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SW 180 mak - other alternatives?

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#1 blamkin86

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 09:23 AM



Hi all! I have a SW100ED refractor, and am looking for a companion OTA.

I really like looking at planets, and just need more reach. If the new scope is decent on galaxies, etc, all the better - but reach for planets is #1 concern.

I observe only while on long camping weekends. We go to far offroad camping spots in Utah, and the seeing is mainly clear, sometimes unbelievable, and sometimes too much turbulence.

I currently have an iOptron EQ30, and a non-goto Bresser Exos second mount. I also have ES 2" 30mm, 5.5, and 9mm 100* eyepieces - plus the 20mm/5mm eyepieces that came with the refractor.

In any case, I've read about every thread I can on the subject, and I think I want a Mak-Cass.

My budget is "around $1K" although I'm lucky enough to go up to $2K if need be (for everything.)

I see the SW180 is well liked by many who own them. They are on sale for $1080, plus a better diagonal (+$250) plus a better focuser ($250?) so really more like $1600. Because of the FL (2700mm) I would also have to buy at least one more eyepiece .(17mm? 45?)

So really, it's more like $2K for that scope, mainly due to the FL and other concerns.

Since I already have a SW, and it's my only OTA, I'm wanting to make sure and not pass over something else. As far as I can tell, my options in this price range would be

Orion (probably same as the SW)
https://www.telescop...2160/p/9969.uts

iOptron 6"
https://www.ioptron....duct-p/6101.htm

Meade (comes with mount, which I don't really want/need)
https://www.meade.co...lx85-mak-6.html

So, my question is, what am I missing? Is there a $1500 scope I should be considering that already has a good diagonal and focuser?

Used market?

Thanks in advance,
--Bill
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#2 Hugh Peck

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:01 AM

A used de-weighted Meade 7" tube. They came with a 15 lb weight in the back which blocked the flow of the fan. Generally had excellent optics.


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#3 Eddgie

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:04 AM

SW 180 Should be a good improvement over your 100 if your conditions are good (good seeing, no problem with thermals).

 

What is wrong with the diagonal you already have, and why would you think you nee a new focuser before even getting the scope?



#4 blamkin86

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:18 AM

A used de-weighted Meade 7" tube. They came with a 15 lb weight in the back which blocked the flow of the fan. Generally had excellent optics.

 

Great tip. I’m only finding the lx85 6” mak online. Think it’s basicall the same one with less aperture?



#5 blamkin86

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:21 AM

SW 180 Should be a good improvement over your 100 if your conditions are good (good seeing, no problem with thermals).

 

What is wrong with the diagonal you already have, and why would you think you nee a new focuser before even getting the scope?

I’m going to set up both scopes at the same time. I’d like a second diagonal. 

 

I see many complaints and videos about the focuser and diagonal. Of course I don’t know if either is true but it doesn’t take much searching to see other dissatisfied people.  

 

Assuming I keep the stock focuser, what other scopes in this price range should I consider?



#6 Hugh Peck

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:28 AM

The Meade 7 was made several years ago. Not sure when they quit. They were f/15, 2670mm fl. They also had a built in fan which helped tremendously, once the weight was removed, at cooling the mirror. I sold mine a couple years ago for $700 shipped. I'm way too old to hauling around big honking mounts and tubes. gramps.gif


Edited by Hugh Peck, 10 December 2018 - 10:28 AM.


#7 Edwin

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:37 AM

If you want a really step up from your SW 100, I would minimally go for 180 mm. There are not much (affordable) maks with an aperture bigger then 180, the Orion/SW 180 seems a good option. Intes Micro (are they still being sold?) is too expensive and Orion Optics is a bit of a gamble.

Other options: new Celestron C8, Meade 8” or second hand Mewlon 180.

Edited by Edwin, 10 December 2018 - 10:57 AM.


#8 Bill Barlow

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:45 AM

I would look at an 8” SCT, either an ACF Meade or a Celestron.  They are a bit lighter than the SW 180 MAK and would give you a little more FOV.  

