Introduction | Where Are We with Version 1.2? | What is (still) Missing? | What else Could One Ask for? | Problems that Other eVscope Users Encountered... | Has My General Assessment Changed, and if so, how? | Final Words | Links
On this page, I consolidate my third conclusions (March, 2021) 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), which reflect the state of app version 1.2. At the beginning of July 2022, app version 2.0 was published, which is completely different from its predecessor.
Note: I have to mention that the weather was so poor at the beginning of 2021 that there were too few chances for testing this app version thoroughly. And already on May 20, 2021, the subsequent app version 1.3 was released.
|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 will not 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)
In January 2021, app version 1.2 was released. This version offers further features, which I briefly describe here and on page First Experiences Part 4 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."
The new app version 1.2 from January 2021 offers, according to the App Store, the following new functions (in my own words):
Note: iOS 11 is not supported anymore
The most remarkable changes are certainly the new citizen science mode, which are not important for me. On the other hand, Unistellar did not realize many of my wishes...
I wrote with respect to app version 1.1:
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:
- as an addition to the file name (time in Enhanced Vision mode, catalog number of the object if known)
I can simply repeat this for app version 1.2. Maybe that there are less crashes and aborts, but this is hard to judge for me...
The mosaic mode and the possibility to save user-defined objects still remain on my wish list. But I found that some users created mosaics on their own...
The image quality was for me a weak point of the eVscope from the beginning, especially the images of the Orion nebula M 42. I had always hoped that the images of the final product would be better than those of the prototypes, but my impression is that rather the opposite is true. Perhaps, even better tubes were used for the prototypes than in the product. After I bought an Atik Infinity camera in anticipation of the eVscope, I found that I was able to get considerably better results on the Orion Nebula with it than with the eVscope. This has not changed fundamentally in the course of time, except that I can now expose manually a little better and thus get better results than at the beginning.
My impression was and is that the image processing software of the eVscope with its denoising algorithms "smoothes" the photos too much. In addition, high contrasts are not handled well. In the meantime, I was able to find my opinion confirmed several times in tests (see the tests by Kai von Schauroth and Jan Hattenbach) and in a video, also that the photos are compressed too much in the depths and highlights, so that the highlights erode. All in all, the feeling remains for me that more is "in there" and the hope that Unistellar will one day improve (e.g. make noise reduction adjustable allow to turn it off).
With app version 1.1, the "manual" exposure controls changed. Now you can now set "exposure" and "background" with sliders (which show a recording-related strange behavior, even when photos are discarded; but by now I have become adjusted to it...). According to a video from Unistellar, these sliders set the black-point and the white-point.
In the meantime (end of March 2021), the eVscope has been with some owners for many months or even more than a year, and a number of tests have also been published in magazines or on the Internet. In addition, there are numerous, often controversial discussions in astronomy forums. And so numerous experiences and problems have accumulated in the meantime, of which I would like to address a few selected ones that I have not yet dealt with.
In his review of the eVscope (astronomie - Das Magazin, March 2021 issue), Kai von Schauroth criticizes its susceptibility to wind and contact and attributes this to the tripod's lack of stability when the tripod legs are fully extended. Jan Hattenbach also points out in his eVscope test (Sterne und Weltraum, issue 10/2020) that it is susceptible to wind and that photos in enhanced vision mode can be discarded. I have not noticed any wind susceptibility so far, but perhaps there is more wind on La Palma, where both tests took place. Perhaps this difference comes from the fact that von Schauroth has the tripod legs fully extended, while I only pull out one leg element, so I do not use the thinnest leg elements. His tip is then also not to pull out these leg elements. In this respect, I am probably correct with my "intuitive" approach of not fully extending the tripod legs...
Von Schauroth extended the tripod legs (almost) completely, because he used the eyepiece (also with guests) and therefore needed the corresponding height. I, on the other hand, hardly use the eyepiece (at most my wife looks through it...) and bend down when I want to look through it.
