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Questions about dobsonian manufacturers


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Hello everyone,

 

Although I've been reading the SGL forum for quite a while now, this is my first post so please be gentle with a newbie. It took weeks of searching for an answer to my questions before I decided to post but I might have overlooked certain avenues. I appologize in advance if the subjects I will touch on have come up before in previous posts I've missed.

I've been interested in physics, astronomy and telescopes for most of my life and even own a small dobsonian (the Sky-Watcher Heritage-130P Flextube), which I'm very happy with. However, recently I've become more and more eager to broaden my horizons and after months of research I have come to the conclusion that...I'm not sure what my next big purchase should be. The main reason I seem to be struggling is that there doesn't seem to be any clear authority when it comes to reviews, news and guides. Everything is scattered all over the internet and nothing seems to be standardized.

That being said, I was wondering if you might be able to help me fill in some gaps that I feel I currently have. Here are a list of questions that seem pretty straight forward but are very hard to answer:

  1. Is there any detailed master list for major manufacturers, the types of scopes they produce and their specs (appretures, mirror types, add-on components included, etc.)?
  2. Why does it seem like the US has so many options (at least when it comes to dobsonians) compared to Europe?
  3. How old are the current mass produced telescopes offered by different manufacturers?
  4. Are these being updated or facelifted any time soon? If so, how can I find out about them?
  5. Are there any smaller manufacturers, in Europe, that offer high quality customizable dobsonians? (for example, the US has: Discovery Telescopes)

Thank you you all in advance and sorry again of these topics have been discussed before.

 

All the best,

Mihai

Edited by Mihai
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Hi @Philip R, thank you for the warm welocme and for pointing me in the right direction.

Regarding their dobsonian, I noticed that Beacon Hill Telescopes mention some specs and a bit about the manufacturing process but, unfortunately, there don't seem to be any pictures. Do you happen to know anyone that has one of thier dobsonian telescopes? Maybe @Peter Drew 🙂

Thanks again!

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Re points 3 and 4, telescopes are not like smartphones where a new model is needed every few months to maintain market share.  New developments do appear, mainly in mounts, but the basic refractor design is centuries old, the basic Newtonian design is a couple of centuries old, and the basic design of the Celestron 8 inch SCT has not clanged much in over 40 years (though the mounts for these SCTs have changed a lot).

It seems that you are looking for a Dobsonian telescope.  So that would be a Sky-watcher or a Bresser, unless you want something less mass-market or more customised.

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Hi @Cosmic Geoff, thanks for your reply.

I know that the lifecycle of each telescope generation is definitely longer than those of smartphones. However, I don't understand why manufacturers aren't constantly updating/improving the creation process, materials and overall quality of thier builds.

Take for instance the Orion Sky Quest XT12i. If I'm not mistaken, it was first released in 2004 and the DSC IntelliScope that comes bundle with it uses '80s technology. Many of the reviews I read about it mention the fact that the outdated technology, like the fact that it's not properly attached to the base and the backlight used for the 2 digit(!) display, hinders a good viewing experiance. Not to mention that the lack of options you have when it comes to all the add-ons (eyepieces, finder scopes, mounts, colours, etc.) is disappointing. Referencing the 2nd point from my original thread, people living in the US have way more options with the Build-A-Scope options they have availble. Why isn't there such a thing for Europe?

I noticed that this is the trend with most, if not all, major manufacturers of mass produced telescopes. Coming back to your last point, considering I'm aiming for a 12" dobsonian, just having an option between a 12" Sky-Watcher and a 10" Bresser (because they don't make a 12") as well as the fact that these cannot be customized in any way, from the manufacturer's side, feels extremely limiting and sub-optimal. Why would I want to support the entire cost of a Sky-Watcher Skyliner 300P FlexTube when I'm not interested in a lot of the parts that it comes bundled with instead of getting the option to swap them? Just to expand on that: single speed focuser (instead of a dual speed Crayford) that I wouldn't even know how to replace, 9x50 Finderscope instead of an option for a RACI, standard eyepieces that I will almost instantly replace with one that and of better quality, have better FOVs, better eye relief, etc.

I am sorry if I went on a rant but I think that my inital post didn't quite expand on some of the points that I wanted to make.

Regarding your last remark, about the interest in "something less mass-market or more customised", it's why I added the 5th point in my original post. If you have any custom dobsonian manufacturer that operates, or at least delivers, in Europe please let me know.

Thanks again and have a great weekend ahead. Clear skies, everyone!

