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Unitron history

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#26 akman1955

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 06:23 PM

:(iam getting a headache tooooooo.. just some people don't appreciate the artistic form and build of older stuff. yikes :bawling: I guess iam getting old :shocked:

#27 Geo31

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 06:29 PM

just some people don't appreciate the artistic form and build of older stuff.


How so? I'm not seeing it.

#28 will808

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 06:42 PM

I agree Chuck that the D&G telescopes are great...here's my 6" on the deck...the finest instrument I've ever had and I'm nearly 60 yrs old!

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#29 starman876

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 07:08 PM

The question was fairly simple. Unitron history and why did they stop selling scopes. Would have been nice if it was accurately detailed instead of all these theories. That is what is giving me a headache. The company seven website did a pretty good job of explaining it. Talking with Unitron many times over the years also agrees with the company seven website. Yes they did try a Chinese import and only a 60mm nothing else and decided the quality was not there so they did not go any further on that venture.
There was no way they could ever build again compared to what they built before and be competitive and profitable. What more can you say on this subject.

#30 starman876

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 07:17 PM

You really need to get an AP :grin:

#31 will808

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 07:41 PM

Your are right Terra and at the risk of being redundent may I offer the photo that was taken a few years ago when I had the 5" first set up...I threw my hat in the ring and won it for the minimum bid...it took 30 days and 13 UPS shipments to get all of it & Astromart did a good job...what a find!

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#32 starman876

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 07:54 PM

You really need a higher ceiling :smirk:

#33 fjs

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Posted 09 January 2014 - 09:29 PM

You really need a higher ceiling :smirk:


Or better, a roll-off ceiling.

#34 clintwhitman

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 05:20 AM

:(iam getting a headache tooooooo.. just some people don't appreciate the artistic form and build of older stuff. yikes :bawling: I guess iam getting old :shocked:


Your Not getting old Johann.
And I definitely am not! LOL :shakecane: :shakecane: :imawake:

Will as always nice photos. And your D&G is awesome!

Why did Unitron stop selling? Bronco said it, No buyers. Costs went up, so they cheaped out on the quality to try to compete and killed the telescopes they were trying to sell.
Same as Cave and a bunch of others.
As with many scopes we collect the market became somewhat flooded with their older products and then other companies produced cheaper telescopes that worked better for less money.

I think Celestron's marketing and the quality of the C8, 11, 14s killed Cave, Unitron, and a myriad of other older telescope companies. I mean how can you compare a 4" to a 8" at 1/4 of the cost?

Currently all of the 80mm to 100mm Williams Optics or other modern ED scopes. Many of these are incredible telescopes with very high quality optics that you can pick up with one hand mount and all. And they are generally cheaper than even a used 4" Unitron.

But to Classic Telescope collectors and the general public C8s or 100mm ED telescopes are not a 4" 152 by any stretch of the imagination. People stand in Awe of either of my 152s at star parties and many times lines of people come to get a look through them. Because they are cool looking! Oldschool! and Classic.
People don't stop me while I am driving my 2013 $30k Ram truck to town. But I get bugged to distraction and asked at least 5 times every time I drive the all Original 66 El Camino anywhere, Hey, WHAT YEAR IS THAT And DO YOU WANT TO SELL HER? LOL
(aveman
The parallels between Classic autos and telescopes are very similar. By the way the Ram gets 23 mpg / 300 hp Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 drives like a Cadillac and will blow away the El Camino away in a 1/4 mile.
But there is nothing like firing up the CowBoy Cadillac Tuning in an oldies show on the OG AM radio and taking Debbie out for Saturday Breakfast!

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#35 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 06:16 AM

OK folks, lets keep the cars out of this discussion.

