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A "wierd" advice from SW technical assistance

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#1 Fernando134

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 01:54 PM

Dear all,

 

I have a SW Esprit 120ED for a couple of years. In the beginning to observe and now for imaging. There was always an issue with the focuser. The scope has two "pads" inside the focuser, hold by four screws, two on each side of the focuser. After awhile I realized that one or both pads were loose inside the focuser. SW technical assistance recommended that I should remove the focuser to check it, what I did. One of the pads were loose...I fixed it the best I could.

 

I wrote to them that I was not happy, at all, with the focuser quality. Then comes the wierd thing: I was recommended to switch the focuser by a Feather Touch or other options...

 

I was so frustrated with the focuser that I had ordered a Moonlight before such "wierd advice". Wierd at least for me. Though a honest, advice, I must agree. A SW Esprit 120ED brand new is about $3,200

; not cheap at all. And I am outside the US, what make things more expensive.


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#2 spereira

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 02:14 PM

Moving to Refractors ...

 

smp



#3 Stelios

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 02:17 PM

I don't know what the warranty period is for your scope. If you are within the warranty period, you should send back the focuser for a replacement, if it still has a problem. If, on the other hand, you found the quality sub-par but it functioned normally (but not to your complete satisfaction) once fixed, then an upgrade seems to me like a best option.

 

The issue is really, whether *your* copy of the focuser is bad, or the focusers that came (at the time you bought yours) with the scope were of a mediocre/poor quality. In the first case you are entitled to a full fix within the warranty period. In the second case you have no real recourse but an upgrade.


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#4 Jared

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 03:01 PM

Dear all,

 

I have a SW Esprit 120ED for a couple of years. In the beginning to observe and now for imaging. There was always an issue with the focuser. The scope has two "pads" inside the focuser, hold by four screws, two on each side of the focuser. After awhile I realized that one or both pads were loose inside the focuser. SW technical assistance recommended that I should remove the focuser to check it, what I did. One of the pads were loose...I fixed it the best I could.

 

I wrote to them that I was not happy, at all, with the focuser quality. Then comes the wierd thing: I was recommended to switch the focuser by a Feather Touch or other options...

 

I was so frustrated with the focuser that I had ordered a Moonlight before such "wierd advice". Wierd at least for me. Though a honest, advice, I must agree. A SW Esprit 120ED brand new is about $3,200

; not cheap at all. And I am outside the US, what make things more expensive.

Prior to this issue of a loose pad were you dissatisfied with the focuser? If so, in what way? Backlash? Lack of precision? Flex under load? Lack of strength/capacity? Lack of smoothness? There is no question that a 3” Feathertouch or similar Moonlite would be an upgrade to the focuser that ships with the Skywatcher. It would have more capacity and likely a better “feel”. But that doesn’t mean the original focuser is defective in any way, just that it’s not the best available.  The Esprit focusers I have seen seemed generally capable as long as the camera weight was moderate. Nothing exceptional, but in line with the general ethos of the Esprit line which is to provide near-premium results at a lower-than-premium price. The advice, while weird sounding, is likely practical and honest.  It is quite possible that a focuser could be working as designed and not meet your expectations. Depending on your needs, SkyWatcher may have simply told you the truth. Their focusers seem generally capable but certainly not premium. I wouldn’t expect them to be able to handle an FLI Proline camera, for example, but would expect them to be fine with my QHY247.  
 

The Esprit line in general seems to be well thought out and a good value.  They advertise it as, essentially, a way to get Tak FSQ quality images at a much lower price. A less expensive, less capable focuser fits well with that expectation.  For many users of DSLR’s or small, light CMOS cameras it is likely a great fit, perfectly capable of producing FSQ level images. But, if you have a heavy camera or even a moderate weight camera but with a full frame chip you may well need a focuser upgrade.  If the focuser is struggling even with just an eyepiece and diagonal, then there is something wrong with it.  It should, certainly, be capable of functioning smoothly and accurately with minimal shift and backlash with any diagonal and eyepiece.


