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Questions on the new 3” Hex focuses from Explore Scientific

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#1 Surfinash

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 09:32 PM

Hi All.

I received the new carbon fiber 115mm FPL-53 triplet from Explore Scientific last week, and I need some advice from the community on a few points, but mainly on the new 3” Hex focuser.

1. Has anyone tried using baader clicklock adapter with it? Any ideas on how that can fit (any accessories we can use from Starlight per say)?

I’m so totally bummed to see a “no way out” on this when a half-priced Teleskop Services (TS Photoline) 115mm or AT115EDT offers so much flexibility.

2. The front cap sits so close to the mirror - I am almost scared to bang it on the primary while wrapping up the sessions in wee hours. Anyone has alternate solutions? Replacement caps that would fit the dew shield maybe?

3. The dew shield protracts only 3” out. Not a biggie, but if you’re buying an FPL-53 glass, you’d know the primary purpose of the OTA, and ensure the right length to slide out.

4. Trying to get some risers on either sides of the rings so that I could use D-style dovetails in the bottom and on the top for accessories. The rings sit shallow and the longer dovetails bump in to the dew shield.

Overall, the OTA is solid, but it is so “closed box” - I am bummed to see things mentioned above lack on the scope of this caliber. Appreciate the advise.

#2 gnowellsct

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 09:54 PM

Well Sky Watcher is the mainland brand with a high end reputation, ES not so much, I'm afraid.  

 

Would be nice to see a picture of your focuser.    I looked at the focuser close ups here  and I guess I'm not skilled enough to see potential defects.   I know what bad focusers are all about.  I've had more than a few.  But it's hard to look at one and say "that's not going to work."  At least for me.

 

It is to be remarked that manufacturing focusers is not as easy as it sounds and that a lot of focusers *looked good* (such as William Optics) before they *were* good.  I don't know where ES is in the learning curve, but it is to be remarked that even Tak still gets complaints about its focusers, most recently in the "Takitis" thread.   

 

"the front cap sits so close to the mirror"  -- you mean close to the objective?

 

There are two Baader clicklock arrangements.  One, at the eyepiece end of a diagonal, click-locks around the eyepiece.  Then there is the attachment to the visual back.  Baader has been making that for SCTs for a long time but those have a protruding male threaded part that the clicklock can lock around.  I'm having a hard time envisioning how that works on a refractor.  In any case the three inch focuser would likely require a three inch clicklock.  I think the easiest thing to do is call Alpineastro and ask (alpineastro.com).  They know their Baader stuff.

 

Greg N



#3 Surfinash

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Posted 15 October 2019 - 11:45 PM

Thanks Greg for the quick feedback.

Sorry, should have used the proper lingo. Yes, the cap sits dangerously close to the primary objective, and worst - it is non-threaded with mere 1/3" border width. You have to retract the dew shield all the way back to put the cap on (push close). Not good at all for this scope.

I'm not sure if there are any 140mm CF FPL-53 owners here that have the experience. Explore Scientific told me to put additional felt padding to make it tighter if I needed! (Shaking my head on this).

The focuser end usually is threaded so that you can use various adapters. My TS photoline can even take a 3" 0.79x reducer threaded on for solid hold.

Baader - I'm looking at the clicklock that takes the diagonal in (so not for the eyepiece one). The 3" hex focuser takes M68 thread as I have read on other forums (for FCD100 127mm OTAs from ES). Here is something similar im looking to use (https://agenaastro.c...68-2956268.html). I guess I'm not too comfortable with three screws (especially that I'm now using the Baader clicklock).

Any help/thoughts are appreciated.

AJ

#4 Don Taylor

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 04:16 PM

I don't believe the Clicklock you linked is the correct one - that one is for M68x1 (Zeiss thread).   Baader makes a different unit for the Hexafocus that is M68 x 0.75 or M68i thread;  https://agenaastro.c...-2-2956269.html

 

Hope this helps.



#5 Surfinash

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 08:18 PM

Thanks Don. Checked with Manish@Agena. That won't work.

 

Essentially, the new 3" hex focuser has a 3 3/8"+ thread on the focuser drawtube. The rest is non-threaded. That is a challenge. It seems the answer is "change the focuser".

 

I am just disappointed at the little nuances they've left without answers. 


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#6 gnowellsct

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 08:32 PM

Thanks Greg for the quick feedback.
I guess I'm not too comfortable with three screws (especially that I'm now using the Baader clicklock).

