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Olivier Biot
Amused
*****

Reged: 04/25/05

Loc: 51°N (Belgium)
CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i
      #4309792 - 01/12/11 04:00 PM

CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i

By David Knisely.


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City Kid
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/06/09

Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4309955 - 01/12/11 05:28 PM

After following David's thread on his mirror I was really looking foward to reading his review. I thought the review was very thorough and very fair.

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David Knisely
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: City Kid]
      #4310259 - 01/12/11 07:20 PM

Thank you. We have had snowstorms and bitterly cold temperatures with cloudy skies almost every day since the secondary got back from re-coating in December (had a coating failure). At the moment, the portions of the tube containing the newly-refigured optics are sitting in the garage cooling down to near zero degrees F (the current temperature is +4F). Last night, it got to -6 F with a nasty wind, so needless to say, the new optics didn't see first light. The wind is very light right now, so maybe I will be able to get a look at something quick before I freeze over . Clear skies to you.

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City Kid
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 05/06/09

Loc: Northern Indiana
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4310401 - 01/12/11 08:36 PM

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on your refigured mirror.

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Jb32828
sage
*****

Reged: 08/01/10

Loc: Orlando, FL USA
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: City Kid]
      #4310678 - 01/12/11 10:36 PM

Thank you for the detailed review. I want to buy a big dob this year and this is very helpful.

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helpwanted
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 07/04/07

Loc: Phoenix, AZ
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: City Kid]
      #4310684 - 01/12/11 10:37 PM

thank you for an excellent review. you advice is always well respected here.
i shiver just to hear you mention your temperatures!!!

david (helpwanted)


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David Knisely
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: City Kid]
      #4310799 - 01/12/11 11:45 PM

Quote:

I can't wait to hear your thoughts on your refigured mirror.




Your wish is my command:

Well, despite an outside temperature of -2 F (-19 C), I have the XX14i out with the new optics. HOLY COW!!! Mike Lockwood said it would handle 50x per inch, but it didn't. It handled **836x** on the moon (*59.7x per inch* of aperture) which is as high as I can go!!! I was seeing things I have *never* seen on the moon. Hadley Rille's area showed incredible detail (the 2 km wide shallow craterlet St. George was visible at the turn of the rille at the base of the Hadley Delta mountain). There were a huge number of tiny secondary impact craters from major named impact craters all over the place. The view bounced a lot at 836x, but that is to be expected (my NexStar tends to do that). Jupiter was too low to get a good look at, but at least I could see five or six belts. Star tests look pretty good, although I do have to run the fan much of the time (it *does* help) and I may have to adjust the cell's retaining clips a little. The e and f components of the Trapezium were unbelievably easy, although I could not quite resolve Sirius B due to seeing problems (houses sending up thermal plumes). I need to flock the interior of the metal OTA segments, plus I have to install some sort of baffle around the base of the trusses, as even with the shroud on, light can come into the tube from the middle through the openings in the rear OTA's truss attach points (lousy design). Still, if it weren't so cold, I would spend the whole night out with the scope. My quick collimation routine inside the house prior to disassembly and transport to the driveway turned out to be pretty good. Once I got things reassembled, I only had to tweak one of the primary's screws just a tiny bit to get Polaris to look nice and pretty symmetric, although it was so cold that it may still have been just a tiny hair off (fingers and near zero metal surfaces don't work well together). I *like* this, as it really holds alignment well!! I don't know what I did exactly, but now, my 5-8mm Speers Waler does come to a focus, although the 8.5-12mm still doesn't quite make it. I don't know if I will have to shorten the trusses or not, but I think all my eyepieces with that lone exception will focus in the scope. Frost is now forming on the tube and the sky is a little hazy, so I guess I will have to start tearing things down once my fingers get un-froze . So, thanks to Mike Lockwood, I NOW HAVE A GOOD BIG DOB!! Clear skies to you.


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doctordub
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 01/11/06

Loc: New Rochelle, New York
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4311377 - 01/13/11 09:50 AM

Thanks for the review David. I am glad the refiguired mirror performes so well!
CS and warmer temps!


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GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4313099 - 01/13/11 10:32 PM

Very nice review. You mentioned the 12.5 inch Portaball. Have you owned one? This is where I ended up after a life time of buying and selling telescopes.

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GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4313108 - 01/13/11 10:35 PM

Quote:

I have the XX14i out with the new optics.




Would it have been possible to have bought the Orion telescope minus the mirrors, and had custom mirrors made? Or, was it more economical to just have the mirrors refigured? Lastly, did you also have your secondary mirror refigured?
GeneT


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David Knisely
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: GeneT]
      #4313318 - 01/14/11 01:13 AM

Quote:

Very nice review. You mentioned the 12.5 inch Portaball. Have you owned one? This is where I ended up after a life time of buying and selling telescopes.




