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Tasco Spacestation 70mm x 800mm

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#1 zerogee

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 03:24 PM

I was given this telescope kit but it appears that it is not highly regarded and definitely has some glaring short comings. I am making it work so far and have had some surprisingly satisfying experiences with viewing the moon in various phases and some star clusters. Still looking forward to learning its capabilities and limits. In the meantime I have made some improvements in its usability.

 

Before mods...

 

71WuSy8fZWL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

 

The kits biggest issues are with fit and finish.

 

Too much play and flex on the Red Dot finder scope. Adjustment was difficult. The foot rocks in the shoe mount. I corrected this by sanding the front edge of the foot square. This also allowed the retainer to properly engage. Shimmed the foot with xray film and the retainer with some foam to snug it up.

 

There was a bit of play in the adjustment axis. Snugged it up with thin strips of soft foam next to the mechanisms without affecting the adjustment range.

 

There is some flex in the pedestal but the finder is very functional now. If the flex becomes an issue I plan to glue a split tube from a Bic pen to the front edge of the pedestal to firm things up.

 

The plastic cover over the focus mechanism had some movement that affected the finder too. I looked for ways to open it up to correct this but couldn't see how without breaking it. So, applied 3 dabs of hot glue on it to lock it in place.

 

The 90 degree mirror would pull away from the focus tube when weighted with my phone in the Celestron NEXYZ  adapter (450 grams). Added a shim of xray film to snug it up.

 

Added a 3" foam focus knob with a fine focus chopstick to the original focus knob. This works great!

 

Added handles to the Azimuth and the Altitude axis for smoother more precise movements without handling the scope.

 

The tripod is junk. Too much play and flex in the top hinges allowed the top to twist and spring back whenever the Azimuth or Altitude axis was moved. Made centering on the object very difficult. So much play that it would wobble for 10 seconds after adjusting or if you had to hit the camera button. It had movement even in the slightest breeze and while focusing. Really surprised to get the photos and video that I did.

 

Fixing it would be way too much effort. So, I replaced it with a Bosch BT160 contractor tripod ($60).

 

Added a 3 spoke chain spreader attached to the legs using the existing foot bolts and d-rings used for hanging pictures. Joined the chains together with a heavy split ring.

 

Suspended a 20lb weight from the head using the same type of chain.

 

I used unwelded chain for easy length adjustment on the weight and spreader.

 

Made a plywood spacer to attach the AltAz mount to the tripod using the scopes original knob.

 

This thing is rock solid now. Quick, smooth, precise movement to objects. Only a slight, fine vibration when performing any operation lasting just fractions of a second now. Have yet to test it all in a bit of wind though.

 

These mods provided huge improvements in usability with very little effort and expense.

 

After mods...

 

20210504_143313_resized.jpg

 

The clamp that holds the telescope to the dovetail is weak and could be susceptible to movement from wind. Options to correct it would be to fill the hollow parts with JB Weld and utilize hose clamps in the front and back of the split collar. Or replace the split collar with 2 split pipe clamps.

 

I may also add a wood accessory tray /leg locker assembly on the tripod that would act to attach the altaz mount and suspend the weight under it.

 

This equipment may be a gateway to a growing new hobby for me?? I may consider purchasing a better more appropriate selection of eyepieces down the line??


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#2 photoracer18

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 03:41 PM

You could probably get by with a 5# weight. This was an old photography trick. The problem with the surveying tripod is it has no spreader to tighten up the chains. Here is a sample of what I did on a much heavier mount to allow a much bigger mount on top of the tripod and increase the stiffness of the entire tripod assembly.

 

Tripod1a-crop1024.gif

 

This is what Stellarvue did to make a metal surveying tripod work well to carry bigger loads.

 

SV-MG2.jpg

 

I have a couple of these tripods, one carrying an SV M002D and one carrying an Orion Star Seeker IV which is a bigger goto Alt-Az mount similar to yours except it has a max payload of about 13 lbs.


Edited by photoracer18, 10 May 2021 - 03:45 PM.

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#3 rhetfield

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 03:54 PM

Off to a good start.

 

You have probably already noticed that the 4mm eyepiece is fairly useless on that scope.  Anything much shorter than the 10mm will cause the image to degrade.  That is a function of the size of the scope.  Some 2x barlows let you remove the lens assembly out and screw it into a eyepiece to function as 1.5x.  1.5x on the 10mm will pretty much max out the scope.

