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Complete PushTo Dob Restoration Completed

Dob Reflector Orion Collimation Equipment
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#1 JJDreese

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Posted 03 May 2022 - 05:04 PM

Our local Facebook Marketplace had an old beat-up Orion XT6i for sale and it wasn't getting sold.  It had a few large dents and one so deep that it impinged on the light path and skewed a trunion.  The electronics was broken too and the focuser seemed to have a stripped gear rack. The viewfinder was almost broken off.

I've always been curious about the PushTo technology, so I took a chance on this.  Restoring Dobs is my hobby, but this is the first time I documented it.

I've cut out as much as possible and sped up (Benny Hill style) any tedious tasks. The hammering sounds like a Volkswagen:
https://youtu.be/9O7PHAUD96I
(Note: I don't get paid by Youtube)

 

Plot twists and lessons learned:

1) The azimuth encoder didn't work because the encoder wheel had been installed upside down (and because of that, partially crushed)

2) The mirror was in surprisingly good shape, but was so covered in dust that I had to clean it twice.

3) Hockey pucks make for wide solid feet.
4) The biggest dents were mostly removed using an air bladder (i.e. deflated basketball), as suggested by a user here named Dynan.

 

Conclusion:
I now love the PushTo technology.  It's on par with paper setting circles, but this vintage PushTo has wickedly simple setup.  Just point vertical, then find two target stars and then you're off to the races.  If you're methodical, setup can take less than two minutes.  It's surprisingly accurate.  For anybody wanting to get into computer-guided telescopes, I would "push" them toward PushTo technology first before dropping a ton of money on a GoTo system.
 

 

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#2 Chris Pringle

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Posted 03 May 2022 - 06:32 PM

A true labor of love! It looks awesome! bow.gif

 

My Telekit has a Sky Commander PushTo computer which I barely use. I find more interesting the challenge of finding other celestial objects as points of reference to find my main target. But it’s nice to have a PushTo computer as a fallback. 


Edited by Chris Pringle, 03 May 2022 - 06:36 PM.

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#3 macdonjh

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Posted 03 May 2022 - 10:48 PM

My son and I used an XT-6i for a couple of years before he got too cool to do anything with dad.  I agree with you, the Intelli-Scope system is clever, accurate and easy to use.  I also like that you don't have to use it if you don't want to; like if the moon is the only thing you're interested on a particular night.  Just set your scope down and set your sight on your target.

 

I wish Orion still offered them.  I understand the XT-8i is nearly the same money for more aperture, making the XT-6i a tough sell, but the XT-6i was perfect for a ten-year-old to carry by himself (OTA and base in two trips, of course) and set up by himself.  A great learning tool.  AND, 6" of aperture shows a lot of objects kids are interested in.


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#4 JJDreese

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Posted 03 May 2022 - 11:22 PM

My son and I used an XT-6i for a couple of years before he got too cool to do anything with dad.  I agree with you, the Intelli-Scope system is clever, accurate and easy to use.  I also like that you don't have to use it if you don't want to; like if the moon is the only thing you're interested on a particular night.  Just set your scope down and set your sight on your target.

 

I wish Orion still offered them.  I understand the XT-8i is nearly the same money for more aperture, making the XT-6i a tough sell, but the XT-6i was perfect for a ten-year-old to carry by himself (OTA and base in two trips, of course) and set up by himself.  A great learning tool.  AND, 6" of aperture shows a lot of objects kids are interested in.

 

This was a very eye-opening project.  I have an Orion GoTo 10" Dob, but I'd heard about the PushTo technology for years. In hindsight, one of the big selling points is electric power.  The PushTo runs on a 9V battery! My GoTo requires a big portable power brick or an extension cord.  And it's super heavy (~70 pounds?).  You can use the GoTo manually, but it's a pain to fight the clutches/motor friction. 

So I've been tinkering with this little 6" PushTo for about a week now and it's a ton of fun.  I couldn't help but think the technology was being a bit wasted on a 6 inch mirror though - kindof like putting a V8 in a Chevette.  But as you say, where this really shines is being a very convenient introductory telescope to anybody who wants to get into computer guided astronomy.  In that regard, it's perfect.

As for the XT8 series, I have a manual version of that and it's probably the one I use most, especially when traveling (it fits in my car).  The 8" Dobsonian has to be the all-around best value/performance Dob out there, especially if you have access to even medium dark skies.  I installed paper setting circles and a digital inclinometer on it to make it a "pseudo-PushTo", but after this experience, I might opt for the extra money to get PushTo built in.  



#5 macdonjh

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Posted 04 May 2022 - 04:56 PM

I am glad to hear you enjoy your scope.  You did a fine job rescuing it.


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#6 PrisMATT

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Posted 04 May 2022 - 11:11 PM

Once you have the intelliscope and like the electronics.....

 

Soup it up even more by connecting the intelliscope encoders to sky safari.  Super fun!

Then you can push to - in real time - on the screen - no more punching in object numbers!

