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Vixen VMC 200L - Opinions?

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#101 Bomber Bob

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Posted 02 October 2018 - 11:14 AM

I had another great session with the VMC200L last night.  If you're thinking about one of these rather than a C8, here's Ole Bomber Bob's straight skinny:

 

1.  It's a fine DSO scope.  Even in town, that 8" mirror grabs a ton of faint stars that my other 6" scopes can't get.  Gonna try for fainter objects using my CLS filters, now that we're finally getting some Fall weather (and clearer skies!).

2.  It's an okay lunar / planetary scope.  My 6" F8 ED easily beats it for contrast & resolution, but that scope is much more trouble to set up than this CAT.  It doesn't require a heavy 1" shaft EQ like the APM 152 does.  I'm not sure what brand new mount is equivalent to my old TAK EM-1S, but y'all can get an idea from the photos of what you'd need.

3.  Collimation is tricky, but so far it holds between sessions.  I'm gonna get a soft case, and tote it out to dark sites this fall & winter -- we'll see if bumpy country roads affect alignment!

4.  It's a Keeper for me.  But, I would not buy one brand new -- retail price is too high for what it can do visually.  I suspect a good brand new C8 would be worth the investment.


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#102 JKAstro

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Posted 03 October 2018 - 03:21 PM

IMG 0629

 

I like the VMC's 2 inch focuser and portable 8 inches of light gathering.  Great combo with a 4 inch refractor.


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#103 Bomber Bob

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Posted 03 October 2018 - 09:44 PM

Sweet pair!  Now that's a versatile & portable kit.

 

I want to hold on to my 2 Classic 4" achros for as long as possible -- especially the Ralph Dakin F10 with its link to fame -- so no APO in that aperture for years to come.

 

If y'all can't tell from my posts, the VMC200L is nothing but fun on a clear night.  Moon-glow wrecking the skies?  No sweat.  It's a good lunar explorer, and double-star splitter.  And if there's a planet or two available, you're all set.  I'm really looking forward to some Moon-less winter nights, when I can glide along from M35 to M38 with this cluster buster.


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#104 Charlie B

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 04:42 PM

I had another great session with the VMC200L last night.  If you're thinking about one of these rather than a C8, here's Ole Bomber Bob's straight skinny:

 

1.  It's a fine DSO scope.  Even in town, that 8" mirror grabs a ton of faint stars that my other 6" scopes can't get.  Gonna try for fainter objects using my CLS filters, now that we're finally getting some Fall weather (and clearer skies!).

2.  It's an okay lunar / planetary scope.  My 6" F8 ED easily beats it for contrast & resolution, but that scope is much more trouble to set up than this CAT.  It doesn't require a heavy 1" shaft EQ like the APM 152 does.  I'm not sure what brand new mount is equivalent to my old TAK EM-1S, but y'all can get an idea from the photos of what you'd need.

3.  Collimation is tricky, but so far it holds between sessions.  I'm gonna get a soft case, and tote it out to dark sites this fall & winter -- we'll see if bumpy country roads affect alignment!

4.  It's a Keeper for me.  But, I would not buy one brand new -- retail price is too high for what it can do visually.  I suspect a good brand new C8 would be worth the investment.

I finally had the skies partially clear and I took about an hour of 30 second subs on M57 with my Canon T3.  I'm going to the Staunton River Star Party next week and, if weather permits, I will exercise it more.

 

Regards,

 

Charlie

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#105 Simon B

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 04:08 AM

I got mine used a few months ago - luckily it arrived in perfect collimation : )  haven't really had the opportunity to use it much, but so far I really love this thing... a perfect, portable light bucket. Pairs well with the CG4!

 

 

IMG 0075B

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#106 Bomber Bob

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 08:42 AM

I really love this thing... a perfect, portable light bucket.

 

Yep.  20-30 years ago, I would've loved to own a Classic 8" F7 Cave on its original EQ mount + pedestal.  Now... nope.  Even on casters, it's more trouble than it's worth to me.


