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SKYWATCHER HERITAGE 150P VIRTUOSO GTI WIFI DOBSONIAN TELESCOPE


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Hello

I am new to the forum and I’ve been looking at getting my first scope for observing planets and DSO's. 

It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long while now and a few evenings ago i was lucky enough to come across a gentleman in a field on my walk home who was observing Jupiter and Saturn through his telescope.  I was very grateful that he didn't mind me interrupting his observing and let me have a look through his scope,  I was amazed at seeing Jupiter and clearly seeing the banding on the planet as well as Saturn's rings and this has pushed me to finally take the plunge and get one for myself.

As amazing as it was, the telescope he used is well out of my budget for my first one (Celestron Nexstar Evolution 9.25). 

My main criteria for a telescope is:

  • I would like to observe the planets of the solar system, mainly Saturn and Jupiter.  Being able to clearly see Saturn’s rings, the banding on Jupiter and the red spot and to share these observations with my young kids.
  • I would also like to observe DSO's, some galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.
  • It needs to be something I can easily store in the house and take out to the garden or a nearby darker spot when there is a clear night
  • Something I can take in the car on our staycations - if I can squeeze it in between all the kid’s things. 
  • I am keen to try some Astrophotography, having taken pictures of the Milky Way, some easy to spot constellations and even an image of Jupiter on a 300mm telephoto lens where I could make out 4 of its moons (if I zoomed in a lot!).  But I appreciate it’s better to have a separate kit for observing vs photography so starting off with observing.

I was initially thinking about getting the Sky-Watcher Heritage 150P FlexTube after some heavy research as it seems to fit the bill but have now come across the VIRTUOSO GTI WIFI version which appears to be a new addition to the range.
Having the GoTo style is very appealing for ease of observing and especially with the kids wanting to have a look through it as well.

I haven't been able to find any reviews of this telescope and was wondering if there were any observers out there who had this telescope and could give me some feedback on how they find using it and if they would recommend it.  Or from anyone who has an opinion if it is or would be worth the extra cost over the standard 150P FlexTube or are there better options out there?

Thanks in advance!

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The 150P Virtuoso is very new to the market, so that aren't many owners with opinions yet. You might try the likes of YouTube for reviews but exercise some caution since they may be sponsored to say nice things. I have a version 1 Virtuoso and I also have a Heritage 150P (non Virtuoso!). The old version Virtuoso works reasonably well and the Heritage 150P is a highly regarded scope, so expectations would be good.

Clearly, you understand that it's not going to be up to the standards of the scope you looked through but with that in mind I doubt it's a poor choice. One thing to bear in mind, as far as I know the 150P Virtuoso can only be smartphone controlled, it does not have physical buttons to move it around - the version 1 does have but is not go-to without an add-on handset/wi-fi. No buttons may be either a good or bad thing, depending on personal preferences but be aware of it.

Astrophotography is a whole different ballgame (and price-tag!). Yes, you may be able to get smartphone "snaps", through the eyepiece, of the Moon and maybe the bigger planets in the 150P but you'd need far more serious kit for anything more.

No doubt you'll get other opinions shortly, maybe from a new owner of one of these with first-hand experience.

EDIT: be sure to read this too:

 

Edited by wulfrun
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Thanks @wulfrun for the detailed response.   From what I was reading before I could see photography was a whole different ball game so I knew I wouldn't be able to find a one size fits all solution. 

The take away from my research to date was to look for something as an observation scope first and later look into something I could use for photography. 

Thanks for the link as well, I'll give it a good read through. 

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I think you’re definitely on the right track. I’m another Virtuoso gen 1 owner and the tracking has been great for viewing with my daughter (was 4 now 7). Just makes such a difference to be able to find a target and then let her look without worrying about it drifting off.  
I do share Wulfrun’s concerns about controlling the scope with no physical buttons - really not sure how that works when looking down the eyepiece. Maybe someone with another wi-fi phone controlled scope can provide reassurance on this?
Lastly, you’ll need to budget for power supply - either DC plug for an outdoor socket or power bank as it will eat batteries. If your kids are young I’d also expect they find viewing easier with a smartphone adapter as looking down an eyepiece can be tricky for those under 6/7.

Good Luck!

 

Edited by Girders
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I have a virtuoso v1 and rarely use the buttons as I picked up a handset second hand.

As the virtuoso v2 uses the wifi solution then I'd probably look at some of those winter gloves for phone users.

EVA is not totally out of the question with an altaz tracking mount. (Moves in tiny left right up down movements so doesn't follow rotation) so lots of short exposures are stacked instead on longer ones.

