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Drop Of Sun

Daystar Quark Chromosphere Review – A new Era in Amateur Solar Astronomy?

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Daystar Quark Chromosphere Review – A New Era in Amateur Solar Astronomy?

Until recently, it’s been very expensive if you want to view or image the Sun in the hydrogen-alpha wavelength using a relatively large aperture such as 100mm. For example, a Lunt 100 dedicated h-alpha scope with B1800 blocking filter and Feathertouch focuser is likely to cost in excess of £7,000.

In 2014, things suddenly changed. Daystar Instruments, who have over 40 years of experience in solar filters, released a new product, the Quark. Costing less than £1,000, this new type of device can be used with many refractors, turning them into h-alpha solar telescopes.

Enter the Quark

The Quark works in a different way to the regular dedicated h-alpha telescope. Daystar refers to the Quark as being the world’s first h-alpha “eyepiece.” It’s not really an eyepiece. Typically, you place it between the diagonal and your actual eyepiece or camera.

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The Quark has a professional look and feel with an aluminium housing. It comes with a mains unit for power. I prefer to use a USB battery pack and longer cable.

Inside the Quark is a 4.3x telecentric Barlow. This helps to ensure that light passing though the Quark is reasonably parallel, which is required for good performance.

The Quark requires power and about ten minutes or so to warm up. This is because the tuning of the Quark’s etalon is controlled by the heating of an internal cavity.

For energy refection, many refractors can be used without the need for an expensive front energy rejection filter (ERF). The manual states that if your scope is under about 120mm of aperture, you can use a compatible UV/IR cut filter in front of the diagonal instead of using a front ERF. However, a front ERF must be used instead of the UV/IR cut for telescopes with an integrated rear field flattener or Petzval lens or if over about 120mm. See the Quark manual for more information and check with Daystar if you’re not sure what you need.

Quark Basics

The Quark unit I am reviewing is designed for use with refactors in the range F4- F9. Daystar now also sells a Combo Quark for off-axis use with SCTs.

The Quark comes in two flavours, both priced £899 at time of writing: ‘Chromosphere’ and ‘Prominence.’ The Chromosphere version (the one I am reviewing) is specified to have a bandpass of 0.3 to 0.5 Angstroms, while the Prominence is 0.6 to 0.8 Angstroms. In short, the Chromosphere is best for surface detail and gives more contrast on the disc, the Prominence is best for prominences, but there is crossover between the two.

Depending on your setup, it is possible to use a 0.5x reducer with the Quark to bring down the focal length if you wish. Because of the integrated Barlow, there is plenty of backfocus available.

The Quark comes with a main supply included. I recommend using a rechargeable USB battery and long cable instead for greater convenience. Daystar sells a battery pack as an extra, though some users have noted that it bears a striking resemblance to much a cheaper battery pack available from Amazon!

Eyepieces are another consideration. Because of the Quark’s integrated Barlow, you need long focal length eyepieces. Daystar recommends Tele Vue Plossls, specifically the 25mm, 32mm and 40mm. However, some Quark users have reported excellent results with Vixen SLV eyepieces.

The integrated Barlow can also affect how much of the Sun you can see in the field of view. Full disc viewing is possible with refractors up to about 450mm focal length.

Lastly, the Quark has an integrated 12mm blocking filter and offers 21mm of clear aperture filter.

Getting Up and Running

The Quark may be relatively cheap, but it looks professional, with its anodised red and black aluminium housing.

The 1.25” eyepiece holder includes a brass compression ring. This is a nice touch though in practice I have found the compression ring to be sticky. There were a few worrying moments when my camera or eyepiece snagged on an edge and I was concerned that I might drop it! Fortunately, the eyepiece holder unscrews easily and can be replaced. First Light Optics sells an adapter for the Quark that enables T-threaded accessories to be fitted. Using one of these adapters, I swapped the Quark’s eyepiece barrel for a Baader ClickLock 1.25-inch eyepiece holder. Much better!

The Quark has a combined 1.25” and 2” nosepiece, so you can use it as is with a 1.25” or 2” diagonal. If you use it as 2”, don’t forget to take the dust cap off the 1.25” nosepiece, or you may see smoke rising out of your Quark!

First Light with Al Nagler’s Briefcase Telescope

I decided to be cautious and gradually step up in aperture. First up was my smallest scope, the Tele Vue 60. Its focal length is just 360mm, so this looked a good option for full disc viewing with the Quark with room to spare.

