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Convince me that FeatherTouch focusers are worth it for visual use

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#26 Allan Wade

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 07:41 PM

Alan:

 

Stelios is an AP guy.  For AP, motorized Focusers have their place. For visual, they have no feel, manual is much more precise.

 

Jon

That makes sense Jon.



#27 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 08:17 PM

My 3" Hex 2 speed focuser works fine for visual.  It's light, and seems fairly simple.  It would take a lot of convincing, or I would have to come into a bunch of unneeded cash to be induced to spend $1k on a true 3" FT and the required scope adapter.


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#28 Haydon

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 05:39 AM

It will leave you wanting for nothing.  So, yes if budget allows.  Depending on your setup you may have to buy a FT finder bracket or retrofit your existing one.   


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#29 macdonjh

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 08:03 AM

After reading some of these comments am I led to believe that some commenters are subtly saying that some of the lesser priced, good but much less priced focusers require too much strength, to much effort to get a visual focus that satisfies the brain ? I mean come on what are we talking here, weight lifting, hand manipulation that many older guys haven’t learned yet, right from left, wrong from right ?? Now the true story, the true facts, many of us visual astronomers just want to spend $, as perfectionists, on a piece of precision equipment that they don’t really need and use the excuse that the ones that work well enough aren’t good enough to view something that in many cases are millions or billions of light years away, especially when mother nature is the one, night after night, who controls how well we see ! I know I high jacked another great post, another great discussion but some of these comments mixed in with the good ones are out of this world, they can’t be for real ! Clear skies guys !   PS:  I’m probably wrong again !

You're not wrong in that even the worst focusers out there do not require force comparable to lifting a full can of beer to operate.  However, you've misinterpreted the comments of us perfectionists.  What I like about my after market focusers is they are smooth enough, and require such light force to use I can tweak focus without disturbing my scope on my mount.  I can achieve focus with an image steady enough I don't have to get close, wait for vibrations to stop and then try to get closer.  After having a couple of scopes with bad focusers and shakey mounts it's a pleasure not to have to deal with that frustration any more.  The list of advantages of a well-made focuser, even for visual observing:

  • light smooth motions reduce vibrations during focusing, making it easier (and faster) to find proper focus
  • close tolerances during manufacturing make focusing more precise: you don't find yourself finding good focus only to have your focuser move when you take your hand away
  • Capability to support heavy eye pieces without slipping, or cranking down so hard on the tension/ drag screw the focuser becomes hard enough to move it creates shaking in your scope

And, I'll say this again: it's not like focusers wear out.  In many cases, you buy a nice focuser once and keep it even if you change scopes.  I did that.  I bought a MoonLite for my C11.  When I sold my C11 I kept my MoonLite.  I had a small plate made to adapt it to the Cassegrain focus position on the Parks Newtonian/ Cassegrain scope which replaced my C11.

 

The advantages of well-made focusers are even greater for astrophotographers since they need to support even more than a 21mm Ethos, repeatable travel, tiny movements (so they can find perfect focus when switching between blue and red filters, etc) and can't tolerate any appreciable sag or wiggling.  Hence the advent of 3", 3-1/2" and even 4" focusers for imagers.  


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#30 Astrohobby

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 08:27 AM

Rather than incur the expense of a Feathertouch (for visual) I would get a motorized focuser. *Any* motorized focuser will be superior to *any* focuser where you need to touch a knob, in my opinion. 

Hello, I absolutly agree the only major difference is how to avoid slipping when using higher weights on the focuser? That pushed me in the arms of Feather Touch, but that was not the only reason and criteria.

 

Cheers Oliver


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#31 LDW47

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 08:34 AM

You're not wrong in that even the worst focusers out there do not require force comparable to lifting a full can of beer to operate.  However, you've misinterpreted the comments of us perfectionists.  What I like about my after market focusers is they are smooth enough, and require such light force to use I can tweak focus without disturbing my scope on my mount.  I can achieve focus with an image steady enough I don't have to get close, wait for vibrations to stop and then try to get closer.  After having a couple of scopes with bad focusers and shakey mounts it's a pleasure not to have to deal with that frustration any more.  The list of advantages of a well-made focuser, even for visual observing:

  • light smooth motions reduce vibrations during focusing, making it easier (and faster) to find proper focus
  • close tolerances during manufacturing make focusing more precise: you don't find yourself finding good focus only to have your focuser move when you take your hand away
  • Capability to support heavy eye pieces without slipping, or cranking down so hard on the tension/ drag screw the focuser becomes hard enough to move it creates shaking in your scope

And, I'll say this again: it's not like focusers wear out.  In many cases, you buy a nice focuser once and keep it even if you change scopes.  I did that.  I bought a MoonLite for my C11.  When I sold my C11 I kept my MoonLite.  I had a small plate made to adapt it to the Cassegrain focus position on the Parks Newtonian/ Cassegrain scope which replaced my C11.