Any help/thoughts are appreciated.

AJ

Well if clicklock is what you want and there is one out there that fits you should use that.

 

However, please understand that there are three screws and there are three screws.  I have the Astro-physics 3 screw visual back on the feather touch focuser on my CFF. It is wonderful to work with.  You can see it (with two screws showing) at the end of the draw tube with the measuring marks on it.

 

cff focuser close up with solar - cn size - edit.jpg


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#7 Surfinash

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 09:22 PM

smile.gif  Thanks for the cheer-up. I have used the Teleskop Service Photoline series scopes, and they have amazing quality focuser on it. Looks like their 3" may fit the Explore Scientific. If that is the case, I will swap it. 

 

If not - definitely I will give this a try. FPL-53 is too hard to miss. :)



#8 gnowellsct

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 11:45 AM

Thanks Don. Checked with Manish@Agena. That won't work.

 

 

I am just disappointed at the little nuances they've left without answers. 

Telescopes are fairly simple to look at and understand, compared, say, to a washing machine or car.  But they actually entail surprisingly complex engineering considerations.   The need to work under wide temperature variations; protection from stress during travel; a focuser that can handle a heavy load pointed straight up (without run out) and at the same time adjust smoothly; a focuser that holds steady but also rotates easily relative to the OTA.  Normal eyepiece use vs imaging configurations vs binoviewing.  

 

It can get crazy.  And naturally we want it all at a budget price.  

 

Greg N


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#9 Surfinash

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 03:27 PM

Thanks Greg. Totally understand where you're coming from.

 

I am bummed precisely because what you've said - "we want it all at a budget price".

 

In this case - the budget priced OTA (my TS Photoline 115mm triplet) appears to be designed "user centric" and offers flexibility in terms of accessories. Here are a few points:

 

1. Lens cap sits on top of the dew shield. There is a gap of at least an inch between the cap and the objective when closed and the dew shield fully retracted. Safe!

 

2. Easy to attach a losmandy dovetail on the top/bottom without banging the dew shield (not a biggie). The rings have five holes (let alone three) to affix the plates (as opposed to one in case of ES).

 

3. The focuser/camera side has M63 female threads - with plenty of options to go from M68i to M42. Came with an M68i adapter for various attachments - including thread-on 3" focal reducer.

 

I do understand the brand differences, and I have been a long-time buyer from ES (my first refractor was the 127mm doublet). This one particularly baffled me. 

 

I will be posting some pics later today. I am already speaking with Teleskop Express. They said they can make a custom adapter for the back so I can use their 3" RP focuser (very similar to Feather Touch).

 

Thanks for your positive words. Definitely helps to have such wonderful folks with mature advice. Appreciate it.



#10 Surfinash

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 05:47 PM

Here are some images

 

1_IMG_0273.jpg

 

2_IMG_0275.jpg


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#11 Surfinash

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 05:53 PM

3_IMG_0276.jpg

 

4_IMG_0277.jpg

 

5_IMG_0279.jpg

 

6_IMG_0281.jpg


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#12 stevew

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Posted 19 October 2019 - 07:22 PM

Did you post that the dew shield only extends two inches?

That's crazy. You need at least 1.5 times the objective diameter to be an effect dew shield.


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#13 Surfinash

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 05:29 PM

Did you post that the dew shield only extends two inches?

That's crazy. You need at least 1.5 times the objective diameter to be an effect dew shield.

Yeap - as you can see in the picture. 



#14 Surfinash

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 05:31 PM

attachicon.gif 5_IMG_0279.jpg

 

I was able to add a couple of spacers to get the losmandy dovetail affixed. Still trying to figure out the focuser options. Will update this thread with what I find.

AJ



#15 gnowellsct

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 06:31 PM

attachicon.gif 5_IMG_0279.jpg

 

I was able to add a couple of spacers to get the losmandy dovetail affixed. Still trying to figure out the focuser options. Will update this thread with what I find.

AJ

That three inch non-threaded insert is a bit off-putting.  I wonder if it was specifically made that way to deter FT and Astro-physics type adapters.  

 

One thing to do is send talk to Feather Touch and see what they have by way of adapters.    But it's expensive territory if you want to upgrade.   I'm not sure a Moonlite would solve your issues.  They are good and much lower cost, but they're not R&P.

