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A review of the Unistellar EVscope


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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

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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, chazcheese and 34 others like this


374 Comments

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Neanderthal
Jun 13 2022 11:00 PM

Here's a pretty good review. I didn't realize this thing has an eyepiece (sort of) that you can see the image. Shame it doesn't have the capability to use a loose one.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=_ZJ7JjaZCIE

Here's a pretty good review. I didn't realize this thing has an eyepiece (sort of) that you can see the image. Shame it doesn't have the capability to use a loose one.

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=_ZJ7JjaZCIE

Actually, the "eyepiece" simply points you to a mini LED screen inside the scope which makes it "feel" more like a traditional scope,  but you are not actually looking at the direct light from the sky but rather are looking at an electronic image. 

 

Stellina doesn't have an eyepiece at all..or should I say that your IOS or Android device serves as a remote, electronic "eyepiece" without having to look down the geometry of the scope to see the small screen inside. 

 

But the difference is that the EV lets you look in "real time" whereas Stellina (in its current configuration) needs to take a 10 second exposure (or longer if you so choose) before you can see what it's pointing at. Of course, the integrated exposure reveals a lot more than what's available with real-time viewing. 

 

There's always tradeoffs. 

Interesting, your saying the electronic eyepiece does not show stacked images? I always assumed it was not a live view, however I could still see the advantage if you were able to up or lower gain of the internal screen, for the super rich I suppose they could even integrate a night vision module

Actually, the "eyepiece" simply points you to a mini LED screen inside the scope which makes it "feel" more like a traditional scope,  but you are not actually looking at the direct light from the sky but rather are looking at an electronic image. 

 

Stellina doesn't have an eyepiece at all..or should I say that your IOS or Android device serves as a remote, electronic "eyepiece" without having to look down the geometry of the scope to see the small screen inside. 

 

But the difference is that the EV lets you look in "real time" whereas Stellina (in its current configuration) needs to take a 10 second exposure (or longer if you so choose) before you can see what it's pointing at. Of course, the integrated exposure reveals a lot more than what's available with real-time viewing. 

 

There's always tradeoffs. 

Interesting, your saying the electronic eyepiece does not show stacked images? I always assumed it was not a live view, however I could still see the advantage if you were able to up or lower gain of the internal screen, for the super rich I suppose they could even integrate a night vision module

I can't speak for the EV, but Stellina creates a new JPEG with each new FITS sub. So the first shot you see is the initial sub, but each shot you see thereafter is the culmination of the entire stack up to that point (minus rejected subs based on an internal algorithm). You can also elect to create a new TIFF from the subs accumulated so far. I generally intermittently save a TIFF just in case something does awry during the observation, and then I save one final TIFF just before ending that session. You can also load all the FITS, JPEGs and TIFFs onto a USB stick and process them to your heart's desire later. 

 

I assume EV has similar capabilities, but I'll let the EV user step in to answer that. 

Thanks, yeah I am familiar with vaonis but just didn’t know the particulars of the evoscope eyepiece, I had assumed it showed the stacked image just like the one you would see on your iPad or phone

I can't speak for the EV, but Stellina creates a new JPEG with each new FITS sub. So the first shot you see is the initial sub, but each shot you see thereafter is the culmination of the entire stack up to that point (minus rejected subs based on an internal algorithm). You can also elect to create a new TIFF from the subs accumulated so far. I generally intermittently save a TIFF just in case something does awry during the observation, and then I save one final TIFF just before ending that session. You can also load all the FITS, JPEGs and TIFFs onto a USB stick and process them to your heart's desire later. 

 

I assume EV has similar capabilities, but I'll let the EV user step in to answer that. 

Cost of the EV2 as shown on their web site is now $5,199, including backpack, which is all that is available. I am a professional astronomy tour guide and am not sure I could justify that price.

I used to use a Mallincam on my C8 but got burned out on the setup time and wires running everywhere.

I'd buy this at around $2500. Can't justify this at 2x that price. I like my C8, refractors and giant binos.
    • Dave Mitsky likes this

lol.gif lol.gif lol.gif

How much of that price hike do you think is Nikon?

And $300 for the backpack?!

 

By the way, does anyone not believe astronomy is about to explode so much further than it did during Covid now that Webb is online? Hopefully, there will be a lot more focus on robotic EAA, resulting in very rapidly evolving prosumer technology, for many years to come! Hopefully, there'll be enough equipment produced so that we can actaully indulge without needing to take out a mortgage to pay for it.

By the way, does anyone not believe astronomy is about to explode so much further than it did during Covid now that Webb is online? 