To set up the Quark, I placed a UV/IR cut on the front of the 1.25” diagonal, slotted the Quark in the diagonal, hooked up my battery pack, and waited for the Quark’s LED to turn from yellow to green. After about 12 minutes, it was green for Go!

Unfortunately, there was lots of patchy cloud around and conditions were not ideal, so it was hard to tell just how well the Quark was performing. I found that turning the tuning knob from central to a few other positions in clockwise direction improved the view. When I changed the tuning, the Quark LED turned yellow and it took a few minutes or so until the LED turned green again to indicate that tuning had been reached. I was able to carry on observing while the tuning changed, the view was stable and I couldn’t tell anything was changing, it was too gradual for my eye to detect any change in real time.

Another reason why it was hard to judge the view was that I had no towel with me! With the Tele Vue 32mm eyepiece I was using, I had to have a gap between my eye and the eyepiece due to the eyepiece’s very long eye relief - I later bought an eyeguard extender for this eyepiece to make it a snugger fit, and bought two extenders for the 40mm!

Second Light - Throwing in the Towel

I was better prepared for the Quark’s second light. This time I had a towel at the ready and a little more aperture to bring to the party: the Tele Vue 85.

The first view was glorious. The spicules at the edge of the Sun were much more clearly defined than with my Solar Max 60. Contrast was better than I had expected. I was very used to views with both single stacked and double stacked SolarMax 60’s and without doing a direct comparison, the contrast of the disc felt middle of the road – more contrast than with my single stack SM60, but not quite as much as with the double stack.

Also the swirls and whirls around active regions showed considerably more detail than I have ever seen with a 60mm scope. Proms appeared to show a finer structure than usual, a little bit like using a bigger dob to observe galaxies in Leo. The Quark was making the extra aperture of the TV85 count.

And what really struck me was that there was no obvious sweet spot whatsoever. With the SolarMax 60, there is a considerable sweet spot and often I nudge proms towards the centre of the view for a better look.

With the Quark, proms looked just as good towards the edge of the view. For the £795 I had paid for the Quark, I was impressed.

It was not all good, though. Unfortunately, there were distracting flaws in the eyepiece view: in particular, a bright spot and two fold-like marks that moved with the view. The unit would have to be returned.

The retailer, SCS Astro, kindly allowed me to carry on using this Quark for some weeks while I waited for a replacement. This was terrific news: this Quark worked very well for imaging, the flaws did not show up on the small camera chip. Thank you, SCS Astro!

Plossls at Dawn - Quark and TV60 Versus Solar Max 60 Single and Double Stack

The big deal for me about the Quark is that it makes larger aperture solar h alpha more affordable. However, the reality is that some folks will be deciding between a smaller dedicated h alpha scope, like the Lunt 50 or a second-hand SolarMax 60, versus the Quark. They are a similar price. So, can a Quark take on a dedicated scope at the same aperture, never mind in the larger scopes?

I had two SolarMax 60’s at the ready to find out. One was single stacked (SM60 SS), the other was double stacked (SM60 DS). I grabbed some Plossls for the Quark, and Radians for the SM60’s.

First up to challenge the Quark was the SM60 DS. The SM60 DS landed an instant blow to the Quark – it gave better contrast. Very nice indeed. There was a huge filament dominating the disc on this day, and it was gloriously dark against the surrounding brighter parts of the disc in the SM60. The filament jumped out that little bit more. Also, plage showed more contrast with the SM60 DS.

Another win for the SM60 DS is that it did not show the double limb, whereas the Quark did, which is to be expected as the double limb shows in single stack systems (including my SM60 SS). The double limb is caused by light from the photosphere leaking through. Personally I don’t mind it, but a purist may prefer a double stack system that eliminates it.

The Quark soon bounced back and jabbed the SM60 DS firmly in the eye. The Quark had no obvious sweet spot. The full disc view with the Quark shows sharp, well-defined proms and tiny spicules to the edge of the field of view. As mentioned before, the SM60 has a considerable sweet spot and proms looks best more central. Over the months I greatly enjoyed the impact of full disc views especially on days with lots of proms where detail is so good all across the entire view.

All in all, I couldn’t split the Quark and TV60 vs SM60 DS. It was a case of no obvious sweet spot vs better disc contrast.