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#107 BillP

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 12:23 PM

The VMC200L is $1099.  Celestron has the c8 at $1039 though I've seen it for around $900 at some online vendors.  The Edge is 1200ish.  The Meade ACF is $999.  So, it's a little more than a standard C8 or ACF but not drastic.  I actually like the idea of a fixed mirror in the VMC but the Meade at $999 (which I've owned and highly recommend) seems like the best bang for the buck if buying new is critical.  All of them can be found much cheaper used.

 

VMC200L - $899 at B&H - https://www.bhphotov...cassegrain.html

 

C8 - $899 - https://www.bhphotov...0_Aluminum.html

 

Same price...choose your poison.


Edited by BillP, 08 October 2018 - 12:24 PM.

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#108 Bomber Bob

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 12:48 PM

So... I wonder if B&H pulled the VMC's 50mm finder, or ordered it that way to get the price down to C8 levels?

 

Either way...  I'd choose the VMC for its planetary & double star views, and no large corrector for my humid Swamp sessions.



#109 BillP

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 03:38 PM

1.  It's a fine DSO scope.  Even in town, that 8" mirror grabs a ton of faint stars that my other 6" scopes can't get.  Gonna try for fainter objects using my CLS filters, now that we're finally getting some Fall weather (and clearer skies!).
 

2.  It's an okay lunar / planetary scope.  My 6" F8 ED easily beats it for contrast & resolution, but that scope is much more trouble to set up than this CAT.  It doesn't require a heavy 1" shaft EQ like the APM 152 does.  I'm not sure what brand new mount is equivalent to my old TAK EM-1S, but y'all can get an idea from the photos of what you'd need.
 

3.  Collimation is tricky, but so far it holds between sessions.  I'm gonna get a soft case, and tote it out to dark sites this fall & winter -- we'll see if bumpy country roads affect alignment!

 

On #2 you might want to flock the interior.  Found an old CN thread and they did that to increase contrast and it worked - https://www.cloudyni...-vixen-vmc200l/.  A non-adhesive flocking you can let stay in place via pressure would be easiest -- http://www.fpi-proto.../flockboard.htm

 

On #3 I understand that it may have multiple collimation points?  The VC model at least has collimatable focuser, secondary and primary.  So that might be tricky.  Also understand the design is optimum at 135mm backfocus, so for planetary means probably a 1.25" diagonal for best results.  The VC model is very strict with the secondary to primary distance and being off just a little will add SA.  If set properly at the factory for the VCs, the draw tube should be extended 13.4mm to reach focus with the flip diagonal in place and using straight thru mode, otherwise primary-secondary distance is not optimized.  Not sure this is an issue with the VMCs though...I would think probably not.

 

Btw, have you observed thru your VMC200L with a 40mm wide field or any eyepieces that near maxes out what a 2" barrel cna view?  If so, how were the off-axis stars?  They are supposed to be fully corrected on this scope correct?


Edited by BillP, 08 October 2018 - 03:40 PM.


#110 Bomber Bob

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 05:22 PM

Bill, all my 2" eyepieces are vintage.  Naturally, field curvature is obvious with my Erfles.  At 40x with a UO 50mm Plossl, stars are tiny, but not the pinpoints of my best refractors at that magnification.  I see no vignetting.  The area of distortion is a fraction of the total field -- a very thin ring at the edge -- and tough to say how much is due the eyepiece or scope.

 

My experience with SCTs is limited, but I think the VMC is closer to my Questar than my C5.  It really is a larger version of the 125C Corrected Dall-Kirkham -- but better made.  (If Meade had marketed the 125C rather than Kenko, including that robust KES mount, it could've given the C5 serious competition.)



#111 Bomber Bob

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 05:33 PM

I understand that it may have multiple collimation points?

 

A thick plastic decal covers the secondary screws; and, if I'm reading the Vixen blurbs correctly, owners aren't meant to mess with those factory settings.  I've found that the primary and focuser screws are enough to align the system -- at least as far as my laser can assess.  When we have some consistent clear nights, I'll go beyond that device visually at high power, now that I have knack with the hardware.

 

I don't invest in flocking & blackening the interior of a scope until I've decided to keep it.  I've had several enjoyable sessions with it, so I will make those improvements.



