Author Topic: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?  (Read 15 times)

abtempoecar

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Activity:
    22%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« on: December 29, 2017, 09:43:43 AM »
We have only 1 or 2 opticians willing to make these big fast premium level mirrors.Now that the market is firmly established I can't help but wonder why there aren't more ofthem. Yes I know it is very difficult to make a big fast mirror at a high level butwith the market there and a good living to be made I expect there to be more opticianswe can call on in the years to come. Thoughts?



maulaepretag

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 129
  • Activity:
    27.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2017, 10:41:19 AM »
Do they make a good living? (I sincerely hope they do.) My sense has always been that for most mirror makers either it isn't their primary source of income or amateur astronomers not their primary clients.

Without trying to pry, if any of the mirror makers that frequent these forums read this, is making mirrors for amateur scopes your primary source of income?

Again, I truly hope so as you do a great service to the hobby, meaning me and my friends. But there aren't a lot of us and though I paid good money for my mirror, I bought one and may well not buy another. That's a problem with doing a great job on a durable product.

Put another way: if you're thinking of diving in, you have to start making fast mirrors and sell them in a market where reputation is huge. How would I convince someone to buy my mirror, which no one has ever seen, vs. buying a Lockwood or Kennedy? It's a large capital outlay with no guarantee of customers in a field with a pretty low ceiling of total sales.

adlaycomsu

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
  • Activity:
    20.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2018, 01:09:24 PM »
Quote
We have only 1 or 2 opticians willing to make these big fast premium level mirrors.
Now that the market is firmly established I can't help but wonder why there aren't more of
them. Yes I know it is very difficult to make a big fast mirror at a high level but
with the market there and a good living to be made I expect there to be more opticians
we can call on in the years to come. Thoughts?

My guess is that It is the law of supply and demand at work.

If demand is weak, the number of suppliers will dwindle.

Now, the real question is then "Why is demand weak?"

Well, probably many reasons:

High price of very fast mirrors limit demand
Market saturated already with enough people wanting a big fast telescope already having one
Used market satisfying demand (people downsizing selling their scope)

And ultimately what this means is that people that used to do it can't make money at it anymore, so they stop doing it.

Also, for many, the primary need for a fast mirror is for imaging, and you can now use sub-aperture correctors to satisfy much of that need.  I do image intensified astronomy and when a mirror maker quoted a group of us $3000 each to do a batch of 10" f/3.3 mirrors, I decided that for my own needs, it would be better to use a 10" mirror with a sub aperture corrector to bring the mirror to f/2.8.

Sub aperture corrector by the way totally rocks. I eventually decided that 10" was way too big, so when with a 6" f/4 and sub aperture corrector to get to f/2.8.

Charlie Carpenter

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Activity:
    25.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2018, 11:39:40 PM »
Quote
Quote

We have only 1 or 2 opticians willing to make these big fast premium level mirrors.
Now that the market is firmly established I can't help but wonder why there aren't more of
them. Yes I know it is very difficult to make a big fast mirror at a high level but
with the market there and a good living to be made I expect there to be more opticians
we can call on in the years to come. Thoughts?

My guess is that It is the law of supply and demand at work.

If demand is weak, the number of suppliers will dwindle.

Now, the real question is then "Why is demand weak?"

Well, probably many reasons:

High price of very fast mirrors limit demand
Market saturated already with enough people wanting a big fast telescope already having one
Used market satisfying demand (people downsizing selling their scope)

And ultimately what this means is that people that used to do it can't make money at it anymore, so they stop doing it.

Also, for many, the primary need for a fast mirror is for imaging, and you can now use sub-aperture correctors to satisfy much of that need.  I do image intensified astronomy and when a mirror maker quoted a group of us $3000 each to do a batch of 10" f/3.3 mirrors, I decided that for my own needs, it would be better to use a 10" mirror with a sub aperture corrector to bring the mirror to f/2.8.

Sub aperture corrector by the way totally rocks. I eventually decided that 10" was way too big, so when with a 6" f/4 and sub aperture corrector to get to f/2.8.
I love your quote about General Mattis. He's a true hero.

Paul Woodrow

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Activity:
    20.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2018, 07:54:13 AM »
Easy. It's a demand issue.

