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New Mak Out of the Bag

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 11:18 AM

Hello People,
Received my new SkyWatcher 102EQ2 Maksutov Cassegrain from Island Eyepiece and Telescope a couple of days ago and had it out for a first light test.
I've been into astronomy for many years and have had many telescopes,from awsome (Televue Genesis early F/5 version using Televue Japanese plossls and a wonderful Takahashi FS-78) to what I consider *bleep* such as a Skywatcher 120mm F/8.3 achromat that was supposed to have Vixen research grade optics but came with the lowest quality comercial grade lens I had ever seen, the optics weren't even fully coated!
I also owned my share of newtonians which some have revealed galaxies so dim most of my refractors would overlook it only to show me a blank area of sky.
This time having to work with a very limited budget (divorces causes great havoc on ones hobbies) this little mak might be that cheap ticket for descent view of the heavens and I wasn't dissapointed.
My mak came in excellent condition and was really easy to set up.
The optical tube from my experience felt like a solid well made piece with good optical coatings and a great smooth focuser.
The accessories included were reasonable to start observing with but I already have a wish list to hop up this scope.
First to go will be the red dot finder (good for pointing at monkeys like on the box :roflmao:) which will get maybe Orion's 6x30 right angle erect finder or an Antares 8x50 unit.
Definetly the diagonal but I'm really curious of the threads on the adapter can you screw a schmidt-cassegrain unit there?
Otherwise Orion's Japanese 1.25" diagonal (Televue used these on their Ranger using their logo)should fit the bill.
To be safe (I thought!)knowing the supplied oculars would be of poor quality I did buy a Meade Series 4000 26mm plossl second hand in new condition.When I got it I found out that Meade really went out to lunch on their latest series going to the same supplier that make Antares bargain basement plossls (I swear the Meade unit is identical Antares basic low buck unit so this explains how Meade could afford to give complete eyepiece sets for $99.00 US a that special deal).I think I will have to go back to what really worked for me in the past so I have a Celestron 30mm Ultima on my wish list too.
I already have a good x2 shorty barlow so I think those items plus a R.A.drive are all thats needed.
The EQ2 mount itself handles this scope well (BUT!)the idea
of using a single 1/4"- 20 bolt to attach the optical tube is insane.
My tube is different from the one imaged on the box though as it has a long 7" bar with 5 1/4"-20 holes tapped into it so it is only a matter of time before a descent adapter will be made to solidly mount it to the EQ head.
Anyways even with the *bleep* accessories I was really impressed with this scopes out of the box performance!
After the scope was properly cooled down to the ambient air temperature the flared stars and planets became razor sharp and I liked the excellent contrast provided even with the substandard eyepieces.
Saturn's Cassini division was easy and Jupiter even at 20 degrees above the horizon was descent.
Colour correction was exceptional with only the eyepieces introducing some very mild abberations (I am truly excited of how much of an improvement an Ultima and descent diagonal
will do for the view!)
I do have access to 5.5 to 6.0 mag skies so I am confident that even with the limited aperature I should be able to do some limited deepsky work (I think this scope should show me galaxies approaching the 11th magnitude especially edge on ones like NGC5907) once I have made some accessory upgrades. :jump:
I definetly agree with most people and have to give this scope a thumbs up and it only gets better with some minor investment in some quality accessories.

#2 celestial_search



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Posted 24 March 2005 - 11:27 AM

Congrats on the new scope. The Orion/Skywatcher Maks are quite good for the price at which they are offered.

#3 Blair



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Posted 24 March 2005 - 11:33 AM

Congrats on the scope.

I just bought Orion's Apex 102mm Mak. I plan to put it on my Skyview Pro Mount as I already have an adapter ready for it. It will be my planetary and Moon scope. My other 4 inch scope will be used for low power viewing on a Alta-Az mount. Should get the scope this coming Tuesday. :grin:

#4 Jim Easterbrook

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Posted 24 March 2005 - 01:03 PM

Definetly the diagonal but I'm really curious of the threads on the adapter can you screw a schmidt-cassegrain unit there?

Using SCT accessories with the Synta Maks has been discussed here before. To summarise: the 45mm diameter threads that secure the eyepiece holder are non-standard, but the eyepiece holder can be disassembled to reveal a 36.4mm "small Vixen" thread. See this web page for details.

The EQ2 mount itself handles this scope well (BUT!)the idea of using a single 1/4"- 20 bolt to attach the optical tube is insane.

I use conventional rings, which inspire more confidence than the two small screws that attached the original tripod mounting block to the OTA on my Mak.

