Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Image stabilizer for binoculars ala Alan MacRoberts

I'm an amateur astronomer since I know about.
I got my first binoculars  only  in the summer of 1999 at Methuselah's age of 45.
This was a  10x50mm Tasco binocular of doubtful quality which  shortly after was replaced by a 7x50mm  Fujinon Mariner binocular of excellent quality .
Since then I always had at least a pair of binoculars.
For the amateur astronomer who begins to observe the sky with the naked eyes , binoculars are great tools because they extends in a great way the innate vision.
You just take your binoculars  to a corner away from artificial lighting. 
The simple gesture of rising your binoculars up to the starry sky, seems to be a sign of recognition, or a  very powerful secret password entered in the  ancient mechanism of the world.
Suddenly the cover of the daily cellar disappear and the panorama of the Universe  unfolds before your eyes.
You feel the heavenly scent of Queen of Night flowers, you hear in your ears the distant barking of dogs , but your look has already
took you over there. At the same time you here  and beyond .
But  the  mobility of  binoculars is followed by their largest, maybe the only, disadvantage: shaking images induced by the weakness of our body.
By 2007 or 2008, I found on the site of  ''Sky&Telescope'' magazine an article which presents the solution found by  Alan M. MacRoberts to stabilize the binoculars.
His ''image stabilization device'' is simple and inexpensive, is made of wood and some screws and by using hand tools within everyone's reach.

You find the entire article at the link below :

I become interested and started thinking about the little project of building such a device.

The first amateur convinced by this  idea was my friend Csillag Attila from Arad, whose version of a stabilization device is shown below.
MacRoberts image stabilizer with a ''Sakura'' 9x60mm binocular, built by Csillag Attila in Arad

Soon ,Serban ,a student in Deva , built a device that belongs to this category, even if it failed to ensure all degrees of freedom of the  MacRoberts's  image stabilizing device.

Image stabilizer built by Serban ,student in Deva

Dan Vasiliu in Bucharest made a collapsible version of the  MacRoberts device, using components from a discarded tripod . Dan's collapsible version  is very suitable
for  amateur astronomers living in big cities and who have to travel a distance to their
place of observation.

Moreover,''the  shoulder mount for binoculars'' of Dan Vasiliu is part of a kit called
''the  minimum setup for observations''  which includes: binoculars, shoulder mount, a
compass, a star map and a flashlight with red light.
Shoulder mount for binoculars, built by Dan Vasiliu, Bucharest

Dan Vasiliu testing his shoulder mount for binoculars

''Minimum  Setup for Observations'' according to Dan Vasiliu: binoculars, shoulder mount collapsed, compass, star map and flashlight with the red light

A beautiful version of the MacRoberts device was made by Dan  Nicolcioiu aka

The MacRoberts device nicknamed Li-zooka, built by ZENDOW  in Targu-Jiu, wearing his Revue 10x50mm binoculars
Tavi Blagoi aka Erwin is my friend and felow member  on www.astronomy.ro’’ forum and on ''60mmtelescopeclub'' Yahoo group.
Next day I posted this article ,Tavi let me know about his version of a MacRoberts image stabilizer made of Aluminium profiles.The counterweight is a piece of door frame filled with sand.
Tavi's device have shoulder cushions and is a work under development,in the future he intend to add a swivel.

Aluminium image stabilizer built by  Erwin / Tavi in Timisoara

10x50mm binocular on Tavi's Aluminium device ,notice the shoulder cushions

Sand filled counterweight of Tavi's device

Below I present some pictures of my MacRoberts  image stabilizer ,nicknamed Bizooka ,on which I can mount three of my binoculars.

Myself, my MacRoberts image stabilizer holding the 7x50mm Fujinon Mariner binocular

My  10x50mm  Baigish binocular mounted on the device

Details of the Fujinon Mariner 7x50mm binocular  on the ''Bizooka'' device

Overal Imperial dimensions  of the frame of my device are: 1.6’’x 9’’x 42’’.
Sides are made of laminated plywood  12.7 mm / ½ ‘’ thick and the two spacers at the ends are made 30x40mm or 1.2 ‘’ x 1.6’’ solid wood.

Pivot plate of solid wood has dimensions of :30x150x205mm or 1.2’’x 6’’x8’’.

The arm supporting the  binoculars is 3mm/ 0.8’’  thick , made of a sandwich of two layers of 1.5mm /  1/16 ‘’ steel sheet.
The hole for the 1/4 inch screw holding the binoculars to the steel arm at their hinge, is  located at a heigh of 225mm or 9 ‘’ from the bottom of the frame.
The handle of the swive plate is made of 12.7 mm or ½ ‘’ plywood.

Here are the results of the  testing of my ''Bizooka''/MacRoberts  device  on May 13, 2011:

,, Last night until from 23:30 to 1:00 I  tested the functionality of my MacRoberts image stabilizing device.
On average each binocular was used approx. half an hour.I observed in the same order, with each pair of binoculars , star fields of Gemini, Leo,Virgo, Ursa Major, Coma Berenice but also the Moon,Saturn, Lyra , Cygnus and Scorpio, Libra and Serpens  Caput.
Of the  Deep-Sky objects  I observed Mel111 , M13, M92, M57 and Stock1.
The order of using the binoculars was: Fujinon Mariner 7x50mm,  Sakura 9x60mm and  Baighish 10x50mm.
The device performed well with all three binoculars.The Sakura 9x60mm binocular is just the weight limit for objects near the horizon,  probably I have to add a few hefty screws  to the counterweight to compensate for this configuration / situation.

After more than an hour and a half of varied observations  with  binoculars mounted on the device, I returned to normal observation with handheld instruments: horror!
It is as if you swap the first class armchair on a high speed ''Intercity'' train for a ride on the buffers of the same train.

Great surprise, and actually a double one,  came from observing the double stars .
Last year, when I managed to resolve in binoculars the double stars 16 - 17 Dragon and   Nu Dragon , Zeta Lyrae, 61 Cygni or Albireo,I had to sit on a chair, and, excepting the first two mentioned stars of Draco, all the rest of stars had to be near the  meridian.
During this testing of my  MacRoberts device, although Lyra and Cygnus were at 30-50 degrees altitude, all the stars like Zeta Lyrae,61 Cyg or Beta Cyg have been resolved in all binoculars. Wider  stars like Alcor-Mizar, Epsilon Lyrae or Zubenelgenubi in Libra are too easy to be split to be added here. ''

If you access the original article by Alan MacRoberts on the ''SkyandTelescope'' site and you take the time to read the comments, you will find my comment in which I proposed the nick-name of  "bizooka''  for this device.
The equation is:           Binocular+ Bazooka =Bizooka

I 'm sure  after you build such a device, you will join me saying: '' Thank you Alan MacRoberts'' !

                                                  BIZOOKA FOR EVER!