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Epicyclus Dave

Thinking about getting a Mak 180

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Hi all ,  I normally travel 10 - 20 miles to a few remote imaging sites with my SW ED80 / NEQ6 / modded Canon 500D / finder guider / laptop & mini "Torness" battery power box.

I also still have my very first scope, an old Hellios F8 / 120 acromat that I use for a wee bit of solar imaging .

I have been hankering after a longer focal length ota for a while now and I hope to get a zwo asi224 camera next year for some planet pix , I have a budget of around 1K and I was interested in the skywatcher skymax 180 mak  (which I would eventually do most of the common mods to , flocking , orion tube rings , 2 speed focuser )  .

Is there a marked difference in use between the skywatcher sct Crayford & the moonlite sct focusers ?.

And would a flip mirror added in the eventual image train have problems with distances ?.

Dave. :)

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I've used a revelation astro dual speed crayford on my 180 mak and it is nice, but don't have any experience of a moonlite on it. I used to get ball park focus woth the mirror adjusting knob, then fine tune with the crayford.

I've also used a flip mirror and it adds the length of the chamber, maybe 200mm or so (pre-barlow or powermate), but this is a minor addition to te intrinsic focal length of the scope.

There is so much travel on the focus (by moving the mirror) that whatever you stick on the back you can probably achieve focus.

If you can find orion rings for a 180 that fit i'll be impressed as i never could, which is why i had some custom made.

james

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Hi Dave,

I have the MAK 150 and love it. I'm also thinking of getting the 180 next year as they are that good. On the Q regarding SCT Focuser - I use the Moonlight model on mine. However, I have a Baader Crayford on my ED80 and can honestly say the are both excellent.

I think Baader have released an updated model but still believe the Baader and Moonlight come in at a similar price.

For me no SCT focuser shades the other. They are an absolutely essential addition to the SW MAK's in my opinion. Leave some over for a Dew Shield!

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The MAK180 planet killer :laugh:

I owned one for quite a while until the C9.25 took its place. Very nice scope for planets/Lunar visual and imaging. I would guess with the correct Solar filter it would be a decent "white light" scope as well.

I would certainly recommend a Crayford focuser mine hade quite a bit of image shift due to the mirror slop. As for the difference between the Skywatcher and moonlite, you get what you pay for. A dew shield is also essential.

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Thanks for the info guys , much appreciated  , I should make a decision by next week :)

def. a thumbs up for a moonlite & visual mak back to sct adaptor ring  , and I will make a diy dew band & invest in a black camping mat ;)

Dave.

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I don't know if they are unavailable out-of-country, as I never see these mentioned. But there exists another device to consider for reaching razor-sharp focus. This being the MotoFocusers made by JMI:

http://www.jimsmobile.com/index.htm

I have two of my scopes outfitted with these - my 12" LX90, and my 127mm F/9.3 refractor. The one on my 127mm frac. has been in use since 2003 without any problems. These allow hands-free precision focusing.

That 180mm Maksutov sounds like a fantastic scope. I'm sure that whatever you decide for a focuser, you'll love it! If I ever break down and go for another scope, it'll be a Mak.

You lucky dog,

Dave

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I have a friend who has a Mak 800 with a Moonlite focused and it is a dream to use. The planetary and lunar views are truly spectacular.

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Neil English did a very interesting piece on the maksutov-cassegrain and included his experiences with a Skywatcher 180mm mak-cassegrain in that:

http://neilenglish.net/the-joy-of-the-maksutov-telescope/

The only things that have dissauaded me so far from one of these is the cool down time, anti-dewing gear that will be required and that they operate a bit less than the published aperture. Notice Neil refers to it as a 17cm !

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:)  thanks ,  Strange how when I have been browsing mak articles , I always seem to end up looking at nice medium FL triplets ;) , distractions , heh.

Dave.

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Neil English did a very interesting peice on the maksutov-cassegrain and included his experiences with a Skywatcher 180mm mak-cassegrain in that:

http://neilenglish.net/the-joy-of-the-maksutov-telescope/

The only things that have dissauaded me so far from one of these is the cool down time, anti-dewing gear that will be required and that they operate a bit less than the published aperture. Notice Neil refers to it as a 17cm !

What a great read! I had a little ETX 90 Mak about 14 years ago which was astounding on the Moon considering it's tiny dimension. I've therefore often wondered what a really big Mak would be like, and the above article has answered that question :)

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I had the 180 pro with revelation crayford, a good friend of mine now has it but it was a red hot Lunar and planet scope, but with a 2" 42mm ep it did a lot more beside, but it was heavy and not getting much use so i ended up with a 150 pro, i love the 150 its so good that having bought a nice used one i ended up selling it and treated myself to a brand new 150, great scopes  :cool:

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Oooh! I've been watching a 150 mak on the bay which ends very soon, I'm off to bid, Jules and Neil E have inspired me :)

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Still got my 180 (Ex Jules) and love it, although I haven't got to use it much lately, with weather and summer.

