I like to know things – how good or bad this or that is – first hand. After the Skelescope, I wanted to try another very inexpensive scope, to see how it performed. I have other Infinitys, but not the 50.
How much can you expect for $32.27 delivered? We’re about to find out.
I skipped the ‘unboxing video’ – no real need. Inside the pretty outer box were 3 more – one containing the plastic lens holder wheel for the tripod, the barlow, the diagonal, and the H20mm, H12mm, and SR4mm eyepieces.
The Barlow is 2x, plastic and .965 at both ends. It is meant to be placed between the .965 focuser and the .965 to 1.25″ diagonal. I noticed many reviews online mentioning that the eyepieces or the barlow were the wrong size – they are not. For whatever reason, Meade chose to use a .965 focuser, a .965 barlow and a .965 to 1.25. I would assume this lowered production costs so that I might purchase the Infinity 50 for the low price I did.
I myself might have thought the wrong size Barlow or EPs had been sent had I not been educating myself by scouring posts on Cloudy Nights, Astronomy.Net, Stargazer’s Lounge and reading reviews on anything that caught my eye for the past 18 months or so – I had picked up that the Barlow did not always go after the diagonal and that the diagonal was a place some Mfrs sometimes chose to change diameters. The reviews complaining about this were all from 1st or 2nd scope owners with limited experience. I did not see an explanation relating to this in the thin manual at first, but it is there at the top of page 8.
Not highlighting the explanation in the manual seems to cause trouble for the support staff taking the calls – if they understand the customer is a bit lost, they may not want to say so and in the end either ship a different barlow or different eyepieces to the ticked off customer after requiring proof of purchase, etc. Doesn’t work well for either side and could be avoided by a simple sticky attached to the manual or a blow-in. But, that’s how it is.
The finder is a cute little straight tube 5×24 with crosshair fit into a three screw single ring that would function better with a tapered tube finder (as came with the Celes PS114EQ). It may not be the least expensive finder one can include, but it is the one right next to it. It is very small, but the image is okay. Adjusting it and locking it down is awkward – loosening any screw cause a little bit of flop. You can get used to it and you can, awkwardly, center on the main objectives target and lock the finder.
The finder is on a nicely angled stalk and positioned @ 10 o’clock if the focuser knobs are at 3 & 9 o’clock. It’s position and height force you to use your right eye. I can’t use my right eye at the moment (cataracts), so I have to sliiiide back a little past the diagonal and ‘long-eye’ the finder with my left – yeaahhhh, how’s that workin’ out for ya? It ain’t. That’s okay, I’ve got a couple three or four red-dots finders in stock and I’ll get one one the tube soon enough (Carlson’s Skeley doesn’t have any finder at all. Needs one). Finder bracket is a two radial thumbscrew, angled stalk curved foot yaddablah. Sturdy enough.
The mount is a rotating azimuth plate with fork pre-attached to the tripod with a securing / tensioning hex head screw and a washer. Mine was tight – tweaked it a hair looser (probably less than a 1/16th turn) and it’s not bad now. The whole assembly is injection molded plastic and mates with the injection molded plastic plate and tab on the tube. One fork has a smooth bore hole, the other a threaded insert. Tab on tube plate fits into the fork on the tripod. A bolt (Optical-tube-to-mount locking knob) is then inserted and tightened. Nothing fancy here and you can tweak it into smooth-ish operation. Mine’s okay.
The tripod is feather light and that just isn’t good for an f/12 tube, even one as light as the Inifinty 50. The spreaders are aluminum, thin as posterboard stock. The telescoping tripod leg tubes are more of the same. Nice if you’ve a short, light f/4 newty on top and you want to carry it around a lot. Not so nice if you’ve an f/12 refrac up there – think moment arms – this’ll get ya going – http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/torq2.html
Anyways long moment or lever arms of the f/12 tube amplifiy applied force resulting in torque, resulting in rotation, resulting oscillation / vibration of the optical tube, mount and tripod. Low mass tripod doesn’t have the inertia to fight it much. Heavy tripods and mounts do. The mount is plastic and that is elastic, more elastic than a metal mount. It is also light. It will twist slightly. The tripod attached below the mount is light, braced low and therefore more susceptible to torque and rotation. This tripod will twist slightly with the application of a small force to the tube, especially the ends – like the focuser end.
You can combat this by adding a fender washer below the eyepiece tray and brace hub to clamp that hub to the braces – as shipped, the braces and the hub move vertically a bit. You may need to pad things up down there – between the washer and braces and bracs and EP tray – dense felt or foam or even cardboard – something that won’t compress much.
If you add weight (mass), suspend it from the tripod head or hub with three or six wires or strings – do not place it on the EP tray – it is not strong enough. A pouch you can slowly fill with sand, gravel, lead weights, ball bearings, etc. would be nice. Add weight slowly until you feel the tripod ‘firm up / tighten up / shake less’. Be careful – you are trying to stabilize the tripod, not break it.