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Teleport 7" Telescoping Telescope Dobsonian as Carry-on Luggage



01-Aug-2001. The Teleport 7" F/5.6 is the baby in Tom Noe's Teleport line of telescoping telescopes. Tom's goal was to create a line of Dobsonians that were easily transportable, storing all parts within the telescope and requiring no setup assembly. He has succeeded. The design closes by collapsing into itself, and pops open for viewing like a jack-in-the-box, ready for use in about two minutes. (It doesn't actually fly open like jack-in-the-box; you have to manually extend it.) This is true for all models, even the 14.5", but the 7" is the cutest of the bunch. The Teleport 7" is $2500.

The photo above shows the telescope extended and ready to view. The shroud's internal baffling is visible as dividing lines on the black spandex tube. The closed position is shown on the right.

Carryon Luggage

All models use stainless steel Bogen Manfrotto monopod legs as truss tubes. The monopod design allows the Teleport secondary and truss tube structure to close into the primary mirror box for transport. The 7" model collapses to a small 10" x 11" x 22" for airline carry-on. Stowed in its optional luggage case, pictured below, it measures about 12" x 12" x 24" with room inside the shoulder-strapped bag for the optional aperture mask and solar filter, and tri-stand. The carry-on is about as large as an overhead storage compartment. Tom reports that the finished size is too large for some airline's new carry-on requirements, as they changed their parameters after he designed the telescope. Clearly it will not qualify for carry-on on small commuter lines, but it should work easily with the larger jets. The Teleport 7" weighs 20lbs. While you won't look forward to changing planes at Atlanta International with this in tow, you'll be much happier knowing that it isn't in the cargo hold. If you are limited to carrying one piece of luggage on board, then this is it.

Batteries Included

All Teleports have high quality Zambuto primary mirrors, with ProtoStar secondaries. The small 1.3" secondary mirror includes a heater for frost-free viewing on cold nights. The primary is equipped with a fan for fast cool downs. Both units share a built-in power cell. An included Kendrick eyepiece heater plugs in to the power cell to keep eyepieces frost and dew free. The Teleport comes with batteries included, but if you decide to order one ask Tom to ship your batteries separately. My Teleport arrived with the ominous sound of loose rocks inside the box. The six C cells had come loose and were rolling around inside the primary mirror cell. Tom had the foresight to mount a hard plastic shell over the Zambuto mirror for shipment. Everything arrived in perfect order, but I recommend removing the batteries before transporting the telescope over long distances. Tom recommends installing the hard plastic shield over the primary before shipping the telescope as cargo.

Digital setting circles are optional. Mine came equipped with the optional encoders. The Sky Commander DSC is included if you order a Teleport with encoders and a DSC computer. The Sky Commander mounted on the Teleport provides dead-on computer guided directions to deep sky objects with easy two star alignments.

Helical Focusers, Eyepieces, and Binoviewers

The Teleport 7" uses a Teleport 1.25" helical focuser. The compact design was not suitable for higher profile Crayford or 2" focusers. While a helical focuser may not completely rule out binoviewers, I don't think that they are suitable for the telescope's compact design for balance reasons. The telescope is so light you can pick it up with one hand and move it to another location with ease. It is finely balanced and it works very well with light 1.25" eyepieces. A binoviewer would add a lot of weight--and luggage--to this flyweight champ, causing balance problems.

Tom Noe recommends the 22mm Panoptic as the wide field eyepiece of choice, but I have to differ with him on this. The Panoptic is too heavy. I use a 30mm Celestron Ultima as my wide field eyepiece, providing crisp 1.5 degree fields at 30 power without coma. This is a slightly wider field than the Panoptic, but with less magnification. However, the Ultima is a good citizen. It balances well with my other 1.25" eyepieces. The Panoptic would require added friction on the altitude movement, or the juggling of balance weights. It is significantly heavier than most 1.25" eyepieces.

Mount and Balance

The balancing system on the 7" is the same as the 10" and 14.5" Teleports. There are threaded mounting holes located on the base of the primary mirror cell and on the secondary assembly. Four-ounce weights screw into the holes where needed, providing a perfectly balanced mount. Moving them to accommodate a variety of eyepieces is easy enough, but not moving them at all is easier still with a thoughtfully matched eyepiece collection.

