Intes Micro Alter M603


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Brand and Model:Intes Micro Alter M603
Price ($USD):1229
Type:Maksutov-Cassegrain
Attributes: un-checked Go-To un-checked PEC
Aperture:150mm (5.9")
f Ratio:f/10
Focal Length:1500mm
Finder:12x55
Electric Power:
Mount:
Tripod:
Weight (lbs):10 lbs.
Dimensions (w/h/d):14x7"
Description:Screw on baffled Dew Shield, universal dovetail base, fully baffled OTA, adjustable secondary and primary, mirror carriage gear driven for no mirror flop or focus shift.

Vote Highlights Vote
Intes Micro Alter M603
The optics are outstanding, sharp, contrasty, maintains alignment. Finder scope is not the best, but more than adequate. Materilas and finish of the OTA are excellent. An ecellent instrument for solar, lunar and planetary, and a surprizingly superior scope for deepsky. Outstanding for video astrophotography. Good investment.

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:10 Ease of Use:8 Value:10
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: oldfrankland
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=80684


Intes Micro Alter M603
This little 6" Mak is a good scope, has consistenly impressed every SCT user that looks through it. The optics are sharp, and are probably close to maximum performance that can be expected from an f/10 MCT (Might be interesting to see how well an f/15 version of this scope might perform). The scope is well baffeled and very handy. I usually use it on a Giro-2 mount to make it the ultimate in a portable scope.

That being said I would say this scope is no replacement for a really good 4" or larger Apo. Planets just aren't as crisp in this scope as they are in the Astro-Physics, Televues and Takahashis I have looked through (nor does it match a really well executed long focus Newtonian of equal aperature).

Mechanically the scope is solid and reasonably attractive; there is some backlash in the focuser but not extreme. I have noticed only a little image shift.

Good scope, but one needs to understand what they are getting before they buy. It is a good general purpose, very portable scope. It is not a replacement for an Apo.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Ease of Use:9 Value:8
Weight: 5 (Veritable Vote)
Date:
By: mchale
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=196411


Intes Micro Alter M603
Killer optics, though cool down tends to be long. The finder scope works, but essentially sucks. Overall, though, this is a 10 scope - great optics, sound mechanics and solid look and feel.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:10 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.22.125)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=413158


Intes Micro Alter M603
The M603 is a really good bargain since it's equal to the best 100 mm apochromatic refractors in matter of optical performance, especially for planetary observation and imaging.

When collimation is set at Thierry Legault's level 3 (i.e. the best for planetary imaging), it can deliver outstanding images of Mars (was able to see the "dark comma" in the polar cap of Mars in summer 2003), Jupiter (several colors in GRS, some WOBs, etc.) & Saturn (no Encke division of course, but just beautiful shades over the planetary disk, sometimes the 'C' ring, and an extremely sharp Cassini division all around the rings) when turbulence slows down.
I got the best view of the Moon I have ever seen in any telescope with my M603 and a Pentax XL 21 eyepiece... What outstanding sharpness, contrast and color purity !

In such conditions, I was able to separate many double stars, particularly two melting Airy disks (almost fully separated @ 200X with the Tak LE 7.5 mm, looked like the "8" number) for Zeta Bootis (~0.75" sep.).

For deep-sky it also does a nice job for its diameter, although it's not very adequate for wide-field observing (1500 mm focal length => expensive 2" eyepieces). Great view of M42 (filaments in the core near the Trapezium ah high magnification), annularity of NGC 7662, dark "Y" in M13, etc.

A very good C8 (well collimated and with selected optics) may be superior for observing, but the M603 is mechanically better (the rear 2" output is threaded for all Celestron/Meade/Lumicon/etc. accessories and the focuser is shifting-free), that makes the M603 better for imaging (the cooling down requires ~1 h, though).

I give a 9/10 because perfection is not attainable...

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.77.177)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=349748


Intes Micro Alter M603
Beautiful to look through but a bit of a pain to use given crappy finder and long cool down times. The 603 weighs a bit too much for a 6" Mak, IMHO, so it really requires a lot of mount for its size. Built like a tank tho!

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Mount:3 Ease of Use:6 Value:5
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.28.62)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=136385


Intes Micro Alter M603
what a very good small reflector. high-res on standards. the trouble is the long time you wait for coolling the ota. Impossible to see on it before at least 2 hours for high resolution pic

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Ease of Use:4 Value:7
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.29.193)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=54383


Intes Micro Alter M603
Hi Joe and all, I'll use this site since I can't link to Joe. I'm also adding a 10 rating to offset the 1 vote by our website vandal.

The Ultima EP's would be a fine choice. UO Orthos perform very well but with a tighter FOV. Both lines are great performers for the money. They're great EP's period for their AFOV's.

I ran with the more expensive but incredible Pentax SMC Orthos(7&9mm) this past Summer on Mars. Stunning levels of detail and contrast. Another great planetary EP on the high end is the Radian.

