disclosure: we were sent the item mentioned for the purpose of review
Whilst we were experiencing school at home earlier this year, my son and his Year Six class were learning all about Mars and the various rovers that have been sent to explore the red planet over the years. It was fascinating even for this over-fifty-something to listen in on the lessons. I bought a 600mm lens for my camera last year and have been using it recently to take shots of the Moon, which we’ve both enjoyed looking at. The Build Your Own team saw one of my Instagram posts and asked us if we’d like to have a look at their Build Your Own Telescope kits. Aimed at anyone aged eight years and over, we jumped at the chance to try it out.
The Build Your Own Telescope kit is made from cardboard and there is no need for glue, in fact, it claims to be a mess-free construction project, which was music to my ears. It comes with twenty-nine press-out cardboard parts, high quality 16x magnifying lens, eyepiece lens, mirror and an instruction guide.
The instruction leaflet for the Build Your Own Telescope is easy to follow and for the most part, my son was able to construct the telescope by himself. There was a Top Tip card in our pack suggesting that if the mirror had a loose fit you could tape the back of it into place. Although our mirror seemed to fit tightly, we decided to tape it in place anyway. The last thing we wanted to do, was to build the telescope and then find that the mirror had moved out of place.
But there are tricky elements, especially as you put the lenses and mirror in place where it really is a two-person build.
My budding engineer enjoyed piecing the kit together and seeing the telescope take shape before his eyes.
It really does look rather impressive once the Build Your Own Telescope is complete.
The focus tube on the telescope extends up to 72cms and the glass optic lens provides 16x magnification. It was time to get outside and have some fun. The set comes with built-in lens caps to protect both lens when the telescope isn’t in use.
There is a sight that comes with the Build Your Own Telescope to help you line up objects so you reposition the telescope to the desired angle.
Once in position, you put your eye over the eyepiece and move the focus tube slowly up or down to bring the object into focus.
We have struggled somewhat with the focussing element of this kit and our results so far haven’t been brilliant. But my son has enjoyed the concept and now has a better understanding of how a telescope actually works. One of my friends has her own telescope which she uses a lot, so once we are allowed to travel and visit her, we will be taking our telescope with us so she can help us crack the focus. She also lives in the middle of nowhere so sees the stars so much brighter than we do here.
I love the idea of making this telescope from paper and cardboard but there are a couple of issues that we’ve discovered. Firstly we’ve found that the focus tube now undoes constantly after being used for a few weeks and the paper tabs aren’t quite enough to hold it together. I think ultimately we will have to tape it into place. We also find that the casing that holds the smaller lens and eyepiece often becomes dislodged, again, I think we will end up taping this into place. It needs a tighter fit I think.
But the set has got my son taking more interest in the details of our local environment, asking questions and wanting to know more. No bad thing at all.
The Build Your Own Telescope is available from www.buildyourownkits.com for RRP £19.99.
As we’re also heading towards Easter at a rate of knots I thought I’d also take this opportunity to mention that there is a Build Your Own Makes page offering video tutorials with a range of Easter inspired items you can make at home. Perfect for some school holiday fun – click on the link for more information – https://buildyourownkits.com/makes/