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Coronado SolarMax II question

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#1 Dann-Oh

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:56 PM

On the SolarMax II, can I replace the HAlpha wedge with a white light wedge or Calcium K (way down the line) wedge. I saw a YouTube video with a gentleman that swapped his wedges but he was using the SolarMax III for sure.

I'm starting to think the SolarMax III system is worth the money for the upgraded features you get.


Edited by Dann-Oh, 26 May 2019 - 10:58 PM.


#2 MalVeauX

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 07:54 AM

You cannot do anything other than HA with the Solarmax II series. The Etalon is internal and cannot be removed (it's part of the focuser even).

 

The Solarmax III series has all external etalons, you can take them off and use the telescope for anything (including white light, calcium, sodium, etc, even use it at night, it's a 70mm achromat good for anything).

 

Yes, I cannot really recommend a Solarmax II series at this point, even though its much cheaper. The focuser is terrible, and I mean terrible. The III series has everything going for it. Such a better package (all external etalons, scope can be used without them, good focuser, mounting equipment and dovetail included, etc).

 

Solarmax II 60 Double Stack with 10mm BF is $1500~1700 new (on sale). To upgrade the focuser, you can only use a Moonlite ($475 for the custom focuser for it) or a higher quality Helical (but that's pretty much not worth it). And you still have an internal etalon and the scope cannot be used for anything other than HA solar. So in reality, to get a SMII to even remotely be an ok instrument with a better focuser (no cheap crayford can be installed, the internal etalon is part of the focuser, it's a bad design), it will be $2~2.2k new with the Moonlite. Also, the SMII series do NOT come with mounting hardware, so you need a dovetail and/or rings to use it. It only comes with the clamshell, but no dovetail. So add another couple of bucks. Mean while, the SMIII series comes with a dual speed crayford already, and its good. The etalons are external, so you can remove them and use the scope for anything you want that a normal 70mm achromatic doublet refractor would be good for (all wavelengths of light solar, night time use, etc). It comes with dovetail and mounting hardware that has taps for adding additional mounting hardware. Real world price difference is $400 basically for the convenience of better mounting hardware, removeable etalons, etc, at $2600 new for the III version with the same blocking filter. The $400~500 difference is worth it to me.

 

I had a Solarmax II double stack by the way. Best thing I ever did was return it, sadly. The etalons are fine. But the design is awful for the money. The III is way, way better designed as a package.

 

SMII 60mm DS next to my C8. I returned the SMII within a few days. I can't recommend it at all based on design and its horrible focuser.

 

X10S1318-copy.jpg

 

Very best,


Edited by MalVeauX, 27 May 2019 - 11:38 AM.


#3 Dann-Oh

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 03:46 PM

So I have 1 more question for the SolarMax III TELESCOPE. When looking at the "base" scope if I use it for nocturnal use what can I compare it to? I am also looking at the Williams optics Zenithstar 73 APO, I know APO is supposed to be better than achro but for the super noob (like me) is the achro going to provide good results? If the answer is yes, I'll be returning my scope tomorrow.



#4 MalVeauX

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 04:29 PM

It's a 70mm fast achromat. It's good as a wide field sweeper. It will have CA on very bright objects like any fast achromatic refractor will. It's not an APO, but then again, APO isn't the end all be all of visual enjoyment. Think of it like how people think of the ST80 (80mm F5 achromat).

 

For me, I just like that the base 70mm refractor in the SMIII can be used for white light, CaK, etc, any thing you want, instead of resorting to yet another telescope to explore all wavelengths. With one scope you can explore all wavelengths the star provides. That is the value to me at least.

 

Very best,



#5 johnpeter2

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 07:05 PM

Actually, Marty, the Moonlite website has the focuser replacement cost at $245 (single speed) or $345 (dual speed).  Unless there is an additional cost I'm not aware of, it seems your cost estimate is a little exaggerated.  Even if one found a need to replace the drawtube/helical focuser.  So far I haven't, because many years ago I had a Coulter dobsonian and did a lot of focusing with just a draw tube, so I guess I'm used to it.  Heck, when I had finally added a helical focuser to the Coulter it seemed like a real luxury!  The Solarmax II focuser kind of brings back memories for me... (really regret giving that scope away)   On the other hand, I can see that anyone seriously interested in imaging would not be willing to settle for that focuser at all.

 

Now, I see that the sale price for the Solarmax III double stacked with BF10 is at $2699 at one dealer.  The Solarmax II double stacked with BF10 is on sale at the same dealer for $1599.  That's a difference of $1100.  Even if you throw in the cost of a replacement focuser, that's still a savings of at least $755!  For Dann-oh, the higher price of the SMIII may be worth it, what with the SMIII's versatility and ease of use, since it sounds like he is just starting out with observing and have very little equipment.  For others, that much of a higher price would not be worth it. 

 

John

 

 



#6 Eddgie

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 07:33 AM

I have a Solarmax II and have zero issues with the focuser.  It is very smooth and precise. Finding perfect focus is quite easy.

 

I have read other accounts about the focusers on this model and maybe I am just lucky, but I see zero benefit in replacing this focuser with a Moonlight or anything else.

 

The roll of the focuser is to focus the image.  Some may simply not like helical focusing, but that is just a personal preference. As long as the motion is smooth and there is no slop or play, then a helical focuser can (and in my own case does) give an excellent result. 

 

If it is just a personal preference to use a traditional focuser, well, then that is just what it is, a personal preference, but the statements made seem to be blanket statements that these focuses are horrible, and I personally don't find that to be true. 

