Home | About Me | Images | Reviews | Observing Log | Links



Date
Review Item
Meade LX-200GPS 12" with UHTC
Celestron Ultima 18mm
Televue Radian 10mm
Xantrex xPower 600

October 12, 2003 - Meade LX-200GPS 12" with UHTC
Purchased From - Focus Camera
Price Paid - $3290 plus shipping and handling

I purchased this scope on September 12, 2003 from Focus Camera in New York. I had a few problems with my purchase through them, I'll save that for another review, but in the end I received my scope in perfect condition. My initial reactions to the scope were, WOW! The scope came in two different packages, one for the tripod and one for the OTA. It was so big that UPS denied the package and they had to go with a private shipping company. The total combined weight of the shipment was in the 170lbs range because it came on a wooden palate.

With the OTA weighing in at around 75lbs on it's own, this is a very hefty scope! I got help to lift the telescope and move it. Everything about this scope came in pristine condition. The instructions were very adequate to get me up and running with the night. Too bad the clouds didn't agree.

Twelve days after receiving the telescope, I had my first real chance to test the optics and electronics. Setting up the scope in my driveway, I proceeded to start it up. I am currently using the Radio Shack 3-Amp Regulated Power Supply (22-504) and a Meade DC cord for the LX200. The LX200 proceeded to do it's thing with alignment - find true north, tilt, stops, the take the GPS fix. In about 10 minutes it was ready and slewing to it's first alignment star. After getting both stars centered and everything, I was all set to start my observing (You can read my observation log for this night here). The pointing accuracy of the LX-200 was outstanding! All the objects were near the center of the 18mm Celestron Ultima eyepiece that I was using. The tracking was also very accurate.

Next to review are the optics of this particular scope. I must say first hand, I have not had a chance to do any substantial observing through any other telescope of this size, so this review comes from a true beginner. The items that I looked at that particular night were very bright and crisp. The stars were pinpoint and Mars showed very nice details. The collimation of the scope was dead on when I received the scope, I checked this by following the instructions given in the manual. I was very impressed by the optics of the scope.

The tripod that came with the scope is very heavy duty. Weighing around 55lbs, it was able to sustained the vibrations given off by my slight tapping. It took only a few seconds for it to regain itself from my test bumps.

Conclusion

I love this telescope! At first I was very nervous about the views that I would get from my light polluted city, but now I am very satisfied. I hope to take the scope out to true dark skies very soon, but until then I will enjoy the views from my Mag 1-2 skies.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

-top


October 18, 2003 - Celestron Ultima 18mm
Purchased From - Scopecity (in store - Costa Mesa)
Price Paid - $119.95 +tax

Magnification and Field of View - 169 power and a FOV of .30 degrees

I went to go return a t-ring for my Olympus OM-1 at scopecity that I had bought the week before. Apparently, they don't accept any returns so I had to put it towards another product. I looked around the store and when I finally was able to receive some assistance, I inquired about eyepieces that they might have in stock since it seemed like their display case was very empty, and I was introduced to the Celestron Ultima 18mm. At this point I had previous experience with the Ultima 2x Barlow, so I was very interested in the 18mm Ultima eyepiece. I wasn't very happy with the fact that:

A - They didn't have a new one to sell me
B - They didn't have the box to their used one
C - They didn't have the end caps for the used one
D - They still sold it to me full price
E - I had no other options on something to buy since everything was "sold out"

Wasn't exactly the best purchase in the world, but doesn't it seem like service for a lot of stores is going down the hole? It's more about internet sales than walk in customers now. Anyway I am drifting off topic. That very night I tested the optics of the eyepiece out by using it in my Meade ETX125. The image of Mars was very crisp and clean. Stars were pinpoint and clear. Soon after buying the 18mm eyepiece, I received my new LX-200 and was very anxious to test the EP out on it.

Again, Mars was very crisp and show subtle surface detail. M11, the Wild Duck cluster, was beautiful. Thousands of pinpoint stars filled the eyepiece with little distortion at the edges.

Overall, I am very happy with this eyepiece and would recommend it to anyone that is looking for an eyepiece for under $100 (astronomics and optcorp both have it for under $100). The contrast in objects and comfortable viewing make this eyepiece a winner.

RECOMMENDED

-top


November 9, 2003 - Televue Radian 10mm
Purchased From - Astromart user
Price Paid - $180 shipped
Magnification and Field of View - 305 power and a FOV of .20 degrees

I finally can give my little review on my new/used Televue Radian 10mm. I recently bought this from an Astromart user and paid a pretty good price considering new Radians sell for $240+ shipping and handling. I haven't gotten to use the eyepiece as much as I wish because of all the cloud coverage lately, but I did get to use it on a couple of nights of observing. On the first night of viewing, the views that I got of Saturn were the best I have ever seen. At the time, Saturn was about 3/4 up the night sky so atmospheric pollution was at a minimum. The rings were very clear and the red band on the planet was apparent. Saturn's moons were also easily seen. When I compared the Radian to the Ultima 18mm eyepiece that I have, the views from the Radian seemed a lot crisper and more colorful. Don't get me wrong, the Ultima also gave very nice views, I just feel the Radian was a little bit superior over it.

Next, I wanted to see if the Radian does in fact give a flat field and crisp stars from the whole field of view. To test this factor, I viewed a couple star clusters. First off, the views were spectacular. The stars stood out very nicely with the black background of space and were all very pin point. The stars all the way out to the edge of the field were very sharp and no curvature has been noticed.

When it's all said and done, the Televue Radian 10mm eyepiece is definitely a winner from my point of view! A very high quality eyepiece that won't fail you during your observations. I hope that I can pick up a couple more Radians...maybe even a few Naglers and Panoptics if I am lucky enough!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

-top


November 9, 2003 - Xantrex xPower 600
Purchased From - Sportsman's Guide
Price Paid - $89.95 plus shipping and handling

I ordered this power pack after a member on the Astronomy Magazine forums suggested I check it out. For the price that I paid, the power pack was well worth the waiting time. My initial reaction was, "Wow, it's pretty big and heavy!" Not too big and not too heavy though, so it was okay. After I unpacked everything and snapped a few pictures, I started to put the handle bars together so that I could see how mobile the pack would be. Whoops! I found something wrong with one of the handles. The little button stoppers on one of the bars were missing. I picked up the bar and noticed that I could hear something metal inside the tube, so I proceeded to shake the piece out. Two metal pieces came out of the tube. Apparently, the metal some how rusted over and snapped into two pieces. How did that happen?? I put the handles aside so that I try out the power pack. After charging the unit for the rest of the night and day, I unplugged the charger and tested out my new power pack with my LX-200. Everything seemed to be working perfectly fine, so I thought the problem was with the handle bar only.

A couple of days after my initial test of the pack, I checked the battery charge and it was 3 out of 4 bars full. So I plugged in the charger once again to charge up the unit. At this point, the charger gave me a red light, which indicates a failure, and the little fan started to whirl. I thought that it might have been just that one time at that one location, so I moved the power unit and tried to charge the unit again. The same thing happened. I put a call into Sportsman's Guide to see what they could recommend, and the lady that I talked to told me that they would send out a shipping label so that I could return the unit back to them and get a new one sent out to me.

That's where I stand now. So until then, I can't give a recommended rating because so far, this unit has caused me a lot of problems. Hopefully I will receive my new unit soon and be able to change my review.

NOT RECOMMENDED (Pending)

-top