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Do I NEED a Unitron?

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#1 DPT

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 07:48 PM

I have always wanted a Unitron, mainly to own a classic but also to use one, maybe just for nostalgia for a long lost time. I have been interested in the 140 or 142 models, not too big nor too small.

Question is, if the opportunity arises, “should” I jump on one? Or should I just keep the dream of “some day” alive?

I know optics would not compare to modern APO’s but again, are they good enough to re-live the golden era of amateur astronomy? Or should I steer away due to unpredictable optical and/or mechanical quality?

Thanks for any input or experience you care to share.
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#2 deepwoods1

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:00 PM

You clearly understand expectations. You have other instruments. I say to scratch the itch. 


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#3 ccwemyss

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:03 PM

There have been multiple threads here exploring similar questions. The bottom line has always been that Unitron optics vary in quality from decent to excellent, and the mechanics of the mounts are wonderful. They are beautiful to look at, and sometime they are also beautiful to look through. It's a bit of a gamble. My early 142 gives very nice, low-CA views, although its coatings are not as good as more recent optics, and so it isn't quite as bright. The mount is a pleasure. I can manually track by turning the RA slow motion knob while looking through the eyepiece and not experience any vibration. 

 

If you want one, go ahead and get one. But unless it's from a trusted member here who has tested the objective in DPAC, you run the risk of a lemon. There does not seem to be any way to predict quality without testing. People have had poor ones from every period, and great ones from every period. Unitron apparently didn't do much in the way of quality control on what came to them from Japan. 

 

Chip W. 


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#4 apfever

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:06 PM

Absolutely buy. Buy mine. Go big. Consider a loaded 4" model 152. You can't go wrong. Clean and purrrs like a kitten. Go ahead and kick the tires. 

You seem to have the experience to judge. 


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#5 TOMDEY

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:07 PM

Depends on the individual person and the individual telescope. I would consider one for the heritage, display... but not really for use.    Tom



#6 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:11 PM

Yes........................get the Unitron     great when you  look at it  great when you   look through it. If after a time it is not for you there will no issue finding a home for it.

 

APO's   sure gotta love them.   We have some really good ones

....but the Unitron   being such a longfellow will surprise you with the views    and it looks so good on display in the living room office or man cave etc   I do not use it every week   but when I do  I enjoy it.

 

I went for the 3  inch Unitron     the 140. Great scope..Good size      ..I got a 1.25 adapter draw tube for it. I did like the alt az mount as grab and go    but when a chance to add a 142 gem I bought it... Now it is the best of both worlds....the 142 mount is so solid.

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Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 03 June 2021 - 08:27 PM.

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#7 ccwemyss

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:12 PM

Neil, you still haven't given us any observing reports from your pretty (and huge) 152! And now you're looking to sell it?

 

BTW, for the OP, I got my 142 from Neil. It was in unrestored condition, and needed new spacers in the objective, and a counterweight and shaft. But it has been great since I took care of those things. When Neil does a restoration, he goes all out, as can be seen from his various threads. 

 

Chip W. 


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#8 M11Mike

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 08:54 PM

DPT --- just a observing reminder --- at F15 / F16 while your magnification will be double most modern APO refractors - your FOV will be HALF that of modern APO refractors.  And if you plan on using it with "stock" period Unitron .965 eyepieces --- you're looking at EP's with 30 - 40 degree FOV's.  (pretty small chunk of sky)    If you're used to using today's 60, 70, etc. FOV EP's in a lets say F7 APO --- you could be in for quite a shock as your target crosses the FOV in a few seconds.    :-) 

 

Mike P       


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#9 Bomber Bob

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 09:02 PM

Sitting at the eyepiece of a Unitron 142 / 152 is like sitting at a Questar.  In my case, my Unitrons were about the same age as my Q:

 

Unitron 142 S11 (Complete spectros 35mm Accessories).jpg

U152 Restore S041 - Filo Tripod Test.jpg

 

The 1950s were apparently very good for Questar & Unitron.  The 142 had an Excellent DPAC test.  (But my Astro Optical Sears 6336 edged it out.)

 

IF you plan on using the Unitron, I'd recommend a 142.  IF you're mainly gonna have it on display, and you have the space, I'd have a 152.

 

Jupiter shot on a 7/10 night with the 142:

 

Unitron 142 - Jupiter (GRS) 20180607V04A64R41.jpg

 

Not too bad for a 60+ year old 3" refractor NOT designed for digital imaging!

