Jump to content

  •  

* * * * *

A review of the Unistellar EVscope


Discuss this article in our forums

A review of the Unistellar EVscope

 

Well here is another product that has received a lot of hype and press, but without divulging much useful information about the telescope itself. Well needless to say, the hype worked on me….and I took delivery of my (used) Unistellar EVscope today.

 

Why did I buy, and why should you?

 

I’ve been in the hobby since I was 13 years old. Over the years I’ve had everything from homebuilt 6F8 newts, to 11” SCTs to Questars and Televues, and you know what? - M13 and all the rest look exactly the same today as they did 40 years ago - so something had to change. I thought about getting into astrophotography as a way of perhaps looking at this differently, but there is a considerable investment in equipment, a steep learning curve, and generally you need to be attendant at your telescope when imaging.

 

So the EVscope checked several boxes for me.

·         GOTO – check

·         Self-aligning – check

·         Portable – check

·         Astrophotography for idiots – check (albeit on a limited basis)

·         Ability for scope to operate remotely (ie: me indoors) - check

 

So what follows is a brief description, first impressions and first-light performance.

 

What is it?

 

A close up of a logo

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceThe EVscope is essentially a Newtonian based camera in as much as the parabolic 4.5” F4 primary mirror focuses its image directly onto a Sony IMX224 sensor located in the position that would normally be occupied by the diagonal in a Newtonian or secondary in a Cassegrain.

 

The Sony IMX224 is a color sensor with a resolution of 1.2 Million pixels (1305 x 977).

 

 

 

The OTA is carried on a single fork arm ALT-AZ Goto mount with an integral lithium ion battery supposedly good for up to 10 hours. Also packed in there is a lot of computing power as evidenced by the scope’s ability to;

 

1.      Recognize any star field you point it at and derive its internal map from that. (Plate solving)

2.      Offer full GOTO and tracking capability.

3.      View in both live view (no enhancement) or enhanced vision (EV) which takes frames every 4 seconds and stacks them internally in real time to provide an enhanced vision rendering of the target.

4.      Cancel out field rotation that you get with any non-equatorial mounted telescope.

5.      Sets up its own wireless network so it can access your phone or tablet to:

a.      Get current GPS coordinates and time

b.      Send real time pictures to your device (and 8 others)

c.       Your phone or tablet runs the Unistellar app which is a free download from Google Play or the Apple store.

 

 

The eyepiece is not really an eyepiece in the sense that we’re all familiar with, but a ‘window’ looking at a Hi-res OLED display. You see on this display (and on your phone or tablet) whatever the main Sony chip sees. The sensor image is roughly the equivalent of 50X optical magnification. There is no facility to be able to change magnifications, although can zoom digitally on your device.

 

However, it is the EV mode that makes this scope different. While it is true that astrophotography has been around for decades, and no one thing that the EVscope does is groundbreaking – the EVscope accomplishes this without all the gear, wires, setup and steep learning curve necessary to get results with a more traditional setup.

 

It is this ability to capture and stack 15 images per minute with the commensurate increase in brightness and detail of the target that allows the EVscope to make some of its extravagant claims. I have an 8” SCT (which mathematically has 3X the light gathering power) and I can tell you that, with the possible exception of M42, the lowly 4.5” mirror on the EVscope reveals a lot more detail, brightness and color of the Messier and NGC objects when in EV mode – the magic of light stacking vs. raw aperture.

 

Open box

 

The EVscope arrived packed in the usual double cardboard box. Well protected. Once you get the outer wrapper off, you will be met with the following promise.

A picture containing indoor

Description automatically generatedText, letter

Description automatically generated

Opening the inner box reveals the following

a)                   EVscope in parked position

b)      Tripod

c)                   Accessory box for the AC adapter

d)      Quick start manual and user manual

 

 

 

 

 

First impressions.

 

The scope and tripod together weigh approx. 20lbs. I wondered what the EVscope would be made of. The answer is aluminum for the OTA tube and plastic cladding for the lower end cell and mount cladding. The fork arm/base /rear cell have aluminum skeletons but in truth is, I was a bit disappointed.

 

With this scope commanding almost $3000USD, you’d like to think you could get away from the ETX black plastic syndrome, but the scope does have some heft to it, hinting perhaps at a substantial aluminum frame beneath the cladding.

 

The tripod is basically a heavy-duty camera tripod and the feet are tipped with squishy rubber pads which seem to allow a lot of ‘wiggle’.

 

Several times I would get the message that the ‘EV mode was dropped due to vibration’. It was a breezy night. I wonder if the squishy feet were allowing too much movement?

 

The tripod design allows the angle of the legs to be altered from a narrow footprint to almost horizontal in 3 steps. There are 3 ledges that the leg stop can butt against. Just pull out the detent to allow the stop to clear the lower ledge and butt against the next. It is not spring loaded so be sure to re-seat it.

 

The interface between the mount base and tripod head could also be more rigid. There are only 2 hold-down screws around the periphery, and this allows some movement between the scope and the tripod head. 3 screws would eliminate this issue, and indeed, there is a raised boss in the casting identical to the other two locations that has not been drilled/tapped. This would be an easily fixed oversight.

