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Older Tasco Question

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#1 trainsktg

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Posted 08 September 2005 - 07:47 PM

Hi All,

Is a late 70's to early 80's Tasco still a "decent" scope, or had they started deteriorating from earlier quality standards by then? :question:

Keith

#2 ForgottenMObject

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Posted 09 September 2005 - 07:33 AM

Hard to say. I had a 4.5" Tasco 11TR equatorially mounted reflector back in the late 1980's. Optically, it seemed pretty good, but I didn't know much of anything about optics back then. I do know that the stars were points, though, which is important. Of course, I didn't know about diffraction spikes, so for years I thought that they were signs of "cheap optics!" So, once one factors out that mistake, I think the optics in it were pretty good - certainly good enough to enjoy looking at the sky.

Now, the rest of the scope aside from the OTA was subpar. It had a useless 5x24 finderscope that was stopped down to an even smaller aperture, useless 0.965" diameter eyepieces, a sub-par EQ2-equivalent equatorial head, and so on. At least the tripod legs were wooden back then.

Hope this experience of mine helps.

#3 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 18 September 2005 - 12:24 AM

They were probably still good scopes. In my experience, the eyepieces were the problems with these into 80's. Then somewhere along the way the entire scopes became plastic trash. I had a Tasco scope around that time and it was a fine lens, but the plastic eyepieces were worthless. After I upgraded to decent 965 eyepieces - Ramsdens and Kellners, but still of high quality - it was a fine scope, comparable to any other small refractor. The 4.5 reflectors were usually very good except perhaps for the eyepieces. Almost all the makers used the same design on these reflectors. I did not think the standard EQ mounts were all that bad, but I was not used to much at the time!

#4 Gord

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 02:54 PM

I also had (have) a 4.5" Tasco 11TR on an EQ2 from the mid 80's. I was a kid and thought it was going to be a great scope when I got it. After using it, it wasn't as good as I had expected. It didn't compare to the pictures on the box or in magazines, and I never heard mention of people using this scope when reading the magazines.

I still used it and had a lot of fun.

Years later when I got more serious into the hobby again after school, and after using other "better" scopes, I again gave old red a try.

I was somewhat shocked at how good the scope actually was! Well, in some regards. The biggest knock against it was the eyepieces and the finder. The EP's were before the days of plastic, but still poor. I added a cheap plastic 1.25" focuser that was not as good as the original, but allowed use of good EP's.

Wow, nice images. I compared it to one of the new 4.5" newt's on the market today and the difference was noticeable in terms of how much sharper the images were.

I'm now currently in the process of restoring/upgrading this scope for use as one of my primary quick-look scopes. I have moved the original mount on to carrying a little refractor and mounted the 11TR on my spare EQ5. You can never overmount, but it's more than necessary.

I'm replacing the focuser with a JMI crayford, have added a dovetail for the modern Synta finder's, and have some bigger mods planned. Flocking and optical train work are planned.

The mirrors have never been cleaned and really need work. Still, with the JMI focuser and real finder it's a sweet scope. Easily bests my SkyWatcher 80ED even as is. The details I was seeing on Mars the other morning were as good as I have ever seen them. Lots of the details you see in the webcam images were visible.

I'm planning on starting a thread on the whole project to cover what I'm doing. Maybe it will bring back some memories for people.

Sorry to rant, but all this to say that I think any of the 4.5" newts of that era were pretty decent in the main optical train, but did have the weak points mentioned above.

Cheers,

-Gord

#5 ForgottenMObject

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Posted 07 October 2005 - 07:53 PM

Agreed - the optics in the main tube were pretty good, at least from what I recall (just wish I'd known about diffraction spikes back then so I hadn't blamed the scope for that.) The finderscope was lousy and the eyepieces were jokes, but the main optics were fine.

Fortunately, we discovered a neat company called "Orion Telescopes and Binoculars" that sold 0.965" diameter Orthoscopic eyepieces. Wow, what a difference that made! A big step up in quality, and the beginning of a 15+ year relationship with Orion.

The mount really wasn't that bad - it was essentially an EQ2 head (the modern ones look exactly the same as the ones from that era, at least when looking at pictures in catalogs) on a wooden tripod. Overall, it was decent, but I was not too skilled with equatorial mounts and the EQ2 design does have some flaws even if it was sturdy enough for the scope.

