ATM Links

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 and thoughts

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 quickly.

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.


FeatherTouch Focusers 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 scope.
Moonlite Telescope Accessories - good, smooth crayfords, great workmanship.  They have black anodized tubes, but my source below (see materials) is cheaper.

Equatorial Platforms

Tom Osypowski equatorial 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.....

Anodized and 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.
Astrosystems - spiders, secondary mirrors, holders, and heaters (my favorite source for these), 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 get. 
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 'Telescopes' page).
Salem Distributing - Cerox 1670, Gugolz Pitch, Polishing pads, carborundum, etc.

Mirror Cell Design

PLOP mirror cell design
Mirror cell designs already done with PLOP
Mirror edge support analysis

Misc Articles and Sources

ATM Archives - The ATM list messages from the past.  An invaluable resource.  Before you ask a question, try SEARCHING THE ARCHIVES!!!
FigureXP download site (clicking on it will start the download).  I use this program for data analysis when figuring mirrors using the Foucault test.
Diamond 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.
Military optics handbook
Essays on optics by Roland Christen, of Astro-Physics - many interesting topics

Other links

International Dark-Sky Association - 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.
Rocket car - possible origin of one of the most memorable Darwin Awards.  Well written, and very funny.
Astro Bloopers - Laughing at the expense of fellow amateur astronomers is fun.

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