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New 16" Dobsonian?

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#1 lunarpaws

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 07:29 AM

Greetings all!

I am in the process of buying a new 16" Dobsonian, either a Skywatcher or Orion. My concern is portability. I live in a heavily light polluted area and would like to take it to a location not too far away for a night of observing. The heaviest component of a 16" is the mirror assembly, coming in at over 100lbs. Total assembled weight is almost 200lbs. Is this beast difficult to move around? Cumbersome for a single individual to set up?

Thanks!



#2 Mike G.

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:02 AM

16" dobs are not very portable, especially commercial dobs.  load your car up with wood crates filled with 100lbs. of rocks and see how well you can lift and move the crates in and out of your car.  that should tell you what you need to know.


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#3 wrnchhead

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:08 AM

I guess it's an individual thing, I have the SW collapsible 12" and the base is really the most difficult thing. Not "difficult" per se, but it's just dense and anything bigger I would have some trouble fitting into our vehicles. I don't know what other scopes you've used or been around, but if it's none, you may be surprised at the size of a 16", photos do not do them justice. 



#4 Jethro7

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:10 AM

Greetings all!

I am in the process of buying a new 16" Dobsonian, either a Skywatcher or Orion. My concern is portability. I live in a heavily light polluted area and would like to take it to a location not too far away for a night of observing. The heaviest component of a 16" is the mirror assembly, coming in at over 100lbs. Total assembled weight is almost 200lbs. Is this beast difficult to move around? Cumbersome for a single individual to set up?

Thanks!

Hello Lunarpaws,

That 16" is a wonderful sized Aperture and will yield views under dark skies that look like a photographs. But it will be a two person job and a pickup truck. I would love a 16" Dob, I almost bought one till I realized the logistics of owning a large Dob. The only way I would own one is if I could leave it together and wheel it out to and from its storage area easily. In my situation that would not be easy. In reality I would never use it much do to the transportation issue, not to mention with my average Seeing conditions it Would not be conducive for its use very often anyway, that large Dob needs dark steady skies to do its magic.  That's why I bought a 10" Dob instead. It is a one person job (I am not getting younger these days)  and I keep it on a cheap Home Depot, hand truck and It will fit in my Honda Civic. The Logistics of a 10" Dob works for me. If you can manage a,16"Dob by all means  it will be worth it.

 

HAPPY SKIES TO YOU AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


Edited by Jethro7, 23 September 2020 - 01:19 PM.


#5 Eddgie

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:14 AM

Very heavy.. Even at 12", I felt the Orion was a lot to deal with.  As a consequence of that, I typically took smaller scopes out to darker skies because it was so much easier.

 

Also, consider stretching your budget and getting an image intensifier.   A 10" scope will give better limiting magntude than a 20" scope using a regular eyepiece, and you will be able to see things from light polluted locations that would be hard to see even from dark skies.   We have almost 100 people on CN using image intensifiers now and much of that has to do with the fact that you can do very effective observing without having to leave home. 

 

These big commercial dobs are cheap because MDF is inexpensive and easy to cut.  They can make a lot of telescope for the money, but you pay for that in weight.   

 

A friend of mine had an old 16" Lockwood dob and it was lighter than my 12".  This is where the mass market dobs really fall behind. They are just far heavier than they would need to be but the budget just does not allow them to sell scopes at those prices and be light at the same time.   


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#6 eyeoftexas

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 08:28 AM

A significant fraction of the weight in the commercial dobs is the use of particle board for materials.  But, I choose to take my 12" Orion truss dob to dark skies, because the large aperture is what dark skies are made for.  It's not light by any stretch of the imagination, but the 15-20 minutes it takes to assemble the thing is not that big of deal.


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#7 Voyageur

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 09:15 AM

A long time ago, I had an 18" Dob. I built a wheeled base for it. It lived set up in my garage, and when I wanted to observe, I wheeled it out to my large driveway, and there I was, ready to go. It was great.

