Where and how to buy...

15 years 6 months ago #5424 by dmcdona
Where and how to buy... was created by dmcdona
Folks - I'd appreciate any advice on where to purchase my next 'scope. Here is what I'm intending to do...

I'm looking to buy a high end refractor (TAK, AP, preferably 5") and high end mount (EM200, NJP, 900AP or 1200AP).

Having done the research, it seems a purchase from the US seems to be the best way to go (for both availability and base price). The problem I'm having though is figuring out taxes. I understand from Customs that an import tax of about 4 to 4.5% is payable and then 21% VAT on top. These taxes apply to second-hand equipment also.

I'm going over to the US soon for a vacation and am thinking of pre-purchasing said equipment and picking it up.

If anyone has done this before and is prepared to offer advice, I'd really appreciate it.

Many thanks

Dave McDonald

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15 years 6 months ago #5430 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
If your going to get a scope in a shop in the US, there is no real need to actually visit the shop.
There is probabily a big lead time of highly sought after scopes like a takahashi, they might not have one in stock when you walk in the door, ring the shop well in advance if your going over there to get one.
I get alot of bits and pieces from the US, and they're very happy to take a credit card number.

There is a customs tax as you mention on equipment imported, short of carring it in your suitcase on the way back, theres no way around it.
Some places like Florida dn NewYork have extra taxes, just be aware of it.

You'll find that shipping heavy large pieces like mounts is going to be expensive. I know someone who actually managed to bring back a LX90 as hand luggage!, this was pre 9/11 of course.

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor

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15 years 6 months ago #5437 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
Dave,
Welcome to the IFAS site! I hope you enjoy your time here!

As for your telescope, I'd contact various dealers across the US before heading over there. Some of the AP scopes have waiting lists of several years. As a result, second-hand versions can often sell for more than the original price!

As for Tak, they should be easier to get your hands on. Some dealers will usually have these in stock - such as Astronomics for example.

As for the mount, again you're looking at only a handful of dealers in the entire US who may actually have these in stock. If it were me I'd contact the following three dealers:
OPT www.optcorp.com
Astronomics www.astronomics.com
Anacortes http://www.buytelescopes.com/
If these three don't have what your looking for, then you will most likely have to go on a waiting list with the manufacturer.

On the other hand, have you looked at Astromart www.astromart.com It's a buy-and-sell website of astro gear. Although I'm the type that would normally NEVER buy second-hand stuff, I have found Astromart surprisingly good. For my next telescope purchase, that's the first place I'd turn to as you can get some excellent deals on astro gear in immaculate condition. Traders have a star rating which allows a level of comform when purchasing equipment.

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15 years 6 months ago #5439 by albertw
Replied by albertw on topic Re: Where and how to buy...

short of carring it in your suitcase on the way back, theres no way around it.


And Customs are getting very annoying about checking what you bring back also...

Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/

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15 years 6 months ago #5445 by dmcdona
Replied by dmcdona on topic Good feedback
Folks - thanks for all the feedback - very much appreciated.

I guess to clarify, I've done the research and have highlighted available taks (few and far between but not impossible to get) and I'm still on the list for a AP Starfire155EDFS/1200. (soon to be 160 EDFS I understand)

I saw a post a few days ago from a guy who was 'called up' by AP - he first went on the list at the start of 1999! I went on the list at the start of 2003 so I guess I still have four years to wait at least!

Anyway, its still a hard choice - I can't quite figure out what will give me my biggest bang for the buck

- buy from the US, have it shipped and pay the taxes
- buy from the UK, have it shipped and pay the taxes
- buy from A&S (yes, I've seen the posts on this site...)

Astromart is a great site - there's quality scopes/mounts with seemingly very genuine sellers who have good star ratings. So that's always an option. Having never owned a 4" or 5" Tak, I'd assume that at least the OTA would fit in hand luggage - though I haven't flown international since 9/11...

