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SP-C102 with Skysensor

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#1 Red Giant

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 11:15 AM

Hello Friends, I’ve been looking for a C102 for a while and finally found one for sale about 10 minutes from my house.  When I saw it, I knew it was coming home with me for the asking price of $75.  I got it from the original owner, who said he purchased it in the 90’s.  He did inform me that the electronics did not turn on, and there was some corrosion on it somewhere.  I am familiar with the C102’s reputation, but haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.  
 

I’ve never owned one of these before, and have not seen these electronics...can someone tell me exactly what all I have here?  Also, I did notice one of the clutch levers is broken and would appreciate any information on how to repair or replace it.

Jim

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#2 Red Giant

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 11:17 AM

A few more pix

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#3 Binofrac

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 12:20 PM

Repairing these things is generally not that long lasting. If you could find out what the thread is then you could replace the broken lever with a quick net search. Either use a decent size male knob or male clamping lever.


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#4 grif 678

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 06:05 PM

The Newton Rings guarantee a great, sharp image. I think I would have been embarrassed to give only $75 for that set up.


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#5 CHASLX200

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 06:49 PM

The Newton Rings guarantee a great, sharp image. I think I would have been embarrassed to give only $75 for that set up.

Would never find in FL for that price. That Vixen stuff was so much better than the first run China stuff from the big C in 1997.


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#6 danielgolite

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 07:05 PM

Jim, you got the deal of a lifetime! The eyepieces alone are valuable. This was a time when Celestron products were made in Japan and were very good quality. Enjoy and please share a report once you use it. 


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#7 photiost

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 07:56 PM

Thats a fantastic deal ... and that is a fantastic telescope !!

 

If the skysensor controller is not working consider purchasing/replacing it with a DMD controller something similar to this:

https://www.cloudyni...al-axis-drive/ 

 

Enjoy 


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#8 Terra Nova

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Posted 04 May 2021 - 09:48 PM

That is an amazing deal. It looks overall to be in very good shape! Congratulations!


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#9 mfoose

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Posted 06 May 2021 - 09:33 AM

Congrats on the excellent deal! A Vixen 102 on a SP/GP is an amazing set-up. You even got one with a collimatable lens cell. One thing with the Skysensor goto controller is that it needs different motors then the single or dual axis controllers. I believe the skysensor used mt-4 motors and the single/dual axis controllers used mt-1 motors. Just keep that in mind if you plan on swapping things out. So, would try to get that controller operational again since it should be compatible with those motors.

 

Thankfully the Vixen SP/GP mounts are plentiful. I would put out a wanted ad for a new clutch lever.

 

Looks to be in amazing shape besides the lever and controller. Still has the tupperware, wrenches, eyepiece boxes, etc...

 

If the scope has been sitting for sometime the mount may be a bit stiff. You may want to take it apart, de-grease, and re-grease it.

 

Congrats again!


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#10 Red Giant

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Posted 06 May 2021 - 02:51 PM

Thanks for the info on the controller and the tip about the lever.  I got the telescope cleaned and ready for service now.  This is my first SP, and I’m very suprised at what a great mount it is.  The objective came out really nice, I can’t wait to take it for a test drive soon.

Is there any way to determine a date of manufacture for this telescope?

 

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#11 grif 678

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Posted 06 May 2021 - 06:43 PM

Whatever you do, do not tinker with the spacers in between the objectives, you do not want to lose the newton rings. The first C102 that I ever had, right many years ago, had these newton rings. I was dumb enough to listen to someone ( who was suppose to be an optical person ) who told me that those rings were there because the spacers had gotten thinner because someone may have tightened them too tight. He said that the lenses were touching, causing the rings, and that if they were not fixed, the lenses would damage each other. Because he worked in an optical shop, I believed him. He sent me some replacement spacers. I carefully removed the objective, marked the side with a pencil ( to make sure that I got the lens back together exactly like it was ). I replaced the spaces with the new ones. The rings went away, and so did the image quality. It was still good, but no way as good as it was. And shortly after that, I read where newton rings was a show of optical quality, and the rings showed that the lenses were as good as they could get. I never tried to put the old spacers back, because I tore them a little while removing them, and actually lost one of them. I eventually sold that scope, have had several of them since without the rings, and they were never as good as the first one I had.