 

There is also some unwanted lateral play in the AZ axis. This could be contributing to the vibration warnings I sometimes get.  I am currently working with Unistellar to address this issue and will advise the outcome.

 

A picture containing weapon

Description automatically generatedLooking down the tube you will see the primary mirror at the bottom, and the ‘secondary cage’ forming the cross at the top of the tube where the Sony sensor is mounted.

 

Interestingly, the tube is double walled.. Whether this is to help with thermal stability, or to hide the wiring going up to the sensor – who knows? The inside of the OTA is painted a satin black which does a poor job of reducing stray light. A flat black paint, or even better, a textured flat black would help the cause.

 

 

The overall length of the OTA is a bit longer than a 4.5”F4 system would normally dictate. This is because the secondary light reflections that occur in a Newtonian or Cassegrain design that eat up some focal length are missing in the EVscope. It’s straight from the mirror to the sensor with nothing in between, so the OTA is as long as the mirror focal length plus whatever is needed at either end to house the optics and sensor.

 

 

A picture containing text

Description automatically generatedUnderneath the mount arm, there are two ports. The small one (USB-C) is the charging port. The large one (USB-A) can be used for powering a phone or other USB device from the scope’s internal battery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setting up.

 

The Unistellar documentation is not, well….stellar. It’s bare bones and basically covers taking the scope out of the box and setting it up and how to start the app. Then you’re pretty well on your own.

 

Spread the tripod and level with the integral bubble level. Plunk the mount/scope into the socket and secure with the two thumbscrews, take off the dust caps and the physical stuff is done. Maybe a minute - tops.

 

Press the power button about 2 seconds and it will initially turn Purple, and then to Red as it finishes its boot sequence and establishes its Wi-Fi network. At this point you can acquire the EVscope network on your phone or tablet, and then start the Unistellar app on that same device.

 

A picture containing text, electronics

Description automatically generatedUse the app joystick to depress the scope to point at any open area of sky with visible stars.

 

A note on the joystick. The center yellow circle is the ‘tip’ of the joystick. Drag it onto any of the four direction arrows to move the scope. The further from the center you drag it, the faster the EVscope moves. Fine adjustments can be made by tapping just the arrows. I found it a little cumbersome to use in practice.

 

 

 

 

A picture containing text, electronics

Description automatically generatedTap the Autonomous Field Detection icon to start the alignment procedure.

 

Once the scope identifies the viewed star field with its internal database (called plate solving) it knows where it is and you’re good to go.

 

It seems to be very accurate, which it needs to be to land the image dead center on a small CMOS sensor. The only caveat is that it needs to see a star field, not just a single bright star, so you have to wait a little longer for the sky to darken before you can do an alignment.

 

Tap the ‘Explore’ icon on the lower menu bar to call up the GOTO database. Here you will find most of the popular Messier, NGC and IC targets grouped into several categories. If the selected object’s ‘GOTO’ icon is greyed out, this means it is not viewable at your time/location.

 

First impressions.

 

The EVscope is not a fast slewer, and during a GOTO, it seems to pause a couple of times along the way to review its plate solving algorithms in some wayward part of the sky, but whatever it is doing, it’s doing it well as the GOTO’s were spot-on middle-of-field when done, and they stayed there for as long as you want.

 

A close-up of a cell phone

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceDuring slewing the ‘Live view’ will shows the stars as streaks until the scope settles down to tracking rates. Once on target, it stays in Live view mode unless you tap the EV mode icon. The Live view mode can be pretty grainy on dim objects. You can fiddle with manual controls for the live view mode to provide a less ‘boosted’ image. I don’t know if dimming the live view mode also dims the view for the EVscope’s Sony sensor.

 

 

 

 

 

So you’ll want to tap the EV icon and this is where the magic happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A celestial object in space

Description automatically generated with low confidenceThe EVscope then starts taking frames 4 sec apart, stacking and processing them to present a gradually improving image of dimmer astro targets. Brighter targets may only seconds to image, dimmer ones may run to several minutes depending on how dark your skies are.

 

In my fooling around the first time out, it only needed 20 sec to provide a nice pic of M42 and M82 – the Cigar Galaxy.

 

And I saw the Crab nebula for the first time ever….

 

And obviously, from this article, once you have the images on your phone or tablet, it’s easy to manipulate them.

 

The nice thing about all of this is that other than the preliminary setup, I was sitting comfortably in my den about 25 ft away while the scope was outside in freezing temperatures. I was able to move to the other end of the house which would have been about 40ft away at that point and still had a signal.

 

The scope seemed to be well focused and collimated when it arrived judging by the star images. Both the focus and collimation are manually adjusted with the app software providing the necessary feedback. There is an included Bahtinov focusing mask located under the front dust cap. Between the mask and the app-based cues for collimation, it is not difficult to do (easier than a standard Newtonian).

 

A couple of things seem to disorient the EVscope.

