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SkyWatcher’s 20" goto truss dob!

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#151 Starman81

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 09:32 AM

G'day from Australia.

I have some thoughts of my own to share here, with respect to Sky Watcher and their 500p 20" Stargate telescope.
I also hope that Sky Watcher or a representative of same, is available to make qualitative and informed comment.
I have looked far and wide on the internet, for unbiased reviews of this 20" telescope.
Reviews that were performed correctly in a professional and unbiased manner.
Professional as in basic correct testing procedures and unbiased as in free from national (or other) prejudice.
I have used numerous search engines from many countries and have not yet found an informed review anywhere on this planet.
 

With this year's recent N.E.A.P., the consumer got the generic videos and pictures of the outward appearance and physical operation of Sky Watcher's Stargate 500p 20" telescope.
Nothing new there, as several 500p telescope owners from around the globe (U.S.A. and Australia) have already provided such videos.

As an informed consumer, I need more than glossy brochures and advertising hype from Sky Watcher, before I outlay cash.
Before I depart with AU$9000 (for the GOTO version) on a semi-mass produced telescope, I need a guarantee from Sky Watcher that I have purchased a telescope that is not a failure and thus restricted to low magnification wide-field visual use, due to simply being manufactured in bad production run.
On that point, it seems to me that clarification is also needed to match model numbers with production dates for these production telescopes, as there are several different variants in use around the globe, with the most recent productions containing 'minor' fixes.

It would appear that due to the current lack of relevant and precise technical information, that these 500p telescopes are "sold as is," meaning that the buyer assumes the risk that this product may fail to meet expectations or have defects.
 

After my extensive research on the internet, I believe that I am not alone with this concluding thought...
I will not be purchasing one of these 500p Stargate telescopes from Sky Watcher, until I see at least ONE unbiased professional review from an off-the-shelf randomly selected model, that has undergone at least the basics of field and bench tests.

 

I agree. SW is in price territory where mass-producers usually do not venture. It is one thing to plunk down $2K-$3K on a 14"-16" GoTo dob of theirs (non ultra light), but at $7K-$8K, you need some guarantees, proven performance and reliable support in case of issues. 



#152 Starman1

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 06:22 PM

The scope is too new to have garnered any reviews, realistically.

 

As for manufacturers sending their pre-production scopes to reviewers, this has often happened, but has also often resulted in many negative comments about flaws which may have been corrected

by the time production scopes hit the dealerships.

 

And the investment in time and development for this size and type of scope could have been quite expensive for the manufacturer, meaning a negative review

could be a serious financial blow.

 

So though they certainly should (and usually do at this price level) field test the scopes to make sure they work, it is inevitable that there be some "teething problems" on any new design.

In most fields, early adopters know this and are prepared to deal with the necessary replacements or modifications necessary.

 

And if you are not prepared to deal with such issues, then you are not an early adopter and should wait for some market reviews.

 

Given the size of the scope and the relatively small number they will make and sell, not to mention lead times for publications, be prepared to wait a year or more for any serious review, IMO.


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#153 Pinbout

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 06:56 PM

Or go to a star party where skywatchers brings it


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#154 Craziestoozzy

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 09:01 PM

... a negative review could be [to the manufacturer] a serious financial blow.

Thanks for your thoughts mate.

 

From what I  have read online from numerous people (myself being one of them) from around the globe expressing interest in this telescope, many will not be taking a risk at buying this relatively high priced telescope, until a factual review exists that outlines at least the basic optical and mechanical specifications and performance of the unit in the real world.

Considering the fact that if I were to  buy a Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens costing well over AU$10000, detailed reviews were published at the time this lens was released by Canon.
Canon is but one company that actively supports and invests in recognised entities to review there products shortly upon or just prior to release.
Look at this Link to a review of that Canon lens I mentioned.
This is a SIMPLE review and there are more detailed ones out there dealing with resolving power and colour rendition etc...trust me.
I and many other professional photographers, would not have purchased this lens were it not for the one of many Canon invested reviews available at the time this lens was released.

The only 'factual' information available (technical specification and perhaps description), is provided by Sky Watcher in their glossy online advertising, that is repeated verbatim around the globe.
Outside of that, I hear crickets, nada, nothing, zilch...

Sky Watcher are not alone in releasing relatively expensive astronomical products without reviewed support. It appears to be the norm in the astro selling world to keep relevant specifications secret and provide only vague specifications that protect against warranty claim.
So I will leave this discussion shortly after this post, so as not to detract from the topic.