 

The advantages of well-made focusers are even greater for astrophotographers since they need to support even more than a 21mm Ethos, repeatable travel, tiny movements (so they can find perfect focus when switching between blue and red filters, etc) and can't tolerate any appreciable sag or wiggling.  Hence the advent of 3", 3-1/2" and even 4" focusers for imagers.  

AP’s are a different breed so lets not bring them into the discussion, my only point is that for visual how far does an intelligent astronomer, which we are, want to, have to go $ wise to get rid of a very, very small vibration, a slight movement when manipulating some more than adequate but much cheaper focuser on, I would hope a solid mount, the right mount ? Other than the prestige gained to eliminate a perceived problem, an issue that really isn’t there, I mean what is so important about a little, short lasting twitch in an hour or two’s enjoyment out under the nite sky ? I mean really but of course I have seen similar in many other great hobbies, it can become an obsession in a perfectionist sometimes. 


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#32 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 08:36 AM

You're not wrong in that even the worst focusers out there do not require force comparable to lifting a full can of beer to operate.  However, you've misinterpreted the comments of us perfectionists.  What I like about my after market focusers is they are smooth enough, and require such light force to use I can tweak focus without disturbing my scope on my mount.  I can achieve focus with an image steady enough I don't have to get close, wait for vibrations to stop and then try to get closer.  After having a couple of scopes with bad focusers and shakey mounts it's a pleasure not to have to deal with that frustration any more.  The list of advantages of a well-made focuser, even for visual observing:

  • light smooth motions reduce vibrations during focusing, making it easier (and faster) to find proper focus
  • close tolerances during manufacturing make focusing more precise: you don't find yourself finding good focus only to have your focuser move when you take your hand away
  • Capability to support heavy eye pieces without slipping, or cranking down so hard on the tension/ drag screw the focuser becomes hard enough to move it creates shaking in your scope

 

 

Indeed,  these are some of the advantages of a well made two speed focuser. But I will say that many if not most stock Crayford Focusers with a two speed micro focuser fill these specifications. 

 

I have three Feathertouch Focusers, three standard GSO Crayfords.. There's no doubt that the Feathertouch's are nicer but the GSOs are fine Focusers and handle the 3 plus pounds of a diagonal and eyepiece without issue.

 

The GSO Focusers are more sensitive to contamination so they may need more frequent cleaning of the draw tube flat and pinion shaft but this can be done without disassembly.  Just running a strip of typing paper in along the draw tube while racking in from full extension generally does the job.

 

Jon


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#33 macdonjh

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 05:49 PM

There's not a lot of point to debating this (since each of us is right), but, a couple last rebuttals:

 

my only point is that for visual how far does an intelligent astronomer, which we are, want to, have to go $ wise...

At today's prices, $345 for a dual speed MoonLite SCT focuser with 3-1/4" flange (the first I bought, I think they were less back then), or $165 for a single speed Newtonian-style focuser (the other two...). smile.gif 

 

 the GSOs are fine Focusers and handle the 3 plus pounds of a diagonal and eyepiece without issue.

I'm sure they are.  There are three possible reasons I bought MoonLite instead: GSO hadn't brought their Crayford to market when I bought my first focuser, GSO didn't offer a focuser with a flange that fit the 3-1/4" thread on the rear casting of my C11, prejudice.  Any of the former is as likely as the others, it was years ago and I don't remember anymore.
 


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#34 FocusTech

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 05:55 PM

I have Feathertouches on all of my scopes. A 2" on my 10" dob and a 1.25" on a 2.5" reflector I built. I also have another 1.25" that I'll be putting on a refractor I'm planning.
My 10" came with a dual speed GSO focuser. To be honest, it wasn't bad. It did it's job, I was able to focus. I had some issue with getting the tension just right though. Either not enough tension to move the focuser, or to much to the point of stiction.
I had the opportunity to get a Feathertouch at a price I couldn't pass up. Honestly, it ruined all other focusers for me. The feel, functionality, precision, and stability of the Feathertouch are unmatched.
I've felt a number of other well known focusers from moonlite, televue, takihashi, astrophysics and more. And many of them are very good. But for me, it's Feathertouch.

Edited by FocusTech, 24 October 2019 - 05:57 PM.

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#35 Toddeo

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 06:08 PM

I sold all my Feathertouch focusers and replaced some of them with MoonLite focusers. Been extremely happy with the MoonLight and the price.