Edited by Mihai
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Orion Optics offer a dobsonian mount option for their newtonians. You can pick the specification from their options or, if you are really patient, they will make something to your precise specifications:

https://www.orionoptics.co.uk/home.html

I think the answer to some of your questions is that the market is relatively small overall. Two or three decades ago there were more companies in the UK making dobsonians and telescopes generally but back then the chinese made instruments hit the market which had a big impact.

In europe there are some other choices:

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p5999_TS-Optics-12--f-5-truss-type-Dobsonian-telescope---made-in-Germany.html

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p2236_Geoptik-Nadirus-12-Truss-Dobsonian-Telescope---12-inch-Aperture-f-5.html

https://www.sumerianoptics.com/products

 

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2 hours ago, Mihai said:

Hi @Cosmic Geoff, thanks for your reply.

I know that the lifecycle of each telescope generation is definitely longer than those of smartphones. However, I don't understand why manufacturers aren't constantly updating/improving the creation process, materials and overall quality of thier builds.

Take for instance the Orion Sky Quest XT12i. If I'm not mistaken, it was first released in 2004 and the DSC IntelliScope that comes bundle with it uses '80s technology. Many of the reviews I read about it mention the fact that the outdated technology, like the fact that it's not properly attached to the base and the backlight used for the 2 digit(!) display, hinders a good viewing experiance. Not to mention that the lack of options you have when it comes to all the add-ons (eyepieces, finder scopes, mounts, colours, etc.) is disappointing. Referencing the 2nd point from my original thread, people living in the US have way more options with the Build-A-Scope options they have availble. Why isn't there such a thing for Europe?

I noticed that this is the trend with most, if not all, major manufacturers of mass produced telescopes. Coming back to your last point, considering I'm aiming for a 12" dobsonian, just having an option between a 12" Sky-Watcher and a 10" Bresser (because they don't make a 12") as well as the fact that these cannot be customized in any way, from the manufacturer's side, feels extremely limiting and sub-optimal. Why would I want to support the entire cost of a Sky-Watcher Skyliner 300P FlexTube when I'm not interested in a lot of the parts that it comes bundled with instead of getting the option to swap them? Just to expand on that: single speed focuser (instead of a 1:10 Crawford) that I wouldn't even know how to replace, 9x50 Finderscope instead of an option for a RACI, standard eyepieces that I will almost instantly replace with one that and of better quality, have better FOVs, better eye relief, etc.

I am sorry if I went on a rant but I think that my inital post didn't quite expand on some of the points that I wanted to make.

Regarding your last remark, about the interest in "something less mass-market or more customised", it's why I added the 5th point in my original post. If you have any custom dobsonian manufacturer that operates, or at least delivers, in Europe please let me know.

Thanks again and have a great weekend ahead. Clear skies, everyone!

Maybe this is worth a look https://www.sumerianoptics.com/eq-platform

As for technology age is one thing functionality is another. The push to mount you mentioned XTi12 uses old technology that works. There are better versions of it but the technology delivers the required outcome and its pretty much bullet proof. Fully auto GOTO mounts have more advanced technology but still do the same thing ie, put you telescope on the target. I have both, old technology encoders in a manual mount with older tech Argo Navis and a newer all singing and dancing Celestron GOTO mount with starsense. The interesting thing here is the newer mount needs more attention, updates etc and needs more regular input. The older mount with the older technology and computer just gets on with the job quietly and efficiently and delivers the same accuracy. It uses a lot less power as well. One isn't better than the other for the outcome, its just different ways to find an object, but the older tech seems more robust and never needs messing with.

Bear in mind that optical and mechanical solutions have been improved with newer materials and production methods but the basic designs for telescopes  have lasted for hundreds of years, so no real need to re invent the wheel. 

 

 

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On 18/06/2020 at 10:38, Mihai said:

Why does it seem like the US has so many options (at least when it comes to dobsonians) comapred to Europe?

Quite a few have been closing up shop lately like Starmaster and Teeter, so we're seeing less selection as well.

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Hi, I'm a newbie but thought i would add my contribution.

Supply is low at the minute, i ordered a Skywatcher 10" truss dob and the order has been on hold for around 8 weeks - if you're in a rush you might be disappointed. Supposedly there is a shipment coming in early July, but then i imagine there is a back log. 

Everyone has different tastes, it really depends on what you wasnt to view or photograph. I like you wanted to review what was out there and the scope is one half of the optical system, the EPs are a source of ever changing information. I had a set of old meade Plössls but the eye relief was a bit to be desired at higher magnification so traded them in.

