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Mounts Questions & Expirience / Re: Stellar Masses stainless steel counterweights
« Last post by neilson on February 24, 2018, 01:31:35 AM »
I started this topic in cloudy nights forum and I ended up getting ripped off by Stellar Masses. He kept all my money and never sent the counterweight. When my credit union credit card contacted him about this he lied to them and said he sent it to me.  My address is a UPS mail box in a small town and I know the owner. He watched for it for me and I went there every day but it never arrived.  His website is now closed down and he stole $164.00 from me.   
Eyepieces Questions & Recommendations / Re: "Planetary" Eyepieces
« Last post by Jim Snyder on February 09, 2018, 11:36:41 AM »
Good discussion. However, what I am most curious about is objective optical performance, regardless of the other drawbacks, be they small FOV, tight eye relief, or rarity and expense. Obviously trying them out is the best way to evaluate, perhaps one day.

I have a good collection of EPs that are comfortable to use and good on axis. The type of people who read this forum, however (myself included), tend to be curious if there's any more tangible performance available. Would I find a contrast improvement in a 5.1mm XO vs my current 10mm XW + ES ED 2" Barlow? How about against a straight 5mm XW?

I've already improved my scope as much as possible. It's flocked, the primary has been tested and refigured, the secondary was replaced. I have an EQ Tech platform for tracking, and am dabbling with binos. More aperture (and correspondingly smaller CO) is in the future, but maybe a year or two away as I work with what I have and figure out what I want.
ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Re: String Telescopes
« Last post by Scott Bentley on February 09, 2018, 11:35:59 AM »
Several folks here in Portland have built string telescopes - Dan Gray is the original creator; David Nemo built a 20" string telescope and had a build thread here.

Link to my archived buildthread:

Last year I had the mirror reground to around f3.5 - as I got tired of moving and climbing a ladder. Rebuild was a snap. Just shortened the strings and poles, and good to go.

Reflectors Telescopes Forum / Re: Understanding Reflectors...
« Last post by tioraigenroi on February 09, 2018, 11:35:02 AM »
Oh I forgot the incredible...

Vixen VSD 380mm F/3.8
Reflectors Telescopes Forum / Re: Choosing a custom Dob Maker
« Last post by nalchsilnighnul on February 09, 2018, 11:34:17 AM »
Research, research, research online as well as looking through scopes from various makers led me to a list of criteria.
I insisted on a fast mirror that would allow me to avoid using a ladder. and to remain seated for most observing
I wanted the biggest fast mirror that would fit, fully assembled, through the conventional sized door to my climate controlled storage shed.
I wanted input on design features unique to my personal needs such as left sided focuser, dew heater on secondary, built in SIPS, integrated wheels, ability to run it with Nexus DSC and a few other things. I am partial to the look of wood.

This led me to identify Mike Lockwood as my preferred mirror maker (not that there might not be others)
Mike works frequently with John Pratte ( their shops are close to each other) and together they have done significant work on mirror support and mirror cooling systems. They were both very receptive to questions via email. Liking what I learned so far, I planned a weekend trip to visit these men and their shops. They were supremely accommodating, answered numerous questions and showed me details of their work. Unfortunately conditions did not favor viewing that night.

After a few hours, we decided that a 20" F 3.0 would meet my needs. I left with that plan in mind, needing to decide only mirror substrate and of course if I was really going to spend that much on a hobby (I am half Scottish, so these decisions require thought  ).

John contacted me after my visit to follow-up and say he had found a different set of wheels that would allow me to get a 22" scope through a 36" door, so after a bit more thought I went for it. this is the biggest scope I can get without redesigning the building. It is a simple roll-out to the yard for viewing then roll back in when I am done. No assembly or disassembly required. No wheel barrow handles required since John's integrated wheels allow the scope to work as if it has an integrated hand-truck. The scope holds collimation well, needing only a tiny tweak after rolling it down a ramp and 20-30 yards across the "yard" (bumpy). When needed, the scope breaks down easily for transport to darker skies. It takes maybe 20 minutes to assemble in the field (no help needed).

John was kind enough to deliver it to my home (about 500 miles). He spent a few days making sure all was right, observed with me and pointed out all I needed to know about the scope. We toured the Barber Motorsports Museum and enjoyed a great time together. Since receipt, I have been ecstatic with the scope. It rocked at OkieTex and put up views that drew all positive comments throughout the week (and I had the smallest scope in our group).

I am certain that most if not all of the builders noted here are top quality. To most of us this is a once in a lifetime purchase and I think that introduces some degree of subjectivity. I like to think of myself as having a scientific, objective mind, but I also knew I did not want to put down this much money and be plagued with "what ifs". What if I had gone bigger or smaller? What if I chose a different mirror substrate? What if...?

By getting to know these two men of whom I had read so many praises, I can say that it was ultimately a very personal decision. I feel confident that I have the best scope for me. There is no buyer's remorse. I feel that my hard earned money has been well spent and I am thrilled with the way the scope looks, handles and puts up views. There have been no second thoughts and no regrets.

I wish the OP luck in working through this challenging but important decision. I hope that the process is as enjoyable as I found it to be and the result is as personally satisfying. Scope details are in the link in my signature.
ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Re: Dimensions for 8" f6 reflector
« Last post by Drew Bullets on February 09, 2018, 11:33:22 AM »
Oh good heavens, I LOVE my 3-vane spider on my 8" f/6 dob. It replaced a 4-vane about 15 years ago.

Is anyone making those anymore? I would probably avoid Protostar even though that's where I bought mine.

I've seen them in a number of inexpensive scopes. I had a 5" f/6.5 newtonian with a 3-vane spier, and I used to sell a 4.5" with a 3-vane spider.
But I think many of the ones I've seen in the field in scopes >6" have been home-made.
I am also concerned with the ability of the spider to hold collimation as the scope points low, and this seems to be the Achilles foot of the 3-vaned curved spider,
especially as the scope gets larger than 8".
Reflectors Telescopes Forum / Re: Leave Scope Outside for the Night or Bring it In?
« Last post by John Wilson on February 09, 2018, 11:32:33 AM »
Would you leave a Cat outside all night? Then why a Dob?

ATM, Optics and DIY Forum / Re: Cant afford vantablack?
« Last post by unamprodce on February 09, 2018, 11:31:48 AM »
I wish this stuff was around when I was building and writing about my Definitive Newtonian Reflector a few years ago. My hands are too far gone now to redo the tube.
Eyepieces Questions & Recommendations / Re: Eye Relief
« Last post by Greg Fleming on February 09, 2018, 11:31:03 AM »
I prefer eye relief in the 10-20mm range with a rubber non-adjustable eyecup or no eyecup.
Reflectors Telescopes Forum / Re: What's the Biggest Dob That Would be Good for Me?
« Last post by Leon Vale on February 09, 2018, 11:30:14 AM »
My 12" Orion Truss dob is not terrible... a few extra pieces in that you have the tube in 2 pieces, and a bag with the trusses

Like I said, a 12" might be a nice replacement for the 10", to use at home. But a 12" would only be about a 50% increase in light grasp. A 14" would double the light grasp. Much better for a scope I want to take to dark sites.

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