Hmm.  Now that lockdowns are over (mainly) and travel is opened back up, I've actually been wondering the exact opposite.  There seems to be many recent ads in CN and AM selling complete setups with words to the effect of "...just not using it as much as I thought I would."

 

I certainly had hoped that prices for the EVscope and Stellina, etc., would have started to come down by now.  

I certainly had hoped that prices for the EVscope and Stellina, etc., would have started to come down by now.  

I'm thinking the reason prices haven't come down is that they're still selling like hotcakes (Stellina still has a 4 wk shipping delay). I'm pretty sure Uni-Nikon wouldn't jack their price up to $5k+ (including $300 for a darn backpack!) if sales were dropping. 

 

In virtually all sales cycles, there is always a few percent who are overzealous and realize they're over their head. But these scopes are still flying out the door, and the vast majority of buyers are obviously holding onto them. 

 

There hasn't been a Stellina posted for sale in CN Classified for months. 

I'm pretty sure Uni-Nikon wouldn't jack their price up to $5k+ (including $300 for a darn backpack!) if sales were dropping. 

 

 

Prices usually fall on new items like this when sales increase, because the production price per unit falls.  If sales were dropping, we'd see special offers advertised.

I speculate Stellina may get a price drop but a new model will replace it as their flagship…. Just speculation on my part, 1500, Vespera 3000, stellina and 4500 for the ces 2023 announcement….. it is possible that inflation becomes too bad for them not to have a price increase, going to get worse before it gets better

    • eyeoftexas likes this
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Dave Mitsky
Jul 21 2022 01:50 AM

A fellow ASH member has a Unistellar EVscope and I've been rather impressed in what it can do.  I could afford one but the current price is just too rich for my blood.

 

https://www.highpoin...57e09990ed6a68b

    • ziggeman likes this

It’s too much for a lot of people, especially since robotics for most members of cloudy nights are 2nd or 3rd scopes in their collection. Are they worth the cost? I think Vespera is worth 1500, but deciding whether stellina or evoscope are worth the cost is mute if you don’t have the cash. Still interested to see what China does, mass production will be the key to bringing down cost. 

A fellow ASH member has a Unistellar EVscope and I've been rather impressed in what it can do.  I could afford one but the current price is just too rich for my blood.

 

https://www.highpoin...57e09990ed6a68b

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Jeff Struve
Jul 21 2022 08:57 AM
I bought a Stellina in January and bit the bullet by having to pay for shipping to send it back.

I was underwhelmed... I guess I am not adverse to tweaking and learning, and value versatility more than convenience.

They are not for everyone but couldn’t live without mine at this point. In process of putting together a manual mount for visual use for my refractor, freeing it from the confines of my goto mount I used to do eaa with. Kind of a back to basics thing now that I don’t have to spend so much time doing the technical stuff. I only set up my computer outside now to do planetary and lunar through my mak. This hobby is different for everyone, Robotics will be a godsend for some but others really do enjoy the technical aspects of making their equipment work and spending hours doing post, personally I don’t miss it, I still do some post processing but minutes versus hours

I bought a Stellina in January and bit the bullet by having to pay for shipping to send it back.

I was underwhelmed... I guess I am not adverse to tweaking and learning, and value versatility more than convenience.

    • ziggeman likes this

It’s too much for a lot of people, especially since robotics for most members of cloudy nights are 2nd or 3rd scopes in their collection. Are they worth the cost? I think Vespera is worth 1500, but deciding whether stellina or evoscope are worth the cost is mute if you don’t have the cash. Still interested to see what China does, mass production will be the key to bringing down cost. 

One small outfit in China started a kickstarter effort for a robotic scope (the HiUni) back in 2018 but went under and gave it up.  You can see the frustrated investors at the following link:

 

https://www.kickstar...escope/comments

 

Of course China is a big place and another established outfit could take something like this on and make an actual product.  We will see.

 

At the moment, there are just the two French companies that have a complete robotic offering.

Well I kinda figure Celestron and Skywatcher would have already reverse engineered it by now, China does not seem to have issues cloning just about anything….. i did read about that kickstarter scope a while back, felt bad for the people who lost, I would be hesitant to invest in anything without a track record, there was really no reason to be concerned about Vespera since Stellina was already proven tech

One small outfit in China started a kickstarter effort for a robotic scope (the HiUni) back in 2018 but went under and gave it up.  You can see the frustrated investors at the following link:

 

https://www.kickstar...escope/comments

 

Of course China is a big place and another established outfit could take something like this on and make an actual product.  We will see.

 

At the moment, there are just the two French companies that have a complete robotic offering.

