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Thoughts about the new Meade introductory scopes

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#1 Charlie Hein

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 01:47 PM

Thoughts and Observations on the New Meade Infinity and Polaris Lines of Entr...

By Bill Steen

#2 Bill Steen

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Posted 08 July 2014 - 10:16 PM

I just wanted to thank Cloudy Nights for publishing my article, especially with all the typos and omitted words. I did not see those until I have had some time away from writing to let the smoke clear from behind my eyes. I can also see some better organization and formatting is in order as well.

I would sincerely like to receive input from people about things to add that would help a beginner. Unfortunately, beginners do not normally reach out and purchase books that can provide them basic knowledge from the start. I am hoping to end up with a free document that can help fill the void. Any input is appreciated.

Bill Steen

#3 Charlie Hein

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Posted 12 July 2014 - 01:36 PM

Updated article posted...

#4 Mark9473

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 04:10 AM

Some useful comments on the specs, but I'd rather see a review of the tested performance of these scopes and their components & accessories.

#5 herrointment

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 02:21 PM

Hard to stand out in a crowded field of lookalikes.

#6 Bill Steen

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 08:35 PM

Any performance tests will have to wait until the scopes arrive in the US and are available.

Oh, these are not look alikes! They are painted blue! (smile) I think all of them are being sold by other companies somewhere, except for maybe the f/9 4.5 inch reflector. They are set up with different mounts or tripods with a particular optical tube. The good part is that pretty much all of it is proven and not something that is completely unknown.

I am personally happy with the two lines as a whole. The lines appear to be more complete, with better selection and possibly better quality than what Meade had to offer as entry level manual telescopes before the company was bought by Sunny.

Bill Steen

#7 RedLionNJ

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 08:11 AM

I have to wonder at what market these telescopes are aimed. Put yourself in the position of a beginner in the hobby/science of astronomy. As an experienced amateur, would you really recommend any of these as a first scope for somebody?

The impression I get from the review is that they all come equipped with inferior-quality, small-field eyepieces, often permitting high magnifications and tiny fields-of-view which (on a non-driven and likely poorly-aligned mount) are likely to frustrate the beginning observer more than elicit the preferred ooohs and aaaahs of delight.

If Meade is bent on turning potential astronomers away from the hobby, this perpetuation of 'department store telescopes' sure looks like a move in that direction.

Grant

#8 Dana C

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 09:28 AM

Before you all get over the top about beginners scopes and how *BLEEP* they are I would like to humbly point out that:
A. Many telescopes are expensive and perhaps this is all they can afford.
B. Many serious astronomers including many of you started with a "introductory" scope. You were hooked after seeing Jupiter in a Sears scope for the first time. Yes, doing a little research as a beginner is a good thing before buying a first telescope and many are disappointed that the can see the images that they saw in Hubble pictures. If they are interested enough, they move on to a second, third etc. scope.
I am a returning amatur on a fixed income. I own a 6" SCT on a GEM4 mount. Yes I wish I had an 8" but once again $$ is the problem.
Meade and others are filling a nitch.

#9 Bill Steen

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 08:38 PM

The telescope companies are really caught between a rock and a hard place, when it comes to introductory scopes. There are certain price ceilings for different people. For most, that limit is around $100. For others, the limit may be $200. That puts a limit on what can be supplied with each level of scope.

I personally think that plossles should be provided with scopes that are properly blackened and collimated. However, the costs of those things would drive the price of the particular scope out of the price range of the particular class.

That is one of the things I try to do is to explain to beginners about eyepieces and what they can do to their scope to make it better with their personal labor and not much in materials.

With the new line-ups, at least they all have 1.25 inch focusers. This unlocks a door for the people buying the smaller scopes.

Even small scopes are capable of more than a lot of people think. I found and split all of the double stars in the Astronomy League's double star list with an NG 70 that I had gone through. I did it from a back yard that was a bright red light pollution zone and not terribly far from a white zone.

I don't think there is any plot to pump out inferior products. There really is no incentive to do that. The issue is what can be done for a given amount of money. From what information I have gathered, the new scopes should be better than the introductory scopes Meade had before, and I liked most of those as long as I could do a little tweeking on them and set them up right.

Bill Steen
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#10 DocFinance

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Posted 04 August 2014 - 05:16 PM

I did not see those until I have had some time away from writing to let the smoke clear from behind my eyes. I can also see some better organization and formatting is in order as well.
 

 

This is ALWAYS the trouble - I sometimes rewrite things semester after semester and still miss details. 

 

I thought it was a rather ambitious attempt, especially after the thread that was generated once the specs came out.  Sure, everyone would like to see some first light reports, but that's pretty unlikely.

