that was caressed by the same guy who made the Hubble see clearly.
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The Teleport web site is very overdue for a major update, and one will follow in a few weeks. For now I will only touch on a few of the main events of the past few months.
Two things occurred last year that bogged things down here at the LTFWT. First, my friend Geoffrey Bray in England had to discontinue his work on Teleports. The demands of other parts of his business made it impractical for him to do the “labor of love” work inherent in making telescopes. I had to resume making all the special components here, including the complex carbon fiber struts Geoff had developed. That significantly delayed the delivery of the 7" Teleports that were in process.
Second, my Mom was diagnosed with Lymphoma last spring. At age 83, she needed a lot of care. She fought bravely, but after many months of chemo and a series of hospitals and doctors she passed away in November. I’ve since been focusing on getting things here sorted out and more back to normal.
Last summer I acquired samples of an impressive new type carbon fiber strut from a supplier in Japan. They were perfect for a new 12.5” Teleport and inspired me to take a close look at that size. I sent emails to those on the 10" and 14.5" lists describing some design work I had done on it and asking for feedback. A very positive response encouraged me to continue the design, and last fall I completed a prototype.
It was the most refined Teleport to date, but after extensive evaluations I found I could still make many improvements. It has now become most “finely-tuned” prototype and the best telescope I’ve ever built. Now I’m completing the final production design in TurboCad and plan to post detailed specifications here when they are finalized. For now I can offer the following basic information.
The nominal focal length is 1546 mm, for a focal ratio of just under F/4.9. It has even more emphasis on being lighter, easier to set up and easier to use. It includes front surface mirror cooling and a Feathertouch focuser, but no drawer. Fitting a Feathertouch required extensively rethinking the secondary cage design but was worth it. The new carbon fiber struts are fantastic, smooth, positive, more rigid and better looking. Many improvements have been made in the layout of the controls.
It will weigh about 48 lb. That's only about 11 lb more than the current 10" and just the larger mirror and Feathertouch focuser add 8 of those 11 lb. It weighs 2 lb. less than the first 10" I built 15 years ago and a full 20 lb less than a 14.5". After recently turning 65, I carry it easily in one hand, open or closed. Wheels are an option I expect to appreciate more later. The initial base price will be $6500.
Carl has my deposit for the first run of mirrors and has begun machining the blanks. I've nailed down sourcing on the new components and am scheduling them for delivery for this fall. I’ve also done a number of upgrades in the LTFWT and will do several more in the coming months. After completing a few other personal things I will begin cutting Apple Ply for the first production 12.5" Teleports this fall.
At that point I will take the first 12.5” orders, with deliveries expected to begin next summer. Following that initial run I will take time out to build the personal 20" Teleport I've planned for years. Then I plan to do another small 12.5” run before I make any other size. The 12.5” is intended to serve many who would consider either a 10” or 14.5”. If you are on either of those notify lists, you can transfer to the 12.5” list and retain your original signup date. Just send an email telling me that and include the information requested in “Price and Delivery”.
Thanks for your continued support and, as always, for your patience.
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The first 10" Teleports with the new features announced last November have been shipping in recent weeks. The road to this point was longer than I had thought. It took about nine months from beginning the TurboCad design work to completing the first scope. (Perhaps no coincidence, as it was a bit like giving birth) All the scopes in the run were brought to the final assembly and test stage together, so the remaining ones will all finish in just a few more weeks.
The amount of work required to iron out all the details was more than expected and the cost of the new features exceeded my estimates. Still, the results are all I had hoped for, which is really more important. Here's a summary of the changes:
Carbon fiber struts, light, stiff, and smoother operating than aluminum
NiMH power supplies, with an "overday" charger. No replacing batteries for many many years.
