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APM 150 ED Binocular, My Take

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#1 oldmanrick

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 08:40 PM

After many long months of review, reading and wishing, an opportunity came along to buy an APM 150 binocular.

 

The binocular arrived safe and sound in its protective case, but the 2" to 1.25" eyepiece adapters were packed in the outer cardboard box, outside of the binocular case.  One of the adapters suffered a dent during shipping, in the lower part of the body, between two of the reinforcing webs.  I didn't see this dent until I noticed a little difficulty getting it to fully seat to the bottom of the eyepiece holder.  On closer examination I found a small dent distorting the bottom of the adapter just enough to cause it to hang up a bit internally in the focuser.  I didn't want to use this adapter for fear that it might damage the inside of the focuser.

 

The APM big binocular fork mount arrived in a separate box and was in good shape.

 

The supplied 2" 30mm eyepieces that came with the bino are wonderful.  Very bright, wide FOV, and comfortable to use.  The only problem is that one of them has a very small black oblong speck about 1/4 of the way off center of the FOV.  This is very distracting, as the speck is in sharp focus, and rotates with the eyepiece, so moves while focusing.  It's not so bad at night but I still don't like it being there.

 

A quick email correspondence with Markus Ludes, owner of APM, resulted in him agreeing to replace the damaged focuser and the eyepiece.  I will return the eyepiece with the speck in it upon arrival of the replacement, and I can keep the damaged adapter.  Great service by APM!

 

Now for the good stuff.

 

After Markus agreed to replace the eyepiece and adapter, and said I didn't need to return the adapter, I took another close look at it.  It looked like I might be able to repair it enough that it would work, so I could use my 1.25" eyepieces while waiting for the replacement.  By very careful use of some small round nosed needle nose pliers, I was able to roll and bend most of the dent back to the original shape.  I used a small file to remove any burrs and rough spots on the bottom to where I thought it should enter the focuser properly.  It does slide in fairly easily, but does tend to hang up a bit in spots, but nothing that a little wiggling won't free up.  I was surprised at how soft and workable the metal is in these adapters.  They should be handled with care.  The adapter is not pretty, but it now works well enough that I can use 1.25 eyepieces with it until the replacement arrives.

 

Comparing views of mostly the moon and Jupiter, using the same eyepieces between my Lunt 100mm APO ED binocular, and the 150,  I believe with all eyepieces tried, the 150 shows slightly less false color than the 100.  The same holds true for daylight terrestrial use, looking at various high-contrast objects.  On the moon there is a very thin, dim, almost invisible reddish brown ring at the edge of the limb.  The better the focus the more this disappears.

 

I'm amazed at how well the 150 performs at higher magnifications.  Both the Morpheus 9mm and 6.5mm eyepieces are very good.  In my 100mm, the 6.5's seem more comfortable, but in the 150, they are nearly equal, with perhaps just a slight edge going to the 9mm.  At 93X and 129X respectively, the images are still very bright and sharp, at least to my eyes.  The Docter 12.5's are great as are the Morpheus 17.5's.  I did try a set of ES 82 degree 4.7mm at 179X, but didn't like the view much.  Difficult to focus, and not too comfortable getting proper eye placement.  Seeing was pretty poor that night, so maybe not a fair trial.

 

I'm wondering about my eyesight being up to the task of using an instrument as good as the 150.  Contrary to what Mike, (ZX12) posted about his 150, I feel that mine is more difficult to achieve the best focus than with my Lunt 100.  Granted, atmospheric conditions were not very good so far during my testing, and I've found that I need a better tripod, as any little touch to the binocular sets off a bunch of serious wobbles, which are very detrimental to accurate focusing.  So far I've used a 55 series Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with elevating column, and a Manfrotto 161.  Both support the load, but lack stability.  Hopefully a Berlebach Planet K70 is somewhere in the near future.  Look out again piggy bank!  The APM big binocular fork mount has been used exclusively for my testing so far.