 

1.      If there are clouds or obstacles in the way of the FOV, then the scope cannot see a ‘plate’ to solve. It’s not like a regular GOTO where you tell the scope where it is on the face of the earth and what time it is and the controller then predicts the target location from there on. That GOTO system does not care about obstacles, it will cheerfully point at your target on the other side of a barn. By comparison, the EVscope navigates by comparing star fields to its internal maps. If any of the FOVs are blocked when it drops out of warp to have a recon, then the GOTO is aborted, and it returns to tracking mode.

2.      If excess vibration detected, the scope will drop out of EV mode. As mentioned, the rubber tripod feet or ‘squishy’ and there is excess play in the AZ axis that may be contributing to this issue…

 

Conclusions

 

So far, it is early days, but I am encouraged. The EVscope allows me to view the same old objects in a completely new light (no pun intended) and to save those views to my phone/tablet for use any way I want.

 

I am able to see things I could never see in my strictly visual scopes, or if visible, as my wife would say….meh...

 

So instead of doing a Messier marathon and saying ‘yeah, I think I saw it’, you can now have an image of each one for your Messier log. And like our hobby in general, the next night, the seeing or the next image could be better than the last.

 

The moon and planets can be viewed with the EVscope and indeed, they are GOTO objects in the Apps target list, but it is important to realize that this is not the EVscope’s intended purpose. The EVscope excels at aggregating light and detail from dim objects. The moon and brighter planets will require that you fiddle with the manual adjustments in live view mode. EV mode is not required. Just bear in mind that you are only dealing with 450mm of focal length so the planet views are going to be very small. However, for the moon and bright planets, any decent scope will do.

 

When it comes to looking for and viewing dim astro objects, there are basically two solutions:

 

a)      Big aperture, with all the attendant problems with portability. And at the end of the day, most faint fuzzies stay exactly like that – faint.. even in bigger scopes.

b)      Light stacking ie: Astrophotography. The EVscope is well along the way to astrophotography, albeit with limited resolution and light grasp compared to more professional setups. The meager 4.5” EVscope can show more of deep space objects than you could ever hope to see with direct vision. I’m sure there are some 24” newt owners that would dispute that statement, but please refer to my comment in point a).

 

So if you want to see more of deep sky objects than is possible with visual observing, and you’d like to be able to take pictures of these views, then this is perhaps a good fit for you.

 

I know that there are Astrophotographers out there that will sneer at this little scope, and there is no argument that for the money, you could get a much more capable telescope optically, and/or a better resolution AP setup - but you still have to carry it all out, hook it all up, learn how to use it, and accompany it with your computer while you’re taking the pics. And then you need to process the images through various software to tease out the details. I’ve done some basic webcam stuff and then processed it through a couple of stacking programs. I found it time consuming, tedious and not straightforward.

 

So the EVscope can get you into basic AP without the various components, wires, cables, computers, frostbite and steep learning curve.

 

I can take the scope outside, set it up and capture a decent image of M42 before the Pro AP guys have even finished carrying all their AP gear outside. And for now, I’m good with that.

 

EVscope Pro’s

 

·         Good introduction to basic astrophotography. It adds another dimension.

·         Accurate GOTOs and tracking

·         Fully integrated package so no wires, hookups or compatibility issues.

·         Works with any Android or Apple mobile phone or tablet with WiFi.

·         Capable of revealing very faint astro objects and saving the image files.

·         Good basic App interface. (would be better with a proper manual)

·         Very portable (OTA and tripod less than 20lbs)

·         No other accessories required.

·         Small learning curve.

 

EVscope cons

 

·         Expensive

·         Fully integrated package. If anything fails, you have a paperweight.

·         Limited capabilities compared to more sophisticated setups. Reports are that Unistellar is working on upgrades to make their scope more AP friendly for those that want to have more control. After all, it uses the same Sony IMX224 sensor as a couple of popular aftermarket AP cameras.

·         Sparse documentation for scope, and, in particular the Unistellar App. (to be fair though, they responded quickly to two questions I asked them)

·         Not really intended for the brighter solar system targets (although they can be imaged…)

·         Not good for terrestrial use.

 

 


  • kc6zut, Bob Campbell, okiestarman56 and 16 others like this


85 Comments

Photo
Forward Scatter
Jun 01 2021 04:59 PM

Very enjoyable write-up & review!

Photo
bmwscopeguy
Jun 01 2021 06:14 PM

I'm having a little trouble getting the collimation dialed in. You can see it on the star images, even in the 1/3 FOV...

 

Do you know offhand if the EVscope mirror is spherical or parabolic?

 

Malcolm

Photo
bmwscopeguy
Jun 01 2021 06:26 PM

Thanks for this write-up.  I've been involved in EAA for a few years now and I'm constantly torn between the "feel" of true visual and the capabilities of using a camera to see things my eyes simply can't.  Eliminating all of the wires and general complexity is a dream that the EV-Scope and other similar products accomplish, but they always see to suffer from inferior performance.  A good entry level product but nothing more.  Maybe some day... 

