Having taken delivery of the ‘little’ Tak e-130d, I got thinking of what I’ll be doing while imaging with it. Potentially hours of scope time taken up with multiple exposures, never being able to just scan the skies.
So, after plenty of research and talking with some ASV club members, I was able to decide on getting a dobsonian as a first sky-hopping scope. I was considering a range of SCTs, but in the end decided they were too expensive and their focal lengths of around 2000mm far too long.
Storage of the scope is important to me – we don’t have a huge house, and whatever is in there is already full of ‘crap’! Not many spare nooks. Those of you with kids will understand. Especially kids under 10. I can’t even manage to store a dobsonian base inside, rather deciding I can risk storing its fortunately crude structure under a rainproof cover, in one of our courtyards.
Once I’d measured up my bedroom corner, which struck me as a prime storage area, I worked out that I could easily store a 10 inch tube.
But then I remembered the impressively designed Meade Lightbridge scopes, with the open truss design! A quick call to Bintel confirmed that their $1,300 12 inch version would fit snugly next to my bedside table!
What the heck I thought, Aperture is KING. So yes, I popped over there and bought one.
As it is shown in the Bintel showroom:
Here’s the scope tubes tucked away in our bedroom:
The telescope base took me 30 mins to assemble, just screwing some pre-tapped screws via the reasonably clear instructions. The turntable base was a pain to assemble though, would’ve been easier with an extra pair of hands.
The base itself is the weakest link in the scope. While vertical movement is pleasingly stiff yet smooth, and friction controlled via a little wheel (a late inclusion by Meade I believe, to assist those with heavier eyepieces and accessories), the horizontal R/A aspect of the turntable was really, really poor. The knob used to control friction is pretty much useless, it cant press the plates together enough to create enough friction.
The good news however, was the practical ability to put this large base in my rear passenger chair in the car! That helps, slightly….
So last night’s viewing/testing session was fairly frustrating, being very difficult to aim objects in the centre of field. I’m patient though, so would wait till today to revisit the assembly. Today I pulled it apart, worked out that the assembly couldn’t really be tweaked to increase friction. I was doing this under our lemon tree, when I had a brainwave – let’s just try shoving a tapered twig in the turntable, to increase friction and enable the thing to stop moving. Well shoot me, it worked! Very gradual movement and dead-still once stopped. Such a simple solution.
A real surprise is the ease of basic assembly. I swear, from lugging out the 15kg/30lb mirror tube, to assembling the VERY easy to place truss arms and locking in the top secondary mirror tube, it only took me 10 mins! A quick laser collimation later, I was set. Bloody good.
I have my nice set of $300 each Televue Delos eyepieces, but the largest I have is a 24mm Panoptic. I was really lusting after a 41mm Pano! But at this stage, enough is enough, dollar wise. So while at Bintel I picked up one of their $59 42mm Taiwanese made EPs.
Well, what a great decision that was. When I used that EP on the new scope, I was met with pin sharp stars and a fairly wide 68 degree view. 35 power in my 1500mm focal length Frankenstein (his new name, coz he can be pulled apart) A bargain eyepiece that, highly recommended.
Sadly the provided red dot finder proved to be another weak link. Yes I am a noob, but it wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t aim the thing, and more seriously, no amount of adjustment could correct for error. I was able to track onto some of our brighter stars, like Sirius and Rigel, but couldn’t adjust the finder to lock onto those stars. I’ve since played with the adjustment nuts further, and will reattempt next time. If no success, I’ll take back to Bintel.
I couldn’t even aim at the giant Orion nebula which was beaming down on me. Really frustrating.
When I slipped the 10mm Delos eyepiece in, I was disappointed with the non-sharp star views. These EPs are ruthless in magnifying any imperfections. I think the mirror was still cooling down, and collimation needed a little adjustment. After a second collimation once I’d used the scope for an hr, the stars sharpened up a bit more. But certainly, the scope highlights the disadvantages of reflectors, large ones at that. The scope comes with a cooling fan, but I didn’t bother using it on the test night.
So, my end opinion is that the scope has a heap of potential, but it needs a few tweaks to get it to become useful. The 35 power view is glorious, many stars in the field, even under my relatively light polluted skies. I can’t wait to get a bit more expert at aiming, then try the lightbucket in a darker sky setting. This is all possible due to its supreme portability, relatively speaking! Be warned, both the base and mirror tube are hefty objects, they’ll keep you fit if you move them around often.