Rich (RLTYS)

#36 terraclarke

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 12:11 PM

Will, it's said that a picture is worth a thousand words. The picture you posted of your 5 inch Unitron is worth 10,000; the Unitron- Priceless. :bow:

It has been mentioned many times that our love for Unitrons is all about nostalgia and getting something now that we could not have then. I agree that there may be a certain amount of this, but it is by no means the driving motivation for most of us. I love Clarks and old Zeiss scopes and would love to have one of them, yet they were made long before I was born. I certainly saw no big multi-page pictorial adds for them when I was growing up. Alas, I have no Clarks and my Zeiss was made just after I turned 21.

The deal is, that there is an enduring, classic, timeless quality to a Unitron that is like no other or very few other telescopes of its time period. It is iconic, and I think almost archetypal in its design and appearance. The Unitron is art. Moreover, as has also been said here, it is a system. Its not just getting the OTA, its building the complete package and acquiring all the accessories that are consistently marked with your particular model's age.

Owning/collecting Unitrons is alot like stamp or coin collecting. Some in this forum have scoffed at the idea of having a telescope simply for its collectability. They have said that they were made to be used and if they are not used then they shouldn't be possessed. That is pure 'poppycock' in my book. Yes, they were made to be used. I use all of mine. Not a lot, but they do get used. But even if they never went outside, I would still want them. Again with the analogy of stamps and coins as our moderator has said no more car analogies. Rare and classic, highly valuable stamps and coins were also made to be used. Not always, some were minted in low numbers and still are just to make them collectable, but you have to admit, the primary use for a stamp is for postage, the primary use for a coin is for purchasing something. So for those who make that argument, if you inherited your grandparent's stamp or coin collection, would you use the stamps for postage? Would you spend the coins?

There will always be those who are interested in owning a Unitron and in acquiring Unitron parts to complete their systems. We are not a dying breed, the end of a generation. Yes, even six generations down the road. Everyone in our hobby will not succumb to commercialism and trendyness. There will always be some with taste for something else. Someone who appreciates fine craftsmanship. Yes, you can make wonderful things to a high degree of precision with CNC technology. But there is always something to appreciate in a beautiful and precise piece of workmanship made with human hands.

Lastly, yes, short apo and ed instruments can be wonderful. They are also very convenient to set up and to use. But I have seen well made F12 and above 60mm achromatic scopes and F16 and above 75 to 80 mm scopes that are every bit as apochromatic, with better contrast, sharper across the entire field views than many of the modern, convenient, apo and ed scopes.

Don't even get me started on dobs! :tonofbricks:

Long live UNITRON! :love:

#37 photiost

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 12:53 PM

Your are right Terra and at the risk of being redundent may I offer the photo that was taken a few years ago when I had the 5" first set up...I threw my hat in the ring and won it for the minimum bid...it took 30 days and 13 UPS shipments to get all of it & Astromart did a good job...what a find!



Very nice !! :cool:

Frank T

#38 wfj

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 01:40 PM

Things are designed for a certain look, feel, ... use. In a word, essence.

Essence both defines a era and its mindset to an anthropologist.

Evoking such is said to be "nostalgia". But that is a too small term to contain all of the effects of said essence.

We're in a reductionist time, where things have a purpose and only a purpose. So that's where the conflict Terra is addressing comes. As a need to separate "what to keep", "what to throw". Often of the scope hoard itself.

Often though you find the seeds of the future in the past, just reimagined or reapplied. I have been studying military and space widefield optical systems lately, and Erfle/Kaspeiret/Nagler have considerable commonality in the cultures that surrounded them in there genesis.

Why I like classics is that I see the attempts to create the next from the past in like kind. Mostly they don't work.

For example, why you don't see mounts for long tubes is that solid, expensive mounts are dominated by astrophotography needs ... who avoid long tubes, and have a 3-10x value priced budget over visual.

So it's not that high f/ is undesirable, just that those who wish to be satisfied, choose from available options, and the classic long tube on solid mount has few options...

