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Abbe
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Reged: 09/08/09

Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4319188 - 01/16/11 09:26 PM

David,

Thanks for the excellent report. I have always believed that diffraction limited meant that the optics of such a telescope would be limited in performance only by seeing conditions. Apparently I have been way too optimistic. I would expect a telescope advertised as diffraction limited to have a mirror with a very smooth surface, no turned edge etc, and at least 1/4 wave p-v at the eyepiece. Now it seems that the term can be used to mean any minimum optical quality a company wants it to mean. A $1800 telescope should not have a mirror that has to be refigured. I hope that other people that buy this scope have better luck than you had.

George


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azure1961p
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Reged: 01/17/09

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: otocycle]
      #4319217 - 01/16/11 09:41 PM

While I like Orion and have heard good things about their customer service, their telling you that the particular mirror was representative of all mirrors was a bit of a gaff it would seem on their part. I'm assuming they know you posted your concerns on the internet [here] hence them contacting you "abruptly". For them to essentially shrug and say "thats business as usual, but heres a refund if youd like" just smacks of an acceptance with mediocrity on their part. Had I been Orion, even if it were true that the other scopes were like that, in the name of marketing and dodging a bad review bullet, I would have had the mirror exchanged for a better one.

I went through the aggravation of once owning optics as you mentioned 25 years ago and so on. Once is enough. Ultimately, you resolved the issue with another company and now have premium optics. For that I'm very glad and I look forward to further reports . I thought the review was thorough and fair.

Pete


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Fimpster
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Reged: 09/24/09

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: azure1961p]
      #4319591 - 01/17/11 01:02 AM

I've been looking forward to this review for a few months now. Great write-up David! It's also good to hear that your "new" Lockwood mirrors are doing so well.

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Mike B
Starstruck
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Reged: 04/06/05

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Fimpster]
      #4320568 - 01/17/11 02:06 PM

Hey Dave-

Was a very enjoyable read concerning this new 14" Dob- nicely detailed, no candy-coatings, and an excellent portrayal of what it's like in-the-field. Not sure how much you have invested in the optical upgrading, but when combined with the purchase price i'm sure you're still well below the cost of a "premium" rig... probably even a "used" one.

Which was my route, about 4 years ago, in acquiring the 15" 'StarSplitter' Dob in my sigline. When collimated and cooled, the views i've enjoyed parallel what you've described! That fact that your motions allow successful hand-tracking into the 400x's is a pretty decent testament to the workability of this scope... or perhaps more accurately stated, its workability in your hands.

Yet it may or may NOT be THE large Dob for the masses. Considering its weight, assembly niggles, and various points of vulnerability to breakage & tweakage, it may eventually reveal itself to be more of a "tinkerer's" scope than many buyers may realize- so here your review may be a tremendous public service!

If my 'Splitter is any indication of the breed (& i suspect it is, but don't really know from limited firsthand experience ), the "premium" aspects of its design have presented no real niggles that would compare with what you've experienced- it just plain-and-simple works, smoothly & easily on every assembly & outing. At ~109# its somewhat lighter, and assembles very easily.

When i was "in the market" for a largish Dob ~4 years ago, there weren't nearly the options available there are NOW... and the field narrowed drastically beyond 12-inches. As in there WERE NONE!... "premium" was the only avenue i could find in the 14-16 inch category. The Meade "LB" wasn't quite here yet (iirc?). Had this Orion truss-Dob been available, i think i would've bit on it!

And based on your experiences, i believe i would've been pretty content with it, too. Yes, i've done a few minor mods to the 'Splitter, so i'm probably a good target for Orion's Dob. And if i was, or became at some point dissatisfied with its optics, i would eventually have done the very same thing you've done- have them refigured. As you compared the stock optic's views with those of a premium scope, side-by-side, you were able to see what that difference amounted to... and i still wonder if the not-quite-diffraction-limited version you'd received wouldn't please a goodly percentage of XT buyers. Hopefully yours represents a rather extreme bottom edge to the bell-curve of offshore optics? But this is pointless speculation. The overall response out there to "offshore" Dobs seems to be fairly favorable.

It seems to me your caveats stated at the beginning, and throughout your review, were prudent & accurate, and the market can be glad it has one more viable alternative at a decent pricepoint to the "premium" option... an option that's characteristically been priced such that most folks desiring larger scopes choose to settle for smaller rigs for *budgetary* reasons, which is truly unfortunate. And quite un-Dobson like.

