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**NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO!

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#1 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 10:11 AM

Opticsmart is proud to introduce the HALO, a combined azimuth-setting-circle/leveling-base designed to fit many of the most popular Dobsonians on the market.

Add a digital angle gauge like the Wixey (sold separately) and finding the most difficult celestial objects becomes fun and easy!




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We should be able to post actual photos to this thread by the middle of next week, and we expect to begin shipping in the next couple of weeks (the designs are complete and we're just waiting on a few materials). Items will be posted to our website for ordering in the next few days.

Prices for the Halo (based on the size of the Dobsonian they are designed for):

8" - $159.95

10" - $169.95

12" - $179.95

David Giles
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#2 csa/montana

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 12:19 PM

Looks like a nice product! I'd be interested if you will be having one for an AT 16" in the future?

#3 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 01:18 PM

Thanks Carol!! :bow: Your mega-epic thread has inspired many astronomers over the years to build their own DIY setting circles, and needless to say I read through it MANY times to make sure we incorporated all the best ideas into the Halo. :thanx:

We do have a 16" version of the Halo fully designed with a finished prototype in-house. BUT the inside dimension of the ring (which is supposed to fit the groundboard of the Dob) is based totally on heresay, because we haven't been able to get our hands on a Meade LB16 for months (the LB16 SHOULD have the exact same groundboard as the AT16). They're on back-order with Meade, but hopefully should be available within the next few weeks. As soon as we can get a base in here so that I can do some very ACCURATE measurements, then we'll be ready to produce the 16" version within a week or two.

You deserve a lot of credit for the popularity of setting circles and the Halo probably wouldn't exist if it wasn't for your enthusiasm and promotion of the setting circle method. So just let me know when you're ready for a Halo and I'll make sure you get some of the $credit$ you've earned. :)

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#4 csa/montana

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 01:50 PM

David, thanks for your kind words. My DIY setting circle thread was a product of love for Astronomy, and I've been so thrilled to see how many members adapted it to their scopes, and passed on new ideas as well.

I'll certainly be looking forward to the availability of the 16" Halo!

#5 coopman

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:22 PM

I use a hand truck to move my AD10. Would I still be able to do that with the HALO installed? I can't tell if it extends down past the ground board enough to cause a problem with the hand truck blade getting under it. Probably not, but I will pose the question anyways.

#6 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 03:39 PM

I use a hand truck to move my AD10. Would I still be able to do that with the HALO installed? I can't tell if it extends down past the ground board enough to cause a problem with the hand truck blade getting under it. Probably not, but I will pose the question anyways.


You don't actually "install" the Halo. You simply point it north and set it on the ground, and then level it. Then you set the Dob base in/on the Halo (a bit like setting a drinking glass down into a form fitting coaster). Then you pick the Dob base up at the end of your observing session, and pick the Halo up separately.

Now technically you COULD permanently attach the Halo to your Dob base if you wanted to, although personally I wouldn't want to do it that way because it would just make the base unnecessarily heavier and bulkier. But you could, and I don't think it would cause any problems with the hand truck. I'll test that at the office on Monday to find out. :)

And I realize that a couple more images would make the setup a little more clear so I'll try to add some more as soon as possible.

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#7 Gastrol

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 04:17 PM

Very nice product indeed! I was hoping someone would come out with a product like this with leveling feet.
Someone should also come out with a dob mat degree circle with a beam of laser as pointer. Just a thought.... :)

#8 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 12:41 PM


Okay, here are several more images. We'll have some photos of the real thing on our website in the next week or so, and we plan to do a video in the near future (when we find time to get around to it...). But hopefully in the meantime these images will help make it more clear how the Halo works with a Dobsonian base.




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#9 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 12:48 PM

Very nice product indeed! I was hoping someone would come out with a product like this with leveling feet.
Someone should also come out with a dob mat degree circle with a beam of laser as pointer. Just a thought.... :)


Thanks Gastrol!

David Giles
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#10 beatlejuice

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 02:11 PM

I have a feeling that designing a HALO for the Orion base will be a bit of a head scratcher but I would like to see it.

Eric

#11 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 02:45 PM

I have a feeling that designing a HALO for the Orion base will be a bit of a head scratcher but I would like to see it.

