Bahtinov Mask created by 3D printing. (Thanks Benny Fab Laboratory at Benny Library)
Bahtinov Mask 3D printing video (Thanks to the Benny Fab Lab at Benny Library)
The Bahtinov Mask is one of the best tools for focusing your camera-telescope setup for imaging. Although not very expensive to buy, it can be made by hand using cardboard or a ridged thin plastic using a template or pattern…Home Made Bahtinov Focusing Mask & Templates, a good article on Deep-Sky Watch.com . Another method would be to create the mask by 3D printing, not as daunting of a process as you might think…
3D printers can be used free of charge in various educational institutions and libraries, accompanied by expert guidance. The size of the object printable is limited by the particular 3D printer used and the material used to print the object. Programs such as Openscad, Tinkercad and Blender are free software, downloadable online. A template for the model will be required in order to 3D print your object. The learning curve is a little steep but the internet and especially U-Tube provides many tutorials. For those of you who rather not start from scratch creating the model, there are free models online for many diverse types of objects including the Bahtinov Mask. Free models can be found using the STL Finder.
To 3D print the Bahtinov Mask as shown in the images above, I used Opencad a free software and a ready-made tweakable template or model called Bahtinov mask generator (modded) which I found on Thingiverse.com .This model generator allowed for the size of the mask to be adjusted according to the measurements of my own telescope. The resultant SCAD file can be exported as a STL file (in the Openscad software) which is then in a file format usable by most 3D printers, in this case the Ultimaker 3. The material used to print the mask was PLA (Poly Lactic Acid), an organic biodegradable thermoplastic made from cornstarch and sugarcane.
The hobby of amateur astronomy leads us down many related paths of further learning…the process of 3D printing is just another. Good luck with the creations for your telescope…to excuse a pun…the sky is the limit!