Next up was my trusty SM60 SS, which I had used a great deal for grab and go. Part of me was rooting for my faithful companion. Round one was contrast, and it was close. Too close to call. In terms of fine detail, the Quark had the edge, I could see a little more structure with it. And then there was the sweet spot again. The Quark was the champ here, with its lack of any obvious sweet spot.

The final bell rang, it was a win on points for the Quark, the lack of a sweet spot had carried it to victory.

NOTE: Over the coming months, one thing puzzled me about the Quark: In my other telescopes, contrast seemed significantly better than with the TV60. I eventually tried using the Quark and TV60 with the Quark in a straight through configuration (UV/IR cut in front of the Quark) with the diagonal after the Quark. This really improved the contrast, and at higher magnification, I could see much finer detail in active regions than I have ever seen with the SolarMax 60. Wow! If the Quark is not lined up well with the light path, this can lower the performance of the filter. If your Quark is not performing well, try using another diagonal if you have one (don’t forget the UV/IR cut if you are using one). If trying a straight through configuration, be sure to check the advice from Daystar for safe usage.

Time for the Big Gun -  Equinox 120

At last it was time to use the Quark with the scope I was most looking forward to testing it with: the Equinox 120. I felt that this was about the largest aperture I could use with the Quark without having to buy a very expensive front energy rejection filter that would roughly double the cost. I used an Astronomik 2 inch UV/IR cut on the front of the diagonal.

The first thing that struck me about the initial view was: wow, that is a small piece of the Sun I am looking at! Secondly, conditions were great, I wish I had set up for imaging!

Spicules were that little bit crisper and clearer than with the Tele Vue 85.  Smaller proms revealed much more "character" than at 60mm. In particular, there was a very small looping prom on display. I could see the separation from the disc clearly as it arched over the limb. Smaller proms like these typically show little detail at 60mm and it feels like there’s a gap and a loop, but it’s not clear to see. With the 120mm it was crips and beautiful!

Swirls of detail around the active regions came more alive than at 60mm, filaments showed finer structure and complexity at the higher magnifications. There was, quite simply, detail everywhere I looked. I was greatly impressed.

One of the downsides of the Quark versus a dedicated scope like the Lunt 100 is that you cannot view the whole disc in one go in larger scopes. Although it’s possible to use a reducer with eyepieces to view the Sun at a lower power, I didn’t feel the need anyway. At lower mag I could not see as much fine detail, and fine detail was why I was putting the Quark in a 120mm scope in the first place. I wouldn’t be pining to see the full lunar disc if using a 14 inch SCT. Quark and big scope is about close-ups. I would be using the Quark with my TV60 for grab and go, so I would get plenty of low power full disc then.

Life with Quark

Since these early views in 2014, I have used the Quark many times in four different telescopes. Just like white light with a Herschel wedge, I find it convenient to be able to use the Quark in different scopes.

The Quark certainly works as a grab and go for me. On an unusually sunny holiday I managed 17 straight days of using the Quark and TV60. I used a mini giro mount and tended to power up the Quark indoors while having breakfast so that it was ready to use afterwards. Perhaps a fast 80mm would make more sense, to still allow full disc and to reveal finer detail at higher magnifications, but I love the portability and character of the little scope and for me grab and go is about fun and enjoyment, not the best view. Also, the sleek black TV60 does not draw attention to itself, unlike my old gold SolarMax 60!

My favourite scope for imaging is the Equinox 120. I normally use a 1.25” 0.5x reducer, a cheap £20 or so buy from Telescope House.

My favourite scope for observing in the Skywatcher ED100 DS-Pro. I find it nearly matches the 120mm for detail, yet is comfortably ahead in detail than my 85mm scope. It’s also nicer to use on my giro scope than the 120, being considerably lighter.

My Tele Vue 85 also gets Quark time. I tend to use it as a compromise scope. If I’m imaging and it’s a bit windy, I will drop down to it from the 120mm. Or if I just want a quick view, sometimes I will grab the 85 instead of the 100, as it’s a far smaller scope and the view is certainly a step up at higher magnifications than with my Tele Vue 60.

