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  #1  
Old 01-09-2014, 06:58 PM
AnakChan (Sean)
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Scope upgrade opinions (from GP-DX/VC200L to SXP/[??]).

Hi all,

I'm a new joiner to IceInSpace but not a noob to Astronomy; although I haven't been doing any for about 15 years. My history with scopes include a 4.5" Meade Newtonian, Meade DS-10, and 18 years ago Vixen VC200L/GP-DX from Claude/AEC when he used to deal with Vixen.

I've been living in Tokyo for the past 14.5 years and have hardly taken my VC200L/GP-DX out, although I did have the VC200L overhauled maybe 10 years ago by Vixen. Recently the Astronomy bug has hit again and I'm looking at "updating" my kit.

My criteria is something decent but yet portable/transportable in a small car. As you can guess, Tokyo is very bright and it'll mean driving out a couple of hours to get access to any decent dark skies. Top it off, I don't have a large car.

I've pretty much settled on the Vixen SXP mount since at 11kg it's still manageable and can handle a payload of up to 16kg. The question now is the scope. Admittedly I've hardly done any astrophography with my VC200L, I'd still like to keep the astrophotography option open. I also have a limited budget (therefore Tak's Mewlon 250, Epsilon-180, Vixen VSD100F3.8 are out of the question, new at least...2nd hand maybe dpending on price). At most, I'll be using the OTA for probably 80% viewing and 20% DS astrophotography.

There's an awesome deal going on at the moment with an SXP/VC200L package (not too sure why!? Discontinuing the VC200L?) which I think I'm 90% sure of putting my money in it. Having said that, since I'm updating my gear, I'm also seeing this as an opportunity of trying something new.

For no particular reason I've been looking at the AX103S, and even VMC260L (although size of the VMC260L into my car may be an issue). I already have some old VC200L parts such as the Reducer but I'm not married to it - should I move away from a VC200L scope, the VC200L specific accessories can go with it.

So, based on my criteria, the questions are :-
1) Has anyone used the two VC200L & AX103S and have any experience to share in their comparisons & contrast? I know we're coming very different tech of VISAC vs refractors but am keen to hear the differences about these two specific models nevertheless
2) If you were in my shoes whereby you've owned a VC200L for so long, would you consider switching just for experience or "stick to your guns"?
3) Any other thoughts for me to consider? Maybe the RSO 8" or 10"?

I should add what I like & don't like about the VC200L that may help in your advice to me :-

+ weight
+ compact
+ fast cooling
+ no primary mirror shift (i.e. not interested in Meade/Celestron SC's).
- low contrast
= thick vanes, so far hasn't bothered me, but may if I get into DS astrophotography more?

Sorry for this lengthy post. Hope I can get some thoughts from some of you.
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  #2  
Old 22-09-2014, 11:46 AM
AnakChan (Sean)
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Bumping and modifying this question. Now taking the AX103S out of the scope.

The alternatives are now a Tak TOA-130NS or VMC260L. I'm leaning towards the TOA-103NS as it's 10.5kg which gives me a little more room to play with the SXP's limit whereas the VMC260L is at 12kg. However the VMC260L's central obstruction is giving me some concerns.

For a vetran VC200L owner, can someone please provide some guidance or advice as to what to expect going to a :-

1) TOA-130NS
vs.
2) VMC260L

This will be mostly for visual with the odd occasion of astrophotography. Primary visual targets would be DSOs such as galaxies, planetary nebula, etc.

The AX103S has been dropped from the scope (no pun intended) as I was told visually I'd just be disappointed coming from an 8" even if it's 2ndary obstruction is 42%. However I'm wondering if a TOA-130NS would be considered as an "upgrade" to the VC200L. As for the VMC260L, I'm more assured it's visual upgrade from the VC200L due to the aperture even with its 34% obstruction. However I wonder if its contrast will be a factor of concern.
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Old 22-09-2014, 08:41 PM
issdaol (Phil)
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I have not compared the 2 scopes but I have recently used a friends TOA130. I can assure you that sharpness and contrast are not a problem with this scope. (unless you somehow get a bad unit )

Also the TOA130 will be excellent for AP work as you can get all the usual Tak accessories.

That being said the TOA130 is not a 10 or 11 inch deep space scope. So it will not perform miracles in nights of excellent seeing compared to a good quality 10 or 11inch reflector.

