Home / Baytronix 150mm Newtonian
by Jon Isaacs 07/06/05 | Email Author
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Baytronix 150mm 1400mm Short Tube Newtonian
Is it a Decent
The short story: No, avoid this scope under all circumstances.
The Long story:
Over the years I have been an amateur astronomer, I have enjoyed observing
with many simple, inexpensive telescopes. Many of these are made in China
and sold by vendors such as Orion and Celestron. Examples are the Orion
XT-8 Dobsonian, the Celestron First Scope 80mm EQ and the Orion Space Probe
130 ST. Each of these scopes is capable of giving pleasing views, is reasonably
well made mechanically and is a good value. These scopes often have flaws,
undersized mounts, less than perfect focusers but overall are of decent quality
and capable of getting a new observer started in this hobby on the right foot.
I consider these to be decent scopes.
In the past few years Ebay has bloomed and with it a variety of products that
seem to only be marketed on Ebay. In the Telescope world, these are known
as EBay scopes and the most common one seems to be the 150mm 1400mm FL Short
Tube Newtonian sold under a variety of names, Baytronix, Event Horizons, and
Optrons are some of them. People who sell these seem to have good ratings
and yet the astronomy community has given them bad marks and suggested that
these scopes are to be avoided, "trash scopes." However, a serious review
seems to be lacking so I decided to review an "EBay" scope in order to provide
first timers with an honest appraisal from an experienced observer.
Thus, a few months ago when I saw a Baytronix 150/1400 Newtonian available on Astromart, I contacted the seller and arranged for
purchase. My attitude in approaching this telescope and review was to give
this scope every chance to perform and provide enjoyable views. My secret
hope was that this scope would actually be a good value, a great deal though
not a great scope. I wanted to find out whether if the Ebay scopes are "Decent
scopes" or just imitations of the real thing.
Purchase and what I got:
As any hobbyist knows, the anticipation waiting for the arrival of new equipment
is part of the pleasure and this scope was no different. It cost me $110
used, the first owner had apparently paid about $160 including shipping.
The "Buy Now Price" plus shipping puts the Baytronix 150mm Newtonian
at over $200. This is close enough to the entry-level 6 inch Dobsonians that
one must keep them in mind when evaluating the Baytronix 150/1400.
The package arrived and of course I couldn't wait to tear it open. The entire
scope arrived in a single box 11" x 14" x 32", surprisingly small for a six
inch scope complete with an Equatorial mount. Visual inspection showed 2
decent looking Plossl eyepieces, 25mm and 6.5mm, a light weight extruded aluminum
tripod, an EQ mount somewhere in size between and EQ-1 and an EQ-2 with a
non-standard dovetail, a pair of non-hinged split rings, a maroon Optical
Tube Assembly (OTA) 20 inches long with a smooth plastic focuser and a 6x30
finder on a plastic mount. Also included was plastic 2X barlow of limited
usefulness. I was able to assemble it in 30 minutes and all went rather
smoothly. The 3-vane spider supporting the secondary mirror is cast and
part of the tube end ring.
First light with any telescope, whether it is an expensive sophisticated instrument
or an inexpensive simple scope, is always a time of expectations, excitement
and fear, the Baytronix 150/1400 was no different. Sometimes
one takes a few first looks and knows that they are in the presence of an
optical masterpiece. Sometimes one takes those first few looks and knows
that there is work to be done but in general things are looking good. And
sometimes one takes those first few looks and realizes that something is horribly
The first target for this Baytronix 150/1400 was the first quarter
moon using the 25mm Plossl at 56x. In anticipation, the scope had been allowed
to cool for more than an hour in the mild San Diego Spring weather. The eyepiece
itself seemed quite decent (and in other scopes does a nice job) despite its
limited 40 degree Apparent Field of View (AFOV.) The mount seemed reasonably
sturdy, the action of the slow motion controls relatively smooth. The finder
was adequate, not as bright or sharp as an Orion 6x30 finder. The finder
mount is flexible plastic, a problem in those awkward positions but still,
not so bad. The mechanical parts of this scope, while not really up to what
I expect from Orion and Celestron entry level equipment, were still adequate
to support this 20 inch OTA in a reasonable fashion..
