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TELESCOPE FIELD TABLE STORAGE CASE
The cases I built for my telescope optical tubes turned out to be quite useful, so I decided to make a few more for some of my other accessories. My EQ6 head came in a strong cardboard box and was form fitted into two styrofoam molds that totally protected the unit in the box. I decided to make a box out of 1/4" plywood similar to the first two cases.
I used the original styrofoam molds that the mount came shipped in, and built a case just big enough to hold the 2 pieces of styrofoam snuggly together with the mount inside. I measured the size of the two halves assembled together and made allowances for the 1x2 trim that would hold the box together. The finished case is quite sturdy, can be lifted by one person, and will keep my mount safe during transport. If you stand it on end, it's also great for putting surround sound speakers on in the living room if you're stuck for space.
The EQ6 head in it's custom case:dimensions are 2'x2'x10"
I now had a case for my 6" F/8 refractor, and the EQ6 head that it sat on. I have another case I received from my brother and his wife one Christmas that now holds the hand control, battery, finderscope, and Telrad for the scope and mount.Over the years it has been used to carry 3 Nintendo systems with games, guitar effects and patch cords, and radio equipment. The only piece of the entire telescope setup without a case was the tripod legs for the EQ6. This is where the field table idea came into being. I was planning out a case to hold the EQ6 tripod legs, and I thought it would be a good idea to make one large enough to hold a few other things as well. With the assortment of observing books I have, the EQ6 10" height extension tube, red light flashlight, and many other loose items I would have no problem filling it.
The case was originally going to be 1'x16"x40", but as I was visualizing it in my head, I realized that the lid for it would make a good table surface for books. It also occurred to me that if I mounted one end of the lid on hinges I could stand the case on end with the lid swung horizontal, attach some legs to hold it, and I would have an observing table. At this point the case was becoming larger and heavier due to the equipment going into it. Since the case was becoming a brute already, I thought that a little more storage space and a larger table area on the lid wouldn't make much difference.
The case fully loaded with the legs stored inside the lid.
Dimensions are 1'x2'x42"
The tripod legs for the EQ6 mount were the heaviest item going into the case, so I installed two dividers in the case to hold them in the center to preserve overall balance. This way I could install cross members between the walls of the other 2 chambers to make compartments. I put the extension tube for the EQ6 in one bottom corner. I made another slot that would form a shelf close to the observer underneath the table when it was set up. Here I could store my observing books (Cambridge, Nightwatch, Moon guide, etc) in a place where they would be ready for use in the field. I store other miscellaneous parts under the bookshelf, and even have enough room to squeeze in the 4" shorttube refractor protected in a foam cutout.
I wanted to have solid legs that could fold out of the case during setup, but there wasn't enough room to accommodate it inside the case. The only thing that would fit inside the case and be long enough to make the lid level would be thin removable legs that fit diagonally inside the lid itself. I used some hardwood dowelling cut to the proper length for the legs then installed feet on one end and a threaded stud on the other. On the inside of the lid opposite the hinge end, I installed plates with a threaded hole in the center similar to the ones that you see underneath sofas to hold the legs on.
The table surface is 2'x42", which can easily hold my eyepiece cases and has plenty of room left for observing charts. An idea occurred to me that would make my eyepieces easier to see and reach. I made a rack out of some light aluminum angle iron that would support both eyepiece cases side by side, and left enough space between them to install a red light on a gooseneck later between them. The rack takes up the back half of the table, and is installed on hinges so it can be tilted towards the observer. There are short legs with feet on it that fold out to hold the rack angled towards the observer. The rack also serves another purpose during transport. I can leave it folded down and keep the closed eyepiece cases in it without having to worry about them sliding around in the back of the truck.
As useful as the table is, I find it unsuitable for the viewing I do today. Space is limited even in my van, and the table would be a lot of unneccessary weight if I were to go out for an observing session with just the 10" Newtonian on it's Dob mount. In this case the only thing I would lose is the actual table space, since I would not be using any of the other equipment normally stored in the case. Coming soon- a light, portable eyepiece rack/observing table.
The table ready for use, with eyepieces and charts within easy reach.