Currently, it appears that the buyer assumes the risk, that this product may fail to meet expectations or have defects not covered by what is in fact a limited warranty.

I and many others will not be "an early adopter" of an untested telescope with limited warranty and will keep my ten grand..
 


Edited by Craziestoozzy, 26 May 2017 - 09:02 PM.


#155 skyward_eyes

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Posted 27 May 2017 - 08:49 AM

It takes a lot of time to organize a review for a new product. Usually we try to do this with a respected outlet such as a magazine. Before sending a sample out we actually need a sample. The Stargates have just arrived in the us a few weeks ago. 

 

We understand these scopes are a very new, unknown and expensive. We are in the process of getting a review going but again takes time for us to organize but also for the reviewer to have enough time to do a full review, especially with such a large telescope.


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#156 MSWcdavis

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Posted 28 May 2017 - 11:09 AM

i've been enjoying reading about these scopes and have been encouraging people looking for a 18-20 inch to give these a shot (selfishly maybe to find out if i should invest in one)

 

they look pretty awesome to me

 

if you star test and the mirror is crap and you've ruled out everything else i'm sure they'd send a new one

 

same goes for other mechanical issues

 

hell i'd like to get one but it's just too much beast for me alone at a dark site so would have to involve others every time

 

hope to hear some good news from people brave to give these a shot


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#157 Bob S.

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 07:34 AM

The scope is too new to have garnered any reviews, realistically.

 

As for manufacturers sending their pre-production scopes to reviewers, this has often happened, but has also often resulted in many negative comments about flaws which may have been corrected

by the time production scopes hit the dealerships.

 

And the investment in time and development for this size and type of scope could have been quite expensive for the manufacturer, meaning a negative review

could be a serious financial blow.

 

So though they certainly should (and usually do at this price level) field test the scopes to make sure they work, it is inevitable that there be some "teething problems" on any new design.

In most fields, early adopters know this and are prepared to deal with the necessary replacements or modifications necessary.

 

And if you are not prepared to deal with such issues, then you are not an early adopter and should wait for some market reviews.

 

Given the size of the scope and the relatively small number they will make and sell, not to mention lead times for publications, be prepared to wait a year or more for any serious review, IMO.

Don, I think your observations are right on the mark. However, the 20" Sky-Watcher has apparently made two showings at the Texas Star Party and reportedly has yet to function up to hoped expectations of some observers. Apparently, there are weight and balance issues and some electronic glitches were noted by some observers at the most recent TSP. Have not heard much detail on how the unique primary mirror design is working? I hope that the company has deep enough pockets and a good relationship with their manufacturers to continue to develop the product so that it is ready for prime time. Seems like there is a fair amount of pent-up demand for large aperture tracking Newtonian telescopes that are relatively low priced. However, as you and others have pointed out, hopefully the vendor will get the bugs ironed out before getting these scopes into the hands of early adopters and also engineer the scope well enough to garner a good review from a critical third-party reviewer without a vested interest. Some of us remember the utter disaster of a collapsing ring Newtonian telescope that got into the hands of early adopters many years ago and just never worked out for most of those folks.



#158 mark379

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 08:02 AM

Bob, The manufacture of all the parts for the scopes is Synta and sky watcher is their own company so the relationship between the two is actually one in the same.  They have  been taking quite some time to release the scope  as we have seen quite a few editions of it for the past three or four years at NEAF. Though, it's probably not uncommon to see some bugs on the first production run. 

 

The scope is too new to have garnered any reviews, realistically.

 

As for manufacturers sending their pre-production scopes to reviewers, this has often happened, but has also often resulted in many negative comments about flaws which may have been corrected

by the time production scopes hit the dealerships.

 

And the investment in time and development for this size and type of scope could have been quite expensive for the manufacturer, meaning a negative review

could be a serious financial blow.

 

So though they certainly should (and usually do at this price level) field test the scopes to make sure they work, it is inevitable that there be some "teething problems" on any new design.

In most fields, early adopters know this and are prepared to deal with the necessary replacements or modifications necessary.

 

And if you are not prepared to deal with such issues, then you are not an early adopter and should wait for some market reviews.

 

Given the size of the scope and the relatively small number they will make and sell, not to mention lead times for publications, be prepared to wait a year or more for any serious review, IMO.

