Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian


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Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
From the top:
- Tube does not extend far enough beyond focuser. Fix with extension.
- Spider is OK. Reduce local tube collapse at attachment points by adding big washers / backing plate.
- Secondary holder was impossible to adjust. Fix by removing paint from threads and joints, by cleaning / steel wool / paint remover.
- 1.25 inch focuser has metal rack and pinion, better than the 2 inch focuser I saw on the "Deluxe". Improve by trimming flashing, sanding / filing rack flat, removing excess grease, fine-tuning saddle for focuser knob axle to remove slop. Add 3" plastic peanut butter jar lid to one knob to enable finer focusing.
- I left the useless finder at the store. Maybe someone has some use for it.
- Balance was good from the factory. Collimation, contrary to the Meade user manual, was not. The focuser had never been mounted in the tube.
- Nylon? altitude pads stick. Crazy Ed Teflon replacements solve this, but make the motion very light, so balance is crucial.
- Azimuth motion much too heavy with too much "sticktion". Nylon shim washers included to address this were too finicky for me. I put bigger Teflon pads down, closer to the center, as well as Ebony Star. Much improved.
- Rubber feet too spongy as well as too short. Replaced with 1" tall wooden disks, vastly improving stability at power.
- Side boards flex - fix by adding screws or "knockdown" furniture connectors between side boards and front board and side and front boards and base. (Do this before the Ebony Star)
- Mirror cell blocks light from behind, but it is true that the (thick) mirror won't reach thermal equilibrium with the atmosphere, or track nighttime temp changes. Haven't completely solved this yet. The mirror sits on 3 huge silicone? blobs. I want a 6-point cell at 56% of radius (ref. PLOP) but no one sells one, so I may have to make one. I added a muffin fan, this greatly reduces tube currents. In any case, due to these issues, I have no idea how good the mirror is.
- "Newt" and "Diag" show that the focuser is too tall and narrow, resulting in vignetting at the secondary and the focuser.
- Despite all the above, this thing shows me things I've never seen before, and makes amateur astronomy a visual feast as well as an intellectual pursuit. It may be the best deal in astronomy.

Overall Rating: 7
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.102.223)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39338


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
I give it a 9 after you do the required fixes.

1) New University Optics mirror cell $50

2) Rebuild rockerbox with 3/4" MDF and make it taller so you can move the side bearings up to help balance. $15

3) Add a real focuser $100 - $400. Depends on which focuser you get.

4) Replace the nylon bearing surfaces with teflon or "Magic Sliders" furniture guides and add ebony star formica to the azimuth axis. $25

5) Add telrad and at least a 50mm finderscope. $100 and up depends on the finderscope you choose.

After this is all done you should have a smooth moving, easy to setup 12.5" newtonian. And if the mirror you get is as good as the one I got you should be quite happy with its performance, planetary and deep sky.

See Pics of mine with all of the fixes mentioned above at My Scopes

http://www.nightskydesign.com/skyjunkie/equipment/index.html

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.149.205)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39339


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
I finally got a chance to try out my new scope last night. The clouds around here have been terrible. I had a lot of trouble in getting my self to decide to buy this telescope because of all i have heard about it. But i deciced for the money it might be the best deal out there. My first surprise when i unpacked it was that meade must have been listening about the cooling down problem because they added three vent holes in the back of the mirror cell with nice black screens over them my hats off to meade. My first time out with it i could tell it cooled down very reasonably for a big scope,it was just getting dark so that time of evening is usually pretty turbulant but none the less it cooled right down. Then came the star test it was quite a surprise the diffraction patterns were identical on both sides of focus and this was with a 7mm eyepiece on sirirus. The optical quality blewe me away it is among the best i have seen and i have seen alot. The only really bad thing about this scope is the focuser and the altitude bearings stick. Through hands on optics you can get a real nice quality focuser for $69. The mount is plenty sturdy enough as good as any particle board mount i have used. Meade gives you a nice full thickness pyrex mirror which no other comopany even comes close to that. To me this is definetly the best deal going for a large dobsonian.

