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Refractor Newbie & the Meade AR-5 OTA

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#1 Stacy

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 03:28 AM

Well the clouds broke up enough to get the AR-5 out for a spin on mars tonight. But that was it then the clouds were back.

The Celestron CG-5A took the lightweight 5” tube without complaints. Nice and stable, just how I like it. Since I have had clouds for about 4 weeks I had some other astrogoodies to try out as well.

I started out with the Meade 4000 26mm plossl. Hated it. I don’t know what the deal is but my Orion 25mm has a much nicer view. Then I tried the Meade 14mm UWA. Very stupid in my 1.25 Celestron crappy diagonal (although not as crappy as that plastic Meade diagonal thing they throw in with the scope!) OK, got it pointed at Mars but the finder was on the ground side at that direction (do most people rotate the tube, or just the diagonal like me?). I put in my old Orion 10mm plossl and was pleasantly surprised at how nice the view was. It snapped into focus and revealed some nice surface detail. I got lucky on the setup and the clock drives tracked perfectly.

My seeing was between clouds and the atmosphere was bouncing Mars around a bit, but it looked good! I tried the 10 in my Ultima Barlow and was rewarded with plenty of detail and a truly astonished feeling. Then I remembered my Celestron EP kit I had not tried yet. I grabbed the 9mm and found I like it much better than the 10mm Orion. Clear sharp views, what more could you want form a cheap plossl? I stuck it in the Barlow, but that was a little much for the conditions. So to compare Barlows I stuck the 15mm in. WOW nice. I couldn’t believe the detail I was getting out of this $275 OTA! So I tried the Celestron cheap barlow and found it not as bright and sharp as the Ulitma, but fully serviceable. I wouldn’t feel I was loosing much if this was the only Barlow I had.

Then I unscrewed the lens assembly off the Celestron Barlow, stuck it in the Ultima Barlow to make a longer Barlow. It increased the length about 1.5 inches. I stuck the 15mm in and wow! It worked! It increased the mag. of the Ultima and looked great. The 6mm Celestron was perfect for the conditions and I used it the most. Then out came the filters.

I had never used filters before and still prefer not to, but the red one really brought out the Mars features. It was like “black and red”. Very nice contrast. It seemed all the filters managed to bring out some extra detail. Notably the red, orange, yellow and blue in that order.

About the AR-5 in general: I was very impressed with the views. There was a shallow purple “fringe” around Mars but it didn’t detract from the experience. I was very impressed with the detail and contrast Mars showed with and without filters. I’m sure with a little tweaking of the focuser I’ll be able to improve on it as well.

The focuser sucks. It will do the job, but you know it’s bad when you just nudge the focuser up to center the planet. I want to replace the entire back plate/focuser assembly with the $249 offering from Burgess Optical, but that will have to wait $$.

The finder is nice! Easy to align and focus.

The dew shield seems a little short, but extending a few inches doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult.

It glides around nicely balanced, center mounted on the CG-5A. The mount has enough height to keep you off your hands and knees even at zenith.

All in all, a nice aperture f/9.3 refractor OTA offering surprisingly good views that can be routinely picked up for under $300. Fit and finish is a little lacking but definitely respectable. YMMV – IMHO :D

Regards,
Stacy

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  • 15818-AR-5.jpg


#2 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 04:39 AM

Glad you're happy with the 5". It looks right at home on that mount. Are those the rings for the AR-5 or did you have to get aftermarket to fit the mount?

You might find at cetain attitudes a right angle finder is much easier to use. Especially at the zenith. I plan on replacing mine as soon as I get a working mount.

I'll have to take a look at Burgess's offerings for the backplate and focuser assembly.

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 10:24 AM

Yes you are 100% correct about the crappy focuser, its as bad as a Tasco in my opinion, I HATE mine! The 6"Meade has a better focuser, figures.......I installed a Starlight feathertouch on mine and all is well now, depending on what the replacement from Burgess costs you may want to look this dir too. Nice thing is the built in brake in it and the 10/1 fine focus as well, dont normally get those with just a focuser. Dave
Stacy, what tripod is that you have parked under the LXD55 EQ?

#4 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 10:42 AM

Ive been to the Burgess site and see no back plate for sale there only crawford style focusers, I think your out of luck there. Id buy a backplate myself if I could find one. Dave

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 12:28 PM

The backplates don't appear until you click on a focuser link.

Problem is, they have no descriptions of what they fit.

