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My experience purchasing an Orion Dobsonian

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#1 The Meal

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 10:07 AM

This is a bit different from my other post in that I want to focus on the entire experience as opposed to troubleshooting that specific incident. Before I made my purchase, I had done an extensive web search for other folks' experiences with Orion Dobs and didn't turn up anything like this.

Depending on my free time (i.e., how long the current cloudy skies last -- it is an 8" Dob and it arrived on Wednesday, so the rule of thumb says the clearing pattern should happen next Thursday, right?), I may convert this information into a proper webpage.

ORDERING
Alas, but I don't have any comments to offer up here, as the telescope was a gift to me from my wonderful wife. She's not much into Astronomy, so she recruited some folks (from another forum I frequent) to help make some of the purchasing decisions. She ended up throwing them off by telling Orion to put the order on hold for a few weeks (scheduling it to arrive during the waxing gibbous phase of the moon?), which the Orion folks complied with admirably. She placed the order on 5 Aug to have it arrive on 25 Aug (our anniversary is on 6 Sep), and she let me know it was coming on 22 Aug (too tangential of a story for even me, the king of tangential stories, to convey here) including the FedEx ground tracking numbers. True to their word, Orion had things scheduled exactly right for delivery on Wednesday, August 25th.

ARRIVAL/UNPACKAGING
I've got the FedEx guys trained (I think I filled out a form waiving signature requirements) to leave packages on the front porch (we live at the end of a cul-de-sac and the porch is screened from views from the street), and when I snuck out of work early on Wednesday I was happy to find three packages sitting on the porch when I got home. The three packages were a 2" UltraBlock Light Pollution Reducing (LPR) narrowband filter (in a padded envelope), the Dobsonian mounting parts (in a flat rectangular box), and the optical tube assembly (OTA) proper (in an elongated rectangular box, alas standing on its end despite clear markings showing that the box was to be kept horizontal {long axis perpendicular to the ground as opposed to vertical}).

I dragged the three packages (923 Kb) inside. I had been reading the online PDF instructions available on Orion's site before the telescope arrived, and I knew that putting together the Dobsonian base was going to be the primary challenge, so that was the first box I ripped into. I was surprised to find that the packaging of this box (basically a bunch of plywood parts and associated fasteners/hardware) was so extensive. The parts proper were stored in a plastic bag, and that bag was encapsulated in sticky styrofoam (as seen in this photo (859 Kb). It was messy to dig into, but the mess was all self-contained (i.e., no vaccuuming needed afterwards -- the styrofoam all stuck to the box lids). The contents of this box are visible here (834 Kb): five pieces of painted plywood, a bag of hardware, and an addendum to the manual. My first impression of the supplied parts was disappointment as there were many chips (see (560 Kb) the central hole to the top baseplate for an example of the chips) on edges of the parts, and some sections were scuffed (which don't show up in the photos too well, but you may see some examples of this as we go on). I had wondered if I had been sent a used base.

Lacking the paper manual that I was looking for (despite being a senior mechanical development engineer by profession, I'm one of those guys unashamed to admit that I follow the manual when putting things together), I turned my attention to the OTA box. The OTA was packaged (657 Kb) in a second cardboard box nested within the first one (none of the boxes received showed any outward sign of abuse by the FedEx delivery folks), and had styrofoam end-caps (635 Kb) holding it in the center of the box. You can also see that there was some bubble wrap in this box, keeping the other "accessories" (encoder boards, The Sky software disk, product manual (681 Kb, photo also includes the filter I received, but that was ordered/purchased separately), supplied eye pieces, finder scope, collimation cap, other hardware (729 Kb), etc.) safe. Section 1 of the manual is titled "Unpacking," so if you're worried about this aspect of things (and if this is your first scope, then you didn't exactly pay chump-change for it, so don't feel too badly for wanting to do everything exactly "by the book"), open the OTA box first.

