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I just upgraded my scope and all my eyepieces!

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#1 John Kuraoka

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:11 PM

As tempting as eyepieces and other viewing accessories are, a couple recent threads had me increasingly unsatisfied with using a short stack of resin patio chairs for observing.

So I bought the Vestil CPRO-800. It's the one on Amazon for about $85 plus tax, with free two-day shipping through my Amazon Prime membership. I'd have sprung the extra dosh for a Starbound, but there was no way it would've arrived in time for an upcoming dark sky opportunity with the kids.

I had played a little with Jon Isaacs' Starbound when we got together a few weeks back. My Vestil's first light was last night, when the chair was delivered a day early. My short review, based on one night of observing with the Vestil and what I remember of the Starbound, is that the Starbound is better than the Vestil CPRO-800. It is probably worth the extra money, especially if you need to get low to the ground.

That said, I'm well satisfied with the Vestil. It's made in Japan, well-designed and nicely finished. It folds up very flat. Because the legs are offset when folded, it's easy to set up one-handed. And, the seat locks into place when folded.

I'm 5' 5, 145, with pretty poor balance. Even with the seat set to the highest position it feels rock solid, and the footrest is a major help in stabilizing myself when the seat is set high (I have short legs). The maximum height spec is 33", but I was able to get 34" out of it measured from floor to seat.

The downside is the downside: the seat lowers to about 18" (as specified and measured), twice as high (or half as low) as the Starbound's lowest setting. I have a short Mak-Cas on a tripod, but there were still a couple times I wished for maybe another two inches of down. Next time I'll set the tripod a bit higher!

Also, you must be careful not to hit the seat lock when you adjust the seat to the lowest position, because that will really peel the paint. The lowest position is just a bit above where the seat stops.

The way the Vestil's seat height adjusts is slightly different than the Starbound. Like the Starbound, you tip the seat front up to free it to slide up and down; it friction-locks in place when the seat is weighted. Like the Starbound, it is infinitely adjustable within its range. Unlike the Starbound, there's a detent so the seat sort of click-locks in position. On the one hand, the seat doesn't slide down if you bump into it hard. On the other hand, it's much harder to adjust the seat on-the-fly with the hand-under-seat buttlift method - you must raise your butt enough to actually click the seat front up before sliding it to your next desired position.

The Vestil's seat padding is much thinner than the Starbound's plush, thick pad. There's not room to permanently attach more padding because the top of the seat sits fairly close to the chair frame when folded.

The Vestil is available only in black, with a black seat. I'll put a few turns of red reflective tape on it, and that should help - I need to think about the placement a bit, though, because I don't want the tape to get chewed up by the seat being slid up and down. And I'll probably cover the seat with red vinyl first chance I get - it's just a matter of stapling it on.

Just having an adjustable observing chair made it a lot easier to see stuff. Being able to solidly sit at any height essentially upgraded everything I own. Including binoculars - I can just slide the seat down and lean back and have my head supported while I scan the sky.

It's the best 90-something bucks I've spent on astronomy gear so far! :)

EDITS: Added actual measurements and a few usage details.

#2 AutoPilot

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Posted 12 February 2013 - 11:48 PM

I’ve been shopping around trying to decide which chair to buy myself. I would like to get the basics together before the weather breaks. This chair sounds like a good compromise between price and functionality. Thanks for the review.

#3 Jeff2011

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:21 AM

After getting my scope, an observing chair was one of my first accesories I bought after the initial extra eyepieces. Made a big difference in my observing. I think I paid around $120 for it. Actually I bought their floor model since they were sold out. I should have asked for a discount. :foreheadslap:

#4 Wcclower

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 09:34 AM

I ordered the Catsperch Pro almost 2 weeks ago. Delivery date is tomorrow. I can't wait after near 2 years observing useing a barstool!

#5 John Kuraoka

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 10:11 AM

Yes, having an observing chair was a real revelation. Being able to observe steadily and comfortably while well-supported really does upgrade everything in the optical train. With the chair, I'm confident I can use higher magnifications, get by with less eye relief and narrower fields, and maximize my enjoyment of wider fields and lower magnifications.

Plus, when I think about it, the chair will be the most-used observing tool I have, because whether I'm looking through the scope or looking through binoculars or changing eyepieces or looking at an atlas or just enjoying a naked-eye view, I'll probably be seated in the chair. On a dollar-per-hour-of-use basis, even the expensive chairs are astronomical bargains.

#6 howard929

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 12:51 PM

Well, it's good to hear your satisfied with your new chair and all. I'm sure you'll get a lot of use with it.

