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Advice for Skywatcher 120ed; mount, focuser upgrade ?

Equipment Refractor Tripod
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#1 Dobserver

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 08:56 PM

Hey guys, I just bought a used SW 120ed and I am blown away by the image quality. The CA is practically undetectable. When observing Jupiter, I can clearly see which Galilean moon is Ganymede because it is a physically BIGGER dot than the others, which was totally unexpected! Anyway, always the malcontent, I have started to consider getting a better mount/tripod setup and upgrading the focuser, which seems oddly cheap compared to the rest of the scope. It slips and the slow motion knob doesn't really work. I know it can be adjusted, but given how cheap it looks, it seems better just to upgrade it. Any suggestions? My budget would be $300 or less. Also, which size does this scope use (there seem to be two sizes for refractors)?

Mount-wise, I have an Explore Scientific Twilight 1. It holds the OTA up ok, but man is this mount SHAKY. I have vibration suppression pads, but their effect is modest at best. I want a mount that is more stable, and has some kind of goto capability. I'd like to stay at $1000 or lower. Should I go with an EQ mount? I was looking at the Orion Skyview Pro mount. However, I've never owned an EQ mount and am a bit wary of the extra weight and complication. I am strictly a visual observer, so astrophotography is not a consideration. But EQ mounts seem to be more rugged and support greater loads, so... what do you guys think?


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#2 wrvond

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 09:20 PM

I'd switch it around a bit - spend $700.00 or so for a used EQ5 class mount, such as the AVX or similar and spend $1000.00 for a Feather Touch focuser.

 

SW120 001
SW120 002
SW120 003
 
BTW, the light path of the Feather Touch R&P focuser on mine is longer than the light path of the OEM focuser, so I use a 2" Baader prism diagonal to keep it as short as I can and still use 2" eyepieces.

Edited by wrvond, 20 September 2021 - 09:22 PM.

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#3 vdog

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Posted 20 September 2021 - 10:52 PM

Here are a couple of options:  https://www.stellarv...llarvue-mounts/

 

I use the steel tripod combo with the optional handle.  Works fantastic.

 

Re:  Galilean moons.   Try pushing the magnification past 300x.  Jupiter will be a blur, but I can identify all of the moons at this magnification. Callisto is a dusky gray disk.  Io is a pinkish color, slightly larger than than the orangy Europa.

 

I've never had the issues with the focuser others have complained of.  I seem to have lucked into a a well-tuned one.


Edited by vdog, 20 September 2021 - 10:56 PM.

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#4 Lookitup

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:45 AM

TS optics has some focuser options, don't know which flange will fit. 

https://www.teleskop...ansmission.html


Edited by Lookitup, 21 September 2021 - 08:32 PM.

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#5 aa6ww

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 10:26 AM

Congratulations to your recent purchase and welcome to the Sky-Watcher 120 ED Club.

I've had my SW-120ED for over 7 years now. It continues to impress with with excellent pristine optics in a very lightweight package. 

Back in Jan 2020, I started a thread out here on what upgrades I have done to my refractor, and what others have also done to their Skywatcher 120ED.

I'm including the link so you can see what others who have commented on their upgrades, have done to their refractor.

You may find something here that would work for you also, in upgrading your excellent refractor.

 

https://www.cloudyni...have-you-added/

 

Ralph


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#6 nowinter761

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 11:07 AM

I bought my SW120 used about eight years ago and then bought an AVX mount.  I never had great confidence with the AVX because it was never consistent.  Actually, probably more my fault than the mount's fault.  I sold the AVX and am now looking for a mount.  My SW120 sits on a Vixen Porta II mount and it is barely adequate.  I am investigating different mounts but have not decided on anything at this point.  Suggestions are welcome.  I have not made any upgrades to the scope since my most important issue is a decision on a mount.


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#7 25585

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 11:39 AM

I have a 120 Equinox version its excellent. Upgraded to a Moonlite (RIP) focuser. I use it on a Skytee2 mount, but will be on a Rowan AZ100 shortly.

 

An Az Eq 5 is almost not enough I feel, but Az Eq 6 would be fine. Skytee2 was good value, strong & sturdy. 