That first C102 was the best one optically I ever owned, and I ruined it.


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#12 Red Giant

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 07:41 PM

I’m curious when this scope was produced...going through the drive controller paperwork, I found these pages...referencing Halley’s Comet positions for 1985/1986.  Does anyone know what the options that were available to purchase on these scopes...were these drives factory installed...and does it fit to be from the Halley era?

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#13 Kasmos

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 08:10 PM

I’m curious when this scope was produced...going through the drive controller paperwork, I found these pages...referencing Halley’s Comet positions for 1985/1986.  Does anyone know what the options that were available to purchase on these scopes...were these drives factory installed...and does it fit to be from the Halley era?

The original owner told you the 90s and thats probably about the best you can hope for. My SP-C80 is pretty close in design and it came with it's instruction manual which is dated 1991. Because of the placement of the finder I'd say yours is from the '94-'97 era range.There are a few small differences over the several years that they were produced and I kind of doubt that many people would know what they are and when they changed. Especially on the black ones. Stuff like the finder style and location, shape of the focuser, and size of the Celestron decal. IIRC they first sold Vixens in '83 and they were orange until about '85 and kept offering them (the black ones), until about '97 when they went to Syntas. What mount is shown in the manual? Polaris or Super Polaris? I believe they already had the Super Polaris mount by about 1985.


Edited by Kasmos, 07 May 2021 - 08:11 PM.


#14 Red Giant

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Posted 07 May 2021 - 08:23 PM

Ok sounds good thanks.  I just ran across the included drive paperwork referencing Halleys Comet positions and thought it strange to be included in a mid 90’s telescope.



#15 CHASLX200

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 02:24 PM

Ok sounds good thanks.  I just ran across the included drive paperwork referencing Halleys Comet positions and thought it strange to be included in a mid 90’s telescope.

It is not 90's made, I say late 85 to 86.
Scope could have been old stock at a store and sat for years. Vixen would have not included the Halley stuff if made in the 90's.


Edited by CHASLX200, 08 May 2021 - 02:26 PM.

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#16 starman876

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Posted 08 May 2021 - 02:50 PM

Thanks for the info on the controller and the tip about the lever.  I got the telescope cleaned and ready for service now.  This is my first SP, and I’m very suprised at what a great mount it is.  The objective came out really nice, I can’t wait to take it for a test drive soon.

Is there any way to determine a date of manufacture for this telescope?

looks like the newton rings are off center. Should be an easy fix.



#17 tim53

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 12:35 PM

I have an SPC80 from 1986 and skysensor from 1987 or 88.  While I do wish I coudl find a 102 (especially a fluorite), the 80 is a wonderful achromat.  I really like the SP mounts, too.  I have two of these.  The one with the skysensor has one of the lowest, smoothest PEs of any small mount I've used.  And the skysensor and motors date from the time when they'd fixed the oscillation that the early ones tended to have under high mag on planets.  I really liked the Skysensor, though it was rather primitive (and sucks a battery dry in really short order, so be careful using it in the field).  Gotos were slow, but it did a very nice job as a normal drive corrector.

 

The other mount, I put a Gotonova goto kit on, and it's wonderful for astrophotography, though the electrical connection is finicky and will drop if you add or remove things from the source battery - requiring starting alignment over.

 

-Tim.


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#18 Kasmos

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 04:07 AM

Well I have to eat my words, but I'm always up for learning new things and getting things straight.