However it comes down to your expectations and preferences. Many people are more than happy with 5inch APO performance on deepsky.
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Old 22-09-2014, 09:38 PM
casstony
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If you drop back to the cheaper TSA120 perhaps you could own two scopes?
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  #5  
Old 22-09-2014, 10:48 PM
AnakChan (Sean)
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I have to say I'm actually not certain if I'd sell the VC200L off either. The local shop offered me approx $250 for it. It's probably not worth it to sell it off at that price however storage space may be a concern.

I went to Starbase in Akihabara and saw the TOA-150, TOA-130, & TSA-120 and size-wise the TSA-120 would have been perfect. However some of the advice I've had about the moving from an 8" RC variant to a refractor of 120mm would be comparable (I believe the general guideline is diameter of the primary - the 2ndary obstruction?). So I'd have to look at the 130mm to consider it as an "upgrade".

The TOA-150 is massive. In fact I'm wondering if transporting and mounting the TOA-130 would be a difficult task or not too.

In the photo the front is the TSA-120, whilst middle is the TOA-150, and the tallest last one is the TOA-130.
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  #6  
Old 22-09-2014, 11:09 PM
issdaol (Phil)
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I actually have a TSA-120 and it is an extremely portable and easy to setup scope. Contrast and Sharpness are excellent as well as color correction.

I could never see myself parting with this scope because it is just a fantastic portable 120mm APO

However a high quality 8 inch reflector will still beat it on deep space for faint fuzzies.
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  #7  
Old 22-09-2014, 11:26 PM
AnakChan (Sean)
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I should say that the TOA-130NS I'm looking at is 2nd hand and is going for approx AUD$4554 at current exchange rates. It's in quite excellent quality, with only paint chipping where the finder scope screws on.

I guess if I waited for a 2nd hand TSA-120, then I could have both it and the VC200L side-by-side on a plate on the SXP. The TOA-130NS price seems to be good though. Is that a fair price for the 130?
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Old 23-09-2014, 12:18 AM
issdaol (Phil)
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That is a pretty good price. If I was in the market for a TOA130 I would jump at it :-)
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Old 23-09-2014, 05:50 PM
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Logieberra (Logan)
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I would not buy a GSO RC for visual work, not when you already own a nice 8" mirrored scope in the VC200L. I have looked through a mate's VMC260L and was very impressed. The FSQ also offers great portability - and like other Tak refractors, does a wonderful job (for its size) on planets, but doesn't show much on deep sky objects. TOA - you can't go wrong, and you don't need the new 4" focuser version b/c you're a visual guy.
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Old 23-09-2014, 06:01 PM
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LewisM
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What a set of drool worthy images

Don't part with the VC200L - a fantastic scope, and easily still worth around $800 to $1200 2nd hand, in Aus at least.

If I was lucky enough to be in your shoes, I would go with the TSA120. Sure, the TOA's have the advantage of aperture, but at a cost to portability (heavy OTA's) and rely require a mount upgrade - the 150 needs a GOOD mount (not an NEQ6 or similar - something like a Tak NJP or EM400 upwards), the 130 not too much different. The TSA120 can ride a Vixen GPD2 by memory, for visual at least, and DEFINITELY an SXP for imaging.

Out of interest, what price was the TSA120? I might have to 2nd hand shop in Japan
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  #11  
Old 23-09-2014, 10:10 PM
AnakChan (Sean)
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Cheers for the responses. Yeah I've decided to drop the GSO RC (8" & 10") off my list.

The 2nd hand VMC260L I've been waiting for seemed to have gone back to Vixen for maintenance - meanwhile all these other options popping up as such distracting my focus.

The 2nd hand FSQ106ED went for 428,000/AUD$4430 (which seems to be comparable or slightly more expensive than what 2nd hand ones get sold in the US). I've not seen a 2nd hand TSA-120 yet but new they go for 390,000/AUD$4035.

I feel the prices, in general, of 2nd hand local Japan scopes aren't that much cheaper than what gets sold in the US. New OTOH, prices in Japan seem quite reasonable.
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  #12  
Old 11-10-2014, 08:07 PM
AnakChan (Sean)
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Just an update, I finally settled for a -250CRS.

http://www.cloudynights.com/uploads/...4695_77088.jpg

It'll be mounted on a Vixen SXP and will probably push the the limits of the mount's payload capacity. I'll still need tube rings & a mounting plate; will probably look at something like Parallax Instruments for that if their rings are lighter than Takahashi's. If there's any other recommendations on light (and cheaper) tube rings than Takahashi's do feel free to recommend.
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