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12" Apertura - First Light

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#1 Old Rookie

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 10:03 PM

Wanting something for home and not wanting to drag my 18" home after every use, I had looked for something in the 10" - 12" range.  I finally settled on the 12" Apertura.  It offered decent aperture at 12" and a lot of bang for the buck. 

 

Assembly

I ordered both accessory packages - The Tweaker's package and the Pre-installed setting circles with the telescope.  This was on Sunday.  I received the base first this afternoon.  It had apparently gotten separated from the tube.  I went ahead and assembled it with no issues and figured I would have the tube by tomorrow.  I was wrong.  The truck pulled up a couple of hours later and dropped off the tube so it was off to the races. 

 

Between the two, I don't think I had but around 90 minutes in assembly time.  The base and tube were both in excellent condition with no scratches, dings, scraps, etc.  Collimation went smoothly but I need to shim the focuser some.

 

The Tweaker's package includes flocking.  Did I say it was black?  I've never seen the inside of any telescope that looked as black as the inside of this tube.  Until you actually see it, you can't really imagine how dark it is inside the tube.  The edges were smooth and overall looked great. 

 

I originally set the balance up a little heavy in the front.  I removed the tube from the base, adjusted the mounting system and tried again.  All the eyepieces seem to hold the balance now with now problem.  I still need to mount a Rigel Quickfinder but they're light and I don't see a problem.

 

I was surprised at how smooth the motions were in both axis.  However, the tube takes a second or two to settle down after a focus adjustment.  I'm not used to that.

 

First Light.

First light on the day I received the telescope.  How's that for luck?  I used the compass and set the base towards north with the azimuth zero'ed out and pointing west.  I used Vega as my alignment star and set the base to the proper degree.  Using Sky Safari Pro on a tablet by the way.  First DSO was M57.  I popped in a 17mm Astro-Tech and took a peek.  Lo' and behold, there it was and looking good in spite of the moon tonight.  Hey, this system works pretty good so I looked at M13.  Not too shabby I thought.  Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see if I could split the Double-Double.  Exchanged the 17mm for an 8mm Delos and swung it over.  My, my, I could just split both of them.  Well the moon was out and I just wanted to give this a shakedown so I packed it all in.

 

A couple of Items

1. I mentioned the focuser, I couldn't get the secondary to line up exactly right.  So in a couple of days, I'm going to take all that apart and do a proper alignment between the tube, focuser and secondary.

 

2. The digital level that's included is light on the batteries.  I was putting this thing away and noticed it sliding down the tube.

 

3. I didn't order the leveling feet.  I didn't like the looks of them and thought that wobble might be an issue.  What I am going to do is build my own from hockey pucks.  They're three inches or so across versus the inch and a half of the factory leveling feet.  I've done this before on another telescope and it worked out really well.  However, I bought the practice pucks.  They're made of hard rubber - just right for my purpose.  Getting the telescope level will increase the accuracy of the setting circles.

 

Overall, I'm pretty happy with this.  I can wheel it out during the week without a lot of fuss, observe for a couple of hours and call it a night.  Plus with the aperture I can beat the light pollution in my semi-urban back yard and get my fill of DSO's and some double stars. 

 

 

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#2 kfiscus

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:03 AM

Thank you for the report.  It's sort of unusual to get a first light report from a 12" owner that is stepping DOWN in aperture.  I love my Z12 and hope you'll be happy with your AD12.



#3 George Methvin

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 05:33 AM

You well enjoy your new scope. I kind of did the same thing you did about a year ago. I use to own a 17.5 dob but just did not use it that much in my light pollution area. Sold that dob and bought the Zhumell 12 and have never looked back. The 12 inch is easier to use and has better optic then the 17.5 scope. In fact I am still surprised at how good the optic are in this scope. Bigger is not always better and my step down in scope size was a step up in viewing pleasure.  Clear skies.


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#4 Old Rookie

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 07:42 AM

The intention for this purchase was to have one at home.  The 18" that I own is a real pleasure to use - great optics, smooth motions and dsc's with Megastar.  However, it's not readily accessible during the week and I don't normally have the time for long observing sessions anyhow since 4:00am comes early.  The AD12 allows me to wheel it out for an hour or two, look at some doubles and DSO's and wheel it back into the garage.  Regardless of the moon phase.