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#5 wrnchhead

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 03:08 PM

My initial thought was that the focuser is a penny saving item on the lower-end ED fracs, but I looked that one up and $3k seems far from the lower-end! I see 2 year warranty, would be nice if you were still covered. 



#6 Jared

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 03:18 PM

My initial thought was that the focuser is a penny saving item on the lower-end ED fracs, but I looked that one up and $3k seems far from the lower-end! I see 2 year warranty, would be nice if you were still covered. 

The focusers on the Esprit line are definitely one of the penny saving areas on this scope, at least when compared with a Tak FSQ which is the what SkyWatcher considers the competition. Still, the focuser should generally work well with moderate loads.


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#7 BravoFoxtrot

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 05:22 PM

Is this the newer focuser or the older version?  I think the focuser on my Esprit is excellent and a joy to use visually.  I'm sure there could be disparity when used for imaging, but mine seems very robust and very smooth with even my heaviest EP's. 

 

As for the response you received from SW support...curious to say the least.    


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#8 skyward_eyes

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 07:10 PM

The scope is out of our region so we are not able to get it back for inspection which we would have normally done.

We provided the support we could. If you were still not happy with the performance the. The only option would be to replace it. We are just stating the truth.
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#9 Toddeo

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 07:28 PM

Amazing!  When you spend as little as $600 for an AT102ED-you get a "killer" focuserbow.gif


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#10 tonyt

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 07:46 PM

The Esprit focusers are very nicely made but often poorly assembled and require adjustment. The adjustments are straightforward and similar to most R&P focusers, with the exception that you musn't let the drawtube roll out of the housing or a bunch of tiny bearings fall out.

 

With the pinion assembly removed apply tension to the drawtube pads such that there's no lateral movement of the drawtube but it still moves freely. Normally at this point I'd re-tension the microfocuser brass nut to adjust focuser holding capacity, but Skywatcher applies red loctite preventing the adjustment (should use blue loctite).

 

Then refit the pinion assembly, adjusting the push/pull screws such that the R&P mesh has minimal backlash.

A lack of holding capacity can be compensated for by partial application of the focuser lock under the drawtube.

 

If the drawtube pad had broken loose somehow then that's a warranty issue - you could send the focuser alone to the country of original purchase for repair?   


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#11 Chesterguy1

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Posted 24 June 2020 - 10:05 PM

Amazing!  When you spend as little as $600 for an AT102ED-you get a "killer" focuserbow.gif

You say that, but look how many CN members replace their stock focusers on such fine instruments as Taks or APs with Feathertouch ones. It’s not like those focusers aren’t pretty top drawer to begin with. I replaced my SW 120mm ED stock focuser with a Moonlite. It wasn’t as though the stock focuser was mediocre, it was fine, but the Moonlite is definitely better—and is customizable. Both focusers are leagues beyond the stock single speed focuser that came with my late 90s Vixen refractor. It always had more slop than I could remove no matter how often I adjusted the screws and lubed the unit. Took 20 years, but I replaced that with a Moonlite focuser, too. Almost like a brand new instrument.

 

Chesterguy


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#12 telfish

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 07:47 AM

The newer models have a different focuser I believe looks like a feathertouch clone.. Mine is fine, good quality and finds focus at the same point time after time with SGP. So little to no backlash.



#13 Fernando134

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 04:34 PM

Dear all,

 

Thanks for your coments and suggestions.

 

I do not think is a "bad" scope. My understand is that a US$3,200 scope should come with a better focuser, I may say;

 

It is mounted in a mobile pier that I move in and out from my "observatory". Never hit the floor or anything like that;

 

I do not have the exact date, but I may have the scope for 5 - 6 years. I am not an expert, but I do not think the focuser technology did change so much since;

 

I got the SW Esprit 120ED from a local dealer in Brasil, that went out of bussines. Although I can not be sure, they were an authorized SW dealer. But I may be wrong;

 

A Moonlite focuser is on the way, given that I am unhappy with the focuser. As I wrote, the SW team suggesting that I should get a new focuser from FeatherTouch or Moonlite was honest. But wierd. It sounds like I have a Toyota with a defective engine. And I get a suggestion from the Toyota dealer to get a Honda engine as a replacement...

