A few years ago I was touring the Jet Propulsion Lab and they showed me a
prototype of the Hubble Space Telescope. "Pretty cool machine, guys," I said,
"but is there anyway us amateur astronomers can get in on this kind of
action?" They said yes, plans for the HST were available through the gift
shop. "How much?" I asked. They said "Fifty." I said "Great! Here's my
American Express Plutonium Card!"
I picked up the plans and went home, happy as a clam, until I got my
American Express bill. The total amount due was $50,119.00! I figured the
$119 must have been from one of these Northwest student ticket vouchers, but
where was that $50,000 from? Only then did I realize that JPL had charged me,
not fifty dollars, but fifty THOUSAND dollars. Boy was I mad. But it was too
late to return the plans and get my fifty thousand dollars back, so I just
chalked it up to experience. But now I'm getting my revenge... I asked the
folks at the JPL copyright office if I could give the plans out to all my
friends and they said, "Heck, why not? What do we need with royalties? Tell
the world!" So I've written up the key steps here. Please post them to every
bboard you can think of and mail them to all your friends. Remember, if you
break the chain you'll get seven years of bad sunspot interference.
You will need:
- 1 launch vehicle.
- 126 "Master Constructor" Erector Sets(tm).
- 1 Radio Shack(tm) Pro-2001 scanner.
- 1 2-meter block of glass.
- 1 box of aluminum foil.
- 4 sheets of #20 (coarse) sandpaper.
- 4 sheets of #150 (fine) sandpaper.
- 2 children's magnifying glasses.
- (optional) filters and instrumentation as needed.
This is a true story, every bit of it, I swear on my father's sister's
grave. Even if it isn't, I hope that you get as much use and enjoyment out of
your home-built Hubble Space Telescope as I have from mine!
- Using the erector sets, construct a superstructure capable of supporting a
2-meter mirror and whatever instrumentation you will be using. Make sure that
the superstructure can survive the G-forces during launch. Don't be tempted
to skimp on the nuts and bolts here.
- Using the #20 sandpaper, grind the block of glass until it takes on the
shape of a convex mirror. Be very careful in this step because if you get the
shape wrong you'll have to start over again. Use the #150 sandpaper to smooth
out any irregularities and fix any minor problems with the focus. Then melt
the aluminum foil and vacuum deposit 1-2 atomic layers of aluminum on the
surface of the mirror. Mount the mirror in its place in the superstructure.
- Mount the children's magnifying glasses at the focal point of the mirror.
These will serve as an eyepiece for your instruments.
- Open the back of the Pro-2001 scanner. There will be a 16-pin chip on the
upper left of the circuit board labelled 1Y1169AV. Carefully clip out the
fourth pin on the left and remove it from the chip. This will convert your
Pro-2001 scanner into the usually much more expensive Pro-2010 scanner with
orbital transceiver capabilities. Close the back of the scanner, check that
the batteries are in place, mount it in the superstructure, and connect it to
- Make one last check of everything and you're ready to launch!
Comment from a System Manager at the Space Telescope Science Institute
(which didn't _build_ the Hubble, but operates it):
Hmm. Got the instructions for the mirror wrong.