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What are the most UNDERRATED scopes out there?

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#1 Terra Nova

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 11:15 AM

Time for some positivity, not negativity! What are the most underrated scopes that you have come across? Mine have been the common little 4.5” (114mm) F8 reflectors that were common in the 1980s into the 2000s. I got this Meade Polaris 114mm F8 for 30 bucks some years ago. The mount was terrible, plus it was broken but it did supply some very nice counterweights and a great counterweight shaft. The tripod was rickety but the hub was useful. On to the OTA. It was great! The plastic focuser was plastic but it was usable and it didn’t require the focal extender that the Celestrons/Vixens needed. The secondary and primary were optically quite good. The primary cell and secondary spider were excellent (I liked them better than the ones on my Celestron/Vixen C4.5). And it has a seamed steel tube that was bigger around and provided better ventilation for cooling than my C4.5. It also had excellent hinged tube rings, and really nice end rings. And to top it off, it was on a Vixen-style rail. I cleaned it up, made a dew-shield/light-shield extender, added a Telrad and a better optical finder with a Vixen-style finder shoe, and on it and put it on my Vixen Porta mount. It was really a great little scope. Unfortunately, I had it at a time when I was in ‘the-telescope-of-the-month club’ so to speak- and had amassed way more scopes than I needed or could store and I sadly let it go, donating it to the Cincinnati Observatory’s scope sale at ScopeOut a few years ago. It’s one, very humble little scope that I have actually missed. It gave wonderful planetary views at 150X with a 6mm eyepiece, and nice fairly wide field views with a 28mm RKE (32X). I had some wonderful nights observing Jupiter, Saturn, the Pleiades, M31, M42 etc. with it. I miss that old Meade Polaris 114/F8 more than the C4.5 or the Edmund 4.25” F10 that I also had back then. Frankly it provided better views and was easier to use. All three are gone now but I will always have fond memories of that little old Meade.

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#2 MisterDan

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 12:24 PM

So far, I can't think of a more-underrated telescope than the one you nominated, Terra. waytogo.gif   Sure, some of their aspects &/or packages were less than optimal (i.e. barely (or in-) capable mounts/tripods, compromised secondary sizes/placements, sub-par finders, etc.), but a good 114mm Newtonian was, is, and will continue to be, a capable and grin-worthy telescope.

 

Other nominees will likely be mentioned by other members (assuming good optics, of course).  I'll predict these:

the StarBlast 4.5 (and its fast-ratio cousins), the ubiquitous-yet-venerable 60mm refractor, the Celestron/Vixen C80 (and its Synta-made cohort), the 90mm Maksutov "family," and perhaps the f/5-f/6 iterations of the 102mm achromats by Meade/Celestron/Orion/SkyWatcher/Bresser/ES/et.al.

 

Cheers and best wishes.

Dan


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#3 rob1986

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 12:41 PM

So far, I can't think of a more-underrated telescope than the one you nominated, Terra. waytogo.gif Sure, some of their aspects &/or packages were less than optimal (i.e. barely (or in-) capable mounts/tripods, compromised secondary sizes/placements, sub-par finders, etc.), but a good 114mm Newtonian was, is, and will continue to be, a capable and grin-worthy telescope.

Other nominees will likely be mentioned by other members (assuming good optics, of course). I'll predict these:
the StarBlast 4.5 (and its fast-ratio cousins), the ubiquitous-yet-venerable 60mm refractor, the Celestron/Vixen C80 (and its Synta-made cohort), the 90mm Maksutov "family," and perhaps the f/5-f/6 iterations of the 102mm achromats by Meade/Celestron/Orion/SkyWatcher/Bresser/ES/et.al.

Cheers and best wishes.
Dan


I just settled on a C80 in the powerseeker getup and have been quite pleased. It even manages to perform with the terrible accessories it came with! (and time you look in the diagonal there is tons of CA, but through the scope it manages).
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#4 Pezdragon

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 01:12 PM

Back in the early seventies I was at a star party and a fellow had this small, unassuming 4”( I think) Newtonian from Optica BC that I had a peek through...I almost cut my eyeball on Saturn it was so sharp. I learned that night that small glass done right can be a wonderful thing. 


