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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: aznights]
      #5460698 - 10/08/12 01:56 PM

Quote:

Please dont get me wrong, I really like this idea, and I'm very excited about this product announcement. I've even shared about this idea on reddit.com/r/astronomy and to some of my colleagues. But I have to be honest, I feel like price on this is a little high.




I'm glad you like the HALO aznights, and thanks for spreading the word about it to your friends and colleagues!

And I can understand wishing that the HALO was less expensive. I wish EVERYTHING I wanted to buy was less expensive.

But the HALO isn't a mass produced product that can take advantage of huge economies of scale. All of the materials and parts that make up the HALO must be purchased in relatively small quantities (as compared to say the parts of a wheelbarrow that is made in China and sold by the millions in every Lowe's, Home Depot, and WalMart in America). And the HALO rings are CNC-machined out of 1-1/4" thick Extira (which isn't inexpensive, and because of the ring-shaped nature of the product, as you can imagine the material-yield isn't great). Then we have to do some hand-finishing work on the rings because they aren't ready for prime time right off the CNC bed. The degree circle inlays are also custom-made for us to perfectly fit the CNC'd Extira, and the leveling feet were special ordered as well. After finishing the Extira, we have to properly assemble everything and get it ready to ship.

CNC-machining certainly isn't the least expensive way to produce a mass-produced product, and the truth is that if we thought we could sell TENS of thousands of HALOs in a reasonably short period of time, those quantities MIGHT justify investing in injection molds and manufacturing the rings out of plastic. With the cheap cost of raw material, and with the mold costs amortized over tens of thousands of HALOs, we could probably offer them at a significantly lower price. But injection molds are incredibly expensive, and we would need to invest in FOUR different molds just to cover the GSO-made 8", 10", 12" and 16" bases. Then we'd need several more molds to fit the different Orion bases.

But even if I was 100% confident that we could recover the huge investment in injection molds in just 2-3 years, I still wouldn't go that route, because then if the Asian OEM base-makers changed the diameter of their Dob bases by just a little bit, our huge investment in molds would become instantly worthless. Instead, with CNC-machining, we can change the HALO dimensions to fit any change in bases with just a few keystrokes in Solidworks (the 3D CAD program used to design the HALOs).

So yes, you are paying more for the HALO, which is a highly customized product available in several sizes for a low volume, niche market, than if it were a one-size-fits-all mass-produced product on the shelf of every WalMart in America.
And believe me, I wish everyone in America wanted a HALO. But unless I'm completely wrong about the actual demand for HALOs, I suspect it will remain a very cool, albeit niche product which carries a price tag that is reflective of its production volume and production method, and is not unreasonable (IMHO) when compared to other niche products in this market.

And by the way, aside from all the manufacturing issues, keep in mind that the prices do include custom-made shipping boxes as well as the cost of shipping the product to your front door. If you check the costs of purchasing 30"x30"x6" boxes in relatively small quantities from a box-supplier, and THEN check the cost of shipping that size box across the U.S. you'll find that those costs aren't insignificant....

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #5460924 - 10/08/12 04:32 PM

David, considering the cost of eyepieces, etc.; I don't see the prices as being "too high". Shipping costs are high also, so shipping included in the pricing is a bonus. As you said, this is a very specialized, practically a handmade product, which will keep the quality up!

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Mary B
Vendor - Echo Astronomy and Electronics
*****

Reged: 05/21/10

Loc: Minnesota
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5460952 - 10/08/12 04:51 PM

Maybe CNC from a plastic material that can be recycled? 3d printer? Other production ideas anyone?

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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5461017 - 10/08/12 05:54 PM

Quote:

this is a very specialized, practically a handmade product, which will keep the quality up!




Definitely!

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: Mary B]
      #5461041 - 10/08/12 06:08 PM

Quote:

Maybe CNC from a plastic material that can be recycled? 3d printer? Other production ideas anyone?




4'x8' sheets of 1.25" thick plastic are VERY expensive (4-5 times the cost of Extira), so I'm not sure if recycling the waste would be enough to offset the high cost or not. But it's an interesting idea and I'll definitely look into it!