 

 Bill


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#9 spongebob@55

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:50 AM

Both the Orion and SW are made in the same factory, so the chances of getting a good one or a dog is equal.  They are differentiated by accessories.

With Orion, if you get a dog, or any reason, you can return it for $9.95 no questions asked.  Just go on their website and print out a label.  Orion also has 'seconds' every now and then.  But they won't tell you why it was that it was returned so its a gamble.  But again, you can return it for $9.95.   I've got good buys and dogs on the 2nds so like I said, its a gamble.  Also Orion now charges sales tax of your native state while other sellers of SW may not (yet).

I'm sure you've noticed how these scopes depreciate as used.  So there's good buys used IF you can get a good one.

I've had a 180mm and loved it.  I sold it b/c I had it on a EQ mount, which I hated.  But now I have a heavy duty Alt/Az mount so I'm looking to buy another.  Even my observing buddies remembered how fine the observing was with it.  But also be aware of its weight, and the fact that its nose heavy b/c of a thick corrector plate.

But remember, its a f/15 and its narrow.  But its not meant to be a wider field scope.  Super fine on doubles and planets and the moon.

Good luck!

SB


Edited by spongebob@55, 10 December 2018 - 10:52 AM.

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#10 blamkin86

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:56 AM

Yep, definitely noticed the depreciation.

 

I suppose at 8" the SCTs are probably worth a look. I've been considering Maks only but maybe that's a mistake

 

Let me take a look at the ACF meades and the EdgeHD Celestrons.

 

Love to hear some hands-on opinions of the iOptron 6" mak. I had thought that was the direction I was going, but I keep hesitating when I hover over the Buy It Now button.



#11 Hugh Peck

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 11:24 AM

Having had a couple C-8s, while lighter and providing a larger field, particular with n f/6.3 r-c, for planetary use I personally prefer the high focal ratio Maks. F/12 or f/13 for me isn't enough of a difference over f/10. At f/15 the smaller size of the secondary makes a difference in contrast. YMMV. 


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#12 astrobeast

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 12:59 PM

I as well have been looking at the Orion 180, but was looking for a bit more versatility re the focal length. I posted a link a few weeks back seeking users experiences using the Celestron / Meade FR/FR which would reduce the F-ratio from 15 to 10.5. There were very few replies which surprised me, as given how popular this scope (and the SW) has become and the ubiquity of the 0.63x reducers I would have thought that a lot of people would have tried this.

 

One response linked to a post by BillP who had tried the FR with the Orion 127 F-12 MCT and said it work just as well as on the Celestron SCT. I PM'ed him for any additional feed back and he basically just confirmed this.

 

So something to consider, even though you are mainly interested in planetary.

 

R



#13 dscarpa

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 01:00 PM

 If you can find one a IM or TEC mak used. I picked up a IM715D from a dealer used for $1,800. It's an excellent scope for lunar-planetary, doubles and DSOs. David


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#14 Hugh Peck

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 02:26 PM

I as well have been looking at the Orion 180, but was looking for a bit more versatility re the focal length. I posted a link a few weeks back seeking users experiences using the Celestron / Meade FR/FR which would reduce the F-ratio from 15 to 10.5. There were very few replies which surprised me, as given how popular this scope (and the SW) has become and the ubiquity of the 0.63x reducers I would have thought that a lot of people would have tried this.

 

One response linked to a post by BillP who had tried the FR with the Orion 127 F-12 MCT and said it work just as well as on the Celestron SCT. I PM'ed him for any additional feed back and he basically just confirmed this.

 

So something to consider, even though you are mainly interested in planetary.

 

R

Wouldn't that be around 9.5? In any case that does seem like a good idea.



#15 RAKing

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 02:45 PM

Love to hear some hands-on opinions of the iOptron 6" mak. I had thought that was the direction I was going, but I keep hesitating when I hover over the Buy It Now button.

The iOptron (made by Bosma) is okay, but if you are considering a 6-inch Mak, I suggest you also think about the Sky-Watcher or Orion (same scope) 150mm Mak.  I had an Orion version quite a few years ago and liked it a lot more than the Bosma.  I only let it go when I found a TEC 6-inch Mak to replace it.