 

Thanks for taking the time to put it together.  Being out there on the front page for a few days should get some readership, especially from newbies.



#11 droid

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 05:47 AM

Thanks for the review Bill. A few years ago I and one other , cant remember who, did Christmas scope reviews., we both agreed the included eye pieces were ok for starters. But the mounts were the problem.

Here's  hoping the mounts in your article are a cut above.

 

Thanks again for the article.....hope maybe some of the other members might pick these up and do individual reviews???



#12 Bill Steen

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Posted 05 August 2014 - 07:05 PM

Thanks for the comments.  

 

I am hoping to end up getting one of the new scopes, just to see how they compare to others.  When/if I do, I plan on writing up something from the experience with the scope as it arrives and after I tweak things.  I am really hoping these scopes will be a step up from the average introductory scopes.  New people need a scope good enough to use reasonably well and not simply cause frustration.  

 

I don't think I am the best person to do a review on something like this because I have cataracts.  I can miss a lot of details that someone else would see, but I will do my best when the time comes.

 

Bill Steen



#13 BDS316

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 07:41 PM

I have to wonder at what market these telescopes are aimed. Put yourself in the position of a beginner in the hobby/science of astronomy. As an experienced amateur, would you really recommend any of these as a first scope for somebody?

The impression I get from the review is that they all come equipped with inferior-quality, small-field eyepieces, often permitting high magnifications and tiny fields-of-view which (on a non-driven and likely poorly-aligned mount) are likely to frustrate the beginning observer more than elicit the preferred ooohs and aaaahs of delight.

If Meade is bent on turning potential astronomers away from the hobby, this perpetuation of 'department store telescopes' sure looks like a move in that direction.

Grant

Agree.  Especially the Bird-Jones reflector with the spherical mirror and the barlow/corrector lens in the focuser.  Really bad.



#14 csrlice12

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 09:29 AM

Maybe use it in terrestrial mode to find a real telescope.....


Edited by csrlice12, 10 August 2014 - 09:30 AM.


#15 BDS316

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 10:10 AM

Maybe use it in terrestrial mode to find a real telescope.....

:lol:  :waytogo:



#16 Bill Steen

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Posted 10 August 2014 - 09:10 PM

I received an email telling me that I will be receiving an Infinity 102 and a Polaris 130 to write reviews on.  I have my ideas of what should go into such an effort and plan on reading many different reports here on Cloudy Nights.  However, I would like to receive input from any of you that care to share ideas on what you would like for me to check out on these scopes and report......What would mean something to you if I put it into the reports?  I would like to make up a list of things to do with the scopes, those things that I have the ability to do, before I start and do them with as much solid science and facts as I can.  Any input into this process is appreciated.

 

Thanks,

 

Bill Steen 



#17 droid

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 03:22 AM

Primarily the eps, the mounts, finders, optics etc , or anything you think might turn off a budding new amateur astronomer.

Of course lots of pictures, lol.



#18 droid

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 03:24 AM

Thanks for the comments.  

 

I am hoping to end up getting one of the new scopes, just to see how they compare to others.  When/if I do, I plan on writing up something from the experience with the scope as it arrives and after I tweak things.  I am really hoping these scopes will be a step up from the average introductory scopes.  New people need a scope good enough to use reasonably well and not simply cause frustration.  

 

I don't think I am the best person to do a review on something like this because I have cataracts.  I can miss a lot of details that someone else would see, but I will do my best when the time comes.

 

Bill Steen

Id be more interested in how they do before they're tweaked, since they're targeted at beginners, many will not know how to tweak them.



#19 csrlice12

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 11:10 AM

Identify those things they did well in the design (probably a very short list), and where they cut corners and what mods would need to be done (hopefully this book will not be sold by weight).


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#20 Bill Steen

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Posted 11 August 2014 - 06:25 PM

Thanks!  As part of the work, I intend on pulling the scopes apart (after testing as-is), going through them completely, then reassembling and re-testing.  I am not an expert at testing lenses and mirrors, but I think I can use some close double stars by putting them all over the field, and use several different eyepieces, to get an idea about optical performance.

 

I am not going to presume things are either good or bad, but form an opinion as the work progresses.  The big thing to me is to find out what people want to read about, try not to miss anything, call it like I see it, and let the chips fall where they will.

 

I guess, one of the big issues in my mind is to figure out what the standards should be for a good entry level scope....neither the standards set by the least favorable telescope, nor the standards one would set for the same thing from a high end custom telescope maker.  What are reasonable expectations of an entry level scope, how close do these scopes come to meeting (or exceeding) that standard, what must be done to the scope to achieve the reasonable expectations.

 

Thanks for the input!  Any more thoughts cross your mind, let me know.