Don, I think your observations are right on the mark. However, the 20" Sky-Watcher has apparently made two showings at the Texas Star Party and reportedly has yet to function up to hoped expectations of some observers. Apparently, there are weight and balance issues and some electronic glitches were noted by some observers at the most recent TSP. Have not heard much detail on how the unique primary mirror design is working? I hope that the company has deep enough pockets and a good relationship with their manufacturers to continue to develop the product so that it is ready for prime time. Seems like there is a fair amount of pent-up demand for large aperture tracking Newtonian telescopes that are relatively low priced. However, as you and others have pointed out, hopefully the vendor will get the bugs ironed out before getting these scopes into the hands of early adopters and also engineer the scope well enough to garner a good review from a critical third-party reviewer without a vested interest. Some of us remember the utter disaster of a collapsing ring Newtonian telescope that got into the hands of early adopters many years ago and just never worked out for most of those folks.

 



#159 skyward_eyes

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 08:37 AM

Yes, we had our 20" at TSP this year. We found that there was some balance issues when using heavier eyepieces. This can be remedied with counter balance on the rear of the scope. We are working on a heavier set of weights for those who need it.

The scope performed without issue once set up correctly as far as pointing. We are working to send some out for third party reviews at the moment as well.
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#160 mark379

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 10:09 AM

Just a thought, if Jeff Simon would like some reviews of the scope, he could always send one to the Adirondack astronomy retreat. David Levy could definitely put it through its paces while searching for comets!
Plus, there are quite a few of us there with  comparable equipment that we could compare it to.

Yes, we had our 20" at TSP this year. We found that there was some balance issues when using heavier eyepieces. This can be remedied with counter balance on the rear of the scope. We are working on a heavier set of weights for those who need it.

The scope performed without issue once set up correctly as far as pointing. We are working to send some out for third party reviews at the moment as well.



#161 GeneT

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 11:07 AM

I agree that a non-employee needs to put the telescope through the paces and report on Cloudy Nights. The trusses seem flimsy in the photos, but that may be a misconception and not true.  


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#162 Bob S.

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 11:29 AM

Yes, we had our 20" at TSP this year. We found that there was some balance issues when using heavier eyepieces. This can be remedied with counter balance on the rear of the scope. We are working on a heavier set of weights for those who need it.

The scope performed without issue once set up correctly as far as pointing. We are working to send some out for third party reviews at the moment as well.

One of the things that was pointed out to me is that your company reportedly uses the same length truss poles for the 18" and 20" scopes and you reportedly accommodate for the difference in focus with an adapter that has to be placed in one of the two scopes? Some folks that saw this reportedly lengthy adapter coupled with a Paracorr and other long eyepieces felt like it was almost like a short wheelbarrow handle sticking out from the UTA and was also potentially part of your weight and balance issues? I wasn't there so this is obviously completely hearsay and needs to be corroborated with facts from you and/or others that know. I am pulling for you to be successful with your new line of moderately priced large Newtonians so keep up the good work in getting things sorted out!



#163 Pinbout

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 11:32 AM

They are not flimsy at all.

 

They do have a little vibration when you tap the but nothing horrible. 

 

 Very similar to my 12"UL at 1mm exit pupil. Not as stiff as traditional dob but every design has tradeoffs.

 

https://youtu.be/6iQHH4akr8I



#164 wolfli

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 07:56 PM

I agree that a non-employee needs to put the telescope through the paces and report on Cloudy Nights. The trusses seem flimsy in the photos, but that may be a misconception and not true.  

I tried it at NEAF. The poles are pretty strong and solid. 


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#165 skyward_eyes

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 12:48 AM

The poles are slightly different between the 18" and 20".

At NEAF we had all four models set up and we have a limited time to break down. During the craziness of break down the wrong truss poles were packed with the 20". Last year at TSP I did not need the extension when using the Paracorr. This is why this year we had the extension in and such a long focus train outside the scope.

#166 AlienRatDog

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Posted 04 June 2017 - 06:54 PM

I'm open to help review the scope (I'm sure I can get my astronomy club to help)

#167 Phil Cowell

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Posted 05 June 2017 - 08:08 PM

 

We don't release information such as strehl on our scopes. Reason being is that numbers get tossed up online and debated for years. We don't need people bickering back and forth about something be one strehl and the other being .02 difference from another.

We produce hundreds of optics a month at the factory. They have gotten quite good at producing the optics they do. Much of our stuff surpasses the 1/4 wave standard.

If you don't like the views return the equipment for a refund to the seller. It's the same with any other company.

A Celestron C14 with a mount is over $7000 and yet no one requests optical quality on the regular basis yet their 14" and our 20" are from the same factory.

