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Skywatcher 130 f/5 PDS - mini review

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#1 vkhastro1

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 11:19 AM

Recently picked up a used (mint condition) Skywatcher 130mm f/5 PDS reflector OTA (Thanks Tyson). This scope is presently discontinued.

 

Cosmetics: beautiful black with silver speckles. 9/10

 

Inclusions: 8/10 (based on the nice focuser)

excellent dual rate 2” Crayford focuser with 1.25” adapter

Vixen style finder mounting shoe

thin 4 vein spider/ adjustable 2° mirror holder

oversized 2° mirror (this scope is designed for photography)

Enhanced 95% coatings on 1° and 2° mirrors

6x30 straight through finder (mine was upgraded to an Orion 8x40 straight through version)

2” 28mm LET eyepiece (not included in my used purchase)

Nice dual hinged mounting rings and Vixen style mounting 7” bar

 

Peeves:

Crayford focuser is non-compression ring

Crayford focuser has a thread 2” adapter ring using a single metal set screw 

(I removed the ring and drilled/tapped 3 holes a 120° and replaced the metal set screw with 3 nylon ones). I actually prefer this type with nylon screws to a compression ring version. 

the 2”-1.25” eyepiece adapter is also thread-on. You need to unthread the 2” eyepiece adapter ring and the thread the 2”-1.25” one on. Stupid design, just include a regular 2”-1.25” - compression ring or set screw.

You need a 2” extension tube to reach focus with either 2” or 1.25”, It is not included.

The included 28mm 2” LET eyepiece is junk (I have tried one). Just include a 1.25” cheapo 25mm Plossl eyepiece.

I hate straight through finder scopes, replaced mine with an Orion 6x30 RACI version (very light weight but a larger 50mm RACI maybe a better option.

 

Optics: 10/10

easily collimation (it arrived in perfect collimation), 1° mirror is center spotted

3 spring loaded adjustment knobs with setscrew locks

95% enhanced 1°/2° mirrors - brighter view than my larger 140mm f/3.64 Comet Catcher 

optical testing - easily 1/8 wave or better

 

Observing: I am mainly a Deepsky observer - this a definite RFT

Fantastic scope, easily punches above a 5” reflector.

easily takes 160X + (TV 4mm DeLite) , 40x/in-  you run out of light grasp

From low power wide field (3° +) to high power, does it all.

with high quality eyepieces, I did not need an OCS (Paracorr)

 

Some Deep Sky highlights: NELM 5.7 Transparency/Seeing Both 3/5 :

the Double Cluster - superb, one of my best views ever (mono view)

NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia (Caroline’s Haystack) - very easy (large smudge with a sprinkling of brighter stars)

M31 group - all 3 members are easy with direct vision - M31 over 2.25°, M110 diffuse oval

M33 - large 3/4° smudge

M81/82 - beautiful contrast in galaxy types

M51 - Both parts easily visible

M13 - easily resolved - perfect image (pin **** stars) at 160x

M27 - amazing with and without filters

NGC 7000 - fantastic North American shape with NPB filter

Veil Complex - see my posting in Observing section (Veil in small scopes)

 

Future Upgrades:

I have added a 8” dew-shield

I will flock the OTA (either the entire tube or opposite the focuser)

 

Summary: 

An excellent low priced RFT. Amazing Optics. 

The few minor “peeves” are easily corrected.

Highly Recommended !!

 

 

 

 

 


Edited by vkhastro1, 30 August 2019 - 11:19 AM.

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#2 Eddgie

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 12:05 PM

Congrats on your new scope! 

 

My experience mirrors yours. It is kind of an "unknown" scope, but for my own application it is working better than the Comet Catcher in spite of being smaller and "slower."

 

This scope is kind on the stealth list because when I say I have a 130mm f/5, everyone thinks it is a typical 130mm with small illuminated field and 1.25" focuser and most do not seem to be aware of the 130 PDS.

 

 

 

95% enhanced 1°/2° mirrors - brighter view than my larger 140mm f/3.64 Comet Catcher 

optical testing - easily 1/8 wave or better

 

 

These are factors that I used in my decision to move from the Comet Catcher to the 130 PDS.  Now my situation was that I am using image intensified eyepieces and I came to feel that the Comet Catcher was punching well below the f/3.6 spec.

