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CFF 250mm 10" RC Arrived

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#1 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:35 AM

Yesterday my long-awaited CFF250RC arrived, the first in the USA.  I intend this thread to be a running review as I get familiar with the scope.  I'll be using the CFF250RC primarily for imaging.

 

Rather than post a bunch of large pictures of the scope here, I'll include just one attached to this post, but more images can be found on a webpage I created for the scope: www.buckeyestargazer.net/Pages/CFF250RC.php

 

Some initial observations:

1.  First and foremost, working with Catalin Fus (CFF) and Cloud Break Optics (CFF USA dealer) was absolutely amazing.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.  

 

2.  The scope arrived VERY well packed...it took me nearly 90min just to get everything unpacked and unwrapped (I took my time though).  

 

3.  Everything about this scope breathes extremely high quality.  The fit and finish is wonderful, the mechanics are very precisely machined and everything is tight.  Perhaps the main reason I decided on a CFF RC vs. the more common Chinese variants is because of the mechanics of the CFF (more on that below regarding collimation).  I'm not saying other brands RC scopes are not good, but the CFF is on another level (and price of course).  I previously owned a common 8" Chinese RC and while the mirrors were not bad the mechanics left much to be desired. I got very tired of having to fiddle with collimation, not ever being sure if it was precise or not, and decided at that point that I was a refractor guy grin.gif .  That was several years ago and I had been thinking for a long time now that I needed more focal length so I started researching RC or Dall-Kirkham scopes.  I settled on CFF because of the high quality reputation and yet the price was less than the more expensive DK options out there.

 

4.  Collimation:  Before buying the scope I had asked several European users of a CFF RC how well the scope holds collimation and the answers I got were very encouraging.  A few of them mentioned how they always travel for imaging and they rarely have to tweak the collimation between travels.  Even though I am observatory mounted this stability in maintaining collimation was very important in my choice of scope, and I will on occasion travel to a dark sky site.

 

The scope arrived in relatively good collimation having traveled all the way from Poland to Indiana.  Last evening I collimated the scope indoors with a Howie Glatter laser collimator.  I have never used a laser collimator before.  Collimating the CFF was not hard at all.  CFF has a nice collimation guide.  There are 4 steps (align focuser with secondary, align secondary with primary, align primary tilt, and star test).  I have not done the star test yet.

 

The collimation knobs on both the primary and secondary are tight and very precise.  The primary has 3 knobs with 100 - 0.01mm markings on them, so one full turn of the knob equals just 1 mm.  It did take me some time to get used to what I was doing (never having done it before), but the adjustments themselves were precise and easy.  Again, everything is very tight and I have no doubt that collimation will remain precise.  There are lock screws for each of the primary and secondary adjustment bolts.

 

5.  Accessories:  A flattener comes standard with the scope, as does a shroud for the cage, secondary mirror, and front objective, as well as a cover for the primary for transportation.  I also received primary and secondary dew heaters that are installed in the mirror cages, as well as a Lunatico Platypus/Zerodew combination control unit made specially for CFF.  This Lunatico controller will allow me to control a number of different peripherals from one controller (2 focuser motors, dew heaters, scope fans).

 

I also had Catalin make me some custom adapters for my specific camera needs.  As with the scope, the adapters are simply beatiful.  Catalin gives attention to detail like no other.  

 

Over the next few days I hope to get the system all mounted up and everything connected as well as star testing and I will report back here on my progress.

 

EDIT:  For some reason the pics come out a little orange.  The accent color is actually deep red and it looks fantastic.

Attached Thumbnails

  • CFF6.jpg

Edited by buckeyestargazer, 11 May 2017 - 12:53 PM.

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#2 gfstallin

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:44 AM

Let us know how that Italian primary tests! 

 

George


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#3 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:55 AM

I will George.  The scope came with a test report from Marcon Optics and it shows a strehl of 0.952.  And that's the system strehl.  It has a bunch of other numbers that I don't understand.  smile.gif


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#4 JoeR

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:05 PM

Beautiful! I see that's the same weight as a C11 are you using a guidescope or OAG with it? I'm sure the Mach1GTO will handle it no problem.



