Author Topic: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors  (Read 162 times)

Zac Purvis

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Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« on: December 24, 2017, 02:12:56 AM »
I plan to Buy either an <strong>Orion </strong>XT8 PLUS, <strong>Zhumell </strong>Z8 Deluxe, or <strong>Sky-Watcher </strong>8" dob, but still Cannot decide between the three. Apart from cost -- Orion being the most expensive of these three -- I am interested in which company/model has exceptional quality, customer service/support, warranties, accessory upgrades, etc..  Or, are they all pretty much the same, with cost being the crucial variable?

I hear oddities like Zhumell maybe scaling back a few of their models and/or accessories; Orion overcharging for almost equal scopes (to rip off newbies), or not needing to take care of third-party customers who didn't purchase (brand new) from them straight; or even Sky-Watcher being less available with fewer options. . .things enjoy that.  From your adventures with these particular models and/or firms, can any one of you give me additional perspectives and insights so I make the best choice?

Of note, I'm not entirely brand new to astronomy and telescopes, but largely I have dabbled a bit through the years using cheap refractors and yet another economical Tasco Galaxsee reflector.I now need something of greater quality/capability which will let me stand in greater awe of the nighttime sky and allow my family grow more of the exact same intrigue.  We've got some fine "dark skies" areas around hereand I do not wish to let those go to waste.



pensranbafarc

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 02:55:36 AM »
Orion prices more, no doubt, but it is not in order to "rip off" anybody.  They'll give excellent customer service to the first purchaser of their gear.  In face, I'd go so far as to state their service is probably the best of the three.  I bought my Orion branded range used, but have bought other items from them.  I have found them to be quite valuable in all of my dealings with them.  In fact, mine came with an obsolete version of Starry Nights - a telephone call netted me a URL to download a new version at no expense to me.
That being said, the Zhumell scopes like a lot of popularity based largely on their lower price for essentially the exact same gear.  I've never used their client support and can't talk to that.  I used a Sky-Watcher dob and wasn't especially impressed with it's construction.  This was a 10" unit and it only came with a single speed Crayford.  It did not hold collimation very well, either.

Dan Perez

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 11:04:29 PM »
Zhumell provides greatest bang for the buck.  Good build quality and also great deal of useful accessories (Double speed Crayford focuser, RACI Finder, Cooling Fan, Laser Collimator, 2" Eye Pieces) are included as well all at a price considerably lower than its rivals.

To get a low tech scope design like a dobsonian I doubt you will ever have to call customer support if you don't are given a extent damaged in shipping.  In that regards I've heard that Zhumell is really fast in delivering replacement.

cieledrore

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 01:19:18 PM »
Go Zhumell. I've owned Orion and Zhumell. Optically the same. Zhumell has a better focuser and the adjustable altitude bearings are superior to anything else in the non-premium lines.

justgegentcal

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2017, 05:40:11 PM »
Both the Zhumell Z8 Deluxe and Orion XT8 PLUS have the dual-speed Crayford focuser, and they each claim a 2" eyepiece (28mm or 30mm). However, only Orion includes the solar filter, Barlow, andthumbscrews for tool-free collimation. Still, only Zhumell includes the laser collimator, cooling fan,and moon filter...not to mention a $120 savings (which can be used for add-ons). I just wish that the Z8 wasn't about 12 pounds heavier than the XT8. That can make a fair difference in how portable the scope is.

Speaking of cost comparison, it's interesting that the Z8, plus the 13-piece accessory kit with filters and lenses, comes to the same total price (including sales tax) as the base price of the XT8 (without sales tax added in yet). I can see much clearer now which gives more bang for the buck.

sanddotshanpens

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2018, 05:10:35 AM »
If you end up buying the Z8 add a Telrad to it. Telrad plus RACI is a killer combination. Also do not waste your money on eyepiece kits instead buy couple of good eyepieces. I personally own Astro Tech Paradigm 25mm/8mm/5mm and Celestron X-Cel 12mm. Both of these product lines are fantastic and will work well in your Dob.

Darren Hatch

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 12:47:50 PM »
What about ease to assemble, disassemble in the light or the dark for transport. Too late for me to change gears  but could help others. Someone else needs to answer this, I'm (too ignorant) unschooled as of yet, but someday.  Enjoy your choice!

Zack Tucker

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 10:54:50 AM »
Quote
If you end up buying the Z8 add a Telrad to it. Telrad plus RACI is a killer combination. Also do not waste your money on eyepiece kits instead buy couple of good eyepieces. I personally own Astro Tech Paradigm 25mm/8mm/5mm and Celestron X-Cel 12mm. Both of these product lines are fantastic and will work well in your Dob.


Welcome to Cloudy Nights.

