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Which focuser do you like best

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#1 starman876

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:16 PM

So far I have found the Feather Touch focusers by Starlight to be the best.   

 

 


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#2 agmoonsolns

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:45 PM

Once you get to a certain level of cost/quality, it becomes more a matter of personal preference than what's the "best".

 

I have owned and tried a huge variety of focusers and my favorites are the MoonLite focusers. Simply amazing construction and design. They will hold a ton of gear without any slipping or flexure and continue to operate exceptionally well even when experiencing temperature extremes. Nothing worse than going out to use a scope only to find the focuser has become too stiff to use in the cold or slips badly when being used on a scope for solar observing in the heat. They also have built-in buttery smooth focuser rotation, ability to attach your choice of brackets, add controllers and stepper motors, etc.

 

Also, no internal reflections off of shiny parts and they offer a wealth of accessories and either have or can make flanges for easily attaching to just about any scope you can imagine. A few examples of their well thought accessories include ultra low profile 2" to 1.25" adapters, dovetail finder/guide scope brackets that go right on the focuser, motorized focusers, adapter rings to convert the back end to a bunch of different sizes. I have the one for converting to a Takahashi standard size so I can use all of their accessories with it. Check them out:

 

https://focuser.com/products.php

 

Personally, I am not a big fan of the Starlight FeatherTouch focusers. This isn't to say they're bad, in fact they are exceptionally good focusers, just not my favorite. They just don't feel as good to use (to me) as the MoonLite. This is why I suggest going to a star party to try them out before making a purchase. Everyone is so different, you need to find the one that's best for you.


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#3 TOMDEY

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 08:55 PM

I started buying Feather Touch and never looked back.

But also like Moonlite for their menu of retrofit adapters, like upgrading my ancient classic TeleVue 100mm F/5 Genesis refractor.

For finessing heavy imaging cameras... the FLI Atlas focuser is magnificent.

 

For those who don't go way back --- classic old focusers were pretty abominable, by today's standards. One-speed knobs with a very coarse rack & pinion just forcing the tube to slide up and down in a sloppy-fit, crudely-machined sleeve: Astrolas, Edmunds, and even early TeleVues. Getting focus ~just right~ took ten tries and a lot of luck to maybe, just maybe land on it!

 

Remember these things? >>>

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#4 Scott in NC

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:18 PM

I've not found anything yet that matches Feather Touch.  I've used MoonLite focusers, and still have one on my 12" dob, but IMO they're just a notch below.  Obviously people's preferences will vary, as some (like the member posting earlier in this thread) like the MoonLite better.  Isn't it great that we've got options!  

 

Of the Feather Touch focusers, I've found the large FTF3545 3.5" R&P to be the most robust, but that's really overkill on anything smaller than a 5" refractor (and probably wouldn't fit anything smaller anyway).  For an 80-102mm scope I find the 2" FT reverse Crayford to be just fine.


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#5 Nippon

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:31 PM

I've never had a feather touch. I'm sure they are wonderful. But I've had experience with the Vixen stock R&P two speed on their current scopes, A Tele Vue single speed R&P on a 2000 era TV 85. A 2" Moonlight that I used on my Vixen refractor for a while. And the 2.5" Stellarvue R&P on my SV102. Of all those I like the Stellarvue the best but all have been quite good.


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#6 Esso2112

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:33 PM

My favorite is the original German CNC (silver focusers) on the early TMB refractors. Second place is Feathertouch. I had a Moonlite and it was good, but not as good as the Feathertouch. 


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#7 jay.i

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:33 PM

I once read it put this way: "Two words: Feather Touch."

 

'nuff said.



#8 starman876

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 09:33 PM

I have a feather touch on my TMB 100/800 and it is amazing.  I also put one on a Zeiss 80mm modern retrofit I have and have been very pleased.    I also have some scopes with Moonlite focusers on them and they are also very good.  However, the Starlight instruments is my favorite.  Just such a good feel when I use them.  



#9 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 10:28 PM

I like Pentax's helical focuser best.

 

I like vernier dial.  It reminds me good old days of slide rule that I've loved when I was a kid smile.gif

 

 

large.jpg

 

Tammy


Edited by Tamiji Homma, 11 July 2019 - 10:31 PM.