We have seen enough C14's tested and very few are better then 1/4 wave and most have been less.   Of course that is the overall system.  I can understand not posting the optical specifications.   if your company was proud of the specifications you would list them. 

 

That's a straw man arguement. AP don't list individual scope results either, it just leads to willie waving competitions. If your looking for a 20" premium move on this isn't for you. If your looking for a cost effective 20" then lets see how owners like them.


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#168 Starman81

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 05:59 PM

In all honesty, this is a dream scope of mine--either the 18" or the 20", w/Goto of course. I really, REALLY hope these scopes are successful and stick around for a long time and with user feedback only get better. If I had to make a suggestion to SW USA, it would be to roll-out some sort of 90-day close-contact customer support, like a liason or concierge, yeah those fancy words fit and sound right.... A SkyWatcher Black Diamond Concierge Service that for the first 90 days you get within the hour customer service for any and all issues you may have with the scope and a limited warranty for 5-10 years and service, support and parts for life (at a cost). Is that asking too much? I think that's what premium dob purchasers really want to have--that backing, that support. Even premium dobs from a lot of the big names are not 100% finished products, they need tweaking and support and the buyers have that as they can usually pick up the phone and call the very person that made their scope! So this, I believe, is the gap that SW has to bridge to really sell the heck out of these, because let's admit it, they are tremendous bang-for-the-buck scopes. 

One thing I really like about SW offering this scope rather than Orion is that SW offers support to 2nd owners and will sell them parts (from what I have heard) and service their scopes. Orion doesn't do that so basically any scope you buy from them you are going to take a loss when selling it as people know of the policy of Orion to only support the original buyer. 


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#169 skyward_eyes

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Posted 13 June 2017 - 08:30 PM

We try to supply customer support as fast as possible. We are astronomers so we understand what you require is they same thing we expect for our own equipment.

We have two review samples making their way out as we speak. The 20" GoTo has arrived to its reviewer and the 18" is in its way.

We understand these scopes are in a new class and there is a lot of good options out there. Heck, I own a 20" Obsession myself! We want to make large scopes available to everyone and give everyone an opportunity to explore the sky with a big scope.

We have people you can call that will answer any question you have. If we can't answer it we will speak with the engineers and get your answer as soon as possible.

Edited by skyward_eyes, 13 June 2017 - 08:31 PM.

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#170 FJA

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Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:03 AM

Hi All,

 

Apologies if already covered (a quick search didn't reveal anything), but how much do the individual components weigh? Specifically the base and the mirror assembly? I'm looking for something lighter than my existing 18" classic wood dob.



#171 dgoldb

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 04:25 PM

We try to supply customer support as fast as possible. We are astronomers so we understand what you require is they same thing we expect for our own equipment.

We have two review samples making their way out as we speak. The 20" GoTo has arrived to its reviewer and the 18" is in its way.

We understand these scopes are in a new class and there is a lot of good options out there. Heck, I own a 20" Obsession myself! We want to make large scopes available to everyone and give everyone an opportunity to explore the sky with a big scope.

We have people you can call that will answer any question you have. If we can't answer it we will speak with the engineers and get your answer as soon as possible.

Are the 18" and 20" both going to the same reviewer?  



#172 skyward_eyes

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Posted 19 June 2017 - 04:26 PM

No, they are going to two completely independent reviewers.



#173 vhinze

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 09:41 PM

I am looking forward to the reviews of the 18 and 20 inch scope.

One thing that concerns me above all else is the notion of a mirror cover that is only semi-rigid, appears to rest on or make contact with the mirror surface and is lined with a foam material that can retain dirt and bring same into contact with the mirror. Movement or vibration during transport would  seem to  guarantee that the elements in this equation equal certain and irreversible degradation of the mirror coatings before their time.

 

Photos I've seen around the web and images on YouTube suggest a thin blow molded mirror cover that wouldn't do much to protect a deli birthday cake much less an expensive optical component. The shroud also seems to leave considerable room for improvement. It doesn't appear to offer much protection from dust and debris close to the ground where it is needed most.

 

Does Sky Watcher share in these concerns of mine?


Edited by vhinze, 30 June 2017 - 09:53 PM.


#174 vhinze

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Posted 21 July 2017 - 07:41 PM

Bump,

 

May one ask where the review is expected to appear?



#175 skyward_eyes

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Posted 22 July 2017 - 06:56 AM

Robert Reeves on Facebook has been doing some incredible lunar imaging with the 20" for his 365 days of the Moon.

The 18" has arrived at its reviewing location but we are not sure when they will be done with the review.
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