Indeed. Save your money for where it really counts. Buying or building an observing chair and some good quality collimation tools. IMO the GSO laser compared to the Glatter laser is best suited as a cat teaser as is the Orion laser.

Dan Perez

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 05:43:16 PM »
Quote
What about ease to assemble, disassemble in the light or the dark for transport. Too late for me to change gears  but could help others. Someone else needs to answer this, I'm (too ignorant) unschooled as of yet, but someday.   Enjoy your choice!

I don't think there's any real difference in these models' transport. Regarding assembly and disassembly, I've owned Orion XT dobs with the CorrecTension springs. They are a minor annoyance that I don't miss now that I own Zhumell adjustable altitude bearings.

Jerry Dunn

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2018, 06:14:06 PM »
...zhumell...Zhumell...ZHUMELL!

excunisep

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 01:02:24 AM »
Quote
Both the Zhumell Z8 Deluxe and Orion XT8 PLUS have the dual-speed Crayford focuser, and they each claim a 2" eyepiece (28mm or 30mm). However, only Orion includes the solar filter, Barlow, andthumbscrews for tool-free collimation. Still, only Zhumell includes the laser collimator, cooling fan,and moon filter...not to mention a $120 savings (which can be used for add-ons). I just wish that the Z8 wasn't about 12 pounds heavier than the XT8. That can make a fair difference in how portable the scope is.

Speaking of cost comparison, it's interesting that the Z8, plus the 13-piece accessory kit with filters and lenses, comes to the same total price (including sales tax) as the base price of the XT8 (without sales tax added in yet). I can see much clearer now which gives more bang for the buck.


I own the XT8i which has the same optical tube assembly, OTA, as the XT8 and 8 Plus.  I love the computer assist and recommend it highly.

If i was buying a manual dob I would consider the XT8 but I would not hesitate to get the Z8. The Z8 has a very good reputation.

Where are you going to store and how will you transport the scop?. That will tell you if the extra 12 pounds will be a big issue. Note also that with either scope you can remove the OTA easily for transport than just put it back on. A simple process.

I keep my 8" XT8i on a cart in the garage and just roll it out to the site. Then I lift it off onto the ground for use. However I can pick it up and carry it, fully assembled quite comfortably for 50 to 100 feet with no problem.

Since it is always at ambient temperature i don't need a cool-down period and I don't need a cooling fan.Attached Thumbnails

jumphindnore

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2018, 07:37:09 PM »
Quote
Both the Zhumell Z8 Deluxe and Orion XT8 PLUS have the dual-speed Crayford focuser, and they each claim a 2" eyepiece (28mm or 30mm). However, only Orion includes the solar filter, Barlow, andthumbscrews for tool-free collimation. Still, only Zhumell includes the laser collimator, cooling fan,and moon filter...not to mention a $120 savings (which can be used for add-ons). I just wish that the Z8 wasn't about 12 pounds heavier than the XT8. That can make a fair difference in how portable the scope is.

Speaking of cost comparison, it's interesting that the Z8, plus the 13-piece accessory kit with filters and lenses, comes to the same total price (including sales tax) as the base price of the XT8 (without sales tax added in yet). I can see much clearer now which gives more bang for the buck.


First let me say Hello and

A few thoughts:

- The 28 mm Deep View eyepiece is a three element eyepiece, the 30mm Widefield that comes with the Z-8 is a 5 element design. I think the 30mm is a better eyepiece though in the long run, either one will likely be upgraded.

- The Right Angle Correct Image 50mm finder that comes with the Zhumell is the real deal and a big plus in my way of thinking. Navigating the night sky with a red dot finder alone is difficult, particularly if the skies a urban or suburban and suffer from light pollution.

- Both two speed focusers are decent. I prefer the GSO/Zhumell, it's a very simple design but very effective, it's been around probably 10 years and I have used it on some pretty nice scopes, only replacing it with high end focusers like the Feathertouch..

- Transporting and setting up the scope: Whether it's a 6 inch or a 12.5 inch, I always move tube type Dobs in two pieces, the base and the OTA, it is just so much more convenient. Moving the scope assembled, it's not so much the weight, it's the awkwardness..

- The laser collimator that comes with the Zhumell is an entry level collimator.. Laser collimators can be very useful but the lasers like this one seem to frequently have fit and collimation issues of their own... Before using it, you need to make sure it is collimated by rotating it in the focuser can watching to see if the dot on the primary moves. In my experience, most likely it will, that means collimating the collimator.