I will always have a small grab and go refractor for exactly that reason - the tactile sensation of looking, focusing, viewing..

 

But as funny as it may sound, my 'deep sky' scope is the EVscope. The choice came down to;

 

a) do I want to drag tons of gear outside each time, for essentially the same views I've seen since a teen or

b) invest in a lightweight grab and go setup EEA that electronically gives the advantage to a smaller scope?

 

There is no doubt that EEA will evolve and improve with time. Other than sensor resolution and the availability of raw images to process externally, the existing EEA scopes are already there. Unistellar can easily make raw image downloads available thru changes in their app. Of course, a better sensor would mean trading up....

 

I think the day will come sooner than we think. EEA and AP are converging. None of these dedicated AP guys could ply their trade without many of the same electronic enhancements that are in EEA (autoguiding, autofocus, frame stacking, etc.. ).

 

Heck, if none of them are using film any more, they're just as electronically enhanced as the EEA guys, just with a different goal.

    • Andrew Brown likes this
Photo
bmwscopeguy
Jun 01 2021 06:27 PM

Maybe if you were looking say for supernova, it's utilitarian images and potential speed and ease of obtaining might be of value?

Ouch

Thank you for a nice, balanced and informative review of this product.   

 

The EVscope is vastly overpriced, but then, there don't seem to be any competitors.  The bigger question I would ask is why Orion, Skywatcher, Meade, Celestron (as well as ZWO and QHY) aren't in this market with add-ons for their much better scopes.   

 

For that matter, it seems like SharpCap could just embed their software in a camera, dumb down their UI, and offer up a serious competitor at a fraction of the price.    I'd like to see them do it, since they are only charging 10 pounds a year for a great product ... they should have a chance to make a bit more money buy embedding in hardware.

A GOTO mount and scope paired with the ZWO ASIAIR Pro would do the same thing.  It interfaces with your phone and does plate solving, stacking or full blown AP.  It does require the scope, mount, guide scope and two cameras, one for guiding and one for capture, but it is essentially an automated system once you put it all together.

 

But imagine this system upgraded to an 8" scope and full sized DSLR sensor, that would be awesome and more targeted at advanced users.  Either would help people like me who have pretty bad eyesite, strong astigmatism, that makes using an eyepiece difficult for visual observing.

    • fallenstarseven and ziggeman like this

Great, balanced review. I’m probably representative of a number of existing scope users that have purchased this product. It’s attraction isn’t just for newcomers.

 

There’s no doubt that much better imaging can be achieved with conventional set ups. However I’ve got an 8” SCT and 12” dobsonian, but have used this more in 6 months than 10+ years of owning the others due to the sheer convenience. It’s literally a couple of minutes to start imaging and less than a minute to finish up - and that is the killler feature about this type of scope.

 

Much like the iPhone took a bunch of existing technologies and rolled them into a magical user experience that set the trend for decades to come - so does the eVscope. I’m sure this is just the start and there will be many models with bigger mirrors, sensors etc over time.

 

One additional item worth mentioning is the Citizen Science feature. There’s a dedicated tab allowing users to participate in Exoplanet transits, Asteroid occultations etc and directly submit results from the App. This in in conjunction with SETI. Here’s a bit more info https://unistellarop...itizen-science/

For reference this site is dedicated entirely to my smart scope images https://evscope.myportfolio.com

Excellent Review.

Photo
Bob Campbell
Jun 01 2021 11:44 PM

Really great, informative review.

 

Whether the Unistellar is for a particular person, that is a matter of taste and temperament.

 

To a sector of the population which would not necessarily be into astronomy, I think there is a very marketable niche. That group would be interested in tech toys, getting instant gratification, and have lots of disposable income. This scope really does everything for you, with minimal fuss.

 

Many here enjoy tinkering, honing one's skills in locating objects, visual observing, EAA, and AP. Frustration often times is replaced by great satisfaction when we 'figure something out' with a rig, or finally see that illusive DSO we have been searching for with a telrad and star chart.

 

When I lived in NM with solid bortle 3-4 skies outside my doorstep, visual observing without goto was very satisfying, because the moonless sky was stunning; there was a hunt, and a chance to find something you hadn't seen before.

 

Now, living in bortle 7.8 in Scottsdale AZ, goto is a must, and EAA has struck my fancy. I've seen objects with my EAA setup (and less than half the aperture I had in NM) with streetlights all around that I couldn't possibly have seen with a visual setup, and in a sense is more enjoyable. Again, its a matter of personal taste.

 

I think the bottom line is 'are you having fun doing the kind of observing you do?' For me, there are not enough challenges in a Unistellar to tickle my fancy (plus its WAY over my budget!) so I would pass on it. 

 

Regards,

 

Bob

One day some maker will sell a similar working eight or twelve inch of those modern-design looking scopes that requires no skill finding M33 or M51 with a viewfinder. Looking at the sky with your own eyes becomes a thing their grandpa did. The screen on the mobile is the heaven now.