 

Greg N



#16 Surfinash

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 07:17 PM

That three inch non-threaded insert is a bit off-putting. I wonder if it was specifically made that way to deter FT and Astro-physics type adapters.

One thing to do is send talk to Feather Touch and see what they have by way of adapters. But it's expensive territory if you want to upgrade. I'm not sure a Moonlite would solve your issues. They are good and much lower cost, but they're not R&P.

Greg N


They have designed this scope pretty “closed”. I did call Starlight folks at the focuser upgrade. It would be $960 in total!! I am not sure I am taking that bet.

My current 115mm is a TS Photoline from Teleskop Express (very similar to AT115EDT). It has FPL-51/Lanthanum combo in the objective lens. The quality is amazing, and it costed me $1080 with taxes (as I picked it up from their store in Munich). I am seriously debating if spending the additional $1600+ worth it for FPL-53 glass.

Edited by Surfinash, 20 October 2019 - 07:22 PM.


#17 gnowellsct

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Posted 20 October 2019 - 08:44 PM

Well glass is a religion. Whether it's worst the cost is up to you.

The focuser is pricey but you'll likely be happy with it...if your mount tolerates the weight. And a focuser like that can be sold or put on other scopes. My friend uses his FT on three different scopes.

These days I worry less about optics and more about mechanicals. The mount, the focuser, the tripod. These are major parts of the viewing experience.

I am fortunate to have a lot of astro toys, a lot of folks work with much tighter budgets. So it's hard to know when telling people "go for it" is a bad idea. It is reasonable though to look at these expenses on ten and twenty year time horizons.

Was my c14 a stretch at $4k? Oh hellyeah. Now that I've had it twenty years was it worth $200 a year? Oh yes indeed.

It's like that with a lot of this gear, the big bite is up front, the payoff is long. Greg N

#18 stevew

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 06:17 PM

Yeap - as you can see in the picture. 

Explore Scientific never seemed to get the dew shields right. I always think of their AR102 with that huge over sized dew shield that looked goofy.

I'm a big fan of their eyepieces but not their telescopes.


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#19 noisejammer

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 08:24 AM

Upgrading the ES focuser - One approach might be to have an adapter fabricated to go from the 3-3/8" to M72x1 (f). This is the standard Tak thread and there's a Clicklock adapter to suit. The Tak version for the CLicklock comes with a free adapter to go from M72x1 to M68x1 which means you'd have access to Tak and Zeiss compatible parts.

 

On the dew shield - don't sweat the small stuff. Tens of thousands of SCT's don't have a dew shield and they work fine. It's dead easy to make one with a sheet of dollar-store foam and a little flocking material from ScopeStuff. The flocking material is ideal but you can get by with felt and a can of Krylon flat black paint.

 

On FPL-53 Hmm...

I have scopes made with triplets based on FPL-51, OK4 (roughly FPL-52), FPL-53 and fluorite. The short version is they are all essentially perfectly colour free at focus (which is presumably where you're going use them.)

 

My take then would be to look hard at your FPL-51 based scope and see what it's lacking. It may be that a really good diagonal or focuser or mount or eyepieces will turn it from an adequate scope into an excellent one.



#20 Surfinash

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 02:01 PM

Upgrading the ES focuser - One approach might be to have an adapter fabricated to go from the 3-3/8" to M72x1 (f). This is the standard Tak thread and there's a Clicklock adapter to suit. The Tak version for the CLicklock comes with a free adapter to go from M72x1 to M68x1 which means you'd have access to Tak and Zeiss compatible parts.

 

On the dew shield - don't sweat the small stuff. Tens of thousands of SCT's don't have a dew shield and they work fine. It's dead easy to make one with a sheet of dollar-store foam and a little flocking material from ScopeStuff. The flocking material is ideal but you can get by with felt and a can of Krylon flat black paint.

 

On FPL-53 Hmm...

I have scopes made with triplets based on FPL-51, OK4 (roughly FPL-52), FPL-53 and fluorite. The short version is they are all essentially perfectly colour free at focus (which is presumably where you're going use them.)

 

My take then would be to look hard at your FPL-51 based scope and see what it's lacking. It may be that a really good diagonal or focuser or mount or eyepieces will turn it from an adequate scope into an excellent one.

Thanks much. I agree with you on the hood. No biggies there. I am pretty handy with DIY stuff so that is on the cards. Thanks so much on the idea to get the 3-3/8 to Tak (M72a) adapter. That is clever!

