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Sammyb

Grab 'n' Go - little Frac or little Mac?

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I've been thinking of getting a grab 'n' scope for a while now. Just something portable to plonk down without any hassle. 

I've been mostly considering the SW ST102 (EQ-1) but last night I also thought about the Skymax 102 (EQ-2)

The ST102 is coming in at about £60 cheaper but I'm wondering whether the Skymax 102 might be more versatile. I'm also not sure on the difference betwen the the EQ-1 and EQ-2.

Thanks for reading and any advice would be welcome....

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I have the same dilemma. Looking at an Orion Starblast 6. It comes with a Dob type mount (table top) but an be mounted on an equatorial. Plus t is a fast 'scope. 

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I have a 90mm Mak and a 70mm short focus refractor as 'grab n go' (both in my sig below)

90mm Mak.   Pros - crisp views up to about 130x.  Surprising planetary detail in good conditions. No false colour, even with very bright objects. Great for double stars,     splits iota Cass, a tight  triple.  Ok with bright DSOs, but not the best.

Cons - max field of view about 1.2 degrees, cooldown around 30 mins.

70mm Refractor.  Pros - gets to very low power wide field, great for large extended objects. No cooldown needed. Surprisingly good for planets & double stars, but the Mak beats it here.

Cons - some false colour especially on very bright objects like Venus, acceptable on the Moon, Jupiter.

So depends what your priorities are.  A ST102 would show fainter objects than my 70mm refractor, but more false colour, due to my scope having ED glass. But I wouldn't let that put you off as long as you are happy with a primarily low to medium power - wouldn't mind one myself.

If you are a Moon/planets/double star viewer, I'd get the Mak.

But neither scope is a mistake, just have different characteristics.

HTH, Ed.

Edited by NGC 1502
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Thanks for the responses. Yes I like the comment "...neither scope is a mistake, just have different characteristics".

I'm veering towards the ST102 at the moment. It would primarily be for dark sky observing so I think I'll get some nice wide-field views with it. I can already get nice moon/planets/double star views with my CPC in the garden. 

I've also been looking at the SW 130P (EQ2) as an option. I little bigger but still transportable and a bit more aperture for a good price.

Too many choices!!!

Sam

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Having just sold my 130 newt on an eq3, I will never buy another eq mounted scope unless I got into the dark art of AP.

The mount is heavy, awkward to use and totally more hassle than a simple heavy duty camera mount /AZ mount.

Personally I would go for any sub 3kg scope that suits your use and plonk it on the simplest mount you can get. Decent monfrotto tripods go regularly on eBay for £50 and have a payload of about 5kg, so would handle a simple grab'n'go no probs. I love my cheapy little 70mm frac on my bargain £6 tripod! It goes pretty much everryywhere with me.

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Small fracs are best for widefield work (which is exactly what you want with a small scope), a small mak doesn't have a wide TFOV and doesn't offer the planetary resolution of larger maks. So, for that reason, I'd get a small frac.

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I also use a 70mm refractor on a photo tripod as my grab and go. Nice and light and little to no cooldown time. I wish it had a bit more aperture but pinpoint starfields from a dark sky is just great.

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Although I love my little Refractor, for grab and go I don't want to deal with a GEM and counterweights,

so it would be a small Fork or Alt / Az mounted Mak.  Everyone has a different idea about what grab & go

means, to me it means small.

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I have the Skymax 102, it came with an eq2.

The good; I think it's a great scope, it can handle high mag (for it's aperture, I never really take it below 0.8mm exit pupil due to floaters in my eye). No CA. It's light and small.  Very comfortable viewing position. Perfect for balcony observing due to size. Can fine focus with clothes peg. Easy on eyepieces

The bad; You are limited to a small tfov with it. It doesn't really bother me as 95% of my observing is planets and the moon. Despite being small it can take a while to cool down (I keep it in a warm front room though, so it needs to go out before I start). You're never going to be able to get much bigger than 2mm exit pupil

The ugly; eq2. I have a love/hate relationship with the thing. It's a great budget mount. I wouldn't like anything heavier or larger on it (although I have no experience of anything larger on it). Even though it is lightweight I don't consider it grab and go (point north, counterwight etc). You can set it up as alt/az though which is cool but you still need a counterweight on it to be sure that it won't topple so it weighs the same. However, I don't think I will ever get rid of it because I think it will come in useful one day. I put my mak on an AZ4 for everyday use (a bit over mounted but solid!). The eq1 is a light version of the eq2 isn't it? So if you're thinking of putting a 4 to 5 pound scope on an eq1 I would have reservations as to whether it would be an enjoyable experience (not sure what the st102 weighs though). If you can get a motor for the eq2 it helps stability but after some use I could keep things steady whilst tracking objects.

If you could keep it somewhere cold then the mak can be grab and go but definitely don't get the mak if you like wide field viewing!! If you're thinking of putting something on an eq2 and you're exposed to wind at a dark site then I think you'd need something to add a bit more weight to the tripod. I used to notice strong wind with the skymax on eq2 on a relatively sheltered balcony. If I just wanted something as grab and go i would probably look at a small refractor on an alt-az

Edited by username

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Thanks for responses. I'll bear all this in mind.

Cheers,

Sam

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I once had a Celestron 90mm on an EQ1 and it was like a jelly...however that may have been because it was a long focal length.

If we are talking grab and go isn't AZ the way to go?  Just about zero set up.

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The SKYWATCHER AZ-3 mounting is very light and also robust enough to take my 102mm/f.5 refractor. I've added a small counterweight arm too, so that the 'scope doesn't lurch backwards as it approaches the zenith.

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I had  a 102MM Star Travel and mounted it on a larger photograhic tripod.It was a great grab and go telescope.In dark skies it Dorset ,it showed The Ring nebula.Not bad results for the moon and planets.Remember it has no central onstruction,so better contast in my opinion than the 130.

Martin.

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The FLO pricing is interesting.

SW 102T OTA £163, but with an AZ3 £185, the AZ3 on its own £110..

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The FLO pricing is interesting.

SW 102T OTA £163, but with an AZ3 £185, the AZ3 on its own £110..

Yes. I noticed that. Not sure whats going on.

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I have the CELESTRON 102mm/f.5 refractor. It's good for sweeping through starfields for DSOs. On higher mags for the Moon and planets, where chromatism makes itself more evident, I attach the Semi-Apo filter. What I like about this filter is that it's colour neutral.

As for the cheap 'n' cheerful AZ-3 mounting, I copied this counterweighting mod: http://www.spacegazer.com/index.asp?pageid=97490

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I have the CELESTRON 102mm/f.5 refractor. It's good for sweeping through starfields for DSOs. On higher mags for the Moon and planets, where chromatism makes itself more evident, I attach the Semi-Apo filter. What I like about this filter is that it's colour neutral.

As for the cheap 'n' cheerful AZ-3 mounting, I copied this counterweighting mod: http://www.spacegazer.com/index.asp?pageid=97490

Great tips!

I have the ST102/AZ3 on my xmas list now.

Sam

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Can't agree more with Username's and Nick90's comments above.

A combination of their experiences matches mine. And I'm happy!

I have a skymax 127 mounted happily on an AZ4 with Telrad to help me find, in the confusion (at times for me) that is the Mak's small FOV and manual adjustment of AZ4 mount head.

Stiil, it's a simple and very satisfying setup for me. I have a short 70mm refractor and 80mm binos for widefield views. However, I'd love a 102mm or larger refractor, ED or not,

for their simplicity and views. Plus I have the AZ4 to get the most out of!

Enjoy the researching and eventual purchase.

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