Overall Rating: 10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.217.173)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39340


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
well done meade! great mirror! i had a 3x barlow & pentax 8-24 zoom at 570x on a moonlit night, mars was outstanding!! i saw surface features ive never seen before. i replaced the 2" focuser with a rack & pinion meade all metal focuser & also replaced the 30mm finder with a 60mm finder. rocker box is a little wobbly but works fine. the tube & mirror cell are great. fairly smooth action in both axis, i kept mars in the field of view for a long while at 570x. i am well satisfied with the looks & performance of this scope.

Overall Rating: 9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.197.156)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39341


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
I bought the Meade 12.5" back in 1998.
Off the bat:
- Changed the focuser
- Put on a Telrad and an 8x50 finder
- Used a bit of "vaseline" which completely cured the "sticky"
side bearings.
- Drilled 3 - 1.25" holes behind the mirror cell, which helped
ventilate and cool down the mirror quicker.

Now for the good news!!!

The optics are very good, (maybe I got lucky) I have had the
chance to use another 12.5" at a star party, and the optics
on that one seemed to be good also...

I have used this scope many times at 350x and I am constantly amazed
at the optical quality. Being the owner of an 8" SCT I have rediscovered
the nigt sky ....almost every object I have seen with the 12.5"
looks "different" ...I am rediscovering familiar objects for the
first time !! You just cannot compare the light gathering power of
this 12.5" scope to any 8" period.

This scope is the best value for the money.

Because of the original modifications that had to be made, I rate
this scope overall 8 out of 10.

Overall Rating: No Vote
Weight: <none>
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.140.140)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=39342


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
The 2 inch focuser is pure junk. The mount is barely usable - no balance - wobbly. Meade says one should be create with the balance. The optics are worth more than the price of the scope. ATMs could buy the optics and chuck the rest.

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:10 Mount:1 Ease of Use:4 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.231.176)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=49639


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
I have to disagree with the previous voter. my 12.5 inch dob required very little upgrading to become a highly developed instrument.

BE CAREFUL WITH THE FOCUSER UNTIL YOU ARE READY TO UPGRADE. ITS PLASTIC RACK WILL STRIP VERY EASILY.

REPLACE THE ALTITUDE AND AZIMUTH BEARINGS (THE LITTLE TEFLON SQUARES ON THE GROUNDBOARD AND THE LITTLE NYLON SQUARES ON THE ROCKER BOX) WITH A PRODUCT AVAILABLE FROM THE HARDWARE DEPARTMENT OF WAL-MART CALL "MAGIC-SLIDERS). THEY ARE CHEAP (LESS THAN $5) FOR A PACKAGE CONTAINING SEVERAL. THEY COME IN DIFFERENT SIZES AND SHAPES. GET THE ONE AND A HALF INCH ROUND ONES FOR THE AZIMUTH AND THE THREE QUARTER INCH WIDE RECTANGULAR ONES FOR THE ALTITUDE BEARINGS.

EQUIP THE SCOPE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE WITH MAGELLAN 1 DIGITAL SETTING CIRCLES
FROM MEADE. YOU'LL LOCATE ANY OF SEVERAL THOUSAND DEEP-SPACE OBJECTS QUICKLY.

MAKE SURE THE ALTITUDE TRUNIONS ON THE SIDES OF THE TUBE ARE ATTACHED VERY TIGHTLY (mine came attached very loosely).

I HAVE ALSO INSTALLED A FAN ON THE SCOPE PER THE INSTRUCTION AND ARTICLE IN THE DECEMBER 2001 OR JANUARY 2002 SKY AND TELESCOPE (I FORGET WHICH ISSUE).

HAVE VIEWED ITEMS AS DIVERSE AS STEPHAN'S QUINTET AND PLUTO.

COULDN'T BE HAPPIER.