And 3D printing honestly hadn't occurred to me! Based on my limited knowledge of the technology, it is mostly being used for prototypes and models at this point because of strength/durability issues. But I know the technology is changing and improving rapidly and it certainly might be a possibility in the near future. Not to mention, it would just be way cool.

Anyway, thanks for your ideas Mary!!

David Giles
Opticsmart.com

Edited by DavidOpticsmart (10/08/12 06:09 PM)


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gregory93
super member


Reged: 07/03/12

Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: aznights]
      #5463783 - 10/10/12 12:38 PM

How do these DCircles work?

Best regards


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Gastrol
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/04/11

Loc: los angeles
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: gregory93]
      #5463874 - 10/10/12 01:42 PM

Another nice thing about these separate outboard degree circles is that both the degree circle base and the setting needle can be oriented almost anywhere in relation to your dob base depending on which side of the ota your eye piece is located, for instance.
Some people even find having the setting needle at the front of the scope (under the belly of the scope) more comfortable as well.


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: gregory93]
      #5463879 - 10/10/12 01:46 PM

Quote:

How do these DCircles work?




Basically, they help you find objects in the sky by allowing you to point your scope at the current azimuth of the object you want to observe. You also need a Digital Angle gauge like the Wixey (sold separately) to point your scope at the current altitude of the object you wish to observe.

And to get the current Altitude and Azimuth of objects you want to observe, you can use an application on your phone, iPad, laptop computer, etc. Popular apps are SkySafari (my fav), Starwalk, and Stellarium.

So, for example, if you're observing shortly before dawn in central Alabama, and if you look up the Orion Nebula (M42) in your app/computer program, it might show that M42 is currently (at the time you're observing) at an Azimuth of 193° and an altitude of 48°. You would simply rotate the scope until the HALO's pointer is pointing to 193°, then raise your scope's tube until the Wixey reads 48°. At that point, your scope should be pointed at the Orion Nebula and you should find it in the field of view of a low power/wide angle eyepiece.

Let me know if that helps you understand the basic concept, or if you want more detailed info.

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: Gastrol]
      #5464099 - 10/10/12 04:24 PM

Quote:

Another nice thing about these separate outboard degree circles is that both the degree circle base and the setting needle can be oriented almost anywhere depending on which side of the ota your eye piece is located, for instance.
Some people even find having the setting needle at the front of the scope (under the belly of the scope) more comfortable as well.




That is absolutely true, although the HALO's "standard" configuration is with the pointer mounted on the left side of the Dob base (as seen from the rear) and with the compass on the north side of the ring. Like this:






Now if someone wanted to mount the pointer on the front of their base instead, they could certainly do that. But then they would need to set the HALO on the ground with 0° facing north and with the compass on the eastern side of the ring (instead of the north side) The compass would of course still be pointing north, but it would be at a right angle to the little "N"s printed on the face of the HALO (the arrows by the "N"s would be pointing east in this type of setup). Like this:







David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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John Carruthers
Skiprat
*****

Reged: 02/02/07

Loc: Kent, UK
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #5464857 - 10/11/12 05:08 AM

How does one ensure the scale is exactly concentric with the axis of rotation?

I too think the price a little high when you consider a Manortronics Astrofix 2 axis pointer is less.

Looks very well made and finished though.

Edited by John Carruthers (10/11/12 05:10 AM)


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gregory93
super member


Reged: 07/03/12

Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #5464866 - 10/11/12 05:51 AM

Quote:

Quote:

How do these DCircles work?




Basically, they help you find objects in the sky by allowing you to point your scope at the current azimuth of the object you want to observe. You also need a Digital Angle gauge like the Wixey (sold separately) to point your scope at the current altitude of the object you wish to observe.

And to get the current Altitude and Azimuth of objects you want to observe, you can use an application on your phone, iPad, laptop computer, etc. Popular apps are SkySafari (my fav), Starwalk, and Stellarium.

So, for example, if you're observing shortly before dawn in central Alabama, and if you look up the Orion Nebula (M42) in your app/computer program, it might show that M42 is currently (at the time you're observing) at an Azimuth of 193° and an altitude of 48°. You would simply rotate the scope until the HALO's pointer is pointing to 193°, then raise your scope's tube until the Wixey reads 48°. At that point, your scope should be pointed at the Orion Nebula and you should find it in the field of view of a low power/wide angle eyepiece.

