Couch Potato Telescope
Notes after building the CPT Binocular Chair
I’ve seen the design for the Couch Potato Telescope (CPT) binocular chair many years ago. Sim Picheloup of Houston is the inventor and despite the name Couch Potato Telescope title Sim gives his invention it nothing to do with telescopes. The “CP Telecope” is strictly for binocular astronomy. The CPT allows it’s user to recline comfortably at various angles and swivel around horizontally. The beauty is while the view is reclining and spinning around the binoculars are suspended exactly in front of the user’s eyes.
After getting Celestron 20x80s I knew that I could have to do something about a mount because my neck was telling me that the photographic tripod just wasn’t cutting it. My astronomy pal, Rick, purchased a hardware kit from the Sim directly at the 2009 Texas Star Party. Mr. Picheloup sells his invention at various levels: Plan only, Plan and tubing, Hardware kit with plan, fully assembled. I obtained copies of the plan and decided to purchase the hardware at the local Home Depot.
The plan is 27 pages in length and at sometimes very unclear. There is a huge parts list of a mixture of parts, including a 12-inch lazy Susan bearing; polyethylene tubing; carpet tape; bicycle inner tube, screws of various sizes, and much more, about 160 parts total in various sections of Wal-mart and Home Depot. Having Rick helping was good because the plans are often sometimes confusing so even buying parts was challenging. It took two trips to the Home Depot each one about two hours in length to find all required parts. Some parts we couldn’t find so we had to come up with a substitute. The plan called for thin a specific pipe tubing but we found a copper pipe worked just fine and was much easier on the pocket book. If I had to
work on it again I would have purchased the hardware kit from Sim, which was listed on this geocities.com site for around $100. (Yahoo shut down geocities.com so Sim’s website is no longer up). Parts cost me around $85 locally.. I would have gladly paid the extra $15 to avoid the headache of staring at the hardware isle at Home Depot for hours.
The construction took about 10 hours total spread out across 2 days. As stated before some parts of the plan were confusing but we eventually figured it out. You start by pre-drilling holes in various parts, PVC pipes, electrical conduit elbows, and a few more random parts. Next you have to think back to your scouting days and tie some knots in rope. Then, friction joints that are the whole secret to the whole CPT design.
Some basic woodworking and mechanical tools are need and once the little sub assemblies are done the construction is fairly quick.
There are some improvements that Rick developed that we implemented in the design
and we also developed a few modifications of our own we developed while building my CPT. Some simple ones were attaching bungee cords to hold the chair down, adding a head rest to the beach chair, tying the clevis pin to the base.
As in typical fashion anytime I get something new it is cloudy for a good while afterward and that is the case now. The forecast doesn’t look promising.
I’ve tested the chair in my living room and it easily supports the weight of the 20x80 binoculars and Rick has even mounted 25x100s on his with success. One possible major over haul I might eventually do is to replace the ½” thick swivel board with a thicker board. I’ve read other CPT reviews on the internet and many have made this modification. For now I haven’t used the chair under real observing conditions so I’ll decide if that overhaul will be worth it.
Clear Skies Y’all! - Matthew