Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Stellarvue SV1750BFD Product Review

The StellarVue SV1750BFD, like most StellarVue products, actually outperforms what its name suggests. The 1750 in the name refers to the nominal aperture of 1750mm. Yes, that's one thousand, seven hundred, and fifty. Not a typo. The actual aperture as measured is even larger, and its performance is even greater yet.

Unfortunately, it appears that the SV1750BFD I have here is only a prototype of a product which is otherwise unavailable. I was lucky to receive this one from Vic Maris at StellarVue when he felt he no longer needed it and wanted back the space it took up at his facility. To be honest, for someone whose business produces such fine "Grab and Go" products, an item of this size and weight is well out of his line. It took three of us to load it into my car (a 1996 Subaru Outback), which had less than an inch to spare, and I had to drive it home with my hatch left open.

Whether it's the size, weight, or just the fact that didn't fit the product line, this isn't something you can expect to get from StellarVue. But I thought the community of StellarVue users might be interested in this unique item.

Aperture Fever...with a Stellarvue?
The size of the SV1750BFD is what strikes you at first. It's big. Really big. Vic tells of how he acquired it for the use of one of his former employees. He tells of how she made it looks small. She must have been nine feet tall if she was an inch. The product showed obvious signs of use when I received it. Some cosmetic damage along with a few signs of wear through normal use.

Wooden Parts...on a Stellarvue?
The wood on the SV1750BFD is covered in an attractive rosewood veneer that gives it an air of quality. Its construction is rugged, though the weight is very high as well. Moving parts are steel with HDPE bearings. Movement is smooth, with detents just before the end of movement and effective safety catches to prevent movement beyond that point.

The actual clear working aperture is 1752.6mm, though the design presents 1830mm of aperture that is accessible through creative use. The depth of the aperture is 909mm, giving a maximum area of over 1.66 square meters!

Stellarvue Performance

All too often we in the astronomical community see large areas coupled with inadequate performance. Lots of area does not necessarily translate into clearer images, better contrast, or more "space." In fact, it's often the opposite. But this is StellarVue we're talking about. The company whose little refractors regularly outperform much larger light buckets.

StellarVue does not disappoint here. I had plans for this product. Then I got it and started using it. Then I expanded those plans. I am doing over 50% more what I was doing with the instrument that this replaced, though it is only 20% larger. A little more can mean a lot more in a well designed unit.

A look at the aperture area of the Stellarvue SV1750BFD
A look at how useful the aperture of the Stellarvue SV1750BFD can be. That's a Beige PowerMac G3, Aluminum iMac 20", and a VT-102 all on one desktop with room to spare!
The actual aperture is so large that my camera couldn't get it all in one shot from this location!

The SV1750BFD (StellarVue 1750mm Big Freakin' Desk) is nothing short of amazing. On my old desk, I was able to squeeze in two computers and their peripherals and sometimes some papers, if I put aside one keyboard. My new StellarVue desk holds three systems, peripherals, and books and papers with room to spare. The systems I have on it are a Power Macintosh G3 with 17" CRT monitor, AppleDesign Keyboad, and mouse, a 20" aluminum iMac with keyboard, mouse, external drive and half a dozen parasitic pieces of electronics, and an Ampro Little Board Plus with a DEC VT-102 monitor. Originally I had planned only to use an old ADDS 2020 monitor with the Ampro, but after installing the SV1750BFD I saw that I had plenty of room for the far superior, but larger, VT-102.

Plenty of Leg Room

Normally, using multiple systems at one desk means back and neck strain from using any system but the centered one. The SV1750BFD has a leg area that's 967mm wide, wide enough to shift from system to system with comfort and without sitting at an angle. I do sit at an angle anyway, but not in a way that is poor ergonomically.

The desktop height can be minimally adjusted, but sits at a nominal height of 740mm. This may be too high to be acceptable to users under 1.8m in height. For myself, I find it quite usable. The minimal amount of adjustment (about a half centimeter plus or minus) means that the user must be fit to the product, so to speak.

Overall Impressions

I can't say how delighted I am to have a desk that allows me to use my main current system, my favorite obsolescent system, and one of my favorite classic computers all in one place. The plus of being able to use the best, though largest and heaviest, terminal from my collection only makes this deal even sweeter. It took me a lot of effort to figure out a way to fit the SV1750BFD into my office, but once there (perhaps immovably) it was worth all that trouble and more. As it was, I had to remove a door, temporarily relocate a book case holding about 600 books, rearrange my living room (temporarily), use two dollies, and inclined plane, and three people, move two desks, seven computer systems, an oscilloscope and a curious cat (repeatedly) over the course of three days.

Now it's in, and I'm writing this on it. About the only thing it doesn't do is convert my new iMac's screen to a comfortable matte finish rather than the shiny new screen that reflects the window behind me.

Summary:

Model:StellarVue SV1750BFD
Aperture: 1752.6mm clear, up to 1830mm usable.
Fit and Finish: Very Good
Stability: Excellent

Cons:
Very large and difficult to move.
May not accommodate users under 1800mm tall
without viewing platform or stepladder.
Not available for purchase from StellarVue.

Pros:
Huge size.
Stability,
Good dimensions for practical use.
Incredibly low price, if you can
manage transportation and installation.


Update, June 2012
Two years after this review was originally written, I am still an enthusiastic user of the SV1750BFD!

Since this review was written, I have changed the desktop arrangement to move the Aluminum iMac to the former location of the VT-102, put a flat screen on top of the Beige G3, added a full size tower PC with a Dell 24" display, and shifted the VT-102 to a different desk near me (it is not happy to be on a non-Stellarvue desk!)

Despite the increased area demands of the new PC system, the SV1750BFD continues to perform day in and day out. It even gives me enough room to place a pair of Parallax Propellor development boards and associated peripherals on one side. It's like having the State of Wyoming for a desktop.

After about two years of ownership and daily use, I still rank the Stellarvue SV1750BFD two thumbs up (ten thumbs up for readers on Altair VII).

Biggest Stellarvue Evar?
It has come to my attention that I may be the proud owner of the largest Stellarvue product ever made. The closest competition appears to be a roughly 200mm scope presently on display in the Stellarvue product showroom at 11820 Kemper Road in beautiful Auburn, CA (right off I-80 in the Sierra Foothills.) Clearly a 1750mm (nominal) aperture totally blows that away!
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