Binocular catastrophes

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brian livesey
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Binocular catastrophes

Post by brian livesey »

When we've had a binocular for so long that it feels like almost part of us, then, through carelessness, we drop it on a hard floor, throwing it out of collimation, we curse ourselves, knowing that we could have avoided the accident.
Recently, carelessness has rendered two pairs of binoculars out of commission. The first was a 10X50 Copitar binocular. It was mounted on one of several homemade mirror-mounts. Unfortunately, on this occasion the binocular wasn't securely attached to the mounting pillar, so the inevitable occurred, the iron law of gravity did its work and brought it crashing down onto a hard surface. Oh dear, not only were the prisms skewed, but an eyepiece tube was badly bent sideways.
The second most recent binocular disaster involved a pair of 8X40 Photax-Paragon's. This is a handy size and feels comfortable to hold. In this instance it was a case of slipping from the hands when the neck-strap wasn't being used. Down they came onto a hard surface and the inevitable out-of-collimation occurred.
These two binoculars are of the Porro-type, neat and clean, and were acquired secondhand on local flea markets. Fixing them would probably cost a small fortune, so they'll reside in the junk box to be lamented over. Take care with those bins, it's so easy to invite a disaster. We can get attached to them. :cry: :D
Last edited by brian livesey on Sun Nov 15, 2020 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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jeff.stevens
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by jeff.stevens »

Ahhh, I feel your pain, Brian. Sadly it’s all too easily done - a small moment with a lapse in concentration. I’ve had a few close calls where optics have not quite been secured in place on their mount.

The loss of a piece of astro kit is a blow. I’ve not lost any to an accident, but I did rather foolishly sell one of the first decent telescopes that I originally bought early on in my observing days. I had a Meade ETX 90mm, which I had many, many hours of pleasure with. As I acquired a little more kit I decided to clear a bit of space and let it go. To this day I still regret it.

Best wishes, Jeff.
brian livesey
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by brian livesey »

I've been collecting binoculars for years Jeff, mostly good secondhand. I still have a few more I can wreck. :wink:
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RMSteele
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by RMSteele »

Well Brian and Jeff it all goes to show that practical astronomy can be, indeed is, a frustrating and bumbling experierierience :D I suppose we try to get more organised and methodical and patient as we get older, but stuff still happens. My favourite trick was to leave my old 10x50s outside. I would use them to identify fields and objects, say in twilight to help get the telescope on target. Then I would put them down and forget them. Sometimes they were out for days, uncapped in frost and rain. The lenses got all spotty with moisture stains of course, but they still work fine. Old faulty bins can be a source of interest coz after you’ve wrecked ‘em you can have fun taking them to bits and fiddling. We have a pair of prismatics that were carried by my wife’s grandad in WW2 - he was evacuated from Dunkirk and later stationed in Iceland of all places! I have my doubts whether he had them in France because I suppose they left all their kit behind, but you never know (they are tiny and marked 8x26 GELDA Paris). I remember my late father-in-law telling me that they had to burn his lice infested uniform when he got back from France. Anyway I had a pleasant time cleaning and tightening them up mechanically. They are a bit battered but they still have their original case. Regards Bob
brian livesey
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by brian livesey »

Brass Kershaw binoculars, made in Leeds, were used by the army. An old army veteran told me that they weren't very good.
A problem people often have is knowing which side of a out-of-collimation binocular is at fault. One way that helps is to look through the bins at a vertical line, say, the vertical edge of a wall or lamp post. Look through one side of the bins to see if the line is still vertical. If it is, look through the other eyepiece. Is the vertical edge still perfectly vertical? If it slants, that's the side with the displaced prism/s.
Of course, it isn't always the prisms at fault, it might be a damaged eyepiece tube, or possibly something else, but the vertical line test can sometimes work for the prisms.
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JohnM
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by JohnM »

I think it was John Hosky that used the good half of a pair of binoculars for successful observing Novae. This was the sort of binocular where the eye piece distance was adjusted by pivoting between the two halves. This made it easy to remove the broken half and use the rest as a monocular.
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stella
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by stella »

That's John Hosty, who discovered Nova Sagittae in January 1977.
Robin Scagell
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by Robin Scagell »

With some, possibly only older, binoculars, you can overcome moderate double vision by unscrewing the cover at the objective end, and looking for a threaded ring that holds the objective in place. If you can loosen this ring by using some suitable tool that fits into the small slots in the ring, 180 degrees apart, you may then be able to rotate the objective in its cell. This cell sits in a mounting that is not completely orthogonal to the tube, so as you rotate the cell, the optical axis of the objective describes a cone. If you are lucky, you can rotate one or both of the objectives so as to bring them in line with each other. I found this out when working for a while at Manchester Telescope Centre in 1971, where we had a camera repairer.

There may be wax or some other sealant in there as well but if it's a matter of bringing an otherwise useless instrument back to life, it's worth a try.

About 45 years ago I dropped my Russian 12 x 40 binoculars about four feet onto concrete, and got them working in this way. They still work fine and travel everywhere with me in the car. There is a slight dent in the casing but that's the only sign of the mishap.

Robin
brian livesey
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by brian livesey »

Conditional collimation is okay for minor displacement of prisms, but in my own case the prisms were too offset for that.
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JohnM
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Re: Binocular catastrophes

Post by JohnM »

I managed to submerge a set of Russian 12x 40 binoculars in salt water. I took them apart and washed all the parts first in warm water under the tap & then in distilled water. After they had dried I cleaned the optical surfaces with Isopropyl Alcohol on optical tissues.

They went back Ok but I don't think I got the collimation quite right. The big problem I had was removing the rings that hold the objective lenses. Reasonable force would not turn them and I eventually discovered some very small locking screws hidden under black compound it turned out the same applied to the eyepieces - remove the screws and the eyepiece can just be removed.

John
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