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Stargazer Steve 10" Truss Tube Dob

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#1 ngc6475

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 01:43 PM

I've been toying with the idea of trying a mid-sized Dob on for size. I want something a little better than the usual imports, but nothing quite so nice as Starmaster...or as expensive. Discovery makes some nice Dobs in the 10"-12" size range, but recently I ran across a cute little 10" truss tube Dob on the Stargazer Steve website. It's about $1300.00 + shipping, but I've heard nothing about the scope, its construction, optics, movement, etc. Have any of you experts heard or seen anything about this little guy? Thanks in advance for your input!

#2 Tom T

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 01:52 PM

Hey Walter -

That looks like a pretty neat little guy. I saw that a couple of months back.

Looking at the design again, I'm struck by the question:

Does the mirror stay in the rocker box when packed for travel? If so, is there any kind of solid cover for it?

I also wonder - Who makes the mirror?

I'd probably want to add an extension on the front to help prevent stray light from entering the eyepiece - that focuser is awful far forward.

#3 ngc6475

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 02:03 PM

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the response! I think you asked the questions that need to be answered for me to feel comfortable with a purchase like this. The mirror quality was my first concern, and I didn't even think about the need for an extension, although that would be fairly simple to make. It did appear to be a scope that would require considerable tinkering in order to finish it up right. The real question is whether it is a solid scope from which to proceed. Still, it's awfully cute...

#4 Tom T

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 02:09 PM

I agree - and the price is pretty good too....

If you do pick one up, I'd love to hear details.

T

#5 Tom T

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 02:10 PM

FWIW, most folks seem to be pretty happy with stuff they've purchased from him in the past - at least from what I've heard.

#6 ngc6475

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 02:20 PM

I think I'll call or email him and ask a few questions. If you or anyone else can think of any other questions you'd have, feel free!

#7 lighttrap

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 02:49 PM

I'd ask him about any balance issues, how high the eyepiece is at zenith and the specifics of the mirror retention system and what sort of bearing surfaces he uses. That does look like it could be a really cool little travel scope. I'm sure you can sit to observe. That's a plus. I'd also ask him how easy and quick the scope is to set up/take down. There's reference in the description to needing an allen wrench to assemble the struts. That sounds like a real pain. I'd certainly be curious to see one of these scopes.

#8 ngc6475

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 03:03 PM

Those are good points. I just emailed him and I'm waiting for an answer. I'll probably wind up calling him directly if this process continues any further, so don't hesitate to offer any more questions you might have! One thing that struck me after I emailed him is this: all of Steve's other scopes appear to be sold in kit form. Is this a kit, too, or is it sold as a finished product? Regardless, it looks like a dandy little scope, and I'm hoping it's not too good to be true! For those of you who haven't looked at this scope, try this:

http://stargazer.isys.ca/10inch.html

#9 Barry Fernelius

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 05:59 PM

I put together one of his 6" f8 telescope kits with the help of my kids.

It's still one of my favorite scopes. These days, I lend it to people who have shown an interest in astronomy, but can't afford a telescope.

#10 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 06:20 PM

Walter,
That 10" looks like a very nice scope. Does it need some black felt in the upper cage?

#11 ngc6475

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 06:45 PM

Hello Daniel,

I thought the same thing. I was looking at it with an eye to painting it with flat black paint or applying felt. Tom's eagle eye pointed out the need for a baffle at he upper end, too.

Barry,

I've heard good things about his Dobs as beginners' scopes, and I'm wondering if this is an attempt at creating a more serious setup. I'm curious, that's for sure!

#12 Tom T

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 06:56 PM

I *think* (I hope) it's a kit and he's showing it unfinished....

I'd like to hear what he has to say about it - it is a cute little guy...

#13 werewolf6977

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 07:06 PM

Sweet!

#14 mirage

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 08:31 PM

Wow. Just - wow, I think I'm smitten. I'm not sure how I overlooked this when visiting Stargazer Steve's website before, but thanks for pointing it out!

I've been in the market for a compact-car-transportable newtonian for a while, but I just hadn't found anything yet which quite worked for me. This, though - I think this telescope might be in my future.

Minimalist design, compact transportability, curved spider, helical focuser, and quickfinder standard - it's basically everything I've been looking for and couldn't find short of premium dobs well outside my budget. Wow.