 

That being said, I'm starting to get somewhat tired of climbing up and down a ladder.  I'm kind of preparing myself for the day when the 18" is gone but I still like astronomy.  I owned a 12" before the 18" and was happy until the opportunity came up for the 18".  Don't get me wrong though, the 18" Quantum is a great performer but that ladder...



#5 thomas68

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 08:43 AM

Good luck with your new telescope!  AD 12 is a great telescope for the money.

 

Tom



#6 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:21 AM

Thanks for posting your First Light John!  But when you said "The digital level that's included is light on the batteries.  I was putting this thing away and noticed it sliding down the tube." what did you mean by "light on the batteries"?  Did you mean "light on the magnets"?  The Alti-Gauges we have here definitely don't slide on the tube, even with the OTA pointed straight up.  And even if I put water on the OTA (to simulate heavy dew) the gauge doesn't move.  Or were you talking about something else altogether?



#7 photiost

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:23 AM

Congrats on your new telescope.



#8 Old Rookie

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:32 AM

 Hi David,

     I meant light on the magnets.  I noticed when I first attached it that the holding power didn't seem real tight.  Then it slid down the tube as I was rolling it into the garage.  I don't think this was normal since I had owned a Wixey before.  I had considered taking it apart and replacing the magnets.  Also considered getting a magnet strip for the tube as a quick fix.  Any recommendations?  I do like the red light in these now.  That's a big bonus!!

 

Thanks,

John

 

Thanks for posting your First Light John!  But when you said "The digital level that's included is light on the batteries.  I was putting this thing away and noticed it sliding down the tube." what did you mean by "light on the batteries"?  Did you mean "light on the magnets"?  The Alti-Gauges we have here definitely don't slide on the tube, even with the OTA pointed straight up.  And even if I put water on the OTA (to simulate heavy dew) the gauge doesn't move.  Or were you talking about something else altogether?



#9 rnabholz

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:46 AM

That is a very handsome scope. Congratulations.

Regarding the magnet problem, can't quite see in the picture, any chance to position the level under the finder and use the finder base as a stop to prevent the slide?

On another note, LOVE your stool ;^)

#10 Binojunky

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:51 AM

Off topic bit I love the stool in the OP photo, :like: DA.



#11 synfinatic

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 09:57 AM

Seems pretty odd that the alt gauge would shift like that on the OTA.  I'd first contact David at Opticsmart and see what he says... maybe you have a defective one?  Otherwise you could pick up a few neodymium magnets and use contact cement to glue them to the gauge to give it some extra grip.



#12 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 10:03 AM

 

 Hi David,

     I meant light on the magnets.  I noticed when I first attached it that the holding power didn't seem real tight.  Then it slid down the tube as I was rolling it into the garage.  I don't think this was normal since I had owned a Wixey before.  I had considered taking it apart and replacing the magnets.  Also considered getting a magnet strip for the tube as a quick fix.  Any recommendations?  I do like the red light in these now.  That's a big bonus!!

 

Thanks,

John

 

 

 

Hmm... not sure what's going on there.  I just tried two different Alti-Gauges here (one that I just took brand new out of the box) and both of them held perfectly.  And of course we have a Wixey here as well, and IT is the one that slides on our OTA (but only when we "abuse" the tube by hitting it pretty hard).  I posted a quick and dirty video on our Youtube account to show how the magnets perform on both units:

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YtKQ4SbH6w&list=UUOoCIPXG2Fw5ze15XHcgwqA

 

I hate banging on a perfectly innocent scope like that, but it was necessary to make EITHER of the units slide.  John, you didn’t wax that puppy with super-slick car wax right out of the box did you?    :lol: 


Edited by DavidOpticsmart, 07 August 2014 - 01:45 PM.


#13 Old Rookie

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 11:55 AM

That is a very handsome scope. Congratulations.

Regarding the magnet problem, can't quite see in the picture, any chance to position the level under the finder and use the finder base as a stop to prevent the slide?

On another note, LOVE your stool ;^)

Thanks for your comments.

 

The "stool." 