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4 hours ago, Girders said:

I think you’re definitely on the right track. I’m another Virtuoso gen 1 owner and the tracking has been great for viewing with my daughter (was 4 now 7). Just makes such a difference to be able to find a target and then let her look without worrying about it drifting off.  
I do share Wulfrun’s concerns about controlling the scope with no physical buttons - really not sure how that works when looking down the eyepiece. Maybe someone with another wi-fi phone controlled scope can provide reassurance on this?
Lastly, you’ll need to budget for power supply - either DC plug for an outdoor socket or power bank as it will eat batteries. If your kids are young I’d also expect they find viewing easier with a smartphone adapter as looking down an eyepiece can be tricky for those under 6/7.

Good Luck!

 

I hadn't even thought about a power bank.  I presume you can use the standard ones for phones etc. Would  8 pre charged rechargeable batteries work or do you have to go down the house alarm sealed acid battery route? 

The specs have listed External Power Supply (DC 7.5~14V, 1A)

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I have the V1 Virtuoso mount, and sometimes use it with the Synscan handset from my Skyliner. I measured the current consumption of my various mounts, (at +12V), and this will give you an idea.

1436351650_ConsumptionTable(2).jpg.19f999e5f0135362446146f146f8d731.jpg

With a minimum voltage requirement of 7.5V, a set of 8 NiMH rechargeables, with 2500mAh capacity, should give you a good evenings observing before they drop below 1.0V (almost flat) each. My Synscan handsets require a minimum of 11V, so I tend to use batteries of 10, rather than 8, NiMH cells.

This is a range of 12V power supplies that I use.

1704741453_PowerSources-Annotated(R).jpg.6f5b972cb002f2ada1d42237e5425633.jpg

Geoff

Edited by Geoff Lister
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Using a mobile phone powerbank is possible on lower power draw mounts like this, I have a Nexstar 4SE and Nexstar 102 GT and they both run happily from a powerbank using an adapter similar to the one below.

The only caveat is that you need one that outputs at around 2 amps upwards and higher capacity means longer sessions

With the 102 GT I've got one of those runners mobile phone arm strap cases which avoids the dreaded cable wrap too

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/403017422690?_trkparms=amclksrc%3DITM%26aid%3D1110010%26algo%3DHOMESPLICE.DISCCARDS%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20200818141627%26meid%3D0e5f61f30cb043a1a4ec33455b0af876%26pid%3D101110%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26sd%3D384055613577%26itm%3D403017422690%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2563228%26algv%3Ddefault%26brand%3DUnbranded&_trksid=p2563228.c101110.m1982&amdata=cksum%3A4030174226900e5f61f30cb043a1a4ec33455b0af876|enc%3AAQAGAAAB8NQgKxIrj49jML8LzNg129NfZcDbEADAX07r%2FWo9RNI4t0ovyRCUjONDCQL0qANTOkVNq2pBGU1OsxCY29Iog8sPaEd8t54lhltCY%2FRxUDAn7Q7kKMpFWJA%2F1boPFjZatSRHeaTdyz8CHKqUcfHvpvbwIP2YkVRHbouRcmmPfuLCeS7u5PXZwLER6%2FfNr8OFlO4eVyv5BTs6LSXgsZ0SVRIIggI4TfzOB3Za8Q%2FlvrSWPZtKlv8aaXYjb4lYJE1ajQLwi8NXnE6Os%2FmjIrOZ7%2FzHLt1iyblyjFi%2FQSN48BivJnPe37C8lR3nYmkBCahpSEGcp4bsUAunMrOJiFrlRkm3BOL8tXrgtkumeVRUIG772yoriAyGyPbesWeEdk2%2BZp19HJ4MZkNsqSVujOoMvgnYec6OmAMpZQizOZ1UKZu9vVmXffLiZCt8soYRmPr30RSi5vFt3UVz09Ny3BfGWq7KeLp2HdAmpcOeRl99iGIq17c2FTzSRwVNX0M%2FixltajhGZWTfI1E0u1J9mlWDAuhOoytxn8LpvYXkzjvIMqNpR5oXdAqB%2Bw6ekIdfX2FAgDoEO5XKF0ldRUt2GrZrrWbeWXyf%2BiItkdyKJ9KDF5ftmfe5UWWMGgEn0rxZwGb1tvaJ004N10A3kU%2FwLD8gvu8%3D|ampid%3APL_CLK|clp%3A2563228

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I'm begining to understand why everyone says the costs mount up - even before you purchase anything 😀

I suspect 95% of the time it would be used in the garden so i would be able to use a mains power source.