 

I am debating mainly on the glass factor - which you've rightly pointed out.

 

The TS Photoline came at $1100 modest. It is a 115mm FPL-51+Lanthanum combo objective triplet. Very solid built, and I LOVE the 2.5" focuser on it (they've copied FT I'd say). The ES 115mm is a FPL-53 and carbon fiber with 3" focuser. I could get a part done from PreciseParts (they do know the pitch as the ES115mm CF is a standard option with them for building it). I measured the pitch on the threads, and they do appear to be 1mm. I have a query out to ES folks. They said they'd get back to me today. I will post their update for the common knowledge.

 

The debate is the value. I did get ES a little cheaper than their advertised price with a coupon I had, so came at $2600 instead of $3499). I could save another $100 by letting go the diagonal (I have better ones). So the question is - is this 115mm Carbon Fiber FPL-53 F5.5 (vs. F7 on Photoline) worth $1400 more. The weight is neither an issue for me, not for the mount.

 

Or, would it make sense to use those $1400 to invest into an ED80CF? 


Edited by Surfinash, 23 October 2019 - 02:03 PM.


#21 noisejammer

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 09:13 PM

Thanks much. I agree with you on the hood. No biggies there. I am pretty handy with DIY stuff so that is on the cards. Thanks so much on the idea to get the 3-3/8 to Tak (M72a) adapter. That is clever!

 

..

 

The debate is the value. I did get ES a little cheaper than their advertised price with a coupon I had, so came at $2600 instead of $3499). I could save another $100 by letting go the diagonal (I have better ones). So the question is - is this 115mm Carbon Fiber FPL-53 F5.5 (vs. F7 on Photoline) worth $1400 more. The weight is neither an issue for me, not for the mount.

 

Or, would it make sense to use those $1400 to invest into an ED80CF? 

Part A - You're welcome

 

Part B - I'd make the decision mostly based on whether you plan to use the scope for imaging.

Then you might want to consider whether

1. your mount is up to it.

2. a reducer / flattener is available, what it will cost and how well it will work

3. you can install a motor on the focuser - carbon fibre is nice but it doesn't cure all thermal issues.

4. can you square the camera to the optics?

 

Now, let's consider visual use.

First, doubt everything you see .. I had endless issues with three scopes. It turned out the mirror on my AP Maxbright diagonal was being bent by the frame. (To be fair to AP, I doubtless created the problem when I dismantled the diagonal for cleaning.) It took me a long time to realise what I'd done.

 

If your FPL-51 scope is showing chromatic aberration and it bugs you, then make sure it's not caused by the atmosphere. Try getting best focus on a mag 2 star at 70 deg altitude. Try a few high quality eyepieces and diagonals (go to a club star party.) Seek the opinion of experienced observers. Take a look at mag 1 stars then mag 0. Compare their performance as you go through focus.

 

Me - I'd sit on the cash until I was sure I understood what problem I was trying to fix. If I had a mount that could carry it, I'd think seriously about a 7" Maksutov rather than duplicating a scope I already have.


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#22 Surfinash

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 10:22 PM

Part A - You're welcome

 

Part B - I'd make the decision mostly based on whether you plan to use the scope for imaging.

Then you might want to consider whether

1. your mount is up to it.

2. a reducer / flattener is available, what it will cost and how well it will work

3. you can install a motor on the focuser - carbon fibre is nice but it doesn't cure all thermal issues.

4. can you square the camera to the optics?

 

Now, let's consider visual use.

First, doubt everything you see .. I had endless issues with three scopes. It turned out the mirror on my AP Maxbright diagonal was being bent by the frame. (To be fair to AP, I doubtless created the problem when I dismantled the diagonal for cleaning.) It took me a long time to realise what I'd done.

 

If your FPL-51 scope is showing chromatic aberration and it bugs you, then make sure it's not caused by the atmosphere. Try getting best focus on a mag 2 star at 70 deg altitude. Try a few high quality eyepieces and diagonals (go to a club star party.) Seek the opinion of experienced observers. Take a look at mag 1 stars then mag 0. Compare their performance as you go through focus.

 

Me - I'd sit on the cash until I was sure I understood what problem I was trying to fix. If I had a mount that could carry it, I'd think seriously about a 7" Maksutov rather than duplicating a scope I already have.