ULS Quartz secondaries, each with its own interferometer certificate
New four post mirror cells with "Dobsonian" bearings for better collimation with no sling to adjust
Reversible layout, allowing the user to set up the scope for right or left hand operation
Kineoptics helical Crayford focusers, special lower profile model exclusive to Teleport
Simplified encoder mounts, less expensive and allowing much easier addition of encoders in the field
Heated Quickfinders with internal dew removal heaters powered from the new NiMH supply
Improved switch and outlet locations for easier access
Deeper accessory drawers to handle the new Pentax XW 2" eyepieces
The latest improvement, not mentioned before, comes courtesy of Linda. Just in time to be included in this run, she worked out the final hardware and software details to create the cover logos by a new method. Using her new computerized Husqvarna sewing machine, she embroiders the logo on a special material with embedded metallic flakes. It looks like a sparkling starfield as it moves in the light. Besides looking better, the new logo will be much more durable.
These features have taken the Teleport to an even higher level of performance. To see how they all came together, scroll up then click the 10" Teleport button on the left. That section is updated with a photo of one of the new 10" scopes open and closed, and another photo pointing out the features. It also includes the new, extensively revised and improved manual, which you can download to see even more detail. The 7" and 14.5" sections will be updated in this same way when the first scopes with the new features in those two sizes are completed next year. The downloadable brochures for each size are being discontinued as that happens, since the web site information and the manual supply far more details.
Several other sections of the web site have just been updated, especially "Optics" and "Pricing and Delivery".
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This update was planned for earlier but there was more to be done before posting it than anticipated.The initial efforts of Bray Imaging Technology in England, with all the tooling, programming and learning required for the Teleport materials, took longer than expected but the results have been superb. The precision of their parts, accuracy of assembly, and quality of finish are all outstanding.
Since last December's update, I’ve completed ten 10" and six 14.5" Teleports using both parts I made in the LTFWT and others made by Bray. That experience has let us sort out what I should make and what Bray should make and from here on both delivery times and quality will benefit from our combined efforts.
I've also spent several hundred hours detailing and testing the design upgrades I announced last winter. This work will combine with that Geoffrey Bray has been doing to make what will be by far the greatest advance in the Teleport since production began six years ago. The sixteen scopes I delivered this year were certainly the best ever, but these next ones will be at a significantly higher level. The upgrades are covered in this section for now, and will later appear in the information sections for each scope size.
This update is focused on this "Recent News" section, but it also adds a few items to the Eyepieces, Laser Collimators, Price and Delivery, Fun Stuff, and Construction sections. After you review the details of the upcoming upgrades below, I hope you can browse around a bit and enjoy these other areas.
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Carbon Fiber Struts
Teleport struts to date have been aluminum, made from Bogen (Manfrotto) tripod legs or monopods. They have served better than anything else I could find, but have always been a compromise because they werent designed and made specifically for the purpose. In recent months Geoffrey Bray has been developing carbon fiber struts for all the Teleports, and has included them in the 10 Teleports he has delivered. They will be in all the future ones I make here as well.
Carbon fiber provides less weight and greater stiffness, and Geoffs fittings provide for smooth easy opening and closing. They completely eliminate the hanging that sometimes happens with the Manfrotto strut sections when their orientation changes while the scope is closed. As I told Geoff, his struts work as if they were designed especially for the Teleport, and they do feel good. The photo shows the fittings and the knurled knobs that make clamping and releasing very easy. The struts slide open or closed with satisfying smoothness, have very positive stops, and help support the scope fully open even before the knobs are tightened.
New Power Supply
Ive long wanted rechargeable batteries for the Teleport power supplies, but couldnt get batteries with the enough life and capacity relative to size and weight. Now Nickel Metal Hydride cells have become available with the Right Stuff. I've designed and tested a new supply using a custom made 12-volt NiMH pack. Some of its components are in the photo.
The charger shown there has been carefully tuned to the match the battery pack. It automatically compensates for varying discharge levels so it will preserve the rated 1000 cycles for the batteries. In practice they should go well beyond that, so any need for replacement in a normal viewing lifetime is very unlikely. Capacity is about half that of the larger Alkalines used in the past, so power for several dewy nights viewing is available from a single overday charge. (If overday isnt in your spell checker, you should put it in now)
Outlets and Switches
The secondary heat switch and eyepiece heater outlet are now relocated from the power supply up to the top panel of the secondary cage for easier access. Ive also added a second heater outlet there to power the new Quickfinder heater (next paragraph). The mirror fan switches have been moved to the mirror cells.