 

 


Edited by Bomber Bob, 04 June 2021 - 06:42 AM.

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#10 apfever

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 09:05 PM

Neil, you still haven't given us any observing reports from your pretty (and huge) 152! And now you're looking to sell it?

 

BTW, for the OP, I got my 142 from Neil. It was in unrestored condition, and needed new spacers in the objective, and a counterweight and shaft. But it has been great since I took care of those things. When Neil does a restoration, he goes all out, as can be seen from his various threads. 

 

Chip W. 

I restored it to move it on after I've played with it enough. It doesn't go right yet but officially soon. And the RA gear mesh doesn't have enough degrees of freedom to allow correct alignment without adjusting the RA shaft position in the housing. I don't know if Unitron did this factory or had official shims or what. I guess I never put that in the restoration string. Another wandering. I did put that issue in the string or just mentioned it or something like that and didn't detail the explanation?  I forgot what I was doing here, I need to let the dog in.....

 

I want to do a side by side too like the last 4" Uni I had, compared next to the 1928 B&L 4".  That takes time to set up, maybe tomorrow.


Edited by apfever, 03 June 2021 - 09:09 PM.


#11 deepwoods1

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 09:12 PM

Of course, you may have stacked the deck by asking this in the "Classics" section......


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#12 DPT

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 09:22 PM

Lots of good advice/experience here, thanks so much.

Likely it will just be a matter of time.

David
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#13 jgraham

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 09:57 PM

I just received my first Unitron, a 114. I added a Unihex with modern 0.965” eyepieces and a 20mm Meade RG wide field. The mechanics are beautiful and my first impression of the optics peeking through holes in the clouds look very good. This should make a fine star-hopper, and at f/15 the CA is not noticeable on most targets.

 

If you want a Unitron I don’t see a downside. If you want a fine multipurpose refractor a Unitron seems to be a good option.

 

Enjoy!


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#14 Terra Nova

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Posted 03 June 2021 - 10:58 PM

I used to have six Unis. Now I have just one, but I wouldn’t be without one either. Go ahead. Get one. Live the dream!

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Edited by Terra Nova, 04 June 2021 - 10:19 AM.

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#15 photiost

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 05:35 AM

Yes indeed get one.

 

From your signature you already have the NP101 so if you don't want to duplicate the aperture, maybe a 75mm Unitron 

 

Here's mine !!

.

 

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#16 CHASLX200

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 05:36 AM

Everyone needs a mint 3 to 5" to look at in the living room. Nothing looks better. Had the 4" two times and a 5" years ago. Would love to find a mint and complete 3" pre 1972 and would pay a easy 1500 to 2k as long as the lens is not fogged up and it is very sharp with all the parts and boxes that came with the scope.  Only had the 3" RFT version and never a normal 3".  I know one will never pop up local so i figure i will never find one.


Edited by CHASLX200, 04 June 2021 - 05:46 AM.


#17 CHASLX200

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 05:50 AM

DPT --- just a observing reminder --- at F15 / F16 while your magnification will be double most modern APO refractors - your FOV will be HALF that of modern APO refractors.  And if you plan on using it with "stock" period Unitron .965 eyepieces --- you're looking at EP's with 30 - 40 degree FOV's.  (pretty small chunk of sky)    If you're used to using today's 60, 70, etc. FOV EP's in a lets say F7 APO --- you could be in for quite a shock as your target crosses the FOV in a few seconds.    :-) 

 

Mike P       

Them .965 OD" eyepieces just seemed to ruin all these smaller scopes back in the days.  I never cared for looking thru a straw and nose bleed ER with it jammed into your eye.  When the Nagler came out it was a world changer for me.

 

Just think if all them 60 and 80mm scopes back in the day came with a 1.25" focuser and Delites how much better they would have been. Once you go TeleVue you don't go back.
 


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#18 AstroKerr

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 06:16 AM

I have always wanted a Unitron, mainly to own a classic but also to use one, maybe just for nostalgia for a long lost time. I have been interested in the 140 or 142 models, not too big nor too small.

Question is, if the opportunity arises, “should” I jump on one? Or should I just keep the dream of “some day” alive?

I know optics would not compare to modern APO’s but again, are they good enough to re-live the golden era of amateur astronomy? Or should I steer away due to unpredictable optical and/or mechanical quality?