#5 Starman27

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:24 PM

The Italian side of me loves the design execution and the German side the apparent precision. Can't wait for your "first light".



#6 snommisbor

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:41 PM

Very nice. Ive looked at those. Will it just be used for AP or can you do some visual? I am pretty much an AP guy myself but I do like popping on a diagonal and checking out the views, always wondered if these would be good for visual or just an AP machine.



#7 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:52 PM

Beautiful! I see that's the same weight as a C11 are you using a guidescope or OAG with it? I'm sure the Mach1GTO will handle it no problem.

I'm using an OAG.

 

The weight of the OTA with focuser, side plates and handle is about 35lbs.  I have no doubt the Mach1 will handle it.  However I intend to mount an 80mm apo refractor on the top and have a dual camera setup.  The total weight will probably be pushing 46#.  But the moment arm isn't very long so I'm hopeful it will work OK.

 

 

Very nice. Ive looked at those. Will it just be used for AP or can you do some visual? I am pretty much an AP guy myself but I do like popping on a diagonal and checking out the views, always wondered if these would be good for visual or just an AP machine.

I'm sure it can be used for visual.  If I remember to I'll put a diagonal on and check before moving on to the more important camera.  This scope will be 96% AP and 4% visual.  



#8 Guest_djhanson_*

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 02:41 PM

Congrats!!  Glad to see another CFF cassegrain in the states! :)

 

I'm going on about 2 years with mine (though its a classical cass and not RC) and I've probably set it up about 100+ outings now.  Anyways, yeh the collimation holds very well - this considering I set mine up manually each time - lugging a 52 lb OTA outside onto a table for GEM mounting (like a C14+dew shield).  This is the "horizontal Greg Girly Man" approach (youtube). :)

 

have fun! cheers, DJ

 

PS: the primary is Romanian and not Italian :D  (but consider the mirrors Ferrari -esk :D)  Tavi does an awesome job with the mirror making.



#9 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 03:29 PM

Congrats!!  Glad to see another CFF cassegrain in the states! smile.gif

 

I'm going on about 2 years with mine (though its a classical cass and not RC) and I've probably set it up about 100+ outings now.  Anyways, yeh the collimation holds very well - this considering I set mine up manually each time - lugging a 52 lb OTA outside onto a table for GEM mounting (like a C14+dew shield).  This is the "horizontal Greg Girly Man" approach (youtube). smile.gif

 

have fun! cheers, DJ

 

PS: the primary is Romanian and not Italian laugh.gif  (but consider the mirrors Ferrari -esk laugh.gif)  Tavi does an awesome job with the mirror making.

Actually the mirror set IS Italian.  Catalin ordered some sets of mirrors from Marcon Optical in Italy.  I initially had some questions about that but he assured me it would make no difference whether I got a CFF mirror or a Marcon mirror.  The high standards are the same for both.



#10 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 05:43 PM

Anyways, yeh the collimation holds very well - this considering I set mine up manually each time - lugging a 52 lb OTA outside onto a table for GEM mounting (like a C14+dew shield).  This is the "horizontal Greg Girly Man" approach (youtube). smile.gif

Amazingly the skies might be clearing enough for me to do some star testing tonight.  Since I've never really collimated before with an instrument like this I have a couple questions, and since you (DJ) own a CFF......

 

Am I correct in saying that if the stars in the field show astigmatism (oval stars) then I need to adjust the primary?  And if the stars show coma (flared) I need to adjust the secondary?  I might not have any of that right.  grin.gif

 

I was also wondering about the fans and mirror heaters.  Both the fans and heaters are attached to the same control source with a potentiometer to vary the current supplied.  It seems counter productive to me to have the fans going to help cool down, while at the same time the heaters are heating up to prevent dew.  ???



#11 WadeH237

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 06:20 PM

That's a sweet scope!

 

Cloud Break Optics is local to me, but I've not visited them yet.  It looks like I need to do so.

 

What is the focal ratio on your scope?  I checked out their site, and it looks like the 250mm CFF is available in F/15 or F/20.  Do they make a faster version?  Yours looks like it's very noticeably shorter than the one on Cloud Break's site.