Eric


Hey Eric, that is definitely high on our agenda, but with the Orion's triangular groundboard it will definitely require some redesign (and probably a little head-scratching along the way :scratchhead:).

But all we really need are some friendly Orion owners willing to trust us with their base for a week or two so that we can get some really accurate measurements and do some fit-testing. Know any such persons.....? :question:

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#12 beatlejuice

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 03:30 PM

David, I will be away until Oct 10. When I get back maybe we can talk about the shipping charges.

Eric

#13 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 03:35 PM

Sounds good Eric.

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#14 Mary B

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 04:24 PM

Price for a z10? I can't find it on your website.

#15 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 04:33 PM

Price for a z10? I can't find it on your website.


Hey Mary,

We don't have the products listed on our website just yet, but they should be up by Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.

But the price for the Zhumell models are the same as for our Apertura scopes:

8" - $159.95 (fits Apertura AD8, Astro-Tech AT8D, Zhumell Z8)

10" - $169.95 (fits Apertura AD10, Astro-Tech AT10D, Zhumell Z10, and Meade Lightbridge 10")

12" - $179.95 (fits Apertura AD12, Zhumell Z12, and Meade Lightbridge 12")

Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks Mary!

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#16 AhBok

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:38 PM

David,

I am the happy owner of a new AD12. If I may make a suggestion. You know those casters you can get at hardware stores that have three wheels and a nice little well in the center? If the wheels on those were locking, then you could offer them as another option for your Halo. There would be no redesign of the halo and then folks wanting the option to wheel their scopes out could simply set the feet into the casters and the levelers would still work. The Halo, while really cool, would not appeal to me personally, since I prefer to keep my AD12 on wheels. But, if it had the option to use wheels, it would be a leveling base, setting circle and scope dolly all rolled into one. Also, do you plan to sell angle finders for alt? If you could source something like the Wixey, but with a red backlight, many of us would buy it.

#17 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 09:06 PM

David,

I am the happy owner of a new AD12. If I may make a suggestion. You know those casters you can get at hardware stores that have three wheels and a nice little well in the center? If the wheels on those were locking, then you could offer them as another option for your Halo. There would be no redesign of the halo and then folks wanting the option to wheel their scopes out could simply set the feet into the casters and the levelers would still work. The Halo, while really cool, would not appeal to me personally, since I prefer to keep my AD12 on wheels. But, if it had the option to use wheels, it would be a leveling base, setting circle and scope dolly all rolled into one. Also, do you plan to sell angle finders for alt? If you could source something like the Wixey, but with a red backlight, many of us would buy it.


Sounds like an interesting idea AhBok! I can't visualize the exact caster wheels you're talking about, so if you can find a picture of them some where, please send it to me. In the meantime I'll take a look at the hardware store some time this week and see if I can find what you're talking about.

We've looked into sourcing digital angle gauges and we MIGHT offer one at some point. But don't hold me to it. :)

David Giles
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#18 Gastrol

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 04:46 PM

Also, for dob owners like myself who are tired of using shims I'd like to see low profile permanent leveling feet which can be mounted under the ground board in place of the standard rubber feet.
Perhaps something like large hockey puck sized knurled discs beneath the ground board with large swivel feet which can be easily turned by hand.

#19 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 07:44 PM

We now have the HALO listed on our website and are ready to take orders:

HALO Setting Circle/Leveling Base for Dobsonian Reflector Telescopes

Currently we have HALOs listed for the Apertura AD8, AD10, and AD12 as well as for the Zhumell Z8, Z10, and Z12. These models will also fit the corresponding size Dobs in the Astro-Tech line as well as the Meade Lightbridge line (and we believe Skywatcher too, but that isn't absolutely confirmed yet). In the next few days we will add specific HALOs for those other brands/models, but in the meantime if you own one of those brands, you can simply order one of the Aperture or Zhumell items since they will fit.

We expect to begin shipping no later than Monday October 15th (possibly sooner, but no guarantee).

And finally some photos of the real thing:


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#20 aznights

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Posted 05 October 2012 - 11:07 PM

Please dont get me wrong, I really like this idea, and I'm very excited about this product announcement. I've even shared about this idea on reddit.com/r/astronomy and to some of my colleagues. But I have to be honest, I feel like price on this is a little high.

