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Old 01-06-2019, 08:37 AM
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Paul Haese
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Adelaide
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AG12 Orion Optics UK Review

I ordered an Orion Optics AG12 on 13th April 2018 for around $14000.00 AUD. I ordered it with:
  • Lambda/10PV optical figure.
  • Atlas kit including top and bottom adapter.
  • Focuser stabilisation kit.
  • Wynne corrector.
  • Wynne corrector adapter for QSI camera T thread.
  • Dew shield
  • Eyepiece adapter
I was initially advised that the order would take somewhere around 4-6 weeks to build. After the 6 week period I was advised it would be another couple of weeks. This happened once more and then I was told that it was going to be shipped, which took a week. I received the telescope assembly on the 28th of June. This amounted to around 11 weeks in total. Well over the stated time frame. Some honesty would have been appreciated. It’s not the end of the world if a scope comes at 12 weeks but knowing it will come at that time frame from the start is what is important.

Initial impressions:
  • Upon opening the OTA box I noted that the packaging in the primary box was pretty flimsy and some of it had moved. The box had a large puncture on the outside. The tube at one end was up against the inner box near where the dent and puncture was located on the outside. One of the foam supports had come off the tube allowing the tube to come into contact with the cardboard. Unpacking revealed a slight scratch on the carbon tube in the area that had made contact with the site of the puncture.
  • Fortunately the other boxes were well packed and had plenty of bubble wrap.
  • The carbon tube looked impressive, very nicely finished.
  • The primary mirror looked well packed and looked unaffected by the transport.

Closer inspection:
  • After unpacking the entire telescope I noted several problems with the finish and supplied equipment of the telescope:
  • The tube rings were nicely finished on the bevel to one side but very rough on the bevel to the other side. It looked like someone had taken to the rough side with a grinder. I asked for a replacement of all four rings. It took three months to receive two of them and I never received the other two. Not a great result. (see image 2)
  • I also noticed that the anodising on various parts of the telescope was patchy. The anodising had spots and holes in it. This is simply not an acceptable standard and even GSO scopes are better finished than this. (see image 1)
  • When I went to attach the Atlas adapter to the tube adapter I found that OOUK had not installed the 3 grub screws needed to secure the adapter. I drove out the other side of town to purchase some. They later sent the grub screws three months later. Not real service in my opinion.

What they got right:
  • The tube is quite nice. Though not made by them.
  • Spider and Mirror cell end fit well to the tube. Those appear to be square each side of the scope. Though anodising on the spider is pretty poor.
  • The Atlas support kit is well constructed and stops movement of the imaging train. The rings to support the focuser tube adapter are also a good idea. Very robust even though poorly finished.
  • Dew Shield is mated with aluminium parts well. Fits nicely to the scope too.
  • The spider is very sturdy and capable of holding the secondary mirror stationary.
  • The coatings on the mirrors look quite good. Though dielectric coatings would be better.
  • Once problems were fixed, the optics tested to be good overall. Though probably not 1/10 wave as ordered. I could not detect any errors at all. No turned edge, no rough spots, no astigmatism. The telescope focuses stars to sharp pin points.