And there are of course some European sellers on Astromart too which could be a blessing assuming the right scope came up. Though there's more availability in the US.

Is it cheaper to buy from the US or UK? Anyone had that experience?

Astroguy - will follow up with you...

So, what a conundrum... I'm at the point now where I might consider getting another high end apo from eg Televue - more research (groan) - but more availabilty and cheaper but possibly less quality (and by the way, I'm not a 'label' person but this investment is a one-off - buy cheap, buy twice...)

Alternatively, take all this cash burning a hole in my pocket, invest it in AIB and wait for AP to come up trumps in 2008...

Dave
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15 years 6 months ago #5446 by albertw
Replied by albertw on topic Re: Good feedback

- buy from the US, have it shipped and pay the taxes
- buy from the UK, have it shipped and pay the taxes
- buy from A&S (yes, I've seen the posts on this site...)


A couple of years back I bought a Meade LXD55 and was lookng at those options (well the first two anyway!).

I came to the conclusion that I was not spending enough money to benefit from the extra hassle of buying from the US, so ended up getting it from the UK. {and if anyone from celestron is reading this I own a meade because I couldnt get a celestron at a decent price here since you wont allow your UK dealers to sell in the republic}.

The problem for me was warranty. And since you are talking about better manufacturers this may not be such a big issue. Meade warranty is only good in the country it was bought basically, so if I had a problem with a US scope I would have to ship it back. The best way around this is to have the scope shipped to an intermediarry, and have them check the parts, test the scope, and then ship it on. For the LXD55 the cost of this made the US price about the same as the UK.

I cant imagine that you would get better value here or in the UK for a scope even taking insured shipping, taxes, testing etc. into account.

The best advice would be to contact suppliers here, in the UK, and the US and just do the sums.

Cheers,
~Al

p.s. I have taken a 4" Mak on as handluggage since 9/11 to Italy and back and had no problems. Provided you have some documentation, with pictures, showing that it is actually a telescope you'll be fine (advice from the Airport Police at Dublin). The insited that my Manfrotto mount go in the hold though, so pack things well. a 4" refractor would of course be a differnt matter since they are longer, you'd need to check with the airport and the carrier before bringing that.

Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/

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15 years 6 months ago #5448 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Good feedback

I saw a post a few days ago from a guy who was 'called up' by AP - he first went on the list at the start of 1999! I went on the list at the start of 2003 so I guess I still have four years to wait at least!

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Hi Dave,
4 years !! :shock: You'd need to have the patience of a saint. !!
It would want to be a brilliant scope to be waiting that long and what are you going to do until then ?? I cant imagine there would be a whole lot of differance between a Tak and Televue, I've never tested both side by side, but they both have excellent reputations.

I had a similar experiance to Albert when I bought my scope 5 years ago interms of cost benifet and shipping costs when comparing prices in the US and London, but the currency conversion rate then was not as it is now which at the moment is very much in our favour for the (US $). 8)


Just a word of advice, if possible try and get a look at the planets through an equivilant scope, just so that there are no surprises or unrealistic expections.
Let us know how you get on.

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor

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15 years 6 months ago #5486 by dmcdona
Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
OK Folks - I've had a ton of really good feedback and I really appreciate it. You've all given me some more food for thought and I've now booked my ticket to the US.

What I'm going to do for now is go over for a holiday with the other half and at some point hit one of the astroshops. I'm going to take a look at the kit and get the lowdown on sales, shipping, warranties etc.

Then I'm going to buy a camera for my Celestron C8. The refractor (or otherwise) will wait until next year whilst I research the best deal I can taking all factors into account and the feedback I've been given.

So, a new conundrum - a very small one all the same... I'll eventually get an FL or SBIG or whatever but for now, a Meade LPI or Deep Sky Imager will fit nicely in the hand luggage. Can anyone give me advice on which one to buy? Cost is not a factor but I want best bang for buck. I've done no research other than visit the Meade site - one question I'd have is using the guiding software - will it work with my C8? No harm if it doesn't I guess....?