 

If you can fashion some degree circles on the mount, you will have a good chance of aiming the scope at harder to find targets.  That is a very good enhancement for that scope:

https://www.cloudyni...degree-circles/

 

As you do mods, note that you should be able to find a zhumell 130 or AWB OneSky for around $200.  Those scopes start out where the Tasco limits out.  It looks like your mount is a vixen dovetail.  Either of those scopes would likely fit on it.


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#4 zerogee

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 04:44 PM

You could probably get by with a 5# weight. This was an old photography trick. The problem with the surveying tripod is it has no spreader to tighten up the chains. Here is a sample of what I did on a much heavier mount to allow a much bigger mount on top of the tripod and increase the stiffness of the entire tripod assembly.

 

attachicon.gifTripod1a-crop1024.gif

 

This is what Stellarvue did to make a metal surveying tripod work well to carry bigger loads.

 

attachicon.gifSV-MG2.jpg

 

I have a couple of these tripods, one carrying an SV M002D and one carrying an Orion Star Seeker IV which is a bigger goto Alt-Az mount similar to yours except it has a max payload of about 13 lbs.

 

I am considering the leg locker plan if needed. 

 

I have the corner of the 20lb weight resting on the ground to keep it from swaying in wind or movement of the mount.

 


Edited by zerogee, 10 May 2021 - 04:48 PM.


#5 zerogee

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 04:55 PM

Off to a good start.

 

You have probably already noticed that the 4mm eyepiece is fairly useless on that scope.  Anything much shorter than the 10mm will cause the image to degrade.  That is a function of the size of the scope.  Some 2x barlows let you remove the lens assembly out and screw it into a eyepiece to function as 1.5x.  1.5x on the 10mm will pretty much max out the scope.

 

If you can fashion some degree circles on the mount, you will have a good chance of aiming the scope at harder to find targets.  That is a very good enhancement for that scope:

https://www.cloudyni...degree-circles/

 

As you do mods, note that you should be able to find a zhumell 130 or AWB OneSky for around $200.  Those scopes start out where the Tasco limits out.  It looks like your mount is a vixen dovetail.  Either of those scopes would likely fit on it.

 

Actually, I did find the 4mm useful and got some nice shots and video of the surface of the moon with it. But, likely useless for anything else. I have not got the 1.5x erector tube or the 3x Barlow that came in the kit to work with any of the eyepieces. The moon filter adds a unique green flare to moon shots. But, seems just for novelty considering the exposure control on the latest smartphones in Pro Mode.

 

So far, this has cost me less than $80. But, will definitely consider further cost of updating eyepieces against updating the scope kit.


Edited by zerogee, 10 May 2021 - 04:55 PM.


#6 zerogee

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 04:59 PM

I am using this for Star Hopping and pleased with the results so far

 

https://www.cloudyni...etting-circles/


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#7 sevenofnine

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 06:42 PM

Most of us...ahem...older gentlemen started off with a Tasco. Many wonderful things can be seen with it. It's just a little harder. One thing that will help a lot is a good astronomy guide book. Terence Dickinson's "NightWatch" is excellent! He explains all of the equipment and gives you seasonal star charts too. Good luck to you! waytogo.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 10 May 2021 - 06:43 PM.

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#8 Deep13

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 07:17 PM

You keep mentioning x-ray film. Are you a dentist?



#9 zerogee

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 08:10 PM

You keep mentioning x-ray film. Are you a dentist?

Industrial Radiographer.


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#10 zerogee

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 08:11 PM

Link to some first images...

 

https://www.cloudyni...ing/?p=11093000


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#11 Jim1804

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Posted 10 May 2021 - 10:46 PM

Congrats on making the scope work for you! I second the comment on your photo link - it looks like your optics are good, with very little of any CA visible.

You’ll be able to see hundreds of objects, and then if you decide to upgrade, you’ve got a nice grab and go setup!

You might enjoy a Zoom eyepiece - lots of magnifications in one, not too expensive package. I have the Meade (same as the Celestron), but there are some newer options by SVbony and others that are cheaper still and get good reviews.
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#12 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 08:11 AM

I like your modified scope! You've done some nice things with it. I really enjoy taking older, damaged scopes and modifying them to see how much better I can make them.

 

I've had a couple 60mm Tascos and felt like they had an unfairly bad reputation (gave one away to the neighbor kids but kept the other). Except for the eyepieces I didn't feel like they were noticeably worse than Meade, Celestron, or Orion 60mm scopes. And eyepieces are an easy fix and a worthwhile investment because they can be used with any scope. I'd always been curious about the 70mm Tascos but had never gotten a chance to see one in person, so thanks for sharing.