Heck, even without following up with specific questions, I'm tempted to set aside that first $672 installment on Stargazer Steve's reputation alone! I will most definitely be investigating this further.

#15 mirage

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 12:46 PM

I emailed Steve Dodson a few questions and he's been kind enough to reply very quickly:

I can somewhat interpolate from the six-inch picture what the finished ten-inch model will look like, but do you have any more detailed pictures of the ten-inch model? Most of my other questions I might infer from more detailed pictures:

- How do the secondary and mirror cell adjust for collimation?
- Is there a cover to protect the primary during transport and storage?
- How does the truss detach and reattach during breakdown and reassembly?
- How does the shroud attach inside the truss?
- Is the wood unfinished such that I could apply my own stain?
- What purpose does the oak trim serve?
- What about the hole toward the front of the altitude bearings?
- Finally, who manufactures your offered eyepieces?


'Stargazer' Steve Dodson replies:

Photo shoots take a lot of time that I haven't had lately. In the meantime you can refer to the 10-inch photo on the website and "picture" it with the additional internal black paint and "internal shroud" that the 6-inch has. Your other questions:

1) Primary Collimation - I provide a system of push-pull bolts that you turn with a screwdriver from the front, which makes the process quite convenient.

2) Secondary collimation is by a convenient system of machine screws on perpendicular axes.

3) Yes, the primary mirror cover installs conveniently by a short reach into the lower end assembly.

4) The folding truss folds up into a compact bundle after you remove 4 wing nuts at the top end and 4 at the bottom.

5) The shroud has its own "inner support rings" that slip into place in the top and bottom ends and stay in place by a gentle "wedging" effect.

6) I put latex varnish on the baltic birch, which does a beautiful job. I use a minimum of stain. If you want more stain you can email instructions after you order.

7) The oak trim provides an elegant finishing touch to the bottom part of the scope. I wouldn't consider providing one of these scopes without it!

8) The holes you noted provide clearance that helps when you are slipping the folding truss in place.

9) My eyepieces come from Sky Instruments in British Columbia. You can see their ad in Sky and Telescope (and probably Astronomy Magazine too).


All in all, I think it looks like a quite thoughtfully designed and executed package. I'd rather it not require tools for collimation nor have wingnuts waiting to fall onto the primary, but those issues are easily and inexpensively remedied with aftermarket captive thumbscrews and the like.

It seems like a solid value for the money. It fills a market niche that nobody else seems to be addressing, which just happens to be what I'm seeking presently. I think one of these might have my name on it! :D

#16 lighttrap

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 06:28 PM

1) Primary Collimation - I provide a system of push-pull bolts that you turn with a screwdriver from the front, which makes the process quite convenient.


Hmmmmmm! Front collimation??
As in screwdrivers approaching primary from the shiny side?
More Hmmmmm. Dunno 'bout that idea. These days, I can't think of any reason not to have standard tooless collimation via knurled knob adjustments from the back, in a proper mirror cell: not on something as small as a 10, anyway. There may be some merit to having something be wrench tight on some of the huge mirrors, but a 6-12" ought to be tooless, IMO.

But, his reputation on his previous products is certainly good. It sure is an interesting idea. Who makes his mirrors? And maybe more importantly, is there anything that holds the scope semi-captive on the minimalist rocker box, or can it slide off sideways like on some of the lowend Discoverys?

#17 ngc6475

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 07:47 PM

I got a response today to my email from Steve Dodson, too, and it echoed many of the same answers Mirage received. On the subject of mirrors, Steve said, "We figure the mirrors here to higher standards than available from China, AND we supply documentation on the results! Our last 10-inch had a very smooth figure providing a wavefront error of less than 1/6 Wave ( ie less than 1/12 wave peak-to-valley surface accuracy)." This appears to imply that he is involved with the production of the mirrors. As a package, the Stargazer Steve 10" seems like an interesting setup...a mixed bag, to be sure, but it still looks like an attractive possibility. Hmmm...

#18 mirage

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Posted 25 October 2004 - 11:27 AM

As a package, the Stargazer Steve 10" seems like an interesting setup...a mixed bag, to be sure, but it still looks like an attractive possibility. Hmmm...


That's pretty much my assessment. There are a few details I'd rather see executed more cleanly, but they all appear to be addressable through simple modifications. It's an intriguing platform for the money - and as I mentioned before, it fills a market niche noone else seems to be addressing.


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