- I would not buy an accessory kit with the money saved. I would purchase individual eyepieces and filters as needed. In the Zhumell 13 piece kit, this is what you get:

"Includes four Zhumell Plossl 1.25” eyepieces—4mm, 6mm, 12.5mm and 32mm
Double the magnification of each eyepiece with a 2x Barlow lens
Bring out details on the planets with yellow, orange, red, green, and blue filters
Moon too bright? Try the Moon Filter or Polarizing Filter.
An aluminum case with custom cut foam keeps all of your telescope accessories safe and sound."

Of the 4 eyepieces, you will already have a 30mm 2 inch so the 32mm Plossl is no help and the 4mm and 6 mm Plossls have such short eye relief, that they are barely usable. The planet filters, I rarely use planetary filters, most years I don't. The moon filter, some find the moon too bright, I let my eye adapt... The 2X barlow is nice and the case is nice. What you are getting that are valuable tools, the 12.5mm eyepiece, the 2x Barlow, the case and maybe the moon filter.

My personal preference is for the Zhumell. Zhumell Dobs are manufactured by GSO in Taiwan and back 16 years ago when Orion first introduced the first metal tubed Dobsonians, the original XT Series, they were GSOs.. Within a couple of years, Orion switch suppliers to Synta whom provides most of their stuff. In order to compete with Orion's mass marketing and make up for the lost sales, GSO took the attitude that we will provide you with a better scope. The two speed focuser has been standard for probably 10 years, the better eyepieces, the magnifying finder, this is what you are getting instead of 6 catalogs per year and a fancy website..

Back when, I had one of the original XT-8s manufactured by GSO.. in a year or two, I bought a used 10 inch GSO Dob... It's never been my largest scope nor has it ever been my fanciest scope but it has been a very good scope that I still have and use.. Had some amazing views with that scope..

Jon Isaacs

Jeremy Gambel

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 03:16:38 PM »
Quote
I plan to purchase either an Orion XT8 PLUS, Zhumell Z8 Deluxe, or Sky-Watcher 8" dob, but still cannot decide between the three. Apart from cost -- Orion being the priciest of the three -- I am interested in which company/model has superior quality, customer service/support, warranties, accessory upgrades, etc. Or, are they all pretty much the same, with cost being the key variable?

I hear oddities like Zhumell possibly scaling back some of their models and/or accessories; Orion overcharging for nearly identical scopes (to rip off newbies), or not wishing to deal with third-party customers who didn't purchase (new) from them directly; or even Sky-Watcher being less available with fewer options...things like that. From your experiences with these particular models and/or companies, can any of you give me additional perspectives and insights so I make the best choice?

Of note, I'm not completely new to astronomy and telescopes, but mostly I've dabbled a bit through the decades using cheap refractors and one cheap Tasco Galaxsee reflector.I now want something of better quality/capability that will allow me to stand in greater awe of the night skies and help my family develop more of that same intrigue. We have some nice "dark sky" areas around hereand I don't want to let those go to waste.

May I suggest you provide links to each of the scopes you are considering? The XT8 comes in several flavors and people may not be sureor familiar with the particular package you are considering.

The Z8 is only one version that I know of.

You reference a Sky-Watcher 8" doblThere has been little mention of that here. Again there may be more than one model.

I always find it best to include links when asking about things to avoid receiving recommendations based on the wrong package or, sometimes, the wrong scope.

Tyler Fonseca

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 04:17:32 PM »
Hickinbotham,

I don't know where you live but here on the east coast, it's damp most of the year and the particle board of a standard dob will start to swell if it's stored in a non-conditioned out building for too long. My 8" dob did just that after 1 year. If replacing the ground board and rocker box with good quality ply wood isn't planned, IME, it's best to keep a dob in the house.

As for the fan that comes with the GSO dob and not with the Orion dobs, that fan if running will do quite a bit to keep the primary mirror in sync with changing temps as the night wears on so don't discount it's value on hear-say or out of hand.

Best,

Howard

Eric Guffey

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Re: Help choosing the best of three 8" dobsonian reflectors
« Reply #14 on: January 09, 2018, 11:04:21 PM »
I
<p class="citation">Quote keep my 8" XT8i on a cart in the garage and just roll it out to the site. Then I lift it off onto the ground for use. However I can pick it up and carry it, fully assembled quite comfortably for 50 to 100 feet with no problem.
Since it is always at ambient temperature i don't need a cool-down period and I don't need a cooling fan.

[/quote]

Just because the scope is in a garage, that doesn't mean the mirror is at the ambient temperature, a garage can be several degrees warmer or cooler than the outside air, the goal is to have the scope and particularly the mirror within about 1 degree F of the ambient air. Another important consideration is that after sunset, on clear nights, the temperature typically drops due to radiation cooling. A fan helps the scope track the changing temperature throughout the night.

If one wants the best possible views from a Newtonian, actively cooling the scope with a fan is an important tool.

Jon