#21 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 12:56 PM

Please dont get me wrong, I really like this idea, and I'm very excited about this product announcement. I've even shared about this idea on reddit.com/r/astronomy and to some of my colleagues. But I have to be honest, I feel like price on this is a little high.


I'm glad you like the HALO aznights, and thanks for spreading the word about it to your friends and colleagues! :waytogo:

And I can understand wishing that the HALO was less expensive. I wish EVERYTHING I wanted to buy was less expensive. :grin:

But the HALO isn't a mass produced product that can take advantage of huge economies of scale. All of the materials and parts that make up the HALO must be purchased in relatively small quantities (as compared to say the parts of a wheelbarrow that is made in China and sold by the millions in every Lowe's, Home Depot, and WalMart in America). And the HALO rings are CNC-machined out of 1-1/4" thick Extira (which isn't inexpensive, and because of the ring-shaped nature of the product, as you can imagine the material-yield isn't great). Then we have to do some hand-finishing work on the rings because they aren't ready for prime time right off the CNC bed. The degree circle inlays are also custom-made for us to perfectly fit the CNC'd Extira, and the leveling feet were special ordered as well. After finishing the Extira, we have to properly assemble everything and get it ready to ship.

CNC-machining certainly isn't the least expensive way to produce a mass-produced product, and the truth is that if we thought we could sell TENS of thousands of HALOs in a reasonably short period of time, those quantities MIGHT justify investing in injection molds and manufacturing the rings out of plastic. With the cheap cost of raw material, and with the mold costs amortized over tens of thousands of HALOs, we could probably offer them at a significantly lower price. But injection molds are incredibly expensive, and we would need to invest in FOUR different molds just to cover the GSO-made 8", 10", 12" and 16" bases. Then we'd need several more molds to fit the different Orion bases.

But even if I was 100% confident that we could recover the huge investment in injection molds in just 2-3 years, I still wouldn't go that route, because then if the Asian OEM base-makers changed the diameter of their Dob bases by just a little bit, our huge investment in molds would become instantly worthless. Instead, with CNC-machining, we can change the HALO dimensions to fit any change in bases with just a few keystrokes in Solidworks (the 3D CAD program used to design the HALOs).

So yes, you are paying more for the HALO, which is a highly customized product available in several sizes for a low volume, niche market, than if it were a one-size-fits-all mass-produced product on the shelf of every WalMart in America.
And believe me, I wish everyone in America wanted a HALO. :jump: But unless I'm completely wrong about the actual demand for HALOs, I suspect it will remain a very cool, albeit niche product which carries a price tag that is reflective of its production volume and production method, and is not unreasonable (IMHO) when compared to other niche products in this market.

And by the way, aside from all the manufacturing issues, keep in mind that the prices do include custom-made shipping boxes as well as the cost of shipping the product to your front door. If you check the costs of purchasing 30"x30"x6" boxes in relatively small quantities from a box-supplier, and THEN check the cost of shipping that size box across the U.S. you'll find that those costs aren't insignificant....

David Giles
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#22 csa/montana

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 03:32 PM

David, considering the cost of eyepieces, etc.; I don't see the prices as being "too high". Shipping costs are high also, so shipping included in the pricing is a bonus. As you said, this is a very specialized, practically a handmade product, which will keep the quality up!

#23 Mary B

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 03:51 PM

Maybe CNC from a plastic material that can be recycled? 3d printer? Other production ideas anyone?

#24 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 04:54 PM

this is a very specialized, practically a handmade product, which will keep the quality up!


Definitely! :)

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#25 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 08 October 2012 - 05:08 PM

Maybe CNC from a plastic material that can be recycled? 3d printer? Other production ideas anyone?


4'x8' sheets of 1.25" thick plastic are VERY expensive (4-5 times the cost of Extira), so I'm not sure if recycling the waste would be enough to offset the high cost or not. But it's an interesting idea and I'll definitely look into it!

And 3D printing honestly hadn't occurred to me! Based on my limited knowledge of the technology, it is mostly being used for prototypes and models at this point because of strength/durability issues. But I know the technology is changing and improving rapidly and it certainly might be a possibility in the near future. Not to mention, it would just be way cool. :cool:

Anyway, thanks for your ideas Mary!!

David Giles
Opticsmart.com






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