When I first heard about the Quark, my two main concerns were the integrated 4.3x Barlow and the need for power. In practice, I haven’t found these to be much of an issue. A 0.5x Barlow tames the focal length for my needs. I could probably push the Quark more than I do, I was impressed in one session when I forgot to put the reducer on my ASI174 and the view on screen looked very good and do-able. I also like that the Quark’s Barlow is inside the Quark, protected from the dust that my regular Barlows always seem to attract!

I found the power requirement okay, and a small price to pay considering the relatively low cost of the Quark. A portable battery pack means I can power up the Quark indoors or while I am getting out the mount etc. I use a long cable and then run this up the telescope tube and down the side of the mount, so it doesn’t tend to get in the way.

The warm up time of ten minutes or so makes no difference to my imaging with the Equinox 120. It takes me at least that long to get set up (rough alignment, setting the time etc. on the handset, moving to the Sun, getting the camera ready, and so on).

The time it takes for the Quark to reach a new tuning also hasn’t really troubled me. I have used several Quarks and once I have found a tuning that I like, I just keep it on that. If you are a more advanced user, perhaps this is more of an issue if you want different tunings such as to show Ellerman Bombs.

There has been a lot of talk since the Quark came out about the bigger scopes being more demanding on the seeing. For visual, I normally use my ED100 and it’s fine, it shows far more close up detail than with the 60mm scope. If the seeing conditions are very choppy, which is fairly rare (I tend to do mornings when conditions are usually better), I have no great wish to see it at 60mm either, I prefer leave it a while to see if things settle.

Out of my four Tele Vue Plossls, my favourite to use with the Quark in all four scopes is the 32mm. I am content just using this eyepiece. Now and again I like to sneak in closer with the 20mm or 25mm, but really, things look good and detailed already with the 32mm, I could get by with this one eyepiece alone. However, I would consider the Vixen SLV instead if buying again following some reports on excellent performance from other Quark users.

Quark Issues

Unfortunately, I have experienced a number of issues with the Quark. In total, I purchased four Quarks from three different retailers and today I have two out of the total of eight Quarks that I have used. Here is a brief summary of how I got on with them.

  • Quark 1: Performed excellently for imaging but showed defects in eyepiece view: small bright spot and two dark fold-like marks in eyepiece view. Returned for replacement.
  • Quark 2: Replacement for Quark 1. Large scratch-like mark in eyepiece view. Returned for replacement.
  • Quark 3: New, second purchase. Wanted two Quarks, plus cover in case of further problems with first Quark purchase. Quark gave very uneven illumination (see small flat image below) and loss of detail over large parts of eyepiece view. Was part of a problem batch apparently. Returned for refund.
  • 24708505652_b7f0190806_o.jpg
  • Quark 4: Replacement for Quark 2. Performed fine for imaging, accepted. I still own this Quark.
  • Quark 5: New, third purchase, still wanted second Quark. Accepted this Quark, to use for imaging. Quark developed fault within 12 months (view looked somewhat like white light). Returned for warranty repair/replacement.
  • Quark 6: Wanted third Quark, for wife’s use, mostly visual. Quark gave excessive glow in eyepiece view with inferior views of proms. Returned for replacement.
  • Quark 7: Replacement for Quark 6. Performed well, clean view, accepted.
  • Quark 8: Warranty repair/replacement for Quark 5. Appeared to be replacement (different barrel). Many splotches over much of eyepiece view. Returned for refund as agreed by retailer.

Verdict

The Quark is a brilliant device that can dramatically cut the cost of viewing or imaging the Sun in hydrogen alpha in larger scopes than 50/60mm, and it offers an interesting alternative even if used in smaller scopes. In my experience it gives reasonable contrast, though not quite as much as a double stacked dedicated scope.

The Quark shows no obvious sweet spot. At apertures of around 100-120mm, the Quark gives remarkably detailed views at higher magnifications. I highly recommend apertures of 100mm or more. For visual, I found the Skywatcher ED100 DS-Pro to be a superb match.

Although the Quark may look less flexible than a dedicated h alpha scope because of its integrated Barlow, you can tame the focal length to some degree using a 0.5x reducer. The Quark gains some flexibility from being able to be used in different telescopes, such as 60mm for full disc (with my setup, full disc imaging in four tiles versus single tile for SolarMax 60) or 100mm for close-ups.

If you want to travel light, it can be a plus that you can use the same telescope for hydrogen alpha (Quark), white light (Herschel wedge) and regular astronomy.
The Quark can look like a no-brainer if you want to use a large telescope around the 100-120mm mark and your funds do not stretch to the likes of the Lunt 100.

