How to Install Wilcox Rotating Rings

By Daniel Maloney

If you have ever found your eyepiece in an awkward position when using your equatorial-mounted Newtonian, then you've discovered how difficult it is to rotate the OTA without throwing off the balance of the scope.

Wilcox Rotating Rings are just what the doctor ordered. After installing these, you will be able to easily rotate your tube assembly so that your eyepiece is again in a comfortable position.

Who is Wilcox you say? Erik Wilcox is the inventor of the rotating rings I will discuss in this article. You can find often find him helping others, giving reviews, and sharing great ideas (like these rings) on His member level of 'Telescope Surgeon' fits him to a tee. His invention - albeit simple and cheap - has made many amateur astronomer's nights a lot more pleasurable. So I would like to thank him for sharing his idea with all of us through writing this article outlining his design step by step. I hope that one day, a Telescope manufacturer may see this article and hopefully start offering these as standard equipment on all EQ-mounted Newtonians. Using these rings for just one night will definitely make you wonder why some manufacturer has not picked up on this yet. So without further ado, let's get going on the path to making your own set of Wilcox Rotating Rings.

Note: In this article, the rings you are building are referred to as "Wilcox rings", while the mounting rings that normally hold your OTA are referred to as "scope rings".


1 - 20 Foot Roll of Garden Edging

4 - Hose Clamps (sizes depend on the size of theNewtonian you are putting the rings on)


  • High grade scissors or knife
  • Branch trimmers or equivalent tool to cut hard plastic tubing
  • Flat Head Screwdriver (to tighten the hose clamps above)

That's all you need! Simple enough right? What we do with the materials is simple as well!


Measure & Cut

First, measure the diameter of your OTA and then cut off that amount from your roll of garden edging using branch trimmers or equivalent tool.

You will only need to use the hard plastic tube part of the garden edging, so using scissors, cut away the plastic hanging from the tube. You may need to take two runs, it is quite difficult to get close to the plastic tube with scissors. You should then have a ring as shown on the right.

Make two of these rings.



Join Clamps and Run Through Plastic Tubes

Once you have your plastic tubes cut, join your hose clamps together, as shown below.

Next, run the clamp through one of the plastic tubes you cut out (below).


Notice, left, how much of the hose clamp comes out of both sides of the plastic ring. This is all you need to join the clamp together.

Next comes the fun part; mounting the Wilcox rings onto your OTA!






Mount Rings on the OTA

To get the Wilcox rings onto my Meade SN-10 OTA, I joined the ring clamps before putting it on the OTA.

When doing this, I just got the clamp started and made sure it was loose enough to slide onto my OTA. I then removed my scope rings from the OTA and slid on the Wilcox rings as shown below. You do not have to do this, as it is almost as easy to do the whole operation with the scope rings in place. I found it a tad easier (due to my chubby fingers) to get the ring started without the OTA in the way.

Oh, and one thing to make sure of, whichever way you are putting the rings on, the side of the plastic garden edging tube that did not have the plastic attached to it, is the edge that go up against the scope rings. This allows for a much more even surface to rotate against.


Next, push the Wilcox ring that will be next to the top scope ring into place, and re-attach your scope rings. Both Wilcox rings should be on the outside of the scope rings they will rotate against (look at final photo below for a reference).

Now mount your OTA with all your rings onto your equatorial mount and balance your scope as for an observing session. This will ensure that the position of the mounting rings will be correct before the Wilcox rings are tightened.


Tighten the Rings

Now you are ready to tighten down each Wilcox ring using a flat-head screwdriver. Tighten the hose clamp on the inside of each ring, being careful not to over tighten, but at the same time. ensure that the rotating ring cannot move up or down the OTA. Once you have the ring tight enough, you should have an installation as shown, right.

You are now ready to use you rings! All you have to do is loosen the scope rings enough to allow you to rotate the OTA and voila! you no longer have an object in the sky that you cannot view due to an awkward viewing position! Make sure you always re-tighten your scope rings before transporting the OTA if you use a handle (as in the picture on the right).

Finally, I suggest that you buy a spare dovetail bar to mount on top of your scope rings to add stability when using the Wilcox rings.

Best Always and Clear Skies,

Daniel Maloney

Mild-mannered programmer by day, caped-crusading amateur astronomer by night, Ohio-native Daniel Maloney lives in Round Rock, Texas and is a member of the Austin Dam Astronomers of Austin, TX. Daniel is the developer, technical advisor and frequent contributor to Telescope Junkies, the Andy's ShotGlass Amateur astronomer's forum.

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