Drove down to Ryan’s shop (New Moon Telescopes) and discussed a 12.5” (f/4.5) scope. Ryan is very personable and a nice guy to chat with. He took the time to show and explain his scope making process. His woodworking and machine skills are really impressive. I told Ryan that I do not want an overly customized scope, just these items: wheelbarrow handles, right-angle finder, stalk for Nexus DSC and a focuser height approaching 58” (or so) off floor (without Crossbow attached).
Fast forward to December 2019…drove down with a friend to test scope at Ryan’s shop (without Crossbow) and while still light out, Ryan took scope apart and explained how to disassemble / assemble. The frame system that holds the tubes and upper ring assembly is very well thought out; lightweight and easy to put on and take off.
Collimating the scope with the Astrobeam II system was easy and straightforward, as was the alignment process using Nexus DSC. Slewing the scope was effortless and the balance was spot on. For testing, we used glass eyepieces and Night Vision (NV) intensifier tube (no moon). Achieving focus was not an issue and the views were crisp and bright – the Double Cluster, Pacman, Dumbbell and the Crescent Nebula and other objects looked great. Testing was a big success so we packed the scope in car and drove back.
Since I requested the focuser height be a few inches taller than standard, Ryan had to make the base box taller which required a few additional small but important additions to keep the scope stable when using and moving with wheelbarrow handles. See photos with embedded text. I really appreciate the thought Ryan put into how I needed to use the scope and these small additions he added are functional / necessary.
It is the best thing ever to wheel scope out door onto stone patio fully assembled. Collimating takes a minute or less as does hooking up the Nexus and Battery. Within 10 minutes from placing tarp on patio then wheeling scope out, all I need to do is align and start observing. The views are great even from my light polluted skies (the sky is darker at Ryan’s shop).
== Of all DSOs that are visible in winter, M42 is the most spectacular. With NV it is simply fantastic. The New Moon (with NV) allows M42 and other emission nebula such as the Flame, Bubble and Pacman to show off.
== On star stuff, the Double Cluster, open clusters in Auriga and M82 look great. Looking forward to galaxy, globular season and the summer nebula.
I opted for Premium Fullum Mirror, Carbon Fiber tubes, Kendrick secondary dew heater, 1000 Oaks Controller, 40K Encoders, Nexus DSC, Starlight Lightweight Focuser, Battery that fits in base with connectors, and right-angle finder.
Blandin Crossbow EQ Platform
I have set this up in house only at this time and need to practice a few more times to get the procedure down. I can comment on this at a later date.
On DSOs, I use NV intensifier near 100% and for a different scope I use a filter wheel with NV. I want to do the same with the New Moon. To help achieve focus with wheel, Ryan made 4 Sorbothane spacers (spacers move the upper ring assemble closer to the primary). They are very lightweight and do not affect the balance when scope is pointing lower in sky. The spacers are the better option over cutting tubes to shorter length.
The important piece that stands out is I told Ryan what I wanted... he listened and told me what I needed and what he can do to make it a reality. As an engineer, I can draw and /or design anything but someone has to make it.
The entire process in acquiring the scope was rather painless. I drove down, got a tour of shop and discussed what I had in mind. Ryan made a few suggestions (I took notes) then drove home and thought it out for a few days and talked out a few points with Ryan. I ordered the scope and some emails and calls went back and forth over time and then drove down to test.
New Moon Telescopes: I wouldn't hesitate to buy the scope over again.