|ORION OPTICS UK PRODUCT
First Hand Dealer Review of the Orion Optics UK ODK-10 telescope
The following review is aimed to protect future possible purchasers
considering buying an Orion Optics UK product
As a long time amateur astronomer and highly experienced telescope
dealer, user and servicer, the following review is based on my own and that of others first hand experience with the
company Orion Optics UK and their ODK-10 telescope assembled by Orion Optics in the U.K and will be
updated as new information comes to light. Our company was in fact
invited with an opportunity to deal with and promote the products of
the above said company by a highly accomplished astro-photographer
AG-12 customer who in fact had problems with his telescope purchased
directly from them but later resolved thankfully. He did this with
the best possible intention suggesting to only two of of Australia's
most respected high end telescope dealers. The other, obviously more
cautious than us. However that source, despite doing some great
things he has since achieved with his later rectified telescope,
kindly still apologised to us for the incredibly poor developments
that we have encountered over the years with Orion Optic's UK and
was himself treated very shabbily in communications from them after
they used his images and reputation to promote their product freely
and when he tried desperately to highlight their deficiencies and
approach to treating customers be they dealer or end user. We thank
him sincerely for that.
So, to our own review.
no question when, as serious and knowledgeable amateur astronomer
consumers, we must all take clear and outright responsibility for our own
purchase choices based on the best knowledge and references
available at the time. Some times we make mistakes about the
suitability of a given telescope or eyepiece etc due to perhaps a
lack of thorough technical understanding or misguided opinions.
However when a product is clearly faulty on many levels from
the mechanical to the optical and even electrics and the
manufacturer sticks their head in the sand then you know you're in
trouble. In most cases, professional manufacturers like Vixen Co.
Japan, Meade Instruments, Celestron and Sky-Watcher telescope
manufacturers are quick to offer solutions and accept their responsibilities
where such obvious factory error has somehow occurred. But it seems
when it comes to proclaimed high end products, a few manufacturers are
not so forthcoming in taking such responsibility for their
workmanship despite advertised guarantees.
Before you read on, you should understand that this review is not an
isolated case of one individual consumer but a report from someone
who was, in fact, the Australian Distributor for Orion Optics UK and
who eventually had to cease further business dealings with Orion
Optics UK after a long history of consistently poor post sales
product support and delivering a consistent
(except for a few) product defects or non-compliance with order requests.
In 2015 an Orion Optics UK telescope an ODK-10 arrived in a wooden crate ready
to deliver to our customer.
Packed well it had thankfully survived the overseas journey unlike
one persons AG telescope we'd read about a few years before. The scope
was ordered with their ACU-3 Crayford style focuser, a universal
accessory mounting plate plus a Baader motor drive unit with
controller Checking and unpacking the scope, it had a nicely branded and
clean carbon fibre tube. Delivery was way much longer than promised
as is usual for Orion Optics UK and followed
up with several tiresome excuses from them which we've since learned
is characteristic of
the company owners, father and son team Barry and John Pemberton. Nonetheless, it was delivered eventually.
Received physically in good condition, the first thing that struck me was the terrible anodised
finish of the universal accessory mounting plate. Not a major
concern given it wouldn't be obvious in the dark but quite
unexpected finding it being such an expensive purchase. But
this was to be the very least of ours and our customers problems.
|The Focuser ACU-3
- At one time the company fitted
a quality Baader Steel Track Crayford style 2 speed focuser
but it appears they are cheaping down.
The new one they fit (ACU-3) is a poor cheaper copy of the
original Baader steel-track yet with assurances it was as good as the
Baader and compatible. Well, this was my first eye opener.
Along with other high quality companies they once dealt with
that have fallen by the wayside, like FLI, Vixen and Baader
to save a few bucks and profit with inferior changes, OO-UK
continue to impress NOT!!.
As one typically does when checking out the facets of
their new purchased telescope, try the focuser. Oh my god!!
What is with the stiffness and horrid droning noise when
winding the focuser in and out !! Did anyone even try
this at the factory before it left the building? Ok, so it's
going to need some adjustment but the nightmare wasn't to
end there. The Baader Steel Track motor drive they supplied
is not designed to fit the ACU-3 focuser because when
attached, rotating the focuser through 360 degrees is no
longer possible due to obstruction between the focus motor
housing and the raised bolt heads of the focuser mounting
plate. Seriously.. what a major oversight ! Contacting them
I get a response.. "we're going to send over a bag of
screws" Ok, so they wanna save a few bucks, I'll be happy to
change out the screws needed to rectify the focuser and
Baader motor focus unit but I would imagine most other
customers being expected to fix a factory stuff up like
this would be out of the question!