If youve ever had to keep wiping a Quickfinder window under cold damp conditions youll appreciate this special new development Leon Palmer at Rigel Systems has done for us. Just plug a short cord between the new Teleport secondary cage outlet and an inlet on the Quickfinder to warm the window and prevent dewing.
Quartz Secondary Mirrors
The pyrex secondary mirrors I've received from Bryan Greer at Protostar have all been excellent, but I believe a Zambuto primary deserves the absolute ultimate secondary. Bryan Greer will now provide certified ULS Quartz secondaries along with his excellent heated spider assemblies as standard for all future Teleports. They are made to the very highest standards and each is supplied with its own individual interferogram.
Most folks find that having the focuser and eyepiece drawer on the right side of their scope is fine, but some with a certain eye dominance or technique prefer them on the left. A few Teleports have been made that way, but a great idea from Brays production people let me make some changes so that either location will be available on all future ones. They will be delivered with the focuser on the right but it, as well as the drawer for the 7 and 10 can easily be moved to the left side of the scope if the user prefers.
Most Teleports are now ordered with encoders. For the last two runs I made changes in the scope construction to simplify the encoder mounts for both axes, raising the drawer in the 7 and 10 to provide space for the azimuth encoder just below it. That eliminated the hardware previously needed to suspend it below the rocker box. I've now simplified the design of the altitude encoder mount still more and found a way to capture its connector in a convenient place. Its now easier to mount encoders at the LTFWT or to add them later to scopes ordered without them. This has allowed a further reduction in the price of the mounting hardware (see Price and Delivery)
While doing some long-term design work on a 20 Teleport in recent months, I developed ideas for a new kind of mirror cell that I then found could apply to the 14.5. Ive now tested and developed those more fully and designed a similar cell for the 7 and 10 as well. The original objective was greater cell stiffness and less side-to-side freedom for the mirror, and the new cells have accomplished that and more. They have four posts rather than three, and they no longer include a sling.
A sling is a good way to support a mirror without stress in a basic Dob, but for it to work at a Teleport performance level, it must be kept adjusted exactly right. Without such critical adjustment, it can cause a small tilting of the mirror away from the collimation bolts as the scope is aimed low. This can cause primary collimation shift when the scope moves through a large range of altitude. The manuals, plus some photos and tips I added to the FAQ section some time back mentioned this and offered suggestions to minimize it, but these new cells simply eliminate the problem once and for all.
I've done tests that showed the sling, not strut or cell flexure, was responsible for most of the drift that could sometimes be seen in the laser spot returning to the collimator face as the scope moves in altitude. The drift could vary widely depending on the sling adjustment and collimation bolt settings. While it could work well, keeping the sling adjusted has proved to be tricky. In the new cells the only user-adjustment is collimation and removal or installation of the mirror is also much easier.
In place of a sling, the new cells support the lower mirror edge on Dobsonian style bearings. The photo shows the new lower cell posts that have Teflon buttons. These support laminate strips in fittings on the mirror edge. (The flange that captures the top edge of the mirror has been removed to show the buttons and fittings) The mirror can slide back and forth as the collimation is adjusted. Even with the scope aimed up only slightly, the mirror is always in even contact with the collimation bolts. It's free to rotate about one degree and is otherwise captured with little play and without binding.
Overall, I like this design better than that of any other altazimuth Newtonian cell Ive seen.
These were developed by Geoffrey Bray and he CNC-machines them from stainless steel. They weigh about 10 oz., compared to 6 oz. for the old type, and they and are much nicer. They are shown in the above photo of the new 14.5 cell.
Feathertouch Focuser Brake
Werner Schmidt at Starlight Instruments has recently developed a new adjustable brake for his Feathertouch focuser. A screw had been provided for that in the past, but it wasn’t fully effective. The new design provides precise control of the focuser drag. It will hold a lot of weight, such as the Paracorr plus a 31 mm Nagler as shown, while retaining the smoothness that makes this focuser so great. He’s made it an option for the Feathertouch, but after evaluating a sample I have made it standard on all future 14.5" Teleports.
