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Mid-Range Dob

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#1 BigT

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 07:55 AM

I only just got my first telescope and I'm already considering what my second will be (that's what poor weather will do after a brief first few views that get you excited).

I started with an Orion 127mm Mak-Cass and plan on using it any chance I get. However, I always figured I would eventually get a second scope. I was going back and forth between a small refractor for grab and go wide views, or a dob for some real aperture and versatility.

I'm definitely leaning toward a dobsonian, 8-12" (probably 8-10"). I figure since it's my second scope I'd get a decent one, though I don't want to spend a fortune.

My question is, what would be a good mid-range dob? I know the Orion, Zhumell, etc. are popular, and they also seem to be about the cheapest available. Don't get me wrong, I'm not talkning them down at all, and I may go with something like that, I'm just saying, they are at the low end of what you can spend.

I've seen the Teeter's Telescopes Dobs, and they seem very nice. They also range from $2,000-$5,000+. I'm sure they are great, but it's an awfully big jump from $300-500, to $2,000+.

I've seen the Discovery dobs, and a few others that are $500-1,200. I guess my question is, are you getting anything for that extra that's worthwhile? Can you really get anything of much value out of a slightly more expensive dob? I don't want to spend more for no reason.

I guess, in short, I'm wondering it there is a midrange dob that gets you a bit more performance/quality/convenience than the cheaper models, or if I'm best just deciding whether I want a cheap, good performer or if I want to go all the way and spend $$$.

I hope that makes sense.

#2 BigT

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 08:05 AM

Just a quick note. I'm not in a hurry. I've been very pleased with the views my current scope has given me on the couple (poor seeing) nights I've had a chance to use it.

I just have scopes on the brain right now so I'm checking out my options.

I figure I'd start a bit of a "next scope" fund and figured I'd just wait a bit longer if I wanted something better. But money is money and I don't want to spend it on something that really isn't benifitting me over the cheaper options.

Thanks again.

#3 Binojunky

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:40 AM

Take a look at the Dob Stuff web site, I considered a Teeter scope but declined when seeing a charge for packing the scope on top off the shipping costs, then I took a look at the Dob Stuff scopes, they fall in the $1000 range depending on what you order and Dennis the owner was very good to deal with,DA.

#4 MrJones

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 10:46 AM

There isn't really much between Zhumell/Orion/GSO dobs and the premium ones. Discovery that you mentioned (OPT sells them) seems to be one of the few brands that could be called midrange. I don't know anything about them beyond what I've read in these forums but I'm interested too. Maybe do some more forum searching. :)

#5 City Kid

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:30 AM

As a mid-range option you could buy one of the cheaper dobs and make upgrades to it. Just a thought. I have an Orion XT10 that I ended up adding Ebony Star laminate and teflon to both the altitude and azimuth bearing surfaces. I also installed a MoonLite two speed focuser, completely flocked the tube, and upgraded to a Zambuto primary mirror. Although all of that added a lot of cost to the scope it was still cheaper than buying a premium scope.

In regards to Teeter's Telescopes I've got to say that if you have a serious interest in the hobby and you can afford one then you can't go wrong with one of Rob's scopes. They are sweet! I have a 12.5" Teeter's and it is a fantastic scope. I like it well enough that at some point I will probably have him build a new structure around my 10".

#6 City Kid

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 11:37 AM

I would also add that there is nothing wrong with scopes such as the Orion dobs as they are. No, they aren't premium in any way but they are fine scopes as is and can give you a lifetime of enjoyment. Even with average optics a 10" dob will provide a HUGE difference in view compared to the 127 Mak-Cass.

#7 nirvanix

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:22 PM

Not sure why you would buy a refractor since you have the 127mm Mak/Cass?

The off the rack 10" dobs have a good performance/price ratio. If you can get one with the two-speed focuser for <500$ (used maybe?) it won't disappoint. The mirrors now produced in Asia are overall pretty good.

It will allow you to become a galaxy hunter :p

#8 Mike B

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 12:56 PM

Although all of that added a lot of cost to the scope it was still cheaper than buying a premium scope.


I'm intrigued by the idea of working with a "kit", like the DobStuff packages. Phil's method of upgrading an existing scope sounds appealing too!

Look at this price-list of primary mirrors... notice how bumping the aperture from 8" to 12", a 150% gain, DOUBLES the price! If he had prices posted for his larger optics, you'd see more of the same; it's *not* an arithmetic progression, but geometric- curving upwards ever steeper!

