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Optic Craft Machining Clock Drive Review

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108 replies to this topic

#1 Charlie Hein

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 12:18 PM

Optic Craft Machining Clock Drive Review

By John Hayes

#2 shams42



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Posted 26 January 2013 - 01:06 PM

Unbelievable! Thanks for posting that cautionary tale.

#3 dlpville



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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:07 PM

Claiming patent protection on a product is a violation of US Code, specifically; 35 U.S.C. 292.

"Whoever marks upon, or affixes to, or uses in advertising in connection with any article the words “patent applied for,” “patent pending,” or any word importing that an application for patent has been made, when no application for patent has been made, or if made, is not pending, for the purpose of deceiving the public
—Shall be fined not more than $500 for every such offense. Only the United States may sue for the penalty authorized by this subsection."

Might want to inform Mr. Clinard of his impropriety; or the Patent and Trademarks Office.

#4 Laz



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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:18 AM

notify sky and telescope mag, he places ads----they may help

#5 rfr66


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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:01 AM

You can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Affairs. They can help to get your money refunded. If you had paid by credit card (always a good idea)you could have disputed the charges.

#6 Mike E.

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:00 PM

I must say I was impressed by the website when I first saw it a couple years ago, gave me a sense of old world quality with a no nonsense approach.
Thank you for posting, and I hope you find eventual satisfaction; I've scratched them off my list for future consideration.

#7 andysea



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Posted 27 January 2013 - 01:08 PM

Whoa! I can't believe the poor quality of the machining. That is beyond bad. I am speechless. Thanks for posting the detailed review! I Hope this gets around.


#8 Sean Cunneen

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:55 PM

Mr. Hayes's experience is just terrible. The condition of the worm drive teeth are unbelievable and I hope he gets some remedy. None of those parts appear to be functional much less properly finished!

I get a kick out of the scribe lines, perhaps this would be my cue to get into the "Handmade" Mount business!


#9 rockethead26



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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

Holy Cow! That's about as bad as it can get. Sorry you're having to eat $1000. Agree with rfr66, file complaints with the BBB and Consumer affairs.

#10 chuck52


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Posted 27 January 2013 - 04:16 PM

Mr Hayes,
I hope you pursue this and try to get your money back.I too had considered a purchase from this website but thats off the table now.Thank you for sharing your experience with us.I can only say the other satisfied customers must have extremely low standards of acceptability if this is typical of the product sold.

#11 Deep13



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Posted 27 January 2013 - 05:19 PM

Wow, thanks for the warning.

#12 StarStuff1



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Posted 27 January 2013 - 05:57 PM

Very enlightening and close to being depressing that a company would show such behaviour.

#13 cspell


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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:21 PM

I am awaiting delivery of a system I recently ordered from OC. Took a very deep breath after reading John's review.

Up to now, (with one exception) all the reports and experiences on CL and elsewhere I found were very positive.

I don't know what else to say except John, I'm really sorry about your experience and thanks for the very detailed report.

#14 Glen A W

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:05 PM

It looks like the spur gear was damaged, and it sounds like he offered to replace it. The rest of this seems petty to me since it looks like it would work okay. GW

#15 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 10:09 PM

Yes! I had problems with this guy. First, when you send him an e-mail, he only reads the first sentence. I sent one out saying that the motor gear would not mesh with the reduction gear and the second sentence I said that they were of a different pitch. I had to send a second email with an image of the problem after he said to adjust the motor down so they mesh. Here's the image:

Attached Files


#16 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:10 PM

After sending back the motor and reduction gear, I found out that the motor was bad. I sent the motor back and he claimed that the manufacturer said that the motor was abused by some unknown error they did not recognize and I would have to pay for a new one. Um, I have experience with syncronous motors being an electronics technician and I suspected that the wire color coding was wrong. I reluctantly paid for the new motor and got the thing to work on my old Meade DS-10 mount.

I then put the scope on the mount and gave a test ride in the backyard with an illuminated reticle. The drive's sinusoidal tracking error on the OC 6.6" drive was almost as bad as the 3" original Meade gear! I then sent him some emails describing the problem and got essentially the same response that John got. This error was too much for the autoguider on my camera.
I then took the worm and worm gear to a local machinist and he said that it was "fair" and he could not do anything unless I would have to pay some serious wampum to replace it. I was peeved to say the least!

I took it home and as I was sitting in my plush chair, I removed the 6.6" worm gear out of the box and put it edgewise on my lap. Then I got the worm assembly and placed it on the gear and got the teeth to mesh. I was thinking where to go from there when I noticed that the worm resting on the gear did not align to the large gear's plane. It was nearly 2 degrees off! I then flipped the gear, the same! I flipped the worm housing, the same! I tried to get to mesh in the plane and to 1 degree to the opposite side, it would flop back! I then mounted the whole thing back onto the mount and added a shim to canter the worm about 1 degree from the 6.6" worm gear plane. I took it outside that night and had a reduction of the sine error peaks of less than 20%! I then put the ccd camera on and it guided!

The old Meade drive electronics had been gutted long ago and replaced by my own circuit design with an autoguider option. I still use the original joystick with trimtabs. Still works to this day. I did the two solar events and imaged at a star party with this scope this past year.


Attached Files


#17 johnnyha


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 01:35 AM

It looks like the spur gear was damaged, and it sounds like he offered to replace it. The rest of this seems petty to me since it looks like it would work okay. GW

I guess that's easy to say if you haven't paid $984 for... this thing. I find this completely indefensible. I think the author is 100% justified in writing this and letting the community know what we are dealing with here. There are multiple issues, the gear is just one of many. This looks worse than something built in middleschool shop class at a School for the Blind. Shoddy. And quite possibly the worst customer service I have ever heard of, very disappointing to hear.