Nice advert for the Starbound. Thank you, I'll have to remember that.

#7 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 01:01 PM

Just having an adjustable observing chair made it a lot easier to see stuff. Being able to solidly sit at any height essentially upgraded everything I own. Including binoculars - I can just slide the seat down and lean back and have my head supported while I scan the sky.




:waytogo:

John:

Great review. I remember the first time I sat in a real astro-chair. At the time, the only one available was the Starbound. A friend had one, I tried it one evening. I was impressed, the next morning, I drove up to OPT and bought one...

Jon

#8 John Kuraoka

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:04 PM

Yes, now I realize an observing chair is a "must have." And, I just found out my new observing chair makes a dandy laptop table, whether I'm sitting or standing!

#9 Ed D

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 07:20 PM

The only regret I have after purchasing a Starbound chair is that I waited so long to get one. Those of us that have observing chairs realize they are worth their weight in gold, and it's why we recommend them so much.

Ed D

#10 Eric63

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:28 PM

I can't believe that I waited 8 months after buying my first scope to get one. A must buy piece of equipment!

#11 Dave74

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 08:31 PM

I bought a starbound chair after first light with my scope. It was October and Jupiter was low on the horizon in the evening. Had the money. Had to have it.

#12 John Kuraoka

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 09:42 PM

Yeah, I struggled along with stacked patio chairs for a full year! Even though that was a "free" option, the observing chair is worth every penny.

#13 Gary Riley

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Posted 13 February 2013 - 10:45 PM

John, glad you like your new chair! I finally broke down and bought the Stardust chair from Hands On Optics a few days ago after going over 3 years just using a wooden bar stool and a two step fold up step stool for observing chairs with my dob and refractor. I believe I am going to enjoy the versatility of the Stardust chair. Hoping to put it to use soon!

Gary

#14 John Kuraoka

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 05:47 PM

AN UPDATE: I used automotive reflective tape to add some nighttime visibility to the all-black observing chair. But, reflective tape needs a light source to reflect, so, of course, in use the whole chair remained dark.

So now I'm thinking about covering the seat itself in a light gray upholstery fabric remnant that will improve both visibility and traction when leaning back.

#15 John Kuraoka

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 12:22 PM

I was just reminded of this thread, so I thought I'd come back and post photos of my upholstering job: just me, a small piece of vinyl, and a staple gun. Hey, it works! It's a more-visible saddle tan-colored vinyl, embossed with a "weave" texture that makes it less slippery than the original smooth vinyl.
Seat: http://www.kuraoka.o...-chair-seat.JPG

Here are photos of the seat at low and high positions - you can tell it doesn't go down nearly as low as a Starbound, and it lacks the Starbound's thick pad.
Low: http://www.kuraoka.o...bs-chair-lo.JPG
High: http://www.kuraoka.o...bs-chair-hi.JPG

Still, I find it comfortable, and it's the one piece of equipment that I use 100% of the time I'm out observing, even when I'm just scanning the sky with binoculars or looking something up in my atlas. Of course, when the kids are observing with me, I get much less seat time. I may have to buy one or two more!

#16 lamplight

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 12:26 AM

John, glad you like your new chair! I finally broke down and bought the Stardust chair from Hands On Optics

+1

#17 BigC

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 12:50 AM

John,

I finally bought the "ergonomic work chair" from Amazon for $124 because I felt the extra seat height range was worth a few more dollars.I think mine is 13" to 34". The real low position actually is of use with a refractor when viewing overhead.And the high position allow seated viewing with a 10" f5.6 or 12" f5 Dob!

#18 Jammer53

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 07:44 AM

LOL. Based on the thread's title, I came in looking to see what "upgrades" you did to your eyepieces and all I found was a rave about a chair!

(I'm on the hunt for a couple of Baader Hyperion Planetariums).

Anyway, now I'm looking at chairs. Wife's NOT going to be happy. Oh well, she's young. She'll bounce back.

#19 John Kuraoka

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 08:58 AM

Yes, even though I'm viewing through a short, compact Mak-Cass, I sometimes wish my chair could be set a couple inches lower!

#20 BigC

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Posted 01 April 2013 - 11:20 AM

A chair that will seat you lower also allows keeping the tripod legs shortened and more stable.

An adjustable chair can make straight through viewing more comfortable for someone wanting to minimize the optics.With the chair low and the tripod high you can dispense with the diagonal(an extension tube may be need to place eyepieces at focus) ,although for zenith views a patio lounge chair might be more comfortable.Removing a common 88% diagonal from the light path should brighten objects a bit;if you already have a 98% diagonal then no.






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