I was ready to be pleasantly surprised by this low power view of the moon,
in my experience even the most mediocre optics will give nice views of the
moon at 50-60x. The brightness and overwhelming numbers of craters and canyons
help make a sharp, exciting view.
However, that was not to be. My first view was extremely disappointing, the
very center of the field of view had a slight amount of "crispness" that area
was every small less than 10% of the field of view and the image became progressively
"softer" away from the center. My number three had struck, something was
horribly wrong. Switching eyepieces to a proven Plossl made no improvement.
A quick look at Jupiter confirmed that there were serious problems. Not only
had Jupiter developed its own bright nebular companion but there were no cloud
bands to be seen. The moons were there to see but rather than being round
points each was smear of aberrations. A single star could not be brought
to a focus, rather large bright aberrations apparently partially comatic surrounded
the star. Keeping the scope as it arrived, I pointed the finder towards
the ring nebula M57 and then the Great Cluster in Hercules, M13. Each could
be seen in the eyepiece. The view of M13 was not in keeping with the capabilities
of a 6in F9 scope, at no magnification was there even a hint of resolution.
In comparison my RV-6 with probably 30 year old mirror coatings shows resolution
near the edge of M13, at 30X and quite nearly resolved at 130x.
At this point, the obvious conclusion was that the scope needed to be collimated.
This was far worse behavior than I had ever seen before, far beyond what my
12.5 inch F4 can do when far out of collimation but still, collimation is
one of the three keys to a Newtonian. (The others are cool down/thermal equilibrium
and good seeing.)
Collimation of this scope is complicated. There is corrector lens, a Barlow
like doublet that sits in the front of the focuser drawtube that is supposed
to correct the aberrations caused ~F4 spherical mirror. It further acts like
a Barlow in that it changes the actually ~550mm focal length of the mirror
to the 1400 mm effective focal length of the complete telescope. I centered
spotted the primary mirror and over the next week I tried every possible collimation
technique I knew: squaring the focuser, collimating with a Cheshire, laser,
Barlowed laser, with and without the corrector lens, with the corrector lens
flipped over, every possible combination possible but essentially there was
never any significant improvement. I contacted collimation expert Vic Menard
for suggestions, I had tried them all...
Renowned Amateur "Monk's" Monkulus inspecting the 7 inch long drawtube and
corrector for possible sources of the aberrations in the Baytronix 150/1400.
I finally decided that if the problem with this scope is collimation, it is
beyond my capabilities and beyond those certainly of a first time scope owner,
somone who simply wants a scope that is capable of providing reasonably sharp
and artifact free views of the some interesting targets, the Moon, Jupiter,
Saturn, for the more adventurous, some nice DSOs.
With all this in mind, I took the Baytronix 150/1400 with me to the mountains for a
dark site observing session. My
hours of trial and error had slightly improved the views of Jupiter, the
haze/nebula was slightly smaller, sometimes with careful "focusing"
one could see hints of the cloud bands.
Viewing DSOs was disappointing.
They were there to be seen but the lacked any semblance of resolution or
sharpness, no bright views sharp views of open clusters like the Butterfly
Cluster (M6) or one of my favorites, the Wild Duck (M11) cluster. Even in my old Cometron Jr, 125mm Short
Tube (as is the Baytronix) Newtonian the Wild Duck would focus into those
myriad of pinpoint stars. In
this scope, it was just blobby....
I spent $110 of my cash, money that could have gone to a
better eyepiece or a nice finder or a gift for my wife, to get the lowdown on
the Baytronix 150/1400 and by extension other Ebay telescopes. I had no expectations of the Baytronix
150/1400 though I
did have hopes and dreams and a goal to share my experiences.