Later issues:
  • I noted that an item (an eyepiece adapter from their Atlas adapter to corrector) I specifically ordered was not in the packaging and it took several months to receive it. It came with the grub screws. And; when it did arrive it was not a compression type of adapter which I had seen previous owners receive. It had two long screws in it and looked hastily made.
  • The felt inside the rings is fitted with thin double sided tape. During the hot summers of South Australia the tape and felt gave way and the OTA slid down the rings very nearly causing the OTA to collide with the floor one night. (see image 4 which shows the felt completely out from behind the ring) Better felt and adhesive tape instead of going cheap would work better in hotter climates. The replacement rings I received have the same problem, it seems like no one is listening. I was accused of not tightening the tube rings properly by OOUK when in fact I had tightened them to maximum.
  • Orion Optics UK claims all their scopes are tested in the factory prior to shipping. I find this difficult to believe as they could not tell me the distance the secondary needed to be down the tube to line up with the focuser. They would have known this distance had they tested the scope before leaving and if they kept proper records. Secondary position with a large secondary (110mm) is rather critical in setting up the telescope correctly. You can get this right with a sight tube but even just a small amount of slop in the focuser will slightly put positioning out.
  • After initial testing of the scope it was discovered that the secondary mirror was incorrectly stuck to the secondary assembly and this was causing astigmatism. I had to remove the secondary from the stalk and reattach the secondary to the stalk with a new bead of silicone. Not the first time this would have happened to anyone but one of the many annoying problems found.
  • Furthermore the offset value of the secondary was set at 14mm, which is 7mm too long for this scope. I discovered this after doing a calculation on the correct offset. The correct distance is 6.87mm. This says that OOUK does not know how to correctly setup an astrograph. (see image 3 which demonstrates the secondary at 14mm)
  • The screws on the secondary assembly whilst reasonably robust could be longer. The screws need to be down inside the threads a long way and nearly at the end of the threads on the hub when the secondary is set in the correct position.
  • The secondary assembly is made up of two parts. One part is the main hub which has a dove tail on it. The second part is the stalk which the mirror glues is fixed. The hub damages easily when tightening up the secondary adjustment screws even slightly more than finger tight. Aluminium is not the right product to bear this force. There should be a brass ring or steel plate stuck to the hub to prevent damage. Where the stalk attaches to the hub grub screws are used to hold the stalk onto the dove tail. Those screws bite into the dove tail and have caused significant damage on the surface of the dove tail. Using a dove tail is a good idea for rotation but it needs a brass ring over the dove tail to prevent damage. It was sloppy execution of this idea that was disappointing.
  • The primary mirror mask is not round but in fact oval shaped. The mask was forcibly fixed in the shape of a circle onto the mirror clips. This placed pressure on the primary which was causing pinching to the primary. I have removed this from the primary mirror cell now, it is not necessary to have it in place on this primary. It is for turned edges, which is indicative that they might get that problem often.
  • The primary is also not as advertised. It is advertised as 300mm but is in fact 296mm in diameter. The bevel on the primary is really inconsistently ground, with some parts of the bevel being wider than other parts. With the mirror mask in place the primary is even smaller.
  • The mirror assembly whilst robust looking is poorly assembled. One of the mirror clips does not bolt together properly with the main cell due to a screw not being screwed all the way into the mirror clip. It protrudes from the bottom of the mirror clip. As such the mirror clip is not stiff enough to act as a brace for the silicone which is applied to the sides of the mirror clip.
  • The corrector supplied by Orion Optics UK is a 4 element Wynne supposedly superior to others on the market. It is very large that is true, but over exaggerated on the performance claim. They purport that this corrector produces a 50mm corrected imaging circle. It may well do that if it were constructed properly. I could not get a coma free field on an 8300 sensor using it. The threads on the body of the corrector attach to adapters. I had thought that using a threaded adapter from the focuser to the corrector and then a threaded adapter from the corrector to the camera would provide the best fixing. This was because experience has shown that hard fixing produces repeatable results, good collimation and the ability to use nearly every sub exposure. A machinist friend of mine who worked doing precision machining for years tested the Wynne to camera adapter OOUK made; he found the adapter openings at each end did not line up with each other and the top and bottom threads were not parallel to each other (the threads were skewed) by significant values. He also makes very nice telescopes too, so I trust his word. Furthermore every time I imaged with the corrector using the threaded adapters (even ones from Precise Parts), I found that the stars would create different shapes depending on where on the threads the camera adapter was positioned. Sometimes I would get double stars on one side of the frame, sometimes elongated stars along part of the frame on the other side of the sensor; sometimes they would appear as perfect on one side and terrible on the other. It took several months to discover that the top and bottom threads of the corrector are not square to the optical line. So not only was their adapter not made well but their Wynne corrector housing also appears to have the same problems. The machining of the threads appears to be substandard.
  • Any mention of problems with their machining or how the scope is put together is met with an accusation that the customer is in error or exaggerating their claims. They take no responsibility and will not believe their customers even when you send things back or show them photos of the problems. There was never an apology supplied. Even when you do return piece of equipment they try to accuse the customer of deliberately damaging it.

So would I purchase this scope again? Absolutely not! Especially given the price they retail the scope. Orion Optics UK can be very helpful and friendly during the purchasing phase but find convenient excuses once I started to find errors. I know I am not the only person who has had this experience in Australia. I have spoken to several people here about this manufacturer and many have sworn off them forever. To the best of my knowledge nearly every person in Australia has had issues with their scopes. The scopes just don’t seem to be finished properly for the price. Better finishing and attention to detail and listening to their customers would most likely produce an excellent result.
Attached Thumbnails
Click for full-size image (poor anodising spider.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (IMG_4092.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (incorrect offset.jpg)
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Click for full-size image (Loose felt.jpg)
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Last edited by Paul Haese; 01-06-2019 at 04:43 PM.
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