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At some point before the spring/summer months arrive I'm looking to pick up a cheap travel scope to take on family holidays camping away from much of the light pollution I'm used to at home. Taking my 6" newt and AZ4 isn't practical in a full car. I'm considering two routes - either a travel dob such as the SW 130p Flextube, or a compact refractor (in the latter case, something second hand through the classifieds of ABS.) In the latter scenario I believe I can use a photography tripod potentially - is that correct, and if so would it involve removing the tripod head (I currently use a ballhead and Swiss-Arca system with my DSLR and binoculars)?

I'm trying to work out the pro's and con's of either route. I also know very little about refractors, and if I do look at a refractor could someone suggest what I should be looking for - be it focal length, specific models etc?

My budget is around £150-170 total, if I can't reuse my Manfrotto tripod then something else would need to be budgeted for. Does anything jump to mind?

ETA:
One consideration that's just come to me - if I go for a tabletop dob, it'll likely be placed on a camping table - not likely to be the most stable. I'm not sure how much that will affect things.

Edited by A_N_other_beginner

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I think u should consider a 6 sct it's still lighter and smaller and lighter then the 130mm sw flextube.

I have both.

The 6 sct is 7 lbs

U can use that base if u want on the sct.

Myself I thought this already and I will try the 6 sct on eq2 or celestron gt mount.

Both of these mounts r rated for 10 lbs so by time u add rigel 1.25 diagonal and ep it will be 8 or 9 lbs. Pretty much at limit but doable.

I'm not looking for rock solid but as large as I can get for lightest package.

Again if u dont like the tripod mount way use the flex tube mount then.

At one time I did do a 80mm f5 refractor but it cant compare to a 6 inch, unless u want a wide scope for scanning milky way stuff 

Joejaguar 

Edited by joe aguiar
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I use my APM 80mm F/6 on a Velbon carbon tripod, with Mini-Giro mount. Works nicely, even with two scopes side-by-side.

IMAG1016.thumb.jpg.c8cc23421fc509226ce2e0245a18d953.jpgIMAG1017.thumb.jpg.96b54f4c6f76268177243dc2aaf68954.jpg

I am sometimes inclined to get myself a Vixen VMC110L, which given quite a bit more aperture but restricts FOV. The APM weighs in at about 2.5 kg,  the Vixen just 2.1 kg.

 

 

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The OPs total budget for everything is only £150.00 to £170.00 so that doesn’t allow for a C6 SCT or a nice 80mm APO.

 

Edited by johninderby
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You are a bit tight on budget there so probably most reasonable option would be to go with compact / tabletop dob scope.

I would otherwise recommend you something like this:

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p1151_TS-Optics-70-mm-F6-ED-Travel-Refractor-with-modern-2--RAP-Focuser.html

coupled with something like this:

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p9334_TS-Optics-Tilting-Head-and-Altazimuth-Mount-for-photo-tripods.html

Refractors are better travel scopes in general. More compact, will provide both low power views and high power views for occasional moon gazing and planetary. You don't need to worry about collimation and in all likelihood they will be easier to mount.

Your budget is limiting thing here, and if you want to go refractor route - you will be looking at something like ST80 or above mentioned OpticStar achromat. Such scopes will be good low power scopes and for general observing and low power moon, but planets will be out of reach with them (only very low power) as they suffer from chromatic aberration - or false color / purple fringing that is particularly bad at high power / planetary viewing (high contrast targets).

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The Opticstar achros have far less CA than the Skywatcher and are quite usable for planetary observing. Yes there is CA but it isn’t bad particularily the  90mm being an f8.8.

Edited by johninderby
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1 minute ago, johninderby said:

The Opticstar achros have far less CA than the Skywatcher and are quite usable for planetary observing. Yes there is CA but it isn’t too bad. .

I've heard that it is so, and it better be at F/7.5 vs F/5 :D. Slower achromat with smaller aperture will certainly give better views, but longer the scope - less portable it is and requires sturdier mount.

I would personally choose Opticstar AR80S vs ST80 almost always - it is certainly better corrected for color, has nicer focuser and retractable dew shield, and in general looks like higher quality product. It is however heavier at 3Kg and longer at half a meter of length (almost 60cm with dew shield extended).

Add good diagonal, finder and eyepiece and you are already at the limit of what photo tripod can carry in alt az configuration with most travel heads. It will take up almost all budget so there will be no room for tripod az head to mount scope on.

On the other hand ST80 is rather compact at 40cm, 1.3Kg and given that you can get it for less than £100 - there is some room to get Az head for tripod - so I think it's worth mentioning as an option.

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I hadn't checked the budget, but a mount like a mini-giro will sit on a photo tripod and provide much better balance than a normal pan-tilt head. The little VMC110L can be attached to a photo tripod, but is also somewhat over budget (OTA EUR 233 or just shy of GBP 200 at TS). 

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31 minutes ago, johninderby said:

The little f5 Opticstar 80mm is a smaller cheaper option and while f5 still less CA than the ST80.

http://www.opticstar.com/Run/Astronomy/Astro-Telescopes-Opticstar.asp?p=0_10_1_1_90

They used to do one with a dual speed focuser which does show up used from time to time. 

