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Luke

Quark First Impressions - Joy and Dismay

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First I should say to any folks new to solar - never, ever use a telescope to look at the Sun without specialist safety filters! You could be blinded instantly. The Quark is a special piece of equipment for solar viewing, and even with that, you have to carefully follow the safety instructions.

Hi Solar Folks.

So, yesterday, about two months after I placed my order, I received my Daystar Quark hydrogen alpha "eyepiece" from SCS Astro. Hurrah! I had no Coke can to hand, but here is the Quark next to some classic Beanz to give an idea of size. Small and light enough for it to tick the grab and go box. So far, so good...

14487387306_d31f53246a_z.jpg

Yes, this looks grab and go to me (the Quark is the one of the left)

These days, with any new gear, I give it a quick look over before even thinking about using it. I noticed a couple of things straight away, one which didn't bother me, and another, which gave me cause for concern!

The minor thing was a few marks on the barrel. Nothing much to worry about, I presumed these little marks were from Daystar testing my Quark :)

What I didn't like the look of one bit was when I took the dust cap off the eyepiece end of the Quark and had a look at the red filter. The filter had three dimples on it! I was worried that these indents in the filter would affect the view. There was also some kind of greasy mark that I didn't dare to try and clean off, there was no point with those dimples on it, the Quark might need to go back... The filter as a whole looked a little warped. Disappointing, this didn't look right, but I am checking it with SCS Astro/Daystar.

14323833408_19bfa4a0c3_c.jpg

Yikes, three dimples/indents in the red filter. Also there was a greasy-looking mark that I found hard to photo. Sadly, these marks/indents appear to affect the view. Boo hoo!

Amazingly, I got a chance to test the Quark. Now of course, I would not have used the Quark if I felt there was any danger at all. The filter was intact but a little warped, so I could see no harm in carefully testing it to see if the dimples did affect the view.

Given the dimples and patchy cloud, I didn't get around to doing a shoot-off between Quark and Tele Vue 60 versus SolarMax 60 as intended.

First up was the Quark and Tele Vue 60. The Quark took a little time to warm up as per the instructions, and it built up the excitement waiting for the green light!

First view - ooh, yes, I really am looking at the Sun in h-alpha through one of my regular scopes! Yes, this is good. A nice full disc view. Great! I started with the tuning in the central position. I tried a few other positions, that seemed to improve the view :)

I didn't explore all the settings as at this point I felt the view was pretty good, I would leave fine-tuning for a fine, sunny day :)

It was hard to tell just how good the view was, as I didn't have a towel with me to place over my head! I often observe with my SolarMax 60 without a towel/cloth for brief looks. But the problem here with the Quark was that I was using a Tele Vue 32mm Plossl and I had to have a gap between the eyepiece and my eye, which of course was letting in a lot of daylight!

The real test came when I got my Tele Vue 85 and that most expensive of all solar gear, a towel (a nice light microfibre camping one).

The first view - oh, my! Yes! This is what I have been looking for! The spicules were easy to see all around the edge of the Sun. I can see spicules in my SolarMax 60, but I have never seen them as clearly as I could now with the TV-85 and Quark. Wow! Glorious! And the lovely thing was, I could see no obvious sweet spot. Spicules and proms seemed to be very good to the edge of the field of view, all with a nice, even illumnination overall. I could see more surface detail than I have ever before with my SolarMax 60.

I am itching to do a direct side-by-side with the Quark versus a SolarMax 60. But without having done that yet, my impression is that the contrast of the view was better than with my single stack SolarMax 60, though not as good as with my double stacked SolarMax 60. As said, I need to confirm this, this was just my impression at the time.

But the big thing for me was this: contrast was for me good enough, I had no problem making out disc details, whereas I find this a bit of a struggle with my single-stack SolarMax 60.

The extra resolution of the 85mm scope made, all in all, the view the most thrilling I have had from home. Resolution-wise, my SolarMax 60 is a step down, no question. For £800, wow. I am very impressed by the Quark.