But it wasn't to end there... where's the advertised 2
inch adaptor for the focuser, they've only supplied a 1.25
inch adaptor - not much use for its intended purpose for
imaging. After contacting them again and some debate from
them saying the focuser doesn't come with a two inch adaptor
which is optional, pointing them back to details of the
ACU-3 specified on their website, a 2 inch adaptor would
later be sent. But if you weren't shocked already, read on
because the problems didn't end at that.
and listen to the video here
to see how poorly this ACU-3 focuser was when
delivered & the jamming when supplied focus motor drive was
focuser dramatic shifting video here
Shows how dramatic stars shift when fully racked in
and bounces back when focuser knob released
Optics ACU3 focuser shift laser collimator video
|The Dew Heater
Later when plugging in the phono type DC dew heater
plug, bang the power supply fuse blew! What the hell ?!?!
Change the fuse and Fizzz - there goes another fuse.
Measuring with a multi-meter there was clearly a short
Removing the cover of the phono plug and on
careful inspection the problem was obvious. See the picture
at right. Abysmal workmanship where the crimping earth
connection has pierced (or melted through) the outer sheath
of the positive 12 volt wire most likely while it was still
hot after soldering.
I ended up cutting off the cheap rubbish phono plug,
stripped back the wire and fitted a quality gold plated RCA
style plug (in keeping with common commercial type dew
heater controllers). When I sent this photo to the Orion
Optics, there was no apology or acknowledgment of the shoddy
workmanship... Then when I asked them what the resistance
measurement of the dew heater should read... They simply
|Collimation & Optics
The scope is supplied with
a ronchi tool come collimation tool for general set up
inspection of the optics. Out of the box, it the collimation
from factory was impressively spot on and the ronchi star
test showed well spaced optics needing no adjustment. The
image at right gives a good indication of this.
Slip in a mirror diagonal and low power eyepiece and off
we go to take in a few objects. Hmmm not a bad view of the
moon but stars seemed a little disfigured near the edges. Oh
no... not something else... through in a moderate powered
eyepiece and take a look at Jupiter. Oh dear... the moons
appear distorted no matter what focus adjustment I made..
please not something else.
Time to put a camera on the thing and check the collimation
and star images.
Well the star collimation looks good in
both in and out-of-focus testing so what is the problem now
? Even in focus the star in the image at left taken with
short exposures is clearly deformed as well as those fainter
ones in the upper right of the image.
| No, it's not a coma effect
and given the ODK telescopes have a fixed correcting lens
inside the rear end of the telescope, spacing is not or
rather should not be an issue since the draw tube simply
moves in and out to achieve focus.
the above image or here to examine the entire sample image
from fully collimated ODK-10 telescope
|After presenting the supporting in-focus
distorted images of a perfectly collimated ODK-10 to Orion
Optics I was sent a brief instruction from them:
mount dovetail plate which is sitting on the
main cell under the focus mount has 4 x M4 grub
screws to enable tilt of the focuser."
Well as I came to discover (see in Fig.7) other than
empty threaded holes, all four of these were absent from the
delivered telescope and sending this image back to Orion
Optics... once again, no apology, or comment. Really it made
me wonder how seriously they respect their own product let
alone taking any responsibility. Perhaps because one is not
a resident of the U.K it would seem they will hope the problem will just go away.
Later, after a legal intervention letter I sent, I
finally got a reply to try "this and that" including rotating
the corrector lens and then the secondary convex mirror to
see what might be the offender. After 2 days of careful
collimation checking, removing and refitting the crappy
ACU-3 focuser I sent several images to
them resulting in "again" no reply or advice or
assistance - You can see the images here.
Rotating the ODK-10 corrector
Rotating the ODK-10 secondary
Even after providing these images and having set the telescope
to their exact instructions for primary and secondary mirror
spacing and corrector lens turned 17mm closer to the focus
plane as they advised, their heads dipped back into the
sand pit... No reassurance they will fix or send a replacement
secondary mirror or corrector lens as they had done for
others in the past who had received a defective AG-12 telescope.
No apologies, no acknowledgement of the obvious fault. The
only e-mails we received from past communication with them
is that the user is at fault with examples described "once
again" of others who must have done the wrong thing when
setting up their faithfully ordered Orion Optics UK
telescope. NOT HELPFUL!!!
While the telescope ordered was a great disappointment on so many
levels to the point it wass completely unusable, I'm sure there are
some good ones out there however apparently not an isolated incident
according to other advanced amateur astronomers.
I think as time went by I became further disappointed with the general attitude of
the father and son, Barry & John at Orion
Optics and their blaming everyone else for the defects of the
products they ship out of their little Birmingham based factory. Very happy when talking
up the product for a sale but when things go wrong, they
either blame the user or share boring tales of some other disappointed
something wrong, or else they simply don't respond at all and put
their heads in the sand. No
apologies, ship it back at your cost AUD $1200 and we'll look at it
and if we find nothing wrong (in other words when we fix it as it
should have been sent in the first place) you the consumer will also
be charged return freight. There
appears no sense of urgency in this companies manner towards the
anxiousness of the end customer and clearly no pride in their workmanship as is
evident from my account above.