These mirrors done right are not exactly inexpensive.

What people say they want and what they are actually willing to pay for are two different things.

byhodete

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Activity:
    23.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 10:56:40 AM »
There are also fairly significant barriers to entry. Mirror making on a high level isn't exactly something you can easily jump into - it takes both significant experience and a decent amount of equipment to do it accurately and quickly on a reliable basis. And unless you can utilize mass production methods - it isn't terribly lucrative either. So why jump in?

outatnoha

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 141
  • Activity:
    22%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 12:29:28 PM »
Quote
I do image intensified astronomy and when a mirror maker quoted a group of us $xxxx each to do a batch of 10" f/3.3 mirrors
that's why I make my own
and with a ota of 8lbs, it doesn't take much to mount it.

elunmolunch

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Activity:
    22.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2018, 09:21:48 PM »
Quote

From Darren's initial post:

"We have only 1 or 2 opticians willing to make these big fast premium level mirrors."

"Big, fast premium mirrors" generally cannot be replaced by a corrector/reducer because the driving force is to build a large aperture scope that does not require a ladder.

My thinking gos like this:

Combined with the large aperture is a thin mirror and the desire for premium optics. This a triple whammy and results in an expensive mirror which raises expectations and a very small market. If I were going to invest $20,000 in a large, fast mirror, I can list the opticians I would choose from on my thumbs.

Also, I have to think that making amateur optics on this scale is a labor of love, it's a good living at best and for an optician capable of making a very good 24 inch F/3 mirror set, there are likely better paying jobs in industry..

I wonder how much Valery would charge for an ion milled 24 inch F/3.. .

jon

jon

bardeperdi

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Activity:
    25.33%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2018, 04:08:12 AM »
Quote
My question is - why do people start these threads without asking a vendor first? They just encourage speculation.

Isn't that why you are here on CN? If someone calls you and then posts - that invites second hand information. I appreciate you posting here directly - I think it helps everyone out to hear directly from you guys.

Edit: also, Mike, would you mind answering the OPs question from your perspective? That way we have an answer from someone with knowledge of the industry?

tricapenup

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
  • Activity:
    30%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2018, 08:38:10 AM »
The few that make these mirrors can speak for themselves as to why they are in the market. However, I can see why it is a tough market to become established in. There are some formidable natural barriers to entry.

We are primarily talking about large/very large and expensive mirrors that require a lot more attention to detail, refining of technique, testing,and quality control. The blanks themselves are quite pricey...I can only imagine what the financial risk is of messing one up/accident would be.

It takes time and a lot of effort to establish a reputation for consistent premium work. A bad experience or two can set someone back considerably. There was a time when f/4 mirrors had a spotty reputation, now we are talking about sub f/4's that are much more demanding.

I can't speak for other consumers, but since Iam eventually going to commission a very large sub f/4, I will choose a mirror maker with a strong and long track record of doing it right. It might cost me 10% more for the entire project,but I can't afford failure of the most important part (or its specially made secondary)on such a large investment.

I would be willing totake more risk with a less established maker of a smaller mirror at fraction of the cost, but the need for sub f/4 isn'tas great in those apertures so there are other options that don't require any substantial risk there.

Randy Wiggins

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 122
  • Activity:
    24.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2018, 01:57:29 PM »
dgoldb, Jon said it very, very nicely above. I don't have much to add to that.

risodachest

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 134
  • Activity:
    22.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2018, 09:47:54 PM »
Quote
dgoldb, Jon said it very, very nicely above. I don't have much to add to that.

Thanks. I think we all appreciate when we can get vendor input directly.

enmofinwins

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 122
  • Activity:
    26.67%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Why no more sub f/4 opticians?
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2018, 10:51:11 AM »
I think the market for large dobs has been shrinking for years. See fewer every year at most star parties as the baby boomers are getting older, switching to smaller scopes and imaging. Also resale on large dobs is horrible in many cases, your going to take a large hit when you decide to down size.

Sure there are still the die hards that are willing to set up, climb ladders, and transport these beasts, but they are becoming a minority. Peak dob was sometime in the late 1990s early 2000s.....