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MAX 3

LASER COLLIMATOR

"...bad collimation is the number one killer of telescopes world wide..." Walter Scott Houston


This sentence from above you can find everywhere in the articles dedicated to telescopes collimation.

When I have started to use my first Newtonian telescope a question arise how to collimate my optics. Collimation is the alignment of each optical element of a telescope towards the others. I have begun to examine lots of web based articles to resolve the problems with a poor collimation. I have tried different ways including a crosshairs sight tube, a Cheshire eyepiece etc. At the end I have decided to design and to build my own laser collimator. This was not for budget reasons but mostly to take a constructing challenge. Of course I have got a lot of information from the WEB which is a boundless ocean of good ideas.

This laser collimator is not so easy to be made because it requires skills to use machine tools but at the end you will get very nice and useful collimation tool. It is made from duralumin but you can use aluminum instead. The sizes are intended for 1.25" eyepiece holders. The "heart" of collimator is an ordinary laser pointer.

Any opinions and suggestions are welcome ...

 

For non commercial use only.

If someone is interested I could help with the detailed plans for free via e-mail. The sizes are in a metric system only.

 

What you see below is the design in 3D, pictures of finished laser collimator and two GIF animations.

 

View 1

The drawings and the parts assembled and disassembled

View 2

You can see here all the parts: the tubes, the screws and the laser pointer itself.

View 3

In the middle is the tube that holds the laser pointer. It is made from duralumin. The hole to put in the laser pointer was drilled from the tail-end. The small hole for laser ray was drilled trough the 45 degrees inclined surface.

View 4

This is another 3D design view.

View 5

This is the final result - separated

All parts were anodised in black color to prevent reflections as much as possible

View 6

The final result - assembled

Notice the set screws - two rows at 120 degrees apart which allow adjusting of the laser pointer

 

Views 7 and 8

The different views - GIF animations.

You can stop and continue rotation of the 3D design model

 

After you have the laser collimator the first and very important step is to "collimate" the collimator.

You will need some sort of V-Block to place the collimator between the V's. I have used two old CD’s. Each is with a sector cut off. The CD’s were fixed to a wooden base.

  • Drop the laser collimator inside of V-blocks;
  • Notice the red spot on a wall or some other flat surface about 3-4 meters away;
  • Slowly rotate the collimator and see if the red dot drawings a circle on the surface;
  • Rotate the beam until the beam reaches the bottom of the circle;
  • Adjust the set screws at both ends of the laser pointer by loosening the ones closest to the top of the tube and tightening the ones on the bottom;
  • Repeat the procedure until the beam does not draw the circle but remain as a dot;
  • Now point the beam at a wall or screen 6 to 10 meters away and repeat the entire procedure;
  • The laser collimator has to be aligned as close as possible with the center axis of the tube.

To obtain a 2D and 3D designs for free please e-mail me

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All Contents copyright Velimir Popov unless otherwise noted.