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#5 starman876

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 01:33 PM

Long long time ago in a land far away I had a JC penny  4.5 Newt on an equatorial mount.  Was a fun scope.  I could always bring it along no matter where I went and provided many people their first view of saturn and jupiter. I always loved it when people viewed saturn for the first time. They always said" wow I can see the rings".  It also had that wonderful sun filter which allowed one to see sun spots. Darn lucky I did not burn my eyes out of my head.   Paid $80 for that scope back in the 70's and got a million dollars worth of  views and fun with it.


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#6 mdowns

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 01:45 PM

I had that same 4.5 starman. Bought mine from the local Pennys in 72/73. After I put a UO 1.25 focuser on it this was the first scope to show me Ganymede and Callisto as clean,little disk. Also the first scope to show me festoons,rifts and ovals within Jupiter's belts. At that time I was using the pro-series orthos from UO(galocs). Poor mount but the ota really delivered clean views.


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#7 starman876

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 01:52 PM

I had that same 4.5 starman. Bought mine from the local Pennys in 72/73. After I put a UO 1.25 focuser on it this was the first scope to show me Ganymede and Callisto as clean,little disk. Also the first scope to show me festoons,rifts and ovals within Jupiter's belts. At that time I was using the pro-series orthos from UO(galocs). Poor mount but the ota really delivered clean views.

Yes that scope had great optics.  I never checked into who made it for Penny.  Wish I still had it.  Yes the mount was a bit small for the OTA.  As long as you did not touch the ota it would provide a steady view.

 

https://astromart.co...reflector-57128

 

same scope but mine had a blue tube


Edited by starman876, 01 May 2021 - 01:56 PM.

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#8 rob1986

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 02:22 PM

This thread is making me regret not taking my meade digital series tube 114mm even more. the mount was a headache, but it could have been remounted with ease.

 

or buying an Astroview to mount it on then.


Edited by rob1986, 01 May 2021 - 02:22 PM.

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#9 Garyth64

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 03:58 PM

To me an underrated scope was the Tasco 3 TE-R.  I little 3" reflector with a 700mm f.l. from the 60's.

 

I tried to use it every clear night, and I learned the night sky with it.

 

Tasco 3TE R.jpg

 

The photo shows one I purchased a few years go.  It is almost identical to the one I had back in '65, but mine had a wood tripod.  The label is from that scope.

 

I think it is better than most of the average 60mm scopes that I have had.  

 

I took it to a star party a couple of years ago, and I couldn't get many people to look thru it.


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#10 RichA

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 05:09 PM

To me an underrated scope was the Tasco 3 TE-R.  I little 3" reflector with a 700mm f.l. from the 60's.

 

I tried to use it every clear night, and I learned the night sky with it.

 

attachicon.gifTasco 3TE R.jpg

 

The photo shows one I purchased a few years go.  It is almost identical to the one I had back in '65, but mine had a wood tripod.  The label is from that scope.

 

I think it is better than most of the average 60mm scopes that I have had.  

 

I took it to a star party a couple of years ago, and I couldn't get many people to look thru it.

I had one of those, under a different name.  I had no use for a mount that had about 30 minutes of play in azimuth so I hacked up the tube to test out

a 4 inch refractor objective I had.  I sold the optics separately. 



#11 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 06:16 PM

I don't know......

I'd  vote for the C-80 because I myself think the views are better than expected  but others have talked about how good it was before I ever had my first one.....

 

I  would have to say    the Edmund Voyager  63mm scope still shocks me with that great lens                  "with a top quality cemented doublet objective, designed by Dr. David Rank, who also designed the RKE eyepieces."

 

so that would be my contribution

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#12 GreyDay

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 06:28 PM

Time for some positivity, not negativity! What are the most underrated scopes that you have come across?

My first real eye opener was my Towa 60mm 30-90x zoom telescope(the one in my avatar)

 

Originally bought to be chopped into a 60mm RFT the same way a lot of Tasco 5VTE's go, but i'm glad i gave it a night under the stars before making the change. Unlike the 5VTE's "pull out" zoom eyepiece my Towa has a much better quality optical line, the "twist" zoom works smoothly across the full range and provides a much brighter view with improved contrast over the 5VTE. It's lightweight and extremely easy to use and has a sharp image across 100% of the field over the full range of magnification. Admitedly the field is narrow at low mag but at 30x it's still wide enough to star hop, the Pleiades fits nicely just filling the fov. Performance wise it's like a typical Towa 60x700 scope, not excellent but competent.