The f/6.3 reducer/correctors work very well if you desire wider fields or plan on astrophotography. I just came inside from my initial side-by-side test with the I-M diagonal and an expensive TV Everbright. The TV has a very slight edge but comes in 2nd for now in price vs. performance. I got away from using a Barlow lens for some time. I've discoved the TV 2.5x Powermate. If you buy one accessory over $150, get this piece. I had the well regarded Ultima Barlow but while EP testing noted a bit of light throughput loss and browning. The Powermate takes nothing away and leaves nothing behind it. It even offsets it's cost in EP savings.

I'm using a newer CG-5. I want to keep this rig as portable as possible. The GP is better(I've owned one)but not 2-3 times the cost better. If a more stable(but less portable)mount is wanted or needed for shooting, the GP-DX,new CG-6(?), and GM-8 are good investments.

The scope I saved for last. Are 4" apo planetary views with a bit less contrast worth $1200 vs. $2000+ to you? How about throwing in 6" deep-sky views. A used unit may be the way to go. Let someone else take the hit perhaps. Go with whatever suits your needs or budget. An excellent EP choice IMO would the 2.5x Powermate, and the 30mm & 18mm Ultimas. After that perhaps a 9mm Ortho or a 24mm Ultima(9.6mm behind the Powermate). Don't forget to get a dovetail plate to match your choice of mount.

Clear skies, Mark

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.165.61)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40470


Intes Micro Alter M603
I recently picked up a used Celestron 80WA/Skyview Deluxe as a quick-look scope. Going in, I knew it had it's limitations. Planetary and doubles were out of the question, but even deep-sky objects induced a bad case of aperature fever. My neighbor has a second home here in dark sky country. On the weekends he's here, he stays camped out next to his 17.5" Dob. Last time he also brought along his Intes-Micro Alter M603 OTA. He has no mount for it, and doesn't use it, so he asked me to help him sell it. It mounted right up to the SVD(which was going to be sold anyway). I have a friend asking me to help him choose his first scope. "It's perfect!", I thought. I had been seriously considering getting one of these 5.9" Mak-Cass scopes a year and a half ago. I gave it a test run that night. After about an hour I knew this was the solution to my quick-look scope problems. I bought the 603, visual back/diagonal, finderscope, padded case, metal covers for front and rear, and 12mm & 21mm WA eyepieces. $400.

The 603 offers up great star tests. The high contrast level almost acts as another inch or two of aperature. The objects don't get any brighter than the mirror size permits, but the darker sky background allows you to make out fine detail and definition(in comparison to an 8" SCT). Views of Mars have surface detail and more importantly, true color. I don't find myself reaching for filters to cut down the glare. High magnification use forced me to get a motor drive. I got the cheap Orion model. It gets the job done. On the Moon, it can distinguish 10th magnitude stars just off the limb. On Vega, no false color is seen except at the very edge of the field. Collimation was spot on from the get go.

There were problems. The focuser was so stiff that the entire mount would shake when using it. Damping time was in the 5-6 second range. Man was that aggrivating! The tube disassembles easily. The focusing is done via a drive gear attatched to the knob. This moves a driven gear attatched to the mirror. The mirror gear rotates in stainless steel threads that move the mirrior fore and aft. With the help of Teflon guides, even play from the threads is eliminated. The problem is in the drive gear. It's actually 2 gears and a crude clutch. One gear pushes on one side of the gear, and vise versa. The unused gear is supposed to float in the driven gear tooth. The clutch shaft had a roll pin keeping both gears in a constant relation to one another. This caused pressure to be applied to both sides of the driven gear teeth at the same time. I removed the pin, cleaned, lubed, and reassembled. It works sweet now, but damping time was still an unacceptable 4 seconds. Get this, even after a teardown, the scope did not require recollimation!

After analysis in daylight, I saw the damping problem was caused by excessive flexure and shake in the tripod. I've read of a few fixes for lightweight tripods. Almost every one includes making wooden legs. I'm a lousy woodworker. My old Ultima 8 had an amazingly stable tripod. It used a leg brace that when screwed upwards would push the legs outwards until they hit a stop at the top. Most GEM tripods don't have the stops at the top, but do incorporate a brace and/or tray near the bottom. I got some help and pulled the legs outwards. It stiffened right up. I decided to use the same principle. I made some measurements and cut a triangle from 3/8" plywood. I then cut the tips to form a 2" long edge. Drill a hole in the center and bevel the edges. In place of the screw that fastens the eq. head to the tripod, I put in a 5" piece of threaded rod and tightened with a wingnut. Be sure not to insert the rod too deep as it can contact the altitude pivot in the head. That cut damping time down to about 3 seconds. The wedge did stiffen up the top of the legs, and eliminated flexure where the legs meet the head base(the previous owner had inserted shims here to take out end play). However, the bottom of the tripod still seemed to bow a little. One problem was the tray braces. The SVD uses metal straps a few inches long that swing from the legs and bolt to the tray. I installed small washers between the strap and the pivot bolt bracket to rid it of incredibly excessive end play. Next, I tightened up the wedge plate after removing the acc. tray. That pushed the legs out to provide a wider stance. I made more measurements and cut a larger tray from plywood. Cut the tips off the triangle and drill holes for the mounting straps. Lastly, you can sand the wedge and tray, and paint or stain to taste. I used 3/8" fuel line sliced down the middle to put on the edges to keep items from rolling off. I reinstalled the wedge and tray. For the last bit of fine tuning, put large tie straps around each leg midway between the top and the tray to improve the fit there. It works! I can tap dance on this cheap little mount now! Pull off the rubber tips on the end of each leg to allow it to get a better bite into the ground. I have yet to try it on concrete, but vibration suppression pads actually increase damping time now. Damping time is 1-2 seconds.

