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  1. #1
    WWPierre's Avatar
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    Default Introducing the WingWalker DIY Laser Collimator



    The WingWalker Pattern Laser Collimator



    When I got my 16” LightBridge, I realized that my film can collimating cap wasn’t going to cut it, so I called Vancouver Telescopes for a laser collimator. They didn’t have any. I decided to try and make a holder for my green laser pointer.

    I ordered a length of 1-1/4” aluminum tubing (It must be tubing. Tubing is sold by the outside diameter, and pipe is sold by the inside diameter.), from my local industrial supplier, and built a proof-of-concept prototype. It proved the concept, but needed to be disassembled to change the batteries.


    Thinking of how ordinary finder scopes are mounted with a rubber o-ring and 3 adjustment screws, I thought the same system might work for my DIY collimator, so I lopped off another chunk of tubing, and began prototype 2.

    Not having a lathe, I figured out how I could make the o-ring bushing on the drill press. This design is for an ordinary GSO dual speed focuser. You may need to increase the length for a higher profile focuser.

    Here are the two prototypes.




    Chapter 1: The O-ring bushing.

    If you have a lathe, you can skip this chapter.

    I made the first bushing out of yew wood, but since I had some phenolic scraps lying around, I decided this would be a better material. Any homogeneous material will work, PVC, ABS, Nylon, Lucite, Plexiglass, even Baltic Birch or ApplePly plywood. It should be 3/8” to ” thick.

    This part of the project requires a drill press, a 1/8” or 3/16” bit, a drill bit slightly larger than the 14mm diameter of the pointer, (I used 37/64, or about 16mm), a ” Forstner bit, a 1-1/8” hole saw, and a 1-3/8 hole saw.

    Clamp a chunk of sacrificial sheet material to the drill press table, clamp your bushing stock under the drill press quill, and drill a pilot hole through the stock and into the sacrificial base. Set your speed at the slowest rate.



    Chuck the ” Forstner bit into the drill press, and make a hole a bit over 1/8” deep. This is for the O-ring.




    Turn your stock over, and register it using the same drill bit you used to drill the pilot hole.



    Chuck the 1-1/8 hole saw in the drill press, and make a groove about 1/8” deep in the stock. This will leave a 1/8” boss which fits inside the aluminum tubing.



    Chuck the 37/64 bit into the drill press and drill right through.



    The 1-3/8 hole saw is next. Drill right through the stock. The bushing will stay in the hole saw, and you may have to disassemble the hole saw to get it out.





    The bushing will be a bit rough, so you will need to clean it up by hand. I used a sharp chisel.









    Chapter 2: Fitting the bushing to the pointer.

    For this you will need a #206 O-ring, and a suitable blunt tool.

    Disassemble the pointer and put the bushing on the female threaded end of the front part of the pointer. Slip the O-ring on the end of the pointer, (it will be tight) Bring the bushing up to it, and force the O-ring into the groove with your blunt tool.



    Work the O-ring to the bottom of the groove, then work the bushing to the end of the pointer housing until the housing is flush with the bushing, and the bushing is reasonably square to the pointer housing. The ID of the O-ring is a bit smaller than the pointer housing, and the OD of the ring is a bit bigger than the recess in the bushing, so this can be challenging, but there is enough give in the O-ring to make it work. The bushing is now fixed to the pointer housing.

    Last edited by WWPierre; 12-23-2010 at 10:37 PM.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17 39' East

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  3. #2
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    Chapter 3: The tube.

    For this stage you will need 2 -1” bolts, your drill press, a 5/32 bit, and a 10/32 tap.

    Make yourself a jig like this. Draw a line exactly 5/8” from the fence and center the 5/32 drill bit on the line before clamping the jig to the drill press table. Don’t forget to tighten the table. (lesson learned the hard way, more about that later.)



    Mark the locations of the switch screw and the radial adjustment screws on a 6" length of aluminum tubing. Don't forget to de-burr the cut edges. The switch screw location is most critical.



    Put the 1” bolts into each end of the tube, get them both sitting flat against the jig, hold the tube against the fence, and drill the switch screw hole.

    Rotate the tube and the bolts to the next flat. The bolts are a bit loose, but there is enough friction to rotate the whole assembly if you use the bolt heads, and a bit of compression against the tube. If you wish, you can hot glue the assembly together temporarily. Drill the first set screw hole. (it will be 60 degrees offset from the switch hole). Drill 2 more holes on the same radius line 120 degrees apart. (2 flats on the bolt heads).



    Not having tightened the table clamp, I got off a bit and ended up with holes in the wrong place, so I switched ends. The bad holes don’t affect the operation at all.



    Now the holes are tapped with the 10x32 tap. It is important to start a tap square, Once you feel it bite, go a revolution, then back off , then rotate beyond where you feel the tool biting, then back off . Repeat until the threads are all the way through, and there is no more resistance. Run the tap in and out a few threads before backing it out.