Clear skies... and warmer temps ahead!
mike b


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JCAZ
sage


Reged: 08/11/09

Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: otocycle]
      #4321242 - 01/17/11 07:00 PM

Good job Dave. Nice to see someone checking exactly what vendors are providing optically. WELL DONE.

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djeber2
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Reged: 07/02/04

Loc: Cloudy Midwest
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: JCAZ]
      #4365866 - 02/05/11 05:19 PM

Great review, thanks.

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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4390598 - 02/16/11 02:44 PM

Well, I have finished my measurements and discovered that a Protostar secondary support system won't work on the upper OTA section of the Orion XX14i. It would have to be mounted just ahead of the front end of the tube, so I am stuck with Orion's silly double-side sticky foam tape method of mounting the secondary mirror. I just continue to wonder why things that most of us "amateurs" see as significant design flaws continue to make it into commercial telescope equipment. Otherwise, the scope is working fairly well. It is a real "planet killer" with the Paracorr, as on the moon the other night, the fine detail visible with the new Lockwood Optics mirrors was simply incredible. The scope still has more altitude "bounce" than I would like, and I haven't yet pinned-down exactly what the cause is (tube flexure or rocker-box movement). Clear skies to you.

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davidpitre
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Reged: 05/10/05

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4391612 - 02/16/11 10:09 PM

Quote:

It would have to be mounted just ahead of the front end of the tube, so I am stuck with Orion's silly double-side sticky foam tape method of mounting the secondary mirror.




Why can you not remove the foam tape and use 3 dabs of silicone?
An alternative to the Protostar holder/spider is the Astrosystems unit.


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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: davidpitre]
      #4391682 - 02/16/11 10:53 PM

Quote:

Quote:

It would have to be mounted just ahead of the front end of the tube, so I am stuck with Orion's silly double-side sticky foam tape method of mounting the secondary mirror.




Why can you not remove the foam tape and use 3 dabs of silicone?
An alternative to the Protostar holder/spider is the Astrosystems unit.




I could use silicone, but it basically comes down to the same problem: adhesives on glass. They can and do fail eventually, although the tape seems to be working fairly well for now. I would prefer a fully-mechanical way of supporting and aligning the secondary, but again, the geometry of the XX14's upper cage situation just does not allow the "full shell" type of secondary holders that I like so much. There simply isn't enough forward room in the upper OTA section to attach the spider that goes with even the shortest shell-type secondary holder. The ends of the spider would have to be jury-rigged with some kind of forward tube extensions in order to be attached, and that would be difficult to do (it would screw up the balance as well). Clear skies to you.


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calibos
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Reged: 11/18/07

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4396613 - 02/19/11 09:20 AM

David, What about the pyramid geometry spiders you see on UC scopes that don't even have a UTA but just a truss retaining ring with focuser and pyramid spider attached.

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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
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Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: calibos]
      #4396718 - 02/19/11 10:20 AM

Quote:

David, What about the pyramid geometry spiders you see on UC scopes that don't even have a UTA but just a truss retaining ring with focuser and pyramid spider attached.



This is a great way to lower the focuser and make the scope seem shorter, but it is a poor way to create dimensional stability for collimation.
Because when the scope points to the zenith, that form of spider doesn't sag--the weight of the secondary is directly under the spider. But when the scope points closer to the horizon, the weight of the secondary is to the side of the spider, and imparts a twisting force on the spider.
The twisting force can be mitigated by applying a counterweight on the other side of the spider that equals the torque of the secondary weight (a solution I seldom see), by mounting the secondary right next to the spider vanes, or by increasing the tightness of the spider.
The pyramidal spider arrangement on some ultralights cannot be so tightened, so the vanes have to be much thicker and heavier, which increases their diffraction in the image.
And, in my experience, they produce collimation shift with altitude of pointing.
I have yet to see (admittedly, my sample is relatively small--only a few scopes) even one ultralight that maintains collimation as the pointing angle of the scope changes.
Is it possible to design an ultralight to hold collimation? Yes. But maybe not with a single ring upper. I know how tight the spider vanes have to be to hold the secondary stiffly enough, and that degree of tightness would be difficult to achieve unless the external attachment of the spider vanes went through a structure that was immune to compression. A dual ring upper with the rings separated by a few inches might be a better design.
But then we're drifting back toward a conventional design.


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calibos
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Reged: 11/18/07

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Starman1]
      #4396885 - 02/19/11 11:43 AM

Don, just to clarify because I am not familiar with atm scope spider issues never mind UC ATM issues and because I am not sure you understood what I was proposing. The bit about 'drifting back towards a conventional design' makes me think you might have thought I was suggesting replacing the whole UTA.