The OTA itself (717 Kb) was stored inside a large plastic bag (748 Kb) (a la a thin garbage bag) and wrapped in paint-protecting tissue (not shown). As it turned out this method is not 100% foolproof in keeping objects exterior to your OTA, as my scope shipped with a small particle of styrofoam sitting on the primary mirror (!?!), much to my chagrin. Some of the hardware and the two encoder boards can be seen here (888 Kb).

ASSEMBLY
Some general commentary about the assembly. First off, it's pretty simple. If you've ever put together plywood/particle board furniture in your life, then you've got the required skills. You do need to get a few items together before you begin -- a phillips-head screwdriver (be sure to get one with a relatively narrow head, you'll have to use it up-tight against some other components {look at the altitude encoder board with the screw holes between the two jacks -- you'll have to fit a screwdriver head in there}), and an adjustable wrench. I recommend grabbing a socket set with both a 7/16" socket and a 1/2" socket instead of the additional wrench. Orion provides the needed allen wrench and a regular open-box wrench of appropriate size (you'll still need the additional wrench at one point).

The manual suggested it'd take about 30 minutes to complete the assembly. I began unpacking boxes at 3:15pm, and with one good foo-bar (below), and me being saddled by a horrible case of allergies, my methodical following of the instructions saw the OTA get put into place around 4:45pm.

For whatever reason, I decided to take a picture at the end of each of the baker's dozen steps listed in the manual. I'll reference the manual text here and then include my observations and photo. All quotes are from Orion's manual (linked above).

[quote]1. With a Phillips screwdriver, screw the plastic feet into the underside of the ground baseplate (A) using the self-tapping wood screws provided. Insert the screws through the feet and thread them into the predrilled starter holes.[/quote] Pretty simple process; we're off to a good start (822 Kb) Go ahead and tighten them as much as you'd like (but don't strip them out).

[quote]2. Loosely attach the front brace (B) to the two side panels © with six of the base assembly screws in the predrilled holes. Use the 4mm hex wrench to tighten the screws. The side panels should be oriented so the SkyQuest IntelliScope labels are facing outward. Do not completely tighten the screws yet.[/quote] Whenever there are two ways to do something and I guess at which way something should be done, invariably I guess wrong. I tried to tell from the photos which way to have the front brace (B) face as there is a threaded hole that only faces one side of the piece. DON'T DO WHAT I DID (in the photos). This hole needs to face the *inside* of the "courtyard" that you're building, as it's where the vertical stop for the OTA will be attached. In the next few photos, you'll see that I put this in backwards. My mistake is your gain. You can see the hole (facing outwards) in this photo (831 Kb), located between the two handle thru-holes. You don't need to leave the screws too loose in this step (in fact I recommend that you keep things fairly tight, as if the side panels flop around the next step will be difficult), but just don't crank everything as tight as you can get it (yet).

[quote]3. Connect the two side panels © with the front brace attached to the top baseplate (D) with the remaining six base assembly screws in the predrilled holes. The side of the baseplate with the pilot hole near the square-shaped cutout should be facing downwards. Tighten all six screws firmly.[/quote] I propped things upsidedown (1012 Kb Kb) against our beautiful chair so that I could do this myself (you can see the allen wrench is still in one of the screws).

[quote]4. Tighten the six side screws installed earlier.[/quote] And I didn't even hose you out of a photo (805 Kb) of this vital step (actually this is a decent shot to see some of the chipped-up finish holes with the parts as supplied).

[quote]5. Attach the azimuth encoder board (E) to the underside of the top baseplate (D) (Figure 3). Insert the modular jack on the encoder board into the square-shaped hole in the baseplate and align the encoder board so that the small slotted hole in the board lines up with the predrilled starter hole, and the large hole lines up with the central hole in the baseplate. Thread an encoder board mounting screw into the predrilled starter hole with a Phillips screwdriver and tighten until just tight.[/quote] Be sure to not crank down the board as you're going to need to feed a shaft through that hole. Photo (728 Kb)

[quote]6. Place one Teflon bearing pad (G) into each recessed hole on the ground baseplate (A). The bearing pads will be loose in the recessed hole and should remain that way. Do not attempt to permanently secure the bearing pads by any means as this will interfere with the motion of the telescope.[/quote] The addendum to my manual (found in the dob mounting box) told me to skip this step. I'm assuming that this is specific to the XT8i. It sounds like this became a PITA in future steps, so Orion did the "heavy lifting" for you up front.