When I first started astronomy 11 years ago, I wanted something to sit on while using my diy 8" dob.  A former member gave me the plans and within a couple of days i had my own.  At that time, I didn't pay much attention to any of the details about the plans.  This was probably ten years ago.  This stool has served me faithfully through the 8" dob, a 12" Skywatcher, a 12" Apertura and I even used it on the lift for our club's 36" Newtonian.  Today, I know who the designer is!  Thanks a bunch!!!



#14 rnabholz

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:30 PM

Thanks OR.

It is always fun to see one of my projects show up in a picture here or there. Makes me glad to know people find them useful. Sounds like it is serving you well.

I have often said that my stool is the only piece of astro equipment that makes EVERY trip, EVERY time.

Back to your issue, another option would be to place a self adhesive felt pad like those used to protect a fine wood table from a lamp on the tube behind the level.

My level wants to slide at steep altitudes, but one of these pads prevents it from getting started, and otherwise it stays put.

#15 rnabholz

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:30 PM

Double post

Edited by rnabholz, 07 August 2014 - 12:32 PM.


#16 Old Rookie

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 12:41 PM

Thanks OR.

It is always fun to see one of my projects show up in a picture here or there. Makes me glad to know people find them useful. Sounds like it is serving you well.

I have often said that my stool is the only piece of astro equipment that makes EVERY trip, EVERY time.

Back to your issue, another option would be to place a self adhesive felt pad like those used to protect a fine wood table from a lamp on the tube behind the level.

My level wants to slide at steep altitudes, but one of these pads prevents it from getting started, and otherwise it stays put.

That stool has worked out really well.  Too well in fact.  I had gotten so used to parking myself on it that I had and still have issues to some extent of standing up to observe while using the 18".  After a little bit of using the stool, I found that I too, could actually "see" better.

 

I'm going to take a look inside.  I think there's a magnet issue here.  I had a Wixey several years ago on a 12" Skywatcher I had at that time.  No issues at all.  Can't wait to see those magnet(s). 



#17 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 01:36 PM

 

 

I'm going to take a look inside.  I think there's a magnet issue here.  I had a Wixey several years ago on a 12" Skywatcher I had at that time.  No issues at all.  Can't wait to see those magnet(s). 

 

 

Definitely!  I've tried to think what the problem might be, and the first possibility that I can think of is that maybe the factory worker in China who assembled the unit only installed ONE magnet (instead of two per the design).  If you remove the four Philips head screws on the back of the unit, you can easily remove the back cover and see where the two magnets should be.  Please let me know if your unit has both of those magnets in place.  If it DOES have two magnets, then the only other possibility I can think of is that somehow one (or both) of the magnets aren't the right KIND of magnet (they should be super-strong neodymium magnets).  But I would assume that the factory worker has a large supply of identical neodymium magnets in front of him/her while assembling the Alti-Gauge, so I can’t imagine how one Alti-Gauge would have different magnets than all the rest and I seriously doubt this is the problem.

 

Anyway, please let me know what you find.  Thanks John!

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Edited by DavidOpticsmart, 07 August 2014 - 01:36 PM.


#18 Old Rookie

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 06:16 PM

 

 

 

I'm going to take a look inside.  I think there's a magnet issue here.  I had a Wixey several years ago on a 12" Skywatcher I had at that time.  No issues at all.  Can't wait to see those magnet(s). 

 

 

Definitely!  I've tried to think what the problem might be, and the first possibility that I can think of is that maybe the factory worker in China who assembled the unit only installed ONE magnet (instead of two per the design).  If you remove the four Philips head screws on the back of the unit, you can easily remove the back cover and see where the two magnets should be.  Please let me know if your unit has both of those magnets in place.  If it DOES have two magnets, then the only other possibility I can think of is that somehow one (or both) of the magnets aren't the right KIND of magnet (they should be super-strong neodymium magnets).  But I would assume that the factory worker has a large supply of identical neodymium magnets in front of him/her while assembling the Alti-Gauge, so I can’t imagine how one Alti-Gauge would have different magnets than all the rest and I seriously doubt this is the problem.

 

Anyway, please let me know what you find.  Thanks John!

 

That hurt me when I saw you banging on the tube.  Mine slid down the tube just as I was rolling it across the garage floor.  About like the one on top in the video. 