 

The 6-inch f/12 Mak won't give you quite as much brightness as the 180mm, but it's still a much brighter view than your 100 will give and the f/12 focal length won't stress your eyepiece collection as much as the 180 will.  You should consider a 17mm and 10-12mm eyepiece, but you will be able to use your 9mm eyepiece a lot more with the shorter scope.  The 6-inch f/12 is also lighter and easier to haul around.

 

Cheers,

 

Ron



#16 Peter Besenbruch

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Posted 10 December 2018 - 10:02 PM

I have looked through many C8s, and I am not tempted to trade my 180mm Mak for an SCT. If I were into astrophotograpy, it would be a different story. Some tips:

 

For critical planetary views, use a prism diagonal. A 1.25" is fine. Takahashi makes the cheapest very good one. People like the Baader/Zeiss 34mm diagonal, but I have had poor results with the Baader 32mm prism. You should be able to save $90 there.

 

Don't buy a focuser. I may not like a moving mirror, but it gets the job done. More importantly, it gets the job done at 400x+.


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#17 astrobeast

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 11:04 AM

Wouldn't that be around 9.5? In any case that does seem like a good idea.

Yes, I had done the calculation and knew the answer was 9.5, but somehow just wrote down the wrong number.

 

I wish someone with this scope and access to this FR/FF would write a more detailed and quantitative report (images would be great) of the resulting performance. May people are hesitant about purchasing this thinking that its use is more limited to planetary, but having the option to operate it at F-9.5 might change their thinking (would mine).

 


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#18 astrobeast

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 11:06 AM

The iOptron (made by Bosma) is okay, but if you are considering a 6-inch Mak, I suggest you also think about the Sky-Watcher or Orion (same scope) 150mm Mak.  I had an Orion version quite a few years ago and liked it a lot more than the Bosma.  I only let it go when I found a TEC 6-inch Mak to replace it.

 

The 6-inch f/12 Mak won't give you quite as much brightness as the 180mm, but it's still a much brighter view than your 100 will give and the f/12 focal length won't stress your eyepiece collection as much as the 180 will.  You should consider a 17mm and 10-12mm eyepiece, but you will be able to use your 9mm eyepiece a lot more with the shorter scope.  The 6-inch f/12 is also lighter and easier to haul around.

 

Cheers,

 

Ron

Would be curious to hear what your issues were with the Bosma. It is a Rumak design with a separate mirror for the secondary (cemented on the inside of the meniscus) which yields a better corrected and flatter field. Most of the reports I have seen on it are quite favorable.



#19 Bill Barlow

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 12:35 PM

From my experience, your 100mm refractor will be close to a 6” MAK and SCT on planetary contrast providing each scope has decent optical quality.  The 180 MAK or an 8” SCT will pull ahead on this.  I don’t like the long focal length of the f/15 180 MAK.  If SW made an f/12 version I would be more interested.  Good luck with your choice.

 

Bill


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#20 blamkin86

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 12:59 PM

Thanks to all who commented. I find myself even more confused about what to do - which means I'll likely just wait.

 

Maybe I'll start collecting pennies for a TEC or IM 7" mak, assuming one ever is available.

 

Also maybe I should just get an SCT since it's very different from what I have. I like the options available on the Celestron stuff, the 8" Meade ACF also looks compelling at <$1K.

 

Nice to be able to have choices.

 

Thanks again everyone, and clear night skies (unless you're a sun watcher, then no clouds at lunch.)


Edited by blamkin86, 11 December 2018 - 02:45 PM.


#21 photoracer18

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 03:53 PM

I as well have been looking at the Orion 180, but was looking for a bit more versatility re the focal length. I posted a link a few weeks back seeking users experiences using the Celestron / Meade FR/FR which would reduce the F-ratio from 15 to 10.5. There were very few replies which surprised me, as given how popular this scope (and the SW) has become and the ubiquity of the 0.63x reducers I would have thought that a lot of people would have tried this.
 
One response linked to a post by BillP who had tried the FR with the Orion 127 F-12 MCT and said it work just as well as on the Celestron SCT. I PM'ed him for any additional feed back and he basically just confirmed this.
 
