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Coulter Dobsonians

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#1 chaoscosmos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:38 PM

Hey everyone, Greetings. I'm brand new here, just registered..

20+ years ago, I had a few experiences looking through the 10 and 13.1 inch Coulter Odyssey Dobsonians. The only telescope I ever owned was a small refractor, but now I'm looking to get something like a used Coulter or maybe a 12.5 inch Discovery Dob. I'm wondering how the two scopes compare- both optically and in general workmanship and ease of operation.

Also, does anyone know when Coulter went out of business or who they may have sold the company to?

Thanks...

#2 chaoscosmos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:44 PM

.... just to be clear, the comparison I'm interested in is between Coulter and Discovery scopes... Aside from differences in aperture.

#3 Jim Rosenstock

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 06:53 PM

They are in different leagues. Discovery, by a mile.

Not to fault Coulter, the original "light bucket" Dob available commercially. Coulter got a LOT of ancient starlight onto amateurs' retinas, for sure. But by comparison to the Discovery, they are heavy, crude, and optically a bit of a crapshoot. Classic? You bet...but the Discovery's gonna be a much more user-friendly instrument.

Cheers,

Jim

#4 chaoscosmos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:19 PM

Thanks Jim.. OK then, how would Coulter compare to Orion's scopes? The Orion mount on their Dobs, just looking at photos of it, seems to be kind of cheesy.

#5 kfiscus

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:47 PM

I used to own an Odyssey Compact. I now own an Orion XT10 and Zhumell Z12. I highly recommend getting a Z12. A used scope looks to match your original post and intent. I have brokered or bought 3 different used/damaged-in-shipping Z12s that ran $360, $400, and $500. The most damaged tube's dent was SUPER easy to de-dent.
As to the cheesiness of the Orion spring tension mount (now that I have the Z12's friction bearings) they're not cheesy- they're annoying.

#6 tubehead999

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 07:49 PM

I don't know how they stay in business..but this is what is left of Coulter Optical.

http://www.e-scopes.cc/

Seriously, there are better options out there...
www.telescopes.com
www.opticsmart.com But they never have any scopes in stock because they sell them as fast as they get them in :)..

And check your local Craigslist for used deals.

Best.

#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:03 PM

Thanks Jim.. OK then, how would Coulter compare to Orion's scopes? The Orion mount on their Dobs, just looking at photos of it, seems to be kind of cheesy.


First let me say hello and welcome to Cloudy Nights.. :goodjob:

Second, there are two manufacturers of modern commercial Dobs, Synta Optical in China and Guan Sheng Optical (GSO) in Taiwan. Orion sells the Synta scopes, Skywatcher is the Synta house brand. Astro-Tech, Zhumell, Apertura and others sell the GSO scopes.

There are minor differences between them but both represent serious upgrades over the Coulter scopes. This is in every aspect, better optics, smoother bearings, lighter weight, better focusers (2 inch, 2 speed Crayfords are standard on the GSO dobs), better fit and finish...

The modern metal tube Dob hit the scene about the turn of the millennium... You get a lot of scope for your money..

My 10 inch GSO is about 10 years old, still going strong.

Jon

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#8 Bob W6PU

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:21 PM

Ditto, all the way!

#9 GeneT

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 08:31 PM

I owned a 13.1 inch 'blue' tube Coulter. It was my first large telescope, and quite inexpensive. However, the optics were poor, and it was very difficult to collimate. I do not recommend this telescope.

#10 JIMZ7

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:16 PM

Welcome to CN! You might want to check into your local astronomy club for used telescopes etc. There are some great deals out there.

Jim :dob:

#11 faackanders2

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:23 PM

my first teleescope was a 10.1" Coulter Dob which I used for over 15 years. Breaks down into 2 nested parts and fit in my Mustang. Didn't need to colimate single tube for 10 years. 5 min setup time and easy to move anywhere. It was simple and used 2" outer pipe fitting and a 1.25" inner sliding pipe as a focuser. i did buy my 40mm 70afov eyepiece hoping I coul use it but there is a big difference betwen 2" ID an OD so I could only briefly holed it in place till i installed a 2" focuser. Bought 2 but installed neither. :crazy:

2nd telescope and only one used now for night is 17.5" f4.1 split tube Discovery. Breaks down into 3 parts, 2 of which nest. Fits in my Expedition/Navigator (and would also fit in Explorer and other SUVs). Heaviest part is bottom half mirror cell with handles but weiht 98 lbs, and the most dificult/risky part is transitioning from vertical to horizontal at the rear of my SUV (not tall enough to tip over inside the SUV). Major advantage of the Discovery was it had a real 2" focuser (Note in a few years 3" focuser may become optional in large dobs offering wider views).
15-20min Easy to set up and take down, but requires columation due to the split tube. Later had wheel barrel handles made to be able to move around (before the wheel barel handles where I set up was where I viewed). With wheel barel handles easy to roll in/out of garage to view, so I don't have to pack my car and travel to site everytime.
Wait time for Discovery is long.

Recommend get largest dob you can transport and carry. Truss tubes make individual pieces smaller and lighter but take longer to set up. Many like Light bridge truss dobs, and Discovery has them also.

Orion, Zhumel, Hardin all make simple Dobs. Best value for aperture. Non push to requires you knowing where to look (shar charts/bookk, viewing with those who know sky objects. Push or Go-To cost more but after alligning and set up you just need to know what us and type in object and push to with arrow directions to the object.

You get what you pay for. Simple dons can be found used at swap events. Join a club and you will probably find someone who wants to upgrade. It is also nice to observe with others to see what is out there, before you buy.

Good luck!

#12 chaoscosmos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:33 PM

Good info guys, much appreciated...