The new special version of the Kineoptics Helical Crayford focuser I announced last December was used on the recent 10" run and will be standard on it in the future. It’s the nicest focuser I’ve found that will fit in the small space available and let the scope open and close with it in place.
I’ve made some tooling to produce adapter plates like the one shown in the last Recent News (below). They allow upgrading earlier 10" scopes to the HC-2 with about an hour’s work. The only odd tools needed are a 3/16" drill bit and a small round wood file. The focuser, with adapter and mounting hardware, is $125.
A 1.25" version of this focuser, called the HC-1, has been developed for Teleport and will be used on future 7" scopes. It’s cute as a bug and works like a charm, fitting within the tiny space available in a 7" Teleport. Thanks to Joe LaCour at Kineoptics in Slidell, LA for a great job on both these focusers.
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No new orders have been accepted since last winter. Going to the notify list system has allowed me to catch up and reduce the lead time between order placement and delivery for future scopes. All scopes will now typically be delivered within 4-6 months of being ordered. Those early on the 10 and 7 lists will soon be contacted so they can place orders for their scopes, which will be delivered this winter. Parts for them, including the optics, have been in process for some time now to insure that quicker delivery will actually happen.
The above upgrades are effective for these and other future Teleports. The costs are turning out slightly more than expected, primarily due to the carbon fiber struts. The "Future Prices" posted last December will apply to the 7" and 10" scopes to be sold soon, but some price increase will likely be required for those beyond that. Prices of a few accessories have changed slightly (See ?Price and Delivery)
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Teleport collimators have always had three lines 120° apart to show the direction a laser collimator spot will move as the three primary collimation bolts are turned. This helps identify which bolts should be turned, and in which direction. Unfortunately, it seems lots of folks didnt use the feature fully and still relied mostly on trial and error.
Leon Palmer of Rigel Systems became a dealer for the collimators a few months ago. After working with them, he suggested I label the three lines and provide matching labels to apply by the three primary collimation bolts. Voila! No more need to remember which line goes with which bolt, because the letters now tell you. Thanks for a great idea, Leon.
In implementing this, I found that I could also add a dashed line to establish the correct orientation for the collimator in a Teleport (and other altaz Newtonians with the eyepiece on the right at 45°.) One must now only remember that CW will move the spot toward a letter and CCW will move it away. It’s like remembering "righty-tighty, lefty-loosey".
Carl continues to refine his operation in Ranier, WA, moving carefully forward in the controlled way appropriate for a maker of the highest quality optics. In recent months he has had annealing ovens built to bring this critical step in-house and under his control. This will insure the annealing of mirror blanks in all sizes is always done to the same high standards as the other steps in his production.
An interruption of power during this process is unthrinkable, so he has installed some large backup generators to avoid that possibility. Carl does take this stuff seriously and I never cease to marvel at the quality of his work nor to be proud to be one of the few telescope makers for whom he makes these fabulous mirrors.
A few months ago, TeleVue introduced the 24mm Panoptic. It's a fabulous eyepiece and I highly recommend it for the maximum possible field in the 7". Of course there are other new TeleVue eyepieces, but this is the most significant new one for the Teleports.
I’ve lately been enjoying the use of Al’s binoviewer on a 14.5" Teleport. By lowering the top strut sections slightly, the focal plane can be moved through the binoviewer without using it’s 2x Barlow. This allows a pair of 24mm Panoptics to provide spectacular wide field views and also reduces the balance issues created by the binoviewer weight.
My long beloved XL series from Pentax is gone, replaced by a new and even better XW series. The apparent field has been increased from 65° to 70° and the other excellent features have been retained, including the 20mm eye relief.
Pentax has added a 3.5mm focal length and corrected what I always felt was an error with the XL series, namely that the 28 was only a 1.25" barrel which required it to have a reduced apparent field. The new series replaces it with a 30mm in a 2" barrel so it has the same 70° apparent field as the others. Some focal lengths have been changed a tiny bit to eliminate the fractions and to be closer to the ideal square-root-of-two increments.
