Author Topic: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights  (Read 657 times)

Paul Nyuon

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« on: December 30, 2017, 05:01:12 AM »
Dear Astro-colleagues,

I have had an Edge HD SCT 8" for a while now and love it. However, I am succumbing to "aperture fever" and am thinking of picking up the Skywatcher 12" go-to Dobsonian (f/4.9  FL 1200mm). I've never owned a Dob, but some colleagues have recommended that this would do the trick. I want to see more than just a faint averted-vision wisp when it comes to DSOs--at least a bit of structure here and there. I know LP is a problem, but aperture will help, of course. Moreover, the 12" Skywatcher seems the right balance for bank and back at this stage for me.

I would like to hear your experiences, views, comments, critiques and insights on the Skywatcher Dobs (especially the go-to version) and especially because I've owned only SCTs thus far. Also, non-Skywatcher Dob information you deem relevant to this post is very much appreciated here.

What do I need to know, understand, be aware of, consider, etc.? Your thoughtful insights would be very welcome!

How have the Skywatcher go-to units been working out for you? (I would use SkyFi + Sky Safari Pro with it, as it has a serial port).

Lastly, from what I understand, I will need also:

-a light shroud

-Telrad (I have already)

-a cover (for example for overnight outdoors at a Star party)

-a laser collimator

- some have said a 7mm EP (or there about--my smallest is currently 9mm Nagler) for the "sweet spot".What are good medium-power focal length EPs for (f/4.9  FL 1200mm)?

Is there anything I've overlooked?

Many thanks in advance for your comments!

~Lem



explacgarco

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2017, 11:41:16 AM »
Anyone out there with Skywatcher dobs of 12" and over?

Ronald Saldana

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2017, 11:36:45 PM »
Lem I have just recently acquired a Skywatcher 12" collapsible dob. I have only had it about a week and it is my very first telescope, so unfortunately I am not much help to you. I will be looking forward to seeing what others have to recommend to you though.

Jomega Ceo

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 114
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2018, 11:08:03 PM »
Quote
Lem I have just recently acquired a Skywatcher 12" collapsible dob. I have only had it about a week and it is my very first telescope, so unfortunately I am not much help to you. I will be looking forward to seeing what others have to recommend to you though.

Thanks, FarmerWhite, please give updates as you go, as well; it would be great to hear how it works out for you. Sadly, this thread has yet generate any commentary. Bit of a niche topic, perhaps, I'm not sure. I'd really like to know more though.

Owen Khan

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 134
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 12:22:59 AM »
I have a push-to 12", and my mirrors are being tested. Once I get some results I'll post them.

I would go with a Rigel Quick Finder if you decide on this telescope. The Telrad finder was a little awkward to use when I had one on mine.

Other than that I suppose it's just a lot of the other things you hear in general about commercial dobs; upgrade your focuser, flock the tube, get an astrozap shroud, cut up a plastic bottle to make washers for your secondary, etc...

Good luck with whatever you decide to go with.

Nathan Sorgaard

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 124
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 11:42:08 PM »
I just got a 14" push to from the sale at astronomics ($1300). So far so good, I'm pretty deep into modding it at this point. Having some issues with DSC mounting at this point. SW changed the ground board design and now I need a new Az bolt made by Astro Devices.

So far it's a good scope, and from my initial testing it has a good mirror.

I used to have a C11, and I get better views from a dob. And 14" so far is wowing me at the EP on DSO (the color!). Planetary resolution is awesome, too. I'm mostly interested in planetary stuff, so I went with 14", but the DSO performance is such that I'm wondering if I shouldn't have just gone right up to the 16".

Any commercial dob is going to require tweaks. So far I've done:
1. Moonlite focuser (moved from my old dob)
2. Wheelbarrow handles (this 14" is now fantastic for grab and go)
3. DSCs (AstroDevices mounting hardware, JMI encoders and computer from my old scope)

No idea on your goto questions.

The stock focuser is a no go for me. It has no compression ring, and a crap method to move between 1.25" and 2" eyepices. I *think* you can get a compression ring adapter from scopestuff for $28, plus you'd need a 1.5" extension ($26) and then a 1.25"-2" adapter ($25). You can get a moonlite for $165, GSO for ~$130, so I just don't see the stock focuser as being a good value. I was going to move that focuser over to my old dob, but I'm not sure it's worth it now, after all the other crap you need to buy to end up with a basic 2 speed focuser with unknown holding and collimation abilities.