 

-Wade



#12 AtmosFearIC

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:39 PM

That's a sweet scope!

Cloud Break Optics is local to me, but I've not visited them yet. It looks like I need to do so.

What is the focal ratio on your scope? I checked out their site, and it looks like the 250mm CFF is available in F/15 or F/20. Do they make a faster version? Yours looks like it's very noticeably shorter than the one on Cloud Break's site.

-Wade


All of their RCs come as F/8 as standard, the cass's are F/15-20.

#13 Alterf

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 09:23 PM

Congrats, Joel!  It's a beautiful scope!  I am excited to see the images you pull out of it!

 

Val



#14 WadeH237

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 09:33 PM

All of their RCs come as F/8 as standard, the cass's are F/15-20.

Interesting.  The only 250mm cassegrain I could find on their site was the classical cassegrain.  I can't find the R/Cs...



#15 elwaine

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 09:36 PM

Yesterday my long-awaited CFF250RC arrived, the first in the USA. 

Some initial observations:

1.  First and foremost, working with Catalin Fus (CFF) and Cloud Break Optics (CFF USA dealer) was absolutely amazing.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.  

Congratulations Joel. That's one beautiful RC.

 

I haven't had experience with Cloud Break Optics, but I'll second your comment about what a pleasure it is to work with Catalin Fus at CFF. I have a 92mm refractor on order and it's been a delight working with Catalin.



#16 Guest_djhanson_*

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:33 AM

 

Anyways, yeh the collimation holds very well - this considering I set mine up manually each time - lugging a 52 lb OTA outside onto a table for GEM mounting (like a C14+dew shield).  This is the "horizontal Greg Girly Man" approach (youtube). smile.gif

Amazingly the skies might be clearing enough for me to do some star testing tonight.  Since I've never really collimated before with an instrument like this I have a couple questions, and since you (DJ) own a CFF......

 

Am I correct in saying that if the stars in the field show astigmatism (oval stars) then I need to adjust the primary?  And if the stars show coma (flared) I need to adjust the secondary?  I might not have any of that right.  grin.gif

 

I was also wondering about the fans and mirror heaters.  Both the fans and heaters are attached to the same control source with a potentiometer to vary the current supplied.  It seems counter productive to me to have the fans going to help cool down, while at the same time the heaters are heating up to prevent dew.  ???

 

Nice - hopefully you'll get some time to set it up!

 

Collimation isn't too bad.  One trick, at least for me, if you choose to do rough collimation (laser and/or Tak scope, etc), temporarily unscrew the primary baffle and this will greatly lesson the confusion of interpreting the concentric rings (or what should be concentric rings! :D)

 

For final fine tuning collimation, via a star test, remove any coma via small primary adjustments of the 3 graduated-marked knobs on the back.  Generally I've not needed to adjust mine more than maybe 1/20 to 1/5 of a turn.  Astignatism is removed by very small adjustments to the secondary, which I've only done one-time.  For me at least, I need very good seeing to do adequate star testing and critical to only defocus slightly on the airy disc and its rings (rather than a great amount of defocus which will result in testing more mechanical and not optical alignment).

 

My scope does not have the optional secondary heater.  I only have the 3 rear fans.  They do help to cool or keep the primary near an ambient temperature, but of course if you experience a rapid temp drops they'll need to make the primary catch up after maybe 5-10 min if temp's steady.  But the biggest plus to the fans, in my experience, is the boundary air sweep they do of the primary.  Air flows around the primary sides, across the primary face and exits out the front of the scope.  In general I've found this to steady planetary imaging and/or star test patterns.