#39 Joe Cepleur

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 01:49 PM

Cars and coins keep creeping into these discussions because telescopes are technical and arcane, whereas when, for example, Caveman cruises down the boulevard in his El Camino, with his lovely wife in the passenger's seat and music of the period blaring out the open windows, everyone "gets it" -- we understand viscerally, but are stuck even then with an idiom to convey that we understand what we can not describe in words. We want the discussion on this forum to be about telescopes and not cars, and no one wants to irritate the moderator, yet I see how, in thread after thread, the comparison to cars keeps creeping back into the conversation. Same idea: classic object, beautifully built, with a certain character, but cars are understood fairly universally, whereas telescopes can be difficult to appreciate when they are purely imaginary objects. I have seen a 60mm Unitron in person, but never any larger Unitron. I have an Orange Tube C8, but have never seen a C11 or C14 (although I have seen a 12" Meade LX-200, which helps in understanding the big Celestrons). We compare when we lack the words for directly discussing the object at hand, which is especially common when the "object" includes a feeling. So, yeah; we don't want to degenerate into car talk, yet the comparisons to both the objects and how they make us feel appear, from their irrepressible presence, to work for many.

This idea of the Unitron being a complete, user-friendly, well-marketed package intrigues me. From what I gather of a period in the history of telescopes from well before I was involved, people were sold on this idea that a little 60mm Unitron was a magical substitute for the painful-to-move behemoths of the era just prior, such as the big Caves. When I was new to astronomy, I wondered about old Unitron adds arguing that when one could obtain the same magnification from the lightweight scope, why would one bother with anything larger? The answer lies in its far lower resolution, the simple impossibility of getting the same useful magnification at the eyepiece. And yet, given the choice, I, too, have chosen smaller scopes that I can lift and move, and see what I can with them. Makes perfect sense. How much more potent this delusion of equality with larger telescopes must have been when marketed so well! Point was, it was not wholly delusional. Whatever one saw with one's gorgeous, technical, yet easy-to-use Unitron was better than what one did not see with the Astrola one could not be bothered to drag outside. And, such a compliment to the user! A fine, technical, portable scope -- the best, something special!... until, at the end of the saga, at low cost, the view from the C8 was new and exciting, and blew the doors off that of the Unitron (not in prettiness, but in resolution), so the joyful-but-unsustainable fantasy withered to its end.

#40 terraclarke

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:07 PM

With regard to the last two posts,

William, yes it is true that many of the Japanese refractors of the time had mounts that were too flimsy to get all one could from the OTA. On the other hand, Unitrons were always 'undermounted'; the mounts were extremely capable of handling the loads of the scopes they were paired with. Given an other 'higher end' example, my Zeiss Telementor. Its eq. mount and tripod are exceptionally robust for the scope. In many ways, it is now and has always been, very much- "you get what you pay for." If trimming was to be done on a 'mass-marketed" scope back in the day, it was on the mount, (and on the eyepieces). Unitron, Zeiss, Goto, and a few others however were most consistent throughout their systems.

Jon, it was quite common at the time (the 50s and 60s) to use paired comparisons of the 3 inch F15 refractor to the 6 inch F8 to F10 Newtonian reflector; the 4 inch F15 refractor to the 8 inch F6 to F8 Newtonian reflector. You see this repeated over and over in many of the popular 'observing' books of the era.

#41 turk123

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:23 PM

I like your comments, Joe. Old cars help us understand our fixation with classic telescopes even for us. This is a nice thread. Maybe because it involves the truly "classic" of all scopes (and I'm a Cave man). That is one of the reasons I took the opportunity to purchase the 5" Unitron. Partly to admire it. Partly to show it off at NEAF. Partly for a proven investment (it will hold it's value better than gold). But mostly to preserve it and restore it for others that will own it after me and make it available to the community of classic telescope collectors whether they can afford it or not. It is a beautiful piece of history that I am learning more and more about.

I will be leaving on tuesday to meet Jim Craft in St. louis (halfway point) to pick up the Unitron. And yes, I've rented a malibu with the fold down seats as he requested and yes it will be humidity and temperature controlled, but that in fact is what it deserves. It's Jim's treasure (he loves that scope), I'm just holding on to it for him.

