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First impressions Stella Lyra Linear Binoviewer


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I love observing with Binoviewers. Great views and easy on the eyes. I use them for everything: moon, planets, DSO and the sun. However I do not use them exclusively. I still enjoy mono!

I have a pair of WO Binoviewers which I use with my Taks.

When they (the WO) work, they provide a fantastic image, but they are a bit of a faff! Merging the images can be a bit of a black art (I tend to have to loosen off the right hand eyepiece clamp). The extra light path does not play well with the Taks which at the best of times have a very short focus range. So I have to use the x1.6 GPC which often gives more magnification than you want and a corresponding smaller FOV. The GPC has to be on the telescope side of the diagonal and due to threading differences, I can't use the Tak diagonal which I love. I spent quite a bit of time (and money) getting them to work natively (no GPC) with the 100DC. This involved removing some (all!) of the tube extensions and some Baader parts (2" click lock threaded to the Tak draw tube + 2" to 1 1/4" click lock converter + Tak diagonal). This works, gives great low power views when used with a pair of 28mm Erfles but requires lots of screwing and unscrewing to convert between mono and bino. Even with the large focus range of a Mewlon, I can't quite reach focus natively; it's frustratingly close though :) Call me misguided or vain but when viewing mono I love just having the OTA out of the box, all Tak original bits, no Baader. And I do find while observing sometimes I like to switch between mono and bino! The other problem with the WO was I simply could not get them to work with my Lunt 50.

So when FLO offered the Stella Lyra Linear which reportedly would come to focus in a scope where an eyepiece would come to focus I hummed and hawed for a while and finally caved in to temptation. So here are my initial impressions:

I have only been able to compare the SL with the WO on the Sun in white light and terrestrial observing; not having seen a clear night in months!

They are a lovely solid piece of kit that feel really well made.

When looking at branches and leaves in a nearby tree there is definitely a bit of colour, particularly noticeable along the edges of branches and twigs. The WO had none.

Also (as I had read somewhere else), parts of the view that are not in focus seem to float in mid air. Very hard to describe and certainly a bit strange looking and were I to be buying these to study trees I would return them! Luckily this is not something I intend to do :)

Now to the sun in white light. I tried to get a similar as possible magnification between the SL and WO. This turned out to be WO + x1.6 GPC + 15mm Televue Plossls. And SL + 7.5mm LEs. The WO are plugged into a Baader diagonal with the GPC attached to the telescope end of the diagonal. The SL are plugged into the Tak diagonal. So I can swap between them by plugging the diagonals in and out. For some reason the x1.6 GPC combination seems to be giving me more like a x2 when used in the overall system.

Again, the SL are showing some colour. Purple just outside the sun's disc and yellow just inside. Not really off putting and not evident when looking at sun spots. The WO had no false colour.

The SL are easy to merge. This is a big plus! Even with 7.5mm eyepieces it was easy. The WO have always given me bother though I generally get there in the end. I eventually managed to merge with the 7.5's in the WO but at one point in the early days of ownership had given up trying. The trick for me was to completely loosen off the eyepiece clamp on the right hand side eyepiece.

This next observation is a bit subjective as I was continually swapping Binoviewers around and having to refocus etc but I have come up with similar conclusions over three sessions, one of which was using different combinations of eyepiece in each Binoviewer. The WO gave a better view. Easier to focus and just seemed sharper when in focus. Faculae were clearer in the WO. Granulation was more obvious in the WO. Very small sunspots (pores?) were sharper and more were resolved in the WO. The background was darker in the WO.

One very big plus is that the SL works with my Lunt 50 straight out of the box so to speak. It does exactly as it says on the tin, if the eyepiece focuses, the SL will. Well not quite! My Tak eyepieces will not come to focus (neither will the stock WO 20mm). NOTE this is just with the Lunt. It's fine on all the other scopes. BUT, Televue do come to focus. The 10mm BCO also comes to focus (though just). Apparently the TV Plossl's focal point is a short distance below the shoulder and this allows the Lunt to easily come to focus. I assume the Tak LE focal points are at the shoulder. I have had some fantastic views of the current big prom on the sun with the Lunt 50 + SL Bino + TV 15mm Plossl (and 10mm BCO). 

Unfortunately the Tak diagonal does not really like the SL. It's the usual undercut problem but at least there are ways of correcting that.

So as with all things telescope related, it's a compromise. The SL are really nice to use, I can plug them in and out of the Tak diagonal just like another eyepiece. They work with the Lunt. There are no merging problems. I just don't think the view is as sharp or detailed as the WO in solar white light. I'll be keeping them though; the fact they work with the Lunt seals that one. I can't wait to try them on the moon, planets and DSOs, but based on the solar white light observations, I'm not expecting them to provide as good a view as the WO and I'm wondering will the false colour be evident. I shall try and remember to update this thread when I get to use them at night!

