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Looking for help deciding on next scope for camping

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#1 Davensocal


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Posted 02 December 2020 - 11:08 AM

Hi Everyone,

I currently have a Zhumell 12" Dob (f4.5?)  that I picked up about 10 years ago when living on the west coast.  I really enjoyed the scope there, but I have a hard time dedicating time to observing now that I am on the East Coast (upstate NY).  We were able to enjoy a lot of camping this year which has reinforced the difficulty in moving around such a large OTA.  The biggest issue is space, the OTA barely fits through our trailer's door!


I have been saving up, and am on target for about an $800 budget for a different scope.  I have two candidates that are somewhat local, an 8" Meade UHTC LX200 GPS, and a 10" Meade Classic LX-200.  Both are in budget and are full packages (OTA, Mount, Tripod).  I believe they are both f10.


So, I wanted to check in with the group here and see what the opinions were about this type of scope for use on multi day camping trips.  The main positives for me are: Smaller pieces for transport (although still heavy), tracking mount, reasonable aperture. 


Am I headed down the right path looking at a SCT?

Would a refractor be a better option in this price range?

Any major concerns about the older Meade SCT's?  (I am handy with electronics, so I am OK with possibly swapping capacitors, or even control boards if needed).


Thanks in advance for any info you may have!



David H.

#2 NoDarkSkies


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Posted 02 December 2020 - 11:13 AM

The Meade SCT Telescopes are Great. I have the 10" & 12" boxed up.

But I would get the smaller one the 8" for Camping.

They are not the best for Astrophotography and I would not recommend an SCT for astrophotography in general.
For both I would go with the Meade LX85 8" f/5 Reflector GoTo EQ Telescope $1,149.00

For visual the Meade LX90-8ACF 8" f/10 Catadioptric GoTo Telescope  $1,198.95

Based on your viewing of the 8" & 10" Telescope.
Under $800

Meade ETX125 Observer 127mm f/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope $699.00

Meade LX65 5" f/15 Maksutov-Cassegrain GoTo Telescope $798.95

Edited by NoDarkSkies, 03 December 2020 - 10:33 AM.

#3 drd715


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Posted 02 December 2020 - 11:24 AM

I'm finding that the tridod/mount head is more awkward than my scope while camping.  Most of my camping trips (not star party trips) I  only take a 102ed refractor for convenience and shared viewing.  Refractor has its own padded bag. Tripod is a bit of a simple knock about.

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#4 bobzeq25



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Posted 02 December 2020 - 11:59 AM

For camping, with an $800 budget, I'd recommend this.  You will need to power it with a suitable 12V battery.  The power to weight ratio is outstanding.  <smile>



#5 rhetfield



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Posted 02 December 2020 - 12:29 PM

For camping, I would go for one of the little 130mm/f5 tabletop dobs.  Zhumell 130 or AWB OneSky/heritage 130.  Heritage 150p might be nice if you can find it.


The OneSky would be the better one in my opinion for camping, due to being a collapsible truss that is much smaller.  Additionally, it is pretty easy to take apart for field cleaning.  Even the helical focuser is simple and robust - again easy to take apart and clean as needed.  I have found that the little scope holds collimation well.  You can push it to 200x easily enough and you can get almost 2.5 deg FOV at the other end.  They see pretty decently under dark skies.  Very good general purpose scope.  It has a vixen dovetail, so you could put together a nice travel mount for it and get everything to fit into a daypack or airline carry-on (your budget certainly allows this).   There are also some nice goto mounts it will fit on.  OTA is only 7 lbs.


If you keep the mount it comes with, you can add DIY degree circles and pull real time alt/az coordinates off your preferred app.  Pretty easy to find things with 2+ deg FOV.  I have found that a bucket, stool, or camp table are a nice height for it.  No batteries needed.


Your existing 1.25" eyepieces should play pretty nice with it.



Edited by rhetfield, 02 December 2020 - 12:33 PM.

#6 Golgie


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Posted 02 December 2020 - 12:32 PM

Only problems with scts,if you havent had one before,its the narrow fov.

If your fine with this then go with an Sct.

A refractor or reflector will also work.

Theres is no wrong choice here,any will be better then lugging the zhumuell.

For a comparrison on the fov of the object you might see.


#7 epee



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Posted 02 December 2020 - 02:21 PM

In a dark area it's amazing what you can see with a wide-field, 102mm refractor. It's even more amazing what you can see with a 12" dob, but the two complement one another really well.


Perhaps you should look at alternate ways of transporting what you have; a collapsible base, a rooftop carrier for the tube, etc...


I also use a C5 SCT, along with the f/6.3 focal reducer, that I mount on either a Twilight 1 or an iOptron Cube, depending on how and where I plan to use it.

Edited by epee, 02 December 2020 - 02:24 PM.

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#8 Hypoxic


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Posted 02 December 2020 - 03:52 PM

Downscale the Dob a bit? For camping with a trailer it's hard to beat the ease of a good Dob.

8 inch maybe?

#9 ajnaquin


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Posted 03 December 2020 - 09:02 AM

The best camping setup that I have found is a small AT80ED refractor on a Twilight 1 mount. Great crisp views with no wires or batteries. I picked up both separately used for under 500, so it's fairly economical too. It replaced a Celestron 8SE that was a bit cumbersome for camping, but worked.  We can easily take the little refractor on a trail to a dark spot and be viewing within minutes. 

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#10 Davensocal


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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:19 PM

Hi everyone,
I wanted to start by saying thank you for all of the responses. It was a little more than I had expected! I’ll need a little time to digest all of this input.

#11 Skoviak99


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Posted 05 December 2020 - 12:48 PM

So I had a Meade LX200 10" which was great, but the total weight was are 75 or 80 lbs. I also have a Meade LX90 8" which is lighter, I think in the 50 - 60 lb range, and takes up less space in the backseat or trunk, but for every night setup where I am bringing it out and back in I find it a bit too big. I sold the LX200 and bought a Celestron Evolution 6 which is more in the portable range that I am looking for, meaning if I head up to the Porkies in Upper Michigan I can carry it to various viewing locations. The built in rechargeable batterys, WiFi and especially the StarSense alignment make this scope really something to consider. Can't beat the 8" or 10" light gathering etc, but as they say the best scope is the one you use the most...


#12 SonnyE



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Posted 05 December 2020 - 03:57 PM

You are still thinking too big, IMHO.


Consider this for $899.


I went with similar (same mount, different binoculars) for camping.

We like to go to water, so my thoughts were looking at heavenly bodies both night and day.... cool.gif


YMMV. But my wife sez if I stop lookin, she'd start worryin.

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