 

I've measured my IPD at somewhere between 63 and 65 mm, and judging by how the setting looks on the 150, I believe this is approximately correct.  I have no trouble merging images, with still a little bit of IPD adjustment to spare.  Occasionally, I do have to turn and reseat one of the eyepiece adapters to perfect the merging of images, but so far this has always worked.

 

Fingernails and ghost images seem to be much better controlled in the 150 than the 100.  I've noticed no fingernails, and the only time I saw a ghost image was of the moon.  It several degrees away from being in the FOV, and was very dim, so not very bothersome.  I'm wondering how it even produced a ghost image being that far from the point of aim.

 

These are my initial impressions, and if anything changes significantly I will update here.

 

Rick grin.gif


Edited by oldmanrick, 21 July 2019 - 08:47 PM.

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#2 ZX12

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 09:13 PM

Congratulations Rick. 

 

You will likely find as I did that the 150 will impress you more as you get time under good skies. One trick I found to get the best focus at high powers is to set the IPD slightly tighter than normal. This also helps at lower powers to get the absolute sharpest image when viewing open clusters.

 

I'm planning on a set of 4mm Delites to get the most out of Jupiter and Saturn this season. Right now the 6mm Delos spends much time in the 150, along with the 14mm Delos for lower power. 

 

Mike

 

 


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#3 Beg

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 09:43 PM

Congrats Rick, I know you really wanted that big bino. I would love to see a picture of it on the 161b. Bet it looks loaded for sure.
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#4 oldmanrick

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 11:57 PM

Congratulations Rick. 

 

You will likely find as I did that the 150 will impress you more as you get time under good skies. One trick I found to get the best focus at high powers is to set the IPD slightly tighter than normal. This also helps at lower powers to get the absolute sharpest image when viewing open clusters.

 

I'm planning on a set of 4mm Delites to get the most out of Jupiter and Saturn this season. Right now the 6mm Delos spends much time in the 150, along with the 14mm Delos for lower power. 

 

Mike

Hi Mike, thanks, this is a long-time dream come true.  Goes back to even before this bino was invented.  I used to look at the big Fuji's and some sold by Garrett, which were very similar to ones that APM still show on their web page.  

 

Have you tried using barlows with any of your eyepieces in the 150, I've been wondering how they would work?

 

Eventually I want to get some higher powered eyepieces too.  I've been looking at some very inexpensive ones sold by Astronomics.   They seem to have very good reviews considering the price.  First though must come a more sturdy tripod.  Without that, I'm severely handicapped.

 

Thanks for the tip about focusing.  Hopefully I have enough IPD adjustment left to make that work.

 

Rick



#5 oldmanrick

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 12:10 AM

Congrats Rick, I know you really wanted that big bino. I would love to see a picture of it on the 161b. Bet it looks loaded for sure.

Thanks Beg, this is indeed a long time dream come true.  I've wanted something like this for many years.  Hopefully my eyesight will allow me to get full enjoyment of it.  I think it will, since I've already had views better than any I could get with my 100mm Lunt.

 

Tonight I just got in from a quick peek at Jupiter.  Seeing was quite good here just at dusk, and as it got darker I could actually see white spots and other festoons along the equatorial bands, using the Morpheus 6.5's at 139X.  Also the subtle color variations stood out with different colors, as well as some texture detail differences between the bands.

 

Wish I would have had more time, as seeing was the best I've seen here for quite some time.  Have to get up relatively early in the morning, so have to get to bed.

 

Will see if I can get some pictures and figure out how to post them, maybe of the Lunt 100 and APM 150 mounted side by side.

 

Rick



#6 edwincjones

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 04:52 AM

many hours/years of fun ahead

 

waytogo.gif

 

edj


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#7 starzonesteve

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 09:24 AM

Thanks for the post/review and congrats on the new instrument, Rick. This beast sounds really incredible. I’m amazed at the power you guys are using it at. Between the higher powers and the dual eyed perspective these instruments are really not giving much of anything up compared to more traditional planetary instruments. On the other hand, the light grasp and low powered sweeping are light years beyond what most other instruments will provide.