Thanks - makes a lot of sense.

 

Here is my take on Part-B:

 

The scope will be used 90% for imaging. I have an EdgeHD, and a dob that I carry for visual (I prefer manual + 10" aperture for viewing). Oh, and the ever trusted Parks 20x80 :-)

 

1. Mount is solid with 60lb carry rating. I don't go over 35lb anyways (no double taxing)

 

2. I plan to use the TS 3" 4-element 0.79x reducer / corrector. It has M68a threads (why I am going with it). You are spot on - this scope does need it - it has noticeable coma being f5.5.

 

3. Don't have a motor. I usually use Bathinov mask to focus before starting my imaging sessions.

 

4. Yes. Love the ZWO 294MC Pro.

 

BTW - I do intend to keep only one of the scopes. I will sell the Photoline if I decide to keep the ES one.

 

Another friend of mine suggested the following:

- Keep the Photoline, and invest into Hyperstar for the EdgeHD. Now that isn't a bad suggestion at all. What say?

 

BTW - appreciate your thoughts.



#23 noisejammer

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 12:33 AM

Hmm - the Hyperstar sounds like a neat idea but there's a reason people image with refractors working around f/5 or so.



#24 Surfinash

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 07:12 PM

Hi All - wanted to give some updates post my several discussions with Explore Scientific and a few others.

 

First-up, thank you Jim (Skyhunter1) for sharing your experiences with the 140mm ES CF FLP-53.

 

Kent, Sameer, Alex from Explore Scientific - thank you SO MUCH for your patience with me and getting down to the basics (I am talking about opening up an OTA for this and going down to the guts) and all the advice. Truly exceptional customer experience!

 

Now - here are the observations/summary:

 

  1. If you plan to change the 3" Hex focuser on the ES 115mm CF FPL-53 OTA, the new one won't thread to the tube as there are no internal threads on the carbon fiber tube. The 3" Hex focuser is SOLID and can take more than 10lb load (self-tested).
  2. The 3" and 2" inserts in the draw-tube are non-threaded. So you are using the 3-screw mechanism and trusting it'd hold the imaging train load (it did for me).
  3. The 3" Hex focuser draw-tube has internal threads of 87mm (so M87i). Unfortunately, there is no standard adapter for this size. So if you plan to attach any accessories (such as 3" flattener) - and want a threaded connection (highly recommended) - your only option is to get a custom adapter.
  4. Good news is - PreciseParts (www.preciseparts.com) is a wonderful, wonderful place that can create pretty much any connector/adapter for you. What I liked most about them is their wizard on the website. So you don't have to worry about remembering the exact sizes. 
  5. At f/5.5, the 115mm does throw a challenge in terms of finding the right field flattener. Teleskop-Service has a 3" field flattener (1x, so just the flattener, no reducer) that may adapt to this. It has M92a (a = male, i = female) thread, so you will need a M87a to M92i (M87 male to M92 female) adapter. PreciseParts can do that. Orion has a similar one, but they could not confirm the compatibility as they advertise it to be "made for EON 115 and 130mm" refractors specifically. Both these are f/7 scopes, so I doubt the Orion flattener would work with the ES 115mm CF.

Here is what I am doing:

 

1. Getting an M87a to M68i adapter done from PreciseParts. 

2. I have a TSRED379 (3" 0.8x reducer/flattener) with M68a threads - so that will work with this.

3. I also have a Baader M68a clicklock adapter. So when I am not using the reducer - I will use the clicklock.

4. I just got the Orion 2" 1x flattener (rated for short focal lengths - f/5 to f/8 scopes) and I will test using that when I don't need the reduction.

 

So awaiting the adapter now. Will post the results in about three to four weeks.

 

Clear skies!!


Edited by Surfinash, 30 October 2019 - 07:20 PM.


#25 PPPPPP42

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Posted 30 October 2019 - 08:20 PM

Maybe I missed something in the above posts but unless that scope is drastically different than the aluminum 127mm FCD100 triplet your lens hood (dew shield) is broken.  I don't think they would have put the same big hood on only to have it stop part way.  Its supposed to extend until the black ring at the back of it hits the ring at the end of the tube which gives it a good 6" or so extension, basically the full length of the lens hood (or at least the entire ES logo) should stick out past the end of the tube.  It should come to a hard stop when the two rings smack into each other.  Maybe those screws they use on the carbon fiber version are catching or something.




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