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Olivier Biot
Amused
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Reged: 11/07/08

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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
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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
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Reged: 04/19/04

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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
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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
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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
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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
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Reged: 03/15/04

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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
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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
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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


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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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Abbe
super member


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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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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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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
Pooh-Bah
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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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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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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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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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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
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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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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
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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
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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
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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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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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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
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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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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
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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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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: MikeM6]
      #4498813 - 04/05/11 06:34 PM

Quote:

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.




Actually, the Intelliscope's cost isn't all that high (less than a good 2" eyepiece). It is simple to set up and use, although its pointing accuracy isn't quite as good as with my NexStar 9.25GPS. I often don't use it myself, as I know the sky pretty well. However, it did prove useful the other night when hunting down a faint double star in strong moonlight (a day before full moon). Then, all I had to do was match the Intelliscope's Right Ascension and Declination readout to the figures in my book and voila, the double was nicely in the field of view. Clear skies to you.


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MikeM6
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4498824 - 04/05/11 06:40 PM

Thanks for the info!

I also wonder how well the collimation holds from session to session. Anyone notice a problem?


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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: MikeM6]
      #4499016 - 04/05/11 08:08 PM

Quote:

Thanks for the info!

I also wonder how well the collimation holds from session to session. Anyone notice a problem?




The secondary holds up pretty well. The primary does need a slight tweak or two right after you get the scope set up, but otherwise, the scope stays pretty well collimated during observing. Clear skies to you.


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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4575841 - 05/11/11 05:58 PM

Well, after a while using the scope, I have had some interesting thoughts about parts of it:

1. Mirror Cell: this has been something of a disappointment. While it looks like an 18-point mirror cell, the way it is implemented, it really isn't. The triangles that support the mirror are not free to pivot in all directions to allow them to conform to the mirror's back surface, although they can rotate a bit. Indeed, on the connecting arms between the triangles, there is a tiny pin inserted which pushed up against each triangle, preventing it from pivoting inward. This makes the entire mirror cell more like a six point system than a true 18 point system, so the support on the mirror is not nearly as good as I would have liked (and it sometimes shows up in the images). The connecting arms between the triangles also aren't allowed to pivot very much. At least the 9-point Novak cell on my 10 inch f/5.6 is a true 9-point system, as each triangle can pivot with all degrees of freedom so that each support point on the triangle can contact and support the mirror equally. This seems to be another case of Orion wanting things to merely look good rather than actually being good.

2. Intelliscope Boards: As predicted, I did manage to temporarily "break" one of the encoder boards, but it was the azimuth encoder that had a problem first. In removing the cable for the encoder prior to disassembly for transport, the housing for the socket came loose from the board, remaining firmly attached to the plug. After taking the encoder board out, I discovered that the phone jack for the cable was merely a press-fit into two tiny holes on the board, so after putting a little superglue into each hole and re-seating the jack, all was well again. Just a tiny dab of glue in each hole at the manufacturing facility would have prevented this problem, so again, the appearance of this is another symptom of "cheapness". As for the Intelliscope itself, that ugly green illumination was actually almost painful to my eyes while at my dark sky site, so with the continuing inaccuracy of the unit (about 1/4 to more than half a degree pointing error), I doubt I will be using it much other than nights when I am going after double stars in strong moonlight.

3. Fan Power Jack: The small computer cooling fan on the bottom of the mirror cell is a nice idea, but the power jack left much to be desired. Rather than firmly mounting it in a panel or some other mechanical arrangement, the fan's power jack was merely stuck on the side of the fan using double sided foam tape! Needless to say, that tape didn't last long. Once the tape let go, the jack and its wires were free to go anywhere they wanted to, and unfortunately for me, this included a place where something could trap the jack and pull it off the wires! This was the situation, as I store the bottom section of the OTA on its base, allowing the jack to get pulled off when it rubs against anything (like my back seat where I put the scope for transport). I was lucky to find the jack in my van where it was, lying on the floor. The wires to the fan were rather short, but I did manage to get them re-soldered back onto the jack. After that, I pulled out the superglue again and firmly glued the jack onto the side of the fan slightly behind where it had once been to avoid contact with any objects. Sticky tape (even double sided foam tape) is *not* mechanically mounting anything! This again says "quick and dirty" rather loudly.

Clear skies to you.


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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #4766767 - 08/24/11 04:26 PM Attachment (141 downloads)

Well, it turns out that the person who assembled the primary mirror cell probably had his Wheaties that morning, because each and ever pivot point retaining screw was tightened-down incredibly hard. No wonder the pivots in the cell wouldn't move! Once I released them a little, the triangles and the rocker arms connecting them all are free to move a bit, so the cell is now indeed a full 18-point unit. I also had my machinist shorten all the truss tubes by a full inch, so now all my eyepieces and Barlows come to focus (as well as my binoviewer, which was a pleasant surprise). As for the performance, the scope did *really* well at the 18th annual NEBRASKA STAR PARTY, where I was able to use up to 961x on the Cat's Eye. I have named the scope, "The Black Mamba", and here is what is going on the side of the lower OTA:

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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5263164 - 06/09/12 10:34 AM

Dang, and I thought I was learning something about my XX12G, but alas I'm but the noob I started as. Humbling to read that review in all its detail.