 

I have experimented with other EP's but over 90x the view softens as would be expected of a fast 60mm objective, and inevitably using wide ep's  there's around 10-15% SA causing edge stars to elongate. Towa got the standard 30-90x setup spot on. It has remained one of my favourite grab'n'go setups and i have no plans to change it or sell it, to me it's underrated probably because of the "zoom scope" curse originating from the awful zoom section supplied in Tasco's 4 and 5 VTE models.

 

Which brings me to my second underrated scope (with caveats) the Tasco (Kenko) 4VTE, the 40mm cemented doublet is just such a great performer for it's size. Sadly the zoom optical line on these scopes completely ruins the performance of the Kenko objective. The 40mm objective is completely transformed when used with a diagonal and ep's and makes an outstanding finderscope or even as a telescope in it's own right. Such a shame it came attatched to the awful tasco zoom optics.

 

The Towa 30-90x 60mm

4317542

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#13 Bonco2

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 07:07 PM

I'm thinking many will disagree but the old Japanese 80mm f15 telescopes like Towa, Tasco and many others branded with other names are under rated. The OTA's and optics were very good at a good price. . But the mounts kept them out of the "great" category. Find a good one, mount it on something solid and you have a fine telescope at a bargain price.

Bill 


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#14 mdowns

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 07:16 PM

Folks,

 Please remember this is the 'classics' forum.I just removed several post from here simply because they were not focused on classics  or older models but rather current scopes.No harm,but just not the right material for this thread.


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#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 May 2021 - 07:19 PM

My two cents:

 

I'd have to agree with Terra, the most underrated scopes are the various 4.5 inch F/8 Newtonians.  I think rather than underrated, I like the term, "under-respected", they don't get credit for how really good they can be.  Other scopes get a lot of talk for what they can do but the lowly 4.5 inch F/8 can outperform many a 80mm refractor in all configurations, achro's F/11 and f/15 and even ED/apos.  

 

And I'd agree on the C-4.5.  It has a great mount, a great focuser but the tube is undersized, those rod style secondary vanes and those rings, they were designed just to dent and gouge the tube.  The Chinese Firstscope 114's with the wooden legs had better rings, a single stalk secondary that was stable and a better OTA design.  And the legs were solid enough that the EQ-2 mount did a decent job.

 

Jon 


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#16 LukaszLu

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 07:59 AM

I must say that one of the surprising things I had the opportunity to learn when joining the respected community here at the CN is the enormous variety and availability of beautiful, old, classic Newtonian telescopes in the US. It's really amazing. In Poland, of course, they are not available at all, because they never came here in the communist times. However, I have the impression that also in Western Europe this type of equipment is much rarer and less diverse than in the USA - actually extremely rare. Meanwhile, advertising portals in the USA are full of beautiful Newtonian "classics" which are just waiting for someone to take care of them and restore them to their former splendor. I wonder if Americans appreciate all those treasures available at one click? What is easily accessible, is sometimes underrated ...


Edited by LukaszLu, 02 May 2021 - 09:25 AM.

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#17 DAVIDG

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 11:41 AM

 To me it is the Coulter 13.1"  I have had one since the late 80's. Not the greatest optics but you knew what your getting and it fits in my car in two pieces. It is on the mount in minutes and ready to go. The  13" of light gathering changes  deepksky stuff from faint fuzzy  into something that looks like the books show.  I build digital setting circles and the combination of light gathering power and the easy of find objects has made  for many enjoyable hours under the stars over the years.

 

                  - Dave 

 

coulter 13.1 DMG.jpg


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#18 clamchip

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 01:05 PM

The orange C8.

In it's day it was expensive, and rightly so.

But today I see this marvel on the used market for + or - $300, and I just shake my head in disbelief.

Am I missing something? I don't think so.

I know one thing is for sure, I can't make one for that. As a matter of fact, a Schmidt Cassegrain, none of us 

can ! 

Over the years I've had more WOW!s at a C8 eyepiece than any other telescope.

And what amateurs can do with a orange C8 and a camera, even today 40 years later absolutely blows my

mind.

I keep thinking, well, this can't last much longer, well it has. The going price for a used orange C8 has been

pretty steady at this incredibly low price for years. 

 

Robert


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#19 Kasmos

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 03:58 PM

The orange C8.

In it's day it was expensive, and rightly so.