#112 JKAstro

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 02:37 PM

Bomber, given your collection of small refractors and your enjoyment of the VMC200L on deep sky, when would you use your APM 152 other than for planets?



#113 Bomber Bob

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 03:34 PM

when would you use your APM 152 other than for planets?

 

Every clear, cool, Moon-less, weekend night when I have at least 3 hours of observing time available.  Why?  Because every object will be sharper in the refractor.  I see the difference with star clusters especially.



#114 JKAstro

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 08:45 PM

when would you use your APM 152 other than for planets?

 

Every clear, cool, Moon-less, weekend night when I have at least 3 hours of observing time available.  Why?  Because every object will be sharper in the refractor.  I see the difference with star clusters especially.

 

I still struggle with wanting a 140-152mm refractor, but I think I’d miss the extra light gathering of the VMC200L more than I’d enjoy the sharper but more faint refractor.



#115 astrogeek64

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 10:07 AM

I finally had the chance to compare my VMC200 to an Edge8. The Vixen is brighter, pulling in fainter nebula the Edge8 has no spikes. Both are very sharp. Not refractor sharp but, close. Got some very nice single shots of Orion, M27 and the Flame Nebula with my Canon T6i. On collimation; Try not to get it out, it can be a pain to get spot on, again. Adjustments are very touchy, from my experience. All things considered, I'm happy with mine.
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#116 astrogeek64

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 10:12 AM

I finally had the skies partially clear and I took about an hour of 30 second subs on M57 with my Canon T3.  I'm going to the Staunton River Star Party next week and, if weather permits, I will exercise it more.

 

Regards,

 

Charlie

I was there Monday night! Wish I had seen you.



#117 Charlie B

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 04:14 PM

I was there Monday night! Wish I had seen you.

I was in the green Kendrick Astro Tent on the north side of the field.  Monday, nothing worked right.  First, I had the wrong location, second a set screw in my RA motor came loose, Third I dropped a screw replacing the motor after tightening the set screw (took about 15 minutes on my hands and knees to find it).  Finally, I took an hour of 30 second unguided subs of M31 with my Canon T3 and its 200mm telephoto lens at F2.8, which turned out OK.

 

Tuesday, I tried to photograph Mars through the sucker holes in the clouds.  Took about 2.5 hours to collect the 5 total minutes of images.  Mars came out better than I expected with the seeing so bad.  I used the Vixen at F19.5 and the ZWO224MC camera.

 

M31 is at https://charliestree...om/pictures/432

Mars is at https://charliestree...om/pictures/433

 

Wednesday and Thursday, I tried to stay dry, without much luck.

Friday the park closed due to lack of power and I packed up and went home.  Not the best time at SRSP, but this year has been almost a complete bust with weather.  Hopefully, the weather will be better next year.

 

Best regards,

 

Charlie B


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#118 astrogeek64

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 01:07 PM

I was there one day.....Monday. It was spectacular. Went home because I had to go to work, Tuesday night. Worked out great for me!

#119 John4

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Posted 04 January 2019 - 02:09 PM

I bought one used from someone on cloudy nights it was designed flaws so I took the scope apart and will be converting it to a Takahashi cn-212

#120 Bomber Bob

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Posted 27 January 2019 - 09:30 PM

I'm really looking forward to some Moon-less winter nights, when I can glide along from M35 to M38 with this cluster buster.

 

Finally got my cluster tour tonight, and it was better than expected -- especially M35 -- and in 7/10 seeing.  Used a vintage UO 2" Erfle 32mm for 62x.  Started at M38, and worked my way east, and the views got better & better.  Plus, the star fields!  From my urban back yard skies are a dark gray in this scope, and star colors are less intense (like my 152ED), but the stars are finely resolved -- very refractor-like.

 

Cost :: Value of OTAs

 

Looks like a brand new VMC200L runs about $1200, while a new C8 is about $800.  Right off the bat, the C8 is a better buy for most observers.  IMO, the VMC is more of a niche product than the SCT.  But, it doesn't require anything else, like a dew-shield / lens shade, or a heater / fan.  It should resist dewing better than a C8.  Used prices are about 1/2 to 1/3 the original -- or roughly the same as used C8s from the same time period.