The 2" barrel focal lengths (30 & 40mm) are larger and more expensive because of the extra field. They won't fit the drawer of previous 10" Teleports, but I’ve deepened it by 10 mm for all future ones so they will. It takes a lot to make me increase a Teleport dimension, but I found this was a sufficient reason. I do consider this new Pentax XW series to be the ultimate eyepiece set for the 10" Teleport.
Some of you may have noticed an ad featuring the 14.5" Teleport in several issues of Sky & Telescope in recent months. I’ve never found a need to advertise, but Bray needed to introduce their making of Teleports for outside North America, and S&T has the largest circulation in most of their market area. The ad series has now been completed with the latest issue. In place of it, Bray will now begin advertising some of the other products they sell or manufacture. They are working to become the primary supplier of high end astronomy equipment in the UK, and I look forward to working with them as they move toward that goal.
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As many of you know, Teleports are very different and I have to make many parts for them that other professional telescope makers can buy for their scopes. It all takes so long Ive been unable to meet the demand without hiring people. In the film processor business, I had up to 15 employees and learned that management isnt my thing, so I wont do that. Instead, Ive found a better way to build more and better scopes.
Im now delighted to formally announce a license agreement between Teleport and Bray Imaging Technologies of the UK. This agreement allows Bray to manufacture, sell and support the complete range of Teleport telescopes for all customers outside the North American continent. I will continue to make all the Teleports for here.
Bray Imaging Technologies has already received orders from European based customers, and they are now ready to discuss price and delivery with interested parties. In addition to preparing to manufacture the Teleport, they have added a new astronomy division with a broad range of other fine equipment for the serious amateur. On the price and delivery page is a link to the new Bray Astro web site.
Chris Garvey, a well-known and very knowledgeable UK professional telescope enthusiast, heads up the new division. Chris has a broad and deep reservoir of knowledge about telescopes and loves helping others who want to do astronomy well. He offers solid on-target advice to folks about choosing the right equipment and then hes there to help them get the most out of it.
Geoffrey Bray and I share a background designing and building film-processing machines and have been friends since the eighties, when he sold my processors in the UK. On a motorcycle tour of the UK with my son in the summer of 01, I stopped to say hello, and we had fun chasing around the English countryside on our bikes.
He became interested in the Teleport and we soon saw that his manufacturing equipment and methods were perfect for making many of its tricky parts. Last winter he visited the LTFWT and we worked out this plan for him to make and sell Teleports outside North America. In September Linda and I spent time at the Bray Imaging factory to familiarize Geoff's manufacturing and sales people with the Teleports.
We worked through the details of making teleports, studying my TurboCad drawings and taking Teleports apart and putting them together. Bray has since been making tooling and writing CNC programs, and they are now making their first parts. It takes extra time to set up their system compared to my more manual approach, but the end result is parts that are more consistent and of higher quality. Simply put, they are better than those Ive been able to make by hand.
The scopes Bray makes will be just like those I make in the LTFWT except that the primary mirrors will be of Zerodur, made by a long-established UK optical firm that supplies to industrial, government, and aerospace customers. They have lots of mirrors in orbit and in such projects as the VLT but are new to amateur telescopes. Their products were thought to be too expensive for that world, but only a firm at such a level can consistently meet the standards required for the Teleport.
There are four main purposes of the new arrangement with Bray Imaging. First, their manufacture of Teleports for outside the US will let these scopes reach a broader market in greater numbers.
Second, Bray Imaging will produce some parts for the scopes I make here. They are better equipped to make certain of the more complex ones with greater precision. That will improve the quality of the scopes I make here and help me make a few more each year.
Third, it will bring additional engineering expertise to bear on future Teleports. Geoff is an experienced and talented engineer and he and his people are already working on several of the improvements for down the road. Having them make some of my parts will also let me spend more of my time improving the existing scopes and developing new models.
Fourth, it will insure the Teleport is perpetuated beyond me. The scope and its customers deserve that, and I want to see it happen. I turned 60 two weeks ago and I know I cant make Teleports forever. Teleport as it has been was not a business I could easily pass on to someone. Anyone with the skill to do it would not likely be willing to work for the rate it has supported.