 

I will admit to being a bit jealous of you guys’ facial features. After several careful measurements I have determined that my IPD is 59mm +/- 1mm. I just don’t think I will be able to get all that I otherwise could out of this instrument given that simple fact. At some point it might be worthwhile to talk with someone about whether or not I could even accommodate 2” eyepieces in a custom binoscope system given my IPD.

 

At any rate, I’m glad you took the dive. It sounds like this is the beginning of a long pleasurable trip across the night sky for you. I think the heavy duty Berlebach tripod would be a good play. You’ve come this far you might as well go all the way.

 

Looking forward to more reports as you are able to provide them.

 

Steve


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#8 ricky64

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 03:58 PM

I've enjoyed your postings in the past, and am very excited to read your ongoing impressions. Keep them coming. I might even be presumptious enough to travel north from Boulder some time to take a peek with you...  I also need to check my IPD...I could come in narrow there...


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#9 oldmanrick

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 05:07 PM

Thanks for the post/review and congrats on the new instrument, Rick. This beast sounds really incredible. I’m amazed at the power you guys are using it at. Between the higher powers and the dual eyed perspective these instruments are really not giving much of anything up compared to more traditional planetary instruments. On the other hand, the light grasp and low powered sweeping are light years beyond what most other instruments will provide.

 

I will admit to being a bit jealous of you guys’ facial features. After several careful measurements I have determined that my IPD is 59mm +/- 1mm. I just don’t think I will be able to get all that I otherwise could out of this instrument given that simple fact. At some point it might be worthwhile to talk with someone about whether or not I could even accommodate 2” eyepieces in a custom binoscope system given my IPD.

 

At any rate, I’m glad you took the dive. It sounds like this is the beginning of a long pleasurable trip across the night sky for you. I think the heavy duty Berlebach tripod would be a good play. You’ve come this far you might as well go all the way.

 

Looking forward to more reports as you are able to provide them.

 

Steve

Thanks Steve!

 

I measured my IPD carefully before I ordered this beast, and had my fingers crossed the whole time I was waiting for it to arrive.  Sure was a relief when I took my first peek, and still have a tiny bit IPD of adjustment left over.  I think my IPD is really somewhere between 63 and 64, so regrettably, it sounds like you may be out of luck to be able to use the big APM.  I wouldn't be surprised if someone doesn't come out with a 140 or 150 and squeeze a bit more IPD range out of it, although I think it will be difficult with 2" eyepiece capability.

 

I'm really looking forward to getting some quality time with it during better seeing conditions than I've had so far.  Sky conditions definitely are critical to really getting the most out of it, especially at higher magnification.  That said, I am surprised at how well it does at somewhat less than great seeing conditions.

 

Rick



#10 oldmanrick

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Posted 22 July 2019 - 05:15 PM

I've enjoyed your postings in the past, and am very excited to read your ongoing impressions. Keep them coming. I might even be presumptious enough to travel north from Boulder some time to take a peek with you...  I also need to check my IPD...I could come in narrow there...

Thanks Ricky64.

 

I will try to keep some postings coming, although probably not as numerous and detailed as Mike has.  I'm not as skilled and experienced observer as he.

 

By all means,  If you get up this way, shoot me a PM and you can certainly take a look through the 150.  I think if your IPD is 62 or over you probably have a good chance for success.

 

Rick


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#11 oldmanrick

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 05:44 PM

Out again last night with the 150.

 

Watched the GRS disappear over the eastern horizon of Jupiter, and saw at least 3 of Saturn's moons.  Not real good seeing, plus I don't think my ancient eyes are quite up to the task of realizing full advantage of such a fine instrument.

 

When it finally got really dark I put in the APM 2" 30mm pair and cruised up and down the Milky Way.  What a spectacle!  Very black background to set off the millions of stars, dust lanes and nebulosity.  Seems to me the 30mm's do a great job of showing these things.  I didn't take the time to try and identify the things I was seeing, but slightly above a line between Saturn and Jupiter, and just West of the Milky Way there was a quite striking patch of nebulosity around a small cluster of stars.  I haven't taken time to try to identify this, but plan to do so.  Sure wish my mount had setting circles.  The black speck in the one 2" 30mm eyepiece that was so bothersome in the daytime was not even seen at night.

 

Had the 150 up to our cabin overlooking Flathead Lake a few days ago for some terrestrial evaluation.  Even with poor viewing during daytime heat waves, the 150 seemed much better than my 100mm Lunt.  When the air finally calmed and the sun was setting behind me, I could clearly and easily read the small sign denoting the local post office on the front of the building, over a mile distant.  I've only been able to see it clearly enough with my 100 Lunt a couple of times to read it at all, and then it's a stretch.  It was easily read with the 150 using both the 12.5 Docter and 6.5 Morpheus eyepieces.

 

Having Fun!

 

Rick


Edited by oldmanrick, 26 July 2019 - 05:47 PM.

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#12 Mike Harvey

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 06:28 PM

If it was about half-way betwen Jupiter and Saturn, it sounds like you swept up The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae (M-8 and M-20). 



#13 ZX12

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 07:50 PM

Rick,

 

I agree that the Sagittarius Star Cloud region that you must have panned through is spectacular with the 30mm UFF in the APM150. I usually start at M25 and work my way west. 

I tried other eyepieces, but the view the 30mm's provide is hard to beat with it's flat wide field. It must be even better with your darker skies.

 

The Omega and Eagle Nebula are just above that area and are well placed for us in the northern U.S. 

 

Also check out M22 with 80x or more if you get a chance. Very well resolved with the 150.

 

Mike   


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#14 oldmanrick

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Posted 26 July 2019 - 11:21 PM

If it was about half-way betwen Jupiter and Saturn, it sounds like you swept up The Lagoon and Trifid Nebulae (M-8 and M-20). 

I had a chance to check them on Sky Safari, and that's definitely what I saw.  Open cluster M21, Trifid Nebula M20, and Lagoon Nebula M8.  They create an amazing area of the sky to view.

 

I can't imagine why I never picked them up before.  That area of the sky was visibly brighter to the naked eye, and really spectacular through the 150 with the 30mm's.

 

The 30's were so good that I didn't bother to try any other wide field eyepieces last night.  In the 150 they give much the same view, (FOV) as the Morpheus 17.5 in the Lunt 100mm, only brighter and sharper, with a much darker sky background.  I've always thought that the 17.5 Morph shows a sky background that is a little too bright for my taste.  I'm surprised that the APM 2" 30mm provides so dark a sky.  I didn't use the Morph 17.5's in the Lunt 100 last night, so no direct comparison.  Maybe it was just my eyes/imagination or maybe the sky was actually that dark.

 

Anyway, I'm sure relived and happy that my IPD allows me to use those 30mm's successfully.

 

Rick 


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#15 garret

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Posted 27 July 2019 - 02:20 AM

 

The 30's were so good that I didn't bother to try any other wide field eyepieces last night.  In the 150 they give much the same view, (FOV) as the Morpheus 17.5 in the Lunt 100mm, only brighter and sharper, with a much darker sky background.  I've always thought that the 17.5 Morph shows a sky background that is a little too bright for my taste.  I'm surprised that the APM 2" 30mm provides so dark a sky.

Hard to belief the 30's  show a darker background then the 17.5 Morphs.. I must this see myself... I think I order the APM 150 smile.gif

 

I have the APM 100 ED APO, my most useful ep is the 12mm Delos: 46x, 1.56 degree field and 2.15mm exit pupil, the optical performance is near perfect. 

My least performing ep of all the ep I own (for the APM 100) is however the 17.5mm Morpheus, in the centre it is very good but at the edge brighter stars are very soft (out of focus).

 

With the APM 150 the Morpheus 17.5 has the exactly the same field as the Delos 12 in my APM 100 and nearly the same magnification: 48x and 3.1mm exit pupil size... for the APM 150 the 17.5 Morpheus should be (for me) the most useful ep...but at the expense of optical performance at the edge of the field.

 

The APM 30mm UFF provide 28x magnification, 5.3mm exit pupil and 2.6 degree true field @ 70 apparent field (38mm fieldstop).

By design the 20 year old (!) 22mm Nagler provide 38x, 2.1 degree true field and a 3.9mm exit pupil (31mm fieldstop).

 

Garret vd Veen


Edited by garret, 27 July 2019 - 02:33 AM.


#16 oldmanrick

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 11:10 PM

After further observations with the 150 equipped with the 30mm's, I'm not so sure that the sky background was really that black.  In later observations, when looking specifically for blackness, it really didn't look that dark, but had a quality, probably due more to greater contrast and definition of the stars that gave the impression that the sky was really dark.  At any rate that combination definitely eclipsed what I have been able to see with the 100 Lunt and the 17.5 Morpheus eyepieces.  The nebulosity really stood out with the 150.

 

I have yet to try back and forth comparisons of the APM 30mm's with the Morpheus 17.5's on the same target on the same night.  Will have to try that soon.

 

Rick



#17 Mr. Bill

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 12:26 AM

No such thing as a really black sky.....only deeper levels of grey.

 

Even Bortle 1 skies are not pitch black; there is always upper atmosphere oxygen excitation that emits glow.


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#18 edwincjones

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 05:02 AM

No such thing as a really black sky.....only deeper levels of grey.

 

 

please Mr Bill, let us keep our fantasies of a really black sky

I can remember seeing it,

sometimes with eyes closed, head under a pillow, in a dark room

 

edj


Edited by edwincjones, 01 August 2019 - 05:04 AM.


#19 oldmanrick

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 09:13 AM

No such thing as a really black sky.....only deeper levels of grey.

 

 

Not unless there is no moon and heavy overcast.  In my younger days I've been caught out at night a couple of times hunting, without a flashlight, when even with well adjusted maximum iris opening, I could not see well enough to travel on foot safely.

 

Those times I would have called the sky really black, but of course we don't do astronomy when those conditions exist.

 

I do really agree with you, Mr Bill, I probably got a bit carried away, trying to make a point about how impressed I am with the APM 30mm's in the 150!  With that combination, the sky still looks a very dark grey, but it's more about the contrast and other factors that make the stars and nebulosity stand out so much against it.

 

Rick


Edited by oldmanrick, 01 August 2019 - 05:35 PM.


#20 oldmanrick

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 06:07 PM

The APM 150 is big, heavy and awkward to handle.  A moving cart or something with larger wheels than the supplied hard case is needed to move the beast in it's case across uneven ground or even a gravel driveway.  It is actually easier to carry the instrument by itself than in the case.  I can carry it in the case by grasping the handles on each end, picking it up and grunting along with it.  Requires a wide arm span, and then it's not comfortable.

 

I have lifted the bino out of its case and onto the APM big binocular fork mount several times by myself.  It really isn't too difficult.  I use one hand on the forward part of the handle, and the other under the back of the tubes or mounting foot to balance and guide it into the saddle.  The greatest difficulty is to keep the sides of the tubes or edge of the mounting foot from touching the inside surfaces of the fork mount.  Also the saddle does not open a lot wider than the mounting foot so placement has to be fairly precise, and the saddle opened widely to allow an easy mounting.  The hand nuts that tighten the saddle onto the foot do not have stoppers to prevent them from being unscrewed completely, so if one is not careful they can be completely unthreaded and dropped.

 

The issue I worry about most with this process is that it seems inevitable over the course of use and time that the instrument will acquire lots of scratches and scars from contacting the mount.

 

To alleviate this concern, I am currently working on a homemade tripod dolly with 10 inch pneumatic tires upon which I hopefully can roll tripod, mount and instrument in and out of my shop or garage and across most of the ground in my yard and driveway.  I have a Telegizmo scope cover to keep everything covered up when not in use.

 

More about the success or failure of this later.

 

Rick


Edited by oldmanrick, 01 August 2019 - 08:59 PM.

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#21 Tamiji Homma

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 07:28 PM

 

I have lifted the bino out of its case and onto the APM big binocular fork mount several times by myself.  I really isn't too difficult.  I use one hand on the forward part of the handle, and the other under the back of the tubes or mounting foot to balance and guide it into the saddle.  The greatest difficulty is to keep the sides of the tubes or edge of the mounting foot from touching the inside surfaces of the fork mount.  Also the saddle does not open a lot wider than the mounting foot so placement has to be fairly precise, and the saddle opened widely to allow an easy mounting.  The hand nuts that tighten the saddle onto the foot do not have stoppers to prevent them from being unscrewed completely, so if one is not careful they can be completely unthreaded and dropped.

 

I hear you, Rick.  

 

When I had the first version of APM 150 90 degree visual-back binoculars, it was very hard and unsafe work to set system up and running if you do it alone in the dark.  The binoculars weighted 60lb.  It was like waiting for a big disaster, dropping binoculars or worse injury.

 

From the experience, I decided not to use sliding dovetail attachment for my binoscope.

 

My binoscope mount is O'Connor fluid heads designed for heavy video camera and it is on top of Berlebach Planet/K70 geared center column tripod. The O'Connor fluid heads have top loading, snap-in mechanism to mount dovetail rail to

the mount.  I don't have to slide dovetail rail in, just place the dovetail rail on top of mount and push it in and lock it.

 

It made huge difference in terms of comfort level to set up TEC140 binoscope.

I don't have to lift binoscope above shoulder :)  

 

Setup time to backyard is less than 2 minutes, two trips, tripod/mount and then scope with eyepieces.

 

Be safe!

 

Tammy


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#22 Beg

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 10:26 PM

Sounds like that thing is a lot of work if it's not in a solid observatory setting. Be safe Rick, not worth getting hurt over at this point in time. 


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#23 edwincjones

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 04:32 AM

Sounds like that thing is a lot of work if it's not in a solid observatory setting. ...............

 

That was the decision with my fujinon MT 25x150s.

The observatory added to the cost, but protected both the binoculars and my back.

Over the 15 years I had them only took out in the field a half dozen times.

 

edj


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#24 Mr. Bill

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 10:24 AM

That's the main reason I sold my Fuji 25x150 + UA P-gram mount.....150 pounds with counterweights and a real pain to set up.

 

tongue2.gif

 

The 120 90 seems to me to be the best all around choice for light gathering/ease of temporary setup/takedown and a lot easier on the back which is increasingly an issue as I age.

 

As C Eastwood famously said "A man has to know his limitations."


Edited by Mr. Bill, 02 August 2019 - 10:28 AM.

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#25 oldmanrick

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  • Loc: Western Montana, USA

Posted 02 August 2019 - 12:40 PM

That's the main reason I sold my Fuji 25x150 + UA P-gram mount.....150 pounds with counterweights and a real pain to set up.

 

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The 120 90 seems to me to be the best all around choice for light gathering/ease of temporary setup/takedown and a lot easier on the back which is increasingly an issue as I age.

 

As C Eastwood famously said "A man has to know his limitations."

So far I haven't had a problem other than worry about achieving the needed precision while positioning, to avoid dinging the outside of the tubes.  If the new dolly works, I will leave the 150 mounted and covered while not in use.  If the back gives out, I'll  probably get a shop crane or rig a hoist from the ceiling so I can just lift it and gently set it on the mount.  

 

The 150 now sits on a Manfrotto 161 Mk II tripod mounted on a HD Manfrotto photo dolly, with the cover over it.  This dolly rolls fine over a smooth floor and even a decent grass surface, but does not work on gravel.  Also the whole outfit is much too wobbly.  Any little touch sets if off for several seconds.  Even a good breeze will shake it.

 

I'm looking very hard at a Berlebach Planet K70 tripod.  Hopefully, mounted on that it will be good, if the APM Big fork mount is solid enough.  Right now there is so much wobble It's hard to tell just where it is all coming from.

 

Overall, I enjoy using the 150 so much that I can't see letting it go.  Maybe if I ever buy a good scope I'll change my mind.  I'm a confirmed binocular addict, going back many years, so after experiencing the big APM's it would be hard to regress.  Right now all of my astronomy is via binocular and naked eyeballs.

 

Rick


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