 

If you're looking for refractor-ish views in an open-tube CAT, a used VMC makes sense.  Just don't tinker with the collimation too much, or you'll regret it!


Edited by Bomber Bob, 28 January 2019 - 10:26 AM.


#121 TOMDEY

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 09:41 PM

Will the VCM 200L take a “regular” 2-inch star diagonal and come to focus OK? The directions show their dedicated flip mirror diag, which I don’t want to use. My preferred eyepiece will probably be the University 50mm Plossl, to give 39x. I would like to use it as a Finder on my 36-inch scope… honest!  Tom

For the record... I actually DID that!

It works fine as a finder at 37x.

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  • 71.2 70 Toms 36-inch Brobdingnagius Rex.jpg
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#122 Bomber Bob

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Posted 24 April 2019 - 10:14 PM

The Swamp at 0200Z [2100L]

 

Temperature  70°F (21°C)

Humidity 71%
Wind Speed S 5 mph
Dewpoint 60°F (16°C)

Seeing = 7 - 8 / 10 [a few hi altitude thin cirrus ribbons]

 

My VMC200L continues to amaze me.  I got a clean split of Castor with a vintage spectros KE30 (66x) at 0034Z [1934L], and saw the brightest dozen or so of M35's stars just a few minutes later.  Found NGC 2392 at 0105Z [2005L] with a vintage Meade Research Grade 20mm Erfle (100x).  About 30 mins later, and I saw the "face" & the "fur trimmed hood" at 200x with my spectros 10mm Plossl.  Besides my Cancer Doubles, I explored Leo's Sickle, starting with a picture-perfect split of Algieba -- bright yellow-white & deep gold at 100x with a UO HD 20mm Orthoscopic.

 

Seems we get the best seeing of the week on work nights!  Oh well.  At some point I'll get to turn this scope to the Virgo Cluster Of Galaxies -- that'll be a LONG post for sure!


Edited by Bomber Bob, 24 April 2019 - 10:47 PM.

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#123 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 27 April 2019 - 12:37 PM

I was looking for one of these for a while.  Thankfully it took a long time so I was able to do more research on them.  There are a LOT of reports that the optics have issues that can't be adjusted out and owners sell them to unsuspecting buyers on the used market.   If you are going this route I would suggest you buy from a store that has a good return policy and that you do so when you have weather that will allow you to test it extensively and immediately.  

 

But just buy a Newt



#124 Bomber Bob

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Posted 02 May 2019 - 08:56 AM

I bought my VMC200L used, but from a trusted CN member, and as you can tell by my posts, I'm very happy with it.  But, yes!  It's always Buyer Beware for used items.  If they're not a regular CN member with ratings for past sales, and you can't go and look at the scope yourself, then don't buy it.  That's the safest bet.

 

Observing Update

 

I got to test my VMC against my APM 152ED on the morning of 28 APR with Jupiter as the target  -->  https://www.cloudyni...10#entry9325818



#125 memento

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Posted 02 May 2019 - 01:31 PM

It's surely a very interesting scope. I read all your observation reports on it now. Apart from the VMC and 8" SCT's, I'm not aware of any other 8" scopes that can be mounted so easily. On the other hand the VMC's are expensive on this side of the pond, even used. You can trace down C8 tubes below 500 Euros, but when a VMC is offered (much more rare than C8's) it's almost aways priced well above 700.

 

Because of that I'm now interested in the new GSO Cassegrains, but there I'd have to go for 6", as their 8" is too heavy for a SP-class mount. The 6" has a smaller aperture but then it's priced without any competition, 399 Euros new. Even used C6's or even C5's are rarely less than that over here!

 

I had a Meade 8" SCT myself and sometimes it would just hopelessly trail the ambient temperature during the whole night ... as it also had some other problems I decided against modifying it and sold it off. That's why I'm now interested in an open system.

 

If you watch planets with the VMC, how are the spikes affecting the view? Do you really notice them and have to "concentrate" or "ignore" them?




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