[quote]7. Place one fender washer (H) onto the azimuth axis screw (I). Then push the screw up through the hole in the ground baseplate (A). Then slide the encoder disk (J), flat side down, onto the azimuth axis screw.[/quote] Done (654 Kb). Go ahead and tighten the encoder down now, too.

[quote]8. Place the brass bushing (F) onto the azimuth axis screw (I) so that the wide end of the bushing is closest to the encoder disk (J). Seat the bushing onto the encoder disk so that the registration feature on the bushing goes into the hole in the encoder disk. You may need to move the encoder disk around on the azimuth axis screw a bit in order for the bushing to seat properly.[/quote] Now this turned out to be pretty simple, but not really conducive to me taking a photo. But my dedication is unmatched. So in the photo (525 Kb) you'll see me holding the brass bushing in place (so that it doesn't fall out of alignment). You'll also see my fancy Casio Pathfinder watch (as reviewed in the September 2004 Sky & Telescope).

[quote]9. Carefully position the top baseplate (D) over the ground baseplate (A) and lower it so the brass bushing (F) goes into in the center hole of the top baseplate. Place the remaining fender washer (K) onto the shaft of the azimuth axis screw, then thread the hex lock nut (L) onto the end of the azimuth axis screw and tighten it finger tight, for now.[/quote] At this point you've probably got a pretty good idea as to how it's all going to come together (553 Kb). Listen to their advice regarding that locking nut, too.

[quote]10. To tighten the azimuth axis screw (I) and hex lock nut (L), tilt the assembled Dobsonian base at a slight angle to lift the ground baseplate off the ground. Do not turn the base on its side, as this will cause the Teflon bearing pads to fall out. Now, with one wrench (or pliers) hold the head of the azimuth axis screw still while turning the hex lock nut with the other wrench. Figure 4 shows this being done. Tighten the hex lock nut just until the top fender washer is no longer moving freely, then tighten the hex nut a 3/16-1/4 turn beyond that. This ensures proper spacing between the encoder disk and the azimuth encoder board.[/quote] I italicized the part I didn't need to worry about (because of my skipping Step 6). Additionally, this can be a bit tricky by yourself, but you should be able to get everything in place. Using a ratchet on the bottom to hold the screw-head in place (while turning the nut, manually) probably works best. Finally, be sure to follow their advice regarding how much to tighten this locking nut -- too much and your azimuth motion of the base is going to be problematic in the field. (Mine's a bit tighter than I'd like -- I need to go back and releive a bit of compression here). Photo (674 Kb) -- you can sort of see some of the scuffing I talked about in this shot.

[quote]11. Attach the handle (M) to the front brace (B) with the two handle mounting hex-head screws. Place one washer on each screw, then press the handle against the front brace (the end of the handle with the logo should be up). Then thread the screws from the inside of the base into the handle until tight using the supplied crescent wrench.[/quote] And whatever you do, be sure it doesn't look like this (640 Kb) (with that vertical stop screw-hole facing outwards).

[quote]12. Line up one of the altitude bearing cylinders with the inside of one of the four bearing cylinder holes on the side panels. Push a bearing cylinder screw through the side panel and bearing cylinder. Then thread it into the built-in hex nut on the cylinder with a Phillips head screwdriver (Figure 5). The beveled end of the cylinder should be facing away from the side panel. Repeat this for the remaining three bearing cylinders.[/quote] Perty, eh (749 Kb)? However, the instructions are calling for a Phillips-head screwdriver where you actually need the allen wrench (not a big deal, but it may confuse someone who's less mechanically-inclined and prone to search about for screws that don't exist.)