I believe this new arrangement with the most difficult parts coming from Bray will eventually allow Teleport to continue when I can no longer do it myself. The world of film processors is phasing down in time for me to support those machines as long as they are used. The Teleports will go on far longer, I hope for generations.
Efforts toward these new developments have required considerable time in recent months, and Ive also had to take care of other long overdue personal items. Those two things have delayed production somewhat on the present batch of scopes, but now both the parts Im making here and those being made in England are moving along very well.
After this initial investment of time and effort, I expect to pull ahead of where I would be had I been working alone, in both quantity and quality. My production for 03 should increase almost 50% compared to this year and should begin moving us toward more reasonable delivery times on all sizes of the Teleports. The careful growth Carl is guiding at Zambuto Optical will ensure that he can continue to make all my mirrors.
Teleport isnt trying to become a large manufacturer. That isnt practical and would be completely opposed to my nature. This new relationship will allow a modest increase in production for North America and even more for the rest of the world. Having Bray Imaging make Teleports for the world market and some of the parts for those I make will be better than hiring people for the LTFWT and will let it stay just Linda and me. Its a fun trip, and were glad to have the pleasure of your company.
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The focuser for the 10" Teleport was developed because none were available to fit it that worked well enough. It remained the best available for some time, but it’s always been hard and slow to make with the precision needed, and at times a bit iffy with temperature extremes.
In recent years, several manufacturers have introduced new focusers. I’ve evaluated four leading candidates and chosen the most suitable for the 10" Teleport. Joe LaCour in Slidell, LA, developed and makes the Kineoptics HC-2 helical Crayford. Besides designing and making parts for the LIGO gravity wave detector, he will be providing me a custom version with a slightly shorter drawtube.
That restricts the travel and makes focal plane location more critical. It will continue to require careful fine-tuning of the strut section lengths for each mirror, but offers two important benefits. The first is minimum intercept distance, which improves field edge illumination. The second is minimum intrusion into the light path, which reduces obstruction and maximizes contrast. Those small things are typical of the many in the Teleports that together add up to its overall high level of performance.
Many thanks to Bob Sager for telling me about this focuser.
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We havent had much star party time for two years, but we did get to a couple this summer. We made it to Table Mountain in Washington and visited Lindas siblings near Seattle as well as Carl, Joycelyn, and Chuck at Zambuto Optical in Ranier. We saw the ever improving facility and equipment then went for a nice dinner to share some wine our friend and multiple Teleport owner, Dr. Fred Koch, had brought from Australia.
In October, I rode the Cagiva to the Okie-Tex star party in the Oklahoma panhandle and on to northern New Mexico to visit friends. The star party time was brief, but it was a great trip, the first on a bike with a Teleport in some time. I met Brad Cottingham from Lubbock, TX and after he saw his first Teleport he started a Yahoo Teleport users group.
Returning from Okie-Tex I stopped at Copper Breaks State Park for one of the public observing StarWalks that Dr. Fred Koch puts on regularly with help from members of the Texas Astronomical Society.
While visiting with Bray Imaging in September summer, we attended the Equinox Sky Camp in Thetford Forest, east of Cambridge. We introduced the Teleport to astronomers in the UK and met many knowledgeable and friendly ones, including members of the Isaac Newton Astronomical Society. They meet at Woolsthorpe Manor, where Newton did much of his greatest work. It was all a big thrill for this pair of Texas telescope makers. On the links page you will find one for the NAS society news page, which contains more photos from the Equinox Sky Camp.
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When development of the commercial 10" Teleport began, a selling price was targeted based on estimates of materials cost and time. As it evolved, both increased and now the material cost alone is more than that original target selling price.
It would seem someone with 22 years manufacturing experience would have figured better, but not me. I’ve always been known for under-pricing, and my love for making telescopes kept me far from being objective. With a typical overhead and a craftsman’s salary, the price of a 10" Teleport would have long ago been far more.
Increases in the price over the years have stayed ahead of costs and left about $15 for each hour Ive spent in actual production. Design and prototype fabrication time were donated, and only utility costs and a few tools were covered as overhead expenses. I had already paid for the building and machine tool equipment making film processors over the prior 22 years.