#13 chaoscosmos

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 09:42 PM

Btw I've got a Camry to transport, but a lot of the time I'd probably view from my backyard. Since I live in Orange County Ca there is some light pollution, but my yard is somewhat protected. It sits in sort of a bowl, bordered by a slope in the back, side fences, and back wall of the house.

#14 Tom Andrews

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:45 PM

Ditto for everything everyone has said.

I bought my first scope in 1995, an 8" Coulter and I still have it. I have modified it considerably and it is a joy to use. BUT the only reasons I have kept it is because it was my first scope and all the work I've put into it. Today's scopes offer so much more and for very reasonable prices. I've owned an 8" Zhumell and a 12.5" Discovery PDHQ split-tube dob and they were both head-and-shoulders above the Coulter.

For nostalgia purposes, here's a picture of my Coulter:

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#15 chaoscosmos

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 12:09 AM

Ah, now I remember that red color of the Odyssey. One thing though with regard to the newer scopes... Is a metal tube a bit colder to the touch at night?

#16 kfiscus

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:01 AM

Absolutely colder to the touch. I forgot to mention that my Coulter was the blue model with the r&p focuser.

#17 Starman1

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 02:02 AM

OK, the Discovery has:
--better mirror cell
--better mirror
--better coatings
--better secondary mirror
--better secondary holder
--better focuser
--better bearings
--better wood construction in the base
--better wood
Did I leave anything out?
This is a little like comparing a Lada with a Lamborghini. It's just not, uh, a fair comparison.
From what I've seen over the years, even if the Coulter were FREE, you'd be in for a lot of modification just to get it to perform at a level about 50% of the Discovery.

Now, of course Orion, Apertura, Meade, and other inexpensive dobs are also better than the old Coulters, but by the time you get to 12-12.5", a truss tube is a lot easier to transport than a full tubed scope, and that reduces your options quite a bit.

I've known people who've bought an old Coulter and put the mirrors in a modern housing from DobStuff.com or AstroSystems, and gotten a really decent scope for cheap. But it would depend on how cheaply you got the old Coulter.

#18 Calypte

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 03:40 AM

Is it possible to collimate the secondary on the Coulter? Many years ago our club held a daytime public event, and someone brought a Coulter to have one of us "experts" evaluate it or explain how to use it or collimate it or something like that. It had the secondary mounted like the one in the earlier picture, where it's held on that steel bar across the aperture of the scope. I was absolutely stumped as to how to get the secondary properly aligned, since I saw only one adjustment.

#19 Howie Glatter

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 07:41 AM

>. . I saw only one adjustment.

There are two - loosen the two bolts on the ends of the bar(outside the tube) for tipping the secondary up and down.
Loosen the single bolt holding the secondary bracket at the center of the bar for side-to-side adjustment.

My first scope was from Coulter in 1990, a 10.1" red tube Oddessy Compact ($299), and for sentimental reasons I don't think I will ever part with it. The mirror is decent, although a bit rough. The original aluminum coating is still good. The only modifications I've done were moving the altitude bearings for better balance, and replacing the focuser with one made from a Leitz camera lens barrel with helical focus.
The fact that the tube fits across the back seat of a small automobile makes a 10.1" f/4.5 wonderfully portable.

#20 azure1961p

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:42 AM

Coulter had its place in time but its a relic with the baggage that's been outmoded by better designs and execution. Though some Coulter images were mighty fine. It had its place and if I had one and the optics were good I'd probably redo everything from the ground up.

Pete

#21 piaras

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

I have had a Coulter Odyssey 13.1 since 1990 about. There is not much left that is original any more. I built a truss setup around the optics and the only thing still original is the base, to be replaced this spring and the primary mirror, which is about 60 days away from replacement as well. Zambuto!
Pierre

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#22 Kutno

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 04:08 PM

Is it possible to collimate the secondary on the Coulter?


A hammer worked splendidly. Only had to do it once; thereafter, the Odyssey Compact gave wonderful views of Saturn, Jupiter, and lunar landscapes.

#23 Starman1

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 06:05 PM

Is it possible to collimate the secondary on the Coulter?



A hammer worked splendidly. Only had to do it once; thereafter, the Odyssey Compact gave wonderful views of Saturn, Jupiter, and lunar landscapes.

The "bar" can be turned with a large crescent wrench. The secondary can be turned in the other axis with a plastic washer between the plate and bar and a box end wrench on the nut.
Not exactly fine tune adjustments, however.

#24 Kutno

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 08:16 PM

Is it possible to collimate the secondary on the Coulter?



A hammer worked splendidly. Only had to do it once; thereafter, the Odyssey Compact gave wonderful views of Saturn, Jupiter, and lunar landscapes.

The "bar" can be turned with a large crescent wrench. The secondary can be turned in the other axis with a plastic washer between the plate and bar and a box end wrench on the nut.
Not exactly fine tune adjustments, however.


I wish I had the option to use a wrench alone, Don. Things were so frozen that I had no choice. Only by the grace of God did everything fall into place so that the special Orion eyepiece I used showed the scope was perfectly collimated after the blow.

#25 Starman1

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Posted 27 January 2013 - 09:16 PM

Is it possible to collimate the secondary on the Coulter?



A hammer worked splendidly. Only had to do it once; thereafter, the Odyssey Compact gave wonderful views of Saturn, Jupiter, and lunar landscapes.

The "bar" can be turned with a large crescent wrench. The secondary can be turned in the other axis with a plastic washer between the plate and bar and a box end wrench on the nut.
Not exactly fine tune adjustments, however.


I wish I had the option to use a wrench alone, Don. Things were so frozen that I had no choice. Only by the grace of God did everything fall into place so that the special Orion eyepiece I used showed the scope was perfectly collimated after the blow.

:lol:
Was that a Howie Glatter hammer or a Catseye hammer?






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