I would buy one if the price was very much lower. Its neat. You get very much 'observation time' with one of those. Unistellar or Stellina. Or any other.

Photo
Andrew Brown
Jun 02 2021 06:28 AM

Hmm, once this technology "matures" [sensor, guide/imaging software etc] make it transferable as a single package onto the back of, say, a HD C8 etc, sell it for $2k and you wouldn't be able to make enough...

    • Jethro7 and fallenstarseven like this

"hide the wiring going up to the sensor"

probably true

I've owned an eVscope for going on year two now and have loved it. I've also become accustomed to the viewpoints on this scope at events, on the net, or elsewhere, so I wanted to add a little more context to this in a comment here. Feel free to pm me if you have questions.

 

I run a few different Vixen APO rigs I've built up over time from the ground up and appreciate the complexity of robust astrophotography - but the eVscope is not just for astrophotography, and shines more in the in between EAA, outreach, citizen science and fun sky-exploring photography. I've seen really neat integrations from the community of users for spectrum analysis, variable star observing, asteroid occultations, quasars, and even with hours/days spent on astrophotography projects.   

 

Consider that for most of those not on these forums, and for myself often: Life happens, and after a 10 hour day, setting up a rig even for me doesn't always appeal - so I use a visual scope and eVscope - or I'll use eVscope as my astrorig spends 5 hours on one target. I live in an apartment, as a millenial, so if a house is hard to get I'm certainly not getting a home observatory any time soon. But, at least I can look at stars in the city, Bortle 7, as well as when I'm out observing at a Bortle 5 site. The scope is versatile, and the fact that it can be networked with no wires, helps tremendously. 

 

Areas the reviewer didn't touch on in depth was ability to contribute to citizen science outreach when events are happening in your time zone, and upload your observations to real research. Also, in the time I've owned this scope, I've seen dedicated system updates and backing by SETI Institute gives me some confidence on the direction. The recent upgrade has been well received, and I'd have to say the style of doing 4 second stacks of exposures for 20 minutes, then stacking those and processing further has been interesting. Attaching filters and more has made the experience more interesting as well.

 

It's easy to plop outside, enjoy. I've not seen as many night objects before this (and could confirm what I was looking at with certainty) I compare it to my Slooh Internet Telescope membership - except this is more of seeing the sky in person at the site you're at, in your backyard, and it's a shareable experience.

 

It's still expensive - you're paying for continued development as well. But that said, I see people spending 3K for an OTA all the time on these forums, or just one camera, just to get slightly more quality than another expensive piece of equipment. So I'd ask the community here remains open minded, since when you compare what this purchase gets you, and how much you're able to use this scope in various ways without taking up more of the users own personal time worrying about equipment, it starts to make sense and is a welcome addition to the astro community.

 

I think there's a jaded tendency to think people are just blowing money on this scope to Instagram star pictures, which is not at all the type of user I see using this scope, so I think Unistellar did an excellent job of researching what would be an active user base, and going for it while bringing in science in a way other scopes like this are not doing yet. I hope I have helped convey the type of enjoyment you can get from this scope, and it's only my first brand new scope purchase - I've only always bought used and inherited problems to fix, so it's been fun. Finally, I'd caution that I think it's fairly narrow minded to take a counter point to this scope that "doing the ground work" is required for this kind of observing, and better OTAs can be purchased for the money.. etc. if you come across one at star parties. Ask the user to go to objects and see how it works and resolves DSOs. I find it's an enjoyable way to discover the stars together. 

 


get.jpg?insecure

    • Bob Campbell, Steve C., bmwscopeguy and 7 others like this

Great review, and very balanced.

I am intrigued by the "Citizen Science" aspects.  Considering that amateur astronomers are doing this for entertainment.  It's rare even a minor contribution is made, it's kind of cool to have a direct link to contributions and moving scientific knowledge forward, even in a small way.

And as I wrestle with putting together a capable AP rig, I am realizing $3-4k isn't wildly out of tune with a "better than" AP rig, but you have to plan ahead to use that rig, and these types of scopes are really a "drop them in place, press "go" and minutes later you are seeing stuff.  Almost makes the "better than/worse than" meaningless.  Because you will use this scope more than a big AP rig requiring a lot of setup. (And it was a bt of a shock than the mount and the appropriate sensor is both more important than, and will likely be more expensive than the optical tube!)

(I have a 6" refractor on a Go to mount that takes about 30 mins to set up, and weighs 75lbs and each section has to be carried on its own to move it or set it up.  I also have a 90mm Mak that all in in 8-9lbs.  I reach for that about 10x as often as the Lawn Cannon.  Its nowhere as near as capable as the Lawn Cannon, but I also can grab it when I come home or there is a 30 minute break in the clouds and be looking at stars in about a minute, I can take all over out property to avoid obstructions, too.  I think the eVscope is closer to this idea than anything.)

Not sure I am ready to plunk down $3000 at this point, but I am very interested in the direction it's going.

