From kit or from scratch?
In researching how to build a telescope, I stumbled upon telescope kits. Stargazer Steve, a Canadian fellow who sells pre-assembled telescopes, as well as kits, was selling 4.5 inch and 6 inch Dobsonian Reflector kits. The kits, Stargazer Steve promised, would give you insight into how telescopes work, and fill you with pride at having made your own scope. One of the things that has always been a stumbling block for me in building a telescope is the challenge of finding the parts. Yet here was Steve, offering telescope kits. All the parts ready to be cut and assembled. The idea was appealing.
I was trying to decide which kit to buy, the 4.5 inch or the 6 inch, when it occurred to me that if Stargazer Steve could put telescope parts together in a kit, I could probably do it myself. Imagine how much more insight I’d gain if I had to source all the materials myself? If Stargazer Steve could do it, why couldn’t I?
If I bought one of Steve’s kits I might gain the satisfaction of putting the scope together, but the where and how of finding parts myself would remain a mystery. What if I wanted to build a bigger scope sometime? A scope of my own design? I wouldn’t know where to begin. It would be like starting from scratch. (I still think the Stargazer Steve kits look fantastic. His pre-assembled scope, the SGR-4, pictured at left, looks awesome. I’d certainly recommend looking at Stargazer Steve’s products before looking anywhere else… and then looking at them again after you’ve looked at everything else.)
And so, despite the attraction of the well reviewed, seemingly very high- quality Stargazer Steve kits, I decided to do it all from scratch. That is, I would source my own parts and cut my own wood. I decided that the only parts I would buy pre-assembled would be the optics. The primary mirror, the secondary mirror, and the eyepieces.
The rest I would build myself.
All I needed was a plan.