It would be interesting to see if the rechargable batteries do work given the minimum voltage requirement of 7.5V, I have tended to buy the Varta range more recently as they seem to do a good job.
Also the power bank option with the 5v->12v cable sounds like a possibility as i only recently purchased a 20000mAh power bank which i believe has a high enough amp output..

I get the impression that the 150p is looking like the scope to go for, and having the tracking and a form of goto is useful especially for the children.
I cannot find a review or opinion on the new Virtuoso mount, to determine if its worth that investement

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A separate conversation prompted me to come back in on this this thread. Still haven’t seen any formal reviews of this version - but I’m really enjoying using it. I’ve seen a good range of DSO’s and of course the gas giants have been a highlight of late. 
Power wise I’ve been making do with rechargeable AA’s - works fine but I wonder if the slew rate is slower than with standard ones? I’ll check that. GOTO and tracking of all targets working as expected though. The rechargeable batteries have lasted only a few hours in total so not ideal long term-  I’m likely to use a Celestron Power tank or similar going forward though. 
The focuser although quirky is stable with the tape mod, and happily works with a ZWOASI224 I’m experimenting with. 
All in all this is a great package and will serve me well for grab and go and travel too. The kids as they get a bit older will I am sure enjoy using this with me!

Thoroughly recommend!
 

AD

Edited by Astro_Dad
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Thanks all for your advice, really appreciated.  The recommendation from @Astro_Dad tipped the balance and I purchased the scope yesterday via a local photography telescope store who price matched Harrisons - glad to support a local business esp in these difficult times for them.

Been staring at the FedEx tracking all day with excitement as it was meant to be arriving today but sadly its not turned up, the parcel seems to have gone backwards 🤔 

Hopefully it arrives tomorrow, can't wait to give a try 

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I'm in a similar situation and thinking stage to the OP, and this scope looks to have many pluses.  I'm slightly nervous of the apparent reliance on the app though.  How many years will it be before phone or operating system changes, or skywatcher laziness, mean that it starts to new a pain and not work on whatever tech your have? 

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13 minutes ago, LondonNeil said:

How many years will it be before phone or operating system changes, or skywatcher laziness, mean that it starts to new a pain and not work on whatever tech your have?

Check whether the mount can be used with an optional cabled handset.  I learned to distrust WiFi when they installed it for the laptops at my last place of work and then had to rip it out and cable them because of electrical interference.  A scope will last a very long time (many decades), while electric or electronic mounts have a limited life before they break down or become so obsolete nobody wants to use them.  Just like cars or computers.   

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Yes was going to suggest the same re optional Skywatcher handset. I believe that it is compatible. I suspect SynScan and the overall platform will be around for years as fairly tried and tested - probably likely the motors and drivers will wear out first, but not for quite some time one would hope (but as pioneers of new kit who knows?!). The Wi-Fi network generated is robust and reliable in the limited time I’ve had the instrument and seems to be where the tech is heading overall. That said if all of the tech fails, the scope can be used entirely manually with a copy of Turn Left at Orion! - actually my preferred mode of operation…If you haven’t sold or upgraded by the time (if) the tech is obsolete, the actual scope will happily go on working on other mounts using the standard dovetail. Enjoy it when it arrives!

Edited by Astro_Dad
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I’ve been continuing to experiment with using the planetary cam with this scope. This is the first attempt at the moon - at least it could get focus but I really struggled on Jupiter to focus sharply - very fiddly with a Barlow to help with image scale, a little easier without.  It’s a strange thing rotating the helical focuser and therefore the cam to achieve this, along with adjusting the degree of truss extension - I suspect EAA is easier with this scope but I’m new to AP so others mileage may vary! At least shows it’s possible… much more fun as a visual scope though - as it’s designed to be. A88AA334-BDF7-4DF4-AF71-87B4CDD60929.thumb.jpeg.b9253a56cbc5075d5cbbcdefe10d92ae.jpeg

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Mine arrived this morning,  can't wait to give it a go tonight 🤩

There is a port for an optional syncScan hand controller. 

I can understand the concern about app support, e.g. I'm on android and the play store app doesn't work with the the latest OS but there is a notice in the box to install the latest version from the skywatcher website directly and that installed and started up fine. 

I imagine there'll be some second hand hand controllers in a few years time which could be useful as a backup if needs must.

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2 hours ago, going-supernova said:

I'm on android and the play store app doesn't work with the the latest OS but there is a notice in the box to install the latest version from the skywatcher website directly

This has been the case for some time, and I've not found any explanation (other than "technical reasons"). Quite poor, really.

I don't think it's anything to do with software being out of date, it sounds more like they've unintentionally infringed some Play Store rule and it's preventing them loading it.