 

Some of this I thought was maybe due to the need to re-coat the mirrors, but after a painful testing sequence, I determined that the mirrors were OK, but that they were just not transmitting a lot at longer wavelengths (which is important for NV use) and this combined with the losses of the secondary shading and the corrector (which is where perhaps 10% of the loss in near infra red is coming from) meant that the scope simply was not as bright as I thought is should be. I actually think that the entire system transmission (including secondary shading) of the Comet Catcher really does cause it to loose a lot of brightness. I came to feel that the CC was simply much dimmer than it should be for a 140mm f/3.6 scope.

 

The other issue I had with the Comet Catcher was the sled focuser and the awkward nature of trying to get it to work with a filter wheel.  The 130 PDS though, with its 2" focuser with plenty of travel made it easy to use a filter wheel.

 

One important point though is that while it is an "Imaging" scope, I don't think it will fully illuminate an APS-C size sensor.  My NV monocular has an 18mm image circle, and I can see that there is a little illumination falloff at the edge.  Not bad, but it does not appear to have a fully illuminated circle bigger than maybe 12mm. Probably good for an APS-C with some cropping maybe or a 4/3.

 

Anyway, as much as I loved the light weight and simplicity of the Comet Catcher, I came to feel that it was much dimmer than the numbers suggested and moved to the 130 PDS and like you, I really feel that it is brighter than the Comet Catcher was. 

 

 

Nice scope.   Not many around as far as I can tell though.  

 

130PDS R.jpg

 

(Also, the image scale was a plus.  An added bonus was that I had enough focuser travel to use the Barlow lens mounted in one of my filter wheel positions.  This Barlow gives me the ability to bump up the power by about 1.5x just by turning the filter wheel and refocusing.  That is a nice benefit.)

 

Good review of what appears to be a relatively unknowns scope.  Hope you are enjoying it!

 


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#3 Astrojensen

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 03:52 PM

 

Good review of what appears to be a relatively unknowns scope.

They seem to be more common in Europe. I've not looked through one, but saw one up close last year (or was it the year before?) at a star party. Nice build quality for the low price. 

 

I'm kinda tempted to get one just because reasons. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#4 Don H

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 03:55 PM

How far out does an eyepiece end up once you put in the 2" extension and rack it out to focus? I really like the design, but would almost prefer a visual only set up that could do away with the extension and maybe allow a slightly smaller secondary.


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#5 brisdob

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 04:25 PM

Very informative comments.  I picked up one of these a few weeks ago and use it on a Skywatcher Star Discovery Go To mount that I already had.  Quick to set up and cool down, great optics and works really well with my Vixen LVW eyepieces.  Nothing to dislike at all.


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#6 vkhastro1

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 04:29 PM

As mentioned, you require a 2" extension tube and 2"-1.25" adapter (for 1.25" eyepieces) to reach focus.

The focus position is dependant on which eyepiece (either 2" or 1.25").

This scope is more dedicated for imaging so no low profile focuser (a compromise for sure).

The OTA length is shorter than a conventional 130mm f/5 reflector.

 

For example a Televue 18.2mm DeLite eyepiece with 2" extender and 2"-1.25" adapter is about 6" from the tube.

However a 1.25" 14.5mm Leuvenhok 68° eyepiece (noted for its severe in focus) is about 5" from the tube

A 2" 30mm APM UFF with 2" extender is about 7.5" from the tube.

The longer 13mm APM 100° eyepiece in 2" mode is more like 8" - 8.5" from the tube.



#7 REDSHIFT39

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Posted 30 August 2019 - 10:19 PM

I have the same scope but the 150mm version.Its practically impossible to find a smaller newtonian with a decent focuser.Always a joy to use and my most used scope.



#8 vkhastro1

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 01:51 PM

Just assessed the internal paint job.

Nice flat black with minimal reflections - not the darkest I’ve seen but way above average.

The collimation is perfect so I decided to just “flock” opposite the 2” focuser.

The 2° mirror is oversized and fairly tight fit getting my fingers past the 4-vane spider.

I just cut a 6” circle of protostar flocking paper.

Kept the backside paper attached and practiced positioning it.

Removed the paper and perfectly positioned the flocking portion - man is that stuff dark !



#9 Tyson M

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 02:15 PM

Recently picked up a used (mint condition) Skywatcher 130mm f/5 PDS reflector OTA (Thanks Tyson). This scope is presently discontinued.

 

Hello Gary, 

 

I cant take credit where credit is not due lol, I sold you two eyepieces recently that could buy you a 3 of these scopes new haha- not this scope.  

