Sources for telescope supplies
Where to find what you’ll need
These sources may be of particular interest to Canadians who are planning to build their own telescopes. You can probably find your own own sources for almost everything you need, but these were mine:
Optics, Spiders, Eyepieces, Finder scopes, Teflon
Peek’r Technologies – Ontario, Canada
Peek’r Technologies is actually Ken Saumure, a retired engineer who now builds telescopes to sell and also supplies parts to other who are building scopes. Ken’s Web site mostly displays the scopes he sells. I emailed him to inquire about purchasing ATM parts like mirrors, etc., and he replied that he did indeed sell parts. He priced a 6 inch 1/8 wave mirror at $225, and the secondary to go along with it at $40. This is more expensive than other suppliers, but Ken’s service was great, and I ended up ordering the parts through him. Ken also sold me Teflon, cut to the required size – 7 pieces in total – three for the mount, four for the cradle bearings – at a cost of $2. He shipped by Greyhound Courier, charging me $20., and the package arrived within 48 hours of my placing my order. If you were considering purchasing a pre-assembled scope, I’d definitely check out Peek’r Technologies. Very friendly, very supportive, very fast.
Island Eyepiece – British Columbia
Island Eyepiece is a supplier of telescopes, accessories, and ATM parts. Like Peek’r Technologies, they responded within a day to my query about parts. A six inch 1/4 wave primary plate glass mirror from Island Eyepiece would have cost $136, plus around $25 for the secondary. As you can see, a bit cheaper than Peek’r Technologies, but Ken’s mirror was 1/8 wave and, as I said, he was a very nice guy to deal with, which sold me. If I build another scope, which I will, I will likely order the optics through Island Eyepiece, just to try a different supplier. Or else I will grind and polish the mirror myself.
Efston Science (telescopes.ca) – Toronto, Canada
Efston primarily sells commercial telescopes and accessories, but they also sell some mirrors and ATM supplies. I could not see any listed on their site, but I queried and was told they did, indeed, have a mirror or two in stock. I did not inquire about prices at the time. I would recommend emailing their sales department to find out what, if anything, they have in stock.
Gnome Technologies – Winnipeg, Manitoba
I found out about this company after I’d ordered my parts. They are in my city, but do not keep parts in stock. I would have had to order the parts, and they would have brought them in. Prices were a bit cheaper than Peek’r Technologies, and there would have been no shipping. I was told it would take between one and two weeks for parts to arrive. I will consider this company next time. They responded very quickly to my email and were friendly and informative.
ASM Products – Quebec, Canada
ASM sells mirror blanks, mirror grinding kits, educational mirror grinding kits, completed mirrors and secondaries, and even scopes. Their completed mirrors start at 10 inches, at a price of $399.99 US. They sell kits in sizes starting at 8 inches, at $109 US ($165 Canadian) plus another $67 US ($100 Canadian) to have it coated, plus shipping (both ways for vacuum coating). I estimate about $320 Canadian including all shipping. To purchase a completed 8 inch mirror from, say Island Eyepiece, would cost $215.95 Canadian for 1/4 wave, or $272.95 for 1/10 wave.) A minimum $50 difference. It would be more expensive to roll your own, but you do get the experience of figuring your own mirror and the right to say you did it!
Coulter Optical (now Murnighan Instruments) USA
Although American, this company has a large selection of ATM parts. Taking into account the exchange rate and shipping, prices are comparable to Peek’r Technologies. This company also sells what they call Telescope Component Kits – that is, a package including the primary and secondary mirrors, spider, focuser, eyepiece, finder scope, and some trim, in a variety of mirror sizes. The six inch kit, for example, cost $229 US, which converts to $343 Canadian. This is a pretty good deal. I paid $355 to Peek’r Technologies for just the primary, secondary, five pieces of Teflon, and a 20 mm Plossl eyepiece (no focuser, spider, or trim.)
Newport Glass Works – USA
A major supplier of blanks and supplies for those considering grinding their own mirrors. Newport’s sells educational kits for beginners that include the cost of vacuum coating. To compare to ASM, for example, Newport has 8 inch kits, including vacuum coating and a secondary mirror for $149 US ($223 Canadian), plus shipping. Remember, shipping would cover initial shipping of the kit to you, the completed blank back to Newport, then the vacuum coated mirror back to you. I estimate roughly $50 or $60 (Canadian) in total, bringing the price to about $280 (including the secondary). ASM’s pricing, if you have to add a secondary, would come to $345. NOTE: My pricing may be off. You should confirm by contacting each company. The services they offer are slightly different, so it’s hard to do a direct comparison.
Tube assembly (Sonotube)
BrockWhite – Winnipeg, Canada and elsewhere
BrockWhite is a supplier for construction companies. They sell Concrete Column forms in long lengths, but will cut to requirements. Their column forms are very sturdy, between 1/8 and 1/4 inch wall thickness. Let’s just say you wouldn’t want to bang one on your head. I was very open about wanting to build a scope out of the column forms, and they were very helpful. They told me that people use these forms for a variety of projects, including cat play structures. Minimum length was 12 feet, cut to any length I liked. I paid $7.56 for two 5 foot lengths and a 2 foot piece of extra that I discarded. I’ve also seen column forms at Revy and Home Depot, but they seemed flimsy compared to the ones I purchased at BrockWhite.
Lumber and all other supplies
I purchased at my local lumber yard and hardware stores including Windsor Plywood, Revy, Home Depot, and Colour Your World. I purchased a 1-1/2 inch cardboard mailing tube (to be cut and used for the focuser), at Staples. See the Supplies page for a full record of where individual supplies were purchased.