 

There are a lot of things you can see with a 70mm scope. Nightwatch is a good resource, as is the book Turn Left at Orion (my favorite).


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#13 rhetfield

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Posted 11 May 2021 - 02:39 PM

I've had a couple 60mm Tascos and felt like they had an unfairly bad reputation (gave one away to the neighbor kids but kept the other). 

I had a Tasco as a kid - don't know what happened to it.  Picked a Jason off the curb not many years ago.  Was OK once it was cleaned.  Probably the biggest deficiency was lack of aperture.  It just can't compete with my 130/650 reflector.  Not having any sort of degree circle for navigation was the other big deficiency.  Trying to find anything in heavy light pollution without the degree circle was a near impossibility. 


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#14 Veridian

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Posted 12 May 2021 - 04:17 AM

zerogee,

 

   Bravo to you, for your initiative and innovation. waytogo.gif I just can't say enough how enjoyable it is to read your post. It is most inspiring to see people making the best of a telescope that many would walk on past. Your taking the time and attention has paid off in having a nifty "grab & go" scope. 

   One of my most used telescopes is a 70mm f/10 on an alt-az mount and I never tire of it. When the "seeing conditions" are very good to excellent (read as rare) I will go through the effort of setting up one of the bigger ones, but that does not happen much anymore.

 

   As Jim 1 804 suggests, a decent ZOOM eyepiece would be quite beneficial and a precursor to buying other dedicated eyepieces. I also second the recommendations of sevenofnine and JohnnyBGood for the two books mentioned: "Night Watch" and "Turn Left At Orion". 

 

   You have a nice keeper there, zerogee, and with what you have done it now has plenty of potential to bring you many evenings of pleasant journeys. Get the most you can out of it, before even thinking of moving up to heavier and more expensive units. 

 

-mjd


Edited by Veridian, 13 May 2021 - 01:13 AM.

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#15 dmgriff

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Posted 12 May 2021 - 03:52 PM

Congrats zerogee

 

Looks like a more than excellent job on a entry-level/department-store package.

 

Apparently there is little CA in the optics. Makes your efforts worthwhile.

 

The erecting eypiece and 3x barlow leave much to be desired.

 

If you want to keep things inexpensive some Astronomics value line plossls or Meade Series 4000 plossls and a 2x or 1.6x or similar barlow will improve your eyepiece kit.

 

https://www.astronom...iece_series=482

 

https://www.astronom...iece_series=503

 

You may wish to research a 2x 3-element "apo" shorty barlow. I believe designed for achromatic refractors to not add any additional aberrations. Can cost twice as much as a achro barlow. I have a no longer available Antares (Japan) version that is nice imo. You can also look into ED glass barlows. Visually, either will work with any telescope. These may help your photography efforts, I dont know. Any lengthy astro photo discussion should be in another forum, of course.

 

Good luck and good viewing,

 

Dave


Edited by dmgriff, 12 May 2021 - 04:46 PM.

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#16 Veridian

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 04:16 PM

zerogee,

 

   When at first reading your original post, I was assuming that this Tasco project is not your first telescope. But, after re-reading I realized my assumption may be wrong when I noted this comment: 

 

zerogee wrote: "This equipment may be a gateway to a growing new hobby for me??"

 

  So, my question would be, is this Tasco your first telescope?

 

-mjd


Edited by Veridian, 13 May 2021 - 04:18 PM.


#17 zerogee

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 06:16 PM

zerogee,

 

   When at first reading your original post, I was assuming that this Tasco project is not your first telescope. But, after re-reading I realized my assumption may be wrong when I noted this comment: 

 

zerogee wrote: "This equipment may be a gateway to a growing new hobby for me??"

 

  So, my question would be, is this Tasco your first telescope?

 

-mjd

 

Yes, this is my first telescope. You could say that it was a serendipitous encounter. I probably would not have bought a telescope for myself. 

 

I had a wonderful evening getting lost in the sky a few nights ago. I drove an hour out of town to a Bortle 3 area under clear skies, above average transparency and above average seeing. Just getting a handle on star hopping using Sky Hopper and Sky Safari going up through the magnitude scale. Also got interrupted by the northern lights show.


Edited by zerogee, 13 May 2021 - 06:24 PM.