    • Bob Campbell likes this
Photo
Bob Campbell
Jun 02 2021 02:11 PM

I've owned an eVscope for going on year two now and have loved it. I've also become accustomed to the viewpoints on this scope at events, on the net, or elsewhere, so I wanted to add a little more context to this in a comment here. Feel free to pm me if you have questions.

 

I run a few different Vixen APO rigs I've built up over time from the ground up and appreciate the complexity of robust astrophotography - but the eVscope is not just for astrophotography, and shines more in the in between EAA, outreach, citizen science and fun sky-exploring photography. I've seen really neat integrations from the community of users for spectrum analysis, variable star observing, asteroid occultations, quasars, and even with hours/days spent on astrophotography projects.   

 

Consider that for most of those not on these forums, and for myself often: Life happens, and after a 10 hour day, setting up a rig even for me doesn't always appeal - so I use a visual scope and eVscope - or I'll use eVscope as my astrorig spends 5 hours on one target. I live in an apartment, as a millenial, so if a house is hard to get I'm certainly not getting a home observatory any time soon. But, at least I can look at stars in the city, Bortle 7, as well as when I'm out observing at a Bortle 5 site. The scope is versatile, and the fact that it can be networked with no wires, helps tremendously. 

 

Areas the reviewer didn't touch on in depth was ability to contribute to citizen science outreach when events are happening in your time zone, and upload your observations to real research. Also, in the time I've owned this scope, I've seen dedicated system updates and backing by SETI Institute gives me some confidence on the direction. The recent upgrade has been well received, and I'd have to say the style of doing 4 second stacks of exposures for 20 minutes, then stacking those and processing further has been interesting. Attaching filters and more has made the experience more interesting as well.

 

It's easy to plop outside, enjoy. I've not seen as many night objects before this (and could confirm what I was looking at with certainty) I compare it to my Slooh Internet Telescope membership - except this is more of seeing the sky in person at the site you're at, in your backyard, and it's a shareable experience.

 

It's still expensive - you're paying for continued development as well. But that said, I see people spending 3K for an OTA all the time on these forums, or just one camera, just to get slightly more quality than another expensive piece of equipment. So I'd ask the community here remains open minded, since when you compare what this purchase gets you, and how much you're able to use this scope in various ways without taking up more of the users own personal time worrying about equipment, it starts to make sense and is a welcome addition to the astro community.

 

I think there's a jaded tendency to think people are just blowing money on this scope to Instagram star pictures, which is not at all the type of user I see using this scope, so I think Unistellar did an excellent job of researching what would be an active user base, and going for it while bringing in science in a way other scopes like this are not doing yet. I hope I have helped convey the type of enjoyment you can get from this scope, and it's only my first brand new scope purchase - I've only always bought used and inherited problems to fix, so it's been fun. Finally, I'd caution that I think it's fairly narrow minded to take a counter point to this scope that "doing the ground work" is required for this kind of observing, and better OTAs can be purchased for the money.. etc. if you come across one at star parties. Ask the user to go to objects and see how it works and resolves DSOs. I find it's an enjoyable way to discover the stars together. 

 

get.jpg?insecure

Insightful comments., thanks for sharing. Clear skies, Bob

    • iseegeorgesstar and ziggeman like this

I believe the reason for the small array size is that alt-az field rotation during the short exposures would be much more noticable with a larger cmos array. It would be showing more of the uncorrected image circle and lots of field rotation.  I also suspect there is no optical field flattener, which would also restrict the usable field to a very small image circle.  Building a unit with a much larger usable image circle, larger cmos array, and built-in mechanical field de-rotator would get price prohibitive.    It looks like a new model is coming, where they have eliminated the "eyepiece".   Just wondering where the Chinese copycats are with this. 

    • dhein likes this

As a noob, I def think this is the future. At the very least, it is going to be a branch of astronomy. I wouldn’t be surprised if five years from now it’s built into phones somehow. Visual astronomy is fantastic, but the need for immediate gratification is now part of who we are. I’m super excited about a future where products like this are affordable, portable. 

I believe the reason for the small array size is that alt-az field rotation during the short exposures would be much more noticable with a larger cmos array. It would be showing more of the uncorrected image circle and lots of field rotation.  I also suspect there is no optical field flattener, which would also restrict the usable field to a very small image circle.  Building a unit with a much larger usable image circle, larger cmos array, and built-in mechanical field de-rotator would get price prohibitive.    It looks like a new model is coming, where they have eliminated the "eyepiece".   Just wondering where the Chinese copycats are with this. 

I think you’re observations are right and all corrections are done in software. Other smart scopes like the Stellina do have optical flatterers, autofocus and larger sensors. I’m surprised that the mainstream makers like Meade and Celestron haven’t released a competitor.

I think you’re observations are right and all corrections are done in software. Other smart scopes like the Stellina do have optical flatterers, autofocus and larger sensors. I’m surprised that the mainstream makers like Meade and Celestron haven’t released a competitor.