Could Unitron make these scopes today and be successful? Probably not. Are their hearing aids a piece of art? Don't think so. Some things are best left alone. I believe Barry Kawa found out the lack of interest when he visited Unitron in the late 90's. It was no longer on their radar.

#42 starman876

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:28 PM

sorry guys. having a bad day

#43 terraclarke

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:33 PM

Sorry you are having a bad day Johann. :flower:

#44 Joe Cepleur

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 02:51 PM

...it was quite common at the time (the 50s and 60s) to use paired comparisons of the 3 inch F15 refractor to the 6 inch F8 to F10 Newtonian reflector; the 4 inch F15 refractor to the 8 inch F6 to F8 Newtonian reflector. You see this repeated over and over in many of the popular 'observing' books of the era.


Loosely, doubling the focal length allowed halving the aperture (by diameter, so half the resolution; it was one-quarter the area, for one-quarter light gathering). Why? Can't be that astronomers were stupid back then. The far lighter weight meant the scope was used far more, and the long focal length so improved the subjective qualities of the image that this became the wisdom of the day. Unitron's cartoons lampooning the hassles of big Newts may not have been exactly correct, yet the were not exactly wrong, either. The Unitron (or other fine, small refractor) was a superb compromise, especially given the eyepieces of the day.

#45 Alan Grant

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 09:56 PM

The last line of Unitron's in the 90's were being offered at very expensive prices. Volume had dropped off and I suppose their costs rose as a result of low volume sales. The humble but beautiful 60mm model 128 was being offered for $1200 before they dropped the entire line.

Bill


I can attest to this. In 1997 when I bought my model 140, the list price was $1200.00. Unitron claimed the last of three left and they were 'redesigning' their scopes. I thought 'uh oh'. The tripod came in a cardboard box instead of wood and only two eyepieces. I paid $750.00 direct from Unitron.

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#46 starman876

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 10:03 PM

What do you think of their re design? :lol:

#47 actionhac

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 12:23 AM

People still like to use bamboo fly rods
Tube type radio & stereo gear
Black powder firearms
Piston engine aircraft
Wood boats
Long focal length achromats

#48 Qwickdraw

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 06:46 AM

What do you think of their re design? :lol:


You tell me :grin:

Unitron

#49 clintwhitman

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 09:30 AM

People still like to use bamboo fly rods
Tube type radio & stereo gear
Black powder firearms
Piston engine aircraft
Wood boats
Long focal length achromats


RIGHT ON ROBERT! I own and use everything on your list!
Alan Awesome Scope! That truly is the last of the Mohicans I have the 150 Alt Az and really like to use the design. super simple and built like a tank. It is especially nice for solar work.
Like Chuck said, I only used the Classic car thing because to me it describes the same issues as classic telescopes. Comparing my 155E Unitron to a 4" Orion ED on a G-8 LM mount is like. Comparing a 55 chevy to a 2013 toyota Yaris. It is just silly!!
:foreheadslap:
I posted the first photo is for two reasons. 1. The telescopes we all took to this event are the rarest group of telescopes I have seen in one place, except for CSPAMP
2. The group of Classic Telescope men Steve, Lewis, Robert and ?? Have the biggest smiles on their faces and being all togther is almost as rare as the Tinsley, Kogaku, Fecker and the Nakamichi all being in the same place at 8500 ft Mnt. Pinos
:cool:
1974 150 Unitron Mount
1953 100mm F15 All Brass OTA

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#50 terraclarke

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 11:30 AM

Tis surely a beauty Master Clint. :bow:

I like that alt-az mount far more than the earlier and less stable yoke mounts. Does anyone remember the Vixen Custom-D alt-az mount from 10 or 15 years ago? I had one and it was wonderful. Way better than the Porta Mount that replaced it. It took its inspiration directly from this mount. I wish I still had mine!






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