On this page, I consolidate my second conclusions (October, 2020) on my electronic 4,5" Newton telescope Unistellar eVscope (I took part in a Kickstarter campaign in mid-November 2017; it arrived on January 27, 2020; sold in mid-March 2022), which reflect the state of app version 1.1. At the beginning of July 2022, app version 2.0 was published, which is completely different from its predecessor.
|Note: At the beginning of December 2021, I received an eVscope 2 ordered in October (I had ordered it, because I was convinced by the better image quality and the slightly larger field of view). I therefore sold my eVscope in mid-March 2022. For this reason, I cannot report any further experiences with this telescope here.|
In November 2017, when reading the "Abenteuer Astronomie (Adventure Astronomy)" newsletter, I learned about the Unistellar eVscope for the first time. For a few weeks already, a Kickstarter campaign was running on this new kind of telescope , which can be assigned to "electronically augmented astronomy" (EAA), and I also supported this project (it ended up with more than 2100 supporters and more than $ 2 million in cash by November 24, 2017). Regrettably, I was already far too late to get hold of one of the two cheap offers. My eVscope arrived at my home at the end of January 2020.
Photos: My eVscope (End of January 2020)
From mid-August to the end of September 2020, I participated in a beta test of the new app version 1.1, which was released "silently" on October 5, 2020 and was the officially announced in a newsletter the next day; I also came across a video presenting this version with its new features. This version offers a number of long-desired new features, which I describe briefly here and more in detail on page First Experiences Part 3 in more detail. It offers me the opportunity to draw my conclusions once again and ask to what degree the eVscope has achieved its goals and fulfilled the wishes of its owners - and what, in my opinion and that of others, still needs to be done to make the eVscope, within its technical limits, the "ideal telescope."
By the way, according to the newsletter, almost 3000 eVscopes had been delivered by the beginning of October, but these were by no means all the telescopes that had been ordered in two crowd-funding campaigns. According to Kickstarter, the Website states that by the beginning of October, about 2500 telescopes had been delivered in Europe, the USA, and Canada (since the campaign produced about 2100 orders, the number seems also to refer to the total quantity).
Before I discuss the changes that version 1.1 introduced, I would briefly like to reiterate which improvenments version 1.0 introduced compared with the "original state" of the eVscope:
Compared with the "original state" the most important improvements for me were the use of the whole sensor area for photos and the possibility to use the iPad with the app (if the latter possibility would have been available from the beginning, I would not have had to buy an iPhone...). Other improvements concerned things that should have been there at the beginning or were useful, but not "earth-shattering". All in all, at the end of the version's life time, I was certainly able to observe better with the eVscope than at its beginning and before version 1.0.
According to the Apple Store, the app version 1.1 offers, besides bug fixes and various user interface improvements (whatever that may mean...), the following new features (in my own terms):
I find it pleasant that objects in Enhanced Vision mode are now saved before the Goto approaches a new object; this way, the dwell time in Enhanced Vision mode is used optimally. I had suggested this change, but certainly other eVscope owners had done so as well. Maybe, this is one of the changes that fall under "a significant and automated improvement of observation"...
The possibility to move an enlarged image so that the object can be brought back to the center of the image is a great help and improvement for me. Now I use screen magnification much more often. But I wonder why this feature was not available from the beginning... The display for the dwell time in Enhanced Vision mode is also very useful, but unfortunately the dwell time is not saved with the photo. More about this below! Experience will show to what extent the changes to the manual controls of the Enhanced Vision mode have brought about an improvement. I would have preferred "classic" histogram sliders (maybe even based on a logarithmic histogram).
Saving images in live mode is very useful for lunar and planetary imaging and a welcome (and often requested) addition.
All in all, Unistellar has responded to a number of user requests, but by far not realized all (my) wishes. I will go into this below.
The main problems of the app for me are still its instability, the frequent Wi-Fi connection breakdowns, the Enhanced Vision mode breakdowns and various small nicks (sudden change to observer mode, deactivation of certain keys for no apparent reason, ...), which sometimes make working with the eVscope a real test of patience and can spoil the fun. All in all, the app still lacks sufficient stability and reliability. Otherwise, I have got used to the procedures and find them simple and understandable.
