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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

Pages: 1
GOLGO13
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Vixen 103 ED SWT
      #5778865 - 04/05/13 12:48 AM

Went through a few 3-4 inch refractors lately and I think I have settled on this one. It's the Vixen 103 ED SWT. Mine came with a moonlight focuser instead of the original RP one. I am guessing this one had a single speed one (which is likely why they replaced it), but I know the new ones come with a two speed.

I got it used and it arrived safe and sound (luckily). Early testing (out the window during the day) proved it was in good shape.

My plan was to get a quality grab and go refractor for my Vixen Porta mount. Something bigger than my 80mm WO zenithstar, but still fairly portable. It's F7.7 which helps. I've found that 4 inches makes a pretty big difference for DSOs over a 3 inch scope.

The scope is very light weight. I'm guessing about 8 pounds. The build quality seems pretty good. This one is made in Japan which makes me feel pretty good. The paint isn't as good as a Televue and the like, but it's certainly fine. The dew shield slides on and off vice being a retractable one. I think it really looks great. It really caught my eye in the classified. Especially with the Moonlight focuser. Speaking of the focuser, it's really really good. Very smooth and adjustable. It's appearance is awesome as well. Fine focusing is very smooth and it's a strong setup.

The rings, dovetail, and handle are very nice. Rings are easy to adjust if balance is an issue. The dovetail is perfect for my porta mount since it's the vixen setup. The handle is a great feature for handling the scope.

So now to the optics. The first night I was out the sky had high wispy clouds. The kind that make a dark sky look like a light polluted sky. So I focused on Jupiter and didn't stray. The scope produced very sharp images of jupiter. Even at 240xish it was looking pretty good. I actually even had it at 355x (didn't realize how high it was) and it wasn't horrible. But you could tell it was above what the scope was going to provide. But at normal magnifications Jupiter looked rather good.

The second night (tonight), the sky was in much better condition. Seeing wasn't great, and transparency was probably average. My skies are pretty darn light polluted (red next to white). The scope cooled really quick, I'd say 15 minutes at the most. The Orion nebula looked really good. Very sharp and with a good shape to it. Jupiter looked pretty sharp but you could see the atmosphere moving around a bit. The images still were very sharp and pleasing. Star tests showed similar patterns on both sides and in-focus stars were quite sharp even at higher magnifications. Star clusters looked great and had good contrast.

I cannot really say how good the color correction is since my conditions were not great. I suspect from what I've seen it's very good. It is a doublet likely with FPL53, so I think it will perform as expected...with only slight CA on Venus and such.

So far it seems like it's better than my WO 80mm FD apo. Hard to say if it's in-line with the higher end companies like Televue and Takahashi. I'd guess it's in-between the cheaper APOs and the high-end ones.

So far I am very happy with it. ...I didn't mention that despite getting this scope and an eyepiece I had clear skies and I am supposed to have another one tomorrow. Beat the odds.



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Catapoman
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 06/06/03

Loc: VA
Re: Vixen 103 ED SWT new [Re: GOLGO13]
      #5779109 - 04/05/13 08:27 AM

Congrats on your new purchase! IME, I believe after you've used this scope more extensively you'll discover that the optics are right up there with other high-end doublets (like Tak and Televue).

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John Huntley
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 07/16/06

Loc: South West England
Re: Vixen 103 ED SWT new [Re: Catapoman]
      #5779441 - 04/05/13 11:36 AM

Congratulations on a lovely 4" refractor.

I own an example of it's predecessor, the Vixen ED102SS which is an F/6.5 ED doublet. Vixen did not specify the glass type of the ED element but I believe mine is FPL-51. The scope is very well corrected for CA for it's focal ratio and I guess your 103ED SWT will be even more so.

My little Vixen can deliver 4 degree views through to sharp and contrasty 200x views of the planets and moon so it's very versatile.

The Japanese Vixen refractors are very nice scopes


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GOLGO13
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 11/05/05

Loc: St. Louis area
Re: Vixen 103 ED SWT new [Re: Catapoman]
      #5779473 - 04/05/13 11:57 AM

I had seen your review of this scope and agree it has some great optics. It seemed like it cooled down really quick also. Very light weight which is nice.

Quick cool down is something important to me right now because I usually have about an hour total to observe.


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Catapoman
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 06/06/03

Loc: VA
Re: Vixen 103 ED SWT new [Re: GOLGO13]
      #5779533 - 04/05/13 12:30 PM

Yes, cooldown and lightweight were some of the attributes that initially attracted me to this scope. I saw the used scope ad and if I had not felt I had enough scopes, I would have considered getting that one. Enjoy your views.

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core
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 02/23/08

Loc: Mostly in Norman, OK
Re: Vixen 103 ED SWT new [Re: GOLGO13]
      #5780307 - 04/05/13 06:32 PM Attachment (19 downloads)

Congrats as well! I picked up my used unit end of last year, stock focuser which I had to tear down and re-grease, much better after that. I might consider a MoonLite if I eventually keep it longer; so far I have no complaints with regards to the views but hope to get more time under dark skies this year. fwiw, with the Porta Mount, I've found that I can push the OTA up the rings much further (as pictured) with no adverse effect on balance, in this position the panhandle is within easy reach, and there is much less vertical range of the eyepiece, making it more comfortable to use. I can switch from a +2 lb eyepiece to a 4oz eyepiece with no balance issue at all. The extended slo-mo controls, panhandle, focus knob are all next to each other, it's a joy to use.

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