The structure to hold such optics does much the same, as both the weight of said optics, and it's focal-length, impose costs on the design- including making the structure work smoothly for the user.

Then there's the accessory's costs- these cover a wide range, and as the cost & quality of the scope go up, the accessories tend to also.

A large-aperture scope is wonderful- but one with mediocre or poor optics, difficult movements, poor ergonomics, and cheap doodads will not be enjoyed so much as one that is a pure joy to use!

I don't want to spend more for no reason.

So for the most part, folks who spend more for larger scopes are *NOT* doing so for "no reason". There's a very GOOD reason. And unfortunately, there are a few examples of mass-produced large Dobs that were poorly executed... and they are dogs! Most of these examples are older models, when Dobbery was in its infancy... today's mass-produced units are typically MUCH better, and most wouldn't classify them as "dogs".

But if you ever get a chance to view with an "average" Dob, as well as with a truly "premium" one, there IS a difference! And it'll not be just an optical difference, but ergonomic, and otherwise. Whether the additional costs are "worth it" might vary, depending on who one asks.

There lies the root of your question: what IS that extra $$ buying? Maybe see if it's possible to get out to a local astro club's observing sessions... see for yourself?
Happy hunting!
:grin:

#9 Brett Carlson

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:03 PM

I had my 16" mirror re-figured by OWL and it's great now.

I too am looking at one of the dobstuff kits to make my 16" solid tube Starfinder a bit more portable. It's pretty much a tank now...the dobstuff kit looks great. A few years down the road I'll be taking that route.

#10 dpwoos

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:44 PM

The other possibility is simply to build your own. A 16" is more of a challenge, but a smaller solid tube dob is really simple. I sometimes tell folks that if they can build a nice bird house then they can build a 12" or smaller dob! I remember building a lot of bird houses as a kid - I wonder why that particular project was so popular?

#11 csrlice12

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 01:57 PM

The 10" is just a good spot. Big enough to bring in the fuzzies, yet small enough you can still transport it. Partly, what you buy, will be determined in if you want "assistance" such as push-to or GoTo (Orion is the only game in town for these complete systems). If you already know the night sky and don't need help finding objects, then the standard dob will do, pretty much any of the major brands (Orion, Aptura, Zhummel) will do (pretty evenly matched optically). Just remember, a 10" or larger dob requires accurate collimation and premium eyepieces to perform to its utmost. But the views......just WOW!

#12 dpwoos

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 02:10 PM

I don't have premium eyepieces and my views are WOW. You only need decent plossls to get a WOW, though of course there are advantages to more expensive ones. What you do need for a WOW are good scope optics, good thermal control and of course good collimation.

#13 stratocaster

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 05:15 PM

From a 'value' perspective, I think the Zhumell, Orion, etc dobs would be impossible to beat. There is simply too much bang for the buck. I own a 10" Zhumell. You get a very nice 2" 2 speed crayford focuser, decent/good objects, nice bearings, etc - for less than $500 shipped.

I took the path of City Kid and purchased a Zambuto mirror, Moonlite focuser (it was only necessary because the new primary was thinner), flocked the interior, etc, because as I got more interested in the hobby I wanted to squeeze the most performance I could out of my scope. Plus upgrading can be fun in it's own right and another way to experience the hobby.

I don't really know anything about the discovery dobs, but they appear quite nice. It looks like alt bearing balance adjustment is nicer than on the Zhumells - no tools required. This is a nice design touch. Only a one-speed focuser, though. Maybe two speeds isn't necessary on an f6 scope. Split tube is nice for transport.

Herein lies the rub. Do the improved ergonomics - and possibly optics - provide more value at almost 3 times the price of the imports. That will need to be an individual judgement.

At some point it may become a matter of just what you want to have and what you want out of a telescope - and to some extent price/value be damned. With more upgrades the perceived value will vary from person to person.

#14 munchmeister

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:28 PM

I'm looking at an Apertura 12" dob from Opticsmart. They have a "tweak" package but am most interested in the Halo setting circle/ leveling base for it, that makes it more of a "push to" scope. It lets you set the Azimuth coordinates, with altitude provided by an inexpensive digital angle gauge (Amazon or Harbor Freight) that can be magnetically attached to your tube, for precise altitude angle. I've got room for the tube in my vehicle so the size would not be an issue. DSC computers are much more expensive and smart phone apps like Sky Safari give you the Alt Az coordinates. The whole rig, including the "tweak" package offered by Opticsmart should come in around $1000, with free shipping.