I did a very quick imaging test with the Tele Vue 60 just to check I could get focus okay. With a 0.5 reducer (from Telescope House) and my Grasshopper 3, focus point was not far away from where the focus with the Plossl was. Good. On screen, things looked decent but I won't post my piccy here, this was a focus test and I don't even know yet if my tuning is right.

Now, onto the bad. I was gutted to notice some flaws in the views which seem to be caused by the dimples and markings on the red filter. In paricular, there was a small bright spot that seemed to be related to the main dimple. There were two annoying dark "folds" in the view, which I suspect are caused by the warping of the red filter. Possibly some small dark bits caused by the greasy mark.

Yikes. This was a bit painful to note. The Quark otherwise was better than I had dared to hope. To double check it was the Quark at fault, I used two completely different setups, the Tele Vue 60 and 85, with different diagonals, UV/IR cuts, eyepieces - the only thing the same was the Quark, and the same folds and bright spot were there. I am so disappointed!

I am of course in touch with SCS Astro and I wait to see how I can go about getting a replacement. I'm not very keen on a refund, as this really does look a fab bit of kit. But I was hoping to take this on hols with me soon and to get some good Quark viewing and imaging in over the Summer when I can view before and after work.

Edited by Luke
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Nice little report Luke, looking forwards to seeing an image from you. Some sun here this morning but way too much cloud to have a go and most ofthe blue bits passing to the north.

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Sounds really promising, and hugely frustrating Luke! :-(

I am sure you will get it sorted soon, I hope in time for your holiday.

Good news too that you get a full disk with the 32 Plossl, and from what you say there is enough room to see prominences clearly?

I am more and more tempted by one of these. Finances won't allow for the moment but I will hatch a cunning plan :-)

Stu

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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Thanks for that Luke. Performance per £, these are looking really attractive.

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Great report Luke. Sorry to here your Quark is not right. Whenever I have dealt with SCS Astro in the past they have been very good so I am sure you will get it sorted soon.

CaK is next on my shopping list but an upgrade from the PST will probably follow that in 2015. Will be very interesting to see how you get on imaging with the Quark but it is promising that you can get focus without any problem.

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Ohhh Luke, shame it appears to have a couple of defects but then again I'm certain it will be sorted out for you so lets hope that can happen a smooth and fast as possible.

Nice write up though and it does sound promising, as time has gone on I have been more and more impressed with what people are starting to get out of the Quark. My only query and I don't know if it has been answered elsewhere or if any of you in the UK may get a chance to check is about it's performance in hot(mid 30's) weather.

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My only query and I don't know if it has been answered elsewhere or if any of you in the UK may get a chance to check is about it's performance in hot(mid 30's) weather.

30's, no chance of any of us finding out the answer to that one Jarrod, unless of course you mean Fahrenheit?  If I get going with mine, I plan to take it to Menorca in July, may/hopefully it will be in the 30's.

Robin

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Sorry to hear those problems Luke.  I've just checked my filter and it doesn't have folds or greasy marks..  

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Great report but a sad ending  - I have no doubt that SCS will sort this for you but it must be hugely disappointing after that wait ...

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Great report Luke. Sorry to hear of your woes with the filter though. To be honest, I may have my own issues with the very same filter. Mine looks to be in a bit of a state. Looking at it directly under light, it looks to be pretty scratched up. They're only very fine scratches, but they're pretty much over the entire filter. Plus, it does appear to be a little warped. Nothing so obvious as dimples, but definitely a little rippled, for lack of a better word. I have no idea whether this will affect its performance and probably never will. I'm hoping to have a proper session with it tomorrow to at least see if I feel the views are pleasing enough to not forever wonder if a brand newie might be better. If I'm happy with it, I'll probably purchase a brand new Prominence version and compare the two. If I'm not happy with it... I'll probably do the same :)

Now, I'm not entirely sure if the scratches were there when it left the factory as, as you know, I bought this from someone who had apparently never used it (silly, perhaps, but purely opportunistic to avoid a long wait) which may, or may not, be the entire truth. Either way, of the view isn't very good, I'll probably up the proverbial creek without a paddle from a warranty point of view. Fingers crossed!