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#8 Dobserver

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:40 PM

 

I'd switch it around a bit - spend $700.00 or so for a used EQ5 class mount, such as the AVX or similar and spend $1000.00 for a Feather Touch focuser.

 

 
 
 
 
BTW, the light path of the Feather Touch R&P focuser on mine is longer than the light path of the OEM focuser, so I use a 2" Baader prism diagonal to keep it as short as I can and still use 2" eyepieces.

 

Thanks, I've heard great things about the feathertouch, but it's hard to stomach the thought of spending that much money on a focuser. Beautiful setup, though!


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#9 Dobserver

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:43 PM

Here are a couple of options:  https://www.stellarv...llarvue-mounts/

 

I use the steel tripod combo with the optional handle.  Works fantastic.

 

Re:  Galilean moons.   Try pushing the magnification past 300x.  Jupiter will be a blur, but I can identify all of the moons at this magnification. Callisto is a dusky gray disk.  Io is a pinkish color, slightly larger than than the orangy Europa.

 

I've never had the issues with the focuser others have complained of.  I seem to have lucked into a a well-tuned one.

Thanks for those recommendations. Yes I am just very surprised that at this aperture the moons can be resolved as non-stellar. I will try what you say and look out for those details! Seeing last night was not so good, but a high pressure system has moved in and hopefully will settle things down tonight.


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#10 Dobserver

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:45 PM

TS optics has some focuser options, don't now which flange will fit. 

https://www.teleskop...ansmission.html

Very cool, I had no idea about this company or these options waytogo.gif



#11 explore19

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:45 PM

The Stellarvue M002C is a good mount.

Those focusers can be adjusted to work quite well. If you contact Kevin at Skywatcher he can send you instructions on how to adjust them. Some like to tinker with them and some don't.
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#12 John Huntley

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:49 PM

I have a nice Moonlite focuser fitted to my ED120. Sadly, I believe these are now out of production ?

 

I use the Skytee II or Giro Ercole mounts with my ED120 and both are sturdy platforms for the scope, even when high magnifications are used.

 

ed120ercole01.JPG

 

 


Edited by John Huntley, 21 September 2021 - 12:51 PM.

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#13 Dobserver

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 12:54 PM

Congratulations to your recent purchase and welcome to the Sky-Watcher 120 ED Club.

I've had my SW-120ED for over 7 years now. It continues to impress with with excellent pristine optics in a very lightweight package. 

Back in Jan 2020, I started a thread out here on what upgrades I have done to my refractor, and what others have also done to their Skywatcher 120ED.

I'm including the link so you can see what others who have commented on their upgrades, have done to their refractor.

You may find something here that would work for you also, in upgrading your excellent refractor.

 

https://www.cloudyni...have-you-added/

 

Ralph

Thanks Ralph, it's a great club to be a part of grin.gif . My first two refractors just didn't do it for me. Initially (not counting childhood scopes) I bought a f/ 9.8 102mm Explore Scientific achromat. The chromatic aberration was quite bad IMHO, so I found an Astro Tech 102ed with FK-61 glass. Nope, it still just didn't do it (I believe I am quite sensitive to CA). Now, I feel I've arrived--Crisp images and stark color contrasts. And thank you for the thread link!


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#14 Dobserver

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 03:29 PM

I have a 120 Equinox version its excellent. Upgraded to a Moonlite (RIP) focuser. I use it on a Skytee2 mount, but will be on a Rowan AZ100 shortly.

 

An Az Eq 5 is almost not enough I feel, but Az Eq 6 would be fine. Skytee2 was good value, strong & sturdy. 

Yikes. An Eq5 is barely adequate? I am sorry to hear that. The Skytee 2 is more my budget. Seems like Europe is not having as many supply issues as the USA is...



#15 25585

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Posted 21 September 2021 - 07:19 PM

Yikes. An Eq5 is barely adequate? I am sorry to hear that. The Skytee 2 is more my budget. Seems like Europe is not having as many supply issues as the USA is...

See #12 above. The mount is a Tele Gizmo Giro Ercole. TS & APM sell them, very strong, and made in Germany, I use one for my C8 or 100 Equinox.      