I just saw that Vaonis is going the other way with a new, less expensive scope (Vespera) that is significantly smaller (smaller sensor, smaller optics) than the original, and lacks the autorotater .  It appears that portability was the deciding factor on going this route.  It does say that you can search for any object by entering celestial coordinates.  I cannot tell if you can enter any known object and the camera will just point there and start shooting.

As a noob, I def think this is the future. At the very least, it is going to be a branch of astronomy. I wouldn’t be surprised if five years from now it’s built into phones somehow. Visual astronomy is fantastic, but the need for immediate gratification is now part of who we are. I’m super excited about a future where products like this are affordable, portable. 

I don't think visual astronomy will die out either.  
Same way Go-To mounts didn't kill manual mounts.

For me, one step past this would be a scope like this set up to some VR goggles.  If people struggle with the idea of these "All-in-ones" I suspect the struggle would be worse and harder with that sort of setup.

Photo
Wildetelescope
Jun 03 2021 10:57 AM

https://www.celestro...versary-edition

 

Add a hyperstar and you have about the same price with a better scope and more resolution.  Add 500 bucks for a better chip and sharpcap on a laptop and you have a FAR more capable system that should be pretty close to a similar level of setup and learning curve.

 

Fine for those looking for a light wt solution, but better solutions ARE there already. 

 

My 2 cents.

 

JMD

Um i would not buy one!?its aimed at a very narrow audience perhaps for those who don’t want to do the ground work and prefer shoot and snap kind of scenario,maybe for a $1000 but for half the price you get an larger aperture scope with even an DLSR camera would outperform the evescope.

We are not the primary audience, but I would argue that the ultimate market for this type of telescope is likely much more mainstream than we are, the market is likely much larger than the one for the current gear we use.  

https://www.celestro...versary-edition

 

Add a hyperstar and you have about the same price with a better scope and more resolution.  Add 500 bucks for a better chip and sharpcap on a laptop and you have a FAR more capable system that should be pretty close to a similar level of setup and learning curve.

 

Fine for those looking for a light wt solution, but better solutions ARE there already. 

 

My 2 cents.

 

JMD

I think you miss the point.  at <20lbs you can just take it outside, plop it down, hit "align" and then in a few minutes you can see DSO's even in an urban environment.

I have a C6-R on a VX mount, and setting it up to observe is much more of a event than the 8lb 90mm Mak I can just take out and do some observation spontaneously.

But your setup, is this:

Telescope, Mount and Go-To:  $2500
Fastar/Hyperstar:  $1300 (from Starizona)
DSLR (full frame, Canon EOS 6Dmk1, used, modified): $1000 (could be $2500 for a suitable sensor for the fastar so I went cheaper)
Laptop: $1000 (can't be honest and not have a laptop in the price, otherwise it's apples and oranges)
Other:  Cables, etc.  $200

Total:  $6000.  I'd HOPE it would be better than a $3000 system.

Note:  You picks an alt-az mount, so you would need a wedge or go to a more conventional EQ mount for regular DSO work which would be more expensive still if you wanted a "do better" you should accurately track.

I didn't put a monetary value on your time and effort, since it is a hobby, but if you had someone else turn this into a integrated system where all you needed to do was set it up, and start taking picture, it likely would push this well above $9k.

 

    • Jon_Doh likes this
Photo
Wildetelescope
Jun 03 2021 01:48 PM

Hyperstar is 500 bucks at OPT.  https://optcorp.com/...-hyperstar-6-v4

ZWO 183 color       550 bucks

Add 100 dollars for an adapter for the 183

Cables come with.

Capture software is simple and downloads from their website

 

3600 bucks for camera and scope and starsense. 

 

Laptop-Fair point if you do not have one.  Most folks do. 

1000 dollars is a fair estimate, although folks are using less expensive options for EAA which is what the EVscope and its competitor are doing.  However I would argue that eventually many folks will want to process pictures beyond what an iphone could do, so one could say that an EVscope could have an additional cost for a computer as well

 

So 4500 bucks for my proposed set up, BUT it can be used for widefield AND planetary work, more light gathering and better optics.

 

Weight is of course an issue too.  You could easily substitute a much lighter 4.5 inch or 6 inch Newt, which would reduce wt.  You would give up FOV but you would save considerably with respect to cost.

 

At the end of the day, the EVscope and its competitor are definitely providing a simple package to snap quick pictures in a compact light weight package. Nothing wrong with that, and if that is your goal, then go for it.  The review was well written and I believe even handed. 

 

BUT if you are someone starting out, who is looking to see if they like the hobby with this as a possible entry to bigger things, then there is really no room to grow, and 3-4K is a lot to spend on something that locks you in.  For a little more money, you will get a lot more performance and not much more in terms of learning curve.

 

Just my take and reasonable folks can disagree. 

 

Cheers!

JMD

Photo
bmwscopeguy
Jun 03 2021 03:12 PM

I've owned an eVscope for going on year two now and have loved it. I've also become accustomed to the viewpoints on this scope at events, on the net, or elsewhere, so I wanted to add a little more context to this in a comment here. Feel free to pm me if you have questions.

