Best mass produced 16 Dobsonian
Posted 12 August 2019 - 11:33 AM
- jayrome likes this
Posted 12 August 2019 - 11:52 AM
Generally the mirrors are going to be similar or the same in the mass produced consumer stuff. So it really comes down to total package, build, weight, accessories, etc. On one hand, for the price, you have the Meade LightBridge 16 which is popular at $2k and really, really heavy. On the other hand you have the ExploreScientific Gen II 16" Truss which is $3k (currently on sale at HighPoint for $2400 I think) and is much lighter weight and all-metal build. LightBridge is super popular, even DobStuff makes a remake just for LightBridge scopes (worth looking into for long term).
Whatever you're choosing you will need to also focus on making it usable as in easy to setup and get it out somewhere, if it's super clumsy and heavy, unlike the 8" dob, you will find it to be a chore. These 120+lb scopes are no joke.
I've seen some negative feedback on the ExpSci dobs, but they were the Gen I versions. Gen II I have not seen the issues posted about. And if you search around, any large mass produced scope review you will find someone who had a bag experience. Don't fall into someone else's experience just because its bad. But, to be safe, get it from a place that has good customer service so if you do get unlucky you have support.
Personally I would want the all-metal build, so I would go with the Gen II ExpSci versions on the "cheap" side of mass produced mirrors. I don't want to fool with warping boards and rotten wood over the years. And I don't want to re-build the whole scope later due to that. I'd rather have all-metal up front. So that alone makes it more worth while to me for the entry cost. On sale at HighPoint for $2400 shipped it's a pretty good scope being 16" aperture and all-metal and still lighter weight than some other options and fairly portable as it breaks down.
Edited by MalVeauX, 12 August 2019 - 12:24 PM.
- Volvonium and jayrome like this
Posted 12 August 2019 - 12:16 PM
Explore Scientific would get my vote, for quality, price and portability considered. If price is removed from the equation, I would buy the Obsession 18"UC
Posted 12 August 2019 - 12:17 PM
I read about serious finishing quality problems with the ES truss, I don't have time to find the threads now but they are on CN and SGL.
I remember a thread about a brand new ES truss with a finger print on the large mirror. The guy was asking what to do about the situation and he also literally had a list of other problems with his brand new ES truss telescope. On SGL the thread was about hardware issues, bad screw fillet and a lot of uncleaned metal scrap from the tapping process, something terrible again. I remember the store replaced his scope.
Horror stories literally and it's complicated to return 14", 16" telescope.
I would skip the ES truss personally.
- cmckow91 likes this
Posted 12 August 2019 - 12:19 PM
Bumping for interest. I have a 10" Meade Lightbridge and want to go with something with a significant increase in aperture in a few years (maybe for my 50th Bday/midlife-crisis self-gift)
But also have to reckon on portability too. The Taurus scopes look darn nice but are much $$$
Posted 12 August 2019 - 12:38 PM
I’m in the market for upgrading from an 8inch Dob to a 16!!!! I’ve heard mixed reviews on buying mass produced at that size....
I'd watch for a used 14" to 18" StarMaster, Obession, Teeter, etc. Some incredible deals show up now and then.
- vertex2100, cmckow91 and Sully606 like this
Posted 12 August 2019 - 12:39 PM
I can tell you that almost all the Orion Mirrors I've viewed through were as good as those by mid-range makers.
My xx16g is quite imprseeive for the views it puts up although due to the weight, It's not for everyone.
If I were to go with a manual Dob I'd most likely go Orion or Meade
Posted 12 August 2019 - 12:44 PM
I once owned a "mass market" 10" Premium Deep Space Explorer dob from Orion. It actually had an excellent mirror made by Terry O (unbeknownst to me at the time), but the bearings, weight distribution, overall weight, focuser and secondary holder were less than satisfying. Although a mirror that you can get from one of the custom companies you mentioned is likely to be better figured the main differences from my perspective is more in the nuts and bolts mechanical issues like bearing movement, higher quality focuser, weight distribution and overall lighter weight without compromising rigidity of the structure (lighter materials and thinner mirrors) that really separate custom players from the "mass market" (although at 16" is anything really mass market--I mean how many get sold per year?) You are really paying for the attention to details--and those details can add up.
Have you considered looking for a higher quality used 15" or 16"? That's how I got my Teeter 8". Large show up with some frequency, and are typically heavily discounted over new, but you'd likely have to travel to get it.