 

cheers, DJ


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#17 akulapanam

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 01:16 AM

Looks like a fantastic scope. I loved my GSO RC but not the mechanics. Officina Stellare could learn something here and add those dials to the back of the RH200 for tip tilt adjustment

#18 Riccardo_italy

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 06:29 AM

Hi, I'm Italian. Stay assured that Marcon is a well known high-end optical producer in Italy. They are specialized in big observatory telescopes, they also makes some medium "portable" telescopes and very good mounts (russian style). You can also buy from them complete systems for permanent observatory; they sold a lot of fork mounted 40cm RC  like this one: http://www.marcontel...tti/fissi/2.php

I just pick, from their website, some of their works:

 

- Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte - Ritchey - Chretien,  Ø1.550 mm (biggest RC in Italy)

-Osservatorio Astronomico di Campocatino - Ritchey - Chretien Ø 800 mm.
-Stazione Astronomica di Coloti (Università di Perugia) -  Ritchey - Chretien Ø 800 mm.

-Astronomische Vereiningung - Switzerland - Telescopio Ritchey - Chretien Ø 637 mm automatico.
-Osservatorio Astronomico di Pino Torinese (TO) Ritchey-Chretien Ø 800 mm
-Osservatorio Astrofisico di Catania –  Ritchey-Chretien Ø 800 mm
-Comune di San Marcello Pistoiese – TNewton-Cassegrain Ø 600 mm
-Comune di Alpette (TO) –  Ritchey-Chretien automatico Ø 600 mm
-Osservatorio Astronomico Comune di Piccioli (PI) – Ritchey Chretien Ø 500 mm F/8

 

They also made some very big mirrors in alluminium for IR applications, like this one: 2.64mt

http://www.marcontel...dotti/exp/1.php


Edited by Riccardo_italy, 12 May 2017 - 06:42 AM.

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#19 Riccardo_italy

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 06:58 AM

Amazing! I was looking for Marcon telescopes, to make my previous post.

I actually found one of them (a 40cm fork-mounted) available second-hand: http://www.otticasan...rod&prodID=4977



#20 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 07:24 AM

 

All of their RCs come as F/8 as standard, the cass's are F/15-20.

Interesting.  The only 250mm cassegrain I could find on their site was the classical cassegrain.  I can't find the R/Cs...

 

Here you go:  http://cfftelescopes...tor-rc250mm-f8/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice - hopefully you'll get some time to set it up!

Collimation isn't too bad.  One trick, at least for me, if you choose to do rough collimation (laser and/or Tak scope, etc), temporarily unscrew the primary baffle and this will greatly lesson the confusion of interpreting the concentric rings (or what should be concentric rings! laugh.gif)

 

For final fine tuning collimation, via a star test, remove any coma via small primary adjustments of the 3 graduated-marked knobs on the back.  Generally I've not needed to adjust mine more than maybe 1/20 to 1/5 of a turn.  Astignatism is removed by very small adjustments to the secondary, which I've only done one-time.  For me at least, I need very good seeing to do adequate star testing and critical to only defocus slightly on the airy disc and its rings (rather than a great amount of defocus which will result in testing more mechanical and not optical alignment).

 

My scope does not have the optional secondary heater.  I only have the 3 rear fans.  They do help to cool or keep the primary near an ambient temperature, but of course if you experience a rapid temp drops they'll need to make the primary catch up after maybe 5-10 min if temp's steady.  But the biggest plus to the fans, in my experience, is the boundary air sweep they do of the primary.  Air flows around the primary sides, across the primary face and exits out the front of the scope.  In general I've found this to steady planetary imaging and/or star test patterns.

 

cheers, DJ

 

Thanks so much for the advice.  

 

I already used the laser collimator indoors and got the scope aligned as well as I can or know how at this point.  Even with removing the baffle is was incredibly hard to see the concentric rings on the primary and thankfully the secondary didn't appear to need very much adjustment.  

 

Unfortunately last night was not clear after all.  I was able to set up and do a few things, but there were thin clouds the whole time and there's no way I could do any sort of star test.  Tonight looks clear...



#21 buckeyestargazer

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 01:48 PM

In anticipation of clear, steady skies tonight, I decided to re-check the collimation of the scope in my observatory (I did it in my house yesterday).  I'm glad I did, as I had forgotten to tighten several lock screws when I was finished with my first attempt at collimation.  foreheadslap.gif

But it wasn't off by much. 

 

When I was finished aligning the focuser to the secondary and the secondary to the primary, I checked the primary collimation and without doing anything the attached image is what I got.  The picture is taken from just below the scope looking slightly up toward the rings.  Recognizing this is about as imprecise as we can get, how does the concentric ring pattern look to you?  Remember, I'm a newbie at collimation...