 

Then things changed. I moved to a different house where I had no place to keep the scope set up. I kept it for awhile, and tried taking it to dark sites and assembling it there for a night of viewing. It was designed as a lightweight scope, designed to be portable. Of course, the mirror was heavy, but I was young and strong then, and I could certainly lift it. However, setup and collimation became factors. Unless I knew I had a large amount of time for an observing session, I didn't feel like going to all the trouble. Easier if I had a helper, but I didn't often.

 

I sold that scope. It was a lovely scope. But under current circumstances, I do not miss it. If I ever live where I could have a big Dob in a permanent observatory, then I would have one. If I had a garage again like before, or if I had a lifestyle that allowed me to take a scope off for a long weekend at a dark sky site, I would strongly consider it. My club has a 25" Dob that goes to star parties in its trailer, and has three men to set it up and take it down, and it is still a heck of a job for one night. I would not want that job on my own for a 16" Dob. Just food for thought. You may be young and strong and highly motivated, and can safely ignore the thoughts of an old woman with a bad back!


Edited by Voyageur, 23 September 2020 - 09:16 AM.


#8 KBHornblower

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 11:04 AM

For a lightweight like me, that would be prohibitively heavy for lifting into my pickup truck.  My homemade 17.5" truss Dob is about 136 pounds all up, and when disassembled the heaviest piece is the mirror box at 52 pounds.  I can lift that in and out of the truck and carry it about 20 feet without too much difficulty, taking care to use proper lifting technique to avoid straining my back.  The mirror, 27 pounds, slides into the cell and rests against a sling in classic Dobson fashion, and I take it out for transporting in a 15 pound carrying case.  The rocker box and mirror box are made of 3/4" birch plywood.

 

One of my fellow club members has a 25" Obsession scope which breaks down much as mine does, except the mirror stays in its cell.  He uses a dolly and wheelbarrow handles to roll it up a ramp into a low-slung trailer.  He does it unassisted.  I would need similar equipment to move yours unassisted.



#9 RobertMaples

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:36 PM

Greetings all!

I am in the process of buying a new 16" Dobsonian, either a Skywatcher or Orion. My concern is portability. I live in a heavily light polluted area and would like to take it to a location not too far away for a night of observing. The heaviest component of a 16" is the mirror assembly, coming in at over 100lbs. Total assembled weight is almost 200lbs. Is this beast difficult to move around? Cumbersome for a single individual to set up?

Thanks!

 

16" dobs are not very portable, especially commercial dobs.  load your car up with wood crates filled with 100lbs. of rocks and see how well you can lift and move the crates in and out of your car.  that should tell you what you need to know.

From what I'm seeing, the bases are over 100 lbs and the OTA's are less, and the bases on both models can be easily partially disassembled to reduce the weight of the heaviest component to significantly less than 100 lbs.

 

Since the Skywatcher OTA is not easily disassembled, it is probably the heaviest component in it's package, according to at least one website(https://www.highpoin...obsonian-s11840) 72 lbs.

 

The Orion OTA is a truss tube setup that easily breaks down, so it's lightest component is almost certainly less.  For comparison, the 16" Lightbridge is a similar design and it's heaviest component is listed as 58 lbs.

 

If I had the funds for one, I would not hesitate to get either the Orion or the Meade Lightbridge, knowing I would be setting them up alone.

 

Have you seen the Orion video for their 16"?  It shows someone single-handedly setting it up in under 9 minutes: https://www.youtube....eature=emb_logo



#10 RobertMaples

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 12:55 PM

In the video comments, someone asked the weight of the heaviest component and Orion answered that it was 61.4 lbs for the groundplate.


Edited by RobertMaples, 23 September 2020 - 12:55 PM.


#11 bunyon

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 01:13 PM

I have a 15" Obsession. There is no way I could move it by carrying. But it has wheeled wheelbarrow handles that make moving it a breeze. Do Orion scopes not come with something similar?


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#12 Kunama

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 01:37 PM

Wheel barrow handles and a pair of lightweight aluminium ramps works for me....  I saw some attached to a 16" GSO Dob recently that were homemade from 1"X1" stainless tube.


