Airline portable medium aperture scope

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snorkler
Post subject: Airline portable medium aperture scope
Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 8:10 am
quasar
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I'm looking for an airline portable medium aperture scope to take on trips as an auxiliary. My trips will have other primary goals, such as sightseeing or birdwatching, so I don't want a monster 16" or 18" scope with its excess baggage fees. Something with 8-12" aperture seems ideal for the best combination of portability and aperture.

I'd looked at the Johnsonian 10", and at Charlie Wicks' 10" string telescope, but they've both ceased manufacturing. The most likely currently available scope appears to be the 12" Litescope, a single truss minimalist scope with no light shield, mirror protection, or light shroud.

Gary, have you looked at this scope or something similar? I'm concerned with the usual concerns accompanying minimalist scopes - collimation flex, balance with heavy eyepieces, contrast issues, etc. This scope's minimal mirror cell also raises questions about collimation ability. OTOH, its light weight and exceptional portability are big pluses, and I'll be viewing from mostly dark locations where light scatter won't be much of a problem.

Suggestions for other scopes? Comments? I'd like to have the scope for next spring's TSP.[ img ]

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49.6 mpg avg over 38,000 miles. 177% of '08 EPA
Best flat drive 94.5 mpg for 9.8 mi
Best tank 1033 km (642 mi) on 10.56 gal = 60.8 mpg


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Gary
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Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:51 pm
molecule
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I wasn't aware of the Litescope until your post, but the design is certainly intriguing. Looks to be very well thought out. Like you, my concern with singe pole designs is flexure and I've no way to guess how much that is reduced by the two tension lines. It looks like the clever alt tensioner might be progressive, so it may very well compensate for a heavy 2" eyepiece. It also looks like the secondary shroud is well thought out and, if calculated properly, should effectively shield the eyepiece from any but light redirect by the secondary.

Assuming the assembly is sufficiently stiff when assembled and that the alt tensioner and secondary shroud work well, my remaining concern is exposure of the primary to stray light, dew and the crude that seems to be present wherever we view. If you anticipate using the scope only in dry desert climes, then that's one less problem, but there's still stray light and grit kicked up while shuffling around the scope in the dark. Even if you cover the ground under the scope with a tarp, you'll still be tracking grit around.

I cringe every year at the Winter Star Party and the similarly exposed optics in that sandy, dewy, and salty environment. But, hey, scopes are made to be used and they're going to eventually get dirty, whatever the design.

I wonder if the maker would consider submitting one of the Litescopes for review. It can't hurt for me to ask. It would be a great way to test drive one before making a decision and the maker would only be risking the cost of shipping/insurance.

When asked about ultra-portable Newts, I usually think first of Infinity Scopes, but recall the largest being an 8".

Meanwhile, the more I study the design of the Litescope, the more I find to like. I'll do some nosing around to see whether anyone else is still marketing an ultra-portable design, but most I've seen in the last couple of years have been the results of ATM projects, not commercially available options.

For my part, I've been studying the design of Marcin Klapczynski's Chest Scope featured in our November issue. I too would like a super-portable option for something between 10" and 14" and assumed I'd have to build it myself for lack of a commercial alternative.


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snorkler
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Posted: Sat Nov 22, 2008 3:08 pm
quasar
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Thanks, Gary. That's encouraging, coming from a long-time ATMer like yourself.

My observing buddy and I may share ownership of a portable scope like this. He rented a Johnsonian to take to Costa Rica, but its design resulted in collimation flex when the scope was pointed at zenith and then moved to horizon, or v.v. We didn't think it was particularly well designed. Charlie Wicks' string scope was much sturdier, but we postponed getting that until Charlie stopped making them.

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Ah, but I was so much older then.
I'm younger than that now
Bob Dylan

[ img ]
49.6 mpg avg over 38,000 miles. 177% of '08 EPA
Best flat drive 94.5 mpg for 9.8 mi
Best tank 1033 km (642 mi) on 10.56 gal = 60.8 mpg


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Chopin
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Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 5:12 am
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I love minimalist designs, and this Litescope seems beautiful. I look at it this way, Darrell, every scope is a compromise. If you're looking for most portability out of a medium aperture newt, I can't see anything outwardly problematic with this design. Like you guys have already noted, flexure is the primary concern, but if you can work around that you may achieve every other aspect of your goal, being portability and decent aperture. The yellow is a knock-out, too. Gorgeous.

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snorkler
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Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 9:46 am
quasar
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I finally paged through the entire Litescope website, and like the scope more and more. They've even got a photo of David Nagler with the Litescope sporting a 13 mm. Ethos. It eventually dawned on me that there's only one altitude bearing on the scope. It's definitely a minimalist design.

The pricing confused me for a while. The complete kit without mirrors is ?1290 ($1900). There's an ultimate kit for ?1860 ($2745) which includes an unnecessary tent and sleeping bag. The 12" f/4 primary mirror and secondary from Orion UK are another ?1150 ($1700). I remember reading a review of an Orion UK mirror, and the reviewer complained about spherical aberration. Mirror quality may be more of an issue than collimation flex.

_________________

Ah, but I was so much older then.
I'm younger than that now
Bob Dylan

[ img ]
49.6 mpg avg over 38,000 miles. 177% of '08 EPA
Best flat drive 94.5 mpg for 9.8 mi
Best tank 1033 km (642 mi) on 10.56 gal = 60.8 mpg


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Erik
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Posted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:35 am
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I hadn't seen those either; that looks like a beautiful and well thought out design. With all the mirrors available where you are locally, it doesn't seem to make much sense to spend so much for the Orion UK mirror (though I've only heard good things about their optics).

In any case, for portability, the Litescope looks pretty hard to beat. :)

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GeneralRageSC
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Posted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 2:20 pm
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Looks pretty good.

Darrell, If you we re to get it, just get the structure only and get the mirror locally.

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cvdarias
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Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:34 pm
quark
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Hi All

About Litescope, you have now a review here
http://www.cloudynights.com/item.php?item_id=2442
Hope have mine soon and enjoy the heavents with it

Regards

Carlos

www.loscielosdetenerife.es


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snorkler
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Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:45 pm
quasar
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Thanks for the link, Carlos!

_________________

Ah, but I was so much older then.
I'm younger than that now
Bob Dylan

[ img ]
49.6 mpg avg over 38,000 miles. 177% of '08 EPA
Best flat drive 94.5 mpg for 9.8 mi
Best tank 1033 km (642 mi) on 10.56 gal = 60.8 mpg


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