OK I can now spill some beans. The Beta test period has concluded. I was a Beta tester. From what little I could glean, I was about one of 200 Beta testers in the US, and there were maybe 300 testers around other parts of the globe.
The start of the much-delayed beta test period began after the beginning of "The Cloudy Season", here in Milwaukee by the shore of Lake Michigan. Since late October, it's either been overcast at night or below 20 degrees (F) where we live, so I was only able to use the eVscope a few times. Once we get warmer temperatures, I will be performing a complete, in-depth critique, with many photos.
The beta test was very useful. A number of issues were uncovered, both simple and complex, and were all addressed through software. The latest app update will address issues of image noise, something which I observed. I can't wait for comfortable, clear skies to test it out. The update also permits much better automatic gain/contrast settings, so that planets and the moon can be better imaged. Already, users are sharing beautiful DSO images they've obtained. Once I've completed my observations using the last update, and confirmed my expectations, I will write the complete review and post it here. Positive OR negative!
Here, I will just mention my first impressions.
The package arrived by United Parcel Service (UPS), no signature was required. For such an expensive purchase, I would have felt more comfortable if a signature had been required.
The corrugated cardboard box mimics the shape and strength of a wooden crate, in that all outside edges are protected with an additional layer of cardboard. Save for three small indents on one panel, there was no visible damage to the outside of the box.
Inside the box were the quick start guide, the technical guide, and a personalized welcome note.
Extendable legs use a secure cam locking system. The aluminum tripod is durable and strong. Unistellar obviously put considerable money into the mount, unlike many other telescope manufacturers’ setups. There is a circular bubble level that does a very reasonable job indicating when the tripod is, indeed, level. None of the bolts became loose during shipping.
After the unboxing, I was able to go out on just three nights during the 6-week test period. Oct/Nov/Dec is notoriously cloudy by Lake Michigan, as the water temperature is warmer than the air temperature, causing considerable fog and overcast conditions whenever the air temperature is above freezing.
Brief review of the iOS app: Once you learn the meaning of the icons, it is intuitive and easy to use. The eVscope acts as its own WiFi hotspot, and your cell phone connects quickly. Up to 10 others can link to your eVscope (as passive observers), which means they can see, on their phone, what you see in the eyepiece.
The eVscope is operated completely from the app. Except for the fixed eyepiece diopter and the ability to manually focus the telescope (yes, a Bahtinov mask IS included), all functions are accomplished through the app. You can setup the app so that it will view only objects in your lines of sight; if there's a building behind you, for example, you can restrict the R.A. to avoid it. The same goes for Declination. These parameter limiting aspects will be useful in an urban environment, for example.
As far as I can tell, the eVscope can only be "aligned" (told where on Earth it is) when there are several stars visible. So for now, I can't observe until about 45 minutes after sunset. It compares the stars it sees with an internal database to figure out where it is. Many testers have asked that precise location finding be accomplished through the phone's GPS, and it is expected that such a feature will be included in a future app revision.
The goto functions worked flawlessly. Yes, I DID see color in M57 and M27! It is an amazing sight to behold from suburban Milwaukee skies.
Once I can obtain images as clear as those being generated by other users, I will finalize my report, and include lots of step-by-step photos using the app.
NOTE: The M57 image, below, is one of the first screen shots I created. It is not a "downloaded file" from the telescope (meaning, it is lower in quality) and I had not had a chance to critically focus the eVscope yet. I wasn't even at a point where I could determine the magnification, which at that point was not yet part of the beta app version. It was also made after only a few seconds of observation; the longer the eVscope tracks an object, the clearer it becomes. So please don't judge too harshly!
Edited by StarTeacher, 22 December 2019 - 07:23 PM.