    • jprideaux likes this

Well I kinda figure Celestron and Skywatcher would have already reverse engineered it by now, China does not seem to have issues cloning just about anything….. i did read about that kickstarter scope a while back, felt bad for the people who lost, I would be hesitant to invest in anything without a track record, there was really no reason to be concerned about Vespera since Stellina was already proven tech

I think it's fascinating that anyone in the "western" world would take the chance to invest in a Chinese technology kickstarter in the past few years. 

People do risky things, I lost money in Russia due to sanctions but I knew it could go either way, Kickstarter makes it very clear that your investing in a idea that may never happen. I think in this case people are questioning whether the company was scamming from the beginning. I never saw a disclosure of what happened, they seemed to have just closed up shop without a word to anyone

I think it's fascinating that anyone in the "western" world would take the chance to invest in a Chinese technology kickstarter in the past few years. 

People do risky things, I lost money in Russia due to sanctions but I knew it could go either way, Kickstarter makes it very clear that your investing in a idea that may never happen. I think in this case people are questioning whether the company was scamming from the beginning. I never saw a disclosure of what happened, they seemed to have just closed up shop without a word to anyone

Well, it depends on how you define "risk". In this case, it's like throwing a basketball with your other hand while wearing a blindfold and betting it'll be a swish from 50' out. At some point, the chance of winning under such risky conditions is merely theoretical with no real practical basis. I mean, after all, it's not like an investor is going to go through the epic journey of trying to sue someone in China for a couple thousand USD. It's such an easy peasy lemon squeezy scam. 

 

It actually makes me wonder what politicians such gullible people vote for. 

I agree on this particular one, but over all I believe in kickstarter, scams happen but it’s a nice crowd sourcing platform for inventors ,

Well, it depends on how you define "risk". In this case, it's like throwing a basketball with your other hand while wearing a blindfold and betting it'll be a swish from 50' out. At some point, the chance of winning under such risky conditions is merely theoretical with no real practical basis. I mean, after all, it's not like an investor is going to go through the epic journey of trying to sue someone in China for a couple thousand USD. It's such an easy peasy lemon squeezy scam. 

 

It actually makes me wonder what politicians such gullible people vote for. 

I agree on this particular one, but over all I believe in kickstarter, scams happen but it’s a nice crowd sourcing platform for inventors ,

I kind-of look at it like an inventor has 4 choices for starting a company.

  1. If you are wealthy, you can use the money you already have.
  2. You can borrow the money from a bank.  Of course you may have a hard time finding a lender and may not want to pay the interest.
  3. You can get investors.  You may have a hard time finding them or you may not want to give them a part (or most) of the company as the terms of investment.
  4. Or you can use crowd funding like kickstarter.

I view kickstarter as a legitimate option.  It may well be the case that Unistellar would not have done the original evScope without kickstsarter and Vaonis would not have done the Vepera without kickstarter so the kickstarter option may have allowed these two products to come into existence when they would not otherwise have happened.  As such, an investor in a kickstarter project (as risky as it is) is a way for someone to increase the probability that a certain potential product can come into existence.   So people like me helped the Vespera come into existence because we gave them a bunch of money 2 years ago.

 

Although I invested in the Vespera kickstarter product,  I had reservations about the Hiuni product.  When the Hiuni was first on kickstarter, I thought they were not asking enough.  It looked to me that they were trying to under-cut the competition (mainly Unistellar at the time) and I was wondering even back then if they could possibly bring it to market with such meager crowd-funding.  They did have lots of updates and even had some testing at one point of their mobile app.  But they were chronically very bad at communicating up until the point that they just stopped communicating all-together.  Whether or not it was a scam from the beginning, I don't know.  I think it more likely that they just got into more than they could handle and ran out of money and all the people on the team simply walked away and found new jobs. There is a big difference between getting a single prototype to work and working out the manufacturing details, mass-producing something, and running a company in the black.

 

I don't think anyone at Unistellar or Vaonis is getting rich.  They are probably just barely meeting payroll since the margins are so low.  That is also probably why the big telescope manufacturers have not jumped on a similar product - they also think the margins are too low.  That or they don't want to get into all the software development for these kinds of scopes.  A lot of this is "wait and see" what the demand is within the small segment of the public interested in telescopes.

    • GSBass likes this

thanks, jprideaux. And the way I look at it is that I'm an American, and China is America's biggest economic and technological competitor, so the last thing I want to do is take a significant personal risk that could strengthen China's economy or technological accomplishments. ;)

    • eyeoftexas likes this

Agree with the sentiment but everything I buy is supporting other countries, Vespera may be the first astronomical product I bought that didn’t support the Chinese, In that case I supported France instead, I buy American when I can, I just purchased a manual mount from Stellarvue made in the USA, Oberwerk is making their TR3 tripod here now too



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