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#13 RobertMaples

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 01:43 PM

I have a 15" Obsession. There is no way I could move it by carrying. But it has wheeled wheelbarrow handles that make moving it a breeze. Do Orion scopes not come with something similar?

No they don't.  I don't know of any mass produced dobs that do, but they would not be hard to add.



#14 sixela

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 01:48 PM

My concern is portability

 

 

Echoes one of my observing buddies (who now has a 400mm Alkaid from Sumerian Optics, with a John Nichol mirror and Antares Optics secondary):

 

400mm_Alkaid.jpg

 

Although if you have room and you only need it to be light the Canopus is even more stable. If you want to go on holiday in the car and have a family plus luggage (and Euro-sized cars) the Alkaid is smaller, though.


Edited by sixela, 23 September 2020 - 01:49 PM.


#15 RobertMaples

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 02:00 PM

No they don't.  I don't know of any mass produced dobs that do, but they would not be hard to add.

They actually use to have wheelbarrow handles and wheels for it.  I don't know why they quit offering them:

https://www.telescop...pe/p/102067.uts



#16 havasman

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 02:19 PM

My 16" Starmaster is a great scope that is designed to the high mass model of strength and rigidity. It is a load. Experienced club members commonly think it's a 20". But I think those 16" mass market particle board scopes are the heaviest and most difficult scopes to deal with anywhere. The 12" models are where I think the balance of mass and aperture is maximized in those scopes. The 16's do not meet my idea of portable.


Edited by havasman, 23 September 2020 - 02:20 PM.

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#17 Praise.M42

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 03:26 PM

As others have said, I don't think that a commercial 16 inch dob would meet any of the requirements to be considered portable.
I have a 16 inch truss dob made by Rp Astro: it's not refined as something like Starmaster or Obsession, but it's a step above skywatcher/Meade/Orion. Still despite this, I have to use every ounce of my (weak ;)) muscle power in order to move the 65lbs primary box by myself.
Dealing with the transportation of a commercial 16inch is not a impossible task, even more so with the right adjustments, but it would be demanding: are you ready for this kind of commitment? If portability is a requirement, I would consider a lighter big dob (newer obsessions, sumerian alkaid and many more), or maybe something smaller if budget is a concern.
Hope I was helpful, let us know what your choice will be!
Clear skies, Praise

#18 junomike

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 04:30 PM

I have a SW 12 Synscan and Orion xx16g.

The SW is an easy haul in 2 reasonably light pcs.  The Orion base can  be disassembled however I rarely do so. The OTA is about 60lbs but it's short enough

make it easy to carry (IMO).


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#19 Ranger Tim

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 05:53 PM

At larger than twelve inches scopes become more difficult to pack up and carry. This is the point at which the decision depends on how fit a person is, or perhaps how motivated. I have seen exceptions, i.e. 14 inchers that are very light or ultra compact 15-16's, but these are the exception more than the rule. A twelve can be taxing for someone that is small of stature or not robust. Steel tube vs. truss design can make a big difference in portability as well. There was a time when I would have taken a 20 inch or larger scope at the drop of a hat, but those days are behind me. I am content with a back seat scope.


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#20 GeneT

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 06:21 PM

If I were making your decision, I would look for a 16 incher that weighed less, and whose components were easier to handle. I have a 12.5 inch, F5 Portaball. The upper assembly fits inside the sphere that holds the primary. So, you only carry one item. It is easy to carry and load into my vehicle. I have friends who own 12 inch Dobs that are a challenge to carry and load the various components. As we move into larger telescopes, the hassle factors also increase. I have owned a 20 inch Obsession Classic and an 18 inch Obsession Ultra Compact. I sold them both and settled on my 12 incher as the telescope just right for me. You will probably have to buy and try, and if you are not happy, sell and try again. Lastly, I recommend that you dial in several 16 inchers, carefully look at the weight of the individual components, especially the mirror box, and also look at the sizes of the same.  



