Why I chose Zhumell
I looked at Meade, Sky Watcher and Orion dobs and carefully
weighed all the options. Seeing as they are all either Synta or GSO
made, they should offer similar optics and after reading many forums
and reviews on the subject, that seemed to be the case. The pricing
is similar between the above mentioned brands so what do you get from
Zhumell that you donít get from the competition? A 2 speed
crayford focuser, a wide field 2Ē EP, a laser collimator, a
50mm RACI finder and cooling fan standard. Some of the other brands
give you some of those features, but no one offers all of them except
Zhumell. At under $600 shipped, itís a bargain.
The OTA came in one box, and the base came in a second box. Both
were single boxed, and all the contents survived without a scratch.
Everything was well packed, and I was impressed overall with
Zhumellís packing job.
The instructions were pretty worthless, but a quick look at the
parts and a glance at a picture of the finished product only required
a little common sense to put it together. Assembly of the base
brought back memories of putting together Ikea furniture. Itís
cheap particle board laminated with a solid black veneer thatís
a little heavy, but it works. The OTA only needed the bearings to be
installed, attach the finder and youíre good to go. It took
about 30 minutes from start to finish. All you need is a screwdriver
and the supplied allen wrench.
Complete Scope! (+Telrad)
New Bearings: This is my first dob, but I like the
bearings. The OTA drops in nicely to the base and the bearings give
you something to hold onto when carrying the OTA. They feel well made
and allow smooth movements. The base motions are smooth as well.
Overall movements are better than I had anticipated. The scope needs
counter weights to balance when pointed towards the horizon, but
anything higher than around 45 degrees, it works great. I think this
will easily be fixed with a few magnets. No big deal.
Fit and Finish: Overall, I am pleased. The base is nothing
special, but the paint on the OTA looks nice and the optics were 100%
clean and dust free. All of the accessories are decent quality and
comparable to other major manufacturerís products. There are no
obvious flaws that I can find.
Included Items: The 2Ē 30mm 68 degree EP included is
quite a step up from the 25mm plossl included with most other dobs.
Yes, it does feel cheap and the views are soft around the edges of
the FOV, but the coatings look good and the views are decent in the
center. Itís quite comfortable to look through and I would
prefer it to a plossl for most DSOís. This is a sub-$100 SWA
EP in an F5 scope, so donít expect Panoptic performance, but
Iím keeping it anyways.
The Laser Collimator (with a set of extra batteries!) is a
nice touch too. The laser beam was centered from the factory so I
didnít have to adjust it. It worked great out of the box.
Surprisingly, the optics were only a little out of collimation. Was
Fed Ex actually nice to a telescope for once? I consider myself
lucky. It only took a few minutes to achieve perfect collimation and
the primary mirror is centered marked as to be expected.
8x50 RACI Finder: This is a lifesaver. Itís great to
have a finder that actually matches star charts and doesnít
require you to have to put the side of your face against a cold OTA.
I canít seem to figure out why some folks are still putting a
straight through finder on a dob. It makes no sense to me. The finder
combined with a Telrad (and some good charts) is a wonderful
combination that makes finding targets easy. Alignment was easy and
stars are tack sharp.
So far, the optics have exceeded my expectations, but I have not
done a direct side-by-side comparison with other dobs. Itís
great to have so much light gathering power compared to the scopes
Iíve had in the past and thatís where the Z10 really
excels. DSOís that were once faint smudges only seen with
averted vision jump out like never before. This thing pulls in A LOT
of light. Thereís no substitute for size. Views are little soft
near the edges with the 30mm included EP, but Iím blaming the
EP, not the scope. The detail on the moon and Saturn is incredible.
At 208x using a 12mm University Optics HD ortho and a 2x barlow, I
could see no noticeable breakdown of image quality and was sharp to
the edge of FOV. It can challenging to track at 200x, but with a
little practice it can be done. I will probably use my 102ED on my
go-to mount for most planetary observation, but mostly for the
convenience, not because the views are better. Overall, the views
The Bad (and not bad, but worth considering):
There are a few issues, but most dob owners seem to ďimproveĒ
their scopeís functionality with a few modifications no matter
what kind it is. The Z10 is no exception and could benefit from a few
minor tweaks. These are only my initial reactions and surely
experienced dob owners can think of many more beneficial mods. This
is more intended for the average user (like me) who wants to use it
out of the box.
1) The screws/springs that adjust the primary mirror are a little
small. The secondary mirror holds collimation well, but the primary
does not. Luckily, it only takes a few minutes to adjust, but needs
to be done each observing session. Many do this anyways, but stronger
springs would be a good and inexpensive upgrade.
2) The OTA needs balancing help when viewing low targets and/or
using heavy EPís. Itís a dobÖwhat else is new
3) The lens cap sucks. Maybe Iím spoiled by metal, thread-on
lens caps, but the Z10ís cap is made of hard plastic and snaps
into the inside of the OTA. My old C8 was also hard plastic and
attached in a similar way, but it was easy to get on and off. The
Z10ís cap is difficult to get back on. I suppose thatís
why I see so many people with shower caps on their dobs? PerhapsÖ
4) Not a bad thing, but consider the size and weight of this thing
before you buy one. The Z10 is bigger than it looks. Itís
slightly awkward to carry (in 2 pieces of course) although not
uncomfortably heavy. I can easily carry it down a short flight of
stairs and 25 feet into the backyard. It doesnít make much of a
living room piece either (according to my wife). She much preferred
my 80mm refractor on an EzTouch over the ďbig, black, empty
tubeĒ. I was considering the Z12, and I am glad I stuck with
the Z10 for its size. Anything bigger or heavier is approaching the
limit of what I consider reasonable to carry and set up by myself.
I am quite pleased with the Z10. The included goodies and great
price-to-performance ratio make it an outstanding value. Itís
well made, works well out of the box, and the views are outstanding.
While itís not perfect, itís
quite good for the money for any level observer.
Thanks for reading and clear skies.