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Anyone with a Zhumell or similar try the new Halo?

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#1 kfiscus

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 09:33 PM

I'd like to hear some user testimonials. They look like a cool deal.

#2 Ty Williams

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:22 AM

I had no idea what that was. That's pretty cool. I'm definitely interested in one for my AT10D now. This Halo thing, combined with digital angle readout on the OTA, would be a decent set of setting circles for a dob for not a huge amount of money.

#3 Gary Riley

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:23 AM

Hello Ken,

I own a Z12 and was hoping to hear from someone who has used one as well. I agree, it does look like a nice and helpful product.

Clear skies!
Gary

#4 rlmxracer

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:34 AM

Link????

#5 Gary Riley

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 01:45 AM

rlmxracer,
You can check it out on opticsmart's website.

Gary

#6 MessiToM

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:53 AM

Meh, for nearly $200 you can have some digital equipment....rTher than a fancy degre wheel
http://www.opticsmar...e-leveling-b...

#7 panhard

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:56 AM

Here is a link for everyone. Halo

#8 MessiToM

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 11:32 AM

As was my link
Btw on Amart you can get ALL the gizmos from an intelliscope at the moment for $175

#9 panhard

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:01 PM

We must have been looking it up at the same time. tour post wasn't there when I started. :grin:

#10 rlmxracer

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 01:40 AM

Thanks, thats a pretty clean set up. Price seems a bit steep though. I just got my Dob a few weeks ago so I'm still learning how to drive. Not much practice yet with storm after storm rolling through.

#11 Gastrol

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:32 PM

Then there's always the DIY setting circle option which will cost you very little money. But for the non-DIY'ers the Halo is a nice piece of gear.

#12 sslcm56

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 05:16 AM

Since I live close to Opticsmart I went and picked one up yesterday. I will give reports later. I just couldn't bring myself to cut a notch in my base for the degree circles that I had so.....

#13 kfiscus

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 07:30 PM

I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I'm thinking of getting one for my observing buddy's Z12. Our main scope is a Z12 on an EQ platform. Having a push-to rig might be cool. :question:

#14 sslcm56

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:19 AM

I LIKE IT! Here in Alabama it has been raining for days so I won't get to use my HALO until Saturday or Sunday.
My thoughts..... Well, When I put my weight on it there was a little flex but it is very strong. I think I could stand on it without it breaking. I do weigh about 140 lbs. more than my AD10. The feet are about the size of an old silver dollar so they shouldn't sink into the ground. I have never sat my scope directly on the ground anyway. The leggs have about 4" of travel so you can REALLY account for some uneven placeing. I can at last let up on the Az tension on the base of my scope. There are locking nuts on the leggs that I don't really see much use for but if I had an OBS that would be a different matter. The compass/level is about the size of a quarter. It's a bit small if you are going to take into account magnetic declination while you are setting it up but you don't really need to since the pointer is on a little slideing base. The compass is just as it should be for aligning the HALO with north and getting it level. I don't know about useing an EQ platform since it adds about 2 3/4" to the size of the AD10 base. I do plan to find out at tax time though.
With everything being what it is....I would buy it over again. I can't wait to get it out in the field! PLUS my scope just looks GOOD sitting on it!
If your like me and just can't wrap your head around cutting a notch in the base of your scope I really would recomend one. I have a $6.00 analog inclinometer that I got at Lowes but they have a Wixey at Opticsmart that they use for demo and I have to figure a way to get one w/o the CFO quitting her job.
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#15 munchmeister

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:09 PM

I LIKE IT! Here in Alabama it has been raining for days so I won't get to use my HALO until Saturday or Sunday.
My thoughts..... Well, When I put my weight on it there was a little flex but it is very strong. I think I could stand on it without it breaking. I do weigh about 140 lbs. more than my AD10. The feet are about the size of an old silver dollar so they shouldn't sink into the ground. I have never sat my scope directly on the ground anyway. The leggs have about 4" of travel so you can REALLY account for some uneven placeing. I can at last let up on the Az tension on the base of my scope. There are locking nuts on the leggs that I don't really see much use for but if I had an OBS that would be a different matter. The compass/level is about the size of a quarter. It's a bit small if you are going to take into account magnetic declination while you are setting it up but you don't really need to since the pointer is on a little slideing base. The compass is just as it should be for aligning the HALO with north and getting it level. I don't know about useing an EQ platform since it adds about 2 3/4" to the size of the AD10 base. I do plan to find out at tax time though.
With everything being what it is....I would buy it over again. I can't wait to get it out in the field! PLUS my scope just looks GOOD sitting on it!
If your like me and just can't wrap your head around cutting a notch in the base of your scope I really would recomend one. I have a $6.00 analog inclinometer that I got at Lowes but they have a Wixey at Opticsmart that they use for demo and I have to figure a way to get one w/o the CFO quitting her job.