 

This scope seems like an amazing bargain though. Great for visual grab and go and imaging.



#10 skyward_eyes

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Posted 01 September 2019 - 04:13 PM

We are looking into this model and it’s larger models currently.
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#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 06:29 PM

For a number of years I had a SpaceProbe 130 ST fitted with a 2 inch Focuser. I normally used it with a Paracorr.. A Paracorr would address the need for an extension tube.

 

I have said this before.. a good 130 mm F/5 Newtonian is the closest thing an affordable 4 inch apo Refractor that exists... The 130ST was quite good on planets and doubles as long as it had an hour or so to cool.

 

I remember one dark night.. I swapped out my TeleVue NP-101 for the 130 mm F/5  with the Paracorr and 31 mm Nagler..it was scary how good it was.. 

4920795-SpaceProbe 130ST Starpad.jpg

 

Jon


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#12 KerryR

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 07:29 PM

I'm a massive fan of 130 f5's, even on the ota's that are limited to 1.25" ep's. Very easy to mount scopes, and, when they have decent optics, great all around performers.



#13 vkhastro1

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 04:41 PM

We are looking into this model and it’s larger models currently.

I would definitely be interested in purchasing the 8" version.



#14 Barkingsteve

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Posted 03 September 2019 - 07:05 PM

I have been using this telescope for around 6 months now on my evolution mount as an eaa platform. For the cost, it makes an excellent alternative to my 925 for wider field views and it can reach zenith with no problems.


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#15 Far-Out

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 02:38 PM

SkyWatcher OTA 130mm F5  2” focuser 

I would like to buy this scope anyone know where to buy one in the USA

Thanks,

Larry



#16 RJF-Astro

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Posted 20 September 2019 - 03:55 PM

I will be receiving this scope next week and intent to use it mainly for imaging. I was looking for an additional 500-700mm scope, preferably faster than F6 and light enough for my HEQ-5. And not too heavy budget-wise either.

 

It took me a while to find the 130PDS between all the other newts and refractors. But on paper it is a really nice addition to the market and it fit the bill perfectly for me. I am in Europe and it is readily available here. I will share my experiences here once I have them.


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#17 johnpeter2

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 05:35 PM

 

We are looking into this model and it’s larger models currently.

It appears this model has been available in Europe since 2012.  Why has it taken so long to be available in the USA?

 

John



#18 Jond105

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Posted 23 September 2019 - 05:45 PM

We are looking into this model and it’s larger models currently.

That be awesome to have a 130 with an already set dual speed focuser in it for beginners. 


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#19 RJF-Astro

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 01:04 PM

Mine has arrived a few days ago. My first impressions are positive: compact tube, solid tube rings and I really like the crayford. It is similar to my 72ED and 100ED, although a bit stiffer. I don't think I will have to replace it soon. The other accessories are not that noteworthy, but nice for the price.

 

My first concerns as an imager are mostly mechanical: does it balance with the camera and can I fit everything on it? The 130 PDS did okay, but I had some issues with my Pegasus focuscube. The compact focusser makes it difficult to mount the bracket. After a few failed attempts I found a workaround on another forum: flip the motor on the bracket and then mount it on the dovetail. This works perfect!

 

The OTA balances well in all directions. I did have to move my guidescope all the way back, but no counterweights are required.

 

Next up is collimation. The weather forcast is clouds, clouds, clouds, so it may take a while before I can post some images. 

 

DSCF3470.jpg

 

DSCF3476.jpg


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#20 Mitrovarr

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 02:52 PM

I'd be curious how it does compared to the ST120. They're pretty much the best two options (I know of) for a cheap widefield scope.

#21 Eddgie

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Posted 25 September 2019 - 10:23 PM

For imaging, the 130 PDS is a better scope but the fully illuminated field is not particularly large. 

 

For wide field observing, I guess it would depend on the eyepieces and the coma corrector.  In some configurations, the 130 PDS focuser tube can extend into the light path and since the mirror is so small, and since the scope is already obstructed, pushing your focuser tube into the light path is not going to make things better for sure. This should not be a problem unless the configuration takes more than maybe 30mm of inward focuser travel.

 

If the configuration required considerable inward focus, then that would be a concern.