There is an absolute wealth of information out there immerse yourself in it and you will certainly learn a thing or two - i'm planning on making my own light shroud, thanks to some posts I came across. 

 

I tend to read a few sources to get a measure of equipment, not only that, some equipment is better suited to different skills and challenges.

 

Good luck! 

Michael

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Thank you kindly for all your replies, everyone. It's appreciated!

 

@johninderby, a couple of questions, if I may. Regarding your first reply, do you happen to know how long it takes David to created a newly commissioned telescope? Also, he mentions on his website that "[...] the basic prices quoted in the price list are for Dobsonians with 1/4-wave PTV wavefront accuracy mirrors" and that "almost all of the telescopes I make are fitted with higher accuracy 1/10th-wave mirrors". I was curious if you've ever had the pleasure of looking through one of his telescopes and posibily know a bit more about the prices for the 1/10th wave mirrors, as the 1/4th are pretty much similar to the standard mass produced ones.

Your second reply and @John's second "other choices in Europe" pick, the Geoptik Nadirus 12", seems ideal! However, I was wondering what the difference is between the Teleskop-Express' €1,849/Astroshop's £1,680 version and Astroshop's £810 version. I understand that the latter is a kit but what does that imply exactly? You get to build your own dobsonian base with all mass produced dobsonians and, considering it's a truss design, building the OTA doesn't really apply in this case. Thanks in advance for clarifying!

 

@John, thanks for all the other options you've sent my way. I've been aware and eyeballing most of these for some time now. Here are my current general impressions on these:

I've read mixed things about them. Some people seem to believe that the overall quality of thier products is lacking (mostly mirror issues), while others love them. Considering the price tag for thier OTAs and whatever extra I would have to fork out for the base and eyepieces, I've never actually considered them. Please let me know if you've had the pleasure of looking through one and let me know how your experince was.

Looks like a really nice and hefty build, for a truss design. However, I couldn't manage to find any reviews on it and the listed technical specs seem to be lacking. All of that uncertainty, coupled with the high price point, gives me pause. Again, I haven't really gotten a change to observe through one so, if you have, please share your experience and let me know if you think it's worth it.

Their products look absolutely amazing! I believe I've stumble upon them before but never delved into looking up a review, as the price seemed restrictive,...until now: Review Sumerian Alkaid 10 inch telescope. Deep Sky Sketch has a fantastic website and was of great help when choosing the Sky-Watcher Heritage I currently own.

@JG777, he also briefly reviews the EQ-platform you mentioned and seems quite happy with the option: "As an extra I also ordered a tracking platform which Sumerian builds too. A very pleasant feature to keep the image still while observing and sketching, especially at higher magnifications. The platform fits perfectly with the Sumerian Alkaid and is equipped with Teflon pads, making the 'normal' chassis redundant.". By the way, thank you for all the details regarding the different DSCs you have tried. The reason I mentioned the XT12i's push-to system wasn't to point out the fact that 'old tech is bad tech' but to draw attention to the fact that it still has some kinks that could have been fixed with facelifted versions of the same product. For instance, add a more dark vision friendly display in updated, improved, models. Or at least offer that option for an extra cost.

Coming back to the topic at hand, it seems like DSS highly recommends their 10" Alkaid model but, as he himself mentions, "The price may be high for the beginner who is not sure whether the hobby will last. But to the more experienced observer I can say: You get what you pay for.". It's definitely one that I am considering so I would love to hear your thoughts on this one as well. Considering I don't have a lot of experience, maybe 30-40 hours of viewing, do you think this would be a good choice for me at this point in time?

 

@Louis D, I understand that smaller local manufacturers are having a hard time competing with the Chinese ones but I was also referring to the mass produced options that seem to be more accommodating in the US. Here's a snippet from one of my posts above:

On 19/06/2020 at 12:51, Mihai said:

Referencing the 2nd point from my original thread, people living in the US have way more options with the Build-A-Scope options they have availble. Why isn't there such a thing for Europe?

 

@SteadyMercury, thanks for the info and welcome to the forum. It's always good to hear from a fellow newbie!

8 weeks sounds like a long time to wait for an order, damn. From your description, I'm guessing your new telescope is this one, right? How are you finding it so far? Is the build quality good enough for the price?

Fingers crossed on the DIY lightshorud working out!

 

Sorry about the long post and thanks again for your input, everyone.

Have a great weekend and clear skies!