In summary, I'm sure there are good
telescopes from Orion Optics of the UK out there however this has
not been my experience. If they were simply willing to offer a full
replacement, fully tested and completely compliant unit, without
astigmatic optics, short circuiting dew heater and a silky smooth
focuser than can be rotated through 360 degrees and with the Baader
steel drive focusing motor system that fits correctly, I'd have been
happy. But moreover as an advanced amateur astronomer I'd have been
happy to work with them with there cheap down ad-hoc repair solutions
had they not been so blaming of others.
|If you are considering
buying one of their products, approach with caution and
query their claim of "We guarantee the performance of our
World Class Optics.. No other manufacturer does that". Well
perhaps they will after you've spent an enormous amount of
money shipping it back to them to correct the issues it left
the factory with in the first place. However other
manufacturers like Vixen Co. Japan, ASA and even the Chinese
manufacturer Synta (otherwise known as Sky-Watcher for many)
do respond instantly taking responsibility for their
products and product quality without insult or question. But in the case of my
experience with Orion Optics in the UK, you'll get lots of
stories about how others have stuffed things up, the
distributor in that country should also fully test and check
all their work prior to delivering to the customer (because
their own work cannot be assured) or the end user (nearly all
highly advanced in their field of astronomy) have done the
wrong thing and that might also end up being you!
I provide this insight as
a warning to those prospective buyers out there who do not
live in the U.K where your rights will be hard to follow up
with such a manufacturer before parting with your hard earned money.
I have heard from many of superior quality of Taiwan made RC
telescopes with superior quality fitted focuser. And to be
frank, some AG-12 telescope owners who also encountered
problems after receiving their instrument could have
achieved for one third the price the same results with
something like a steel tube f/4 Sky-Watcher Newtonian fitted
with a fine coma corrector and quality focuser. Don't get
sucked in by brand name or the website hype on the Orion
Optics UK website because in most cases that's
what you're paying the extra bucks for and as has been my
direct experience these guys are clearly cowboys and unable
to back their own claims both professionally, honestly or as
it appears to me, financially. As for my personal
experience, made in the UK (most components are not) offers
nothing better and even less than you can pay for half the
price for something out of China or Taiwan. Never thought
I'd be saying that but there you go! Spend wisely and don't
get sucked in by the hype of this Birmingham UK based Abbott
and Costello show! Even manufacturers out of
Asia treat quality assurance and after sales service with
greater importance and with consumer respect than does the machine
shop assembler of Orion Optics UK.
You have been warned!
UPDATE 05th January 2018 - NEW LIFE FOR A HORRID
We sent the ODK10 telescope to Beamtech a professional optician and
telescope designer in Victoria who was very keen to examine
the instrument and who agreed with me originally that the
problem appears like the corrector but later, we discovered
more. Here is a summary of his findings.
a.) Hi Steve -First thing I did was to set up the focuserís
mounting plate in a jig, on the lathe, and machine it
parallel, as it was out by .3mm. While at it, I also
machined a small step on the inside diameter for a locating
ring. The retainer ring had a very sloppy thread and it
wasnít running true when tightened so I made a new one that
stays centred but even after that there was only another
small improvement in the wobble. Eventually I removed the
last, or third, lens from the housing and replaced it with a
I just came in from star testing and looks like I will have
to pull the scope apart again as I found some astigmatism
coming from the primary mirror. Nick Jones from the ASV also
had his ODK10, see attached image, and that is another
horror story. He had to ship it back to Orion to have the
primary mirror reground because of severe astigmatism. I
combined 20 interferograms taken at 5 different orientations
of the mirror, spaced at 72 degrees, in order to minimize
various measuring errors.
Please find 3 versions of the report attached. The first one
shows the full extent of the errors, dominated by
astigmatism. In the second version the Zernike terms for
astigmatism have been turned off to reveal the remaining
errors, this time dominated by trefoil error. In the third
version the trefoil error is subtracted too in order to
reveal significant high order spherical aberration. This was
the worst of the 3 lenses and I have not even attempted to
do any work on the other ones. Bottom line is that even if I
rework the secondary, it still wonít be a planetary scope
because of the residuals errors in the corrector
assembly. After many hours of figuring I managed to bring back
the secondary to a good spherical surface.
Next I will put it back in the tube uncoated and see if the
spherical aberration can be corrected by adjusting the
longitudinal position of the corrector lens assembly. I have
never come across such a disgracefully assembled while also
optically defective telescope. I am amazed that Orion UK are
allowed or continue to do business.