I'm kind of stunned in this day and age that there's a big company shipping focusers that will mar your eyepieces.

Jasper Banks

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 06:26:36 PM »
I have a Skywatcher Collapsible 12" which I have been using since 2009. I do not have the go to version as I am not big on using techy telescopes (just a personal preference). I can safely say that the scope is fantastic and I have had no complaints with it. Here are some things I will mention and comment on what you have posted regarding purchasing:

1) The telescope is definitely heavy so be prepared to carry it a lot. I did a DIY trick and installed wheels on the base. There are quiet a few posts here where people have constructed trolleys which look really nice. I was okay with the wheels. I use a small dolly to carry the OTA and lift the base. If the path is smooth I have drag the base but always use my dolly for the OTA.

2) For the light shroud, Astromart has nice ones but I am in Canada and thought $90 for a shroud was too much (conversion and shipping etc) so ordered one from All Star Telescopes in Edmonton.

3) I use the Telrad but I removed the finder scope and used double sided tape to mount the base. They know have the base which slides into the finder base as well but I don't think back in 2009 they had one.

4) I use a Tarp I bought at Home Depot for $4 for a cover. I just have ropes that I use to ensure no rain etc hits it.

5) Eyepieces, I basically used the stock eyepieces until last year. When Explore Scientific had their sale I got the 6.7mm 82° FOV & 24mm 68° FOV. They have a sale right now as well. They fit my budget in terms of the cost and I was okay with spending on it as I never upgraded my eyepiece.

6) Focuser - the stock focuser is just OK and I upgraded mine to a Moonlite last year as well.

7) Collimation - I use the Glatter Laser with the TuBlug and have a Cheshire to align the secondary as well. I bought Bob's Knobs for it as it definitely makes collimation easier.

I will try uploading a photo tonight but so far here are my tips. In the meantime here is a video of how to assemble the Dob: http://www.all-start...onian-telescope

Hopefully this helps.

Sean Meyer

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 03:49:17 PM »
Quote
I have a push-to 12", and my mirrors are being tested. Once I get some results I'll post them.

I would go with a Rigel Quick Finder if you decide on this telescope. The Telrad finder was a little awkward to use when I had one on mine.

Other than that I suppose it's just a lot of the other things you hear in general about commercial dobs; upgrade your focuser, flock the tube, get an astrozap shroud, cut up a plastic bottle to make washers for your secondary, etc...

Good luck with whatever you decide to go with.

Thanks for the input, Dave. I'm curious why the Telrad was awkward, because I was planning on going that route. Was it in need of the riser platform to make it easier to use? What exactly was the problem?

Additionally, as I'm new to Dobs in general:

How easy is it to upgrade the focuser in terms of install, etc.?

What does "flock the tube" mean?

Could you elaborate a little on the "...cutting up plastic bottle to make washers..." comment?

Lastly, do you think the 12" would require a paracorr for visual?

Many thanks in advance for your time and comments!
~Lem

Rasheed Grayson

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 134
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 02:31:54 AM »
Quote
Dear Astro-colleagues,I have had an Edge HD SCT 8" for a while now and love it. However, I am succumbing to "aperture fever" and am thinking of picking up the Skywatcher 12" go-to Dobsonian (f/4.9  FL 1200mm). I've never owned a Dob, but some colleagues have recommended that this would do the trick. I want to see more than just a faint averted-vision wisp when it comes to DSOs--at least a bit of structure here and there. I know LP is a problem, but aperture will help, of course. Moreover, the 12" Skywatcher seems the right balance for bank and back at this stage for me.I would like to hear your experiences, views, comments, critiques and insights on the Skywatcher Dobs (especially the go-to version) and especially because I've owned only SCTs thus far. Also, non-Skywatcher Dob information you deem relevant to this post is very much appreciated here.What do I need to know, understand, be aware of, consider, etc.? Your thoughtful insights would be very welcome!How have the Skywatcher go-to units been working out for you? (I would use SkyFi + Sky Safari Pro with it, as it has a serial port).Lastly, from what I understand, I will need also:-a light shroud-Telrad (I have already)-a cover (for example for overnight outdoors at a Star party)-a laser collimator- some have said a 7mm EP (or there about--my smallest is currently 9mm Nagler) for the "sweet spot".What are good medium-power focal length EPs for (f/4.9  FL 1200mm)?Is there anything I've overlooked?Many thanks in advance for your comments!~Lem
I would also add a cooling fan for the mirror. I believe the one that Orion has for their 12" should fit.I have the Sky watcher 14" goto. It's a beast. But the Goto, and tracking functions work great.