Do you have first hand experience with both scopes? I'm finding it hard to believe that such scope at that price will beat ST80. Difference in price between two already very cheap scopes must account for better focuser and general fit&finish of tube and retractable dew shield. That means both scopes use same or similar glass types (no exotic glass at that price) and both are F/5. How better can one scope be compared to the other?

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I’ve had the AR80S dual speed and the AR90 and an ST80.

The optics of tje AR80S are noticeablely sharper than the ST80 and a bit less CA. A great value for money. The Opticstars are a real bargain. Reasonable build quality and a not bad Crayford focuser. Not up to the build quality of one of TS scopes but for the money quite acceptable. 

 

Edited by johninderby
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2 minutes ago, johninderby said:

I’ve had the AR80S dual speed and the AR90 and an ST80.

The optics of tje AR80S are noticeablely sharper than the ST80 and a bit less CA. A great value for money. The Opticstars are a real bargain. Reasonable build quality and a not bad Crayford focuser. Not up to the build quality of one of TS scopes but for the money quite acceptable. 

 

How much would I need to budget for a diagonal and what would I need to mount it on a camera tripod?

And any take on the AR80S vs the Flextube 130p?

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A 1.25” decent quality mirror diagonal can be picked up for under £25.00 new that will do the job. A dielectric diagonal would be about £70.00 new or £35.00 to £40.00 used.

The Flextube 130p will show far more and not have any CA. However you will have to learn how to colimate it, but not very difficult. The refractor is far smaller and easier to transport and shouldn’t need colimating. The Opticstar has a photo tripod screw fitting on the dovetail bar so can simply be fitted to any photo tripod.

Edited by johninderby

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ok I will revise my post didn't see your budjet of 150 to 170

so it may come down to the SW 130 flextube, at 5.1 its decent large and its a parabolic mirror BUT you will need a shroud since its an open tube and MAYBE a dew cap since the I think the 2nd mirror may dew up. we just talked about this on another thread going on right now.

you will still need a fold up table or stool, and it should be kinda solid or it will vibrate the scope and image. So take this into account on your price

joejaguar

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so I have done a video on this scope if you would like to see for the xmas time gift giving and buying.

I do a couple issues with it tho

1-at the price its the same price as a meade 130mmf/5 Polaris model which comes with a eq2 mount and tripod. And I think this kinda set-up cost more over a particle board base. I also think the eq version put the ep at a perfect postion. Also having manual slow motion controls is better then pushing by hand at higher power PLUS later add a simple single drive and it tracks by itself.

The SW heritage 130 also needs a good table or stool AND a shroud AND a think dewcap since its all open AND being its the same price is where I am liking it as much.

IF it was $229 to $249 then all that stuff goes away BUT since its at same price by the time u add that stuff it will be amlost $100 more then the eq version.

anyway if you still like that scope here my point on the video

joejaguar

 

 

Edited by joe aguiar

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Whilst I have made a shroud for mine I often use it without one and I've got two very close Street lights plus a further two not that far away.. It's nice to have but I don't say it's essential.

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I also place mine on the ground and sit on a garden chair but could just as easily sit on a collapsible light camping stool, but I'm fairly slight of build so bending is no problem.

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For 130P adaptation to photo tripod - have a look here:

Ball head and small vixen clamp is all you need.

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3 hours ago, johninderby said:

The little f5 Opticstar 80mm is a smaller cheaper option and while f5 still less CA than the ST80.

http://www.opticstar.com/Run/Astronomy/Astro-Telescopes-Opticstar.asp?p=0_10_1_1_90

They used to do one with a dual speed focuser which does show up used from time to time. 

I've read reports of the optics in those being very variable. Neil English was one owner who ended up putting a Skywatcher ST80 objective in his Opticstar 80 tube to get decet performance from it.

 

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2 hours ago, johninderby said:

I’ve had the AR80S dual speed and the AR90 and an ST80.

The optics of tje AR80S are noticeablely sharper than the ST80 and a bit less CA. A great value for money. The Opticstars are a real bargain. Reasonable build quality and a not bad Crayford focuser. Not up to the build quality of one of TS scopes but for the money quite acceptable. 

 

I have the Opticstar AR90 f5.5 which sadly I don't think is sold anymore, but its a well made and good looking scope with quite a decent focuser. As you would expect there is some CA but its not objectionable (at f5.5) and it makes for a good grab n' go scope and gives some nice wide field views and Luna is better than you would expect. As a travel scope its pretty bullet proof - which helps.

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12 minutes ago, John said:

I've read reports of the optics in those being very variable. Neil English was one owner who ended up putting a Skywatcher ST80 objective in his Opticstar 80 tube to get decet performance from it.

 

If that's the case my 90mm is one of the better ones.

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22 minutes ago, Alfian said:

If that's the case my 90mm is one of the better ones.

Its the 80mm F/5 that I was referring to specifically.

 

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Another thought is a 90 or 102 Mak. Smallish fov but cracking little scopes that will mount easily on a photo' type setup.

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Just now, John said:

Its the 80mm F/5 that I was referring to specifically.

 

Yes, fair enough John, but it had crossed my mind that if quality control was an issue then it might apply to other scopes.

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