Review of XX14i vs XX12i and Using GIMP to digitize your Sketch

I had thought that my uploading of a digital process did not work but it did, so they are below. It shows how I take a sketch, in this case M-27 that I made up at Wolf Creek, and how I take it through the digital process. I rather rushed my process as I usually take about an hour per sketch but put more time into it. I'll be redoing the sketch in a way that I am comfortable but wanted to post this up for good or bad. It isn't the only way to do this, and I would LOVE to see how others who sketch and refine in a digital process do it via a series of video clips on their blogs or websites. Seeing it first hand is one way that I feel is superior to reading it, though as an educator I realize that there are a variety of learning styles, and the more I can incorporate, the more people I can reach and thus that many more people can blow my style out and perhaps I can learn from them (see, there is a selfish reason for doing it, to improve myself). I have one more tutorial that I'll share also and that is taking a sketch and making it into a purely digital record.

Please feel free to review, I hope the videos are in the right order as I quickly went through them. If not, let me know and I can adjust them quite easily in the edit mode. I do hope this helps someone.

I'll also get my observations and sketches from last week up this week.

XX14i vs XX12i

Saturday was our clubs Star Party, and in terms of comparing the XX12i to the XX14i directly I did not get that opportunity as the little brother did not show up on Saturday. I did have our club President view through the XX14i and he said as he would expect the XX14i has a little bit more contrast and light, more detail is seen. I have looked in the 12 and would agree, that I can see somewhat better details, better contrast and I prefer the view in the 14 over the 12. That doesn't mean the XX12i isn't a great scope, I think it is. The 14 is just for me.

Our club president cannot lift the 14 though due to being injured and cannot lift I believe it is over 20lbs for the rest of his life, but don't quote me on the actual weight. Another club officer thought the 14 was wonderful and that at 62, it just might fit with his SCT he has for doing the visual he wants. He felt the weight of the bottom tube and the base were less than his 12 inch SCT in each piece, and had no problem lifting them either. In the end, your not going to go wrong with either scope. I did the 14 because it was a logical step for me from the 10 and I knew a 14 or 15 was at my limits for use and I was right. I have no problem, despite a bad L5/S1 disc with moving the unit. Having lost and continuing to lose weight and doing some weight lifting again has helped a lot though (not heavy weights, just light weights with many reps) as well as doing my daily lap swimming. The only true issue I have now with my 14 is the base and getting it in and out of my office door if I don't want to take it apart. I have it figured out but I scuffed it in a couple of places the first couple of times.

In terms of mirrors our club president felt that the mirrors were of a very good quality, better than those in the standard XT and XTi classic models and that the truss designed nailed the mobility factor. At the Bryce Canyon Festival he talked with several people from Arizona who said they have been testing these mirrors and they come in around 92% to 95%. I'm sure that has to do with the enhanced coatings but I did not get a full explanation of that comment as viewers were coming by.

Tear down time for each is about the same. I can now tear down my XX14i in about 10 to 12 minutes while he can tear down the XX12i in about the same time. He's glad the club purchased the XX12i since it is more portable for most folks, but the views he loved in the XX14i. Intelliscope is the same, mine worked like a charm with a 0.1 warp last night, and all objects in the 68 degree field of the 21mm Stratus, the 13mm Stratus or the FOV of the Ethos 13mm. The eyepieces the scopes come with are the weakest link for both though. Also, if your new to the hobby, you may want support from someone when you build yours to make it working the best out of the box. Both scopes are a work in progress and one must realize that (took me two weeks of fidgeting to get it where I want it which it is now and I LOVE mine).

Would I change and get the 12 over the 14? Nope. The collapsible base, the increase in contrast and in details, and the fun the scope brings is worth the extra size. I pulled in M3 on Saturday in twilight with the sun just under the horizon. There is enough light bucket in the 14 to give it a slight edge over the 12 in my opinion. If you want portability, with less weight and not much of a diminished view, then go for the 12. If you can handle the weight, then go for the 14.

The final thought is that if you compared them to a Starmaster, an Obsession, a Teeter, these will do ok, but the premium dobs will blow them away in motions and in views. However, the question that the purchaser must ask, is the additional cost worth it to them? In the end only those who are spending purchasing can make that decision.

How to take a Sketch and use the freeware program GIMP to make it into a digital record:










Here's the quick and dirty completed sketch of M-27 from the above tutorial in case you want to view. It will be posted per above (with more time and care given to it) in my observing report sometime this week:

Here is a quick digital version I did up (I see I left off a star) but you can decide which you prefer.