Thanks for any input or experience you care to share.

If you have to ask, you perhaps shouldn't do it. Credit and responsibility for the decision must be yours.

 

Unitrons don't floor me, but they are nice. I thought ours performed quite well optically and mechanically, looked respectable. Understandably, they have devotees. They don't leave me breathless, but they are peachy scopes, good investments ± the market at any given time. 

 

If you decide to acquire one, I would offer "larger aperture = more photons, brighter views".  You probably don't 'need' one, unless the lack of one is negatively impacting your mental or physical health - even then, a proper thrashing or time locked in a closet might be the better cure...


Edited by AstroKerr, 04 June 2021 - 06:37 AM.

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#19 Bomber Bob

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 06:51 AM

To echo Basil:  Yes, there are better Japan-made Classic Refractors than the Unitron -- N-K & GOTO for sure.  But these are harder to find (even on ZEN), and generally more expensive.  Also tough to get these 2 kits 100% complete.  But... My Goto 60 F20 beat all challengers, including Zeiss.

 

But the Unitrons are iconic.  Highly collectible.  And, if you buy from a trusted seller, can be outstanding usable Classics, too.


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#20 starman876

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 07:04 AM

Like what was said before in this post they are a delight to own and use.   I DPAC the lenses and anything that does not meet a decent result will never leave the cave.   Like Chip stated they do vary a bit.   I have tested a couple of lemons.   Of course I have a lot of Unitrons so I have tested a lot of them.  Most of the issues I have found has been with the 4" lenses.   I have very rarely found a bad 77mm.   So I would predict that most of the 75mm were pretty good.  I also check for the newton rings and I have found a lot of lenses that needed adjustment.  After the adjustment they were fine.  


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#21 starman876

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 07:07 AM

To echo Basil:  Yes, there are better Japan-made Classic Refractors than the Unitron -- N-K & GOTO for sure.  But these are harder to find (even on ZEN), and generally more expensive.  Also tough to get these 2 kits 100% complete.  But... My Goto 60 F20 beat all challengers, including Zeiss.

 

But the Unitrons are iconic.  Highly collectible.  And, if you buy from a trusted seller, can be outstanding usable Classics, too.

JW is right.  There are better lenses out there.  The Astro optical and royal astro are two brands that made excellent lenses.   Nippon and Zeiss also made better lenses.  I bet the issue with the Unitrons was that they were not  all made by the same shop.  Over the years the subcontractors changed along with the quality. Best to stick with an early model.


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#22 starman876

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 07:08 AM

Them .965 OD" eyepieces just seemed to ruin all these smaller scopes back in the days.  I never cared for looking thru a straw and nose bleed ER with it jammed into your eye.  When the Nagler came out it was a world changer for me.

 

Just think if all them 60 and 80mm scopes back in the day came with a 1.25" focuser and Delites how much better they would have been. Once you go TeleVue you don't go back.
 

Zeiss, Nikon and others made .965 eyepieces that a lot of people still cherish today as some of the finest eyepieces made.  


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#23 ccwemyss

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 08:38 AM

As Johann notes, there's nothing inherently wrong with the 0.965 size. It's quite possible to build fine eyepieces in that size. With most modern designs, once you get below about 10mm, the field lens would fit fine in that diameter. And many fine Orthos of even longer focal lengths would fit. But there are a lot of 0.965 eyepieces with inferior designs, tiny eye lenses, short eye relief, poor quality, damage, or serious dirt issues, all of which gives them a bad reputation. 

 

For the OP, good Unitron eyepieces, especially some of the Orthos, are quite usable. I mostly get by with the gold-lettered set that came with my 142. But I would agree with Chas that if you want a wider field (which is desirable with an f15 scope), then a converter to 1.25", and something like a 32mm Televue Plossl, is a good investment to enhance the experience. Both Scopestuff and AstronomyShoppe sell converters. 

 

Chip W. 


Edited by ccwemyss, 04 June 2021 - 08:39 AM.

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#24 apfever

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 09:04 AM

I think some sets came with an official Unitron 1.25" adapter as an included accessory.



#25 Terra Nova

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Posted 04 June 2021 - 11:20 AM

Being a strictly visual and casual observer, in retrospect, I think the perfect Unitron would be the one I never had; and that would be the 4” Alt-Azimuth model (the model 150).


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