On a possibly more positive note, I've read a post from another user on Solarchat who had the same issues getting the filter on band in the anticlockwise position when tuning it indoors. Apparently it achieved 'green light status' when attached to the scope and pointed at the sun. Apparently it may need assistance from usage heat to reach these levels of band. I'll test this tomorrow also.... Fingers crossed again!!

If I were you, given your initial wait, I'd be suggesting/requesting that you get to keep hold of your 'dimpled' Quark until SCS Astro have received its replacement.

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Hmm - I'm not so sure about the fold issue on mine now.  I've no intention of returning it yet as it seems fine/very nice in use (in the 5 minutes I got this morning spread over an hour of waiting for cloud gaps) but under bright light and held at an angle there is a slightly darker line that runs across the filter - it's very difficult to spot though.

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Hi all,

Thanks for the replies.

Robin, I can't wait to see your images with the Quark. I've been playing around with my focus test shots and they look promising to me. What I am very excited about is that the Quark and Tele Vue 60 with the 0.5 reducer looks like a good grab and go imaging option for me. I can get the Sun in four fairly easy tiles, 1100 frames per tile, with my Grasshopper 3 (1/1.8" sized chip, 26FPS) just letting the image drift over the chip with an undriven mount. My mini giro, Manfrotto tripod, Tele Vue 60 and Quark were a very nice combo for grab and go.

Stu, I should have paid a bit more attention to how much space there was around the disc with the 32mm Plossl! I got too excited by the view :D I just remember it as being full disc and thinking there would be oodles of space with my 40mm Plossl (which I didn't have to hand at the time when I did my main 60mm test). I'll try to check that next time I get a chance to use it. Given the lovely fracs you have, I would be sorely tempted by the Quark. The spicules alone are worth it! With my Tele Vue 85, the proms felt like they had more detail/resolution to them than I am used to with my beloved SolarMax 60, I felt like I would spend more time looking at smaller proms than I typically do with the 60mm scope.

Rik, the value seems astonishing. I really do think Daystar has a winner here. There was nothing budget about the view of the spicules! Sarah hasn't seen spicules in the Solar Max 60. In the Quark and TV85, they jumped out at you :) I will now miss these a bit when I go back to the 60! I must remember to check what the spicules are like with the TV-60 and Quark.

David, CaK, yikes, I am trying to resist, two solar lights are keeping me busy enough! Alexadra's amazing CaK images are not helping one bit... I wonder if Daystar could do a CaK "eyepiece." I might have to give in if that happens!

Jarrod, no idea about the possible temperature issue. Did I read somewhere that Daystar can do an alteration to the Quark to help with hot regions? Though you do have a PST mod and I am not experienced with PST mods so I can't compare the Quark with that. I have seen some incredible images done with PST mods, but a PST mod is not an option for butterfingers me, I've botched up two simple DSLR mods, couldn't even get the screws off!! :D

Joseki, thanks for checking your filter. That's handy to know yours is fine and I'm relived for you. I've had a closer look at the greasy mark under a lamp this morning. It is a pretty bad mark that alone would warrant sending the Quark back. It looks a tiny bit like if you had some superglue on your finger and you caught the filter. It doesn't look like a simple wipe off, though I certainly won't be attempting any cleaning given the problems.

With one view I noticed a kind of patchy dark area, a bit like bad floaters (despite using a 40mm Plossl!), my guess is that this related to the greasy/gluey mark.

I've also had a bit more of a look at the dimple indents. One of them seems to have some folds/creases coming off it, that might be where the dark crease lines are coming from in the view. My photo didn't catch the dimples that well, I will take more shots if SCS needs them. Reflections look really, really warped around the dimples, I'm not surprised if they are indeed affecting the view.