The mount itself moves like skates on ice, with just the right amount of sticktion. The telescope uses Teflon on Ebony Star to achieve this movement. Nylon friction screws are provided in the altitude bearing to increase resistance if adding or removing a weight would be too much.

The telescope has an optional "tri-stand" that attaches to the bottom, elevating the Lilliputian by 8.5". This raises the telescope for use in tall grass, and it is supposed to make it easier to view through the eyepiece without stooping, but I found this wasn't the case. I was stooping with and without it and I'm not that tall. However, I found the telescope to be well designed for comfortable seated viewing, without the tri-stand. Its light weight and low stature makes it perfectly suited for chairs and children. Kids love this telescope, for both viewing and moving about the sky. It is easy for their little hands to grasp and the eyepiece is just the right height. No more climbing scary ladders for the little ones.

Baffling Black Spandex

All Teleports are baffled. A black spandex shroud is permanently attached from the primary mirror box to the secondary assembly, under the truss tubes. Extending the tubes automatically extends the shroud. Several solid baffles are cleverly mounted inside the shroud. The secondary assembly is baffled with black flocking paper, and the primary mirror cell uses a baffled design. This system works well, but the 7" is susceptible to stray light entering the top of the secondary structure. It causes some graying-out of the image. An extension light shield is available from Teleport for a nominal fee, or you can make your own. It fits in the transport bag and I recommend it as an option. The 14.5" Teleport does not have this problem, but the compact design requirements of the 7" did not allow for a tall, well-shielded, secondary assembly. This is only a problem where bright lights are visible from the viewing site.

The Teleport comes with a Rigel Systems finder as standard equipment. The 1-power finder has its own storage compartment in the base. It clips in and out for use. It is visible in the photo above, stored just to the left of the eyepiece drawer. The eyepiece storage compartment has room for three or four 1.25" eyepieces. This Dobsonian was designed to contain everything you need in a serious telescope, in one lightweight unit.

Viewing with the Teleport

The views through the Teleport are crisp, clear, and high contrast. Focusing is easy and precise with the helical, but the little telescope does wobble slightly when focusing at high power with the tri-stand attached. I tested high power-250x using a Tele Vue Radian 4mm-on the tri-stand and I suspect that the telescope is much more stable without it. The tri-stand changes the center of gravity. Tracking by hand at 250x is smooth and accurate.

The 7" resolved stars in the summer globulars from the outer halo to the core showing magnificent outside streamers: M13, M92, M5, M22. It does this in the light pollution of Los Angeles, and under the pristine skies of a nearby 8200' mountain. Whoever said that Dobsonians are no good in urban light polluted environments has never viewed through a modern baffled version. The streamers in M13 and M92 were a surprise. They are plainly visible in the 14.5" Teleport, but I didn't expect to see them through the 7" aperture. Using a 19mm Panoptic for 50x, the Trifid, Swan, and Lagoon nebulae show wide areas of gas and subtle nebulosity. The Dumbbell, M27, is a great, big bowtie-shaped smudge in the sky. While wandering through Sagittarius I came across a small, round planetary nebula which was distinctly blue/green in color. I was not able to determine the NGC number. The planetary took magnification well, as did the Teleport. Through the Ultima 30mm eyepiece the Andromeda galaxy, M31, and its companions M110 and M32, were bright and barely contained in the 1.5 degree field of view. APO refractors turn in performances similar to this Newtonian, but they cannot come close to the weight, size, or ease of transport inherent in the design. This is a very special telescope.

Conclusion

Tom Noe set out to build a Dobsonian that qualified as carry-on luggage. He wanted it to be self-contained, with built-in storage for eyepieces, a finder, electrical power, dew heaters, DSC encoders, a cooling fan, and an integrated shroud with baffling. These are heavy-duty features in any design, but especially challenging in such a little package. What he produced is a serious telescope in a small space: This Teleport is full-featured, with superb optics and large light grasp that also happens to fit into an overhead compartment. The Teleport 7" is worth looking into, even if it only travels to your backyard.



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