Edited by Chesterguy1, 12 August 2019 - 12:47 PM.
Posted 12 August 2019 - 02:19 PM
- vertex2100 and Greengrassmanfl like this
Posted 12 August 2019 - 03:57 PM
I bought one of the first 16 inch lightbridges when they came out. Had the mirror refigured by OWL. Enjoyed it for many years. As I aged it finally got to heavy for me. Sold it to a younger friend who's enjoying it now. What ever you decide enjoy.
Posted 12 August 2019 - 04:57 PM
@N3P I feel like I’ve read that post. If you find it, please share. Anyone know anything about discovery dob’s?
I can't find the threads.. unfortunately.. but fortunately for explore scientific.
Posted 12 August 2019 - 06:35 PM
I would recommend the ESUL 16".
When I received my Explore Scientific 16" truss tube dobsonian in June, there were quite a few issues with parts showing oxidization and other finish related quality issues. It gave me a lot of pause after opening the box to see some degraded components, but within 24 hours of notifying Explore Scientific, they were sending me a complete replacement telescope. They acted and responded quickly to take care of my concerns, going above and beyond to make sure I was happy. The replacement I received was in better shape and while it also had some minor finish issues, I've been very happy with the use I'm getting out of it. It has become the telescope I use the most, nearly every night. I think that any dobsonian that you buy is going to need a tweak here and there. The ESUL may need a few more tweaks than others, but none of the common issues that present themselves are uncorrectable. If you can live with doing a few tweaks here and there and some cosmetic finish issues, the ESUL 16 presents an excellent value for a massive amount of aperture. Here are some of the things I've noted with mine:
- Paint finish / paint adhesion is poor. If you are frequently disassembling and reassembling, paint will chip off, especially from the truss poles.
- Poor instructions
- Metal shavings need to be vacuumed out of mirror box
- Mirror box and rocker box may rub during operation, depending on how you tighten down the altitude bearing sliders. You must make sure both sides are equally tightened so that it is not lopsided.
- The threaded holes on the opened mirror box lid, for attaching and securing the yellow altitude bearings (adding rigidity are slightly off, can make it difficult to attach the bolts.
- Hockey puck clutches are a little odd and the glued on teflon pads are easy to break off
- Washers need to be placed between the yellow altitude bearings and the mirror box, to prevent a clearance issue with rivets.
- Washers need to be placed between the yellow altitude bearings and the mirror box to allow the mirror box lid to close while the altitude bearings are attached (it will rub/damage paint if you don't)
- Foam piece on box lid will interfere with taking a light shroud on and off. (I removed this foam piece on mine)
- Red dot finder is comically bad
- Excellent end user support by Explore Scientific. If there is any problem, they will go above and beyond to make it right, they stand by their product.
- Front facing collimation bolts make collimation ridiculously easy. I can collimate mine in under a minute.
- Fairly rigid design does not need to be collimated too often during a session.
- It is light for its size and significantly more enjoyable to use than a 12" solid tube dob.
- Very easy assembly, disassembly, and transport. I can setup in my backyard in minutes. I can fit it inside any car.
- Good optical quality. Will put up consistently respectable views under the most common seeing conditions. I haven't heard of any "dud" mirrors. It's not a Zambuto, but it'll put up a good view most nights.
- Very well balanced. While the 12" ES truss dob has balance issues near zenith with heavier eyepieces, the 16" handles a lot of weight at the focuser without needing counterweights. Had no problems running ES100 eyepieces and a big barlow at all altitudes.
- After a short break in, azimuth and altitude adjustments provide smooth controls. No issues manually tracking at high magnification.
- Aluminum components will last a very long time, even if the paint finish won't
Most of the cons are correctable cosmetic fit and finish issues. After sorting some of the fit and finish issues, it is a very enjoyable dob to use. I recently swapped out my solid tube 12" for an ESUL 12" and it makes me appreciate the balance of the 16" more. The 12" ESUL is also quite good, but has balancing issues with heavier eyepieces, which is something I don't experience in the 16". Broken down into the rocker box, mirror box, and assembled truss + UTA, the ESUL 16" breaks down into easy to move components that aren't too heavy. No bulky wheelie bars / handles needed. My 10" Meade Lightbridge has an assembled OTA that is significantly harder to move around. Other truss tube dobs clock in at over 140lbs.
