Assembly and Review of Assembly of Orion XX14i

Please see that I have two updated reviews on my blog. Here is the link.

Well, tonight I did it. Steve Coe is still in town and he came over and together we built the XX14i I have. Steve was gracious and helpful as ever, and shared a homemade meal of meatloaf, hash browns and corn with us tonight. If your careful, you may steal an glimpse of him in the pictures posted.

First thing first. Assembly a dob is not an issue to me, the thing that made me a little nervous is the intelliscope. More of that later.

We began by unpacking everything. Let me state up front that the base is NOT, I repeat is NOT plywood or reinforce wood. It is press board with a good laminate on it. Does that change anything for me on this scope? Not at all. I am HIGHLY excited to use it. In assembling the two sides and the front, I really like the mechanism of using a knob, a spacer and a rubber washer to lock in the knobs so that they can release the sides to dissemble the base. Why someone hasn't followed suite on this model yet I am not sure. The knobs screw into metal pieces that are already built into each piece. The sides have 3 each and the front has six. It made me giddy to realize that I can dissemble the base.

Sideways but I took the shot that way and you can begin to see the base coming together here with the round black knobs I am talking about. A key item though, it will be VERY important on this scope to undo the intelliscope cables if your dissembling the base. This will ensure they don't pull or get damage or the boards they connect to are not damaged.

Here's a close up of the knobs:

Here's a close up of the metal screw are the knobs lock into:

The side assembled:

Another view of it completed:

Total time to get this part done, well if you read the manual and do what it says, probably 20 to 30 minutes.

After building this part, you begin to build the intelliscope feature of the scope. The boards that operate these go on and I have to be critical here of Orion. To their credit, Orion provides you with great photos of all the pieces with their names. Their diagram isn't much help and it would have been nice had they put the letter that they use in the assembly next to the name of the object in the photo in parenthesis. In this photo you can see the washers that are needed to secure the bottom encoder to bottom of the base. It took Steve and I awhile to figure out which washers to use.

The next part was easy as we simply installed the bolt to the base and then attached the encoder disc and other parts.

Here is a better image of the Encoder disc and the brass azimuth bushing.

Here is the altitude encoder jack which is part of the encoder connector board that faces out, with two on the other side. The encoder jack attaches to the inner side. This next picture is bad but shows the two jacks facing down so the cords and plug into them.

We continued to attach all the intelliscope parts and then the cords. Here is a mix bag and I'll tell you what I decided to do after talking it over with Steve. The intelliscope comes with cable clips to hold the wires down. The manual recommends only using three because when/if you break down the two side bases and the front, you have to remove the cords to avoid damage during transport. Steve came up with a clever solution here and I'll share. We decided that for now we won't use the clips and instead, we used a black twisty tie and tied them to a knob so they don't flop around much. Problem solved! They are tied down on the left side by that knob in the rounded hole.

Here are the images of the altitude encoder assembly (on left) and the Encoder Connector Cord on the right (better image then above).

No build is perfect, and yes, I made a simple mistake and I'll show it here. In this picture the front panel is reversed. The place to put in the Vertical Stop Knob I put on the outside, instead of on the inside. Whew! This is a XX14i and by simply undoing six knobs, I took the front out, after removing the handle, and flipped it, reinstalled everything and no sweat!

Here is the front assembled correctly (if you've done this and see an error ANYWHERE, please leave me a comment!).

From the front:

From the back and you can now see the vertical stop knob.

Now came the time to change this up. The base is together and before I go on I want to give input into it. First, the intelliscope assembly for one who has never done it was unique. I'm still not sure if we did it right and that it will work. I'm hoping tomorrow or Thursday (weather again) will let me know. Orion needs to clean up its instructions on the intelliscope. Providing an XTi directions and a note saying to not use them or not use certain parts results in a waste of time. For the money, Orion should centralized the intelliscope instructions into the XX14i manual in my opinion.

Overall though, the base is easy to assembly and once we figured out what washers when where we were able to move forward pretty quickly. Time, 45 minutes because of the reading and guessing (per my first critical comment, labeling the parts pictures with the right letter next to the identification would make this easier).

Next came taking out the mirror. The mirror was very well protected and I checked the center spot and the collimation ring was dead center. Nice. The mirror looked great (not for long, he he) and after taking off the rear end ring, and attaching the bolts to hold the counter weights, we flipped the mirror over on a clean surface and attached the mirror cell. We put on the collimation springs, put on the collimation knobs. adjusted the bolts as directed, and the mirror was attached! Easy process and probably the most fun so far. Can I also say that the weight of the mirror at first surprised me . . . it was heavy, much heavier than the XT10 I have. However once back in the lower QTA assembly it wasn't bad at all. Who is that man in blue? Hint, it's not me.

After assembling the mirror into the telescope, the counter weights screwed right on and the lower tube was completed.

We then put the lower part into the base, as for me, I don't think it makes sense to assembly the scope and put it into the base. At this point the meat loaf dinner was done so off we went to eat. I came back, finishing assembling the poles and the upper tube section together. This was also very easy and very quick. You can see the poles after being connected to the lower tube and then to the upper tube. Quick, easy and painless.

Here is the upper tube. I have to say that I really like the Orion dual speed focuser. Perfect, nope. A premium system? Nope. Highly effective, feels like it will be. The only other thing I think Orion should have included was a brass ring 1 1/4 inch holder for the two inch eye piece holder. I have one already, so no big deal but it would be a nice addition.

Well, here is the completed with my XT10 covered up behind it:

My thoughts on this? It is tall, it is much bigger than a 10 inch, and the 14 seems to feel like a good step up from the 10. I am six foot and the XX14i is only 3 inches shorter than me. If the scope is at Zenith I can stand and view easily, or extend either my Starbound or Stardust and see just fine, as long as I am sitting close to the scope. Someone 5"9 or less may struggle to sit at zenith and observe in their chair. The azimuth motion is fine on my XX14i. I do not have an issue with this and though it is not a premium dob in its azimuth motion, mine moves easily for me, and I don't see an issue in using it in any way. Does that mean it is really smooth? No, but it is smooth enough for me and since I have to use it, that is good enough for me. The thread at Cloudy Nights has helped me as I have finished putting mine together. A little spray as mentioned in that thread helps. The base is around 27 to 28 inches, measured roughly and estimated and will fit through a door, but I can say I will be taking the base apart to move this scope be it to the backyard or to a dark site. Optics look to be really good and I did order the shroud and the bags to hold it and in the bags came a bag for the secondary which was nice. Not sure if I'll use that or a zip lock bag yet. Finally, did I say it was big? Much bigger than the XX12i or the Z12. I look forward to many a great nights with this scope, especially at some dark sites and more importantly, the many memories that will come with it.

As I get first light, I will post and let you know what my further impressions are. My fear, I did not set up the intelliscope correctly. Guess I'll find out and tomorrow I'll be stopping to pick up a level. Lets hope I can get it outside tomorrow for a test run. Do I have any regrets in purchasing this product? None at all and if the intelliscope works as does its manual use, I'll have a good scope to use. Clear skies to you.