 

Cheers,

Mihai

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Best to allow a few months to have David build one However he could br busy what wth the incresed emand for scopes in general.

I have had a couple of the OO scopes with 1/10 PV mirrors. When seeing is poor the views aren’t much different to a  mass produced scope but when seeing is good that’s when you can tell the difference.

The Geoptik kits come without mirrors hence so much cheaper.

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I've always thought that Altair Astro have an attractive product range.  

 https://www.altairastro.com/refractor-telescopes-46-c.asp

I would repeat Cosmic Geoffs point of view, which is that the science of optics is well understood and is not (thankfully) subject to planned obsolescence or frequent upgrades.  Of course, what does happen is that the electronic gadgets are improved with time.  I've recently bought a polemaster which I'm very pleased with - that certainly wasn't available when I started this hobby.  A lot of people find a good approach is to buy a decent OTA and then upgrade the accessories as and when you fancy.

Im not sure who would take it upon themselves to maintain a master list of manufacturers -but if you wanted to keep updated about new astro technology then the Astro magazines are probably quite a good source.

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@johninderby, so I take it that you haven't yet got a chance to observe through one of David's telescopes? Regaring the Geoptik, that makes a lot more sense now. Also, thanks for letting me know regarding the OO scopes. Basically it's not really worth it in the UK, I take it 😆

@GraemeC, Altair Astro's line-up really does look very high-end. It also seems like they facilitated the perfect way to showcase hat I meant when I said that the mass manufacturers don't really look at optimizing a product during it's lifecycle. If you take a look at their Altair Wave Series 102mm F7 Super ED Triplet APO you will see how they updated thier model:

image.thumb.png.9212e1076e76fcb86b218269163ec5c3.png

Most manufacturers don't really seem eager to take user feedback into account when deciding to go ahead and start a new production cycle for their existing telescope line-up. It's also about customization and allowing customers to determine what would fit their preferences/budgets the best.

I'm not saying that the 'wheel' should be reinvented but, as with your new Pole Master (congrats on the purchase btw), if current day wheels would look and feel the same as the first ones then cars would be totally different. Iteration of a model doesn't necessarily mean improvement, as @JG777 mentioned in his reply about DSCs, but it does mean that the end user has more options to choose from.

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3 minutes ago, GraemeC said:

Oops! Just noticed you were discussing dobsonians... Never mind :)

No worries, all inputs are valid. I'm not 100% set on a dob yet, just trying to learn more. Thanks again 😀

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3 hours ago, Mihai said:

.... I've never actually considered them. Please let me know if you've had the pleasure of looking through one and let me know how your experince was....

I've owned this one for about 6, maybe 7 years now. Orion Optics 12 inch F/5.3 optical tube purchased pre-owned on a mount made by a forum buddy. My most used and best scope (I've owned around 30 scopes over the years):

 

12dobwaiting.JPG

Pre-owned is the way to go with Orion Optics in my view. They depreciate quite quickly in value if you buy them new.

 

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18 minutes ago, John said:

I've owned this one for about 6, maybe 7 years now. Orion Optics 12 inch F/5.3 optical tube purchased pre-owned on a mount made by a forum buddy. My most used and best scope (I've owned around 30 scopes over the years):

 

12dobwaiting.JPG

Pre-owned is the way to go with Orion Optics in my view. They depreciate quite quickly in value if you buy them new.

 

Wow, 30 scopes? 🤯 Now that's an achievement!

Thanks for sharing, @John! You can really tell that a lot of attention has been put into the mount's construction.

Since you opened this can of worms, I was wondering if you could please direct me to a good second hand telescope website. I guess there might even be something on the SGL forums but I haven't checked yet. Thanks again 🙂

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6 minutes ago, John said:

There is a classified section on this forum:

https://stargazerslounge.com/forum/217-for-sale-swap/

And the UK Astro Buy & Sell website which is very popular:

https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/

I started browsing right after my last post and I'm already knee deep in the AB&S website 😆 Lots of nice deals there!

I'm just curious how I should go about separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to pre-owned ones. Do you look for anything specific?

Thanks again for all the help, @John. It's very appreciated! 👍

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5 minutes ago, Mihai said:

I'm just curious how I should go about separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to pre-owned ones. Do you look for anything specific?

 

Ask on this forum - somebody on here will have used / owned the item in question and you should get opinions quickly.

UK Astro Buy & Sell is much better than buying from e.bay in my experience - it's run by astronomers for astronomers.

 

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