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Disappointed with Vixen A105MII. Alternatives?

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#1 gamma_ari

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 06:20 AM

Hi everyone,

 

I bought a new Vixen A105MII for 850 Euro, hoping that the optics and mechanics would be excellent. Chromatic aberration doesn't bother me, I thought I'd make this compromise in order to get "Made in Japan" quality at an affordable price. Turns out I didn't.

 

Before I begin, let me point out that this is not meant as a review, just a quick report in search for alternatives. There are some things that I like about this scope that don't get due mention.

 

A minor thing I noticed was that there was "A102M" written on the cardboard box. I find it weird that Vixen didn't bother to make new boxes for an upscale scope.

 

box.JPG

 

The first problem I noticed was that some black paint had come off where the objective is screwed onto the tube. Such a visible defect should not escape quality control.

 

paint.JPG

 

The red dot finder and flip mirror have "Made in China" stickers on them. While the metal flip mirror is sturdy and worked well for me under the stars, the red dot finder has a shaky base made out of cheap plastic that makes it look unstable.

 

accessories.JPG

 

The single speed rack and pinion focuser seems a bit crude. I'm sure it gets the job done but it's nowhere near the elegant Crayford focuser on my Vixen A62SS. There's grease on the draw tube, is that normal in rack and pinion models?

 

focuser.JPG

 

The screws for tightening the tube clamps are made out of cheap plastic with a bad look and feel. In a 850 Euro scope I would have expected metal screws or at least plastic with a better finish.

 

(See below for picture.)

 

The dust cap looks like a DIY project, a sloppy job of wrapping felt tape around cheap plastic. Just a minor point fitting in with the overall picture.

 

(See below for picture.)

 

Starting to get paranoid, I examined the tube and found some minor irregularities in the paint job. I wouldn't have even noticed or looked for them if everything else had been right.

 

The star test was a disaster. Defocused stars were irregularly shaped instead of round. See the pencil drawing below. I haven't seen this before. Is this astigmatism or pinched optics?

 

(See below for picture.)

 

 

Bottom Line and Questions

 

Even if I got a replacement unit with good optics, I still wouldn't be happy. The mediocre fit and finish is inappropriate for a scope with this price tag. I'm a happy owner of a Vixen A62SS and VMC110L. Both scopes exude quality (metal parts, attention to detail) and have good to excellent optics. The A105MII doesn't fit in.

 

Looking for alternatives: Does the SD103S come in a better package? Does anyone have an older version of this scope or an A80M? Are they quality scopes?

 

Thank you,
Viktor



#2 gamma_ari

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 06:22 AM

Picture of cheap plastic screws:

 

clamps.JPG

 

Picture of sloppy dust cap:

 

dust_cap.JPG

 

Picture of disastrous star test:

 

star_test.jpg

 


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#3 RadioAstronomer

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:19 AM

Hi Viktor,

Sorry to hear that. Actually I was considering buying that telescope at some point before I found my TV-102. 

Regarding the star test. Did you perform the star test looking straight-through or with the included flip-mirror or with a diagonal? I would suggest performing the test straight-through. Does the direction of the elongation in the star test change intra-focus vs extra-focus? If so, I'm afraid it's astigmatism. The drawing that you attached seems to be elongated horizontally, if you focus to the oposite direction and it gets elongated vertically it would be a symptom of astigmatism.

Kacper


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#4 junomike

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:21 AM

I'd send it back and get something you can use over the stated 210X max magnification.


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#5 GOLGO13

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:38 AM

Is the issue the flip mirror or the lens? Can you star test it without the flip mirror? 

 

Don't know much about these scopes. Maybe it really is the 105M and not the MII...not sure of the difference?

 

I don't think the flip mirrors are usually too great. I sold the one I got with my 81s.


Edited by GOLGO13, 20 May 2020 - 07:39 AM.


#6 MarkGregory

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:52 AM

Picture of cheap plastic screws:

 

attachicon.gifclamps.JPG

 

Picture of sloppy dust cap:

 

attachicon.gifdust_cap.JPG

 

Picture of disastrous star test:

 

attachicon.gifstar_test.jpg

I am a bit shocked at all the faults you found with this scope. Hard to believe it is a Vixen. 



#7 russell23

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:02 AM

I’m not an expert on star tests, but I know when there are tube currents my APO’s will initially show something like what you have drawn. When the OTA cools down they become perfect concentric rings.  


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#8 GOLGO13

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:06 AM

This would be a good alternative: https://www.teleskop...e-Assembly.html


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#9 TOMDEY

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:50 AM

Vixens are nice for the price... but definitely not on the ~premium~ side of the fence. That kicks in at 2x or more on the price.    Tom


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#10 GOLGO13

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:56 AM

Vixens are nice for the price... but definitely not on the ~premium~ side of the fence. That kicks in at 2x or more on the price.    Tom

I'd argue the optics on the 81s,103s, and 115s are premium. But the mechanics are not. Easily solved with a moonlite though.