[quote]13. Attach the encoder connector board to the side panel. Place the board against the side panel so that the modular jack fits into the square-shaped hole and thread four encoder board mounting screws through the connector board and into the predrilled holes in the side panel until tight (Figure 6).[/quote] Just like this (590 Kb). Be sure to not tighten any of the four screws down too much on your first pass, as you can flex the board too much with one corner pinned down. Once you've got it into a flat position, feel free to tighten things into place, but be sure not to overtighten. Printed circuit boards can be fairly brittle.

[quote]Installing the Vertical Stop
Place the nylon spacer (white) and the three flat washers
onto the shaft of the vertical stop screw. Thread the vertical stop into the threaded hole on the inside of front panel until tight (Figure 7). The position of the vertical stop is adjustable by adding or removing washers. This is important when using the optional IntelliScope Computerized Object Locator, since the optical tube must be exactly vertical during the two-star alignment procedure.[/quote] For whatever reason, the manual quit numbering the steps at this point. As I had read the hand controller installation procedures (available on the Orion website), I had known that accurate vertical stop alignment is of vital importance. I don't own the hand-controller, so I can't comment on that process first-hand. Ironically enough, this is where I discovered the mistake I made back up in Step 2. Fortunately I was able to remove the front panel (682 Kb) relatively easily and flip it around back into place (after putting the handle on the correct side (637 Kb), of course). Being able to access the bottom screws (by rotating the trangular base (707 Kb) into proper position) made this much easier. And just like that (633 Kb) you've completed the proper assembly of your dobsonian base!

The manual talks about the eyepiece rack potentially interfering with using the handle, but I don't have a lick of trouble with that. Feel free to go ahead and tighten down that rack to your heart's content (sorry, no photos).

And again, demonstrating my ability to "guess wrong" when provided with two options, here's a picture of my OTA (921 Kb) installed "backwards." When you do it for real, be sure to have the focuser on the side opposite of the base's front plate. It takes no time at all to flip it around properly, however.

Tighten the side knobs in place, install the finder (724 Kb), and you're the proud papa (or mama) of a brand spankin' new telescope. Congratulations!

SETUP
So I dropped the EPs into my pockets and took my new baby out to the cul-de-sac to begin the alignment of the finder scope. The assembly wasn't too heavy to move the OTA and base together as a unit, but I wouldn't want anything larger than the 8" if that were my plan. I'm a spry 31-years-old in pretty good shape, and this is just about the extent of having an ultra-portable telescope. I'm sure that moving the OTA and base separately wouldn't be that much of a PITA, for those for whom aperture fever had set in a bit more firmly.

I sighted in a terrestial feature with the finder (initially selecting a tree-top, but soon finding out that something more stable is a better choice when it's a bit breezy), then took off the dustcap from the end of the OTA to give my first look through an EP. Imagine my shock and horror to see a large blob on my primary mirror! Some vigorous shaking of the OTA did nothing to move off what appeared to be a black oval roughly 1/8" by 1/4" about 7/8" from the outer diameter of the primary. Ugh! I was disappointed, because I wasn't sure what this would mean regarding having to send the OTA back to Orion, dealing with their support, and any other host of questions. As it stood, however, I wasn't about to let that affect my first-day enjoyment. I figured that whatever I was going to have to do, it was going to have to wait until the next day.

Now I own three eyepieces (EPs), two that came with the scope (1.25" 10mm Plossl and 1.25" 25mm Plossl and a 2" 42mm GSO SuperView). I dropped in the lowest-mag EP (with a 1200mm focal length on my OTA, the three EPs give 120x, 48x, and 28.6x magnification, respectively) and centered the view on the corner of a nearby apartment building. I then dropped in the 25mm EP and again centered things. Finally I put the 10mm EP in and got dialed right in on the center. A little bit of twiddling of the finderscope's adjustment screws (MUCH MUCH easier than trying to align the finder on the 60mm trash-scope in the house) I had everything set up. Start to finish, I'd imagine that putting the finder in its place took less than five minutes.