napephona

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2018, 04:23:56 AM »
Hi Lem

l own a 14 inch SW dob that is just the basic non go-to dob base configuration.
I have had it for a few months now and overall I am loving it so far. There are good points and a few considerations to take into account.
I did modify it immediately with primary cooling fans, secondary stalk dew heater from R-sky (fantastic), flocked the OTA opposite the focuser, telrad etc.
Positives first, the views are amazing. Blew me away! I haven't had the mirrors tested at all but I am very, very happy with the deep sky and planetary views. Massive difference compared to my 10 inch GSO dob that I had been happily observing with for years.
The collapsible OTA is very portable. It holds collimation very well, although I do wonder how well it will do as it gets older and more used with the 3 pole configuration. Especially as I have a lot of weight in the focuser ( coma corrector and 17 ethos is my heaviest combo).You will definitely need a light shroud for it.
I was going to replace the focuser straight away however decided to use it for a year before committing to this. Pleased I did because although different, the focuser works perfectly fine. All of my eyepieces focus well and it handles the weight of the coma corrector and 17mm ethos very well.
The base is a bit tricky when it comes to portability. It is very big, very heavy and very hard to move when built up. I got a 4 wheel trolley for mine because I can't be bothered breaking it down all the time. I move the base on the trolley and find the OTA is easy to carry around. This way I move it from the garage, around the side of the house to my observing site, and can be set up and ready to go in about 10 minutes, the lightweight conical mirror usually takes at least 30 mins with the fans on to cool.
Overall, I definitely recommend the scope for the optics and overall design. I can't comment on the go-to. Best of luck.

David Patel

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 132
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2018, 11:44:08 PM »
How easy is it to upgrade the focuser in terms of install, etc.?I emailed Moonlite - their response;

"Hi Dave,
Get the CR model focuser with the 2" travel comp ring drawtube, Dual rate with shaft lock.
Then get the universal install kit ---12" size. that will match up the bolt pattern and the profile for your SW12" Dob.
All colors are in stock. See CR 2" focusers under products for the CR focuser and the universal install kit.
Thanks
Ron
www.focuser.com"

Works great!What does "flock the tube" mean?

A google search will give you volumes of info on this. Basically it's just a very low reflective material, more so than the mat black paint from the maker, that limits light scattering. I got my adhesive backed paper from scopestuff.Could you elaborate a little on the "...cutting up plastic bottle to make washers..." comment?

This is was another mod I found on cloudy nights, which aimed to get better finite adjustment of the secondary mirror. I noticed less movement when tightening the mirror.Lastly, do you think the 12" would require a paracorr for visual?

I bought Skywatchers own parcorr made specifically for this scope from a Canadian company, it wasn't available from Skywatcher USA. I didn't really notice any significant improvement. Moving from Pentax to Televue Ethos eyepieces really sharpened up the edges. I would include the 31mm Nagler sucked on this scope, and I sold it off. My Panoptic 35mm was incredible.

James Gruber

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 105
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 02:46:52 AM »
I've had the collapsible goto 12" SkyWatcher for three years and love it. I'm 5' 10" and it puts the eyepiece at a perfect comfortable standing height...no step stool needed. GoTos are always good, but I do like to manually move the OTA to the area of the object to make finding it a bit easier. If you go with the GoTo synscan once the scope is aligned the gotos are close enough you really won't need your Telrad.

One note is that the focal length is 1500mm not 1200mm as mentioned above. I enjoy using both a 2" 32mm and 1.25" 20mm eyepieces for viewing DSOs. I would also say that the 12" was the reason I was able to complete the Herschel 400.

A big +1 on an AstroZap shroud and flocking the area on the OTA opposite the focuser. A field flattener...only if you want the very best of views.

If you plan on viewing only from your house a cart to move the base. I wouldn't want to carry it any more than about 5 feet. The OTA isn't as bad.

If you plan on driving to dark sites a larger vehicle (truck, van, minivan) to transport the base because it won't easily fit in a normal car.

cormuresa

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 116
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 10:51:37 AM »
Quote
I've had the collapsible goto 12" SkyWatcher for three years and love it. I'm 5' 10" and it puts the eyepiece at a perfect comfortable standing height...no step stool needed. GoTos are always good, but I do like to manually move the OTA to the area of the object to make finding it a bit easier. If you go with the GoTo synscan once the scope is aligned the gotos are close enough you really won't need your Telrad.