Furthermore, and for a long time now, I have been wishing for a recording of the photo data, which could be done in various forms:
It may be that all this is in the data that is transferred to the SETI server, but first of all, the transfer rarely works for me, the transfer takes a long time, and last but not least, I have no access to this data, although this was promised for the future by Unistellar.
Another wish, but that would already be luxury, would be a "small mosaic mode" à la Vaonis Vespera/Stellina (up to 4 x 4 or even up to 10 x 10). This would compensate the small field of view of the eVscope and make a "rich field" telescope out of the it, of course at the expense of fast observing... The mosaic would not have to be "square", but could also be rectangular (portrait or landscape), depending on the celestial object to be photographed.
DSO, which are not included in the eVscope's object catalog, can be approached by entering the coordinates (J2000). It would be useful to be able to save objects that are accessed via coordinates as user-defined objects. Regrettably, Unistellar has not yet fulfilled this wish...
In the following, I take up the points of my first conclusions and check whether I still agree with the assessments that I made there - and if not, why not any more?
I document my DSO observations on my Website, which is a lot of work. With the eVscope, I now have the possibility to take pictures of observed DSO and thus, capture a memory in the form of a photo that can be called up and passed on again and again. I had therefore announced to create a kind of "eVscope photo library" of sky objects with the photos. This has indeed started, and of course, will go on. However, I will have to think about how I can deal with the masses of photos that will be created over time...
So far, it has practically never come to this, because, for various reasons, I have observed almost exclusively with the eVscope. Nevertheless, I am still convinced that my eVscope photos will be useful for visual observations.
A somewhat unexpected experience with the eVscope was for me that it is always good for a surprise. By this I mean that you find objects in the photos that you had not expected and that you usually did not even know about before. This has been confirmed again and again in the meantime.
That still applies! But you should put the eVscope outside in time to allow it to thermalize. And above all, you should take the time to check the eVscope's focus for sharpness before the observation session, otherwise disappointment is inevitable! You should also check from time to time whether the collimation is still correct and whether you should take a dark frame. Of course, these are all things that slow you down and are therefore often omitted...
The eVscope represents a complete, integrated solution and one can only hope that the Unistellar developers found a good compromise with the eVscope - and in my opinion they did! And the more I observe, the more I believe that a really good compromise was chosen. And because you cannot have all in one device, I decided to support the Vaonis Vespera in a Kickstarter campaign to get more field of view for larger nebulae and star clusters (also thanks to its mosaic mode). Neither is the eVscope suitable for planets and small planetary nebulae or galaxies due to its short focal length (with app version 2, a new "planet mode" was introduced).
The topic "flexibility" also includes the transportability. Unistellar points out that the eVscope is light enough to be transported. And I had written in my first conclusions that I would not, like Arnaud Malvache, carry the eVscope on my back on a mountain (in my case, the Heiligenstein)... In this respect, the Vespera with its 5 kg (plus backpack and tripod) weight will open up new perspectives for me!
In my previous conclusion I wrote: Again and again the eVscope is called a "toy", especially when it is compared to "real" astrophotography. This mostly means its limited capabilities (image quality, flexibility). But also the easy access to DSO might make the eVscope a toy, because one has seen the most beautiful DSO in quite a short period of time and observing becomes boring afterwards, because the quality of the photos can hardly be increased. And I soon experienced myself that it goes fast with the collecting of DSO with the eVscope. I have never found so many DSO in such a short time with any other telescope!
Since my previous conclusions I have observed almost half a year with the eVscope, and of course often the same objects. Can this become boring? No, I would say in the meantime. On the one hand, the quality of the photos varies a lot depending on the quality of the sky, so that after a longer time you start to hunt for the best possible photo. On the other hand, the photos look nevertheless again and again quite similarly. In this respect, a good preparation becomes more and more important, so that the whole affair actually does not become boring. And you should always look for new objects to expand your object catalog and horizon.
On the whole, half a year later, I agree with the assessments of my first conclusions, but I admit that observing with the eVscope might become boring if you always observe the same objects because you have not prepared your observation sessions well.
I am glad to have taken part in the Kickstarter campaign for the eVscope, to have it already delivered and, despite a rough start, to be able to use it quite a lot. I will not give it away anymore - and hope that this opinion will hold for quite a number of years (and the eVscope as well). Thank you Unistellar for this great telescope!