 

Bill Steen



#21 CollinofAlabama

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 12:43 PM

Bill,

 

Good job with your sight-unseen review.  I agree with others about MA eyepieces.  Pretty bad, and could portend other issues, but I'm mostly concerned with the 130mm F/5, since B&H Photo is selling it for $200.  Some things to check, even if the mount is crummy in the standard EQ mode, how does it work as an Alt-Az, with the shaft at 90*?  BTW, you can get a metric 95mm-ish long #12 (at least you can for the EQ-2 mount) bolt that will replace the long shaft, but provide enough room for the counterweight to help make the mount a decent, stable Alt-Az.  Keep this is mind for your "mods" review.  Regrading the optics, how thick are the spider veins?  Does it hold collimation horizontally, then, when moved vertically, is it still collimated?  Laser collimator helps a lot in determining this.  How easy is it to collimate, and can one simply replace the screws with the teflon-padded screw options offered by Opticsmart of Alabama?  Some things to keep in mind.  The 130mm has the potential to be a bargain, but the mechanicals (and optics, of course), have got to be good.  Thanks and let us know.

 

CDS


Edited by CollinofAlabama, 09 September 2014 - 12:45 PM.


#22 Bill Steen

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 04:49 PM

Hi Collin,

 

Thanks for the ideas.  I have both the Polaris 130 and the Infinity 102 at my house right now.  I have chosen to open the box for the Infinity 102 first and am still checking it out and trying things.  I do not want to have both scopes going through a checkout at the same time for fear of getting things mixed up.  I will say this about the eyepieces that came with the scope, they are the best beginner eyepieces I have ever experienced except for one scope, an NG 70-SPR.  That one came with two Plossles that I could not tell in quality from Meade 4000, other than I expect they did not have multi-coatings, just standard AR.

 

Bill Steen



#23 A. Viegas

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Posted 15 September 2014 - 05:09 PM

To me that Meade and their new owner sunny is missing the boat here.   Department store cheapo refractors are 1960/70s products.  Now I agree that a beginner scope is a key item to be sold at big box retailer...  But if someone is going to buy one of these for their 12yr old for Christmas, is $100 or $200 really a differentiating price point?   What I mean is the cost of the optics, OTA, tripod is probably $25 to make in china. And the fob and mark up at big box means sunny makes 50-100% while big box make 50%+ and net result is a $25 value telescope that modern kids will quickly forget about and ignore.   We are in the iPhone generation.   We need to have scopes like the celestron evolution series, but at meade's price point.   The electronics and wifi control for a cheapo plastic alt-az mount could probably be made in china for $25.   So maybe if sunny can stand to make a lower margin then they could get more sales and more importantly convert the buyer to long term astronomy interest which means much higher end future sales.    Maybe I am just disheartened at young kids interest in science, but I feel strongly that without the tie-in to full GOTO plus maybe even digital planetarium smartphone app that low end from 3 decades ago is just not going to cut it...

 

 

Al

 

P.s. What's with meade's new website...   Yuck!   Talk about low tech and lame...   Really too bad, their old website was more functlonal and featured their high end products.      Alas.... Meade is being used by sunny just for the branding for soe $25 cost to make scopes...  Very short sighted and a great loss to our hobby.  :bawling:


Edited by A. Viegas, 15 September 2014 - 05:11 PM.


#24 Bill Steen

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Posted 16 September 2014 - 10:00 PM

Interesting points, but outside the scope of the article.  For me, one of the main points of the two new series is to give people the option to get away from computerized things.  A scope like one of these allows plenty of room for parential participation with children, which is missing with many kids that I know.

 

From what you said, I am thinking an attachement to the finder shoe could allow an iphone with the appropriate app to be put in place of the finder.  Let the people who are in the app and phone business and really know how to make those things user friendly in a way people can understand do that and let the telescope maker make a reasonable product in the realm they know.

 

I have no opinion about the lower end of the Infinity series, but if you have the opportunity, you might want to examine one of the larger scopes.  I just about have a rough draft ready on the Infinity 102, if I can ever get sticking pictures into it that are downsized enough to fit, and get the text cleaned up enough to show to someone.  I bought a new camera with 20 meg files and they want to cover several pages with one image.



#25 Bill Steen

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 09:32 PM

Collin,

 

I finished my review of the Infinity 102 and have submitted it.  I opened the box for the Polaris 130 and measured the vane thickness.  There are four vanes and they measure 3.5 mm thick and 53 mm long.  The center obstruction is 47 mm in diameter, for whatever it is worth.  The end ring, the four vanes and the center obstruction that the secondary mirror is attached to are all one casting.  I will be writing a review on this scope.

 

Bill Steen








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