Joves, I'm sorry to hear your filter is not pristine. The only crumb of comfort I can offer you is that the dimples are really quite bad on my filter, reflections are so warped, so I hope you are okay. Thanks for the idea about seeing if I can hang on to my Quark until I get a replacement. That would make me very happy if they can let me keep this one until a satisfactory replacement is ready. Imaging-wise I can probably work around the imperfections for now, my camera chip is quite small and the worst warping seems to be a bit away from the centre, I can always factor in some drift with imaging. Visually, I could put up with the imperfections for a while, I would miss those gorgeous spicules if I have to do without them for a while!

Edit: sorry Joseki to hear about the little fold. As said above, the warping is really bad on my filter. I hope I am not making anyone worry too much about their filter, mine is almost like someone has poked it hard three times with a pen nib. I have no idea how this got through QC, my photo doesn't do full justice to the warping. It was hard to catch the right angle last night and I got a really good angle on it last night, but those shots came out underexposed for some reason.

Edited by Luke

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Hmm, it is a bit worrying all this talk of scratched/dimpled/folded blocking filters, so much so I have got mine back out of the car for a look under the illuminated magnifying glass at work.  I am happy to say that apart from some dust it is free from any of the defects mentioned above, sorry for those with problems.

Not that it has seen first light yet, the sun keeps coming and going here.

Robin

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I know someone who has brought a Quark & I can't comment on any problems with his but I can always have a chat with him if you like. I must admit the views we were getting with it on Sunday were quite simply stunning.
I'll send him a link to the thread & see if he can add any input for you Luke.

DSC_3829.JPG

:grin:

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What size scope is that he has it on, out of curiosity?!

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I believe the scope he is using it with is an APM Super ED 100-800 & very nice it is too.

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Hi Luke,
Sorry to hear you are having issues with your Quark. I have to admit I haven't looked too closely at mine but I haven't noticed any of the issues you describe.
Daystar check each Quark individually and if it's cloudy for a week then the production run gets delayed.
It looks as though you may have to send it back from what I can gather.
Tich is correct - my scope is a APM 100/800 and the Quark gave us some excellent views on Sunday.
Here is a picture with a handheld DSLR through the Quark.
It doesn't show the detail but will give you an idea of what it is like.

DSC 3759

I don't get a full disc view of the Sun unless I use a focal reducer. I found the best views were with a TV 40mm Plossl.
The focal reducer gives a full disc and Tich preferred the view with it.
Luke - I don't think you mention an UV/IR cut filter - did you use one?
Simon
Edited by cyborg421

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I had first light with my Quark tonight, but everything was against me.

I warmed it up on the PSU as the mains adapter wouldn't reach and then transferred to my battery, which was also powering the mount. All went well for about 2 minutes, until the battery switched off the Quark and then stopped powering the mount. Turns out I have a 12V power cable problem and on a cable I bought with the battery.

I sorted that out only to find that the battery wouldn't power the Quark anymore, it turned out later to be operator error I hadn't enabled the USB output on the battery. I didn't realise so went to find an extension. A further power interruption on the mount and reset and finally I was ready to give the Quark a try.

I have noticed whilst it is warming up it is red and then green/red for some time. I thought it was ready but I now know the green/red means it is nearly there. After an absolute age it turned fully green.

With a DMK41, I got a view but it was lacking in detail and contrast, mind there was high cloud and lower level stuff had started to move in. I did get a clear spell, but had just changed the tuning and the views were still fairly lacking in contrast. Fearing that the Quark didn't suit my 80mm scope I went for another frac, but that was no better, so swapped back.

By now the sun had got too low and there was too much cloud, so hardly a proper test. Still that is what first lights are for, get all the bugs out of the system.

Robin

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Gosh, these dimples are hard to photo, maybe it's the overcast lighting at the moment? Anyway, I have taken a couple more photos, to try and better show the warping due to the dimples and also to show the greasy mark, which is actually worse than I first realised. I hope you other Quark owners have filters in a much better state and have no need to worry.

14514553625_48a23bcb2a_o.jpg

The three main dimples. These *really* warp reflections but are hard to photo. I couldn't manage to show the creases that seem to be coming out of one of them. As far as I can tell, a dimple is causing a small bright spot in the view that should not be there.