I have a Revelation Crayford on mine and its OK. Knowing Moonlite focusers from the one on my 5" triplet frac and having used SW DS Crayford focusers (have one on my ED80) if you have the budget go for the Moonlite. The SW are OK and have a good feel to them (once adjusted correctly) but the Moonlite is a superior focuser. 

The rings are OO which Jules sourced. Ive flocked it in the OTA plus in the baffle, (the latter making the greatest difference on bright objects). The long FL and aperture make it a great lunar/planetary scope, Ive had some smashing shots through it and views.

Example of Lunar below. Some folks have been getting really respectable planetary images from it as well, I don't have the horizon or patience to do planets justice but visually its a bosting scope.

They are solidly built and require a sturdy mount. I use mine on my CGE mount mostly although I have used it on my HEQ5 and its just on the limit there.

Go for it Dave  you wont regret it

post-2283-0-66090900-1441306692_thumb.jp

Edited by philj
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That's a fabulous image Phil..tell me, which clouds penetrating software did you use??:-)

Dave

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Well....... I caved in , and ordered last night a SW Mak180 & a red moonlite sct focuser  :D :D .

Next year when im thinking of getting a fast planetary camera I will do the flocking & ring mods , I have a friend at an engineering firm who can make some custom tube rings, sorted :)

Tomorrow will be a long day at work knowing a courier will be dropping a large cardboard box off at home :D

Dave.

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The image train should be too affected by the flip mirror but it will increase the F ratio a small bit. The reason you don't get vignetting when extending the rear end of the Skymax 180 is because of its mirror size/front aperture ratio.  Although the overall scope is 8" the fact that its front aperture effectively clips the mirrors cone means its really only about 7" of effective aperture.

If you read my article on it off my website its all explained and initially I felt a bit disappointed that my 8' scope was in fact only an effective 7' scope but then when you see the views all that theoretical stuff falls away when you see just how good the scope is.  

The 180s are a dew magnet though (unless you are observing in the Atacam desert I suppose) so get a dew heater and a dewshield for sure.  That front lens is might big and very thick and will dew at the drop of a hat.

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Thanks for the handy tips  everyone :).

Focuser is now attached to rear end & I have ordered nichrome wire as the diy dew band I made with resistor ladder design is a bit too lumpy for getting the dew shield to sit square.

Diy dew shield , I popped in to sports irect to get a Lonsdale fitness mat , it has a really flat black non reflective material on top of the 6mm foam sheet , today I went to mums house to use a big needle & thick waxy thread for stitching leather , I had a lovely hour of home crafts (stitching) hehehe :D , now have the industrial Velcro securely stitched onto the long lip of the shield.

Every night since getting the scope has been thick with cloud or it has been clear at 2am when I have to get up for work at 6:30am, humph! . 

Hope to get out to my local site soon .

Dave.

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Hi all ,  I finally got out with the new scope :) .

Got the nichrome wire delivered & made the diy dew band , fitness mat shield now fits a treat.

Here is a night time long exposure shot of the scope in action....

post-16688-0-90303500-1443632437_thumb.j

On the day I received the scope I set it up outside the house during day time to look at some distant terrestrial things and I was surprised with the sensitivity to air currents (now I know this is long FL in action) unable to focus I instantly thought it may need collimated ( glad I didn't touch it) , 8 days passed before a moon lit clear-ish night appeared and I set off to a remote site , by the time I set up & remembered how to polar align since last out in January , the 180 had a good hour cool down , Wow what a difference  , I was scanning over the moon with my Hyperion zoom eyepiece and I was amazed by the crispness & clarity of the lunar views compared to my old helios 120 F8 achro with barlow.

Next I set the mount to target Uranus , First time I have seen it through a scope , a green dot   :) , fantastic when I think of it's distance away , then Neptune , now this was hard because of the whispy, moon iluminated cloud hovering above the tree top line , there was definetly a blue dot there but I had to use averted vision :) .

After 2 hours out in the cold Borders air, the tube was very cold and so was the surrounding fields (no ground thermal currents), I swung back to the moon and the view was even more stable & clear .

I now having used this scope , understand it needs at least an hour or so before it performs brilliantly , I'm absolutely happy with that  and I am really looking forward to getting a fast planet camera next year , I Love This Scope :D :D .

Dave.

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