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#16 Victor Martinez

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Posted 27 September 2021 - 08:51 AM

The stock focuser works perfectly if it is well adjusted.

#17 Dobserver

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 02:05 PM

Just wanted to say I bought a TS focuser from the CN classifieds and put it in recently. It's great-- high quality and very solid, with very smooth focusing. I was able to mount my little telrad-style focuser with only slight difficulty. My only gripe is that it only has 50mm of back focus. Not sure why they decided to make it this way but fortunately I had a 35mm extender. 

IMG_20210927_172358.jpg

 


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#18 aa6ww

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 07:12 PM

I'm pretty sure I'm using the same focuser you have, on my 80mm F/15 refractor. Its a great upgrade and the focuser can handle large heavy 2"  eyepieces easily.

 

...Ralph



#19 Jon_Doh

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 08:46 AM

I have the 120 and it does very well on the Skywatcher AZ-EQ5 mount.  That's the mount I would recommend for this scope.  I have the Orion version and use it in AZ mode almost all of the time, but have the option to easily switch to EQ if needed.  Before I had the AVX mount and between the two the AZ-EQ 5 is much better.  I don't know why somebody said the AZ-EQ5 was barely adequate for the 120 because I also have a 140 mm refractor and the mount handles it just fine.  At 11 lbs the 120 is far below the 30 lb capacity of this mount.  


Edited by Jon_Doh, 08 October 2021 - 08:46 AM.

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#20 vtornado

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 09:00 AM

The orion SVP will hold the scope, it is probably the lowest cost option that will work.

You will have to decide if EQ is for you or not.  Polar align is easy for visual don't let that scare you.

It is a bit of a cognitive leap to be able to move the scope through the sky, but it comes with practice.

The SVP has larger setting circles with are usable compared to the smaller circles on CG5 clones.

 

Alt AZ mounts are lighter because they don't have a counter weight.

However one with a high load capacity is not cheap and many lack slow motion controls.

I have recently purchased a giro mount and it has the capacity but does not have slow motion controls.

I can operate without them, but I do miss them for Lunar/Planetary. 

I don't know of many alt/az that can handle a big refractor and have goto in your price range.

Sky-tee mounts look really nice, but they are not available in the US.  

 

The Ioptron cube pro??? has a 30lb weight capacity.  Although I don't have one.  The price is around a 1000

for the mount only.  You would have to get a tripod too. 


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#21 GOLGO13

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 10:11 AM

If you can find a used Unistar mount they are good for this sized scope. Just make sure it's the larger version of the Unistar. Depending on extras these should be somewhere around $250 to $400 on the used market. No slow motion, but I find they are smooth enough.
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#22 tog

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 10:19 AM

I like the SkyView Pro mount and have two of them at present. One has the dec and ra drives while the other has the goto system. Lately, I have been using the one with the dec and ra drives the most. I have used these mounts with the Orion 120mm refractors (long tube and short tube versions). I now use them for the Sky-Watcher 100mm EvoStar. The mounts work great for these scopes. I replaced the SW focuser with a Moonlite. It is an excellent  focuser!


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#23 Toddeo

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 10:43 AM

Put a MoonLite focuser on it- less expensive than a FeatherTouch-works great. I have a MoonLite on my SkyWatcher Pro 120.  Why would you want to spent $1000 for just a focuser up grade for a medium priced scope?


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#24 wrvond

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 11:28 AM

Put a MoonLite focuser on it- less expensive than a FeatherTouch-works great. I have a MoonLite on my SkyWatcher Pro 120.  Why would you want to spent $1000 for just a focuser up grade for a medium priced scope?

Because regardless of the price, it is optically a very good visual telescope and if I'm going to spend money on a focuser, I want to get one that has the best fit and finish, is rack & pinion and will last. When the bearings in my MoonLite focuser went bad and ground grooves into the focuser tube I had to pay for a new tube and new bearings.


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#25 SteveG

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 12:43 PM

Put a MoonLite focuser on it- less expensive than a FeatherTouch-works great. I have a MoonLite on my SkyWatcher Pro 120.  Why would you want to spent $1000 for just a focuser up grade for a medium priced scope?

They are no longer available.


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