UTI TELESCOPE REVIEw
By Andre Hassid from about 2008
The UTI is one of the finest portable telescope I’ve ever used. I’ve owned the Teleport 7 inch and several TeleVue refractors. Although the Teleport comes very close, the 8 inch UTI provides the most satisfying portable scope experience. It holds collimation…seemingly forever. Both the Alt and Az movements are very smooth. You have the ability to tighten tension on Alt and Az which really helps refine the tension to the desired setting. The scope balances light and heavy eyepieces very well.
Vince announced he is not taking any new orders on UTI’s because he recently became involved in an extended research project developing new technology to speed up diagnosis and treatment of cancer. He hopes to return to the astronomy community in a couple of years. The amateur astronomer community can only hope that at some point Vince will have the time to return to building telescopes… at least part time.
When I first bought the scope, it took a while to dampen down when re-focusing. But the designer/manufacturer Vince Rizzo made modifications by inserting Sorbothane tips to the three legs, and the scope has been very steady ever since.
I use the Argo Navis to navigate around the sky, and it is very accurate on the UTI. That made it a joy to tour around. The UTI may look like a toy, but it is a very ingenious design.
It all fits into a carry on case that comes with the scope and measures 22 X 15 X 10. To set the scope up, you unfold the three legs attached to the triangle pad which holds the mirror box and primary mirror. You then attach the three V shaped trusses…all with captive thumbscrews. Finally you attach the secondary cage (which is small and light) to the trusses. Insert the Rigel Finder and you’re ready to go.
It’s So Light
What’s great about this scope, is that it is so light, you can literally move it around at will. The entire scope weighs 22 lbs. So if your viewing spot is like my back yard and you have to circumvent trees to catch a view of the Lagoon Nebula or Jupiter, you’ll love the ability to pick the UTI up and move it to a spot a few feet away where the trees don’t obstruct the view. I don’t know any 8 inch scope that can be moved this easily. Even a good Televue Refractor, which has to sit on a sturdy tripod, cannot be moved this easily.
Mirror and Shroud
When I ordered the scope, I made several special requests for changes from what the UTI offered. I requested a Royce F/4.5 8 inch mirror, since I knew Royce had an excellent reputation for top notch mirrors. I also asked for a Protostar secondary mirror and Rigel finder. All these items eventually became the standard options offered on the UTI. Vince was very flexible with requests. When I pointed to issues with the original shroud design (it sagged), Vince redesigned it so it now works perfectly.
The UTI is always a work in progress, After I took delivery, Vince emailed me that he had developed a new secondary cage design, asked me to return my cage so he could upgrade it for free. -- Fantastic. I asked for a cap to protect the mirror. Vince designed one made of plastic, and included it for free (So now the UTI can sit out without collecting dust on the primary.
Views Through the UTI
Recently I took the UTI for a spin and was amazed at how comfortable it is to use and how smooth it is in operation. I got lovely views of the Lagoon Nebula, the globular clusters M22 and M13, the Ring Nebula and the Dumbell Nebula. The Double Double in Lyrae split very nicely. I scanned the skies with my 24" Panoptic - my favorite eyepiece. The stars were sharp across the field similar to refractor views.
I first bought the UTI about three years ago. During the first few “First Lights,” I had a nice view of Orion, and the Trapezium resolved very nicely even though I had not given the scope a chance to cool. I also got a good view of Saturn, and noted the Cassini Division well defined all the way around the planet. The images through this scope are crisp and sharp.
After the scope had cooled for an hour or two during dinner, I looked at Saturn and Jupiter for a considerable time. I easily got the scope to 250X, and at times even 333X.
I know you refractor fans hate this sort of comment, but in the TeleVue refractors I’ve owned (TeleVue 76mm, 85mm, Genesis, Stellarvue102mm and 110mm Megrez) I have always had trouble getting anything close to the 200X range. In the UTI Saturn's rings were very sharp, with the Cassini Division continuing to be very well defined. I was getting such a good view, that I tried to see if I could seen Enke division - but it was out of my grasp. Jupiter's belts were easily seen as well (about 7 belts). I think if the moon wasn't so close to Jupiter I might have even seen more belts. But the moon cut the contrast considerably.
Stars are pinpoint sharp similar to good refractors.
Now that Vince inserted the Sorbothane Pads, the dampen time was similar to my old Teleport 7"… both taking a little under 1 second to damp down..
Finally, I looked at the moon and found the views very sharp to 250X and adequately sharp up to 333X.
Compared to the 7 inch Teleport
I once owned the first 7 inch Teleport built by Tom Noe. The 7 inch Teleport is an absolute jewel…as are all of Tom Noe’s Teleport creations. The contest between the 7 inch Teleport and 8 inch UTI is very close. Neither has a significant advantage over the other. They are both equally portable. They weigh about the same. Set up time is similar. Stability and smoothness of operation are about equal. Both are built by first class individuals who are perfectionist, ingenious, and highly responsive to the buyer. Still I prefer the UTI by a smidgen, because it is more comfortable to use, and gathers a bit more light.
The UTI has the obvious advantage of having an extra inch in diameter… 8" UTI vs. 7" Teleport. If my math is right, that gives the UTI about a 30% advantage in light gathering ability.
The UTI stands taller. The eyepiece height on the UTI is 54, whereas the Teleport is 41 inches (51 inches if you prop it on the tri-stand option). Thus, while UTI is not the optimum stand-up scope, it is at least workable. For most people using the 7 inch Teleport while standing is just not possible.
The focuser in both could use improvements. But the UTI crayford focuser is a definitely nicer than the helical focuser of the 7" Teleport. More recently produced UTI scopes have Moonlight focusers which are smoother than the one on my scope.
Spectacular Portable Design
Extremely Lightweight – weighs 20 to 22 lbs.
Extremely smooth movement
Great balance with wide range of eyepieces
Precise high quality build and machining
Very stable - as long as legs have Sorbothane tips.
Focuser is smooth, but difficult to fine focus
The tab to unlock the legs is a at times difficult to engage