OK, so to start with, the beast comes in two boxes - the main box containing the OTA and a second flatpack box containing the base. These things are relatively big - the OTA box is about 1.7m long, and weighs 24kg, but still, if you want a big dob, that's what you expect.
Opening the boxes shows the innards. Firstly, the OTA. For something so large, I think it is lightly packed (I had to return one OTA as the plastic packing ties had been used as handles by the couriers and gone through the cardboard and bent the OTA!). In comparison to Celestron - where I've always had things in two cardboard boxes - it is liable to damage in transit.
You can also see the accessories that come with the OTA in situ.
- 30mm WA Revelation eyepiece
- 9mm Revelation plossl
- 35mm extension tube (needed to reach focus on some eyepieces)
- 8x50 finderscope and bracket
- battery cage for the fan in the base
These are shown here:
The mount box contains the mount, all the screws as well as the accessory tray as well as some instructions on how to assemble from Telescope House. The instructions were adequate, but they were for an older version of the mount as there were some minor discrepancies between my mount build and that in the instructions.
With a little careful thought (figuring out which weay is the bottom on the baseplate - it's actually with the screw insert at the bottom, I fixed the 3 stubby legs and had the whole mount built in about 20 minutes. Build quality is OK, but then this isn't a premium mount and it does rather look like it is from the Ikea Darth Vader collection.
Still, it is functional. One point to note is to ensure you get the sides the right way around. You have when the felt on the rear of the cutout where the tensioners fit is towards the back of the box.
OK, so that's the box built. Now to the OTA. The OTA uses some hefty machined knobs to mount into the rocker box. These are attached to the side of the tube via allen bolts in a nifty sliding holder that allows you to alter the rotational point of the tube. Put the knobs higher, the tube becomes base heavy, lower and it becomes top heavy. Quite neat I thought (although I don't have any knowledge of the Skywatcher or Meade fittings which look different. Unfortunately, as these are fixed with allen bolts, you can't change the balance in the field to counteract different weight EPs. This is where the knobs fit:
and here is an image of them fitted:
What you can alter is the tension in the pivot. Screwing the two knurled knobs up increases the turning resistance, unscrewing them decreases the resistance.
Here is a picture of the competed tube on the mount.
I must say, that for the price, I'm very happy with the details of this OTA. Firstly, the round circle appeared centrally placed to as near as I could measure it and the mirror mount looks sturdy and has a fan to cool it. Additionally, the collimation/locking knobs seem of good quality (although I have been advised I may need to change the springs for some from Bobs Knobs (see: MLB12).
Here is a picture of the underside of the mirror showing both the knobs, 9 point mounting and fan:
Another thing I am impressed with is the focuser. It is a dual speed Revelation and appears to be very smooth. Although I don't have any experience of the more expensive after-market crayfords, this one is an order of magnitude smoother than the rack and pinion one attached to my C80.
That's it for now - as soon as I get it out on a night, I'll compare it alongside my C9.25 and post back some initial impressions. Bear in mind that this is not only my first review, but also the first proper view through a Newtonian (although I have another, it is in use by someone else and I've never looked through it ).