Paul McNabb founded the mirror lab in 1997 in order to create the best amateur telecopes possible. Inch for inch our mirrors surpass store bought or commercial grade scopes.

Part of the Saint Petersburg Astronomy Club Home of the 2015 OBS Star Party

Lab Members

Ralph Craig is a lab instructor and has made mirrors from 6 inches to his recently completed 16 inch f5 mirror.

Allen Maroney
has completed three mirrors in the lab between 8 and 18 inches. Allen is also buiding a second robo foucault tester based on James design.

Mike Davis
casts his own mirror blanks.

Irv Nadelhaft

Charlie Mullen ground the mirrors for two years worth of rafflescopes but now has moved on the clear skys of New Mexico.

Lab T-Shirts Available

Lab Alumni

Lenny Remetta

Keevy McAlavy

Bruce Kazcmarik

James Lerch built our robo foucault tester and in house aluminizing chamber as well as a laser interferometry testing setup.

Ron Jones AKA the figurer is about the best mirror maker this side of the mississippi. You can see things in his 8 inch mirror that would impress a takahashi devotee.


Russell W. Porter father of amateur astronomy and founder of Stellafane

Mel Bartels Website
Amateur Astronomer and innovator.

Stardate Website
Good overall observation site.

NGC Astronomers
Former member Matt Terry has his own astronomy club north of Tampa.

Southwest Florida
Astronomical Society

A nearby Astronomy club.

Telescope Software
Ray tracing program for determining all required dimensions for a newtonian reflector. (New Website)

Program for designing mirror cells.

Observing Software
3-D interactive simulation of the solar system and beyond.

Plots the jovian satellites.

Lunar Phase
Shows all the phases of the move and more.

Mirror Lab Home Mirror Making Supplies Robo Foucault Tester Telescope Gallery SPAC Library
Where the 19th Century Art of Mirror Making Meets the 21st Century
The Saint Petersburg Mirror Lab is a small band of dedicated mirror grinders and telescope makers living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida. We offer a mirror making class for interested persons. We strive to create the best mirrors our home brew technology can muster. This includes robotic foucault testing and laser interferometry.  

  Paul with his finished dew heater controller
Paul took a different approach and mounted the dew heater controller board from the lid of an Otter
box. This came out really nice. Great work Paul! Now all we need is a little dry air and clear

  Paul finished another mirror!
Paul and his finished 10" f6 1/7th wave BVC mirror.

  Brent and Joey finished their 10 inch mirror
Brent and Joey proudly display their amazingly well polished 10" f/5 mirror. it came in better than
1/6th wave with a Strehl of .93. Congratulations!

  Dimitri building a dew heater controller
Dimitri (right), with a little help from Paul, built a dual channel dew heater controller at the lab
today. We should have seven of these keeping our telescopes dew free within a couple of weeks.

  Clean SkyGlow filter
This SkyGlow filter was turning into a mold growing machine. A little 91% Isopropyl Alcohol and a
few cotton balls cleaned it up beautifully. This same approach has worked well on eyepieces in
pretty bad shape. If the optics are bad use distilled water first to get any grit off. Always pat
with the cotton ball, don't wipe unless there is no choice. Wiping may scratch the optics. Do not
use Alcohol on coated corrector plates or bad things happen (really, I know). Distilled water and
cotton balls has worked for us.

  Tom Spano's Newton Telescope Replica
Tom did a beautiful job building this working replica of the original Newtonian telescope.

  Unusual Press
This lap is ready to start it's press. The parchment paper on the lay is used to prevent adding
more correction to the center of the mirror during figuring. The shape helps feather out he contact

  Dew heater test circuit
This is the low voltage cutoff test of the new lab dew heater circuit. It has dual controls and
will cut off power to the heaters at and below 10v to save the battery. It uses a programmed PIC
16F88 microcontroller as the brains.

  Distorted pitch pattern
The distorted pitch lap pattern was caused by the BVC mirror sticking to the lap after the pour.
When we finally separated them this was the result.

  Joey and Brent Hilker join the ATM community
Joey and Brent are a few hours into grinding a 10 inch mirror here. They have perfected the
teamwork to keep the grit crunching sound at the optimal levels.

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