 

https://lauren633.wi...a76d5fb7bb5bbd3

 

-Matt 


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#7 JJDreese

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Posted 04 May 2022 - 11:35 PM

I am glad to hear you enjoy your scope.  You did a fine job rescuing it.

Thank you. It was a lot of fun.



#8 JJDreese

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Posted 04 May 2022 - 11:35 PM

Once you have the intelliscope and like the electronics.....

 

Soup it up even more by connecting the intelliscope encoders to sky safari.  Super fun!

Then you can push to - in real time - on the screen - no more punching in object numbers!

 

https://lauren633.wi...a76d5fb7bb5bbd3

 

-Matt 

Thanks for the tip!


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#9 csrlice12

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Posted 04 May 2022 - 11:44 PM

Couldn't you mod the XT 8" base to use the DSCs from the 6"?


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#10 JJDreese

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Posted 05 May 2022 - 06:55 AM

Couldn't you mod the XT 8" base to use the DSCs from the 6"?

Good question. After I finished this restoration, I wondered about transferring this technology to my old manual Orion XT8.  The azimuth encoder would be pretty simple, but transferring the altitude encoder would require more modification than I have time for unfortunately.


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#11 Starman47

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Posted 05 May 2022 - 07:10 AM

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#12 macdonjh

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Posted 05 May 2022 - 04:52 PM

Couldn't you mod the XT 8" base to use the DSCs from the 6"?

 

 

Good question. After I finished this restoration, I wondered about transferring this technology to my old manual Orion XT8.  The azimuth encoder would be pretty simple, but transferring the altitude encoder would require more modification than I have time for unfortunately.

Orion sells the XT-8i, so you don't have to cannibalize the XT-6i.  I think that would be a shame: the XT-6i is comparitively rare and a great choice for kids and as a fairly grab-and-go option for grownups.  If you want more aperture and Intelli-Scope capability, you shouldn't have any trouble selling your 8" and used XT-8i appear from time to time...

 

My two cents, no preaching intended.


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#13 JJDreese

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Posted 05 May 2022 - 05:18 PM

Orion sells the XT-8i, so you don't have to cannibalize the XT-6i.  I think that would be a shame: the XT-6i is comparitively rare and a great choice for kids and as a fairly grab-and-go option for grownups.  If you want more aperture and Intelli-Scope capability, you shouldn't have any trouble selling your 8" and used XT-8i appear from time to time...

 

My two cents, no preaching intended.

All good points.  And one of the big benefits of the PushTo is that it can easily work like a generic XT8 if you choose to forgo the PushTo part since there are no clutches or motors involved.  Dead battery?  No problem because it will still function as a fine telescope that is still easy to manipulate (not always true of motorized GoTo systems).



#14 artik

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Posted 06 May 2022 - 06:53 AM

I now love the PushTo technology.  It's on par with paper setting circles, but this vintage PushTo has wickedly simple setup.  Just point vertical, then find two target stars and then you're off to the races.  If you're methodical, setup can take less than two minutes.  It's surprisingly accurate.  For anybody wanting to get into computer-guided telescopes, I would "push" them toward PushTo technology first before dropping a ton of money on a GoTo system.

 

I suggest take a look into AstroHopper: https://artyom-beili...strohopper.html also it isn't 100% pushto but gets the job done making finding targets trivial. And most important all you need is to attach a smart phone to scope (I've seen guys using rubber bands for it)


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#15 dadorfman

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Posted 18 May 2022 - 03:26 PM

Great demonstration!  I watched because I have a new XT10i, but want to be able to fix problems as they come up.  After I bought mine and assembled it, I read a CN topic about having to remake a dob mount because the old one had been wrecked by water damage.  Had you considered re-coating the pressboard for preventative maintenance?


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#16 JJDreese

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Posted 18 May 2022 - 08:25 PM

Great demonstration!  I watched because I have a new XT10i, but want to be able to fix problems as they come up.  After I bought mine and assembled it, I read a CN topic about having to remake a dob mount because the old one had been wrecked by water damage.  Had you considered re-coating the pressboard for preventative maintenance?

Glad you liked it!  That's a good question.  Despite the mess, the laminate was in "okay" condition after cleaning except for a large missing chunk at the top shoulder.  It had a lot of old duct tape glue that required a lot of scrubbing (I edited that out).  And the border moulding took a laughably long time to clean up, but it looks perfect now.

I have an old Orion XT8 that did come with water damage, but mostly little "volcanoes" near the screw holes.  I used a razor blade to shave down the volcanoes. And I installed a vinyl album to replace the bad laminate sliding surface (with teflon pads).  Technically, that telescope was a huge mess, but that was before I'd ever thought of recording the process.  Oops.

As for the PushTo controls, I now love that system. I have a GoTo, but I rarely use it. The PushTo is sooooo easy and fast to setup and it's super accurate even for how old this model is.  The only downside is that the named stars list is very sparse.  The big upside compared to the GoTo is simplicity.  The PushTo has two encoder disks, two encoder circuit boards, some cables, and the hand controller, and that's it.  Very little to break.  

Have a blast with your new XT10i!




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