 

When I removed the focuser to fix the loose pad, the metal was really scratched. (see the attached picture). I was informed that it was filed down (myself???) and nothing could be done. And it should not affect the scope performance.

 

Regards, Fernando

 

CN1.JPG

 

 


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#14 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 04:43 PM

You say that, but look how many CN members replace their stock focusers on such fine instruments as Taks or APs with Feathertouch ones. 

 

Chesterguy

Tak focusers have a number of disaffected users (and also strong partisans who resent any implication that the Tak focusers are not premier).  When I had a Tak, I replaced the focuser.

 

I'm not sure AP focusers need to be replaced.  I'm very particular about focusers and have not replaced my APs.  The focuser on my AP 92 *is* a feather touch!

 

Came that way.

 

I'll put in a word for CFF:  You spec the focuser yourself.  I loved that.  I got a massive oversized focuser which is purr-fect-o for the solar etalon and other hardware.

 

Greg N

 

p.s. it is fairly common for owners of older astro-physics to upgrade the focusers.


Edited by gnowellsct, 25 June 2020 - 04:44 PM.

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#15 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 04:54 PM

Dear all,

 

 

A Moonlite focuser is on the way, given that I am unhappy with the focuser. As I wrote, the SW team suggesting that I should get a new focuser from FeatherTouch or Moonlite was honest. But wierd. It sounds like I have a Toyota with a defective engine. And I get a suggestion from the Toyota dealer to get a Honda engine as a replacement...

 

 

 

Regards, Fernando

 

attachicon.gifCN1.JPG

:)  If you had a Fiat-Chrysler and got that advice you'd be getting good advice!  

 

I used Moonlite focusers for many years but finally made the conversion to FT with Rack and Pinion.  It's a good move (for me anyhow) but it's an expensive one.  

 

Greg N


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#16 Jared

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 07:51 PM

Dear all,

 

Thanks for your coments and suggestions.

 

I do not think is a "bad" scope. My understand is that a US$3,200 scope should come with a better focuser, I may say;

 

It is mounted in a mobile pier that I move in and out from my "observatory". Never hit the floor or anything like that;

 

I do not have the exact date, but I may have the scope for 5 - 6 years. I am not an expert, but I do not think the focuser technology did change so much since;

 

I got the SW Esprit 120ED from a local dealer in Brasil, that went out of bussines. Although I can not be sure, they were an authorized SW dealer. But I may be wrong;

 

A Moonlite focuser is on the way, given that I am unhappy with the focuser. As I wrote, the SW team suggesting that I should get a new focuser from FeatherTouch or Moonlite was honest. But wierd. It sounds like I have a Toyota with a defective engine. And I get a suggestion from the Toyota dealer to get a Honda engine as a replacement...

 

When I removed the focuser to fix the loose pad, the metal was really scratched. (see the attached picture). I was informed that it was filed down (myself???) and nothing could be done. And it should not affect the scope performance.

 

Regards, Fernando

 

attachicon.gifCN1.JPG

It seems like a pretty reasonable response from SkyWatcher.  The scope is five years old so well outside warranty.  For practical reasons (time, effort, cost) you can’t ship it to them for evaluation and/or repair.  That’s certainly not your fault, but it’s not their fault, either.  I expect they are concerned you wouldn’t be happy with a like-for-like replacement, especially if you had to pay for it. Hence, the recommendation you upgrade.

 

It’s not really like Toyota recommending you swap in a Honda engine.  More like you aren’t happy with your stock wheels (I’d say the optics are more like the “engine”), and Toyota is recommending you get aftermarket, souped up wheels since you probably won’t be happy with just a new set of the original wheels.

 

I’m sorry you are frustrated.  It’s always better when we love our telescopes.  I hope the Moonlite meets your expectations and you can enjoy the scope again.