Let me know if that helps you understand the basic concept, or if you want more detailed info.

David Giles
Opticsmart.com



Thank you for clearing it out.


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: John Carruthers]
      #5464884 - 10/11/12 06:16 AM

Quote:

How does one ensure the scale is exactly concentric with the axis of rotation?




The HALO is by design concentric with the Dob's groundboard, so assuming the Dob's axis of rotation is centered on its circular groundboard (which is the case with all the Dobs that the HALO is designed for), then the HALO will be concentric with the Dob's axis of rotation.

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: gregory93]
      #5464887 - 10/11/12 06:18 AM

Quote:

Thank you for clearing it out.




You're welcome gregory93!

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #5465082 - 10/11/12 10:05 AM

David; I'd like to see some sort of a red light on the pointer, to avoid using a light everytime one moves the base, that would be a great addition.

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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5465137 - 10/11/12 10:50 AM

Quote:

David; I'd like to see some sort of a red light on the pointer, to avoid using a light everytime one moves the base, that would be a great addition.




Hey Carol, somebody else made that suggestion via PM, so I'll just recap my response to them here:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Yeah an [optional] lighting solution is definitely something we hope to be able to provide in the not-too-distant future. I've done some R&D already but haven't come up with a product that I REALLY like. The product would have to be elegant, useful, AND inexpensive or I wouldn't be happy with it. :-) And it's tough hitting all those goals without designing something from scratch. I certainly wouldn't mind designing something from scratch made just for the Halo, but it would be pretty difficult to make it affordable at the low quantities that I would expect to produce. Once we get past the initial introduction-stage with the HALO, I do intend to get back on the light project and see what I can come up with.

But until we come up with a marketable solution, I've found that you can do quite well with something you may already have available (or can purchase pretty cheaply). Just a few nights ago I was out with the HALO and I just laid my red LED headlamp right on the Dob base (basically right on top of the metal pointer) and it did a VERY nice job of illuminating the degree circle. In fact, it worked so well that if people start lighting their HALOs this way, then we probably wouldn't sell many of our own custom lighting solution. :-)

I've attached a couple of photos that I just took with my iPhone. This is an actual HALO with the headlamp I was talking about, sitting on top of the pointer. As you can imagine, the iPhone doesn't do a great job in such incredibly low light, so the images are a little bit blurry and grainy. It actually looks MUCH sharper in real life and is VERY easily readable, and as you can see, the ring is lit up very nicely right where you need to read it. In fact it's brighter than necessary for totally dark-adapted eyes, so if we do come up with our own custom solution, we'll probably make it a bit dimmer than this. And with the headlamp sitting on top of the pointer, obviously it moves with the base, so you shouldn't have to touch it again all night (after you've initially calibrated the pointer to zero).








Keep in mind though, that if we DO offer a custom lighting solution for the HALO at some point, it will be an optional add-on. The reason is that obviously we would have to increase the cost of the HALO if a light was included by default, and the last thing I want is to hear people complain that the increased price of the HALO is too high because they can buy some cheap mass produced LED light on ebay for five bucks, or they already have some red flashlight that they'd like to use. So if we do come up with a custom light solution, we'll price it separately so that those who want it can buy it, without it affecting the base price of the HALO.


David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #5465169 - 10/11/12 11:08 AM

David; nice idea! There's so many red lights avail, that I'm sure something will work for buyers.

Quote:

that if we DO offer a custom lighting solution for the HALO at some point, it will be an optional add-on.




Absolutely! This is the best way to go!


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Gastrol
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/04/11

Loc: los angeles
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5465237 - 10/11/12 11:48 AM

As far as illuminating the pointer I've been using an inexpensive clip-on gooseneck book light with several layers of red celophane. Works quite well.

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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: csa/montana]
      #5465283 - 10/11/12 12:16 PM

Quote:

David; nice idea! There's so many red lights avail, that I'm sure something will work for buyers.

Quote:

that if we DO offer a custom lighting solution for the HALO at some point, it will be an optional add-on.




Absolutely! This is the best way to go!




Thanks for understanding Carol.