 

This particular scope I've not heard of before. But certainly appears that he got a dud.


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#11 Moondust

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 09:35 AM

Get that cheap flip mirror out of the equation and try again with a proven quality diagonal. My Vixen 80mf came with the worst (unusable) diagonal I've ever seen, it went right in the trash can. The felt work on that lens cap does look really shabby, some people just take no pride in what they do. As for as the plastic knobs and sticky goop on the focusing rack that's pretty standard for Vixen. You could replace the focuser if the optics turn out to be good.   


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#12 drd715

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 11:12 AM

This would be a good alternative: https://www.teleskop...e-Assembly.html

Yes, but the ED version of this model is far supior. Your link goes to the achro version. I have the ED version and it is a bargain for the performance.

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#13 drd715

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 11:22 AM

Bottom line - if you are disappointed and distracted by the quality of this scope contact the shop you bought it from and see if they will take it back or credit the purchase price toward a better scope. Personally I would look at a 102mm F-7 FPL-53 doublet for all around use at this aperture. Maybe a TS photoline or AT or Stellarview has some quality offerings. The F-11ed is special though and best for planets and moon, but can do great visual at up to 2-2.5 degrees wide.

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#14 mikeDnight

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 12:15 PM

I'd definitely send it back. Perhapse you could look for an older Vixen, as they come up regularly second hand. There are also many other good scopes out there you could choose from. Im pretty certain for €850 you could find a very nice 4" ED refractor. 


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#15 GOLGO13

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 12:48 PM

Yes, but the ED version of this model is far supior. Your link goes to the achro version. I have the ED version and it is a bargain for the performance.

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Forgot they have an ED version of this scope. Both would be good scopes.

#16 db2005

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 02:55 PM

I'm surprised you have found all these problems with your A105M. My A80M was perfect and has essentially perfect optics as far as I can tell. Paint job was virtually perfect as well. Do you see any signs your A105M was a return scope, possibly knocked around?

 

A few comments:

  • I too was sceptical about the red dot finder, but after having used it several times I actually like it. It's easy to adjust and does the job well.
  • As for optical performance, I would wait until the scope has has a chance to acclimatize for at least an hour before making any verdict - tube currents and other thermal issues can play a part in the poor start test.
  • As for the mirror I have owned two samples of Vixen's flip mirror. One was so astigmatic I simply tossed it. The other is "ok" but not great. If you have another diagonal of known good quality, I'd try that instead.
  • If the scope still has a bad star test, I'd definitely return it, but I wouldn't give up on Vixen just yet. Vixen is capable of making great optics, and at 2x the price of comparable achromats, they better be great.
  • The grease on the draw tube was present on my A80M and my SD81S too. I just wiped off the grease

And a few notes about Vixen's general quality: Vixen telescope's aren't "heirloom quality" but their Japan-made optics are very high quality. The mechanics are simple and light weight and tend to work well. Some people like this simplistic approach to telescope-building, and some people don't. As far as I can tell from your pictures, the A105M is built to roughly the same standard as my A80M and my SD81S (with the exception of the odd flaws you point out, which make it seem like it has been in the hands of a previous owner). And in case someone says "Japan-quality = Go for Takahashi instead of Vixen", I'm compelled to mention that IMO the build quality of my FC-76DCU is not universally better than that of my Vixen SD81S. In some ways I'd even say the Vixen is mechanically the better of the two.


Edited by db2005, 21 May 2020 - 12:18 AM.

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#17 SeattleScott

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 05:39 PM

The whole reason to buy a Japanese Vixen is to get Japanese optics with cheaper, more practical Chinese accessories. If you want heirloom quality throughout you should look elsewhere and plan to pay considerably more. This covers the dust cover, tube rings, diagonal and finderscope issues you brought up.

Yes the finderscope seems a little wiggly at first but it is easy to adjust, unlike my cheapo RDFs that don’t have enough adjustment range to actually align them with a scope. I’m sure there are better ones out there, and it does seem a little disappointing considering Vixen sells it separately for $100, but it isn’t bad by any means.

As for the label on the box, that is just so the factory workers pack it in the right size box. Were you expecting a wood crate with engraving for 850 euros?

The paint, yeah. I have had three Vixen refractors. One of them had small but noticeable scratches. Pretty sure they happened during shipping though. Is a small paint defect enough to justify sending it back? Maybe.

Optical performance: this is the whole reason to pay a premium for a Vixen scope. You aren’t going to get a bulletproof metal screw on dust cap but by golly you should be able to split stars with the best of them. If the optics don’t perform then definitely send it back. That being said yes it could be the diagonal, it could be cooldown. You might want to wait a week and cruise some lunar craters before labeling it a dud. All my Vixen scopes have been outstanding performers, and my flip diagonal even performs well.

