Custom Optics, Inc.
to the Lockwood
Custom Optics web site. My
name is Michael Lockwood, and I started LCO in 2006 to supply quality
optics to amateur and
professional astronomers, telescope builders, scientists, researchers, and industry.
telescope mirrors, up to 60" in aperture, F/2
and Ritchey-Chretién systems
flat mirrors, LIDAR mirrors, and industrial optics
- Testing and refiguring
for systems up to 60" in aperture
I answer Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.
I describe Recent or Notable Projects here.
I list my Articles, Talks, and Presentations here.
I specialize in high quality custom
(rather than doing large production runs of one type of mirror) because
I believe in
giving each optic individual attention in figuring and testing to make
it the best it can possibly be. I also understand that
custom optics are not easy to find, and I want to be a dependable source.
am a source
for high-quality optics and
services such as:
primary mirrors - up to 60" diameter, F/2 and
- Optics from lightweight cast cellular blanks (Note: I do not make blanks)
Cassegrain optical systems (Dall-Kirkham, classical, and Ritchey-Chretien)
elliptical and round flat mirrors
matched primary optics for binocular reflecting telescopes
- Testing and
refiguring of flats and assembled telescope systems
- High-precision spherical mirrors, fast or slow
customer service, I specialize in:
astronomical use, products from Lockwood Custom Optics produces
high-accuracy optics that produce high-contrast, high resolution images
that will allow your instrument to excel in its application. For
scientific and other uses, LCO represents one of the best values in
LIDAR and other types of optics.
integrity, and quality
with my clients, whether problems arise or not
clients updated on project progress
in scheduling and custom services
- Product support; providing
clients with information on how to best use my products
Other important notes
Before placing an order, please read my FAQ. It contains answers to lots of questions, and also discloses some terms and conditions of sale.
can currently provide
mirrors up to ~42" in diameter from high-quality, precision
monolithic borosilicate glass up to 2.5"
in thickness. This is very good glass, and it is usually
with little wait. I will help to make your large-aperture
telescope a reality and
success, not only by making high-quality optics, but also with mirror cell advice.
Small mirrors - I
prefer to make new monolithic mirrors that are 14.5" or larger.
For 8" - 14" optics, I highly recommend Carl
refigure mirrors as small as 10". I work cast cellular blanks and
flats in just about
any size. I do not make small flats, and I prefer to refigure
flats only when I am working on or testing a primary that goes with it. I am
now only supplying smaller flats for clients who are buying a primary
or are having one refigured by me.
Mirror cell testing
can also provide some testing and validation results for the edge
support of a mirror cell, a useful and often vital testing
that many telescope builders have never even considered, and which is
very important for large, thin mirrors. I very rarely see back
supports that work improperly, however I frequently see mirror cells
with improper edge supports that can compromise the optical performace of
any mirror that they hold.
and typical work: I
have considerable experience in working thin mirrors, cast cellular
mirrors, and sub-F/4 optics, and combinations thereof. I make
custom focal ratios and can
supply a specific focal length to close tolerance if required.
optics, so I generally don't have finished
mirrors in stock. However, I usually have some generated mirror
blanks that are ready for work. For a list of
any items that I may have in stock, please click
here, and see if that gives you some project ideas.
my work is for the clients listed on my Clients page, and I thank them for choosing to work with me based
on the quality of my work, adaptability to meet their needs, timely
delivery, and dependability. My Projects Page lists many, but not all, of the other projects that I have been involved with.
you have a project that requires
high-quality optics done
right the first time, or a mirror that needs refiguring or
testing, please email me at:
mirrors (at) loptics (dot) com
EMAIL (in general) DOES
NOT ALWAYS WORK! Technology has made
communication easier, but certain email addresses are blocked by
certain filters, messages sometimes simply disappear, and that is not
your or my fault. So,
If you've tried to contact me and haven't heard back, there is a
significant chance that the email got eaten by the internet or a spam
I may be busy, but I am NOT ignoring you.
Also, remember that I may occasionally be on vacation and away
from internet service.
you don't receive my reply within a week, please join my Yahoo group and post a
message there. If you can see your message, then so can I, and
I can respond.
shipments/payments, my shipping and mailing address is:
IL 61864 USA
Important events and firsts
Note: Many of the first/events described below are listed on my Projects Page.
was founded in 2006. In 2007, I began making thin
monolithic primary mirrors for Dream Telescopes. These were
Pyrex, 16.5" in diameter, 1.25" thick, and at that time no one was
making such thin mirrors commercially.