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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DavidOpticsmart
Vendor (Opticsmart.com)


Reged: 08/15/11

Loc: Alabama
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: Gastrol]
      #5465286 - 10/11/12 12:18 PM

Exactly. There are many different types of LED lights out there that would be suitable to light the HALO (or any homemade setting circle). Obviously they wouldn't be made specifically for the HALO, so they wouldn't look quite as cool as something custom-made for the HALO, but they would do the job just fine. Now we could develop something perfectly designed to fit the HALO pointer with just the right size, attachment method, power supply, brightness, wavelength of red light, etc. I can envision it, and it would look VERY cool! But then the quantities would be so low that we couldn't possibly compete with the price of cheap products made by the gazillions in China.

David Giles
Opticsmart.com


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aznights
member
*****

Reged: 04/23/12

Loc: Glendale, AZ
Re: **NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION** - Check out the HALO! new [Re: DavidOpticsmart]
      #5465421 - 10/11/12 01:55 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Please dont get me wrong, I really like this idea, and I'm very excited about this product announcement. I've even shared about this idea on reddit.com/r/astronomy and to some of my colleagues. But I have to be honest, I feel like price on this is a little high.




I'm glad you like the HALO aznights, and thanks for spreading the word about it to your friends and colleagues!

And I can understand wishing that the HALO was less expensive. I wish EVERYTHING I wanted to buy was less expensive.

But the HALO isn't a mass produced product that can take advantage of huge economies of scale. All of the materials and parts that make up the HALO must be purchased in relatively small quantities (as compared to say the parts of a wheelbarrow that is made in China and sold by the millions in every Lowe's, Home Depot, and WalMart in America). And the HALO rings are CNC-machined out of 1-1/4" thick Extira (which isn't inexpensive, and because of the ring-shaped nature of the product, as you can imagine the material-yield isn't great). Then we have to do some hand-finishing work on the rings because they aren't ready for prime time right off the CNC bed. The degree circle inlays are also custom-made for us to perfectly fit the CNC'd Extira, and the leveling feet were special ordered as well. After finishing the Extira, we have to properly assemble everything and get it ready to ship.

CNC-machining certainly isn't the least expensive way to produce a mass-produced product, and the truth is that if we thought we could sell TENS of thousands of HALOs in a reasonably short period of time, those quantities MIGHT justify investing in injection molds and manufacturing the rings out of plastic. With the cheap cost of raw material, and with the mold costs amortized over tens of thousands of HALOs, we could probably offer them at a significantly lower price. But injection molds are incredibly expensive, and we would need to invest in FOUR different molds just to cover the GSO-made 8", 10", 12" and 16" bases. Then we'd need several more molds to fit the different Orion bases.

But even if I was 100% confident that we could recover the huge investment in injection molds in just 2-3 years, I still wouldn't go that route, because then if the Asian OEM base-makers changed the diameter of their Dob bases by just a little bit, our huge investment in molds would become instantly worthless. Instead, with CNC-machining, we can change the HALO dimensions to fit any change in bases with just a few keystrokes in Solidworks (the 3D CAD program used to design the HALOs).

So yes, you are paying more for the HALO, which is a highly customized product available in several sizes for a low volume, niche market, than if it were a one-size-fits-all mass-produced product on the shelf of every WalMart in America.
And believe me, I wish everyone in America wanted a HALO. But unless I'm completely wrong about the actual demand for HALOs, I suspect it will remain a very cool, albeit niche product which carries a price tag that is reflective of its production volume and production method, and is not unreasonable (IMHO) when compared to other niche products in this market.

And by the way, aside from all the manufacturing issues, keep in mind that the prices do include custom-made shipping boxes as well as the cost of shipping the product to your front door. If you check the costs of purchasing 30"x30"x6" boxes in relatively small quantities from a box-supplier, and THEN check the cost of shipping that size box across the U.S. you'll find that those costs aren't insignificant....

David Giles
Opticsmart.com




Thank you for your detailed response. I can see you've put a lot of research and capital into this project and it makes sense. I'll be watching the developments of this product closely, especially since a few people have chimed in with the "red led" idea that immediately came to my mind as well when I first saw this. I'll be waiting for v2.0


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