But today I see this marvel on the used market for + or - $300, and I just shake my head in disbelief.

Am I missing something? I don't think so.

I know one thing is for sure, I can't make one for that. As a matter of fact, a Schmidt Cassegrain, none of us 

can ! 

Over the years I've had more WOW!s at a C8 eyepiece than any other telescope.

And what amateurs can do with a orange C8 and a camera, even today 40 years later absolutely blows my

mind.

I keep thinking, well, this can't last much longer, well it has. The going price for a used orange C8 has been

pretty steady at this incredibly low price for years. 

 

Robert

Yet others will say they are/were overated and not good at all.

 

Maybe it's not fair, but when I first got mine, I wondered if I'd ever use my 4" Jaegers again. I did but much less.


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#20 davidmcgo

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 04:51 PM

Nice to see you can slum around with ordinary optics too!

Dave

 

 To me it is the Coulter 13.1"  I have had one since the late 80's. Not the greatest optics but you knew what your getting and it fits in my car in two pieces. It is on the mount in minutes and ready to go. The  13" of light gathering changes  deepksky stuff from faint fuzzy  into something that looks like the books show.  I build digital setting circles and the combination of light gathering power and the easy of find objects has made  for many enjoyable hours under the stars over the years.

 

                  - Dave 

 

attachicon.gifcoulter 13.1 DMG.jpg


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#21 DAVIDG

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 07:34 PM

Nice to see you can slum around with ordinary optics too!

Dave

  Yes, I had many wonderful nights with my observing buddies under dark skies  with my Coulter 13.1 observing deepsky objects.   My point is I knew what I was buying and Coulter wasn't saying I can take the power up 500x or more like I have seen in ads for some of these other smaller scopes being discussed. 

    When it comes to the term underrated I think you have to but it in the  prospectus of the level of the user. For beginners some of these small 4" reflectors and 60mm refractor were disappointments.  The ads had inflated magnifications and showed  images of galaxies and planets with detail that only much larger scope would show.

    When you put that same scope in the hands of the people reading this forum that have years of experience and pretty good knowledge of how telescope works so they can correctly collimate one and also understand what to to expect with the view, the impression of how the scope works takes on a whole new and realistic meaning. 

 

                   - Dave 


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#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 09:34 PM

  Yes, I had many wonderful nights with my observing buddies under dark skies  with my Coulter 13.1 observing deepsky objects.   My point is I knew what I was buying and Coulter wasn't saying I can take the power up 500x or more like I have seen in ads for some of these other smaller scopes being discussed. 

    When it comes to the term underrated I think you have to but it in the  prospectus of the level of the user. For beginners some of these small 4" reflectors and 60mm refractor were disappointments.  The ads had inflated magnifications and showed  images of galaxies and planets with detail that only much larger scope would show.

    When you put that same scope in the hands of the people reading this forum that have years of experience and pretty good knowledge of how telescope works so they can correctly collimate one and also understand what to to expect with the view, the impression of how the scope works takes on a whole new and realistic meaning. 

 

                   - Dave 

 

I am of two minds on the 13.1 inch Coulters.  I briefly owned a Blue Tube 13.1 inch and worked on a red one or two.  

 

- One side of me says that despite their issues, they can provide good views at low-medium powers so they can provide enjoyable, meaningful views. And since deep sky viewing is very often at low/medium powers, the optics being questionable is not that big of a deal.  

 

- One side of me says, what they are is very crudely made with many compromises, optically not the best. I think that is the general consensus about the red tube Coulters.  They are not underrated in the sense that this is what they really were/are.  

 

My impression/thinking about the red tube Coulters is affected by the fact that I have an older 12.5 inch F/4.06 Discovery Dob from the early to mid 1990s...  I bought it 2001, it had been around a bit.  I had it when purchased the Blue Tube 13.1 inch, it was setup next to one of the red tubes when I was trying to help the owner with it. In some ways, it was similar to the Coulters, it was pretty crude, kind of clunky.  

 

But even in it's initial form, it had the essentials, quite good optics, a JMI 2 inch Crayford, a 4 vane spider, the mount was pretty solid.. It's been through several interations, a Novak primary cell that required a new base, a truss conversion..  

 

Whatever the Coulters were, it is good to see David G with all his optical skills and knowledge is using it, enjoying it, getting good views pretty much just as it was.  And that seems like a very good thing.. The ability to enjoy and appreciate a scope for what it is... that's what it is all about.

