Discovery PDHQ 12.5



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Date: 7-22-2002
Price: $1,249.00
Design: 12.5 inch Dobsonian operating at f/5
Description: Large reflector on a Dobsonian mount. It ships with two Plossl eyepieces, a moon filter, and 7x50 finder scope along with premium Pyrex mirrors (standard).  The PDHQ is the premium model which also includes 96% reflectivity coatings on the mirrors and an excellent 2" JMI Crayford focuser.

The Review

I live outside of Clio Mi and have a decent backyard for observing. My south view usually has a light dome from Flint but the rest is pretty good. I have been observing for about 3 1/2 years, visual only. My favorite objects are DSO's but I do enjoy the planets too.

I decided on the PDHQ after looking around at what was available. I decided that it was the nicest scope I could get for the money I was willing to spend. I liked the fact that it came with a plywood base instead of the usually pressed wood. I wanted the enhanced coatings on both mirrors, and it is at my limit for how much I can handle and still move it around. I also
prefer the sonotube over the metal or truss type but that is purely a personal choice.

Everything arrived on the day the tracking #'s promised. The cartons were all in good shape and the scope and accessories were packed very securely. The mirror and accessories came via UPS while I had to wait 3 more days for the tube and base as they were to large for UPS or FedX. They had to be trucked to my house. The guy who delivered the tube had a small
refractor and was really amazed at the size of the scope. I was impressed by the size of the scope. You can read dimensions on paper but up close and personal it seemed a lot larger.

It has a 1587mm fl and came with a 25, and 10mm Plossl EPs. Haven't used them yet. The base is Baltic birch plywood and is lighter and stronger than pressed wood bases I have helped people set up. The base is 28# and the tube is 61# so I use a 2 wheeled dolly to move the tube. It came with enhanced coatings on both mirrors and I chose the Telrad over the 7x50
finder. It also came with a bonus, an $85 holographic collimator. I would have bought the scope even without the laser but it was a nice freebie.

When I opened the boxes, I thought, wow, this thing is huge, but then I am used to refractors and an 8"sct so it would look enormous. Another plus was that the base came fully assembled and all I had to do was install the primary and align the mirrors.

I have looked mostly at a lot of the objects familiar to most of us. I did that so I would have some idea of the difference in performance from my 8" on the same targets. M13 resolved completely to the core, just like the pictures with a 12.4mm. I was amazed at the fact that I could just keep raising the power and the FOV didn't get mushy or darken down to much to
see. The base moves very smoothly and the JMI focuser is smooth as warm butter.

I do think they should include paper work on the focuser but I figured it out quickly. The shipping charge is pretty high on this scope because of the need to truck the base and tube. It was $135 more than UPS. I had a mix-up with OPT on the shipping charges so Ben threw in a book, Overlooked Objects which is designed to use with a Telrad, a Barlow, and one of those adjustable led flashlights from Orion. Discovery didn't include the laser with the original shipment but sent one priority mail after an email to Ben. The laser is pretty cool but it needs to be aligned. Yes, it came out of alignment. When I use the peep sight to collimate I can get it pretty close and after using the laser, the center circle is off by a good inch or so causing crappy comet tails on the stars. I can send it back or attempt it myself but I would have to pay the shipping to send it back and the instructions to align it seem pretty straight forward.

I obviously really like the scope and recommend it. That's a good thing cause it is my "retirement" scope. Yes, that time in my life is rapidly approaching.

Submitted by Bob Bowen - - Clio, Michigan

The Review

I ordered this premium Dobsonian from Discovery on November 20, 2000.  It arrived in the subsequent millennium, March 31, 2001.  Good things are worth waiting for.  As it turned out, I did not miss a lot of viewing days during that time.  On the few crisp, cool late fall evenings we had in Wisconsin last year, I enjoyed getting out and using my Orion SVD 90. That's a lot of fun until the middle of December when the bone marrow finally freezes over, about the same time as Lake Geneva does, and stays frozen like the lake until at least April.  There was only a handful of clear nights during that time this winter any way. All in all, the long delivery time wasn't much of a set back.  

I had decided on the Discovery 12.5" for all the right reasons.  Also because the Discovery ad featured a modest, but very intriguing young lady climbing a telescope.  It was subsequently pointed out to me that she was standing on a step ladder, but that was not what I originally saw looking at the ad.

The "right" reasons I mentioned are all listed in Discovery's their informational literature.  Enhanced aluminum coatings on both primary and secondary mirrors.  Discovery Telescopes optical facility manufactures and claims it tests its Premium Pyrex optics to the highest standards. "Premium" optics means a 94% reflectivity, compared to the industry standard 89%. Discovery does not use mass produced, spot checked, imported optics.  

