Teeter STS 10 inch f/5
Short version: my Teeter STS 10 is a hit for me!
On August 13, 2020, Rob Teeter posted a “Blue Artery” 10 inch F/5 Solid Tube Series (STS) scope for sale. I saw the post on his website and Facebook page, and immediately contacted him. “Sold” to the old guy in Norther Virginia!
Rob’s online summary highlighted the key STS features:
- GSO primary mirror
- Blue Artery coating on outside of the tube, and Black Velvet on the inside
- 2.14 inch Antares Secondary, housed in a Destiny 3 vaned curved spider
- Aurora Precision mirror cell, with a built in fan (a gem from Nate Currier)
- Maple stained baltic birch mount and adjustable tube cradle
- Dual speed 2 inch Moonlight focuser
- 12 volt battery/connectors/charger to power the built in fan
I asked Rob to install the Nexus DSC system, including encoders. He installed an adjustable clamp for the Nexus, making it easy to tilt to any angle for reading from the eyepiece position. The wires for the encoders and Nexus were routed through guides keeping them neat and untangled. He must have known about me and potential cord wrapping issues!
The sale process was very easy, via a Zelle payment from my bank account to his. I picked up the scope a week later from the Teeter HQ, with some pointers from Rob on the use of the scope. 5 hours there and back from NJ, and my scope was ready for my back deck just outside of DC.
My observing “window” is quite narrow, from the north to the south, obstructed by trees far taller than my townhome to the east, and a row of townhomes blocking the western views. If I use the front of the townhome to observe, I have a wider window, but impacted by dozens of porch and other lights. Even on my back deck, the nearby lights are significant, which is why a tube dob is actually a good match compared to a truss to get every bit of contrast possible. The dew in the mid-Atlantic is often an issue, which again plays to the strength of a tube dob. The tube being flocked with “Black Velvet “ brings to mind an Elvis painting, or the song performed by Alannah Myles. The contrast is what brings a smile to my face, just like the lyrics.
The 2nd telescope that I owned decades ago was an old sonotube Orion 8 inch f/6 dob, with a single vane secondary. I have owned two other tube dobs (a Starmaster Oak Classic and very recently an Orion XT8i). I have owned many other scopes over the last 30 + years, most of them truss tubes, including a currently owned “Telescope and More” brand 16 inch f/4. Each type has their strengths and limitations. Paired with a TeleVue Oracle3 triplet, the STS is an ideal system for views from my home.
The timing of the purchase was ideal, as both Jupiter and Saturn were prominent, and as I write this, Mars has just reached opposition. When the sky permits (not often I know) the scope easily reaches 400x without the image breaking down. The seeing has not been great lately, but shortly after I received the scope, I had several good nights to test out the optical train. The GSO mirror held its own and then some. The curved secondary also helps with the planetary views. Helping reach and maintain those higher powers is the sturdiness of the overall build, the ease of use of the dual speed focuser, and the adjustable focus position using the cradle to rotate the focuser as needed. The ability to quickly rotate the tube means that viewing is quite comfortable, and will allow me to share the eyepiece more readily when we are able to do so with the grandkids, post Covid. Adjusting balance is also literally a snap. We’ll, two snaps on the cradle holding the tube.
The STS is not a Grab and Go scope, yet in my case, it is Roll and Go scope. I have it on a $20 dolly designed to hold appliances , with locking casters. My spouse has graciously allowed me to keep it on our main floor, as we don’t own a garage . In 5 minutes the scope is out the door, the DSC encoder arm is attached, the battery plugged into the back of the cell, to adjust to ambient temp quickly.
My recent exposure to the Orion intelliscope (for about 6 weeks ) confirmed my need in my urban skies for a DSC. The Nexus is far superior to the Intelliscope, both with the encoders being much higher resolution (32K) and the deeper catalogs built into the system, far more than I would be able to observe with this 10 inch scope. In less than two minutes, I can align my scope, and am ready to rock n roll. The Nexus is compatible with several iPad and/or Mac software apps, yet i have not bothered to delve into those as of yet. I wanted the full Nexus so that I could preserve my dark adaptation when I take the scope out to one of my club’s observing sites. The adjustable ball mounted installation makes it easy to read when I am at the eyepiece.
I find that I am able to observe dozens of targets never seen from my deck, and we have lived here over 30 years. With the Tetrad I need pointer stars. Most nights there are very few stars visible overhead. Now as long as I have two alignment stars, I am in business. I can cruise through Messier objects that are available in my small window of sky, and then move to non M objects that are bright enough on nights when the transparency is decent. For example, i have observed a number of planetary objects in darker skies, however some of them are still visible if they are bright enough AND you can find them.
Using the Nexus as a selectable target viewing list is great fun. I opted to use the Common Named list, and those that are within the narrow scope of my view overhead are either “old friends” such as the Blue Snowball, or new to me targets, such as the Blue Flash nebula. Open clusters are also great targets in a suburban environment, and can give you a smile at times (as in why did someone name that cluster a Drunken Lizard cluster, or the grin when looking at the ET cluster). I would not have found these without a DSC or some serious fire power with a large optical finder and star charts from my back yard. The accuracy of the encoder installation is very good, with objects being in the field of view even at higher power.
The Aurora cell, the tube, and the installation of all the parts securely leads to collimation being a snap using the TuBlug and Glaser laser. In fact, my only “glitch” was that the TuBlug was a bit too tight in the Moonlight focuser tube. Rob contacted Wayne at Starlight instruments, who facilitated a very quick substitution for a TuBlug that fits like a glove. Superb service from both Rob and Wayne post sale.
The biggest “downside” for me is the overall weight of the tube. It is 41 pounds. I have had some serious medical issues in the last year, so I need to manage that concern. I spent $10 at Lowes for a large Velcro brand strap, wrapped above the tube cradle, which helps a great deal at carrying the tube, and carefully putting it and the cradle in the rocker. That and the dolly make transport manageable . I can handle it now, yet in 10 years who knows? In the meantime, the photons are being grabbed.
The only other ‘tweaks” I have done are to put the Tetrad on a 4 inch riser, and to use a NOCO Genius 1 charger for the 12 volt battery. I stupidly drew the battery too far down so that the supplied Battery Tender Jr charger could not bring it back to life. Some chargers are “smart” which won’t allow them to charge a battery if the voltage gets too low. The NOCO is for dummies like me, who end up almost killing the battery as it allows one to force a charge. Worked like a charm.
The only other change I am considering is to order a 10 inch f/5 quartz mirror from Carl Zambuto. The GSO performs VERY well. I frankly doubt with my aging eyes that I would notice the improvement. I have owned several ZOC mirrors over the years, and they were all superb The STS may get that upgrade at some point.
Other than that, and the fact that I wish it had a 11 inch mirror (!) I am very happy with the STS. It is a Solid Tube System of great components, carefully matched by a skilled craftsman, who cares about the end product enough to test each scope before the customer receives it. Premium scopes come with premium pricing, yet the scope just gets out of the way to allow one to concentrate on and fully enjoy the views. The fact that it looks as nice as it performs is a big plus (and allows it to stay on the main floor!).
As Rob and Heather Teeter adjust to life with their newborn twin boys, someone today could order a 10 inch STS for delivery some time in 2021. He is limiting his scope output, and that makes my STS more special. Now I just wish I could afford that Journey HD that is also on the 2021 available list ;-)