 

"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.."   John Wooden

 

Jon


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#23 Kokatha man

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 10:35 PM

'ray Terra - positivity is much better than negativity even though the bad gets all the publicity... waytogo.gif waytogo.gif waytogo.gif

 

Also it gives me another reason to post with some validity! grin.gif

 

My Dai Ichi Kogaku but I'm about to check the spelling btw - I always seem to confuse between Kogaku  & Kugako...err, Kaguko..? hmm.gif fingertap.gif foreheadslap.gif

 

But I was right the first time spelling this - who says an old dog can learnt a few things! grin.gif

 

These rather rare little beauties (76mm x 1200mm achromatic) were by a company that provided parts (OEM) to other scope-makers in Japan much more than building their own scopes, providing essential parts to a couple of very well regarded manufacturers.

 

Here it is with the original focuser, riding on the EQ6 which is its' permanent mount nowadays. Excellent optics imo - as good as the highly-rated ones in general although I have no idea whether this one was indicative of them all...even though it appears "them all" was not a very high production number! wink.gif Also the original finder that didn't really do much for me...

 

Dai-Ichi-Kogaku-onEQ6#2.jpg

 

Next with the crayford 2-speed focuser that got a little bit of flack when I adapted it to the ota, although I have to say I'm a practical person & like the EQ6 this refinement makes a heck of a lot of difference to focusing abilities! waytogo.gif And I just had to re-purpose the great little RA finder that "Uncle Milt" put together for a Sears that he sold me going back awhile - a beauty with focusing cross-hairs using a bino ep that looked like it was made for the D-IK..! smile.gif

 

Dai-Ichi-Kogaku-Fin#3.jpg

 

Next a mono shot of Jove with Ganymede just starting a transit - cannot remember the seeing that night but I believe it was very average at best. scratchhead2.gif

 

Q75Nm70_Jup_184311_L_260118_SP-Astm-FIN.png

 

The view of Saturn through it as a movie - Saturn was very low in poor seeing btw! (you can see the atmospheric distortion if you look hard)

 

DIKogakuSaturn#2-Circular.gif

 

One of the pages in the "manual" accompanying this scope - I think it cost me about $60us to purchase a few years back...

 

D-IKpage#2-reduced.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#24 telesonic

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Posted 02 May 2021 - 11:30 PM

Most, if not all of the scopes I now have are classics... from the C8 down to the 80mm 'fractors  - and there are two that I think are highly underrated:

 

#1.) The 114mm F/8 Newtonian. Mine is the older C/Vixen C-4.5 - which I got from friend when I was starting out..... it was also my first newtonian. Not only does it give really really nice views, it's easy to move around. A few times, I've thought about letting it go - simply because I've got a handfull of scopes, make some room.. but nope, I just can't do it.

 

I agree with Mr. Isaacs and Terra - the tube sucks, and so do the rings and spider arrangement rods.... but otherwise, everything else is great. During the pandemic, I've put that scope on my To-Do list, instead of parting it out... I may try to find a better OTA tube and primary cell. It's certainly a scope that could be improved a bit in design. Optics are very good.

 

#2.) 80mm F/15 refractor. The one I have is a Sears Discoverer.... yep.... the old and often talked about Towa 339 in some shape or form. Also, another scope from my buddy when I was starting out. 

 

Downsides - .965 EP's (takes some searching to find good ones worth using)

Long drawtube..... making a ridiculously longer looking scope even more weird.

It's a very capable scope though, for it's purpose - I've had great views with it too. For a couple of reasons I'm in the process of ditching the stock focuser for a 2" unit, The stock focuser will be saved and no permanent modifications will be done to the tube.... other than maybe moving a baffle inside the OTA.

 

K-Man's post up there..... yep, that is a mighty fine looking scope, and what I am trying to do with my old Towa. Good show dude! waytogo.gif

 

Here is my old Towa from a few years ago.

 

Cheers,

T

 

Vixen SP / Towa 80mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#25 starman876

starman876

    Nihon Seiko

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Posted 03 May 2021 - 08:46 AM

scopes that keeps coming to mind are some of the first scopes AP came out with.  The pre ED triplets.   Roland is a master at what he does.  The 6" AP I have tested better in DPAC than a new APM 6" ED.  I think that says a lot for a scope that was made in the 80's


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