I have never owned a 12.5 inch Portaball, but I would have liked to have. I have two friends who have them, and I got quite a bit of experience with putting the 12.5 inch together and using it, which is what made me so fond of it. However, the cost was a bit on the high side, although for the cost of having the mirrors refigured with the XX14i, it would have been a tough choice. As far as I know, it isn't possible to order the scope without optics, although you might check with Orion about that. I had Mike Lockwood refigure both mirrors, and I am super satisfied with them both. The primary is actually better now than my old custom (1/19th wave p-v, 1/69th wave RMS) Enterprise Optics 10 inch f/5.6 Newtonian, and it really showed it last night. I just wish it would get warmer, as I don't do well observing below 20F! Clear skies to you.


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Cames
sage


Reged: 08/04/08

Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4313571 - 01/14/11 07:58 AM

David,

Thanks for your detailed review and congratulations on your outstanding new dob. Your photos, descriptions and impressions are of great interest to us and provide us with insight and details that are not obtainable from the retailer's product descriptions. Regarding the size and weight - I remember my first impression on seeing my much smaller dob for the first time and thinking OMG what have I done? Now, it seems to be just the right size for me. The sturdy, rigid construction of your XX14i will likely be a blessing in the long run by holding collimation and resisting buffeting of breezes. Those characteristics will allow you to eventually be able to ignore the instrument and concentrate on what you are actually trying to see. That's why I am sure that it will become the perfect complement to your skill and experience in observation and a capable, new window into the night sky.

Your choice of optician was obviously the right decision. And the outcome of the re-figuring process raised a couple of questions in my mind that you may wish to share with us:

Did you choose to have the mirrors recoated with enhanced aluminum as they were in the original configuration?

How did you re-attach your secondary mirror to the holder so that the outstanding figure of the secondary would be preserved?

Best regards
------
C


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David Knisely
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Cames]
      #4314191 - 01/14/11 01:45 PM

Quote:

David,

Thanks for your detailed review and congratulations on your outstanding new dob. Your photos, descriptions and impressions are of great interest to us and provide us with insight and details that are not obtainable from the retailer's product descriptions. Regarding the size and weight - I remember my first impression on seeing my much smaller dob for the first time and thinking OMG what have I done? Now, it seems to be just the right size for me. The sturdy, rigid construction of your XX14i will likely be a blessing in the long run by holding collimation and resisting buffeting of breezes. Those characteristics will allow you to eventually be able to ignore the instrument and concentrate on what you are actually trying to see. That's why I am sure that it will become the perfect complement to your skill and experience in observation and a capable, new window into the night sky.

Your choice of optician was obviously the right decision. And the outcome of the re-figuring process raised a couple of questions in my mind that you may wish to share with us:

Did you choose to have the mirrors recoated with enhanced aluminum as they were in the original configuration?

How did you re-attach your secondary mirror to the holder so that the outstanding figure of the secondary would be preserved?

Best regards
------
C




The mirrors were re-coated with enhanced aluminum (97% reflectivity at 4850 angstroms normal incidence) by NOVA Optical Systems). As for the secondary, for now, the secondary is fixed to the holder via the same kind of double-sided tape that Orion used to attach it in the first place. Eventually, depending on the measurements I make once I have gotten a little more experience with using the scope, the trusses will be shortened slightly and the secondary mirror support system and spider will be replaced with a Protostar setup. The double-sided tape does not appear to be distorting the secondary that much at present, so for now, it appears to be working. However, in the long run, I want a mechanical support, as I don't trust the tape for long-term use.

As for the overall "beefy" design of the scope, it definitely could have been made lighter without compromising the overall functionality and stability of the instrument. The attachment of the secondary cage to the trusses is particularly vexing due to that weight, mainly due to the stupid big rectangular block that was used to hold the truss pairs together. This is one point where the Meade Lightbridge got things somewhat better in their design, although the Lightbridge has problems of its own. However, the Portaball's truss attachment method and its light secondary cage has both Meade's and Orion's beat as far as weight and ease of attachment are concerned. Clear skies to you.


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FirstSight
Duke of Deneb
*****

Reged: 12/26/05

Loc: Raleigh, NC
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4314297 - 01/14/11 02:26 PM

Great review, David. Hopefully we can look forward to a comprehensive supplemental follow-up after you've had the scope long enough to undertake tweaking and upgrading it for better mechanical performance.

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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
*****

Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: FirstSight]
      #4314613 - 01/14/11 05:08 PM

Brightness of Intelliscope control panel (kudos to Orion for using a number pad!) can be tamed by using the Vixen transparent stickers that Vixen sells as an accessory for the StarBook controller used on Vixen mounts. These are smoke colored and can be stacked for desired brightness.
If the brightness of the numbers is also too high, a piece of smoke-colored plexiglass can easily be attached to the face plate with velcro button on the corners.