 

This isn't a big deal and this is starting to get out of hand.  There are too many other good things about this telescope that I like than to be disappointed because a gizmo slides down the tube. 

 

John



#19 Rocky68d

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Posted 07 August 2014 - 06:55 PM

John-Very nice scope. I know it is still new to you but maybe you or any of the other folks here who own Apertura scopes can tell me if dew stays off the secondary. It looks like the focuser and secondary are fairly close to the front of the tube. Dew is a huge problem where I live and I'm considering a solid tube Dob to avoid it.

Thanks.


Edited by Rocky68d, 07 August 2014 - 07:01 PM.


#20 Old Rookie

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 04:59 AM

John-Very nice scope. I know it is still new to you but maybe you or any of the other folks here who own Apertura scopes can tell me if dew stays off the secondary. It looks like the focuser and secondary are fairly close to the front of the tube. Dew is a huge problem where I live and I'm considering a solid tube Dob to avoid it.

Thanks.

Hi Keith, I really can't say.  I've had it out twice now but only for a couple of hours each time with no issues.  If dew is an issue, Astrosystems sells accessories for Zhumell/Apertura telescopes.  Among those is a heater that goes behind the secondary and it's reasonably priced.  The only "issue" is that the secondary has to be sent to them for installation of the heater.  I plan to go that route if dew does become an issue with this telescope since I share your concerns about the location of the secondary.



#21 DavidOpticsmart

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 08:25 AM

That hurt me when I saw you banging on the tube.  Mine slid down the tube just as I was rolling it across the garage floor.  About like the one on top in the video. 

 

This isn't a big deal and this is starting to get out of hand.  There are too many other good things about this telescope that I like than to be disappointed because a gizmo slides down the tube. 

 

John

 

 

Yeah I felt bad about banging on that poor scope, and apologized profusely afterwards.  But after a quick collimation it forgave me, and we're best pals again.   :grouphug:  And I'm glad to hear that the sliding it isn't a big deal, but unsolved mysteries drive me crazy, so please do let me know if you discover something amiss with the magnets.


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#22 Old Rookie

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 03:43 PM

 

That hurt me when I saw you banging on the tube.  Mine slid down the tube just as I was rolling it across the garage floor.  About like the one on top in the video. 

 

This isn't a big deal and this is starting to get out of hand.  There are too many other good things about this telescope that I like than to be disappointed because a gizmo slides down the tube. 

 

John

 

 

Yeah I felt bad about banging on that poor scope, and apologized profusely afterwards.  But after a quick collimation it forgave me, and we're best pals again.   :grouphug:  And I'm glad to hear that the sliding it isn't a big deal, but unsolved mysteries drive me crazy, so please do let me know if you discover something amiss with the magnets.

 

With the addition of the Rigel Quickfinder, the business end of the tube is pretty busy.  But it's not a bad thing since I just slid the Alti-Gauge back against the optical finder.  Problem solved.

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#23 Relativist

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 03:58 PM

Very nice indeed! It sounds like you may one day want to get a faster large dob, they are very popular now, time to start planning.



#24 Old Rookie

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Posted 08 August 2014 - 04:15 PM

Almost forgot one item from assembly.  I opened up the large box to find a little plastic bag.  Inside were the original springs from the mirror cell.  They looked pretty scrawny and I was thankful that I had them to look at.  Now since I had the Tweaker's package, those springs had been upgraded to more solid, robust springs.  I haven't tried it yet but my guess is that locking the primary down after collimations is a thing of the past.

 

While I'm on this path I just want to say what a pleasure it's been to have purchased this telescope from Opticsmart.  David Giles and I have exchanged a number of emails the last couple of days concerning my observations of the Alti-Gauge.  I appreciate his quick actions and fine customer support.  This is a big thumbs up to David and Opticsmart!!

 

Regards

John



#25 kfiscus

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Posted 09 August 2014 - 07:14 PM

John-Very nice scope. I know it is still new to you but maybe you or any of the other folks here who own Apertura scopes can tell me if dew stays off the secondary. It looks like the focuser and secondary are fairly close to the front of the tube. Dew is a huge problem where I live and I'm considering a solid tube Dob to avoid it.

Thanks.

I have a Z12 and have not had dew problems.








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