This week’s selection is the soon to be very useful 3D printed Solar Filter by Walid Maalouli.
This is a rather simple design, a circular cap that’s intended to fit on the open end of a telescope, specifically the Orion 80ed. However, the concept could easily be used for other telescopes with different dimensions.
The 3D printed part actually holds a specialized film that is used to blunt the massive emissions from our favorite nearby star, the sun. This is critically important in a telescope, whose design literally concentrates incoming light in the eyepiece. Without a filter, the eyepiece could melt and most certainly there would be horrific damage to the eyes of anyone peering through if the device was pointed at the sun.
The way around this is to filter the light before it enters the telescope’s optical tube assembly by covering the opening.
This video by amateur astronomer Charlie Golden shows the results of using this solar filter design.
The 3D printed solar filter acts as a cap that holds down an appropriate thin film light filter. Simply place the filter on the end of the scope, then press down with the cap to secure it.
The filter material itself is not 3D printable, but is easily found on many sources, including Amazon. If you’re going to use this design, be absolutely certain you have the appropriate material for your solar filter or you may damage your equipment or yourself.
The implementation on this simple design is ingenious. Maalouli has decided to deploy it as a SCAD file, which is a programmatic description of the shape. In other words, by tweaking the parameters in the file, you can instantly reshape it to fit your telescope precisely.
Of course, some telescopes have apertures greater than the size of your 3D printer volume, making this design challenging to 3D print. Maalouli has solved this problem by providing a one quarter section of the Solar Filter, which will no doubt 3D print on almost any size 3D printer. Just make four of them and glue them together to fit even the largest commonly available telescope.
Why select this design now? The reason is obvious: there just happens to be an important total eclipse of the sun coming up this month, and those with telescopes and 3D printers might want to make use of this design.