 

(Also, the scope performs well.  It is double stacked, and when placed at the center of the field, the entire solar disk is pretty much in band.  Optics are sharp and resolution is excellent on both Proms and surface detail.)


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#7 johnpeter2

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 12:55 PM

Thanks Eddgie for providing a different opinion of the Solarmax II.  Ever since I've been lurking on this forum (since the total eclipse), it seems just about every comment about this scope has been negative.  Even so, when a few weeks ago I saw a single stack version with BF15 on sale for just $999, I decided this was my best opportunity to jump into H-alpha viewing.  And I haven't been disappointed with what I have seen at all.  However, when there is a post like above that absolutely trashes what I had just bought, it gives some doubts and second thoughts to a beginner in h-alpha like me, despite the fact that I like the view and have no trouble with the focuser.  Would a Solarmax III give a better view?  Most likely.  But would it give a $1000 better view?  I doubt it.

 

The only trouble I have had with the Solarmax II is spots on the blocking filter, and now I am temporarily without the scope while that is getting fixed (see my 'double star in blocking filter' post).  But the blocking filter used for the SMII is the same used for the SMIII, right?  So it could just easily have happened had I bought a Solarmax III.

 

John



#8 Dann-Oh

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 01:57 PM

The only trouble I have had with the Solarmax II is spots on the blocking filter, and now I am temporarily without the scope while that is getting fixed (see my 'double star in blocking filter' post).  But the blocking filter used for the SMII is the same used for the SMIII, right?  So it could just easily have happened had I bought a Solarmax III.

 

John

John,

 

Yes I can see that happening to any blocking filter as dust can easily get into the drawtubes. did you find out what exactly the material was deposited on the blocking filter?

 

I have a Solarmax II and have zero issues with the focuser.  It is very smooth and precise. Finding perfect focus is quite easy.

 

I have read other accounts about the focusers on this model and maybe I am just lucky, but I see zero benefit in replacing this focuser with a Moonlight or anything else.

 

The roll of the focuser is to focus the image.  Some may simply not like helical focusing, but that is just a personal preference. As long as the motion is smooth and there is no slop or play, then a helical focuser can (and in my own case does) give an excellent result. 

 

If it is just a personal preference to use a traditional focuser, well, then that is just what it is, a personal preference, but the statements made seem to be blanket statements that these focuses are horrible, and I personally don't find that to be true. 

 

(Also, the scope performs well.  It is double stacked, and when placed at the center of the field, the entire solar disk is pretty much in band.  Optics are sharp and resolution is excellent on both Proms and surface detail.)

Eddgie,

 

My eventual plan is to image on this scope.  knowing myself and how I like technology I don't see it possible to automate the focusing of a helical focuser so that is a major drawback for me.  But the major thing I like about the SMIII vs the SMII is that I can use the scope for other wavelengths of solar viewing (Whitelight and maybe Calcium K) so that also has it going for the SMIII.

 

Actually, Marty, the Moonlite website has the focuser replacement cost at $245 (single speed) or $345 (dual speed).  Unless there is an additional cost I'm not aware of, it seems your cost estimate is a little exaggerated.  Even if one found a need to replace the drawtube/helical focuser.  So far I haven't, because many years ago I had a Coulter dobsonian and did a lot of focusing with just a draw tube, so I guess I'm used to it.  Heck, when I had finally added a helical focuser to the Coulter it seemed like a real luxury!  The Solarmax II focuser kind of brings back memories for me... (really regret giving that scope away)   On the other hand, I can see that anyone seriously interested in imaging would not be willing to settle for that focuser at all.

 

Now, I see that the sale price for the Solarmax III double stacked with BF10 is at $2699 at one dealer.  The Solarmax II double stacked with BF10 is on sale at the same dealer for $1599.  That's a difference of $1100.  Even if you throw in the cost of a replacement focuser, that's still a savings of at least $755!  For Dann-oh, the higher price of the SMIII may be worth it, what with the SMIII's versatility and ease of use, since it sounds like he is just starting out with observing and have very little equipment.  For others, that much of a higher price would not be worth it. 

 

John

John,

Yes that is correct.  I am just starting out on my scoped AP journey.  I have a 150-600mm camera lens + a solar foil filter that I have been using for the last few months but Im looking to move on from that.  I have had several chats with my wife and she has approved the purchase of a single scope for the time being.  With that being said I feel the SMIII is the best solution for my problem.  She said single scope but didn't say anything about multiple accessories ;-); loopholes my friend, loopholes.

 

So, I think the SMIII coupled with a white light diagonal and a nocturnal diagonal, and a mono camera (in the near future) I will be good to go for a long while while I learn this hobby.  At the current time I HIGHLY value the versatility of the SMIII.


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#9 johnpeter2

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Posted 28 May 2019 - 11:09 PM

Sounds like you got a good plan, Dann-Oh.  I can't wait to see your photos of the sun in this forum (not that I'm trying to put any pressure on yougrin.gif)

 

As for the cause of my spotty problem, I have no clue.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if the guys at Meade can wipe off the spots in less than a minute and send the scope back to me in a few months.



#10 Dann-Oh

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 05:31 PM

Sounds like you got a good plan, Dann-Oh.  I can't wait to see your photos of the sun in this forum (not that I'm trying to put any pressure on yougrin.gif)

I'm sure they will look nothing like the stuff I have seen here recently but I am looking forward to learning and growing as a solar imager.




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