However, all things considered, with a heavy heart I cannot recommend the Quark. I have experienced a number of issues. From a total of eight Quarks used, I now have only two of them. I would not buy a Quark now. I would be thinking, okay, if I buy from a good retailer, I can return the unit promptly if it does not meet my reasonable expectation. But what if I am happy with it, accept it, and it breaks after say ten months? What if I send it back to the USA, wait some weeks for a repair/replacement, and it is replaced with a Quark that performs very differently to the one I had accepted, and it shows distracting flaws in the eyepiece view?

This has already happened to me once - see Quark 5 and Quark 8 in Quark Issues, above. I requested a refund as I considered that the repair/replacement had failed. I understand that another replacement was offered by Daystar. The retailer, SCS Astro – who have been very supportive throughout – kindly agreed to a full refund. Thank you, SCS Astro!

While the close-up views at 100-120mm can be intoxicating, I recall that I had no problems with my two SolarMax 60’s. Next time out, I intend to take a very close look at the Lunt 50. It is returning some excellent full disc images and I have enjoyed a number of views though Lunt telescopes. Perhaps less is more sometimes when it comes to aperture.

NOTE: You can read about SCS Astro’s experiences with the Quark and customer issues here:
http://www.scsastro.co.uk/

Quark Cons

  • Less contrast than a double-stacked dedicated solar h-alpha scope.
  • Full disc not visible in scopes above about 450mm focal length.
  • Integrated 4.3x Barlow ramps up the focal length for imaging, though depending on camera chip, you can use a 0.5x reducer.
  • Eyepiece selection is more fussy, 25-40mm Tele Vue Plossls are recommended. 2” eyepieces do not fit by default, though a replacement 2” eyepiece holder is available.
  • Power is required, in practice I found this to be less hassle than it sounds when using a battery pack and long cable instead of the included mains unit. A battery pack is available from Daystar though be wary of the high price compared to alternatives.
  • Quark needs to be powered for about ten minutes or so before use. Quark needs a few minutes to change to a new tuning.

Quark Pros

  • Costs far less than a dedicated 100mm scope.
  • No obvious sweet spot.
  • Use the same scope for white light/regular astronomy as well - ideal for travelling light.
  • Use different scopes to match your current needs, e.g. 80mm for grab and go, 120mm for close up imaging.
  • The integrated 4.3x Barlow is shielded from dust.

Quark Images

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Edited by Drop Of Sun
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That is a  very good write up on the on

the Quark.  Great picts as well.

It does seem to be the luck of

the draw, to get one that works

properly though.

Steve.

Edited by Grotemobile
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Superb write up and some excellent images.

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Thanks for taking the time to write this all up. I enjoyed the read and the images.

It does seem like the cheap option is the risky option. I guess that it is a case of "New or Nothing".

How far off were the rejected Quarks? Was it imedeately apparent that something wasn't right, or did it take close examination?

Paul

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The spectacular images speak for themselves and are fantastic. It's just a shame that the unreliability of the product makes it too risky for me and I suspect many other buyers. I get the same results (visually anyway) with a similar priced PST mod and have never really heard of one of these failing.

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Fabulous review Luke. Balanced and considered, and coming from someone who has really given the product a good workout, I don't think anyone could argue with your findings.

I really enjoyed my Quark. It gave me the best Ha views I've seen with my own kit (The top prize goes to a double stacked Solar max 90, unfortunately not mine!). I used it in everything from a 60mm Tak to a 150mm Skywatcher, best views in my book were probably with either tha TV85 or 120ED depending upon conditions. Ultimately though, I can only say I found it tiring to use, and fussy. My next Ha setup will be a TAL PST Stage 2 mod, whenever I have the funds to put that together.

Thanks for your time and effort writing up your findings.

Stu

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2 hours ago, Paul73 said:
2 hours ago, Paul73 said:

Thanks for taking the time to write this all up. I enjoyed the read and the images.

It does seem like the cheap option is the risky option. I guess that it is a case of "New or Nothing".

How far off were the rejected Quarks? Was it imedeately apparent that something wasn't right, or did it take close examination?

Paul

Thanks for taking the time to write this all up. I enjoyed the read and the images.

It does seem like the cheap option is the risky option. I guess that it is a case of "New or Nothing".