Thanks

Dave

ps - we are staying at Star Hill Inn (private observatory with plenty of scopes), New Mexico for three nights. I'll let you know how it goes.

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15 years 6 months ago #5487 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
The Meade LPI and deep sky imagers are both pretty good.
You'll be able to do imaging through either but I dont think you'll be able to do auto guiding with them as they're built for the Meade scopes.
If you have an CCD autoguider or PC interface on your scope, see if its compatibale with either of the above
Apparently, the philips Toucam pro 1 or 2 webcam is better then the LPI, so I hear.

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor

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15 years 6 months ago #5488 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
The LPI and the DSI are two very different beasts.
The LPI is primarily aimed at lunar and planetary imaging which requires hundreds of millisecond exposures stacked together to get one very good image. The LPI has a max exposure of 30 secs. However, at this exposure, the image quality wouldn't be the best from what I understand.
If you want a camera to takes shots of the moon and planets, there are none that I know of that are better than the Philips Toucam Pro or the Philips Toucam Pro II. If you do get it, it HAS to be the PRO version as the other versions have a much cheaper chip in them and are of little use.

Having said all this, I recently got the LPI. However, I already have the Toucam Pro for my planetary work and will continue to use it. I got the LPI as it can work as an autoguider and a PEC trainer for my Meade LX90.

The DSI on the other hand is more a deep sky camera - long exposures. For the price, the DSI looks very interesting, judging by the sample images on Meade's ads. However, a word of caution - can those images be taken by the average punter or by experts with large scopes at 10,000 ft??? Something to consider.

On the subject of tracking; long exposure (DSI) - guiding of some sort. On the other hand, a Philips Toucam Pro or the LPI won't need an autoguider. Once the scope has tracking it'll be fine.

Let us know what you think of Star Hill Inn - I'd be interested to hear about it.

BTW, I hope you enjoy your trip. If you're feeling generous you can bring us all back a 6" Tak! :wink:

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15 years 6 months ago #5529 by dmcdona
Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
Michael - I forgot to add in my last post that I had sent in an order for 6" Taks for all those on this board.

Now, will it be an NJP or Temma II mount with the APO's.... Let me know and I'll be into OPT immediately :wink:

Dave

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15 years 6 months ago #5531 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
Dave,

I'm a little disappointed in you! :evil:
I thought I would have been offered the EM-500, at the very least!
http://www.buytelescopes.com/product.asp?t=13&pid=1744&m=
However, I would be willing to compromise for one of those "inferior" mounts you mentioned!! :wink: :)

Clear skies,

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15 years 6 months ago #5533 by dmcdona
Replied by dmcdona on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
Michael et al - I had hoped to avoid divulging your christmas presents but it seems I have to defend my honour and cast aside any aspertions of cheapskatedness. So, here's what Santie is bringing for you all, special delivery. He is on strict orders NOT to drop these down the chimney...

www.binoculars.com/products/Takahashi_FC...ry_System_10128.html

Oh yes, and one of these each... (people not included)

www.buytelescopes.com/product.asp?t=&pid=6919&m=

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15 years 6 months ago #5534 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
:) :) :)

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15 years 6 months ago #5538 by Seanie_Morris
Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic Re: Where and how to buy...

, here's what Santie is bringing for you all, special delivery. He is on strict orders NOT to drop these down the chimney...

www.binoculars.com/products/Takahashi_FC...ry_System_10128.html


:shock: Wow! and at only $390,000 each!

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.

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15 years 6 months ago #5540 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
Can I have 2 please, I'd like to make a binoviewer out of them :P
Your generousity knows no ends, 8)

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor

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15 years 6 months ago #5542 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: Where and how to buy...
Let's not be greedy Dave L!
Remember, he's gonna bring back a couple of hundred of these mounts.
He hopes to bring them through as hand luggage!
One will do me fine - I always wanted a steady mount for my 10x50s!
:wink:

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