The mods I've done to mine are enclosing the upper cage and flocking it, changing to a green laser finder, removable covers for the handles in the mirror box, and shimming certain areas for clearance. If you get one of these, you'll notice on the hockey puck clutches there are 5 washers inexplicably stacked on each other between the puck and the knob. It's not mentioned anywhere in the instructions (and possibly not intended), but you can remove four of those washers from each puck and use those as spacers (two for each mirror box bolt) to go in between the yellow altitude bearing and mirror box. It will give the clearance you need. You will have to add washer spacers between the altitude bearing and mirror box lid, otherwise it can tweak the lid more to one side after tightening. My next modification is to make a floating cover for the primary mirror, to protect the mirror from dust when not in use, but running an open truss.
Another thing, it's been over a month and I still haven't returned my original to Explore Scientific 16. They've been very accommodating with my return. It's a big box and finding time and help to get it to UPS has been a bit of a hassle; admittedly, I've also been dragging my feet due to summer heat and general laziness, but ES has not pressured me. I'm very happy with my ESUL 16 dob and ES as a company; I feel confident to recommend this dob. If you're an absolute perfectionist wanting .970 strehl and bespoke quality everything, there are dobs out there for 200-500% more dollars. For the common man, it's a good big dob that is more manageable than its 16" size would lead many to believe.
- vtornado and zleonis like this
Posted 20 August 2019 - 02:10 AM
I suppose you know a 16" Dob is a big, heavy scope. Just the primary mirror is like 30 lbs.
If you buy new, make sure you can return it for a refund, in case the optics or something else is inferior.
If you are planning on getting the mirror refigured, and if the factory has not properly annealed that big hunk of glass, refiguring might not be possible. With big mass-market mirrors, one never knows, it's a crapshoot.
If you buy used, try to use it first. Unless you really trust the person or the brand. Just because someone tells you the optics are "wonderful" does not mean they are.
I suppose the lightest mass-produced would be HubbleOptics. Reviews seem to be inconsistent.
Sorry to be a downer. Just do your homework.
- havasman likes this
Posted 20 August 2019 - 02:39 AM
I copied a post I made in April describing my experiences with my ES 16” truss tube dob and pasted below. Hope it helps. Bottom line, I am really enjoying the scope.
Posted 21 April 2019 - 08:25 AM
My ES 16” was delivered a couple weeks before Christmas. I’m really enjoying the scope. The mirror seems to be of good quality. I have had much more experienced observers look through it and remark positively on mirror quality. I observe at remote sites so transportability is important to me. I can easily lift the heaviest component (mirror box) so loading and unloading are a snap. Setup and breakdown are quick and easy. The hardest thing is balancing the secondary cage on the truss tubes to insert the first thumbscrew. With a little practice it’s really not too difficult.
When I first got the scope one of the fans did not work. I contacted ES support. They offered to exchange the mirror box or to allow me to do some troubleshooting first. I chose to check it out myself and found that the guard was apparently installed backwards and was obstructing the fan blades. I flipped the guard and the fan was fixed. I wasn’t happy with the clutches because there is a nylon (Teflon?) pad on one side. When you tighten the clutch it causes it to tilt. I insert a small movers pad on the opposite side of the clutch so the pad lies flat on the altitude wheel. I will probably glue nylon pads of proper thickness to the clutch pucks as a permanent fix.
I did get a fright the first night at the dark sky sight. I had an ES 30mm 82° ep (very heavy) in the focuser. I positioned the scope for a target very low to the south. Unfortunately, the counterweights are on a rod extending out from the side of the mirror box. When the the scope is pointed toward low altitude the weights move over the top of the box and effectively stop being counterweights. With the heavy ep the scope continued to travel down till it hit the stop. The primary is held in place by straps that have slack in them. That allowed the mirror to pop out of position. Most folks probably don’t observe almost down to the horizon so would not have a problem. But I was planning to take the scope to the Winter Star Party. One of the highlights of the WSP is to observe southern sky objects not visible anywhere else in the continental US. This means looking at objects just above the water of the Florida Straits. The skies there are frequently steady enough that one can get great views of objects like Eta Carina. Long story short I couldn’t be bothered with the primary popping out of position. Two things fixed this. The first was twisting the mirror straps to remove the slack. The second was the use of bungees. I attach a bungee from the rocker box over the back end of the altitude wheel to the top of the mirror box on each side. The bungee does not start to provide tension until the scope is pointed low. So now the scope can be used all the way down to the horizon with my heaviest ep and hold position beautifully.