Thanks for reading and I hope this may be of use for anyone considering them.

Malcolm

IMG_20220804_111705613.thumb.jpg.741dd73544bc1d734bd997488a9107dd.jpg

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Sorry to hear the new binoviewers are not the panacea you hoped for, Malcolm. Could it be the false colour is related to not having the GPC in place? 

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That's an interesting thought @JeremyS I didn't think of that. Though I had hoped to use them without a GPC. I've just been able to do a quick comparison on the moon in a very bright blue sky. No colour evident but the WO definitely give a much better view. I'll do more testing under a dark sky but I have to say I'm a bit disappointed in them and if it were not for them working with the Lunt I would consider returning them. Caveat is I have not had a lot of time with them yet. These are just first impressions.

Malcolm 

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Interesting and useful report, thank you 👍

I had considered getting a pair of these previously, also to replace or use alongside my WO binoviewers too. 

Based on this report, it seems not to be worthwhile 😬

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I have the WO binoviewer and like using it on the right target (bright ones which show some detail). It is difficult to get focus and I have constructed a table of what combinations of scope / GPC / Barlow will come to focus. The easiest option is to use the binoviewer with the Mak which will focus on anything!

When I first got the binoviewer I had great difficulty merging the images. The problem I experienced was not the merging of the two widely spaced images that you see initially but a second stage merging of two images that were close but just far enough apart to cause double vision. Try as I might I could not get rid of the double vision. In the end I tried three sets before settling on one that worked for me (thanks to The Widescreen Centre). I think that there is very slight variation in the alignment of the left and right optical paths and you need a set that matches your eyes. Or else you have to mess about with the eyepiece clamps. With my current set I can clamp the eyepieces and adjust the dioptre successfully.

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47 minutes ago, HollyHound said:

Interesting and useful report, thank you 👍

I had considered getting a pair of these previously, also to replace or use alongside my WO binoviewers too. 

Based on this report, it seems not to be worthwhile 😬

I'm afraid I have to agree with you :( I will keep them, but just for use with the Lunt. 

Malcolm 

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23 minutes ago, PeterC65 said:

I have the WO binoviewer and like using it on the right target (bright ones which show some detail). It is difficult to get focus and I have constructed a table of what combinations of scope / GPC / Barlow will come to focus. The easiest option is to use the binoviewer with the Mak which will focus on anything!

When I first got the binoviewer I had great difficulty merging the images. The problem I experienced was not the merging of the two widely spaced images that you see initially but a second stage merging of two images that were close but just far enough apart to cause double vision. Try as I might I could not get rid of the double vision. In the end I tried three sets before settling on one that worked for me (thanks to The Widescreen Centre). I think that there is very slight variation in the alignment of the left and right optical paths and you need a set that matches your eyes. Or else you have to mess about with the eyepiece clamps. With my current set I can clamp the eyepieces and adjust the dioptre successfully.

I remember reading about your trials and tribulations! Very glad you eventually got a pair to suit your eyes. My WO are now a couple of years old so I think an exchange is out of the question however I have learnt to work with them and find them great albeit a little fiddly at times.

Malcolm 

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22 hours ago, PeterC65 said:

I have the WO binoviewer and like using it on the right target (bright ones which show some detail). It is difficult to get focus and I have constructed a table of what combinations of scope / GPC / Barlow will come to focus. The easiest option is to use the binoviewer with the Mak which will focus on anything!

When I first got the binoviewer I had great difficulty merging the images. The problem I experienced was not the merging of the two widely spaced images that you see initially but a second stage merging of two images that were close but just far enough apart to cause double vision. Try as I might I could not get rid of the double vision. In the end I tried three sets before settling on one that worked for me (thanks to The Widescreen Centre). I think that there is very slight variation in the alignment of the left and right optical paths and you need a set that matches your eyes. Or else you have to mess about with the eyepiece clamps. With my current set I can clamp the eyepieces and adjust the dioptre successfully.

So were you trying a set and sending them back to the Widescreen Centre until you found the correct pair at your third try? Did you discuss this with Elena after the first failed pair? This has put me off buying a binoviewer which was going to be my next purchase 🤔

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7 hours ago, bosun21 said:

So were you trying a set and sending them back to the Widescreen Centre until you found the correct pair at your third try? Did you discuss this with Elena after the first failed pair? This has put me off buying a binoviewer which was going to be my next purchase 🤔

I thought the first set I had was faulty and so the Widescreen Centre took it back. They checked and thought it was OK but sent it back to WO as it was definitely faulty for me. I then ended up being sent two more sets at the same time as a result of a mix up at WO. From those two I chose the best one, although actually both sets seemed fine. So three sets in total.

It may be that the first set I had was faulty, but Simon at the Widescreen Centre thought it was fine so that made me think it might be my eyes. Comments from others about binoviewers seem to suggest that it can be hard to find a set that matches your eyes (others seems to be on their 3rd, 4th, 5th set, or they have to fiddle with the eyepiece clamps). This may be to do with eye alignment which the theory suggests can be quite a sensitive thing.

I could detect the problem in daylight. Looking at a distant window frame I could see double, even after merging the two images (the two very separate images that you see initially). If I were buying again I would try them out first or buy from somewhere that is happy with returns (the Widescreen Centre were great).

While they were a bit of a pain, the view of the Moon with the binoviewer is amazing, and even M42 got a "Wow".

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39 minutes ago, PeterC65 said:

I thought the first set I had was faulty and so the Widescreen Centre took it back. They checked and thought it was OK but sent it back to WO as it was definitely faulty for me. I then ended up being sent two more sets at the same time as a result of a mix up at WO. From those two I chose the best one, although actually both sets seemed fine. So three sets in total.

It may be that the first set I had was faulty, but Simon at the Widescreen Centre thought it was fine so that made me think it might be my eyes. Comments from others about binoviewers seem to suggest that it can be hard to find a set that matches your eyes (others seems to be on their 3rd, 4th, 5th set, or they have to fiddle with the eyepiece clamps). This may be to do with eye alignment which the theory suggests can be quite a sensitive thing.

I could detect the problem in daylight. Looking at a distant window frame I could see double, even after merging the two images (the two very separate images that you see initially). If I were buying again I would try them out first or buy from somewhere that is happy with returns (the Widescreen Centre were great).

While they were a bit of a pain, the view of the Moon with the binoviewer is amazing, and even M42 got a "Wow".

Thanks Peter, I’ll go ahead and buy a set. How did you find the WO eyepieces that came with the binoviewer?( sorry @MalcolmM for jumping on your thread, last question). I am not overly worried about reaching focus, but the merging the images makes me cringe.

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I wasn't too impressed with the bundled 20mm WO's and they were full of debris.

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I eventually went with 20mm SWAN's although the entire FOV can't be used.

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I have others.

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The WO's have a reputation for not being easy to merge. I mainly use them for lunar with a 127mm Mak. 

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58 minutes ago, bosun21 said:

Thanks Peter, I’ll go ahead and buy a set. How did you find the WO eyepieces that came with the binoviewer?( sorry @MalcolmM for jumping on your thread, last question). I am not overly worried about reaching focus, but the merging the images makes me cringe.

No need to apologize :) It's good when a thread promotes discussion. Unlike @Zeta Reticulan I actually find the stock WO 20mm pretty good. Just goes to show that one size does not fit all. Merging tends to get more difficult with the higher power eyepieces but I've managed to learn to work with the WO. I would be fairly confident you will love them! I do.

Malcolm 

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@Zeta Reticulan I'm very envious of all your eyepiece pairs! That's a great looking collection! I see what looks like a pair of TV Plossls in there. I recently got a pair of 15mm TV Plossls and find them very nice to use.

Malcolm 

Malcolm 

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Just now, MalcolmM said:

@Zeta Reticulan I'm very envious of all your eyepiece pairs! That's a great looking collection! I see what looks like a pair of TV Plossls in there. I recently got a pair of 15mm TV Plossls and find them very nice to use.

Malcolm 

Malcolm 

Yeah, they're 15mm TV's. I've experimented with a lot of pairs.

xa0wrBXl.jpg

These are probably the only ones I use now. The 12mm GSO Plossls have the barrels from the borked WO EP's. 

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17 hours ago, bosun21 said:

Thanks Peter, I’ll go ahead and buy a set. How did you find the WO eyepieces that came with the binoviewer?( sorry @MalcolmM for jumping on your thread, last question). I am not overly worried about reaching focus, but the merging the images makes me cringe.

I think the WO 20mm eyepieces are a very good match for the binoviewer. They max out the field of view at the lowest sensible magnification. I leave them fitted all of the time and just change magnification with the WO GPC or a (Badder Hyperion) Barlow.

I did consider buying more eyepiece pairs but the binoviewer eyepieces need to be small and lightweight and my standard set are all very large and heavy ES eyepieces (so not suitable for doubling up). I use the binoviewer like another eyepiece, to be selected for the right target, rather than as a different observing mechanism, changing the eyepieces fitted to it.

One thing worth noting is that the WO x1.6 GPC corrector is slightly less than 1.25" in diameter and it has no collar. This means it will disappear inside the eyepiece clamp and so touch your diagonal mirror / prism or your filter wheel. I have to be careful with it, or sometimes I use the collar from the Baader Hyperion Barlow which stops the GPC disappearing into the clamp. Even with the collar, the smaller size of the GPC can make it hard to clamp (the Badder ClickLock will not clamp on to it for example, but a standard thumb screw clamp will).

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Hi Malcolm,

Great post/thread and some very interesting and useful info..thanks!

I've owned and used Baader Maxbright MkI's, William Optics and Revelation binoviewers..all variants on a common design and very similar basic features.

I actually really like the Baader T2 system, which does enable the shortest possible light path and hence the best chance of getting native focus without using a GPC. I found a way to use the Maxbrights natively on my Tak FS128, and posted a thread to illustrate how I did it..

image.png.973f4decd0cbd6c15b63d126237fa1ae.png

The above shows the components I used in my FS128..but my Tak is over 20 years old so I don't know if any or all of the parts I used would be compatible with modern 100mm Taks for example.

Anyway, although this setup worked quite well, I did find the incredibly fiddly eyepiece clamp screws on the Maxbrights' (3 screws on each clamp!) to be incredibly annoying.

I did prefer the more robust, larger single clamp screws of the WO binoviewer to be better in practical use, but for some reason I just didn't "gel" with them so let them go and more recently I have used Revelations which have few frills, but seem to work well.

Of course, the Revelations and WO BV's can't be used with the T2 system, which is irritating, but I have found that in my Tak (yours may be different) I can get native focus with the following configuration with my Revelations..

- replace the standard Tak end of tube parts with a Baader Ultrashort 2" M72 to M68 adapter..this threads straight in to the end of the FS128 tube

- add this into the back of the above clamp

image.png.0f3dbb65ee9af2a6265554930a4fbcf2.png

..the above clamp has a 2" aperture into which I fit a Baader T2 prism with a 2" to T2 nosepiece..the 2" nosepiece gives great grip and locates snugly right into the Ultrashort clamp.

Onto the eyepiece end of the T2 prism diagonal goes a Baader short 1.25" clamp like this one:

IMG_20220807_161116859.thumb.jpg.9d83b1e1724efdb82b3f723ab0ad8d7f.jpg

now, the Revelation Binoviewer 1.25" nosepiece fits into the above clamp (take care that the binoviewer nosepiece doesnt bang into the prism glass of the T2 prism diagonal..).

It should now look like this:

IMG_20220807_233412688.thumb.jpg.566ec25bf1a337dc8bef653bc875583a.jpg

IMG_20220807_233207693.thumb.jpg.73e48df1e6e007f9a07f096b77cf0ac7.jpg

IMG_20220807_233522633.thumb.jpg.8d810942a26ba66ccfbb62384b4c3209.jpg

IMG_20220807_233421361.thumb.jpg.a3e94264f38c1351299c53e523c30fee.jpg

 

I can get native focus with all my eyepiece pairs in this setup.

I have also found that the mirror diagonal that gets closest to the prism in terms of native focus capabilities is the Televue Everbrite 1.25" model, which also has the advantage of being made from a solid 1 piece aircraft grade aluminium block, so doesn't have a threaded nosepiece which can then unthread itself under heavy weight load - unlike most other standard mirror diagonals.

I hope the above all makes sense, and although I may upgrade my BV's in the future, I know that the lowly Revelations can put up some wonderful images - just read some of Mike Hezzlewood's (MikeDnight) planetary observations: he uses the same vintage 2006/7 model of Revelation BV's that I use..

HTH,

Dave

 

 

 

 

Edited by F15Rules
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That's a very interesting read thanks @F15Rules. Sounds like we do a very similar dismantling to the Tak and use of Baader parts to get native focus. I'm always a bit reluctant screwing and unscrewing the various Tak extension bits in case I ruin the threads. Have you been doing this for 20 years with your FS128 with no problems?

Also very interesting that you get such good views with the Revelations. I have seen @mikeDnight drawings and I cannot decide if I am more in awe of his observing skills or his drawing skills!

I have always fancied trying the latest incarnation of the Maxbrights but very hard to get hold of. But maybe I need to try the Revelations instead!

Malcolm 

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I do something similar to @F15Rules with my diagonal to help achieve focus with the binoviewer.

I use a Baader 32mm T-2 prism diagonal with a 2" nosepiece screwed in to the scope side and a Baader 1.25" ClickLock clamp at the other. The prism diagonal has a short optical path length anyway, the 2" nosepiece allows it to go flat against the focuser without any adaptor, and the ClickLock clamp keeps the path length short on the binoviewer side. I could use an ultra short clamp but as I mentioned before, the nosepiece tends to bump into the prism glass even with the slightly longer ClickLock.

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