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#36 havasman

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 06:34 PM

Hobbies exist to absorb all that extra $ and time that we otherwise would not even know we had. FT focusers cost more and they work better. I have used a Moonlight on the club's 16" SCT and it's very good, completely satisfying and the only experience I have with those.

 

I have a Scopestuff GSO Crayford with large fine focus knob on the XT10i, a FT with large fine focus knob on the Starmaster and the stock TV 2-speed focuser on the brand new NP101is. The Teeter that will show up next year will have a FT with large knob and SIPS. The NP101is would've had the FT upgrade but when I called TV as Starlight Instruments directs to arrange it they were against adding the upgrade. Odd, I thought. The stock focuser's a bit stiff yet and it'll either loosen up or get replaced with the FT upgrade. All the focusers I have ever used work well and none stand in the way of any observation I have tried to make. The FT focusers are smoother, have a better feel and are completely stable in use.

 

I am strictly a visual amateur hobbyist. I won't even try to convince anybody of what they need but I know I like Feathertouch focusers on my scopes.


Edited by havasman, 24 October 2019 - 06:42 PM.

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#37 LDW47

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 06:38 PM

The question is not whether you all like the much more expensive focusers and their workings, its whether you need them or not ! I would think when all things are worked out, when all is taken into account you don’t, to get some great performances on those wonderfully dark nites with your eye doing its job through that lowly yet smooth GSO,  lol !


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#38 LDW47

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 06:44 PM

Hobbies exist to absorb all that extra $ and time that we otherwise would not even know we had. FT focusers cost more and they work better. I have used a Moonlight on the club's 16" SCT and it's very good, completely satisfying and the only experience I have with those.

 

I have a Scopestuff GSO Crayford with large fine focus knob on the XT10i, a FT with large fine focus knob on the Starmaster and the stock TV 2-speed focuser on the brand new NP101is. The Teeter that will show up next year will have a FT with large knob and SIPS. The NP101is would've had the FT upgrade but when I called TV as Starlight Instruments directs to arrange it they were against adding the upgrade. Odd, I thought. The stock focuser's a bit stiff yet and it'll either loosen up or get replaced with the FT upgrade.

 

I am strictly a visual amateur hobbyist. I won't even try to convince anybody of what they need but I know I like Feathertouch focusers on 

You are one heck of a lucky guy that I am sure draws envy from many of us have nots but you know what I see the same thing through my common GSO. Can’t beat that ! But I’m not going to tell anyone which one to buy, I think most already know.


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#39 havasman

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 07:16 PM

Yep, the GSO on my XT10i works great. I do like the oversize fine focus knob a lot. It's what influenced me to put the big knobs on the FT's.

 

And yes, I have been really lucky and blame that luck for all my good outcomes. But I did have a long career of 65+ hour work weeks in a high stress environment too.  And I don't speak of the pains and failures such as we all have. If you knew me better you'd be relieved of much envy. So I have concentrated real hard on enjoying my retirement and encourage others to do so. smile.gif


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#40 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 02:05 AM

The question is not whether you all like the much more expensive focusers and their workings, its whether you need them or not ! I would think when all things are worked out, when all is taken into account you don’t, to get some great performances on those wonderfully dark nites with your eye doing its job through that lowly yet smooth GSO,  lol !

 

:waytogo:

 

I have several scopes with Crayford Focusers. They range from basic two speeds like the GSO to the JMI DX-1s and Feathertouch's. They're all good. 

 

For me, hobbies exist for enjoyment, for keeping my mind and body active and just because... 

 

Jon


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#41 ausastronomer

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 06:56 AM

I have used a lot of different focuses over the last 50 years.  I was able to reach focus with every single one of them, notwithstanding some were horrendous.  My 3 current scopes are all premium Newtonians and all have Feathertouch focuses.  Every scope I own for the rest of my life will have a Feathertouch focuser on it.  Are they necessary? No!  Just nice to have and make an observing night more enjoyable and a bit easier.  First came Feathertouch, and the rest are somewhere bringing up the rear.

 

Cheers


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#42 LDW47

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Posted 26 October 2019 - 07:31 AM

I have used a lot of different focuses over the last 50 years.  I was able to reach focus with every single one of them, notwithstanding some were horrendous.  My 3 current scopes are all premium Newtonians and all have Feathertouch focuses.  Every scope I own for the rest of my life will have a Feathertouch focuser on it.  Are they necessary? No!  Just nice to have and make an observing night more enjoyable and a bit easier.  First came Feathertouch, and the rest are somewhere bringing up the rear.

 

Cheers

I had the same easy feeling, the exhilaration, the same enjoyment when I went from a R&P to a GSO crayford on several of my scopes for half the $, its all relative I guess. Long live GSO, lol !