And I didn't notice 1. any degredation due to the gunk on the primary, and 2. any issue with using the 42mm EP despite the fact that the calculations indicate a 7.1mm Exit Pupil. I was concerned that such a large Exit Pupil would lead to my noticing the secondary mirror when looking through the scope, but fortunately that wasn't a problem.

I then moved the scope back inside to give collimation a whirl. In the process of doing this, I had read in the manual the following section:
[quote]Carrying the Telescope
Transporting the SkyQuest is easy to do. The tube uncouples from the base and each component can be carried separately. The base has a handle for easy carrying. With the retaining and tensioning knobs of the CorrecTension(XT) system holding the optical tube captive on the base, the entire telescope can be carried as one unit. (This is not practical for the XT10 due to its hefty weight and size.) This requires some caution, however. If the telescope is lifted improperly, the tube could swing down and hit the ground.

First, point the optical tube straight up (vertical). Remove any eyepieces from the telescope and eyepiece rack, and place them in an eyepiece case. Grasp the handle on the front of the base with one hand while supporting the telescope tube vertically with the other (Figure 17). Now, lift the telescope by the handle. Once the telescope is in the horizontal position, you can carry the entire unit with one hand while supporting the optical tube with the other hand.[/quote] Figure 17 shows the proper place for one to put the hand to support the telescope tube, but for whatever reason I had physics all backwards in my head. I had thought that I needed to put my hand on the *upper* portion of the tube (to ensure that it wasn't going to swing out when I lifted it), so I was woefully out of place when it was the lower part of the tube that swung out upon my lifting the dobsonian base with my right hand. Woefully out of place to the extent that there was a very loud clang across the neighborhood when the primary end of the OTA struck the pavement in the end of the cul-de-sac. (I hadn't remembered this section of the manual when I moved the scope out there in the first place, so I had picked it up by the dobsonian base and kept it vertical like that for the duration of the trip -- definitely not a comfortable way to haul the thing around!) Checking collimation seemed just that much more important, suddenly.

So I supported the OTA *below* the mounting knobs (works much better that way, and it much easier to lug around than keeping everything upright), and put 'er back in the living room. I put the collimation cap into the EP and put my peeper to the tiny hole, and what'd I see? I saw the textbook "You're in perfect collimation" picture staring right back at me. Roxxors!

Also during this process I attempted to snap some shots of the gunk on the primary (which unfortunatly had not been shaken off with my boneheaded maneuver). I figured that when I talked to Orion technical support, they'd want to see evidence of what I was talking about. Unfortunately, I never did manage to take a definitive photo that looked to my camera lens the same as what was going through my own cornea. Nonetheless, the shots can be seen from this page (pay specific attention to those numbered 1286,1294, 1295, 1298, and 1299).

Since it was still light out and since I had nothing else I could do, I drafted a note to Orion customer service and let them know the issue. The details of that process can be seen in this thread, but the short of the situation was that I did get a note back from Orion about 24 hours later, and they were very much preparred to make me happy. Fortunately in the meantime I managed to solve my problem by removing my primary mirror from the OTA (a procedure outlined in the manual) and blowing the "gunk" -- a piece of styrofoam from the OTA shipping end caps -- off. It was a painless adjustment to the scope and only took a screwdriver and some heart-medication (as the ticker was pounding pretty heavily while I was monkeying with the guts of the beast) to pull off. After doing it once, I'd be *much less hesitant* about removing the primary mirror assembly again in the future. As I said, full details on that procedure can be found in that other thread.