I would add for anyone considering this scope that while I can second all that David said about assembling/disassembly for purposes of daily viewing, that I nevertheless feel it is less of a concern to me. Meaning the points he makes are accurate, but I gave them far less weight in my estimation. Of course, I have only the 12" and he the 14", plus your mileage may vary by age and whatever else, but to me getting the thing up and out and assembled is a bit of a breeze. Just my .02, for anyone considering this scope or its 12" twin. I like that i can fit the whole thing in my smallish-mid sized sedan for transpo purposes, with room for other stuff.


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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: CurtJ]
      #5264300 - 06/10/12 04:30 AM Attachment (105 downloads)

Well, yes, there are notable differences in the assembly of the 12 vs. the 14 inch. First off, the OTA of the 14 inch is three inches longer than that of the 12, and the upper part is larger and heavier than with the 12 inch. This makes it notably easier for one person to assemble the 12 inch than the 14 inch. I can put my 14 in some rather small vehicles as well, but I can still set up and get my NexStar 9.25GPS SCT aligned and ready for use faster than I can my XX14i (I am rather picky about Newtonian collimation). After the Lockwood Custom Optics refiguring of the primary and secondary mirrors, the 14 inch has been a real killer on both deep-sky and the moon and planets, but that big thick mirror does cause some delay in cool-down, so the fan must be kept running a lot of the time (no big deal, as it is quiet and doesn't induce any vibration at all). However, I am less satisfied with the dual-speed focuser now that I have used it for a while. I used the scope so much that the focuser started slipping, occasionally completely losing the ability to move 2" eyepieces. There were no good instructions on how to adjust and maintain that focuser, so it took nearly two hours just to figure out what needed to be done and get things tightened up enough to get the unit back in operation. That experience alone made me long for my old belt-driven focuser on my 10 inch or even an old rack-and-pinion focuser. The XX14i is a fairly good scope, but it is definitely *not* a great one. Clear skies to you.

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Jb32828
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5266310 - 06/11/12 01:16 PM

I have to second David's experience with the focuser. I happen to like mine on my XX12G, but, yes, the documentation on how to get it adjusted correctly is pretty much non-existant, and took me more time to figure out than the entire initial scope assembly did.

Unlike David's unfortunate experience, I got a very good mirror. As I stated in my review of the XX12G, there are some things that could be improved on, but that shouldnt take away from what I consider to be a very good value for the price.

Edited by Jb32828 (06/11/12 01:18 PM)


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droidModerator
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: Jb32828]
      #5326407 - 07/20/12 07:16 AM

Dave; great review....2 questions ,if I might.

Was your 14 the new version with the conical mirror?
And if someone bought one, Id assume it would usable as is???refering to the mirror.


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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: droid]
      #5328662 - 07/21/12 06:18 PM

Quote:

Dave; great review....2 questions ,if I might.

Was your 14 the new version with the conical mirror?
And if someone bought one, Id assume it would usable as is???refering to the mirror.




My mirror was the standard cylindrical model which came out first. Its aspect ratio (1 to 7) is a little on the thick side, which contributes to its longer cool-down time. As-is, it was somewhat usable at lower powers, but on the planets at higher magnifications, the views were just a little on the soft side. The newer mirrors out now are all conical with radial "rib" structures. I got to test one of our Nebraska Star Party attendees' XX14i that she got recently, and on the star test, it passed with flying colors. However, right out of the box, the focuser exhibited a nasty grinding sound and feel from one of the two knobs when used, so I guess Orion's quality control is still slipping up. Clear skies to you.


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gene williams
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: otocycle]
      #5485386 - 10/23/12 02:23 PM

Very nice report David. I recently bought the Orion XX14g and like it alot. I did, however, notice that setup of the upper tube assembly is made much easier XX14g. Orion must have changed the way the trusses connect due to your article because I simply tighten the lower truss poles to the lower tube assembly until they are tight, and place the UTA on top. The UTA fits perfectly without having to juggle it around on top.

By the way, is there an approximate price that you can give me that Lockwood charged to refigure the mirror? I am happy with the mirror so far, but I may want to install some premium optics in this telescope at some point.

Gene


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David Knisely
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: gene williams]
      #5485556 - 10/23/12 04:08 PM

Quote:

Very nice report David. I recently bought the Orion XX14g and like it alot. I did, however, notice that setup of the upper tube assembly is made much easier XX14g. Orion must have changed the way the trusses connect due to your article because I simply tighten the lower truss poles to the lower tube assembly until they are tight, and place the UTA on top. The UTA fits perfectly without having to juggle it around on top.

By the way, is there an approximate price that you can give me that Lockwood charged to refigure the mirror? I am happy with the mirror so far, but I may want to install some premium optics in this telescope at some point.

Gene




I had both the primary and secondary mirrors refigured to as close to perfect as Mike's equipment would test to. He charged me around $900 for the two refiguring jobs together (re-coating was included), which, given the incredible quality of what I got back, seems fairly reasonable to me. If your scope gives reasonably good images, chances are that refiguring is not required. I recently did a star test of another XX14i at the Nebraska Star Party, and it passed fairly well, so maybe what I got originally was something of a fluke. Clear skies to you.


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gene williams
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Re: CN Reports Review: Orion SkyQuest XX14i new [Re: David Knisely]
      #5485822 - 10/23/12 06:27 PM

David, that seems very reasonable for the refiguring cost. I might perhaps have someone give me an honest evaluation of my mirror. I am just not very good at knowing the difference...

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