IF YOU WANT TO OFFER ANY TIPS OF YOUR OWN, OR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS I MAY BE ABLE TO ANSWER, MY E-MAIL ADDRESS IS:

HOWELLMARTIN@HOTMAIL.COM

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:9 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.136.160)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=52752


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
There is no better value in the world of amatuer astronomy, period. You need to understand that you are getting a 12-1/2 inch scope with great optics for only $800 brand new, with an eyepiece. The mount is very useable. I glued and screwed it together and it works great. It is very smooth and rigid enough. I replaced the focuser with a JMI Dx2. I didnt mount the finder, I bought a telrad for it instead. I keep it covered and leave it outside so that for me, there are no cooldown issues. Optically, The scope is nearly perfect. A 12-1/2 inch scope is sometimes the perfect aperture. I viewed 43 NGC galaxies in Leo, and Jupiter and Saturn were as good as I have ever seen them. Keep in mind it is not a premium dob and doesnt cost like one. It is not refined and gimmicky, it is simple and incredibly useable. You cant beat this scope. After changing the focuser and adding a simple counterweight (velcro and a 2lb ankleweight) the scope is perfectly balanced for a 31 nagler and a TV Binoviewer. You cant beat it. Great scope. Go get one before Meade realizes the price is too low.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.222.80)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=76794


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
I have made some modifications to this telescope, just like some other users:

I covered the tube with contact paper to protect it better than the original covering which was too thin over the cardboard--I actually went on to put the zodiac on the sides with stick on stars and thin gold tape to trace the constellations. A silver stripe on the top and bottom really set it off, along with some reflective blue paper for the Milky Way. Much better than boring white.

Repainted the interior of the tube with flat black paint. Less reflections than before.

Replaced the spider dome nuts with winged nuts and large washers. Much easier to adjust now and less damage done to the tube.

Same washers installed for the mirror mount to avoid damage to the tube.

Two wooden discs (twice the diameter of the bearings) fitted to the Alt bearings to keep the telescope on the mount and to solve the splaying problem with the mount--they also make nice hand holds. Now each bearing has three bolts going through to solve the wobbly single bolt design from the factory. Also installed metal strips on the interior of the tube to take the torque of the bolts and avoid damage to the tube. All of this was painted black after assembly.

Finderscope really wasn't helpful--replaced with Telrad. (Old finderscope holes covered with contact paper.) Best first improvement for this design.

White reflective tape applied to the mout on three sides--some drivers just cannot see a big telescope! This makes up for the black & silver covering on the tube and keeps the cars/trucks away.

Planned modifications:

Replace teflon Alt bearing pads. Factory pads too "sticky", even with lubricant.

Add more teflon pads to circumference of Az discs in base of mount to solve wobble problem.

Bigger feet needed under mount.

Carrying handle needs to be put on top of the tube between the Alt bearings. This is a heavy telescope.

2 inch focuser is a dissapointing plastic model--needs upgrade.


I use a plastic trash bag to cover the top of the tube, and then I put a sleeping bag over the entire tube while the telescope is assembled or seperated into units for transportation (depending on which vehicle I use). The open end of the bag is at the mirror end, and I keep the telescope in the garage. This arrangement allows for instant use since the mirror is always at or near ambient temperature. However, the summer can hit 120 F where I live, and the garage gets to around 140 F, so the sleeping bag protects the secondary mirror and plastic parts at the top of the tube, and the contact paper. In this case the bag actually insulates the mirror and keeps it cooler than the garage.

I have found that this telescope can perform with much more expensive Dobs/Newtonians. In fact, the simple reliability combined with the good optics never fails to provide good views. I have seen some "advanced" reflectors suck bank accounts dry and fail to perform. The price of this telescope allows you to invest in some filters and/or eyepieces at the time of purchase or soon after. A great first Big Telescope.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:9 Mount:6 Ease of Use:8 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.207.72)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=90442


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
Optics are outstanding! the mount is a little weak, the motions are a little stiff, the focuser wasnt that good. not bad for the money though. id recommend for the person that dosnt have a lot of money but wants a little more size.