#21 Glory Eye

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 06:21 PM

I have the Orion xx16G and I have assembled and disassembled it hundreds of times to take from my upstairs bedroom to my back yard. I have lost count how many times I have taken it to dark sites. The OTA and Baseplate are a bit cumbersome but me and my three young boys, the oldest of which is 9, handle it just fine. I am only 5'-5" tall, 53 years old and work a desk job. Call me contrary but I don't think moving this scope is a big deal. In fact, I don't even think about it any more because I'm too excited about the views I'm going to get when I have it set up. My testimony is that this telescope is totally portable and I can unload the OTA and Baseplate out of the back of my minivan solo hombre. I am sympathetic to those who may have back problems or other limitations, so I don't judge anyone, but IMO the average person won't have much trouble handling the weight of this scope. The handling should have little bearing on whether you purchase it or not and you shouldn't sacrifice aperture based on that consideration.


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#22 Glory Eye

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 06:33 PM

I love my xx16G but have you considered the seemingly controversial Hubble Optics Telescopes? I really have my eye on them because the prices seem pretty good to me and they are among the lightest mass market dobs that I know of. I don't know of a cheaper 20" ultra light than their UL20 which boasts a premium diffraction limited rapid cooling mirror. I mention the 20" because at the time I bought the xx16G, I wanted the most aperture I could afford. Had I known about Hubble Optics, I may have stretched a bit and got the 20".



#23 Napp

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 06:40 PM

I have a 16inch Gen 2 Explore Scientific DOB.  The mirror box is about 50lbs.  One of my observing buddies has an Orion 16in DOB.  I can set up or tear down mine much more quickly mainly because the Orion breaks down into more parts.  Check out the Explore Scientific. 


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#24 wrnchhead

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 06:51 PM

Glory, your comments are interesting to me because I’m 6 feet tall worked in a shop my whole life and I would say that the convenience factor starts diminishing above 8 inches as far as commercial particle board ones go. And I would advise someone that portability and the likelihood of you dragging it outside outweigh aperture considerations. I’m not saying that you are right and I am not saying that I am right, it is just interesting that we see things differently. I think the advice of -you’re just going to have to try it out- it’s probably the best and each person can come to their own conclusion. I have only ever looked through my own scopes and I have had a GSO 8 inch Dob, a 12 inch collapsible skywatcher and C8 on a GEM, and I would be hard-pressed to say that the 12 so substantially outperforms the 8 to the point where it would be a dealbreaker.

P.S. It’s also possible I somehow have a dud 12 inch mirror and my 8 and C8 are better, and/or my collimation methods are substandard and maybe that accounts for the performance difference. Just a noob alert disclaimer.
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#25 Glory Eye

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Posted 23 September 2020 - 07:19 PM

Glory, your comments are interesting to me because I’m 6 feet tall worked in a shop my whole life and I would say that the convenience factor starts diminishing above 8 inches as far as commercial particle board ones go. And I would advise someone that portability and the likelihood of you dragging it outside outweigh aperture considerations. I’m not saying that you are right and I am not saying that I am right, it is just interesting that we see things differently. I think the advice of -you’re just going to have to try it out- it’s probably the best and each person can come to their own conclusion. I have only ever looked through my own scopes and I have had a GSO 8 inch Dob, a 12 inch collapsible skywatcher and C8 on a GEM, and I would be hard-pressed to say that the 12 so substantially outperforms the 8 to the point where it would be a dealbreaker.

P.S. It’s also possible I somehow have a dud 12 inch mirror and my 8 and C8 are better, and/or my collimation methods are substandard and maybe that accounts for the performance difference. Just a noob alert disclaimer.

Point well taken that preferences and hassle are more of a diminishing return depending on the individual. It just seems like most comments about the weight and portability always seem disparaging. I want people to know that there are individuals like me that think Orion did a good job making a telescope this big as portable as it is. In addition, the OP seems committed to a 16" and I would not want him to be deterred from an excellent scope just because there is some difficulty involved in handling. For me, the inspiring views that I got at my dark site last weekend outweigh and even cause whatever difficulty I encountered in moving the scope to entirely disappear.


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