 

I was looking through what's left of my old Sky &Telescopes and in the March 1985 issue there's a two page Celestron ad showing several (mostly Vixen made refractors), announcing that the Sky Sensor coupled with the Super Polaris is now availble at all Celestron dealers. Better yet amongst the refractors is a partially blocked view of a SP-C102 that matches the scope in this thread. Same finder, large Celestron decal, and to top it off all of the refractors have Vixen Silver Top EPs in their diagonals. There isn't yet any mention of Halley in it or the Celestron ads in the issue, but it places this model of scope in that era.

 

BTW, the Fluorite 90 and SP-C102 have the finder riding piggy back on the main tube, while the 80mm and 70mm fluorite have a fixed finder on the focuser. I also came across an ad from March 1990 showing an identical SP-C102.

 

Part of my prior confusion came from seeing some other 102s that's year was likely misidentified by their owner, plus my assumption was that the finder location and it's mount would be the same amongst similar models of the same year.


Edited by Kasmos, 17 May 2021 - 04:56 PM.

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#19 tim53

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 02:53 PM

My SPC80 was a return after Halley.  This was when Meade and Celestron were still selling returns and irregulars at RTMC.  I was reaching for the last SPC80 they had, when someone butted in front of me.  Thankfully, the Celestron rep who was there, saw it and offered to sell me the Firstscope 80 for $100, and the SP mount back at Celestron for another $25.  So I did that.  this probably happened in 1986, since Halley had already passed earlier in the spring, and RTMC was over Memorial weekend.  So I probably did buy the Skysensor in 87 or 88.  It wasn't the first gen, as those had steps that were too coarse, so plannets wobbled at high power.  Mine never did.

 

-Tim.


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#20 photoracer18

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 03:56 PM

That is an early SkySensor and I am pretty sure is uses -(negative) 12v power. Should be covered in the manual. I have an SP I bought with a broken scope mount tab that I am considering using for parts for my other SP mounts. I would consider selling you a replacement knob cheap just so you don't have to go out and MacGyver it with something.

 

I remember paying around $200 for one of the C102 Vixen scopes around the year 2000 so that is a really good deal.


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#21 Red Giant

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Posted 17 May 2021 - 09:07 PM

Thanks for the input friends, I’ve never owned one of these before...so lots of things to learn, but I do enjoy a good mystery here and there.  I did get the lever repaired...using some Gorilla Glue 2 part epoxy...clamping for 24 hours...so far so good!  As far as the Skysensor...I have applied power to it...the control panel does comes on...with a system ready message, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten.  Obviously this is now outdated technology, so not sure how far that is worth pursuing, but I do have proof of life lol.  This is my first SP mount, the manual controls still work great...I’ve had 2 clear nights with it now, and it is a real joy to use.  The optics seem to be very good, I enjoyed some nice views of the crescent moon, Venus, Mercury, and M44 Beehive Cluster with it.  I think it’s been quite a while since this telescope was last used, so it’s nice to put it back into service.


Edited by Red Giant, 17 May 2021 - 09:46 PM.

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#22 jjack's

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Posted 19 May 2021 - 01:28 AM

Hi red giant. Iirc skysensors have an internal battery. Difficult to replace but doable. Browse the web to find how to do.



#23 Geo.

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Posted 22 May 2021 - 01:15 PM

All Vixen step motor mounts used the same motor the Nippon Pulse motor PF42-48. The early Skysensor used the PF42-48 with a 120:1 gear reduction unit in an attempt to get faster slews. Later it was replaced with a 300:1 unit. The spreadsheet makes it clear why this was done.

 

SkySensor.jpg

 

Maximum slew speed was approximately 0.2°/second with the 120:1 ratio and dropped to 0.75°/second with 300:1 gears.

 

The PF42-48s were driven in the unipolar mode requiring a five pin DIN connector. The MT-1 Vixen drives were driven in both bipolar and unipolar mode depending on the model of the controller. They use 8 pin DIN connectors and will not be compatible with earlier controller outputs.  While the PF42-48s were 1980s technology they remain in production today.


Edited by Geo., 22 May 2021 - 01:16 PM.

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