Ultimately and in conclusion, both the primary and secondary
mirrors had to be re ground to the correct shapes to fix the
factory delivered errors in this telescope. No, I wasn't
going mad and yes, Orion Optics UK are liars, schemers and
opportunists who take no responsibility for their work
blaming the end user only while enjoying summer cocktail
vacations in Spain at the telescope buyers expense.
Today the telescope is now fully reworked (at great expense)
but now in the field with a new owner producing lovely
images just as it should have been delivered.
SHAME ON YOU BOTH JOHN AND BARRY AT ORION OPTICS UK.
It does not come as a surprise when eventually learned from
customers that you have been legally sued in courts
several times over the years for supplying exceptionally
inferior optics and mechanical assemblies along with false
claims including non-existent interferometer test reports
and so on. An absolute disgrace.
UK Own Facebook Feedback on their
own site (before they remove it)
We absolutely agree and this is how we (a dealer) were
Some feedback to this review from
overseas OOUK customers:
I just read your review of the ODK10 and your
experiences with OOUK. As I was reading it I
thought to myself, "I could have written this." I purchased
an ODK10 early last year from an individual here in
the US who had ordered it and his plans changed
before it arrived. It was like new,
still in the crate. It had issues similar to your
customer's scope, e.g. poor anodizing, focuser was
inadequate, hardware was incorrect in places, images
were distorted, machining tolerances were sloppy,
and it had scratches on the primary. It was like
OOUK had no quality
I went to the OOUK Yahoo Group to find out if the
primary could be adjusted and from there things went
down hill. I ended up emailing OOUK directly
and they either would not respond or when they did
respond all they would offer was that the scope was
fine when it left the factory. Sound familiar?
Heck, Dave Tandy at AG Optical provided better
customer support than OOUK and he's a competitor!!!
N.B in the U.S
Thank you for your description of experience
with the ridiculous Orion Optics UK. I so wish I
had your feedback before my sad experience
occurred back in 2014 with attempts to purchase
an ODK10. My experience with OOUK was very
similar to yours. Absolutely the worst customer
experience I ever had trying to work with
founder Barry and son John. At some point, Barry
must have done some good work, however IMHO OOUK
should not be in business.
Excuse after excuse in long wait for the scope
to arrive, then large extremely disappointing
optical problems and having everything blamed on
me was the worst! People sometimes just go
wrong, just give up on trying to do good work. I
was hopeful and gave OOUK a chance, huge
Did you ever get
this excuse, "Richard is on the machines today"
so he cannot work shipping? Ha, I really want a
t-shirt with that on it. After a while, it was
just surreal and laughable. The best outcome of
the experience are the times when friends and I
can laugh and some of the silly things Barry and
team would say!
After much too much
frustration and effort, OOUK on second try sent
a scope with more acceptable performance but I
could not stomach owning something from those
ridiculous idiots and sold it quickly so I could
start over. Much happier now.
Just read your fine article on that
unmentionable piece of dung that operates in the
UK, and gives telescope-makers a bad name.
I am given to understand that John has been sued
many times over very sub-standard optics,
especially 24 inch ones. A good friend of mine
had bought a 24 inch telescope with optics from
you-know-who, and sent me some photos, as it
didn't perform at all well. I could see at least
one inch of bad tde, with astigmatism mixed in.
He returned it for re-work, but it came back
nearly as bad (they never admitted that it
needed re-working). My friend now has telescopes
with optics from reputable manufacturers from
the US. 'Nuff said.
OMG... BUT WAIT... THERE'S MORE
!!!!! Here yet more information for those interested to
and here is yet another test report
sent to me
Faulty Orion Optics UK 14 inch Newton
ORION OPTICS UK - OMC140
OPTICS UK disaster
Check out the front lens of
this OMC-140. Not something you see everyday
but typical of the end quality inspection procedures of
Orion Optics UK. Aside from the horrid dust and rubbish
inside the optical corrector lens, note especially the hand
scribbled serial number on the inside.
Again, sending an immediate
replacement was not an option. Orion Optics
UK, wanted and expected the customer to fix the problem. Open the unit, try
remove the objective corrector and clean it.
ODK-16 - faulty fans
supplied to an Australian University
A university here in Australia
purchased a ODK-16
. It arrived with dead rear cooling fans. When the
problem was raised, after some time, some new fans were
eventually sent out and guess what !?!?!?.
The fans sent did not match the ODK16 (ODK-16) and so again
we Orion Optic UK had to be approached again to send out the
correct fans. Absolutely unbelievable!
Again, what the hell is going
on with Orion Optics UK quality assurance !!!???
ORION OPTICS UK
The guarantee that doesn't exist
Send it back at your expense... we'll find what you've
done wrong after we fix what we sent wrong and charge you
If you would like to contact me for further information and first
hand insight about this dodgy family business or about this review
please e-mail me.
Perhaps this report will help save you money down the drain (it has
help several others already who have contacted) -