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#18 zerogee

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 06:27 PM

I discovered that this tripod setup has a significant hole at zenith. Some stars in my watch list the other night where too close to zenith. The hole is up to 15 degrees depending on the leg angle and scope position on the tripod.


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#19 Veridian

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 09:02 PM

I discovered that this tripod setup has a significant hole at zenith. Some stars in my watch list the other night where too close to zenith. The hole is up to 15 degrees depending on the leg angle and scope position on the tripod.

   You could try putting something under one of the tripod legs, to tip it. Or, lower two legs. This ought to give you the 15°.  I do this and just have to remind myself to correct it later before tipping the whole thing on its head.

 

-mjd


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#20 Veridian

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 10:54 PM

zerogee,

 

   For a first telescope and a small Tasco at that, you certainly are off to one amazingly good start along your journey. If you continue (hoping you do), somehow I get the feeling you will be not only  having one smashing good time along the way, but making some very interesting and worthwhile contributions as well.

   Starship Cloudy Nights has an amazing crew and compliment of officers. Welcome aboard, keep a steady strain and carry on there, zerogee.

 

-mjd


Edited by Veridian, 13 May 2021 - 11:10 PM.

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#21 dnrmilspec

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Posted 13 May 2021 - 11:16 PM

Way  to go Zerogee.  Your progress is inspiring.  Let me join Veridian in mentioning that one of my most used scopes is a 70mm Vixen.  Surprisingly good optics.  On a stable mount you can see a whole lot of stuff.  I enjoy it for the moon for sure. 

 

You are going to be a great inspiration to others who are getting into the hobby and have scopes that need improvement to help them be all they can be.  This thread is a keeper.  Thanks for posting your solutions and for reminding all of us what this whole hobby is really about. 


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#22 zerogee

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 03:21 AM

   You could try putting something under one of the tripod legs, to tip it. Or, lower two legs. This ought to give you the 15°.  I do this and just have to remind myself to correct it later before tipping the whole thing on its head.

 

-mjd

 

I did look at that as a solution but I would shift the weight out onto that leg. I could also change the angle on the legs from 30d to 20d. Or Move the balance point of the scope would get me a few degrees. Or Shifting the location  of the tripod so that the scope falls between the legs would get me a few degrees also. All are cumbersome solutions though. Might be better to just plan to view before or after the objects move to zenith or view at another day??



#23 rhetfield

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Posted 14 May 2021 - 07:54 AM

 Might be better to just plan to view before or after the objects move to zenith or view at another day??

That is probably the best thing.


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#24 zerogee

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 09:19 PM

So, it appears that this kit shares some components with Explore Scientific kits. 

The junky tripod with accessories tray /spreader... 

https://explorescien...mount-telescope

 

The AltAz Mount is a Twilight Nano with different knob on the shoe and minus the handle on the Alt axis. No way to add this handle. 

The clam shell clamp and dovetail. The Tasco has a different knob.

The 90d mirror diagonal.

The Red Dot Finder, is also same as one offered on some Meade kits.

https://explorescien...ts/fl-ar80640tn

 

Anyone recognize the focus knobs or dew shield from anywhere else?

 



#25 zerogee

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Posted 09 September 2021 - 10:37 PM

Ugh!  I'm not new to weather dependent activities, my other hobby has been with windsports for over 30 years. But this summer has been like the worst new gear curse ever. Working midnights a few days a week, poor seeing in between, weeks of dense smoke from wild fires, finally got some much needed rain, wet/muddy ground, have not provided many observing opportunities since the spring.

 

I have managed to squeeze in some short sessions before or after work from my Bortle 8/9 backyard but it has been hard to see stars beyond mag 1.5 by naked eye with the smoke. These brief sessions have provided me with enough surprisingly satisfying experiences that make me want to know what else I can see with this scope.

 

All summer, I have been tempted to take the scope with me when I go kiteboarding to get more time viewing. I get out about 3 days a week and the launches are in Bortle 4 to 3 areas (about 1 hour away) with some Bortle 3 or 2 areas  just a short drive away from those spots. But, the persistent heatwave this summer had me worried about leaving the scope in a hot car all day. Also, the heavy smoke often spoiled the night sky.

 

I was hopeful for better opportunities now that winds have blown the smoke away and rain has washed fires and smoke down. Cooler temperatures make me more comfortable leaving the kit in the car during the day too. The night sky seem crisper in the last couple weeks. But, its been cloudy almost every night.


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