Vixen – Nikon DIY Telescope adapter

Design experiment

My girlfriend recently got a present from a friend who is also a wonderful dressmaker. It’s a beautiful Vixen Japanese telescope. Using this vintage telescope and watching the sky is truly a magical experience. It reminds us that we are very small and that we are all part of this giant cosmos.

It’s kind of mind blowing when you think about it. Things we are made of were once made in stars.

This is not meant to be a philosophical post, so let’s get back to the telescope. After looking through the telescope I thought it would be great to make some pictures of the moon. I have no experience whatsoever with telescopes but I though a simple way to do this, would be by using my smartphone. After a few tries this seemed to be a rather difficult task. First, it’s difficult to aim the telescope in the right direction, secondly it is very hard to manoeuvre the phone and get the view focused on the camera sensor. You need to precisely get the focus right, that’s almost impossible in case you have ordinary human hands.

I thought: Is there an easier way? Would it be possible to use our old Nikon DSLR Camera for this? I would need some kind of adapter between the telescope and the camera. The camera has to be aligned with the optics and should be firmly fixed to the telescope. After a bit of searching in open source 3d libraries like thingiverse I saw that other people have made designs for attaching a camera to a telescope. I however could not find the right adapter for my setup.

Then I thought: Why not design and print my own? That’s exactly what I did.

By using the excellent Fusion 360 software I designed the adapter. This design was printed on my tiny 3d printer. After a few trial prints the adapter was ready and fitted perfectly. I think this is rather amazing. A cheap 3d printer is capable of making parts that fit a high precision device like a DSRL camera.

Below is the 3d model (you can download the model on sketchfab)

A picture of the adapter

The telescope with the mounted camera

Another picture of the moon that was made with the setup

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