As for springs, I refer David to recent threads on CN that describe the use of Belleville springs. These can be tailored to whatever load is necessary, and they are or can be a little shorter than a heavier coil spring. However, they can also be a little taller than the stock springs and be stiff laterally.
If David adds a little height to the springs, and increases the thickness of the cork pads behind the mirror to 1/4" (available in all hardware stores), the focal point of the mirror will move out 1/4-3/8" from where it is now and solve his problems. for infocus, that is.

One thing about the design leaves me wondering: Why didn't Orion shorten the lower tube assembly, lengthen the poles, decrease the height of the side panels and make the scope lighter and more transportable?
Same reason, I guess, that they used green lighting on the Intelliscope controller.

Even with the costs of refiguring and recoating, David's 14" with premium optics is now a lot less $ than the equivalent high-end dob with a premium mirror. And once you have the right mirror(s), changing the housing is easy.
And customizing that housing to suit is part of the fun of owning a dob.

Glad to see David was successful in his "souping up". He has just embarked on a journey that is never-ending.

Edited by Starman1 (01/14/11 05:10 PM)


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Donnie
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 03/15/04

Loc: Western Ky
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Starman1]
      #4314818 - 01/14/11 06:41 PM

Great report David, glad to see it finally published. I found it to be a thorough and fair evaluation.

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spaceboy62
sage
*****

Reged: 06/22/10

Loc: far west Texas
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Donnie]
      #4317439 - 01/16/11 01:50 AM

A great read!

I'm just now getting acquainted with my new XX12i. Thanks to that report, I feel like I know my new 'scope a little bit better now.


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David Knisely
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Starman1]
      #4317512 - 01/16/11 03:44 AM

Hi there Don. You posted:

Quote:

If David adds a little height to the springs, and increases the thickness of the cork pads behind the mirror to 1/4" (available in all hardware stores), the focal point of the mirror will move out 1/4-3/8" from where it is now and solve his problems. for infocus, that is.




Nope, this isn't really possible. The adjustment bolts are not long enough to support much loosening of the springs before they become completely disconnected from the rest of the cell. At most, I have perhaps 1/8th of an inch more forward movement before this happens (the locking screws won't touch after that anyway), and I need more like half an inch. Even loosening the big bolts that act as supports for the circular "rubberized washer" mirror clips has limits as well, so I would gain little if I made the pads on the support triangles thicker. Moving the mirror forward would also start to aggravate the balance problem with the scope (it is very slightly nose-heavy without the tensioning knobs being tightened to begin with). My only option is, unfortunately, the shortening of the truss poles. This should kill two birds with one stone, as it will make the scope a little shorter and move the balance point more towards the rear of the tube. I am figuring between half and 3/4 of an inch will probably do the trick, but I am awaiting a clear warm night with John's Powermate and Barlows to see exactly how much farther things need to be shortened. Clear skies to you.


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floyd_2
newbie


Reged: 01/16/11

Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4318455 - 01/16/11 03:50 PM

Quote:

I need to flock the interior of the metal OTA segments, plus I have to install some sort of baffle around the base of the trusses, as even with the shroud on, light can come into the tube from the middle through the openings in the rear OTA's truss attach points (lousy design)




I just finished flocking the upper and lower OTAs of my XX14i this weekend using protostar flocking paper. I only had a chance to quickly test after doing the upper tube assembly and it made a big difference to contrast on brighter objects. The clouds chased me away not long after I set up. From what I saw at the eyepiece, I'm really glad that I went to the trouble of flocking the scope.

I also flocked the inside of the focuser draw tube, made a baffle to cover the rear OTA's truss tube attach points (looks like a square gasket with the corneres cut off, and a big hole in the middle), and made a half diameter light shield to block off axis light from finding its way into the eyepiece from the top of the scope. I made the baffle and light shield from protostar flockboard which is plenty hardy enough for the job.

I'm considering putting a rear cell baffle in (looks like a donut that fits into / onto the back end of the scope) and may do that this weekend. It's a bit of work flocking your scope, as you pretty much need to disassemble your OTAs completely to flock properly, but well worth the effort.

Dean

Edited by floyd_2 (01/17/11 08:05 AM)


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otocycle
super member


Reged: 06/09/05

Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: floyd_2]
      #4319113 - 01/16/11 08:54 PM

Thanks for a very interesting and informative report. I have been considering the XT12i/XT12g mechanicals over costlier aftermarket upgrades to a Starmaster 12.5 ELT (for true truss poles and GoTo or Push To), and your review provided good insight into what I should expect. My intention was to swap out the optics straight away because I already have them, not because the Orion mirror set might not be diffraction limited.

I have always seen good to excellent performance from Orion XTs in the field, but as we know, the game gets harder with these larger apertures. Either that or I have been spoiled by Mr. Zambuto!


Clear Skies - Mike


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