#6 Stacy

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 01:16 PM

Hi Dave and Schultze,

I do not have the LXD-55 mount. I am just using my CG-5A (Which I understand can be easily modified with the LXD-55 motors and encoders!) The rings came with the scope and the plate came with the mount from Celestron. I want to get a longer plate though. The Atlas dovetails from Orion are very nice and inexpensive and fit the CG-5A perfectly. I think the 9” would be best for this scope? I have the 13” I got for my 8” newt and it works great! :grin:

I looked at the Starlites and they do indeed look awesome. However I want to use heavy 2” EP’s and maybe a camera so I’ll feel better replacing the whole focuser/backplate unit with the Burgess. I believe you just call Burgess direct and they will probably know exactly what you need. This link shows a satisfied customer. I got there from LXD55.com:

http://www.backyarda...burgess200a.htm

Yes, a right angle finder or two are on my list. I need one for the SCT as well. Any way to modify the straight ones? :question:

Regards,
Stacy

Attached Thumbnails

  • 15918-AR-5-2.jpg


#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 02:35 PM

I see it now, hmm.....I may order one myself. Dave

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 10:12 AM

I looked into trying to modify the stock finder. I could see no way to remove the eyepiece end without destroying it in the process.

I wanted to try and use the diagonal from my 90mm.

I think a longer dovetail would be much better with that size OTA.

#9 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 10:40 AM

I've thought about doing the same thing! Cut the eyepiece off with a hack saw (the tube is plastic on mine), buy a cheap diag and glue it all back together (epoxy, superglue, hot melt glue, etc). You need to keep the light path the same distance though, right? Being a new astronomer, I may be completely off base here, but being an engineer tells me that nothing is impossible!

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 01:03 PM

If you get the shorter length figured and figure out how to install the dia in a nice fashion out let us know. Ill try it myself. Dave

#11 Stacy

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 01:45 PM

Yes, I have a cheap Meade diagonal and the cost of the 9x50 finder is extreamly cheap so I do not feel I would be loosing too much if I hack it up. I "know" someone has tried this before, I wonder if I can find the info though?

Regards,
Stacy

#12 Stacy

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 01:47 PM

Odd thing, I went to Orion's web site and now I cannot find the dovetail bars. I e-mailed them but no response yet. Guess I'll have to call.

#13 Stacy

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 02:09 PM

Orion does not have them on their web site but they still have the dovetails available.

Item # 7383 8" Atlas Dovetail Bar $14.95
Item # 7385 13" Atlas Dovetail Bar $18.95

They fit right on the CG-5 and other mounts I'm sure. Pictured is the 13" on my 8" Newt.

Regards,
Stacy

Attached Thumbnails

  • 16138-dovetail.jpg


#14 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:46 AM

Hmmm...as to hacking up the finder, why not try getting these instead:

http://www.surplussh...item/l2196.html

and

http://www.surplussh...item/m2072.html

adding a PVC tube or something of the sort in the middle, and then putting the diagonal into the focuser.

That way for under 50$ you can have an 80mm right angle finder.

I'm thinking of making one of these myself (and if it ends up good enough I might even use it as a quick grab and go travelscope instead of my 10x50 binocs).

Carlos.

#15 Stacy

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 12:31 PM

I made one for 50 cents!

Right angle finder

However that surplus shed stuff looks great. I think I'll order some stuff from them!

Thanks!

Stacy

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 03:39 PM

I wish that right angle finder you made was from a Meade standard finder rather than a binocular, it still dosent help us make one out of a standard finder, dimensions are needed before cutting on the stock ones...........I do like it tho, Dave

#17 Stacy

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 05:38 PM

Well, since I have a working one now, I won't feel so bad about hacking up the Meade unit. I just am not sure how to cut it straight. I have a hacksaw and a Dremel. I used a chop saw to cut the PVC, but I don’t think that will work on the aluminum tube. I wish I had another 2” to 1.25” EP adapter to put in the other end. Guess I’ll just order one from Orion since I need a V-Block and a dovetail anyway. They want $79 for their RA finder.

Regards,
Stacy

#18 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 05:42 PM

Stacy, do you have a 2 boards with a 90 degree cut? Use that as your guide with a hacksaw (kind of like a miter saw box). Sandwich the scope between the 2 boards and cut using the edge...unless you do have a miter saw box! Bring it over and I'll cut it on the bandsaw!

#19 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 08:28 PM

You can get special metal cutting blades for a chop saw also. I have one I use for cutting aluminum door frames. Cuts them like butter, just noisey as all get out! Dave

#20 Stacy

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Posted 30 October 2003 - 08:54 PM

Seems like the chop saw might tear the crappy tube to pieces! I'll try Tom's V-Block idea and a hack saw. We have a nice band saw in our shop at work. But it's really not worth the head-trip of going in on my day off. Suppose I could wait until Monday, (taking Friday off) but now I'm obsessed. Problem is, I’ll want to cut it too long so as not to screw up, then trim it down as needed. That will be harder with the thin tube. Guess I’ll bring it in anyway to use the belt sander or the disk sander. Then again, I’ll try to avoid using heavy equipment so my efforts can be duplicated by someone if need be.

Hacksaw in hand … away I go. :smash:

Regards,
Stacy


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