14328125967_9a6fd13862_o.jpg

The "greasy' mark looks very nasty to me. The filter obviously should not have arrived in this state to me. You can also see some little hairs or scratches that as far as I can tell are on the inside surface of the filter, inside the Quark. There is obviously no way I could remove these myself with cleaning. I of course will not be attempting any cleaning, with the filter in such a disappointing state.

I did not have enough time to fully check the possible impact of the nasty mark on the view. I seemed to get a sort of shadowy effect over part of the image that this mark may have been causing with a wide view with the 40mm Plossl. I can't imagine it has no impact on the view.

As said before, the Quark aside from the obvious visual flaws has really impressed me. I have asked SCS Astro if it may be possible for me to hold onto this one until there is a replacement ready. I can't wait to get a Quark in good condition, the view with the 85mm scope really was something and my mind boggles at what the view will be like in my 100 and 120mm scopes!

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Tich and Simon, thanks for that, most kind!  :smiley:  I am not surprised you liked the view, my 85mm scope really impressed me, I can't wait to try some more aperture! I bet that APM jolly well is nice! :laugh:

Robin, good to get the bugs out of the way for when the Sun really puts on a show. I used to image with a high gamma with my single stack SolarMax 60, which gave a very poor contrast image on screen, but Autostakkert was happy enough to stack it and then I could adjust gamma afterwards, so hopefully capture with lower contrast, if that turns out to be the case, will still work out okay?

I don't use such a high gamma any more as I found out it seems to cause ghosting of proms. The reason I used to use such a high gamma was to try and capture disc detail and proms in the same shot in 8 bit mode.

These days I find 16 bit mode's main benefit for me for h-alpha is to capture proms and disc detail in one shot with a regular gamma. It took me a while to figure that one out.

:iamwithstupid:

Edited by Luke

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Robin, good to get the bugs out of the way for when the Sun really puts on a show. I used to image with a high gamma with my single stack SolarMax 60, which gave a very poor contrast image on screen, but Autostakkert was happy enough to stack it and then I could adjust gamma afterwards, so hopefully capture with lower contrast, if that turns out to be the case, will still work out okay?

i am starting to think that my Aquila 80mm might not be too good for solar, perhaps it is the relatively low F number, but it seems to have 'soft' focus. There wasn't much difference between it and my ST80 tonight (which has always been pretty good) but it was hardly the conditions to really tell. Next chance I get I am going to try a comparison against it with my WO GT10, which will be better, but if it is a lot better then I need a new 80mm scope. Hmm, best sneak a new scope in under the radar, otherwise sparks might fly.

Robin

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That sounds very unreasonable of Mrs Dr Robin, hasn't everyone got at least three 80mm scopes? :grin:  I had to replace my Celestron Onyx 80mm after realising that the view was soft for white light. It really hit home when my little 66mm gave it a good kicking for contrast and sharpness, the 66mm outperformed the 80!

Edited by Luke

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That sounds very unreasonable of Mrs Dr Robin, hasn't everyone got at least three 80mm scopes? :grin:  I had to replace my Celestron Onyx 80mm after realising that the view was soft for white light. It really hit home when my little 66mm gave it a good kicking for contrast and sharpness, the 66mm outperformed the 80!

Quite. She is a Geordie and they have several words for no. Like the Eskimos have forty odd words for snow she has nearly the same for no, roughly translated in to English:

No: No;

Noah: no, but possible I will change my mind in a few moments;

Noooo: really Scottish, mostly means no, but a slim chance;

Nah: Absolutely no chance, don't even bother asking again;

No remark or silence: the idea is so stupid I am not even going to give an answer.

Mrs DrRobin's standard response to anything astro is Nah and then by negotiation, Nooooo and finally Noah. I have found it easier to buy, get shipped to work and keep it on the QT.

Anyway getting back to topic, I quite like the look of a WO GT80, if my Aquila doesn't shape up.

Robin

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Aside from the obvious dimples, would you say your warping is similar to this, Luke?

post-30253-0-35175700-1403846554_thumb.j

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