How far off were the rejected Quarks? Was it imedeately apparent that something wasn't right, or did it take close examination?

Paul

Thanks, Paul!

Quark 1 you could maybe live with for visual if you are okay about seeing some marks in the view all the time (ignoring the flaws, contrast and detail were superb). I would have some concern over resell value and my wife did not want to keep it, she is mostly visual. For imaging with my Grasshopper 3 (ICX687) it was great, no problems over the chip. A slight concern for imaging would be, would it have still been okay with a larger camera chip like the ASI174? (which I now own).

Quark 2 I did find annoying visually, my wife said absolutely no. It was like having a hair in the view all the time.

Quark 3 was a non-starter for me for imaging, I could hardly see anything in the middle of the screen, the eyepiece view was very uneven too, I would not want to use it for visual.

Quark 4 is okay.

Quark 5 was nice for imaging but went faulty, very white light like, so unusable to me for h-alpha once it went.

Quark 6 really did suck. What concerns me a bit, is that I was initially told by someone at Daystar, that it's a lighter Quark, there will be glow. Not glow like that, buddy! A light Quark should perform well on proms, that's the point of the lighter Prominence :icon_biggrin: I'd used a lighter Quark befrore and proms were amazing! Proms were inferior with this one and without  question I would rather view/image with my old SolarMax 60 single stack. I would not use this unit.

Quark 7, quite nice really, clean view visually. I have only imaged a few times with this, I had a few issues last time with it using my larger camera chip (ASI174) but I can't draw any conclusions there yet for imaging, I need to find out what the cause was of issues. Eyepiece view is nice though so we are happy with this regardless.

Quark 8 I would point blank not use for imaging or visual. If you gave it to me free I would not use it. To me it was like looking through a mucky eyepiece and details were lost over various areas of the view.

 

Edited by Drop Of Sun
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Thanks for the detailed review. Sounds like a bit too much of a risk unless I knew the seller.

Paul

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Despite some well documented issues, if you get a good one the images are stunning! You have a great collection there.

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Great review and glad to see another tv60 owner!

Thanks very much for sharing all your thoughts about the quark (and the tv60). That is on my long term purchase list!

 

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8 hours ago, Moonshane said:

The spectacular images speak for themselves and are fantastic. It's just a shame that the unreliability of the product makes it too risky for me and I suspect many other buyers. I get the same results (visually anyway) with a similar priced PST mod and have never really heard of one of these failing.

I wish I had it in me to do a PST mod! Thanks for mentioning the mod route, I should have put something in my reivew.

I don't think solar images get much better that JP Brahic's PST shots, my eyeballs fall out looking at his images:

http://jp-brahic.chez-alice.fr/soleil2015_juin.htm

Edited by Drop Of Sun
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Wow I agree!

I was lucky as I managed to source all the bits
 And just put them together

:icon_biggrin:

 

 

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Quote

NOTE: You can read about SCS Astro’s experiences with the Quark and customer issues here:
http://www.scsastro.co.uk/

wow, that's shocking reading, especially combined with your experience.  I had 2 faulty Quarks and am very happy with my little Lunt.

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1 hour ago, Drop Of Sun said:

I wish I had it in me to do a PST mod! Thanks for mentioning the mod route, I should have put something in my reivew.

I don't think solar images get much better that JP Brahic's PST shots, my eyeballs fall out looking at his images:

http://jp-brahic.chez-alice.fr/soleil2015_juin.htm

You are not wrong. Brought a tear to my eye too.

love the Earth scale addition.

got to find out more about these PST mods.....

paul

 

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11 hours ago, Paul73 said:

Was it imedeately apparent that something wasn't right, or did it take close examination?

Paul

I forgot to say, Paul, that in general eyepiece flaws were easy to see in a few seconds. I would just pan the view and the marks would move with it. Of course it would then take a little while to triple check where the marks were coming from.

 

10 hours ago, Stu said:

My next Ha setup will be a TAL PST Stage 2 mod, whenever I have the funds to put that together.

Thanks for your time and effort writing up your findings.

Stu

Stu, may I suggest this scope, it evidently works well with a PST mod:

http://jp-brahic.chez-alice.fr/L230_JuilletA.jpg

:icon_biggrin:

Edited by Drop Of Sun
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Great revue Luke, mine appears fine, there are spots on the red bit visible looking into it but they don't affect it visually or for imaging, glad I bought mine before I read your review or I may not have bought, would have had to buy an LS60DS, oh wait a minute I did :) nice to have the best of both worlds.