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I thought it would be worth a quick follow up having been able to spend a little longer with this system using the rechargeables. It  is clear (as others have mentioned) that the rechargeable batteries are not viable long term - although they certainly do “work”   - GOTO and tracking all appears to function, the rate of battery run down is too high. I’ve also noticed that after only a few hours the electronics start to do odd things, such as veering wildly/drifting off target randomly. This is probably consistent with the comments @happy-kat and others have made around the fact that these batteries do not deliver sufficient voltage and don’t work consistently. I’d be concerned about the long term use of these on the overall system. This also matches reports I’ve seen on the use of these with Celestron NexStar systems. I’ve bought a dedicated power tank now, hopefully offering stable consistent power delivery and way less hassle! I am sure regular AA’s work fine but have decided not to bother testing as would be quite un economical.

I’ve also picked up an illuminated reticle eyepiece to aid alignment, and even more interestingly found a very good price on a second hand Skymax 127, which arrived at the weekend and had first light last night. I was keen to test both a short and a long focal length system with the Virtuoso mount - so far so good. If interested I’ll report back further to help any other potential purchasers 🙂

Edited by Astro_Dad
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14 hours ago, Astro_Dad said:

Very good price on a second hand Skymax 127, which arrived at the weekend and had first light last night. I was keen to test both a short and a long focal length system with the Virtuoso mount - so far so good. If interested I’ll report back further to help any other potential purchasers 🙂

Interested in following your progress on this, as I'm in the market with some great advice from this forum and swaying towards keeping my 130p tube on a Goto mount which would leave the door open for something like a 127 Mak or similar as another tube to use.

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2 hours ago, Matt Ikaruga said:

swaying towards keeping my 130p tube on a Goto mount which would leave the door open for something like a 127 Mak or similar as another tube to use.

The OTAs of my Skymax 127mm Mak and Heritage 130p fit well on each other's mounts; but with the Mak's eyepiece at the rear, and the 130p's at the top, the mount has to be set lower for comfortable use of the 130p (or standing for the 130p and seated for the Mak). With care, I can swap the two OTAs, on the Skymax mount (with tripod legs almost fully retracted), and still retain reasonable GoTo alignment.

Geoff

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Thought I’d share my progress on how I’m getting on with the 150P Virtuoso.
I managed to use the telescope briefly on the first night but had issues trying to get the alignment to work correctly - I thought the app would be more intuitive.  Thankfully @Astro_Dad pointed me to the instructions for the app but I didn’t have clear enough skies to try it out.
That was until today!  It was a reasonably clear night so I went out to give it another crack.  I should mention first that I was using rechargeable batteries as I’ve not got round to purchasing the mains adapter or decided between a power tank or something like a car battery jump starter which a lot of people seem to use as its cheaper.
Following the instructions this time and now understanding what the flashing up/right arrows on the app mean I managed to get the alignment correct and working.
I was able to observe Jupiter, including the 4 Galilean moons with the included 10mm.  If I looked carefully I was just able to make out the banding.
I then moved over to Saturn, with the 10mm still on it was visible in the eye piece which I then cantered with a bit of fine tuning.  
I was able to make out the rings around Saturn which was super exciting, I know my daughter would be thrilled to bits to see the rings as it’s her second favourite planet (after earth of course).

I then turned my attention to M31 where I was able to make out the fuzzy patch in the sky with the included 25mm, I think I needed it to be darker to make it out more clearly.
Overall I’m super happy with my first real experience using my first telescope, I’m so glad I finally took the plunge.  Thank you to all for the tips and recommendations.
Its already got me wanting more, I’m already thinking about adding an alternative to the 10mm eye piece so I can get closer up to Jupiter and Saturn to make out more definition on Jupiter or even the Cassini division.
I see the BST StarGuiders come up consistently in the recommendations on this forum, has anyone had any experience with the 5mm on the Heritage 150p or is that a stretch too far for this scope?  Or would the 8mm be sufficient and/or with a Barlow?
Another recommendation has been the Svbony SV135 zoom 7-21mm.  Again any advice from anyone with any experience using this eyepiece on the 150p would be hugely appreciated.
I also now realise I have a lot to learn about DSO's, what I should be looking for and what I should be able to make out.  Now I have the tools I look forward to this.
 

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That's a lovely report. Your mirror is the same as other f5 150p skywatcher AFAIK which might help in reading eyepiece reviews. I've found as seeing etc is so variable that observing Jupiter benefits from sitting quietly for a while so as to increase moments of better seeing and planet clarity.

Edited by happy-kat
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