I guess my point is that I'd love to hear about the restoration project. Once one gets rid of the 0.965" eyepieces and the toy finderscope, the classical Tasco 11TR was a pretty nice instrument. I saw a lot in it before aperture fever set in, and sometimes I wish I hadn't sold it. Not sure how much use it would get these days, but it is a reminder that entry level scopes do not need to be junk. I'd take a Tasco 11TR, bad finder and eyepieces included, over most of the eBay junk special scopes any day of the week.

#6 trainsktg

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 12:08 AM

Interesting posts so far...I wonder if beginner scopes of the era to today follow a similar path of say American autos...used to be pretty good in the 50's and 60's, then came the Pintos, Gremlins and K-cars in the 70's and 80's and now we have rejuvinated Mustangs, Lightnings and PT Cruisers. With the new beginner scopes having GOTO optics and increased quality standards, have they increased their performance too? Anyone out there going against their better judgement and been secretly testing these new scopes? Your posts will remain confidential.

#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 02:11 AM

Orion used to sell that same 4.5" scope. I got one around 16 years ago and I still have it, or what is left, anyhow. It cost about $400 then. I remember the day it arrived like it was yesterday. The equatorial with a 110v drive seemed like a dream then. It was a good scope, and I got a lot of use out of it. The Orion was .965 but I already had some good eyepieces in that size.

Later on, I got a fairly cheap 4" refractor and I have to say, the 4.5" really looked rather poor in comparison. In the 4.5, Saturn never really showed the division very well or the shadows at all, whereas the refractor gives a very nice view. I remember how the reflector topped out on Saturn at about 180x, already soft and mushy, and I just always wished I had a little more. That has never happened on the refractor. In 1994 the spots on Jupiter could be seen in the 4.5, but not all that well. I never made out the red spot or moon shadows in the 4.5." Our moon looked nice as a crescent but at full it was rather washed out, whereas the refractor makes even the full moon just plain amazing.

I liked the scope a heck of a lot, but knowing what I know now, I realize that it was plenty good for a little reflector but nothing wonderful. The first time I looked through the 4" refractor, I could hardly believe my eyes.

I think the scopes like the 4.5" were really quite good for the time. Today much better scopes can be made for much less. The Chinese 4" refractors cost no more and are a lot better. But the 4.5" reflectors were a lot of fun and were at least as good as I might have ground out at home as a first attempt if it'd been 20 or 30 years earlier. I actually loved it and I wish I still enjoyed this stuff like I did then. I could still use that 4.5" and be happy. It showed most of what needed showing.

#8 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 08 October 2005 - 02:15 AM

PS - the 4.5" is still a way better scope than something like an ETX-90, let me tell you...! I never got too excited about getting bigger and bigger scopes, and I got stupid and bought the 90 when it first came out. Maybe I did not make the reflector sound that great above, but the 4.5" will put the dim little maksutov to shame in every category.

#9 GeneDiG

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 10:24 AM

I recently bought an 11tr from evil-bay for about 25 bills. It came mounted on an EQ2 like mount and has wooden legs. It was way out of collimation when it was shipped to me. Like others have said, the finder is useless as are the eyepieces. I actually bought the scope simply for the mount but the mount is too small for my 5 inch Mak, so the Tasco OTA is still mounted. I'm currently using Bausch and Lomb stereo microscope eyepieces for EP.I took it outside recently to try it out. I tried an easy target, the moon and liked what I saw. On another night, I observed the Pleiades, lots of pinpoints set against velvet. Very pleasing to the eye. I really need to upgrade the finder and focuser. I think it could be a fun scope with some decent ep's.

#10 Gord

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Posted 10 October 2005 - 11:47 AM

Gene,

A simple fix for mount stability is upgraded wood legs. I did this with mine many years ago and it greatly improved the stability. Here is a picture with my 80ED on the mount.

Posted Image

I just finished re-assembling my 11tr last night after some upgrades. My primary has never been cleaned before (it would be almost 20 years) and it was grungy. Big different after a cleaning!

The other big changes included finishing the installation of my JMI focuser, and completing the flocking of the tube. The focuser is a big enhancement to the operation of the scope. But, in terms of noticeability, I think the flocking is a bigger enhancement.

I used Protostar flocking paper and did the whole tube. I also did the mirror cell and a few other bits. It's now like looking into a black hole! The blackness is *very* black and the mirror really stands out.

Should be amazing when the weather finally clears.

-Gord

#11 GeneDiG

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Posted 11 October 2005 - 08:29 AM

I see that Handsonoptics offers the wooden legs. I'll definitley try the flocking paper. Gee, when it's all said and done I'll probably have sunk about 150 bills into a telescope I got for 25!

Gene DiGennaro
Baltimore Md.


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