The Vixen Apo is essentially the same build quality. Same dust cover, same tube rings, I think even the same cardboard box. Everything is very functional. I have no issues with loosening the plastic knobs to rotate the tube. The dust cover is not fancy but completely functional, and lighter and faster to take on and off than a metal screw on dust cover. Ultimately it sounds like you are really looking for heirloom build quality to go with Japanese optical precision, and that just isn’t gonna happen for $850 euros. Honestly your post reminds me of the people who buy an Orion Optics UK scope and then complain it isn’t as good as a Teeters. No, it isn’t as good as a Teeters. But it’s much cheaper. Paying a premium over the generic mass produced Chinese stuff doesn’t automatically guarantee top tier quality. There are different levels at different prices. But that being said it should be a stunner in terms of optical performance. If it isn’t something is clearly wrong and it should definitely go back. But it really sounds like you are looking for something more heirloom quality, so maybe consider a Tak 100 or NP101 for an heirloom quality 4” refractor. And expect to pay MUCH more...

Scott
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#18 GOLGO13

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 06:38 PM

I actually felt like the fit and finish on my 81s was pretty good. I did sell the flip mirror, but it seemed to work ok.

I'm not a huge fan of the focusers, but they are ok. The finderscope was actually pretty good. I sold that to someone unfortunately. I got another older version and it isn't very good. Different design. Suggest getting the newer style.

So I don't think people looking at the sd81s, 103s or 115s should worry based on this situation.

#19 SeattleScott

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 07:18 PM

Yes the fit and finish is just fine and very functional. But if you are expecting heirloom quality you will be disappointed.

Scott

#20 Eddgie

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 08:21 PM

I am shocked at the price for this scope.  At this price it should at least have a Crayford focuser!

 

And putting an expensive focuser on the scope is crazy.  Better to do as others recommend, which is to return it and ask for credit and move to an ED scope.

 

These achromats are low price point scopes and due to that, you will get a lot of cost cutting and the focuser alone is a major place where you are getting a far inferior component. Even the cheapest single speed Crayford will be far superior to the Rack and Pinion on this scope.

 

My advice... Run away from this one.  Get a good ED scope even if you have to spend a couple of hundred dollars more.

 

If you can't afford that, grab an 8" f/6 Dob. 



#21 Simon B

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 09:29 PM

Everything else you mentioned seems to be par for the course for Vixens - simple, functional focuser (not to everyone's taste, though it is certainly to mine)

 

Yeah some plastic knobs like on the tube rings... Flip mirror is a nice extra, can always just sell it to an imager. RDF is strangely designed, though with a dremel I've improved mine (got rid of that swivelling ball-head base)

 

 

But that star test should not be so....  very unfortunate : (


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#22 SeattleScott

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 09:42 PM

I am shocked at the price for this scope. At this price it should at least have a Crayford focuser!

And putting an expensive focuser on the scope is crazy. Better to do as others recommend, which is to return it and ask for credit and move to an ED scope.

These achromats are low price point scopes and due to that, you will get a lot of cost cutting and the focuser alone is a major place where you are getting a far inferior component. Even the cheapest single speed Crayford will be far superior to the Rack and Pinion on this scope.

My advice... Run away from this one. Get a good ED scope even if you have to spend a couple of hundred dollars more.

If you can't afford that, grab an 8" f/6 Dob.

The top Apos on the market come with R&P focuser. I had a 100ED with crayford focuser. I much prefer the R&P on the Vixen scopes. Now I have had a couple cheap R&P focusers as well, so I understand the concerns about backlash. But a precision engineered R&P is a joy to use and can handle heavy loads better. The Vixen R&Ps have no backlash. They aren’t as good as premium 3rd party focuser but they are better than cheap crayford.

For example all of the scopes below have R&P focusers, and they are all very expensive:

https://www.stellarv...plet-refractor/

https://www.highpoin...sa0131-tok13310

https://www.telescop...e/apo140fl-f-7/

Scott

Edited by SeattleScott, 20 May 2020 - 10:12 PM.

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#23 barbie

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 10:04 PM

I agree!! I'll keep my premium R&P focuser anyday over ANY Crayford. Both of my Tak focusers are far better than any of the Crayfords I've owned or used, and that includes premium Crayfords!! I'm not a Crayford fan!!


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#24 drd715

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 10:07 PM

Have a look at a new thread here on CN. It is about the new Astronomics AT-102EDL.  This may be what you could use. It  might be similar to the TS102ed F-7 if you are living in Europe area.  And if your scope dealer is connected with these brands.  


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#25 SeattleScott

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Posted 20 May 2020 - 10:23 PM

Yes that could be a good option, similar price point. You are just paying for ED glass instead of precision optical figure. Still won’t be heirloom quality but it will be nice.

Scott


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