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#43 Raginar

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 08:31 PM

The question is not whether you all like the much more expensive focusers and their workings, its whether you need them or not ! I would think when all things are worked out, when all is taken into account you don’t, to get some great performances on those wonderfully dark nites with your eye doing its job through that lowly yet smooth GSO, lol !


Well. We don’t need anything. It’s a hobby. Of course the stock focuses are usable; many of us prefer an aftermarket focuser.

#44 LDW47

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Posted 27 October 2019 - 08:57 PM

Well. We don’t need anything. It’s a hobby. Of course the stock focuses are usable; many of us prefer an aftermarket focuser.

You are right, I have about 4-5 of them, all 2” GSO’s and they work perfectly for about $150 each ! What more could I or anyone else ask for but unfortunately no bragging rights just great views.



#45 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 12:22 AM

Well. We don’t need anything. It’s a hobby. Of course the stock focuses are usable; many of us prefer an aftermarket focuser.

 

There's a wide range when it comes to stock Focusers, one cannot generalize. The stock Synta rack and opinions are "usable" but require more effort and achieving proper focus at high magnifications can be a fight. 

 

But there are many stock Focusers that are of a high quality, they're smooth and light while able to handle heavy eyepieces and diagonals without " breaking a sweat." These can be as effective as the best aftermarket focusers, at least for visual.

 

As a mechanical engineering type, I enjoy the mechanical design and machining aspects of focusers,  I also enjoy fiddling with them, tuning them.. probably the best, most effective upgrade there is is replacing the plastic block the "tensions" the stock GSO focuser with Teflon. The Teflon reduces the friction required to turn the focuser. This means the "tension" can increased while the feel is still easy and light.

 

Jon


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#46 noisejammer

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 08:47 AM

Ok - so I have some giant eyepieces but I'm mostly a binoviewer. i suppose binoviewer + 2x Delos is about the same as an ES 9/120....

 

I battled with a stock WO Crayford for years - it could not carry a Denk II + eyepieces unless the pressure was so high that it damaged the bearings. Lesson 1 - manufacturers tell fibs and reviewers are clueless. I eventually swopped it for a Moonlite and the scope became a pleasure to use. So, I bought a another couple of Moonlites for scopes that needed love - in particular my Coronado and Epsilon. Now these work really well.

 

A while later, I decided on a custom APM / LZOS scope and picked the Feathertouch on a whim.

FeatherTouch knob
Bad error .. suddenly I could feel how bad my TOA's focuser was. So now my TOA has a Feathertouch too. I visited the Feathertouch booth at NEAF and giant knobs for even more precise focus.
Starlight Instruments oversized knobs for fine focus

A lot of money but it changes the observer's haptic experience completely.


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#47 ausastronomer

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 05:46 PM

Ok - so I have some giant eyepieces but I'm mostly a binoviewer. i suppose binoviewer + 2x Delos is about the same as an ES 9/120....

 

I battled with a stock WO Crayford for years - it could not carry a Denk II + eyepieces unless the pressure was so high that it damaged the bearings. Lesson 1 - manufacturers tell fibs and reviewers are clueless. I eventually swopped it for a Moonlite and the scope became a pleasure to use. So, I bought a another couple of Moonlites for scopes that needed love - in particular my Coronado and Epsilon. Now these work really well.

 

A while later, I decided on a custom APM / LZOS scope and picked the Feathertouch on a whim.

 
Bad error .. suddenly I could feel how bad my TOA's focuser was. So now my TOA has a Feathertouch too. I visited the Feathertouch booth at NEAF and giant knobs for even more precise focus.
 

A lot of money but it changes the observer's haptic experience completely.

 

I agree 100%.  While Moonlite focusers are nice and invariably a monumental improvement over the stock focuser,  they aren't a "Feathertouch".

 

Cheers



#48 John Fitzgerald

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 06:01 PM

I agree 100%.  While Moonlite focuses are nice and invariably a monumental improvement over the stock focuser,  they aren't a "Feathertouch".

 

Cheers

I can't find that Moonlite makes a 3" focuser.  I would need a 3" for my scope if I upgraded because I like my 3" diagonal.  Not gonna spend 1k for a FT.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 28 October 2019 - 06:38 PM.


#49 noisejammer

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Posted 28 October 2019 - 06:14 PM

I can't find that Moonlite makes a 3" focuser.  I would needa 3" for my scope if I upgraded because I like my 3" diagonal.  Not gonna spend 1k for a FT.

The biggest hand power focuser made by Moonlite is 2.5".

Ron has another product, Nightcrawler, that goes to 4" but if you think an FTF3235 is expensive.....




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