August 4, 2012

Rapid Prototyping a laser collimator

Category: Astronomy — Tags: , , – vincechan @ 10:49 pm

One of the most important aspects of keeping a telescope operating in peak condition is to make sure that the mirrors are properly collimated.  One of the easiest methods of aligning your telescope mirrors is to use a laser collimator.  These can be quite easily made using a regular laser pointer purchased at any dollar store.  If you have a lathe, you can turn one easily out of aluminum or wood, as seen here:

An alternative method is to use a rapid prototyping machine.  In this case, I needed a new collimator for a “pen” style laser pointer.   In this design, the build was in two stages, the bottom half (4 hour build):

Bottom build on Makerbot Cupcake

An the top half (10 hour build time):

Top portion which holds the laser pen

Here are the final parts, before being glued together.  I did lightly sand the bottom build to ensure it would fit into the telescope draw tube.  The bottom build was designed to be 10 thou’ oversize.


Two halves before gluing

Here is the final finished laser collimator, painted black.   The laser is held with two sets of 3 set screws (#8-23).  A 1/4″ screw press on the  on/off button on the laser pointer.

Finished collimator