 

 

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  • CollimationRings.jpg

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#22 REC

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 01:58 PM

In anticipation of clear, steady skies tonight, I decided to re-check the collimation of the scope in my observatory (I did it in my house yesterday).  I'm glad I did, as I had forgotten to tighten several lock screws when I was finished with my first attempt at collimation.  foreheadslap.gif

But it wasn't off by much. 

 

When I was finished aligning the focuser to the secondary and the secondary to the primary, I checked the primary collimation and without doing anything the attached image is what I got.  The picture is taken from just below the scope looking slightly up toward the rings.  Recognizing this is about as imprecise as we can get, how does the concentric ring pattern look to you?  Remember, I'm a newbie at collimation...

The rings look perfect to my eye!



#23 macdonjh

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 06:46 PM

Congratulations, Buckeye.  Like djahnson, I am a CFF classical Casegrain owner.  Mine is f/15, love that small secondary.   If you're curious, you can see photos of my scope in the observatory forum in "A clean poorly lit place".

 

I am 100% visual.  I had the same experience as you did working with Catalin.  Flawless customer service, order updates, packaging and shipping. 

 

Anxious to hear about your setting up and see your first photos.


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#24 DeanS

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 09:28 PM

Congrats on the new scope!

 

I found with my AT 10" RC that even with what appeared to be perfect with the tools, was not giving me perfect stars.  I used the DSI method for using stars to collimate and got it perfect.  I would recommend it as it is not hard once you try it.

 

http://www.deepskyin...ure_Ver_1.0.pdf

 

Dean


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#25 Guest_djhanson_*

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Posted 13 May 2017 - 08:59 AM

 

 

All of their RCs come as F/8 as standard, the cass's are F/15-20.

Interesting.  The only 250mm cassegrain I could find on their site was the classical cassegrain.  I can't find the R/Cs...

 

Here you go:  http://cfftelescopes...tor-rc250mm-f8/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nice - hopefully you'll get some time to set it up!

Collimation isn't too bad.  One trick, at least for me, if you choose to do rough collimation (laser and/or Tak scope, etc), temporarily unscrew the primary baffle and this will greatly lesson the confusion of interpreting the concentric rings (or what should be concentric rings! laugh.gif)

 

For final fine tuning collimation, via a star test, remove any coma via small primary adjustments of the 3 graduated-marked knobs on the back.  Generally I've not needed to adjust mine more than maybe 1/20 to 1/5 of a turn.  Astignatism is removed by very small adjustments to the secondary, which I've only done one-time.  For me at least, I need very good seeing to do adequate star testing and critical to only defocus slightly on the airy disc and its rings (rather than a great amount of defocus which will result in testing more mechanical and not optical alignment).

 

My scope does not have the optional secondary heater.  I only have the 3 rear fans.  They do help to cool or keep the primary near an ambient temperature, but of course if you experience a rapid temp drops they'll need to make the primary catch up after maybe 5-10 min if temp's steady.  But the biggest plus to the fans, in my experience, is the boundary air sweep they do of the primary.  Air flows around the primary sides, across the primary face and exits out the front of the scope.  In general I've found this to steady planetary imaging and/or star test patterns.

 

cheers, DJ

 

Thanks so much for the advice.  

 

I already used the laser collimator indoors and got the scope aligned as well as I can or know how at this point.  Even with removing the baffle is was incredibly hard to see the concentric rings on the primary and thankfully the secondary didn't appear to need very much adjustment.  

 

Unfortunately last night was not clear after all.  I was able to set up and do a few things, but there were thin clouds the whole time and there's no way I could do any sort of star test.  Tonight looks clear...

 

sorry, my bad, as I meant removing the baffle when using a Tak scope (somehow I always forget to say that).  If you're not using a Tak scope, then maybe no need to remove the baffle in this case.  Either way, your rings look nice and concentric to me!  Good job!  I would say you're good for a star test now when clouds go away and seeing behaves.  cheers, DJ


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