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How to make a truly awful scope at least useable


Moonshane
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My new neighbours made the common mistake of buying their keen son one of the TESCO telescopes for Christmas - unfortunately before they moved in or I'd have advised them otherwise.

It's a typical 50mm f10 refractor on a terribly wobbly tripod and almost everything wrong with it that could be.

I have modified it as best I can for him and naively thought I'd be able to really improve it with some better eyepieces and these mods.

No doubt it's better than it was and thanks to some kind SGL members he has a couple of eyepiece choices etc but it really is an appalling scope even for £25 or so.

Here's the mods I made in case it helps someone else in the same boat:

  • formed a new 'yoke' bracket with 2mm aluminium, a skate bearing and large washer with an 8mm bolt. really did help with movement and placement - a lot smoother now and it stays where you put it.
  • added some lock washers to the tripod nuts
  • added some teflon tape to the drawtube (also thanks to an SGL member) - took out the wobble/slack
  • used some double sided to secure the finder bracket - it now stays put!
  • the scope did not have enough in travel to focus on anything! I had to cut off 6mm or so off the tube just rear of the focuser - it now focuses fine.

We managed to see Jupiter's moons, the Pleiades, Alcor and Mizar, M42 and couple of other bits so not all bad. It will be OK on the moon I think.

Let's hope he wants a better scope soon and remains keen on the hobby. He was very excited by the ISS. :rolleyes:

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Edited by Moonshane
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Nice one Moonshane. You must have a lot of patience to resist just chucking this scope in the bin. I would have just demonstrated it along a cheapish half decent scope before it went to landfill. The mods are an excellent example of why you should buy a scope from a scope shop, and not from a general retailer.

Two things come to mind here. The scope shops ought to display your photos, along with a sign that they don't sell spuds, carrots, etc. Leave specialist products to the specialists.

Second thing. Send your pictures to the Tesco head office. Ask for their comments. How can a nationally known name with a reputation for trying to sell good quality products put out this rubbish? Adding that their comments will find their way into SGL as a minimum, and possibly further. The astro mags? I know that Tesco are buying a scope that is built down to a price. But, having seen this wreck raises a good question. What other Tesco products are similar quality?

Anyone got comments on Lidl and other scopes? Never seen one, but heard they were good value for money?

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Nice one Shane !

Your neighbours ought to be grateful - without your mods it really would be as useful as a chocolate teapot !.

There is a youtube experiment on the plausability of a chocolate teapot, which I found rather entertaining.... :rolleyes:

Nice one Shane, don't forget to PM me...

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cheers Billy and Alan

He is chuffed and at least he has a chance of seeing things now. the problem is when he looks through my 12" dob, it won't be the same again....

at least if he stays interested I can advise and maybe source something else for them that will do a decent job.

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Moonshane - where did you get your Teflon tape? I bought some PTFE tape from Homebase but it doesn't look like the same stuff (despite what it says on wikipedia) - and it doesn't stick to the drawtube very well.

I'm in the middle of a similar project with my recent £5 car boot sale purchase, a Unicon 50mm that's about 30 years old. I gave it a deep clean, cut a couple of cm off the end, added a hybrid diagonal and new 20mm plossl and I'm quite pleased with the result; the view of Pleiades I got the other night in between the clouds was lovely (not having seen it through a big expensive scope I have nothing to compare it to except binoculars). But the focuser is a little bit wobbly so would be good to tighten it up.

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Excellent work on the mods - you've done well to improve it.

I have to say that if it couldn't achieve focus on anything because of lack of inward travel then it really is "unfit for the purpose" under the Sale of Goods Act and the owners wouls have had every right to take it back to Tescos and demand a refund.

What really annoys me about this is that selling cheap and nasty scopes like this can lead to severe dissapointment and ultimately put youngsters off what might otherwise become a life long hobby. I realise that not everybody has £100 + to spend on a scope, but even if they are built to a price they should still have minimum performance requirements and should be sold clearly advising what can realistically be expected to be seen through them. I know that my first refractor bought for £23 in 1973 (a lot of money then) was only really useful for observing the moon - but I did get hours of pleasure from it.

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Good work! I have donated some (quite reasonable) Kelner EPs salvaged from broken binoculars to people with such sad excuses for scopes, and they are always stunned at the difference. I have come across such bashed-up bins frequently in "2 quid 50, no warranty" boxes at camera stores.

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i got a spotting scope from aldi, 20-60x60, thought it would be ok for casual views of the moon....

wont even focus the moon on its lowest zoom. cannot even be used during the day on terrestrial objects. will not focus. it all seems to be garbage.

shame really.

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i got a spotting scope from aldi, 20-60x60, thought it would be ok for casual views of the moon....

wont even focus the moon on its lowest zoom. cannot even be used during the day on terrestrial objects. will not focus. it all seems to be garbage.

shame really.

If it is that unfit for purpose, return it!

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Yes, i think i will do. Terrible. Got it about a month back ish, got it out to use is and it was terrible. I didn't expect a lot for £19.99 but i at least thought it would be able to focus to some degree... will write them an email perhaps, see what kind of response i get.

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Well done on the work, and thanks for making me laugh.... "it really is an appalling scope even for £25" Great line.

Reminds me of a second world war telescope my grandfather gave me that I had to take off the tripod to put in a vice to twist the focuser... That was 25 years ago, and I've only just bought myself a real telescope this year to make up for my lost childhood dreams..

Edited by ren_o5
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Just to report back, tried the teflon tape approach (thanks Moonshane) - focuser couldn't have been too bad because I could only squeeze one strip of tape onto the drawtube without it roucheing up (if that's a word) but it does feel a bit less wobbly, so Result.

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