Shocks from wind or touch typically cause Enhanced Vision mode to abort or at least, to discard photos. Shocks from contact occur, for example, when you bump against the eyepiece, the tube or the tripod legs, or even when you want to adjust the eyepiece to your eyes and turn its focus ring. The latter can happen when observing with multiple people using the eyepiece.
Conclusion: My conclusion from all this is not to extend the tripod legs completely, to observe with the smartphone, and to avoid touching the eVscope as much as possible.
Unistellar was initially very proud of the quality of the eyepiece and also felt that it should be the primary observing medium so that the "eVscope experience" would be as close as possible to that of visual observations. The eVscope was not actually intended for photos in the beginning (unfortunately, I can no longer find the relevant comment...). However, most eVscope users, myself included, did not stick to it and preferred to observe with the smartphone rather than with the eyepiece. Not only in my view, the latter offers a much better image, in addition, it is in full sensor size. Moreover, photos of the observed celestial objects were important to them from the beginning.
In any case, there is a lot of discussion about the eyepiece in tests and in astronomy forums. For me, however, it plays a minor role because I practically do not use it. For me, the eyepiece could also be missing! Unistellar has also recognized that the eyepiece does not play the role it is supposed to play with the users of the eVscope and has therefore asked them about this topic. Unfortunately, the results were never published. But in May 2021, I was made aware of the fact that Unistellar had indeed acted and had released the eVscope eQuinox that lacks an eyepiece!
Conclusion: There is a lot of discussion about the eyepiece in tests and also in discussions, but for me it plays a minor role, so I do not include it further in my evaluation of the eVscope. And in May 2021, Unistellar released the eVscope eQuinox that lacks an eypiece!
Many testers and users complain that planets cannot be observed with the eVscope or are not satisfied with the achievable results. Due to its design, the eVscope can only show a fixed section of the sky about the size of the moon, and this makes planets too small. Unistellar therefore does not even claim that the eVscope is well suited to observing planets. However, hints are still given in the Unistellar Help Center on how to observe the moon and planets with the eVscope...
I do not know why testers like Kai von Schauroth or Jan Hattenbach "lament" longer about this limitation in their reviews of the eVscope. An eVscope is not a "jack of all trades" and not designed for observing small (small galaxies, small planetary nebulae) and large (M 31, M 45, etc.) deep sky objects (DSO). In my eyes, the design of the eVscope is quite successful and allows the observation of a wide range of DSO. Even beginners should be able to live with certain limitations, although planets may be appealing. Only a few hobby astronomers can manage with a single telescope, and so most eVscope beginners will surely equip themselves with further telescopes in the course of time. By the way, I myself was not very successful at planets so far even when using other telescopes...
Conclusion: For the moon and planets there are more suitable and much cheaper visual telescopes. For rich-field observations and for small objects there are also other visual telescopes and EAA solutions (telescopes including camera and software) available. Even for beginners, there is no way around the second or third telescope in the course of time!
In my second conclusions, I take up the points of my first conclusions and check whether I still share the assessments that I made there - and if not, why not any more? I will not repeat this here, because since then no new aspects have emerged.
I have to admit that I am starting to get a little impatient because even after more than a year, certain technical problems, especially with the app, just do not stop existing. Among these, I count app crashes, loss of control as an operator, and also inexplicable aborts of the Enhanced Vision mode.
The WLAN crashes are also annoying; they occur as soon as you move a bit further away from the eVscope. But here I have little hope for improvement, because I learned that the eVscope is controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer, whose WLAN range is insufficient ( I do not know, whether the Vaonis telescopes, which seem to have a better WLAN range, also use this board...). The dream of being able to control the eVscope from the warm kitchen in winter will have to remain a dream! Possibly, WLAN repeaters might be a solution, but I have not yet been able to learn anything about this and was not able to try this solution myself.
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! On the other hand, I expect some action and improvements from Unistellar after the dust has settled and most eVscopes from the campaigns delivered. I have to admit that I get a little impatient now...