After doing my photo manipulation, uploading everything to my webspace, and drafting that email to customer support, it was now about 7pm. And a quick peek out the window had shown that the waxing gibbous moon had peeked out over the neighbor's house. So off I trucked back to the same place in the cul-de-sac, and my first light experience was that of wonder as I scanned the lunar surface. In the middle of changing back and forth with the various EPs, my wife and daughter returned home and I got to show off the new toy. Despite the fact that this was well before sunset, there were many lunar features to be seen, although the contrast features were all heavily affected by the atmospheric thermals. Even the light lobe had an indistinct contrast with the sky as everything was waving about quite a bit.

But everything worked, and I was very much excited for the sun to set. I left the scope out on the front porch (on the East side of the house and well out of the sunlight) and gave myself about two hours for my proper first-light experience...

I hope this is useful to prospective Dobsonian owners of all kinds, and those considering an Orion XT series scope in specific. As I had said, I had scoured the web for something similar when I was considering this purchase (before the wife went ahead and made the purchase herself), and I came up empty. I thought it'd be a nice gesture on my part, to the amateur astronomy community as a whole, and to Orion in specific (I'll be giving them a heads-up to this experience) regarding the process through the eyes of a telescope newbie. If there are any specific questions, comments, corrections, or anecdotes that anyone would like to share, I'd love to hear them.

#2 The Meal

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 01:59 PM

As promised, I've updated my post and thought I'd give it a playful bump. I made some minor corrections above, but the new section begins at the bolded and uppercase "SETUP." I'd love to hear any and all feedback from CN veterans and newbies alike.

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 03:55 PM

I always intend to do a blow by blow report on every new item I get my sweaty paws on. But alas I always get excited and forget! You have assembled a great piece of reference material that any new orion dob owner should read. Great job!

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 27 August 2004 - 10:34 PM

Nicely documented!:bow:

*SNIFF* Brings back memories of when my XT-8 arrived! It was so exciting from the moment I received the order confirmation to tracking it to my door.
My heart was in my throat most of the time during assembly because I am not very handy. I doubt if you could have gotten me to pull the primary out if you held a gun to my head, so I'm glad our experience was different in that respect.

#5 Todd W

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Posted 28 August 2004 - 01:01 AM

Neal,

Thanks for the time and effort that you put into this write-up. It is very helpful to see the step-by-step process. I'm planning on an XT10i or XT8i in the future and I'm sure this will come in handy.

BTW, what is your final opinion on the fit and finish of the scope? Do you still notice the scuffing and the chipped paint? Any issues with the OTA?

Todd

#6 The Meal

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Posted 28 August 2004 - 11:11 AM

Thanks for the feedback everyone. Glad to see there are folks who not only have read through what I wrote, but actually think it may be useful!

I've made a few changes to some sections (mostly cosmetic, typo-fixes, or minor-corrections such as changing "waxing" to "waning" {I always get those two confused if I don't spend a moment to think about it}; although I did mention that they called for the wrong type of screw-driver in step twelve). I want to reiterate that if anyone sees *anything* that needs changing (from spelling and confusing phrasing to a complete disagreement with an opinion I've shared) PLEASE point it out. I'm very thick-skinned and much prefer to have a flawless document here than having my feelings trampled on.

Mike, I forgot to mention that taking the photos probably slowed me down a bit. I'd imagine that for someone who's never put a telescope together before and who's doing a careful job, plan on taking around an hour for the complete assembly. It took me a bit longer than that, but I was trying to document things along the way.

Hillbilly, thanks for the kudos. Great to hear that I brought you back to your halcyon days of yore with my little tale. Also great to hear it reiterated that it's okay to be a bit nervous when you're putting a finely designed piece of instrumentation together. Fortunately I found that even the important pieces of "sensitive" optics are pretty darn rugged. When I bounced the primary off the asphalt I thought for sure that I had knocked things out of whack. Pfft! I wouldn't plan on using the OTA as a whiffle-ball bat or turning it into a dog-toy or anything, but my experience (sample of one!) is that she's definitely well constructed and very appropriate for the newbie skygazer.