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#10 premk19

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 10:47 PM

Feather Touch R&P focusers. Better than Moonlite in my opinion.

#11 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 11 July 2019 - 11:16 PM

I'm a Feathertouch guy. I know that Moonlites and other brands are also nice, but I haven't wanted to mess with success once I found it. My favorite FT, like Scott describes, is the 3545 found on TECs and a few other larger refractors. It's just such a solid piece of engineering and I really like how the rotating collet works. My smaller instruments have the 3" R&P and 2" Crayfords.

 

Although they are sourced from Optec (also a maker of great electronic focusers), I like the Focus Boss II controller and motors, too. The whole package is nice for both visual and imaging.


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#12 HellsKitchen

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:48 AM

Feathertouch, followed by Moonlite. I have both a single and dual speed Moonlite, but while the single speed is nice, the coarse focus on the dual speed just feels "better". The single speed lives on my R130sf, might replace it with a dual speed one day. In theory it should be a simple swap as the hardware is already there.  Feathertouch is in a league of its own though, but I'm 100% happy with either it or the Moonlite dual speed. 

 

I tried a JMI dual speed once and did not care for it at all. 



#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 02:55 AM

I am also a FeatherTouch guy.  

 

The Feathertouch design is different than Moonlite's and most other Crayfords, they put the draw tube in compression/bending because the bearings oppose the pinion.  The Feathertouch has the Dovetail with the steel pins, the pinion pushes against the Dovetail, the drawtube carries no load from the pinion. From my point of view, this is a superior design, standard Crayfords can have issues flexing the pinions.  I think it is this clever design that sets them apart from the others and why they deserve the name Feathertouch.. 

 

I also like the older style JMI two speeds, the DX-1.  One feature I like is that the pinion is loaded via a ball bearing pushing on the center of the shaft rather than a pad of some sort.  This is stiffer, does not wear, does not get dirty and can be precisely adjusted.  I also like the unique 2 speed arrangement.  It's a friction drive with a large wheel against a pin. From the factory these focusers seem to be setup for heavy loads.  Since I am using them for eyepieces, I set them up with reduced pinion drive loading, they are nice and smooth.  I also replace the fine focus knob with a brass weighted knob to smooth them out.  One of the tricks all manufacturers (that I know of) use to smooth the focuser is to use a brass or steel weighted fine focus knob.  JMI did not do this.. 

 

On the budget side, I am a big fan of the standard GSO focuser.  It's the stock focuser on my AT-80LE and it's a common replacement. My ST-80 has one too.  These are simple but effective focusers, they are easy to clean, the pinion pressure is adjustable on the fly. They handle heavy eyepieces.  If the two speed is somehow damaged, Agena Astro has a $60 upgrade kit that includes a new two speed.  

 

Jon



#14 Jond105

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 03:34 AM

Moonlite, only because it’s all I’ve used and carries my eyepieces just fine for my observing. 

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#15 25585

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 03:50 AM

Never tried a FT but do have a Moonlite. The Moonlite range is eye candy, beauty and functionality combined.

 

Had the FT option on TSA120 been their True 3 inch focuser - taking 3 inch eyepieces, I would have had it. But the cost of a bespoke adapter in addition to the focuser itself, made the cost prohibitive for me.

 

For OE focusers, I like Tele Vue & Takahashi, in that order.


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#16 rockstarbill

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 04:09 AM

Imaging? Nitecrawler. No contest.

Visual, Feathertouch or Moonlite Crayford.
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#17 Suavi

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 05:34 AM

For imaging I really liked my 2.5" Moonlite with a rotator. A robust connection with the motor and it carried my QSI wsg8 with no flexing that I could see. Unfortunately I have been unable to eliminate flexing in my true 3" FTF with the same camera, so I'm planning to replace the FTF with a NiteCrawler. I do like the look of FTF though, as to me it looks more elegant than Moonlite, and it has lots of baffles. On top of flexing, I have also found HSM motor engagement solution in my FTF not as reliable as with the Moonlite, but I suspect Posi drive engages far more securely than HSM. In short, for visual I think FTF with its long draw-tube, shiny look and baffles is the way to go, but for precision imaging, I feel there could be more capable solutions, such as NiteCrawler, Atlas or 3" Optec.