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#17 gnowellsct

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Posted 25 June 2020 - 09:40 PM

You say that, but look how many CN members replace their stock focusers on such fine instruments as Taks or APs with Feathertouch ones. It’s not like those focusers aren’t pretty top drawer to begin with. I replaced my SW 120mm ED stock focuser with a Moonlite. It wasn’t as though the stock focuser was mediocre, it was fine, but the Moonlite is definitely better—and is customizable. Both focusers are leagues beyond the stock single speed focuser that came with my late 90s Vixen refractor. It always had more slop than I could remove no matter how often I adjusted the screws and lubed the unit. Took 20 years, but I replaced that with a Moonlite focuser, too. Almost like a brand new instrument.

 

Chesterguy

In astronomy there are many lurking "revelation" moments.  These include: first discovery of a really good mount (no slop, no damping time), first discovery of the eyepiece that is truly fit for you, first discovery of a truly good focuser, etc.   Until you reach that moment you're happy with other stuff.  I was very happy with my Rini eyepieces.  Took me several years before I became aware of their many shortcomings.   Focusers are very much in the category of things that one doesn't appreciate in full till one has been through a few and reached the right moment for the "ahhhh." 

 

You don't know why something costs what it does till you understand the problem that it solves.  I didn't *really* get into eyepieces till I was looking for one and two arc second planetaries in the milky way and realized that in the eyepieces I was using every star looked like a one and two second planetary out at the edge.  When it becomes part of your observing program to have that capability, that's when you realize you might need to spend into the next tier. 

 

As for myself and focusers:  I was happy with Moonlite focusers as a visual observer for years.  It didn't change till I started venturing into solar and hanging a $500 eyepiece on a $1200 etalon that fits into a $350 Powermate in an activity that requires quite a bit of focus travel.  THEN the difference between a rock solid overbuilt finely machined R&P and a crayford with external bearings that might crack (and have) and a lightweight focus draw tube becomes evident.

 

Imagers reach the same conclusion with different gear.

 

So in sum as you gain experience you make more demands on your equipment, things that you didn't know were there to be demanded till all of a sudden there it was in front of you as an obstacle to doing what you want to do.

 

Greg N 


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#18 Fernando134

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 08:31 AM

Dear all,

 

This is a picture of a bahtinov mask over my SW Esprit 120ED. I do not know if it is possible to see in the picture: I am never, ever, able to get the central spikes in line with each other. It seems not to have much impact on images, as far as I may tell. But it is annoying...

 

Regards, Fernando

 

CN11.JPG



#19 AdamJ

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 01:35 PM

Odd I have a Esprit 100 and I see the focuser as being excellent. One of the standout features of the scope.

#20 telfish

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 02:10 PM

Odd I have a Esprit 100 and I see the focuser as being excellent. One of the standout features of the scope.

They changed the design in recent years, the new focuser is leagues better.



#21 Jared

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 02:17 PM

Dear all,

 

This is a picture of a bahtinov mask over my SW Esprit 120ED. I do not know if it is possible to see in the picture: I am never, ever, able to get the central spikes in line with each other. It seems not to have much impact on images, as far as I may tell. But it is annoying...

 

Regards, Fernando

 

attachicon.gifCN11.JPG

I would recommend posting this as a new thread in the imaging forum.  More people using Bahtinov masks over there, plus the topic of this thread doesn’t cover this issue, so a lot of people might miss it.

 

As to your question... I have seen this before. I’m not sure what the cause is—slightly decentered mask (my guess), seeing conditions that vary across the aperture of the scope, imperfections in the mask, choosing a star that is not quite centered in the field of view (my second choice guess), or something else entirely. Usually when I have run into this the lack of centering of the middle spike has varied from one exposure to the next by at least as much as the difference between sides, so I just pick a reasonable compromise and move on.



#22 BillP

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 03:27 PM

Focusers IMO are like eyepieces...a very personal thing. 