Todd, I wrote this for someone in your exact position: curious about the full process involved between ordering and looking at the Ring Nebula (which was much nicer looking than I expected it to be with the supplied 10mm Plossl!). The reason I want to keep going back and documenting/fixing anything else that comes up is that I also hope this could be something useful as a pseudo-faq for someone who's nervously sitting down with everything in their living room ready to start tackling the assembly.

I'm probably not the right person to ask about the outward appearance of the scope, as typically I'm one of those people who prefers to not worry too much about the form of items and instead focus on the function. I purchased my Wrangler used ('97 TJ -- still haven't checked to see if the OTA in the Orion padded duffel-bag fits in the back seat yet) just so I wouldn't worry about that first scratch, for instance. As such, after I had put everything together, I can't say that I have noticed anything wrong with the exterior, but I almost guarantee you that I *wouldn't* notice that sort of thing. I wish I could say with confidence that there is nothing glaring, but there could be major scuffmarks on the side panels and I probably wouldn't notice them.

That said, if you're more of a function-over-form kind of person, I'd say that this likely isn't something you need to concern yourself with in the least. Scour the pix here and see if you notice anything glaring which may bother you in person.

And there are *no* issues with the OTA assembly in the least (I may have to do some minor dremeling on my Telrad to get it right where I want it installed). Happy = me!

#7 Jefferson1964

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Posted 31 August 2004 - 03:21 PM

Great write up......

#8 RobSter

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 02:42 AM

I wish i could experience opening the OTA box again. Most exciting moment of my life so far..

#9 The Meal

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 03:04 AM

That's funny. I'm sitting here waiting for Saturn to come up to mimic your experience from this morning. :D

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 12:56 PM

Neal, Great to see that you got it. Looks like its living up to what you had expected and by the way nice report on the assembly!
Michelle

#11 The Meal

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 03:20 PM

Thanks Michelle. It's been great so far. Count me among the surprised at just how much 8" shows off.

I've got to get cracking on the documentation for my Telrad/Finder modification write-up. I took some photos (although most of them came out unacceptably blurry) and need to take some more. Then its just a matter of free-time...

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 04:06 PM

Wow Neal, already making modifications. It is amazing what you can see even through a smaller telescope. Oh and Hey Happy Anniversery!!!!! Its today right? After she got you the scope hope you got her something good too!!! Take care and enjoy the new scope.
-Michelle

#13 The Meal

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 04:47 PM

Anniversary is on the 6th, and no, I don't have a thing for her yet. We're moving into the new place on the 15th-ish, so I've got a bit of a reprieve until then.

I'm about the least mechanically inclined mechanical engineer you're likely to meet, but despite that, the incentive is high enough for me to go ahead and start tweaking things for the telescope. They're not *pretty* modifications, but they're darn functional. :idea:

#14 desertstars

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 05:33 PM

I wish i could experience opening the OTA box again. Most exciting moment of my life so far..


I wonder if this explains why so many people keep ordering more and more stuff? :D

#15 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 01 September 2004 - 09:47 PM

LOL, Neal I am positively sure I know a mechanical engeneer that is waaaaaaayyy less mechanically inclined than you are. Remind me to tell you about it next time we meet up! And hey who cares about pretty in the dark anyway, functional is much better, wouldnt you say? Let me know if you will make it out this way on Saturday (I know anniversery) as there are quite a large number of members that plan on attending.....plus first light!! I wont try to talk you into it anymore I promise!!!
-Michelle

#16 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 02 September 2004 - 10:39 AM

Neal -

I'd love to see an expansion to this that gives your impressions of the scope after a month or two of use. This is virtually the same scope I've settled on buying someday (when I get too tired of hassling with the 13" Dob) and it's always nice to hear how the scope performs on down the road.