    Now you can assemble the pieces, making sure the bushing is tight against the back of the tube, the momentary switch is under the switch screw hole, and the laser output port is approximately centered in the tube. I had thought the bushing might need to be epoxied to the tube, but the compression forces in the radial adjustment screws seem to hold everything together nicely, as long as you don’t loosen them up too much while adjusting.

    The screws are #10x32 stainless steel socket head cap screws. These are ” long, but ” would do as well, and may be more aesthetic. Any 10x32 screw would work, but these come sort of knurled. I rounded the ends of the screws a bit with a file so they wouldn’t bind to the pointer casing.

    Chapter 4: The collimation block.

    You need a c-clamp.

    Pretty straightforward. The only critical measurements are to make sure the radial adjustment screws clear the block when the tube is rotated and held against the front fence.







    Chapter 5: Collimation

    Again, not much need for an explanation here, You rotate the tube in the block, holding it against the front stop, and mark the top, bottom, and each side of the circle described by the laser beam. The pictures pretty well tell the story. There will be a question period at the end, if there is something you don’t understand.











    Chapter 6: The return target screen.

    For this you need a bit of white card, not too thick, some 5 minute epoxy, and a fine needle, and a big darning needle.



    Trace the end of the tube on the card, cut it out, and epoxy it to the end of the tube.



    After the glue has set, make sure you trim any glue that might have squoze out beyond the outside diameter of the tube, and any paper that might have intruded. I always take chamfer back into the aluminum a bit. I use a sharp knife or chisel, but fine sandpaper or emery cloth word work as well. Try it in your focus tube.

    Now, turn on the laser and make a hole in the middle of the beam with the fine needle. Sunglasses make the center of the beam easier to see. Enlarge the hole with the big needle. It doesn’t matter how large the hole is, as long as it is smaller than the beam.





    Go and tune up your scope.

    I have enough materials to make a dozen or so kits, Including bushing, pre-drilled and tapped tube, SS cap screws, (I’ll file the ends) and collimation block, for those without access to a shop or tools. Not sure how much I’ll be asking for them, I’ll know better after I do my short run.
    Last edited by WWPierre; 12-23-2010 at 08:30 PM.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17 39' East

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    Excellent , very impressed here. Assuming that the actual finished product would be sized for a particular GLP. Some, I think are different sizes to each other, so would you consider including a GLP that fits your inventon Pierre ? Or , would it be that you inform buyers to which model yours accepts ?

    Clever bit of engineering there my friend, as said , I am mighty impressed.

    Clear Skies

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canon Pete View Post
    Excellent , very impressed here. Assuming that the actual finished product would be sized for a particular GLP. Some, I think are different sizes to each other, so would you consider including a GLP that fits your inventon Pierre ? Or , would it be that you inform buyers to which model yours accepts ?

    Clever bit of engineering there my friend, as said , I am mighty impressed.

    Clear Skies

    Pete
    Thanks, Pete. I could supply the pointer optionally for about $15, but if you search eBay for green laser pointers you will find that they all look the same. The diameter is 14mm.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17 39' East

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    Beautiful job, Pierre!

    How do you see the return beam on the target? Do you just peer in the top of the scope?

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    Yes, if you have a solid tube. My LB is, of course a truss dob, so I can see the target from my position at the primary.

    I have been thinking of how to get the return target visible from the back of the scope for solid tube dobs. Prototype 3 is in the offing.
    Meade 16" LightBridge; Celestron G-8N Bird-Jones/motorized EQ5; Orion 127 Mak/go-to EQ5; Burgess 127f8 refractor; Sky-Watcher 5" F/5 collapsible dob; 90mm Mak/motorized EQ2; Royal Astro 76/910-GEM; Meade 60x700 refractor/alt/az; Zhumell 25x100 Coin Ops; GalilleoScope. Celestron 8mm-24mm zoom; lots of fixed EPs,some good, some..not so much. A small collection of surveying instruments; a forest of tripods; Canon Rebel Xti. Confirmed gadget junkie; Custodian of the Magnetic North Pole (Send $1.00 to Pierre each time you use a compass.)
    49-41-37.03N 123-09-29.61W Calculated magnetic declination: 17 39' East

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    Quote Originally Posted by WWPierre View Post
    I have been thinking of how to get the return target visible from the back of the scope for solid tube dobs. Prototype 3 is in the offing.
    A mirror might be handy in this case. Check the following post.
    Telescope Reviews: Re: Glatter tuBlug "first light"

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    Very cool Pete. Great job. I'd be missing a finger at the end of the pictorial.
    name: Derek

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    Wow Pierre, nice job and documentation!

    Best,

    Hernando

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    Awesome work, Pierre. Thanks for documenting and sharing the project.
    -Nick

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