In early 2008, Dream switched to cast cellular blanks, so I bought the
blanks and began making these mirrors for Starmaster Portable
Telescopes. They proved to be a sensation in the visual telescope
market. It was the first production visual instrument to combine high-quality, fast, and thin optics. This telescope allowed seated (comfortable!) observing all over the sky. More on these mirrors can be seen on this page. This was called the FX Series of Starmaster Telescopes.
Later in 2008, I made the first 20" f/3 mirror for visual use, an unheard-of 1.25"-thick, made from Pyrex.
Five years later, I am still the only optician making such a
mirror. Starmaster Portable Telescopes built the structure, and
it is still my main visual instrument. I called it the 20" f/3 MX
telescope, MX standing for "Mike's eXperiment". Three
articles have been written about this instrument:
look at the Starmaster 20" f/3
with the 20" f/3 in Missouri, The 20" f/3 goes to Florida and WSP 2009,
and it has been featured in columns in Astronomy Magazine and Sky and
Telescope. In 2013, JPAstrocraft built a highly customized 20"
f/3 for a client using my optics. (In recent years, others have
copied it, but I did it first and with the thinnest, fastest-cooling
availability of TeleVue Ethos eyepieces and later the Paracorr Type 2,
telescopes at f/3.6 and faster could be enjoyed by all telescope
buyers. (When the 20" f/3 was built, the eyepieces and
correctors had not quite caught up to the drop in f/#.) With the
and Paracorr Type 2, the 20" f/3 performed beyond my expectations.
So, in early 2009, I made the first f/3.3 primary mirror for a commercial visual telescope,
a 22" f/3.3. It was made from 1.4"-thick Pyrex. The
telescope was built by Starmaster Portable Telescopes, and the f/3.3
telescopes were called the Super-FX series.
Later in 2009, I produced a 30" f/3.3 for Starmaster, and the owner
raved about its performance. Soon, other opticians were offering
mirrors at f/3.3, but I did it first. 24" f/3.3 and 28" f/3.3
mirrors were also offered to fill in the range of sizes.
Also in 2009, I made a 14.5" f/2.55 mirror for an experimental visual
instrument that I built. Visually it was a success, and is my
favorite instrument for scanning the Milky Way that I have ever used.
An article about it can be seen here.
In 2010, I moved to a new, larger shop. I
chose to do this to allow work on larger, heavier mirrors, to reduce my
lead time, and to increase my production and testing
capability, all while maintaining the same high standards.
In the middle of 2010, I produced the first 20" f/3.3 mirror from 1.25"-thick quartz.
It was offered exclusively in a Starmaster telescope with a 4.5"
quartz secondary mirror. This Starmaster model is called the
Also in 2010, in my shop, under controlled conditions, John Pratte (of
JPAstrocraft) and I tested a multitude of mirror edge support schemes
for John's 25" f/4 telescopes. We discovered that adding a roller
to a whiffletree edge support prevented the support from pulling on the
mirror, causing astigmatism. We have freely shared this
discovery, and this type of edge support has since been implemented by
several other manufacturers, at my urging. This has improved
telescope performance markedly when the telescope is not pointed high
in the sky. At LCO, we believe in helping manufacturers to
support our mirrors in the best manner possible, and we support them in
that endeavor whenever possible.
In 2011, I made a 28" f/2.75 mirror, another first.
The telescope was built by Webster Telescopes, and the owner
reported superb performance from an instrument that only needed one
step at zenith! In 2012, I received an order for a 28" f/2.8, to
be built by SDM Telescopes in Australia. A 32" f/2.8 is also now on order for another client in the US.
From 2011 through 2013, I completed three 50" mirrors, two 42" mirrors,
a 43.4" mirror, and two 40" f/3 mirrors. 2014 should see
completion of a 45", 40" R-C system, and beginning work on
another 40", and has already seen numerous mirrors completed in the
14.5" to 36" size range. I also made a 32" f/2.8 that has
received a lot of attention.
At the beginning of 2014, LCO was incorporated and became Lockwood
Custom Optics, Inc. I purchased a second Buccini MIC-1
interferometer and upgraded it to phase shifting capability (PSI), with
analysis done by Durango from Diffraction International. PSI is
the current industry standard, is a great improvement over
static-fringe analysis, and allows very powerful analysis to be done on
optics and optical systems. The other MIC-1 will be dedicated to
high-precision flat testing in the future using the same software