#17 The Meal

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 11:33 AM

As I mentioned at the end of this thread, I did manage to install the Telrad reflex finder between my focuser and the finderscope, in what would appear to be the ideal location for actual use in the field (there are a few other CNers including Tom L and Craig who can back me up on this). One can find most of the details of this process on this webpage.

Hope the details of the process are useful to other Orion owners. I had to iterate to my solution (as those who read the post I linked at the very top of this message will see), but hopefully with this detailed page I can save some other owners some of my pain.

#18 Tom L

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 11:59 AM

Wow, that is really tight on the XT8. I didn't have to cut my base (thankfully). Nice website and description.

#19 The Meal

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Posted 11 September 2004 - 12:14 PM

It certainly made for a fun little puzzle. If my finder had a taller dovetail mount (like yours), then I wouldn't have had nearly the same issues. But in actual field use it's great having the two so closely aligned. I had thought of moving the Telrad further back (like on Craig's page), but after an evening of just using the finderscope, I realized I didn't want to bend down *even further* on the OTA when sighting things in. As such, I'm *EXTREMELY* happy with the final results -- well worth the bother incurred in getting everything properly placed.

Thanks for the nod.

#20 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 05:06 PM

I have an 8" Orion dob also. I also have a Telrad mounted on it. The biggest problem I have had is the sloppiness of the focuser. Mine is 3 years old so maybe they have fixed the problem, but mine was so sloppy it was difficult to collimate accurately. I used the locking knob to steady it. I have now solved the problem by buying an Orion helical focuser. Collimation is set at the mid range of the focuser with it locked. The helical focuser is very tight, so everything is stable. I was going to buy a whole, new focuser from JMI or other, but I don't think that will be necessary now. I will also use it on my piece of junk Meade 8". I have an Orion Pro 127 on order. Hope it doesn't have the same problem. I need to drive out of town a litle, set up, study a while, and be back in 1/2 to 1 hour because of wife's dementia. Can't leave very long so hope the 127 solves the problem. The optics of my dob are excellent. Bearings are a little sticky. No solution for that yet. They got sand in them at a star party. I have rubbed, scrubbed, sanded, greased: nothing helps. Good seeing to you.

#21 LivingNDixie

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 05:42 PM

Gosh this has to be the best thread of "getting the scope together" that I have ever read, Neal you did good..no... excellant in reporting about your scope

#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 03:15 PM

Regarding the focuser: Have you done the standard Asian Focuser tune up?

Normally this involves disassembling the focuser, removing what passes for grease but is more like glue/gumpucky. Then after the focuser is cleaned, regrease it lightly with some light grease being careful about using it sparingly.

Then place the draw tube in the focuser and adjust the two little set screws near the lock screw so that there is no play but that it is not too tight.

The last step is to install the pinion assembly again with light grease. But rather than cranking down on the 4 adjustment screws, use these to adjust the backlash and stiffness in the gear. This is only be partially tight. When satisfied with the action, I place a drop of crazy glue next to the head to lock it in place.

This turns a somewhat sloppy focuser into a reasonable focuser, in some cases it really turns out nicely. The GSO focuser on my OPT Starhunter has some big slabs of Teflon so its action is very nice. The Orion 2 inch focusers I have done have a chincy bit on Teflon on a strip, the result being that the action is not as nice as the GSO focuser.

jon

#23 dgs©

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 03:21 PM

Teflon strips in mine are disintegrating! There are little bits of teflon beginning to show up inside the OTA. Where can I get some suitable replacement? All the strips I have seen so far are far too thick.
Anyone else have this problem? And/Or any suggestions for a cure?

#24 The Meal

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Posted 28 September 2004 - 08:57 AM

Aw shucks, thanks Preston. You made me blush. :o

#25 ForgottenMObject

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Posted 05 October 2004 - 07:32 AM

Great write-up... oh, and as another non-mechanically inclined mechanical engineer, I understand where you are coming from!

I am thinking about getting one of these, so this is very helpful, and thanks for including the link to the manual for the scope. It's so nice that they can be downloaded these days!


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