Thsi is the third I-M scope I've owned. I sold my excellent MN-56/GP and Ultima 8 scopes/mounts for my current MN-76/G-11. Each finderscope has had worthless crosshairs. They're too small to see in the dark. One even had an illuminator port. That only washed out the entire field making only the brightest stars visible. Forget faint fuzzies. All the finders also seem to suffer from paint flaking which dirties up it's optics. On the good side, the OTA does have 2 mating brackets for the finder. I've tried swapping from side to side, but then a realignment is needed. That seems self defeating to me. Orion's red dot finder slides right in to the second bracket. That seems to make the stock finder a little more tolerable.

The I-M screw-in metal dew/light shields are fantastic. They are fully baffled just like the tube is. These are pricey though. I opted for a Kendrick flexible for this scope to maintain portability. Not all brands of flexible shields are felt lined. The plastic alone is somewhat more reflective. It's worth the extra $5.

In reading reviews at the most popular reviewer's sites, they frequently bring up the issue of portability. "Airline portable" certainly applies here, but I'm not exactly a frequent flyer. This rig stays completely assembled in a corner of a room. I can easily carry it outside, grab a chair, table, and eyepieces in 2-3 minutes. I can have dinner, go back outside, make a quick polar alignment, and go. I observe more now than I ever have(and I'm somewhat of a diehard as it is). This quick-look scope seems to get much more than just quick looks. I never realized the dread of setup and teardown was swaying me away from observing as much. Even my 15" Dob doesn't see as much light for the same reason. This....is a real perk.

MONEY! When it comes to what you get for what you paid, these Russian made Maks are a real bargain. I first happened on to them in search of a quality refractor I could afford. That statement is an oxymoron. The 603 gives you planetary, lunar, and double star perfomance equal to that of most high quality(and very expensive)4-5" refractors, with a slight edge in contrast going to a select few refractors. Deep-sky performance is won by the 603 hands down. In that category it even competes with bigger scopes. It's more portable than refractors of f/or slower, and obviously 8" SCT's.

I went in to depth on the tripod because I feel that is where most of these scopes will find a home. Whether it's an EQ,SVD,CG,or GP, improving the mount's stability can maximize any scope's potential. The big picture of price, performance, and unexpectedly to me, ease of use, make this scope a real winner. It's a bargain if you pay double what I did. This one's a keeper!

Clear skies,
Mark Rieck
Chino Valley,AZ

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.189.101)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40465


Intes Micro Alter M603
Great optics. Once cooled down star diffraction patterns seen as perfect little bullseyes. Cool down time can be as long as 2 hr. Some nights when the temperature is falling as the night goes on it never seems to completely reach equilibrium. I have always owned small (60mm to 100mm) refractors before, so I did not understand how much a lack of cooling time would affect the image quality. Also much more affected by atmospheric conditions. I was initially
disappointed by the image quality-until I obsered during a steady night. Planetary detail on a good night much better than in my 80 mm vixen flourite, and at least as good as a 4" unitron I used to own. Deep sky surprisingly good. No image shift with focusing. I purchased it with the screw-on dewcap. With the dewcap on it won't fit in the padded case that it comes with. For about 60.00 I purchased a large rubbermaid tool chest that it fits in perfectly. I use it on a GP mount, which handles it quite well. In summary, at least as good as a quality 4" refractor on planetary and lunar detail. Significantly better than a 4" refractor on deep sky at about 1/2 to 2/3 the cost. If it were'nt for the cool-down issue I would give it a 10.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.35.254)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40464


Intes Micro Alter M603
This portable scope does it all. I attach it to my Bogen tripod for terrestrial viewing; to my Great Polaris mount for visual or as photographic guide scope with small refractor riding piggyback on included camera mount; and as guide scope in side-by-side configuration on a G11 mount. This scope also works great with binoviewer with plenty of back-focus. Its more portable than the 4 refractor it replaced and performs comparably at substantially less cost. Is more solidly built than the other 6" Russian Maks I've seen. This is the most versatile scope Ive ever owned.

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.67.230)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=40463

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