#15 The Ardent

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:40 PM

Let me ask, why is it that:

People spend thousands of dollars to ride a cruise ship, thats OK, perfectly normal.

But spend that on a nice telescope, everyone thinks your crazy. Why?

A telescope will give you viewing pleasure to last a lifetime.

#16 Markovich

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Posted 15 February 2013 - 06:46 PM

Keep an eye out for a good used premium dob...can save a lot of money that way.

#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:59 AM

Hi:

The Halo seems like a worthwhile investment. I just don't see the "Tweaker's Dream Package offers $150 worth of value. If you don't have a dedicated observing chair, that $150 would be better spent on a chair, a comfortable viewing position goes a long way.

Jon

#18 BigT

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:10 AM

Thanks for all the replies. An observing chair is on my short list right now. Will certainly get that figured out before I get a second scope.

I may end up with a Zhumell or similar. The Discovery scopes are interesting, but are they really much better than an Orion or Zhumell, I don't know.

Thanks again for all the replies. If anyone else has any opinions feel free to share.

#19 dpwoos

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 10:45 AM

I bet that if you observe with your local astro club then you will be able to try out one or more of the scopes in question, allowing you to make an informed decision.

#20 moynihan

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 11:14 AM

If you don't have a dedicated observing chair, that $150 would be better spent on a chair, a comfortable viewing position goes a long way.


Best scope accessory i have ever purchased!

#21 JohnMurphyRN

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 01:28 PM

Thanks for all the replies. An observing chair is on my short list right now. Will certainly get that figured out before I get a second scope.

I may end up with a Zhumell or similar. The Discovery scopes are interesting, but are they really much better than an Orion or Zhumell, I don't know.

Thanks again for all the replies. If anyone else has any opinions feel free to share.


I have a 12.5" Discovery and a fullblown premium 17.5". I've looked through a buddy's 12" GSO and another friend's 10" Orion. The optical quality of the Discovery is a lot closer to my Galaxy than it is to the others. In fact, I was going to get Discovery's split tube 17.5" when I found the used premium scope...

That being said, it's difficult for me to compare optical quality of different apertures, but the Discovery is noticeably better than the 12" GSO.

My Discovery is a keeper. While I intend to get something bigger to replace my 17.5", I intend to keep my 12.5" Discovery as it is the biggest thing that'll fit through my back door - my idea of 'grab and go'.

Optics aside, the mechanics of the Discovery are not nearly as smooth as my Astrosystem truss, but it isn't bad enough that I feel the need to tweak it or put the optics into a different chassis and it is smoother than the mass market dobs. The JMI focuser on the Discovery is better than the focuser on my Astrosystem.

The optics in the older Discovery scopes are Terry Ostahowski optics, fully premium level. I'd go with a used Discovery with Ostahowski optics over a new GSO, hands down. My understanding is that his mirrors are clearly marked as such.

#22 Mike B

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 04:51 PM

People spend thousands of dollars to ride a cruise ship, thats OK, perfectly normal.

But spend that on a nice telescope, everyone thinks your crazy. Why?



Maybe it's just *me*, but i've NEVER been enthralled with the idea of goin' on a "cruise ship". I totally agree on the "lifetime" nature of the blessings a good scope will offer.

But your comment, in light of recent news (pick your "cruise" disaster story!) has pushed me to new extremes! I wouldn't set foot on one of those things- even at gunpoint! :noway:

Dobs rock! Cruise ships wreck or reek.

My condolences to all who suffered on this latest event.
:flower: May a pleasant event occur soon to ameliorate the bad memories therefrom.

#23 Starman1

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 06:09 PM

Here is where to go:
http://dobstuff.com/telescopes.htm
Look at 10" complete telescope. Only a little more than the less expensive Chinese scopes and nicer all the way around--including the customizing options.
Plus, a great guy to deal with.

#24 Joe G

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 07:04 PM

Don has it right. Just visited Dennis today to tweak my 16 inch Dobstuff makeover. Great service and beautiful scopes.

A 10 inch strut scope with Sky Commander for $1600 or without for $1095. That's hard to beat and you would not need any upgrades.

#25 BigT

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:31 PM

Thanks again for the replies. Te Dobstuff scopes are interesting. I'll keep that in mind. If I had a scope that nice looking I'd have to display it in my living room.

Maybe I'll look into the bits and pieces and build one out of tha Dobstuff kits down the road.






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