Below are links to companies I commonly do business with, or have in
the past. I summarize my experiences with them - these are my
opinions, weighted by experiences I have had and what I have heard
others (who know what they are talking about) say.
Aluminizers (mirror coating) - coaters
I currently use Nova Optical Systems, Inc. for mirrors up to 20" in diameter, and Optical Mechanics, Inc. for 22" and larger mirrors. I have found both to have good service and produce high-quality coatings of both the enhanced and standard variety.
In the past I have used L&L
Optical Services. Their prices were reasonable, their
work good (based on ~25 mirrors I sent them), and turnaround time
was ~1-2 weeks. Add shipping time to that. I have not used them lately due to shipping costs and having other coaters located closer to me.
Also, I had a 10" mirror coated by Majestic Optical Coatings,
and it seems to be of very good quality, and was turned around very
I can no longer recommend H. L. Clausing's Beral (no overcoat)
coating. It does not hold up like it used to. A 16" mirror
failed after less than a year of outdoor storage in a shed.
Another 16" mirror failed after ~4 yrs. in our observatory.
Additionally, their prices were extremely high for anything over 16" in
diameter. I have no experience with their overcoated coatings.
by Starlight Instruments - the best dual-speed focuser, period, in my
opinion. Not cheap, at $320 apiece, but worth it on a sub-F/5
Telescope Accessories - good, smooth crayfords, great
workmanship. They have black anodized tubes, but my source below
(see materials) is cheaper.
platforms - well-built planforms custom made to fit your
scope. I use mine under several different telescopes, and Tom
customized it with a moveable pin and Teflon pads.
Materials - my favorite
sources, some you may not have seen.....
non-anodized aluminum tubing, other extrusions, fair prices.
1" OD black anodized tubes of varying lengths. Clear anodized in
other ODs. Ask about the packing fees, they can be high.
spiders, secondary mirrors, holders, and heaters (my favorite source
laser collimators, autocollimator, sight tube, and other good
stuff: Reasonable prices, prompt delivery.
Black light bulbs for
monochromatic light sources:
McMaster-Carr - all kinds of
great parts for telescopes and machines, and nearly unbeatable delivery
time - knobs, fasteners, latches, stainless
wire for wire spiders, tie rod ends, ball joints, pulleys,
shafts, bearings, and just about any other mechanical part you could
want. Exceptionally fast delivery if you live near their
warehouses, for the price of UPS ground! You might be able to
find it somewhere else cheaper, but it will likely take longer to
Large Aluminum Disks
- Sands Machine - Up to 18" in diameter, 1.25" thick. Great
for flat pitch lap bases and grinding machine turntables. Used
two as side bearings on our club's 16.25" Cassegrain (see my
- Cerox 1670, Gugolz Pitch, Polishing pads, carborundum, etc.
Mirror Cell Design
PLOP mirror cell
cell designs already done with PLOP
Misc Articles and Sources
ATM Archives - The
list messages from the past. An invaluable resource. Before
you ask a question, try SEARCHING THE ARCHIVES!!!
download site (clicking on it will start the download). I use
this program for data analysis when figuring mirrors using the Foucault
generating article by Ed Jones - how to use diamond pellets to
generate curves and cut holes.
Tile tool making,
my favorite article. Hydrostone has a longer working time than
dental stone, and flows better, IMHO.
Essays on optics
by Roland Christen, of Astro-Physics - many interesting topics
- trying to stop morons from flooding the night sky with light. A
dark sky is YOUR RIGHT!
Let's Talk Stars
- David Levy's Radio Show, many astronomy-related topics.
Conversations with many interesting people.
car - possible origin of one of the most memorable Darwin
Awards. Well written, and very funny.
- Laughing at the expense of fellow amateur astronomers is fun.