Following many internet searches and queries over several years, my attempts to find any useful information or reviews on this item drew a complete blank.
I therefore believe this may be the first ever / only available mini-review of this item that has ever existed.
In keeping with the mystery and apparent secrecy surrounding the item, I chose to post this historic review right here, in a forum where these days I'll be surprised if anyone even bothers to read it!
Three years ago, the somewhat reluctant sale of my Zeiss 85mm Diascope left a gap in my options for daytime terrestrial viewing, with only my TeleVue 76 scope to replace it. I rate the optics of the TeleVue slightly higher than the Zeiss spotter, but have never really come to terms with either reversed images, or using a 45 degree erecting prism for terrestrial use. I've always prefered STRAIGHT THROUGH scopes, going back to my first ever drawtube 35x60 spotter from 50 years ago.
How much I missed the straight - through Zeiss scope was highlighted throughout a 2 week holiday last summer, at a rented elevated beach-side house on the mid Wales coast. The stunning views took in the entire panorama of Cardigan Bay, stretching from the high peaks of the Llyn Peninsular in the north west to Pembrokeshire in the south west. I spent many hours looking through my Nikon 10x42 SE and taking photos of perfect sunsets after 9.30pm.
The veranda overlooking the bay lends itself perfectly for a tripod mounted straight-through scope, with the front protective railing/ windshield terminating at around chin-height from a sitting position. We re-booked the holiday home for the last fortnight in June of this year, so a few weeks ago I decided to make definite attempt at purchasing a straight-through image erecting prism to use with the TeleVue 76, in spite of the continuing absence of any kind of review of any such product. Even an appeal in the Cloudy Nights refractors forum led to not a single response.
I could only find two suppliers of the Vixen Erecting prism in the UK, so after receiving confirmation the item was in stock, two weeks ago, I ordered and immediately paid for one ( via paypal ) from one of the two suppliers. When nothing arrived after 5 days I sent an email asking why, but received no reply. Alarm bells began ringing when after 9 days and still no delivery, a further two emails remained unanswered. I then contacted paypal to try to cancel the transaction, which to my delight was carried out within a couple of hours, with the paid fee returned into my account. Three days later I received an apologetic letter through the regular post. By a remarkable co-incidence, the company had ceased business on the very day I ordered the item. At least the company had the decency to apologise in writing and provide a full refund.
I then re-ordered the item from a company called The Astronomy Centre, and what difference in service!
The item arrived within 2 days, very securely packed, accompanied by a letter from the manager, thanking us for our business, his telephone number attached should we have any further queries.
I felt quite excited opening the package to find the item so carefully wrapped and in perfect condition.
However, as soon as I fitted it to the TeleVue 76 scope, one of my fears were confirmed. With it attached and my favourite TeleVue 18mm Radian eyepiece fitted, the scope wouldn't come to focus on anything closer than infinity, and probably not even then.
Carefully holding and moving the eyepiece closer to my eye, I realised the shortfall in tube length was around 6 inches.
Luckily, I have both a 2x and a 3x TeleVue Barlow lens, so by removing the actual lenses, I found the two empty tubes stacked provided just enough extra out-travel to provide crisp focus from around 15 feet close focus to infinity.
As shown in the attached photo, the resulting configuration DOES appear a little ungamely, to say the least, but in a way I quite like the unique, eccentric looks of it, reminiscent of the old drawtube scopes.
I'm also quite impressed with clarity of the image, which is every bit as sharp and pleasing to the eye as any I recall through the Zeiss Diascope. The focusser also allows for very precise, very slow focus.
Hopefully, come June, I will able to post some actual observing reports.