 

These are nice little scopes.  I bought one to replace my Comet Catcher (and I think it was better for my application than the Comet Catcher) but frankly I am spoiled by my 6" f/2.8 and I have not been using the 130 PDS as much as I thought I would and am just going to sell it.   That really is not a reflection on the scope per se.  It is a really nice little telescope. It just is not fast enough for me and since it is almost as big as my 6" f/2.8, I just found that I am not using it much.   For conventional use though, it is a nice little scope. With standard eyepieces, the focuser tube would not be an issue, but for some imaging configurations, it could be.  Again, if the configuration takes a lot of inward travel over a standard eyepiece, then that could be an issue, and I don't think the fully illuminated field is all that large. Probably better for smaller sensors.


Edited by Eddgie, 25 September 2019 - 10:24 PM.


#22 RJF-Astro

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Posted 26 September 2019 - 02:33 PM

For imaging, the 130 PDS is a better scope but the fully illuminated field is not particularly large. 

 

For wide field observing, I guess it would depend on the eyepieces and the coma corrector.  In some configurations, the 130 PDS focuser tube can extend into the light path and since the mirror is so small, and since the scope is already obstructed, pushing your focuser tube into the light path is not going to make things better for sure. This should not be a problem unless the configuration takes more than maybe 30mm of inward focuser travel.

 

If the configuration required considerable inward focus, then that would be a concern.

 

These are nice little scopes.  I bought one to replace my Comet Catcher (and I think it was better for my application than the Comet Catcher) but frankly I am spoiled by my 6" f/2.8 and I have not been using the 130 PDS as much as I thought I would and am just going to sell it.   That really is not a reflection on the scope per se.  It is a really nice little telescope. It just is not fast enough for me and since it is almost as big as my 6" f/2.8, I just found that I am not using it much.   For conventional use though, it is a nice little scope. With standard eyepieces, the focuser tube would not be an issue, but for some imaging configurations, it could be.  Again, if the configuration takes a lot of inward travel over a standard eyepiece, then that could be an issue, and I don't think the fully illuminated field is all that large. Probably better for smaller sensors.

I have read on another forum that there are ways to minimize the protruding draw tube. An option is to move the primary mirror up by as much as the springs and locking screws allow. Or even replace the screws by longer ones and add washers so you can keep the original springs.

 

When choosing a corrector, make sure it is not a reducing one, such as the Sky-Watcher 0.9x. Reducing will shorten the focus distance, meaning more protrusion. The Baader MPCC is neutral and the GSO increases the focal length by 1.1x, meaning even less protrusion.



#23 25585

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Posted 26 September 2019 - 05:17 PM

They seem to be more common in Europe. I've not looked through one, but saw one up close last year (or was it the year before?) at a star party. Nice build quality for the low price. 

 

I'm kinda tempted to get one just because reasons. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

https://www.firstlig...30p-ds-ota.html

 

Good value IMO.



#24 Eddgie

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Posted 27 September 2019 - 08:13 AM

I have read on another forum that there are ways to minimize the protruding draw tube.

In normal operation with a standard eyepiece, the tube does not intrude into the light path at all.   In some configurations though, it can happen.   For example, I was using a filter wheel with an eyepiece holder and image intensifier, and this also caused the focuser tube to extend into the light path, so I had to ditch the eyepiece holder.

 

In general I would say that is will not be an issue for most people most of the time, but I mentioned it as something to be aware of as a possibility for some configurations. 



#25 Deeko76

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Posted 05 October 2019 - 07:45 AM

Mine has arrived a few days ago. My first impressions are positive: compact tube, solid tube rings and I really like the crayford. It is similar to my 72ED and 100ED, although a bit stiffer. I don't think I will have to replace it soon. The other accessories are not that noteworthy, but nice for the price.

 

My first concerns as an imager are mostly mechanical: does it balance with the camera and can I fit everything on it? The 130 PDS did okay, but I had some issues with my Pegasus focuscube. The compact focusser makes it difficult to mount the bracket. After a few failed attempts I found a workaround on another forum: flip the motor on the bracket and then mount it on the dovetail. This works perfect!

 

The OTA balances well in all directions. I did have to move my guidescope all the way back, but no counterweights are required.

 

Next up is collimation. The weather forcast is clouds, clouds, clouds, so it may take a while before I can post some images. 

 

attachicon.gif DSCF3470.jpg

 

attachicon.gif DSCF3476.jpg

I am struggling to collimate the 130PDS, followed so many guides including the well known Astro-baby tutorial. I just cannot get the three primary clips to appear. Did you have any luck with collimation? Cheers




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