David would prefer to use the conventional premium/atm type of secondary holder. These are taller than the lumps of aluminium and sticky pad/silicone type of secondary holder that Synta and GSO use. To accomodate one of these premium secondary holders in his Orion XX14i, he would need to affix the Orion spider higher up the UTA except he can't because its already near the top because the Orion has an undersized UTA.

I was not suggesting that he design and fit a whole new UC type UTA to his Orion but that he fit a UC type pyramid spider to his existing Orion UTA which might give him the clearance he needs for the premium secondary holder. Would the fact that the pyramid spider was affixed tightly to the Orion rolled steel UTA make any difference to the points you made above? Your points are probably still valid whether you misunderstood me or not but I thought I would just double check and clarify in case a misunderstanding did make a difference.

Edited by calibos (02/19/11 11:45 AM)


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Starman1
Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)
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Reged: 06/24/03

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: calibos]
      #4397081 - 02/19/11 01:36 PM

Keith,
I understood, but made an aside about the ultralight upper rings.
Though it would allow the use of a conventional secondary holder, it's not a good solution to his problem.


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David Knisely
Postmaster
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: calibos]
      #4397091 - 02/19/11 01:42 PM

Quote:

David, What about the pyramid geometry spiders you see on UC scopes that don't even have a UTA but just a truss retaining ring with focuser and pyramid spider attached.




That might be possible, but I don't know any that are commercially made. The spider vanes would have to be pretty thick to hold it without sagging. It would probably need to be fixed to the lower ring of the upper tube assembly, as the rest of the UTA is just thin rolled steel. Clear skies to you.


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Jb32828
sage
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Reged: 08/01/10

Loc: Orlando, FL USA
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4404395 - 02/22/11 06:05 PM

Wouldnt something like http://www.smarthome.com/78540/Plug-In-9-Volt-Power-Supply-Battery-Eliminator-9V-ADAPTER/p.aspx solve the battery problem?

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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Jb32828]
      #4404399 - 02/22/11 06:08 PM

Quote:

Wouldnt something like http://www.smarthome.com/78540/Plug-In-9-Volt-Power-Supply-Battery-Eliminator-9V-ADAPTER/p.aspx solve the battery problem?




Nope, it would not. It would mean an extra line to run up along the main cord rather than inside of the cord as should have been done. I can easily put a 9V voltage regulator in a circuit to power the thing off of 12 Volts, but the problem is getting the power to the hand controller. You would have to run another 2-line external wire for the power to the controller unit which would get tangled with the regular cord. Clear skies to you.


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Al Miller
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Reged: 08/25/08

Loc: South, Texas
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Olivier Biot]
      #4417899 - 02/28/11 08:37 PM

Thanks! A very detailed and informative report. It's has convinced me to not purchase one of these scopes.

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Tony Bonanno
member


Reged: 04/03/07

Loc: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Al Miller]
      #4484983 - 03/30/11 04:20 PM

Hi Dave,

Really thought the review was well done. Balanced and fair. I had the Orion 14" GOTO on order since November (who knows when or IF they will ever actually get them to market). Then, just last week, I had a chance to purchase a nice used 12.5" Obsession Classic with Argo-Navis DSC's (but NO Goto) at a very fair price. Three days ago I canceled the Orion order as I'm very pleased with the smaller Obsession. Optically, it seems to be doing quite well, although I haven't had the chance to do a good star test due to mediocre seeing conditions. After reading your article on the 14" Intelliscope, I'm thankful that I canceled the Orion order.


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David Knisely
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Reged: 04/19/04

Loc: southeastern Nebraska
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Tony Bonanno]
      #4497241 - 04/05/11 01:50 AM

Thanks Tony. The only thing keeping me from using the scope right now is the weather, but it looks like we have a break coming soon. I have done some limited deep-sky with the XX14i from my driveway, and I like what I see. The little reddish fringe of the "Raspberry" Nebula IC 418 was quite a bit easier to see in the big scope than it is in my 10 inch, and M42 is to die for. However, the biggest impact has come from observing the moon during periods of outstanding seeing. I have become a fan of lunar observing now, as the big 14 inch aperture has really brought out tiny small scale detail that I couldn't have possible pulled out in smaller scopes (1 km craterlet resolution for example). Clear skies to you.

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MikeM6
super member


Reged: 05/03/09

Loc: NW Illinois
Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4498748 - 04/05/11 06:08 PM

I also enjoyed this review. If I ever get one of these, I probably would not use the intelliscope feature. Too bad they can't knock a bit off the price if you don't want this feature. I just need a bigger light bucket, not gee-whiz electronics. That's just me.

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