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#18 hfjacinto

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 07:24 AM

Once you use a night crawler by Moonlite all other focuser just don’t cut it. For visual moonlite or feather touch are comparable to me. For customization Ron at moonlite can almost customize anything. He motorized my APM 3.7”.
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#19 starman876

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 07:40 AM

Once you use a night crawler by Moonlite all other focuser just don’t cut it. For visual moonlite or feather touch are comparable to me. For customization Ron at moonlite can almost customize anything. He motorized my APM 3.7”.

Looks like I am going to check out the night crawler.grin.gif


Edited by starman876, 12 July 2019 - 07:40 AM.

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#20 punk35

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 08:32 AM

I’ve never used a Moonlight or a FT, only Synta r&p and single speed crayford, and now the dual speed r&p on my At102ED. If the quality difference of the AT focusers over the Synta’s are any indication, I can only imagine how amazing the FT and Moonlight offerings must be.


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#21 Jeff B

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 08:43 AM

For newts, I'm a FT fanboy. 

 

For my refractors, I like the FT as well but also use the 2.7" AP focusers for most of my ATM work as they are excellent, well made, can come with the FT option and weighs a little bit less than the FT3545.

 

Jeff



#22 peleuba

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:03 AM

So far I have found the Feather Touch focusers by Starlight to be the best.   

 

Yes - for absolute performance the FT is the best. But for me, its not always that easy.

 

I have restored at least a half dozen of the Vixen 102 Fluorites - both the F/9 white Vixens and the F/8.8 black Celestrons.  For these restorations, I always used a Moonlite.  I think they look better on these telescopes as well as the Synta ED series.  And, the adapter flange looks much better then the FT equivalent.  

 

On any reflector, I think the FT looks better then the Moonlite.

 

Both the FeatherTouch and the Moonlite crayford focusers are equally smooth, but interestingly have different "tactile feel" to the focusing.  This is entirely due to the design in which each company employs.

 

Some will say that the stainless steel bearings on the aluminum drawtube design employed by Moonlite will wear-out quicker, I highly doubt that this will happen in the average astronomer's lifetime.

 

As Tom mentioned previously, its tough to beat MoonLite's compatability - Ron makes flanges for nearly every refractor telescope.  But the FT R/P series - 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 are some of the best focuser's available for larger refractors and are OE on all TEC and CFF APO's.

 

I think it really boils down to personal preference and budget.


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#23 peleuba

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:05 AM

Moonlite, only because it’s all I’ve used and carries my eyepieces just fine for my observing. 

 

And, it looks spectacular on this Skywatcher OTA!


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#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:24 AM

I’ve never used a Moonlight or a FT, only Synta r&p and single speed crayford, and now the dual speed r&p on my At102ED. If the quality difference of the AT focusers over the Synta’s are any indication, I can only imagine how amazing the FT and Moonlight offerings must be.

Wade:

 

Probably my favorite focuser is the TeleVue rack and pinion fitted with the Feathertouch two speed microfocuser. 

 

I recently spent a night with my friend Jack and his new AT-102ED.  I was impressed by the AT 102ED rack and pinion focuser. It's definitely a well made focuser and amazing in it's own right. I didn't play with the tension adjustment to see how that affected things and long term reliability is important in a focuser but I thought the AT-102 ED focuser was a darn good focuser.

 

Particularly in this context:

 

The Feathertouch 2 speed upgrade for the TV focuser costs $405.  The entire AT-102ED costs $600.

 

I will say this: Focusers have come a long way. There a lot of very competent Focusers out there that just do the job and don't get in the way. 

 

Jon


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#25 jay.i

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Posted 12 July 2019 - 09:38 AM

The R&P focusers found on AT scopes are indeed excellent given the price you pay. I found them quite enjoyable to use and quite smooth. Yes my 2" FT Crayfords are smoother and better looking (IMO) but the cost difference is huge. On a premium scope, a premium focuser just makes sense.




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