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What’s in my eyepiece case

January 9, 2017

eyepiece-case-1

In the 9.3 years I’ve been stargazing, I’ve had three eyepiece cases. The first was a Plano tackle organizer with a thin layer of bubble wrap taped into the lid, which held half a dozen 1.25″ eyepieces. After that I got one of the cool foam-lined purpose-built eyepiece cases that Orion and everyone else carry, but that one didn’t last long – probably less than a year. The problem was that although it did a fine job of holding the eyepieces, it didn’t have room for all the other stuff I wanted to cram inside.

Then in 2012 or so I got the eyepiece case that I’m currently using, and the one that I’ll probably be using for a long time to come. It’s not bespoke – it’s a $20 Craftsman toolbox I picked up at Orchard Supply and Hardware. I think this particular model has been discontinued, but there is something almost identical on the shelves today, and there probably will be from now until the end of time (or at least civilization). This one is probably the current incarnation, and hey, it’s only 10 bucks and has a better latch.

The exterior doesn’t deserve much comment. I put my name on it, and its contents, mostly to make it clear to anyone who might find it among my stuff if they’re going through the garage looking for tools of the terrestrial variety. I don’t fully trust the single latch so I keep a zip tie run through the hole where the lock would go. The zip tie goes in the top shelf when the case is open.

eyepiece-case-2

The top shelf, which is removable, holds my red flashlight, Astro-Tech dielectric diagonal (previously discussed in this post), eyepatch, Barlow, and quick-look and outreach eyepieces – various Plossls, the 6mm Expanse, and the dreadful 4mm VITE that I haven’t yet thrown away. Not shown in the photo are a spare pen and a little Sharpie, both buried under the bag containing the diagonal. You can see that all of the eyepieces are still living in the boxes or cases they came in, and they’re held in place against rocking or tipping by a thick layer of bubble wrap taped into the lid of the tool box.

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Another sheet of bubble wrap sits below the top shelf and cushions the gear in the bottom of the toolbox.

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The bottom of the toolbox holds my ‘top shelf’ eyepieces and a lot of spare gear besides. The three Explore Scientific eyepieces came clamshelled in foam, and each one rests in the bottom half of its original clamshell. One of the top halves forms a bed for the 5mm Meade MWA. The two slots in the middle used to hold my Stratus eyepieces before I let them go – the ES models are smaller, easier to handle, and do a significantly better job. Now those slots hold the 32mm Astro-Tech Titan, my only 2″ eyepiece, the GoSky iPhone adapter I blogged about here, and a cord to hang my eyeglasses when I’m observing.

Around the edges I have all kinds of stuff crammed into the spare spaces. Clockwise from the top:

  • Contact info, just in case the case ever gets lost and found by someone decent. Has my name, address, email, and cell number.
  • Lens cloth, just in case.
  • Spare AAA batteries for the green laser, the red flashlight, and the laser collimator.
  • A ziploc. Never know when you’ll want a small waterproof bag. Sometimes holds spent batteries if I have to do a field swap.
  • Laser collimator. Reminds me, I need to blog sometime about how to collimate a laser collimator.
  • A set of hex wrenches for collimation.
  • Small pliers for the same purpose – I’ve swapped the hex bolts on a lot of scopes for standard hex-head bolts that I can tweak with pliers. Much better than farting around with hex wrenches.
  • Green laser. Super-useful when stargazing with newbies and old hands alike.
  • Tiny atlas – so I’m never without one. This is the Collins Gem Guide to Stars, which has little charts of the constellations and a short list of the most impressive DSOs for each one. Unlike Sky & Tel’s Pocket Sky Atlas, this thing truly is pocket-sized, and small enough to take up essentially no space or weight in the case. It has saved my butt a couple of times when I forgot all other atlases.

There is one other thing. In the third photo you can see a light blue bag through the intermediate layer of bubble wrap. I think that’s the bag the eyeglasses cord came in. Now I use it to hold a set of iPhone earbuds, which serve as a remote trigger when I’m taking pictures with the iPhone adapter, as shown and explained here.

That’s it – an inexpensive, sturdy, and above all roomy case for my eyepieces, with nooks and crannies for a whole lot more.

What’s in your eyepiece case?

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10 comments

  1. I have the identical Craftsman toolbox. Now I know how much my wife spent on my Christmas gift three years ago. I use mine to carry red flashlights, assorted tools, spare batteries, mosquito repellent, compressed air cannister (for dust removal) and other essential stuff. My Televues and laser collimator reside in the aforementioned ubiquitous Orion foam lined eyepiece case. I have not mastered the fine art of traveling light.


  2. I am soooo totally straight up ripping off this idea for my own astroblog. Not even an homage, Just absolute stealing. Okay, yes, yes, I’ll give you credit, and post a link to this page on mine. I’ll post it in a couple days:

    jgroub.wordpress.com

    Just the idea, though – I will obviously write my own blog post about my own eyepieces. Unless you say, “How dare you?” and call me names and such and tell me not to or something.


  3. William, I’m not great at traveling light myself. My atlases, notebook, and planisphere go into a backpack, and my red headlamp, insect repellent, and assorted odds and ends go into the backpack’s many outside pockets.

    Jon – I say go for it! And if you know of other people who might like to do the same, feel free to tag them. I’m always curious to see how other folks organize their gear.


  4. Heh, heh. I was pretty sure you’d say that. Thanks. And nice article, by the way.


  5. Matt, I’ve been observing the night sky since 1976 and I’m not too proud to say that I learn from you. Your observing approach is freeing.

    John O’Hara
    Northwestern Pennsylvania


  6. Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. I learned so much – and continue to learn much – from Ed Ting, Bob Bunge, Mel Bartels, Rod Mollise, Rob Nabholz, and countless contributors to Cloudy Nights. If I can pay even a little of that forward, I count myself fortunate.


  7. […] it, I’m totally ripping off Matt.  Just straight up stealing.  But please go and check out his blog, you’ll enjoy […]


  8. Okay, Matt, here’s my blog post, a shameless ripoff of yours:

    https://jgroub.wordpress.com/2017/01/18/january-17-2017-whats-in-your-eyepiece-case/


  9. […] small additional twist, maybe a sixth of a turn, with the little pliers I keep in my eyepiece box (see here). If I do this evenly to all three bolts, it doesn’t affect the collimation, and the extra […]


  10. […] with the AR102S. Under those circumstances, it’s easier to have an aperture mask shoved in my eyepiece case than to pack a second scope. Hence this project and this […]



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