One note is that the focal length is 1500mm not 1200mm as mentioned above. I enjoy using both a 2" 32mm and 1.25" 20mm eyepieces for viewing DSOs. I would also say that the 12" was the reason I was able to complete the Herschel 400.

A big +1 on an AstroZap shroud and flocking the area on the OTA opposite the focuser. A field flattener...only if you want the very best of views.

If you plan on viewing only from your house a cart to move the base. I wouldn't want to carry it any more than about 5 feet. The OTA isn't as bad.

If you plan on driving to dark sites a larger vehicle (truck, van, minivan) to transport the base because it won't easily fit in a normal car.

Does it need to be pointed at Polaris when you start the alignment?

Does it need just two stars to align or do you add calibration stars to refine the alignment after the initial two?

How well does it hold alignment through the night?

Has dew been a problem on either mirror? Do you use fans or heaters? (If so, which ones?)

Did you ultimately acquire a field flatter then?

Do you have any recommendations for:
-some sort of cart
-flocking 'kits'Many thanks in advance for your time!
~Lem

calfkommomu

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 130
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 02:12:56 AM »
Quote
How easy is it to upgrade the focuser in terms of install, etc.?I emailed Moonlite - their response;

"Hi Dave,
Get the CR model focuser with the 2" travel comp ring drawtube, Dual rate with shaft lock.
Then get the universal install kit ---12" size. that will match up the bolt pattern and the profile for your SW12" Dob.
All colors are in stock. See CR 2" focusers under products for the CR focuser and the universal install kit.
Thanks
Ron
www.focuser.com"

Works great!What does "flock the tube" mean?

A google search will give you volumes of info on this. Basically it's just a very low reflective material, more so than the mat black paint from the maker, that limits light scattering. I got my adhesive backed paper from scopestuff.Could you elaborate a little on the "...cutting up plastic bottle to make washers..." comment?

This is was another mod I found on cloudy nights, which aimed to get better finite adjustment of the secondary mirror. I noticed less movement when tightening the mirror.Lastly, do you think the 12" would require a paracorr for visual?

I bought Skywatchers own parcorr made specifically for this scope from a Canadian company, it wasn't available from Skywatcher USA. I didn't really notice any significant improvement. Moving from Pentax to Televue Ethos eyepieces really sharpened up the edges. I would include the 31mm Nagler sucked on this scope, and I sold it off. My Panoptic 35mm was incredible.

Thanks, Dave!

I have the 35, 27, 24, and 19 Pan(s), along with 17 & 9 Nagler(s), 11 Delite, 14 ES, Baader 24-8 click zoom; which do you think will yield best results for DSOs? For medium power? High power?
I've been told by own store owner that I would need something in the 6-7 range for the "sweet spot"; has that been your experience?

Do you recommend Bob's Knobs for any part of this scope?

Thanks again!
~Lem

Myron Apostolics

  • Active Astronomer
  • ***
  • Posts: 125
  • Activity:
    0%
  • Reputation: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Re: Potential Skywatcher 12" go-to Dob buyer seeks your insights
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2018, 02:44:09 AM »
Quote
Does it need to be pointed at Polaris when you start the alignment?
Nope, but I do take care to level the base. I always use a 2 star align. Once the routine starts I have to find the first star that I pick from a list. Once centered, I pick a second star and the scope does a goto with the second star almost always pretty well centered.

Does it need just two stars to align or do you add calibration stars to refine the alignment after the initial two?
Two stars alignment works well and I don't think that it is even possible to add calibration stars after the alignment.

How well does it hold alignment through the night?
Pretty well, but I rarely go for more than four hours other than Messier Marathon.

Has dew been a problem on either mirror? Do you use fans or heaters? (If so, which ones?)
I live in eastern Missouri, home of summer humidity sometimes in the +90% range. Never dew on the primary, but sometimes dew on the secondary. I've never put a heater on the secondary, but sometimes think about adding something home made.

Did you ultimately acquire a field flatter then?
Nope, I'm OK with what I see.

Do you have any recommendations for:
-some sort of cart
-flocking 'kits'
There is a picture of the modified Harbor Freight dolly I use and other suggestions in https://www.cloudyni...barrow-handles/
One of the places I frequent requires a 100 yd walk to a pad. The dolly works well with the ota mounted on the base.

I used some freebie flocking material from a friend so I can't really tell you what it is. It was peal and press.Many thanks in advance for your time!
~Lem