#18 Thanatos78621


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:02 AM

That someone would market themselves as a precision machinist while produce that level of product is insane. I've seen better work from first year engineering students.

#19 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:57 AM

To add:
1) When I got mine about 6-7 years ago, he had a Ford Motor Company email address.
2) What edge break? I had to do that myself!
3) The worm (spur) gear is made from aluminum and it looked good when I got it.
4) There were burrs in the shaft hole as well.
5) The worm itself wasn't what I expected and the shaft that is mounted to has a rough surface as pictured and was slightly bent. The shaft is springy anyway. Mr Clinard responded to my questions of these observations as a non-problem.
6) My motor is of a different type of AC motor than what Dr. Hayes got. I had to supply the AC cord and the buss bar for the cords and the capacitor. My motor is reversable according to the motor wire in which the capacitor is hooked to, a switch could do that for northern/southern hemisphere adjustment. That was a no problem for me anyway. I made a separate insulating housing to cover the motor with. I used a 3 pronged AC cable for safety.
7) I got the same grip marks on the worm shaft standoffs.
8) I am early forced retired and have a limited income from my savings. I could not afford a Paramount type mount. I could not fight this "machinist" due to my income.


#20 Howie Glatter

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 06:37 AM

Post deleted by droid

#21 CJK


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 06:54 AM

Wow. I'm speechless. The level of workmanship is absolutely appalling, and the lack of integrity even more so.

I think it's a real service to the community that Dr. Hayes took the time to carefully document this and post it.

-- Chris

#22 Ed D

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 08:06 AM

I'm also speechless. There are plenty of ATM guys and gals here that do much better work with basic hand tools. I hope the author gets his money back, but I have a bad feeling he's been had.

Ed D

#23 PhilH


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Posted 28 January 2013 - 08:59 AM

If I might, let me pull an excerpt from my book Star Ware, which addresses problems with vendors. It might prove helpful here, or perhaps in a future situation.
The vast majority of astronomical companies are owned and operated by a staff of competent, friendly people. They want happy customers (remember, a happy customer is a repeat customer) and guard their good reputations jealously. Most are willing to bend over backwards to see that a problem is resolved to the customer's satisfaction. But what can the consumer do if he or she is dissatisfied with a manufacturer or distributor?

Begin on the right foot. Before returning a defective piece of merchandise, always speak to the manufacturer first about the problem. Request instructions for the most expeditious way to return the item for replacement or refund. Conform to the directions precisely, but to protect yourself, always follow up the conversation with a letter. In it, repeat the nature of the problem as well as the desired outcome. Send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for your records.

Allow the company a reasonable length of time to respond to your complaint, typically two to four weeks. If, after that time, a satisfactory resolution has not been reached, write to the company again and inquire as to the delay. State that you expect a response within a given period of time, say ten business days. Once again, send the letter by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy for your records. If there is still no response, call the company and find out the owner's name. Write to him or her directly, recounting all that has happened since the item was ordered.

By now, the predicament should have been resolved, but if it has not, then it's time to take action. The major astronomical periodicals do not have on-staff consumer advocates, yet they do take an active interest in consumer satisfaction with all who advertise in their magazines. Write to them with your complaint, being certain to send a copy to the president/owner of the offending company. In addition, send a copy of the letter to the Astronomical League. The League is also interested in customer satisfaction, and may offer assistance. If you suspect mail fraud, also contact your local postal inspector or complete Form 8165, Mail Fraud Complaint Questionnaire, which is available at all United States post offices. Return the completed form to the postmaster or mail it to the following address: Chief Postal Inspector; U.S. Postal Service; 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3021; Washington, DC, 20260-2100. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580.

Most consumer advocates recommend charging all mail orders to a major credit card; do not use a check or money order, if possible. Using a credit card gives you certain powers that are not available any other way. On the back of every credit card's monthly statement, there are instructions that clearly describe steps to be taken in the event of a consumer problem. Usually, the card requires that the consumer describe in specific detail the exact nature of the problem and provide copies of all receipts and documentation. The charge will then be put in contest until the problem is resolved. If a charge is contested, the consumer is not responsible for any interest that may accrue as a result. When a final determination is made, either a credit will be issued to the charge account or the balance plus interest will be due.

Contesting a charge should be viewed as a last resort measure. Only put a charge in contest when a bona fide problem exists and the vendor refuses to cooperate. For instance, just because you decided that you don't like an item anymore is not reason enough to contest a charge, but poor quality or workmanship is. See the difference?

#24 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:34 PM

Wretched. Absolutely wretched.

I get that many astro-businesses are small outgrowths from another business that provides the owner a liveable income. And I admire the entrepreneurs that market to our small hobby, in most cases it can only be a labor of love.

But this example would indicate Optic-Craft is not in the machining business with both feet, let alone the astronomy business.

#25 Glen A W

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:40 PM

I have no connection to the proprietor here. I just suspect that there is more to this, one way or another. I do not agree that this case is well-documented. We have one side of it and can make of it what we will. Clearly, the spur gear is damaged, but an offer to take care of that was made. Numerous inferences are made in the article as to the proprietor's state of mind and these are inappropriate and damaging to the writer's case.

If we knew the whole story here, there would be some other variable. Perhaps the proprietor is ill, or perhaps there was merely personality clash. There is always a chance that someone was out to rip someone off, but I am finding that very hard to believe. I, for one, simply would not care about whether a piece of flat metal was cut with a mill or by hand, so long as it functions. Others may certainly differ.

But before we condemn someone who has not had his say and who has served the astronomical community for many years, perhaps we ought to investigate a little more. I note that most "satisfied customers" listed on his web site were high-profile institutions, and that may give you a tip right there that he may not be operating with the mindset of cosmetically-concerned amateurs. Glen

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