Overall Rating: 7
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:6 Value:9
Weight: 10 (Trustworthy Vote)
Date:
By: vpdwl
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=109134


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
A great telescope for a great price. Designed for large light gathering at a modest cost. Mechanically has several shortcomings, but all can be easily fixed. The base is wobbly, but new feet can be easily installed. The virticle motions are quirky, but it will take 10 minutes to strip off those nylon pads and screw in teflon pads. The base will need to be adjusted for correct left to right tension. In my opinion, this telescope delivers what its intended purpose was meant to be. Affordable large aperture will good optics at a low cost. At a price of about $1000, this is a lot of telescope. None others come close. If you want a telescope that doesnt have these quirks, you could always spend about $2500-$3000 and get a nice truss dob. For me, this was a great choice.

Overall Rating: 9
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:10 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.194.55)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=153538


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
Out of the box, this scope is just barely usable. The altitude motions are not smooth making aiming at targets (particularly at high magnificatons) difficult. This was easily fixed by replacing the ridiculous nylon pads with Magic Sliders furniture feet. The azimuth motion is some what better, but could be better, particularly at the zenith. Of course, all dobs are suseptible to this "blind spot" but smoother motions could diminish its affects on the scopes' overall performance. I am thinking about placing magic sliders here as well.
The mount itself is acceptable. The side panels are somewhat prone to flexing, but it is not too serious. This was remidied by attaching wooden side braces to the mount.
The finderscope that came with this scope was worthless rubbish; with a 24mm aperature, sighting anything visually dimmer than the moon was difficult. I replaced it with a 9x50 from Orion. Aiming at objects now takes only a few seconds.
After installing the new finderscope, the whole thing was quite out of balance. It was my dads' idea to place some 3 and 4 ounce fishing weights in a slim cardboard carton and bolt it all to the bottom of the primary mirror cell. This was made possible by a mysterious threaded hole at the center of the aforementioned cell. Now the scope is perfecltly balanced, and motion in the altitude is actually much improved.
The standard equipment eyepeice, a series 4000 super plossl eyepeice is andexcellent peice of equipment. With the addition of a 2x barlow lens, and a 9mm gleaned from another telescope I own, there are plenty of magnification options.
The focuser is good, for the money. A metal draw tube fits into a plastic base. The motions are smooth enough, although precise focusing is somewhat difficult at high magnifications. Someone might want to replace it; personally, I shall leave it alone.
As for the optics, I have little experience in this area, so I cannot say much about that here. The only things to be noted are the closed nature of the primary mirror holder and the fact that this holder is wood, and not metal. Both of these factors slow down scope cool-down times.
In any telescope, internal reflections are a problem. The inside of this scopes tube is painted flat black, needless to say, but there are still some reflections. The addition of some flocking paper to the area opposite the focuser should increase contrast. I may try to line the inside of the focuser drawtube with flocking as well.

In closing, this is an very good choice of telescope for someone on a budget. Since upgrades are relativly cheap, and can be done gradually, they have minimum monetary impact. A better scope might be purchased right off from Orion, but this model from meade should not be ruled out. It's a solid scope overall with good optics, and can be easily customized to suit the owners needs, and that will doubtless provide many good views in th future.

Overall Rating: 8
Optics:8 Mount:7 Ease of Use:8 Value:9
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.54.238)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=449193


Meade Starfinder 12.5" Dobsonian
This is a LOT of Telscope for the money.

As far as upgrades, I chaged the focuser and replaced the side bearings with Virigin Teflon ..that's it!!

Images are Very Good to Excellent depending on seeing conditions.

I had Saturn at 350x and everyone around could not believe this telescope costs less than $1000 !!

Amazing value, if you can find a used one grab it!!

-

Overall Rating: 10
Optics:9 Mount:7 Ease of Use:7 Value:10
Weight: 1 (Unreliable Vote)
Date:
By: Anonymous (xxx.xxx.141.133)
Link to this vote: http://www.excelsis.com/1.0/displayvote.php?voteid=577551

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