Five years full time work has delivered 58 telescopes. Productivity grew for a while, but leveled off at a place dictated by the instrument. Ive loved every minute of it, but for me to keep going, it has to pay a bit more. Careful study in recent months has shown that a price increase of a bit over 10% would be required for the existing scopes before more orders are accepted.
In addition several improvements now in development will be included in those scopes. These will enhance performance still more but will also add to the cost. Details of those improvements will be shown here as I complete and photograph them over the coming months. Combined, they will add about 10% to the price, and material cost increases are expected to add at least 5% more.
Linda must also raise her prices, and Ill insist on it even if she doesnt. Her work on the shrouds and covers, the manuals and brochures, and on this web site is absolutely vital to the Teleport Shes always been paid for it, but always less than it was really worth.
These factors together have led to the new figures now on the price and delivery page. While the scopes are up substantially, the accessories are not. Improvements underway in how the accessories are made will help keep those prices down for the foreseeable future.
Note that the prices shown there are estimates and they may change up or down slightly by the time orders are accepted. The cost of the improvements being developed can only be estimated, and while it's possible not all of them will be implemented, others not yet underway may be. I felt it better to make the best cost projections I can at this time rather than show prices way below those required to deliver the next scopes that are sold. I've done this with care, so I believe the values shown are quite close to what the final ones will be.
The performance at a Teleport eyepiece is beyond what was thought possible for a Newtonian not so long ago and it exceeds that of many far more expensive instruments. They are also much easier and quicker to transport, set up, and use. Looking at either the performance of a Teleport or at what it takes to build one, they remain a great value and their tradition of more and better images for the dollar continues.
Orders will begin to be accepted from the earliest folks on the notify lists in a few months. That system will reduce the delivery time after a deposit is placed. You will wait longer before ordering, but not as long afterward. It will avoid tying up deposit money longer than necessary, though historically Teleport deposits have proven to be a good investment.
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14.5" Run Completed: The six 14.5" Teleports I began in January are now finished. For the first time, I had six of them in front of the house at the same time. We delivered two of them to California customers on the way to the Table Mountain Star Party in Ellensburg, WA in July. We had a nice visit with Carl Zambuto and saw his new equipment and ongoing facility improvements and visited Linda's brother and sisters near Seattle, as well as many friends along the way.
Aperture Masks and Filters: The design of these has just been upgraded. The top surface is now the Teleport light gray color to reduce warming of the air inside the scope. They also now include a plate that can be interchanged with the solar filter so they become a dust cover when desired. The plate or filter will store on the back side of the mask. (See the accessories page for photos of the new design)
Component Sourcing: Having to make so many of the special Teleport parts myself is a real limitation, resulting in waiting lists and long delivery times. Being resolved not to hire people, I'm working on having some of these parts built outside. It isn't easy, as the quality required is quite demanding on both people and equipment. I will only outsource an item if it will be made as good or better than I could make it. In recent weeks, I've been working with a source with both the equipment and people to do just that. I'm excited by the possibilities, and will have more to say about it in a few weeks. Stay tuned.
Encoder Mounting: As some of you know, I was reluctant to offer DSC systems on the Teleports, being a bit of a purist. The mounting of encoders was difficult because the Teleport is so tight on space. Because over 2/3 of new orders now include DSC's, I've been making design changes to better integrate them into the scopes. The result reduces the complexity of the mounting hardware, resulting in a reduction in its price and easier addition of DSC's as a retrofit for the scopes built after summer, '02.
Laser Collimator Prices: The housings for the laser collimators are now being CNC machined outside, saving me time. That combined with reduced prices on the laser modules for them makes a price reduction possible. Both sizes are now $100. (See Pricing and Delivery)
Other Prices: The price tables and .pdf files with order forms have been changed to reflect the reductions in price on the collimators and encoder mounts, and increases in the telescope prices, effective for orders placed after July '02. (See Pricing and Delivery)
© 2002 Teleport Telescopes. All rights reserved. Created Jan 2002 by Linda Silas, The Annex Studios