I am interested in the 12" Apertura with the Halo and would love to hear more about your experience with it. Easy to "align?" How accurate is it once aligned? What do you use to get the Alt Az coordinates of your chosen object?

TIA :)

#16 Carl N

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 04:49 PM

I have the Apertura 10" and I have the Halo. First, let me say that I went the route of installing an Orion set of encoders and the Computer Object Locator like someone said above. While it worked fine, it was NOT a simple hook up. The altitude bearing systems are completely different on the Orion compared to a Zhumel/Apertura/GSO and require some ingenuity. Additionally, the friction systems between the ground/top board are completely different and require you to eliminate the nice GSO roller bearings and substitute in Teflon pads.this changes the whole gap between these boards. Personally I love the GSO race bearings sandwiched between the steel doughnuts. Very adjustable and smooth. The Teflon... Not so much. In most, including my, cases you will also find that you have to rewire the encoders because you will have to install them "upside down" from the Orion method. This is easy, but not something everyone may want to get into.

All that said, I did it and it worked. In fact PM me if you want to acquire my kit that have everything you need.

I removed all that and went to the HALO with a Wixie angle gauge. I can tell you it works perfectly. If you check on Opticsmart's web page you can download the instructions. It really is simple.
- Align Halo to North
- put the dob inside
- place the angle gauge right over the bearings after calibrating it on a level surface
- point to an object with known alt/az
- adjust the magnetic pointer to the correct az
- notice any deviation in your angle gauge and add/subtract that deviation for future push-to's.

The last point references the fact that the angle gauge really is the weakest link in the whole setup. Once calibrated the HALO is perfectly fine for getting within a 12mm crosshairs eyepiece. The alt cannot be adjusted though. If the angle gauge is 1 degree off after pointing to a known object, you can't replace the value it shows. So you have to "know" how far off it is. My other complaint, minor, is that the Wixie does not have a backlit display. So I have to use a red flashlight to see it at night.

These issues plague anyone using manual setting circles for a dob. The HALO itself is very nicely done. I looked I to making something like this, before I went the digital route, and I can't I aging I would have gotten near the accuracy and quality of fit and finish myself. Though I might have gotten it done cheaper.

The leveling legs work great. The numbers are visible without much light, and it works perfectly with Skysafari or SkyQ planetarium software on my iPad to give me the coordinates to push to.

I also have taken to putting the HALO on top of my Round Table Platform for tracking. I level the HALO on top of the platform. Once I push to an object I turn on the platform to track. When I want to dial up the next object, I reset the platform to its start (level) position, use the Halo/Wixie to point, then restart the platform motor.

I have used a concrete bit to shallow out 3 indents on my back patio that the platform feet sit in to always be polar aligned. I can put out my platform, mount up the Halo and dob, calibrate the wixie, and be observing on a push to with tracking in a matter of 5 minutes.

Carl

#17 kfiscus

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:56 PM

Thank you for the detailed and helpful report.

#18 Carl N

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 02:43 PM

By the way, Rockler woodworking store, google it, sells the Wixie pretty competitive price.

I agree that the compass/level is pretty hard to be precise- but you don't need precise on North, just close. Level though is important. I used a 4ft carpenters level to set the adjustable legs, marked their location at my observing station and then cupped the concrete where the feet go. Now my Halo is alway level cause I use the same setup location and the legs are locked for that location.

Carl

#19 munchmeister

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:36 PM

Surfing around, I found the Intercomp Digital Angle Gauge which has a backlit LCD display, magnetic base, sides, display rotates. More expensive than the Wixey at $69 but still a lot cheaper than DSC/ computer setup.

I just really like the idea of staying as close as possible to the "self guided" search and does not require a lot of extensive setup and alignment. And I have a carpenters level. ;-) Thanks for the report.