Dave

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Nice write up Luke and I thought you liked Quarks?  I am on Quark number three now.

Quark 1 went back twice for repair, it lacked contrast and almost no detail was visible.  This came from SCS, sadly now parted company with Daystar, so when I wanted to try another, I had to switch supplier.

Quark 2 came from Astrograph, Rupert really knows his stuff, he checks all of the Quarks he gets in and views wise it was amazing.  The detail was great, the contrast good and the field wasn't entirely flat, but flats easily coped.  Sadly, my scope needs two clicks anti clockwise and Quark 2 wouldn't achieve lock at any settings anti clockwise so after speaking to Rupert it went back. Rupert now checks the tuning range so this shouldn't happen moving forwards.

Quark 3 was supposed to be a repaired Quark 2 but Daystar sent a new one.  The contrast isn't as good as Quark 2, but the field is flatter, it tunes and achieves lock for all settings and provides good views.  Quark 3 needs 3 clicks anti clockwise, so don't be afraid to try different settings.  Sure it isn't quite as easy to live with as my Lunt 60 DS, but in a 80mm scope the fine detail is just as good and there is less grain and smoother features at high magnification.  I can only imagine it would be better again in a 100mm scope, sadly the UK weather hasn't cooperated since getting this Quark in Dec. to try my 100mm.

Overall, I still like (prefer?) my Lunt, but a Quark is a 1/5th the price, it is capable of high magnification views, I can do 12 pane mosaics, it fits my one scope does all goal and is great for travelling.  

So if I had the money for only one solar scope and it stretched to a Lunt 60 DS, then this is what I would go for.

If however, I wanted to do white light, Ha (and possible CaK) for less money, then a Quark will do nicely.  Just buy one from a good retailer, be prepared to send it back if it is not right or if buying second hand buy one from someone who has proven results.

Hope that helps.

Robin

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I purchased one of these from Widescreen Centre in London about three weeks ago and have not yet been able to use it. It will be with a great deal of trepidation that I will put it in the diagonal of my 120ED (previously Stu's 120ED referred to above) and plug it in.

I had the pleasure of looking through Stu's Quark at the eclipse last year so know roughly what to expect of a good one.

I will report back.

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1 hour ago, DRT said:

I purchased one of these from Widescreen Centre in London about three weeks ago and have not yet been able to use it. It will be with a great deal of trepidation that I will put it in the diagonal of my 120ED (previously Stu's 120ED referred to above) and plug it in.

I had the pleasure of looking through Stu's Quark at the eclipse last year so know roughly what to expect of a good one.

I will report back.

Please don't worry, you've bought from a very established retailer. Have you used the 120 for white light? I love mine with a Herschel wedge, the detail is amazing at higher mag in good conditions!

Edited by Drop Of Sun

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1 minute ago, Drop Of Sun said:

Have you used the 120 for white light? I love mine with a Herschel wedge, the detail in amazing at higher mag in good conditions!

Yes - I have a Baader Herschel Wedge and it is fantastic with the 120ED :smile:

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4 hours ago, DrRobin said:

Nice write up Luke and I thought you liked Quarks?  I am on Quark number three now.

Quark 1 went back twice for repair, it lacked contrast and almost no detail was visible.  This came from SCS, sadly now parted company with Daystar, so when I wanted to try another, I had to switch supplier.

Quark 2 came from Astrograph, Rupert really knows his stuff, he checks all of the Quarks he gets in and views wise it was amazing.  The detail was great, the contrast good and the field wasn't entirely flat, but flats easily coped.  Sadly, my scope needs two clicks anti clockwise and Quark 2 wouldn't achieve lock at any settings anti clockwise so after speaking to Rupert it went back. Rupert now checks the tuning range so this shouldn't happen moving forwards.

Quark 3 was supposed to be a repaired Quark 2 but Daystar sent a new one.  The contrast isn't as good as Quark 2, but the field is flatter, it tunes and achieves lock for all settings and provides good views.  Quark 3 needs 3 clicks anti clockwise, so don't be afraid to try different settings.  Sure it isn't quite as easy to live with as my Lunt 60 DS, but in a 80mm scope the fine detail is just as good and there is less grain and smoother features at high magnification.  I can only imagine it would be better again in a 100mm scope, sadly the UK weather hasn't cooperated since getting this Quark in Dec. to try my 100mm.