#5 Starman1


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Posted 24 March 2005 - 03:11 PM

The Orion Japanese 1-1/4" mirror diagonal would definitely be a step up, diagonal-wise.
The small diameter of the opening in the scope makes the addition of SCT accessories somewhat moot, but Precise Parts can machine any adapter you need for pennies more than a stock part.
I have the 127mm version of this thing, which came with a dovetail bar under the tube to mount to the EQ mount's head. A similar dovetail should be easy to come up with or to have made.
Strength-wise, a 1/4" x 20 TPI bolt could easily hold the weight of the scope. The depth of engagement is key, though. If the bolt threads into the bracket all the way (essentially hitting the tube), it will be strong enough to hold several times the weight of the tube assembly.
A red-dot finder is an excellent addition. So is a dew shield at the front.
Lastly, use decent eyepieces, and you'll be rewarded with excellent images. The long focal ratio makes the use of inexpensive wide-fields possible without too many aberrations. Remember, the field of view will be wider with the eyepiece in the "straight-through" mode, and somewhat reduced by the use of a star diagonal. I tell you this so that if you need to have the widest field the instrument is capable of, you really don't need any additional accessories.
Good viewing.
You'll be surprised what you can actually see.

#6 southmike



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Posted 24 March 2005 - 08:01 PM

that adapter works ell...I bought an older bino viewer that was designed to thread direct to an sct, and it came with that adapter..nice and tight to my orion 90 mak..

the only drawback with that setup is the image is inverted..
so terrestrial viewing is impaired.

#7 southmike



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Posted 26 March 2005 - 11:20 PM

correction because I cant edit
the adapter works well..

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 09:38 AM

I was fooling around with the 102 mak this morning taking the diagonal out and putting my 26mm plossl right into the adapter
and as expected images were upside down but noticeably a bit brighter and crisper with what seems to be about a 30% increase in field.
I know one will get a sore neck using this method at night but its shows the weak link in the light path,the diagonal.
The adapter seems to be attached to the OTA via a 50mm ring so I must be able to screw a SCT 2" diagonal in its place?
I know the hole is the limiting factor because of vignetting
once you've reach the maximum width of light but what would the the maximum field stop that I could get away with using a 2" ocular?About 27mm?Could a 2" 32mm 60 degree Konig/Optilux work?
Antares has a descent 2" SCT enhanced diagonal for around $125.00 Canuck Bucks that could fit the bill and when I get some astro bucks saved up I would have a few more eyepieces to choice from (25mm MKll 70 degree Konig,27mm PanOptic of course second hand).
This would also help my clearance issues with a Celestron Omni x2 barlow that doesn't quite fit all the way in the present diagonal(I was able to convert it into a shorty by using a barrel off a really short focal length plossl I had laying around, also for fun I screwed :woot: just the barlow grouping into the end of the diagonal which actually work well and seemed to produce about a x2.5 power increase).
Canuckster :john:

#9 Starman1


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Posted 28 March 2005 - 11:11 AM

You've discovered that the length of the optical tube holding the eyepiece can determine the field of view.
In essence, the diagonal extends the primary mirror's baffle.
A 2" diagonal is longer, so the vignetting is worse, not better. The opening in the back of your scope is smaller than 1-1/4", so there's really no reason to go to the expense.
But shortening the diagonal will pay off.
If your Mak is typical, the visual back screws onto the back of the scope, and then the diagonal inserts into that back and fastens with a set screw.
The visual back can be shortened, and the diagonal can be shortened, and this will increase your usable field of view.
I'd have a local machine shop do it, unless you have the tools and knowhow, but here's what you can do to get the widest field usable with the diagonal:
1) shorten the insertion tube of your diagonal to no more than 3/4". If the eyepiece end of the diagonal is deeper than the barrels of your eyepieces, that too can be shortened (and a new hole drilled and tapped for the set screw). Just make sure the eyepiece barrel won't hit the internal mirror.
2) the visual back can be shortened to the point where the diagonal's insertion tube bumps the back of the scope.

Overall, if your 102 is similar to my 127, you can cut an inch or more out of the optical path length, and this will expand the field of view.

And, there are some eyepieces that will maximize the field of view, too:
24 TV Panoptic
24 Meade Super Wide Angle (4000 or 5000 series)
35mm Plossl
or any 1-1/4" eyepiece without a field stop (the inside of the barrel becomes the field stop)

You will always get a larger field in the straight-through mounting mode, and you can use this for the times you absolutely need the largest field (like scanning the Sagittarius Milky Way).
But the diagonal/visual back shortening does make a difference, and is worth doing.

Good luck.

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 28 March 2005 - 07:32 PM

Thanks Don!
There usually seems to be a trick or two that one can do to make your scope work better.
These tips will surely make for a more enjoyeable as well as versetile scope.
Meade's new 5000 series plossls(I have been keeping a close eye on the 26mm plossl any reviews yet?)look good as you have mentioned.
I've read good things also about Celestron's Omni series
(glass quality,coatings and of course cost)leaning towards the 32mm.
I also really liked Televues early Japanese flat top plossls
(my 1988 Televue F/5 Genesis came with the 26mm and made me an instant fan of Japanese oculars)and would drool if I could get my hands on a 32mm version second hand.


#11 LesB



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Posted 28 March 2005 - 11:23 PM

You made a good choice. Easy to set up, you'll get out a lot with this scope. CatMak's rule!!

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