I am sure that some people will take exception to some of what I encountered with this scope. However, I did not spend $6000 to $10000 for it. The price at the time was just above $2000. Considering the price and the quality of the views I am getting I am very happy with the scope. Sure I have had to make a few mods but from what I have read in these forums folks who buy much more expensive scopes usually end up changing and modding their scopes to make them work better. A month ago I did my first Messier Marathon with this scope. I had a great time - scored 104 of 110 objects. My biggest challenge was the Virgo cluster. The challenge was that with a good 16 inch mirror I was seeing too many galaxies!
Bottom line, I had one definite problem (fan guard installed incorrectly) and a few challenges. I added spacers to the clutch pucks, twisted the mirror straps and added bungees. I also added additional weights to the counterweight bar - cheap weights from Walmart. However, for just over $2000 I have a 16 inch mirror of pretty good quality in a scope I can easily transport and am thoroughly enjoying. If you want a “big” scope and don’t have “big” bucks this is a scope you should be looking at - especially between now and the end of the month while it’s on sale!
- Volvonium and vertex2100 like this
Posted 20 August 2019 - 05:01 AM
If you can afford it, you might want to consider a Discovery dob. It is a mid priced scope. about 4,000 dollars now . I have a 17.5" F5 truss tubed one I bought over 20 years ago. It is really tall, over 7 feet ,needs two steps of a ladder at the zenith, but is very sturdy and well built with no particle board used and an excellent mirror. The F5 scope is the tallest of the two they offer obviously, but less expensive, with better views and no need for a parrachor . I have no need for anything larger ever in my life and in a dark site, will give amazing views. I took it and other scopes camping in west Virginia this summer and saw incredible details in galaxies, globular clusters and nebula. The mount is very stable and smooth even at 300 power. I use an 80mm refractor on it for a finder, along with a Telrad, and now, green laser. It is also nice to view things through. Plus, I mount a cell phone with Sky Safari plus on the base that moves with the base to help aim the scope at the objects I want to find.
Edited by vertex2100, 20 August 2019 - 05:21 AM.
- rowdy388 likes this
Posted 20 August 2019 - 01:06 PM
I do, I do! Check my previous post. I have the 17.5" truss tube one and bought and used a 10" solid tube one for my brother. They are great and have excellent mirrors. The big one is a commitment . I keep it assembled in the garage to wheel out to observe in the yard and disassemble it for camping. The 10" is very easy for an adult male to carry out in two trips. I built an Obssesion clone 16" using obsession parts and their book. Both scopes are similar in use. I've had both for over 20 years. I got one of the first Discovery truss tubed dobs made and my brothers a few years after they started selling under their own label.
@N3P I feel like I’ve read that post. If you find it, please share. Anyone know anything about discovery dob’s?
Edited by vertex2100, 20 August 2019 - 01:07 PM.
Posted 20 August 2019 - 06:13 PM
Edited by nimitz69, 20 August 2019 - 06:57 PM.
- SteveG likes this
Posted 21 August 2019 - 08:57 AM
I’m in the market for upgrading from an 8inch Dob to a 16!!!! I’ve heard mixed reviews on buying mass produced at that size. I would love to go custom from one of the big dawgs. Just don’t have that kind of money. New moon, jp Astrocraft, Teeter, (taking a break) I think spicaeyes, etc. You get the point. I’m planning on buying a explore scientific 16 truss and upgrading it here and there and down the road. I’ve heard the analogy on describing the difference between mass produced vs custom. They need to change it because some say you can’t tell the difference unless your very experienced. I can definitely tell the difference between a POS car and a Lamborghini haha. Does anyone own an ES truss? Do you love it? Or even a Meade or sky watcher? Also what’s everyone’s thoughts/ opinions on the subject? Thanks in advance. This is a big purchase for me!
If it were me, I'd go with the Orion. Meets all the criteria. My two cents.
Posted 21 August 2019 - 01:22 PM
Same here: I have an Orion XX16g and I'm deeply in love with it! It's easy to assemble and move to a dark site and the all assembly process is about 10 minutes.
I actually wrote a first light review not too long ago and if memory serves well, I also updated it after. Particularly with sketches to give future reader an idea of what the would actually see.
- vertex2100 likes this
Posted 23 August 2019 - 04:17 PM
I'm very happy with my 16-inch LightBridge. I got an early version in 2008 and had to do some tweaking but I'm pretty satisfied. Been using it ever since.
Not rushing out to buy the next best thing.