Since acquiring this scope I have discussed the optical
issues with several other owners and there seems to be a consensus that none of
them have decent optics and they viewers are similar to what I have seen. I do not believe this is a
quality control problem, rather it is a design and manufacturing problem. These scopes just do not have the
potential to provide the sorts of views one can expect from a entry level
Chinese scope marketed by companies like Celestron, Orion, Hardin and
My final conclusion is that these scopes are poor imitations
of a real telescope and should be avoided under all circumstances. This scope provides the worst views I
have even seen in any telescope and that includes telescopes like the Jason
480, which later became the Celestron Table Top 76.
The amateur astronomical community as a whole has said that
these telescopes are to be avoided and I wholeheartedly agree. They have been called many names
by many people, but myself, I avoid using terms like "Junk" and
"Trash," that is not my way.
Rather I suggest these telescopes are like a $50 department
store bicycles, it looks like the real thing, in fact it is made to look like
the real thing. One can hop on it
and actually ride it up and down the street.
But if one happens to jump on a decent bicycle, one that has real brakes
instead of imitation stamped steel brakes, one that fits the rider, one that has
been properly put together and assembled, if one gets on a decent bike, then it is immediately apparent that one is
but a toy, an imitation made to look like the real thing, the other is the real
thing, a tool made to do a job in the best possible manner given the
constraints of cost and size.
There are decent telescopes available for under $250, some under $200, that
are quite nice. Examples are the Orion Starblast, the Hardin, Celestron and
Orion 6 inch DOBs, the Orion 4.5 inch DOB, the Orion Space Probe 130, the
Celestron First Scope 80 EQ, these are all good quality, decent scopes that are
capable of providing excitement and exploration for observers young and
old. In my view, the Baytronix
150/1400 is made to
imitate the 6 inch F5 EQ-3 mounted Newtonians that are sold by Orion and
others. Sadly, it is a far
cry from these capable
"Monks" Monkulus remembering pinpoint views provided by the Orion Space Probe
130mm F5 Parabolic Newtonian and the disappointment of the Baytronix 150mm
F9. He points out that the longer tube length of the SpaceProbe 130ST is
the key to knowing that the longer focal length of the Baytronix is achieved
by a refractive corrector scheme and that the mirror actually has a much shorter
While a persistent and skilled person could use the Baytronix 150/1400 and a creative person could replace the mirror or even regrind it,
that is beyond limits of this review.
PLEASE DO NOT BUY THIS SCOPE, IT IS NOT A GOOD DEAL OR A GOOD SCOPE. IF
YOU HAVE ONE, PLEASE DO NOT SELL IT OR GIVE IT TO SOMEONE ELSE, DO THE COMMUNITY
A FAVOR AND KEEP IT OUT OF THE "FOOD CHAIN." I AM KEEPING MINE AND WOULD
FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE GIVING IT TO SOMEONE.
Best wishes, clear skies
About Jon Isaacs:
I have been a long time participant in astronomy on the web, first as a participant
in the group Science.Astro.Amateur, learning from and conversing with the
likes of "Uncle Rod" Mollise and other luminaries. I consider Rod "I never
met a scope I didn't like" Mollise as my role model, "a true gentleman of
the internet." I am something of a scope junky, I currently owns a dozen
or so scopes, ranging from the Orion Funscope 76mm (a great scope) to a pair
of 12.5 inch Newtonians. I enjoy observing with simple inexpensive telescopes
and enjoy tweaking them to get the most from them. I believe it is my ability
to enjoy simple scopes in spite of their flaws that allows me to evaluate
scopes like the Baytronix 150/1400 in way that has meaning to first time scope
I am currently a moderator on both the Astromart and CloudyNights Beginner's
forum. My goal is to be a "trusted friend" for people who are just starting
out without experience and without someone to help them. I hope to be someone
to guide them and help them make wise choices with their hard-earned money.