Heavy duty metal (not wood) mirror mount, welded construction for tube ventilation.   Collimating doesn't require tools. Exclusive oversized adjustable tube bearings advertised for precise balance and ultra smooth motion. High quality Dobsonian mount crafted from strong, lightweight Baltic Birch Plywood.  

The PDHQ is the most professionally attractive looking of the comparable products, in my opinion. You can say what you want about the Starsplitter or the Starmaster quality, they look home-made to me. They are a lot more expensive. From what I hear, Discovery makes a really fine mirror.  I don't think the optics could be significantly better.  Check me on that.

Orion doesn't offer a 12.5". As much as I like Orion, none of Orion's products are really comparable to this.  I went through a lot of soul searching in settling on a 12.5" and the decreased portability over a smaller Dob.  Discovery makes the same 'scope in a 10", which would have been less expensive and lighter, with an f/6 vs. an f/5.  That would be desirable because less coma, greater contrast and smaller central obstruction.  A 10" is only 64% of the aperture of a 12.5" though.  I'm big and healthy. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.  

The PDHQ was delivered on a semi, and needed it. It was a large shipment, costing $114.  It came largely pre-assembled in four, very large boxes. Unpacking the
contents was a trip, the Jackals cackles. The packaging was quite well thought out, tight and secure.  The size was really impressive.  Definitely worth the price of admission. In removing the tube, stand, bearings and mirror from the packaging, one is extremely impressed. One wonders how one could get so much cool stuff for only a grand, or so.  It should easily cost $1,500.  All the assembly needed is to tighten the four pieces together, and BAM, one has a BIG telescope.

Big, at the fringe.  In fact, I had also chosen the 12.5" because I thought I could transport it diagonally in the back of my Ford conversion van.  I had build a mock-up to test the fit but it seemed to be about an inch too long.  What to do.  I talked to Discovery, and they had a couple of inches to work with and were able to shorten mine one inch from spec. Low and behold, it fits diagonally as needed!

Slight cautions.  The objective mirror comes wrapped in lens paper adhered with masking tape.  Bad. In trying to pick off a tape remnant, I inevitably (for me) touched the surface of the mirror with a finger. A hair net like device made of lense paper and elastic would work better, in my opinion.  Also, the bearings need to be attached with the screws, which hold the Formica strips, on the top.  Until I figured this out, the bearings were bumping over the screws as the scope moved in altitude.  All in all, its really an impressive and handsome piece of equipment to receive and assemble.  

Other than that, set up went breezily.  My daughter helped with the balancing, which went normally.  I read in a review of the 10" f/6 version of this scope that heavier eyepieces and equipment mounted on the front require extending the balance of the scope downward, blocking movement toward the zenith.  This is definitely not a problem with the 12.5" f/5 scope, the heavier mirror providing the counterbalance necessary without additional extension. I can lean it over backwards from zenith w/no problem. I presume it would not be a problem with the larger versions, either.

The price went up a little after I ordered mine. It doesn't matter.  This product is easily worth $500 more than it sells for. I don't know how they make a living grinding these things out for the $1,249 they now cost, with all the nonsense they have to put up with.  Replacing the sliding door in my kitchen is going to cost $1,500!  I optioned the Crayford focuser which now comes standard.  I would have preferred a collimating eyepiece in place of one of the ubiquitous no-name Plossls. Or nothing.  They're becoming as numerous as packing foam.  Discovery, if you want to really shock the industry, include a University optics orthoscopic or Konig or a collimating eyepiece instead.  I'd also prefer a right angle finderscope.

 My only real complaint is that the focuser is mounted too low on the arch of the tube.  Looking down the throat of the tube, it is mounted at about 80 degrees from the top. This results in the eyepiece being too low when looking other than at near zenith, and requiring a crouch.  I would rather stand over the eyepiece, looking down and it would be more suitably mounted at about 25 degrees from the top.  The problem can be corrected by rotating the tube in the mounting bearings, but this would require some disassembly and reassembly, which I'm not up to. Also, Discovery usually mounts the focuser on the right side of the tube as you use the scope.  I specially requested it to be on the left side as you use the scope, because I get the eastern sky from my back yard and I like to push on the tube rather than pull. That worked out.

There is no point in my going into the optical quality of this 'scope.  It's good beyond my ability to be critical.   I haven't the expertise to do so; one can find it elsewhere.  It's top of the line. Suffice to say, I can't wait to get out to the dark!

Submitted by Jay Mack - - Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

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