Overall, I still like (prefer?) my Lunt, but a Quark is a 1/5th the price, it is capable of high magnification views, I can do 12 pane mosaics, it fits my one scope does all goal and is great for travelling.  

So if I had the money for only one solar scope and it stretched to a Lunt 60 DS, then this is what I would go for.

If however, I wanted to do white light, Ha (and possible CaK) for less money, then a Quark will do nicely.  Just buy one from a good retailer, be prepared to send it back if it is not right or if buying second hand buy one from someone who has proven results.

Hope that helps.

Robin

That's great news that you are happy with the third Quark, Robin. :happy7:  I'm looking forward to seeing more of your images with it.

I had thought, just buy from a good retailer, if it is not as it should be, you can send it back, so no great risk.

I hadn't really thought about what happens if your unit goes faulty once you have accepted it.

I am not at all impressed with the Quark that was sent to me as a warranty replacement after I took the time and expense to post the faulty one to the USA. I sent a good imaging filter back, and was sent something that I never wanted to use again. I felt a bit sick after using it for a few minutes.  As I panned the view, I had one lot of detail on the Sun moving with the view, and another lot of detail not moving with it. Very uncomfy viewing for me.

I can still use my wife's Quark and hopefully it will last a long time.

I hope to get a Lunt 50 when the time is right. The single stack is Quark money and I can double stack later. I used to like grab and go full disc imaging with my SM60 single stack and I wasn't tracking and ramping up the mag, so I had been thinking before the Quark was on the scene that a 50mm would do just as well for me and would be lighter and more compact.

Edited by Drop Of Sun

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Can't wait to see your Quark images in summer, Alexandra! :)

I am thinking of doing visual only with the Quark now and playing around with NASA/SDO data. That stuff is so much fun to play with!! I've never been that bothered that it is my own data that I process, I know for a lot of folks using your own gear and capturing your own data is very important.

I just feel closer to Sol and enjoy myself if I have data to play with, no matter where it comes from. I was thinking, if I ever process deep sky images again, I'll check out Hubble Legacy Archive.

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On 8 February 2016 at 01:10, Drop Of Sun said:

That's great news that you are happy with the third Quark, Robin. :happy7:  I'm looking forward to seeing more of your images with it.

I had thought, just buy from a good retailer, if it is not as it should be, you can send it back, so no great risk.

I hadn't really thought about what happens if your unit goes faulty once you have accepted it.

I am not at all impressed with the Quark that was sent to me as a warranty replacement after I took the time and expense to post the faulty one to the USA. I sent a good imaging filter back, and was sent something that I never wanted to use again. I felt a bit sick after using it for a few minutes.  As I panned the view, I had one lot of detail on the Sun moving with the view, and another lot of detail not moving with it. Very uncomfy viewing for me.

I can still use my wife's Quark and hopefully it will last a long time.

I hope to get a Lunt 50 when the time is right. The single stack is Quark money and I can double stack later. I used to like grab and go full disc imaging with my SM60 single stack and I wasn't tracking and ramping up the mag, so I had been thinking before the Quark was on the scene that a 50mm would do just as well for me and would be lighter and more compact.

That is unfortunate about the replacement. I am not sure how you go on about warranty when you get a replacement. Really you should get a few extra months additional warranty to make sure that the replacement is working correctly, not just to the 12 months on the original purchase, 

I suppose you have opened up another issue, what happens after 12 months, even with a Quark which is good when purchased?  I know all Etalons have a limited life time but one with electronics and a heater must even more susceptible to problems?  I still think Daystar have a winner in the Quark, but they need to make sure the quality/reliability is there as well, even if it increase cost?

Anyway, I like the look of a Lunt 50 and was set to consider one for travelling if I couldn't get a Quark to work.

Robin

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On 05/02/2016 at 22:04, Joseki said:

wow, that's shocking reading, especially combined with your experience.  I had 2 faulty Quarks and am very happy with my little Lunt.

That's the same word I used when I talked to my wife about SCS Astro's article! When you experience issues yourself it's hard to know if there is a wider problem or if you are just having bad luck.

Direct link (pdf):

http://www.scsastro.co.uk/userfiles/file/Quark%20NOT.pdf

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