 

I run a few different Vixen APO rigs I've built up over time from the ground up and appreciate the complexity of robust astrophotography - but the eVscope is not just for astrophotography, and shines more in the in between EAA, outreach, citizen science and fun sky-exploring photography. I've seen really neat integrations from the community of users for spectrum analysis, variable star observing, asteroid occultations, quasars, and even with hours/days spent on astrophotography projects.   

 

Consider that for most of those not on these forums, and for myself often: Life happens, and after a 10 hour day, setting up a rig even for me doesn't always appeal - so I use a visual scope and eVscope - or I'll use eVscope as my astrorig spends 5 hours on one target. I live in an apartment, as a millenial, so if a house is hard to get I'm certainly not getting a home observatory any time soon. But, at least I can look at stars in the city, Bortle 7, as well as when I'm out observing at a Bortle 5 site. The scope is versatile, and the fact that it can be networked with no wires, helps tremendously. 

 

Areas the reviewer didn't touch on in depth was ability to contribute to citizen science outreach when events are happening in your time zone, and upload your observations to real research. Also, in the time I've owned this scope, I've seen dedicated system updates and backing by SETI Institute gives me some confidence on the direction. The recent upgrade has been well received, and I'd have to say the style of doing 4 second stacks of exposures for 20 minutes, then stacking those and processing further has been interesting. Attaching filters and more has made the experience more interesting as well.

 

It's easy to plop outside, enjoy. I've not seen as many night objects before this (and could confirm what I was looking at with certainty) I compare it to my Slooh Internet Telescope membership - except this is more of seeing the sky in person at the site you're at, in your backyard, and it's a shareable experience.

 

It's still expensive - you're paying for continued development as well. But that said, I see people spending 3K for an OTA all the time on these forums, or just one camera, just to get slightly more quality than another expensive piece of equipment. So I'd ask the community here remains open minded, since when you compare what this purchase gets you, and how much you're able to use this scope in various ways without taking up more of the users own personal time worrying about equipment, it starts to make sense and is a welcome addition to the astro community.

 

I think there's a jaded tendency to think people are just blowing money on this scope to Instagram star pictures, which is not at all the type of user I see using this scope, so I think Unistellar did an excellent job of researching what would be an active user base, and going for it while bringing in science in a way other scopes like this are not doing yet. I hope I have helped convey the type of enjoyment you can get from this scope, and it's only my first brand new scope purchase - I've only always bought used and inherited problems to fix, so it's been fun. Finally, I'd caution that I think it's fairly narrow minded to take a counter point to this scope that "doing the ground work" is required for this kind of observing, and better OTAs can be purchased for the money.. etc. if you come across one at star parties. Ask the user to go to objects and see how it works and resolves DSOs. I find it's an enjoyable way to discover the stars together. 

 

get.jpg?insecure

My impetus for going towards EEA was that I could no longer justify buying more and different scopes in the hope that things would look better. And you know what, they never did.

 

So my hobby had devolved into buying and trying different scopes in the hopes that 'this one would show me more'. We all fool ourselves, you can't beat the law of physics. A perfect 4" optic will only show you so much visually. 

 

But put a light gathering gizmo in place of an eyepiece, and introduce a program that can accumulate and stack/process these photons so none go to waste, and now you have a mini-Hubbell in your own back yard.

 

I don't care if the hard core AP guys view this as an encroachment on sacred territory. Or that AP is something like a Jedi Knight having to build their own light sabre to prove themselves worthy. 

 

First it used to be film. Then if was CCD or CMOS.

First it was a manual mount with RA drive - then it was GOTO.

First it was AP to film, then to CCD/CMOS with post-processing,

now it is EEA with things happening in real time. It will catch up to AP pretty soon. 

 

That's the way our hobby is progressing. 

 

I'm 68. I don't carry, bend, stay awake or tolerate the elements like I used to - so something that helps alleviate these things while providing a new 'view' of the things I have been looking at for the last 40 years has my endorsement.

 

I will agree that the EVscope, and its competitor, the Stellina are charging a premium for their scopes, no doubt to take advantage of a demographic market (of which I am a member) but also to start paying off their startup costs.

 

I also think that the big guys are holding off doing their own thing to see how the small guys progress. I'll bet they're monitoring all these blogs to gauge demand.

 

The thing that makes the current EEA all-in-one scopes intriguing is just that - all in one. No components, no cables no software compatibility issues, very little learning curve and pretty impressive results for someone that has never ventured down the photographic path before.

 

So far, I am happy with my EVscope. Enough that I am taking an interest in AP (I don't make a distinction, anything other than visual is AP in my book).

 

I suspect that before I want to make the leap into full blown AP, that EEA will have advanced to the point that there is no difference.

 

Just my take.

    • Jon_Doh and mboothe like this

An LX65 mount, an IMX224 camera, a 4" f/5 refractor or 5" f/5 reflector and a laptop (something everybody owns nowadays) make a far better and cheapr system than can be upgraded too. This is the "department store telescope" of EAA/videoastronomy. I'd say STAY AWAY even if money is no object.



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics