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Hotech SCA Collimator


dark knight
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Well, the delivery man arrived today with a nice looking parcel marked Fedex from FLO and I instantly knew what was inside. I ripped the parcel open to find a bubble wrap type envelope inside which contained a lovely looking quality box with a hinged lid. I opened the box up and securely nestled inside the fully padded box was a beautifully crafted piece of precision engineering, a Hotech SCA Laser Collimator. Now this unit is fantastically made and just oozes quality, no plastic parts here. The laser is factory set in the housing and is non adjustable. It is a complete solid unit, unlike the types that utilise a laser pointer that has to be set up dead centre in a separate housing. I opted for the slightly more expensive version which can be used in either a 1.25" or 2" focus draw tube, so making it very versatile. Being a bloke, I quickly skimmed through the instructions and they seemed to make sense, so far so good.

I must add at this point that I have never collimated any optical instrument before and to be honest the mere thought of adjusting mirrors scared me to death (especially the secondary).

First up was Steph's 12" dobsonian (well I wouldn't want to practice on mine now would I), I knew this could not be far out as Dave (Milliways) had collimated it previously, but we have moved it around since then. Anyhow, I popped the laser into the 2" draw tube making sure it was fully seated and turned a knurled ring which in turn compresses the rubber O-rings which form the Self Centering mechanism and grip the inside of the draw tube. This provides 3 separate contact points down in the draw tube and ensures the collimator is held true and square, very simple and very effective, the collimator was held solid as a rock and showed no sign of any slop. A quick turn of the battery lid at the top and the laser was active. Sure enough it indicated the secondary was slightly out, a quick adjustment of the secondary holder via the adjustment screws and the laser hit dead bang centre in the doughnut on the main mirror, brilliant, that was the tricky bit done. At this point I must point out that the laser produces a cross hair type pattern which I found a very useful feature as it gave no doubt as to where the centre of the laser was hitting,,very, very easy to determine it's position at all times. I could now sit at the back of dob and see the return path of the laser in a window in the collimator as it struck the target face, it showed adjustment of the primary mirror was required. The pattern on the target face is fantastic and it's markings not only indicate by how far collimation is out, but can also be used as an indication of which primary mirror adjustment screws need to be turned, awesome. A quick tweak, tighten up the locking screws and it was done. Removal of the collimator was straight forward, turn knurled ring, a gentle push in to release the rubber O-rings and then slide it out. Job done well inside 10 minutes, full of confidence my SW200p was next (had it 2yrs and it's only been collimated once by a friend) the laser soon showed collimation was absolutely miles out, 5 minutes later it was all corrected and done. This has really put my fears to bed with regards to collimating our telescopes, and if I can do it anyone can.

The collimator is a real quality piece of kit and I can't sing it's praises enough, If asked if it was a necessary purchase, I would answer "essential" and would not hesitate in recommending it.

Carl

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Carl, I know exactly what you mean ! :D I rec'd mine two days ago and did the same :D

I was so impressed I wrote to David at Hotech !!! The collimating process took no time at all and was simplicity itself. I've had a previously poor experience with a laser collimator which I promptly sold and had since given up hope and desire of ever using one again, however my Cape has a few little idiosyncrasies that make conventional methods a little hit'n'miss. The Hotech tho is a very different beast and is way up there in a league all of it's own, and like you I was enticed by the fact that Hotech IS a specialised Opto-Electronics co. and the laser cannot be user collimated. It's very well presented and beautiful in it's construction.

Am I chuffed or what ??? I know it's alot of dosh but in retrospect it's worth every single penny and I would thoroughly recommend it !! I'm now considering the SCA T-thread adapter :)

Karlo

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Now he just has to teach me how to do it myself and we are up and running :D Although I did watch, and it does look simple enough, I have to admit to being a tad nervous of attempting it for myself. Although I won't need to for a while.....

Needless to say after a lovely afternoon of anticipating testing it out tonight. the clouds rolled in over the back as darkness fell. Good job I just stuck my head out the front door then as it is much clearer out there and the moon is up. I have yet to try out my new Medium Density filter for moon viewing so all is not lost.

Carl, can I have a hand getting The Beast out the front please?

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Karlo, it is an outstanding bit of kit and I agree worth every penny. The time it saves is amazing, 2 scopes done in under 15 minutes and the first telescopes I have ever collimated. It was so easy I almost doubted it, but a quick star test soon put my fears to rest. To be honest I'm glad Steph's got a trussed dob because every time she sets it up I get to use the Hotech (how sad am I, actually like doing collimation now).

Mick, I think you will love em when you get one, they look good in the piccies, but even better in reality, you can feel the quality and you instantly want to pick it up and use it. You can't help but have faith in them, it would certainly look great next to your new eye pieces in that lovely case (where was the case from by the way?)

AB - It was your review that led me to the Hotech collimator in the first place, and your collimation guide was a tremendous help, so thank you so much for all your help.

Steve and James, Once again first class service, give yourselves a pat on the back from me. I take it these are proving to be a popular purchase then Steve?

Karlo let me know how you get on with the SCA - T adapter, maybe a review? Look forward to your findings, but I'm sure it won't disappoint.

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Anyone tested one out in depth on a C11 (or similar SCT with no mirror lock) yet?

It could be the answer to my daytime problems with the C11, when imaging the sun..at F-Silly in CaK and (dare I speak its name) H-Alpha :-)

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I was thinking of getting one of these but I had a chance to have a fiddle with one at an Astronomy Fair this year (hasten to add it was a pre crosshair model) and found it wasn't perfectly collimated itself. Those of you with one will know that you can't collimate the laser as the company says it shouldn't need it.

Has anyone checked the collimation of theirs? Did I just happen to look at a dud?

Btw, the test I performed was to put it in the focuser of a scope, tighten it, check the position of the spot on the primary, turn it round 180 degrees and repeat. The spot, I believe, should be in the same position.

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