So something to consider, even though you are mainly interested in planetary.
 
R

As I think I have pointed out before the SCT 0.63x FR/FF work best at between F9 to F11 (maybe F12 also). They will work on F9 refractors. F14-F20 would be a stretch since the field curvature of the optical plane is significantly different than an SCT with a faster F-ratio.
Intes actually made their own 0.6x reducer for Maks although its somewhat rare (I have one). I am not exactly sure what focal ratio it was designed to mate with by design. The only Mak I currently have that has a SCT thread on the back is my LOMO Astele 95 at F12.6, and I have not had the reducer long enough to test it out. Unfortunately my Orion (Intes) Argonaut (Mk-67) has fixed optics like an RC and uses an external focuser. I do have SCT thread to 2" adapters so I could put it in the plane but not sure if the position would be good.

#22 RAKing

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Posted 11 December 2018 - 05:27 PM

Would be curious to hear what your issues were with the Bosma. It is a Rumak design with a separate mirror for the secondary (cemented on the inside of the meniscus) which yields a better corrected and flatter field. Most of the reports I have seen on it are quite favorable.

Sorry if I gave the wrong impression.  I only had the AT6 Mak for a short time.  It was the first one made by Bosma and iOptron brought it in later.  The scope worked very well and I am well aware of the design differences.  The Orion 150 had a smoother focuser and I enjoyed using it more.  The optics are probably comparable, but the Orion is the "budget" Mak I remember.

 

I love the Maksutov design a lot.  My favorites over the years have been my TEC, STF-Mirage, and Intes-Micro models, but they are a step up in money from the Orion, SW, and iOptrons.

 

Cheers,

 

Ron



#23 astrobeast

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Posted 12 December 2018 - 11:03 AM

As I think I have pointed out before the SCT 0.63x FR/FF work best at between F9 to F11 (maybe F12 also). They will work on F9 refractors. F14-F20 would be a stretch since the field curvature of the optical plane is significantly different than an SCT with a faster F-ratio.
Intes actually made their own 0.6x reducer for Maks although its somewhat rare (I have one). I am not exactly sure what focal ratio it was designed to mate with by design. The only Mak I currently have that has a SCT thread on the back is my LOMO Astele 95 at F12.6, and I have not had the reducer long enough to test it out. Unfortunately my Orion (Intes) Argonaut (Mk-67) has fixed optics like an RC and uses an external focuser. I do have SCT thread to 2" adapters so I could put it in the plane but not sure if the position would be good.

As the scopes these FR/FF's were designed for are F-10, it would make sense that they should work best for F-#'s close to this range. That said, in some googling, I did see that the Meade FR was stated as being compatible with their (now discontinued) 7" F-15 MCT. I did find one post of a Meade MCT owner using the reducer successfully, and we do have the data point from BIllP saying it worked just as well in his F-12 MCT as in his F-10 SCT. So while it may not be optimal from a field flattening standpoint, as long as it makes it better and not worse, it still should be an improvementent.

 

(I believe that the MK-67 is a Rumak design (separate secondary, not a spot) and that design inherently has a flat field, so the FR/FF should not work well on this scope.)

 

I guess what I'm really arguing for is along the lines of "a picture is worth a thousand words". I have read quite a few posts that contain a lot of conjecture / opinion on how it may or may not work with a F-15 Gregory design, but the simplest way to find out to just test it, preferably with some pics of star fields. smile.gif



#24 jjack's

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 02:55 AM

I confirm the celestron reducer work well on a 180 mak. I had the meade 7" and tried this accessory with succes. The orion and skywatcher 180 are the same gregory specs. Rumaks have differents specs.


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#25 blamkin86

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Posted 13 December 2018 - 06:17 PM

 

But remember, its a f/15 and its narrow.  But its not meant to be a wider field scope.  Super fine on doubles and planets and the moon.

 

SB

 

Thanks for posting this. It made no sense to me how you  could know it was narrow because it was F/15.

 

Sent me down a learning path, so thanks.




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