EDIT: Just noticed that the Apertura/ Opticsmart site has the "preinstalled setting circle" for $99, somewhat cheaper than the Halo, but does not have the leveling feet but it would allow the same, simple alignment and, with a digital angle gauge, allow the same "push to" finding, along with an alt az app on your smartphone. Right????

#20 edwinh

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 12:30 AM

Angle gauge - I haven't tried yet but have been looking. There is a sears digital torpedo level with backlight and it uses normal batteries not button cells, I am getting that to try out. $35.

#21 Carl N

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:52 AM

I hadn't seen that preinstalled setting circle before. I also hadn't noticed that they have added a stray light shield to the tweakers dream package along with stiffer primary springs. I think those ate both good additions. Especially since its the same additional cost I paid and I didn't get them :(

If I were getting one new I'd opt for the built in, but you still don't have leveling feet. Although, if you are putting it on a platform, that problem is solved.

#22 BigC

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 10:45 AM

Zounds!

Methinks I will stay with my 4 foot carpenter's level and a handful of wooden wedges for leveling, or add some adjustable furntiure feet.

And thanks to Jon Isaacs hint, a Sears magnetic digital level with 1/10 gegree readout and built-in red laser pointer now sits on the Z12 tube close to the focuser.

Trying to figure out how to adapt the works from a Meade NGC-60 for push-to indicator.

Or a tall riser mount for a Celestron SkyScout unit.

#23 Cames

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 01:31 PM

(snip) The last point references the fact that the angle gauge really is the weakest link in the whole setup. Once calibrated the HALO is perfectly fine for getting within a 12mm crosshairs eyepiece. The alt cannot be adjusted though. If the angle gauge is 1 degree off after pointing to a known object, you can't replace the value it shows. So you have to "know" how far off it is. (snip)



Carl
Regarding the annoying Wixey Inclinometer discrepancy that you often encounter…
Try these few extra steps to compensate for the error like this:

1. Apply the Angle Gauge to your favorite location on the OTA
2. Level the OTA and ‘zero’ the gauge
3. Slew to a star whose current altitude you know and center it in the eyepiece
4. Note the altitude reading on the gauge
5. Subtract the reference star’s true current altitude from the reading on the gauge while observing sign convention (Example: gauge reads 47.5 degrees, SkySafari says it is now at 46.4 degrees; the math calculation is: 47.5° minus 46.4° equals 1.1°)
6. Push the OTA down until the gauge reads 1.1° and “zero” the gauge at that incline
7. Slew back to your reference star and check the reading on your gauge. It should now approximate the star’s actual altitude more closely.

Hint: zero altitude and azimuth devices only after you have completed collimation because the act of collimating changes the point at which the telescope is looking.

Try it and see if this helps.
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#24 Carl N

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:35 PM

Doh! I did all that and just kept making the adjustment mentally instead of calibrating it in as you ddo in steps 6&7. Guess I'm not a smart man, Forest!
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#25 Cames

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 04:43 PM

Carl
You have the right idea and your way is probably easier in the long run.

According to the directions, the Wixey gauge is very sensitive to right-to-left misalignment on the OTA. In order to be accurate, the long axis of the gauge has to be perpendicular to the axis of rotation between the altitude trunnions. Any right or left deviation from perpendicular will result in a degree reading that is less than the amount of elevation that one actually raises the OTA.

If you had a misaligned gauge (say to the left of axis), and followed my 7 steps for a star at 48°, then you might be able to get pretty close agreement on a target at 48° elevation but later on find that you are shy of your target by the time you reach for a target at 75° elevation. In fact, if you notice that you are losing gauge accuracy the higher (or lower) you go, there’s a good chance that the gauge is skewed either right or left of where it should be pointed.

So, you see, the problem becomes how accurately can one align that stubby gauge to be perpendicular to the altitude axis anyway? Using your approach, one avoids all the fiddling around with aligning and zeroing; and, simply adjusts the fudge factor along the way. It’s best to follow whatever procedure works for you.

Edit: By the way, the easiest way I can think of as a means to properly orient the long axis of the angle gauge is at step 4: Before you take the reading of your reference star elevation, slowly and carefully nudge the gauge to the left and right. Stop at the point where the angle reads the highest value. Take that value as your first altitude reading.
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