  • I replaced the stock 1 speed that my XT10 came with with a Orion Premium dual speed, have been happy with it for over a decade. 
  • On my TSA-102 had its single speed for many years.  Smooth and very precise...but a single speed.  Added the Feathertouch dual speed accessory to it (it uses the Tak pinion rail).  It is pretty good as long as adjusted correctly.  Goes out of adjustment every few years and feels sloppy.  I just readjusted it so should be fine for a few. 
  • My Vixen 81S had a dual speed and I am fine with it.  Focuser tube had slight wobble but not enough for me to care.  Dual speed mechanism on focuser is very nice. 
  • The stock focuser on my APM 152 I really like.  For many years now no adjustment needed and nice and tight.
  • I had a LZOS 80/600 that came stock with Feathertouch.  That was OK too, not as tight as I like and could not get it tight so zero backlash.  Sold scope ... not because of focuser.


#23 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 05:13 PM

Dear all,

 

This is a picture of a bahtinov mask over my SW Esprit 120ED. I do not know if it is possible to see in the picture: I am never, ever, able to get the central spikes in line with each other. It seems not to have much impact on images, as far as I may tell. But it is annoying...

 

Regards, Fernando

 

attachicon.gifCN11.JPG

 

What's not lined up? Everything looks lined up. Are you concerned about the vertical spike? 



#24 Daniel Mounsey

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Posted 29 June 2020 - 10:32 PM

Dear all,

 

I have a SW Esprit 120ED for a couple of years. In the beginning to observe and now for imaging. There was always an issue with the focuser. The scope has two "pads" inside the focuser, hold by four screws, two on each side of the focuser. After awhile I realized that one or both pads were loose inside the focuser. SW technical assistance recommended that I should remove the focuser to check it, what I did. One of the pads were loose...I fixed it the best I could.

 

I wrote to them that I was not happy, at all, with the focuser quality. Then comes the wierd thing: I was recommended to switch the focuser by a Feather Touch or other options...

 

I was so frustrated with the focuser that I had ordered a Moonlight before such "wierd advice". Wierd at least for me. Though a honest, advice, I must agree. A SW Esprit 120ED brand new is about $3,200

; not cheap at all. And I am outside the US, what make things more expensive.

 

If you are outside the US which appears to be the case, then it would most likely cost you just as much money in round trip shipping fees plus the cost of a replacement focuser from SkyWatcher since it sounds like it's out of warranty. The price of an aftermarket focuser is not weird advice, it's smart advice. 


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#25 eblanken

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 02:30 AM

 

Focusers IMO are like eyepieces...a very personal thing. 

  • I replaced the stock 1 speed that my XT10 came with with a Orion Premium dual speed, have been happy with it for over a decade. 
  • On my TSA-102 had its single speed for many years.  Smooth and very precise...but a single speed.  Added the Feathertouch dual speed accessory to it (it uses the Tak pinion rail).  It is pretty good as long as adjusted correctly.  Goes out of adjustment every few years and feels sloppy.  I just readjusted it so should be fine for a few. 
  • My Vixen 81S had a dual speed and I am fine with it.  Focuser tube had slight wobble but not enough for me to care.  Dual speed mechanism on focuser is very nice. 
  • The stock focuser on my APM 152 I really like.  For many years now no adjustment needed and nice and tight.
  • I had a LZOS 80/600 that came stock with Feathertouch.  That was OK too, not as tight as I like and could not get it tight so zero backlash.  Sold scope ... not because of focuser.

 

I agree with BillP !!! I have several Meade 8 inch SCTs, but before that I used to have a Celestron C8. I always liked the "feel" of the C8 knob "better" than the Meade knobs. Once I "upgraded" ONE Meade SCT to Feathertouch, I "had" to upgrade ALL of them. Clearly a "Personal" decision. I kept the "stock" Meade focus knobs so that I can "put them back" if I ever resell. That is my advice to (Fernando 134) the original poster.

 

Ed (aka eblanken)


Edited by eblanken, 30 June 2020 - 02:31 AM.



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