What's new here?

OK, so we are continuing from Part 1 of this telescope assembly. Our base is pretty much together, but now we need to add the encoders. Here is where we shall see the major issues with the way Orion’s instructions are laid out.

First of all, as we mentioned in the 2nd to last paragraph of part 1, you have to stop working from the main instruction manual. There isn’t really an indication as to where you should do this, but if you continue to build your telescope you will need to unbuild it to attach all the pieces needed for the Intelliscope parts to be attached. In order to continue properly, you actually have to switch over to the manual that comes with the Intelliscope controller.


There was a time when there was good reason for why this manual was separate from the main manual. Orion originally sold the Intelliscope with and without the Intelliscope controller. Four years ago they ended that policy since the “Classic”  SkyQuest was still available. Now all the Intellscopes come with the Intelliscope Controller, so there is no legitimate reason to confuse the customer with different manuals. Especially ones that have errata and parts for versions of the Intelliscope that have not been made in 7-8 years.

However, we shall continue to build our Intelliscope following the Intelliscope Controller instructions by attaching more encoder parts. First up we need to attach the altitude encoder parts. This is put on the inside of the the wall of the base:


It attaches with four small screws.


You probably can’t see it well, but there is a screw between the two jacks at the bottom of this thing. It can be a little tricky to get that screw threaded.

Next part is the altitude encoder disc. This is probably the trickiest part to add for this as first you need to thread on some washers two the two small screws (that must be threaded through the body of the encoder before you attach them).


Let’s put this in place. The shaft goes though the hole the knobs that hold the optical tube in place go.  This should line up with the pre-drilled screw holes. The instructions say to drill it tight but not too tight so you can adjust the height as needed on the shaft. A bit vague, but I think we managed to do that:



You might notice that we also attached a bumper thing above the encoder disk.  It was simple and involved just one screw.

Now it is time for the wires. They look suspiciously like telephone wires, that is because they pretty much are.


(sorry, blurry photo)

This is fairly simple to attach, take the short cable and one end goes into the left controller jack:


Then insert the other end off the cable into the azimuth encoder jack. Use some of the cable holders to keep the cable from drifting into the path of the telescope.


Next take the longer cable and insert one end into the altitude encoder jack:


The insert the other end into the right side jack for the controller:


This cable needs a lot more of those control tabs since the cable wants to drift into the path of the bottom of the telescope. You end up running the cable along the inside edge of the telescope’s base.

Next we actually will insert the optical tube into the base. This is tricky without the altitude encoder attached, and even hard with it attached. There is very little room for error and you must insert it so that the tube’s hubs or the tube itself do not strike the altitude encoder disk.


Now to secure the tube you will have two knobs. One of which is the retaining knob and you must attach a metal washer and a teflon washer to the threaded portion. This knob goes on the side without the encoder:


(That teflon washer needs to be threaded on)

The other knob inserts on the other side. Note that if you are building the Intelliscope without the controller you would need to put a nylon sleeve over the threaded part of the shaft so that it does not have room to rattle around where the tube bearings and base meet. Trouble is: you need to remove the nylon shaft from the knob to fit it in with the altitude encoders in place. This is not made clear in the instructions:


After this you simply attach the Intelliscope controller, add the velcro (optional) and you are done.

In conclusion: There area still a lot of issues with the instructions on this telescope. This is further exacerbated by obsolete errata sheets included with the various instructions. Oddly enough since I had to give the customer the Intelliscope instructions I went and downloaded the instructions from Orion’s website – only to find that it was an updated instruction manual! This means that the model I got had older instructions and parts. Huh?

Orion has also put out some videos of the Intelliscope assembly that should help customers as well.  It shows a much ‘cleaner’ assembly than one would experience in real life (and some editing during the hex-head screw insertion I noted). I noticed other problems, such as when the azimuth jack was being installed no washer seemed to be used (!), a rather selective editing of the base plate attachment that manages to not show how clunky it is.  In any case here are the two video parts:

Orion Intelliscope Assembly, Part 1

Orion Intelliscope Assembly, Part 2

One final point of note. Orion says that its reflector telescopes are factory aligned and should be ready out of the box. With most of their telescopes this has held true. But with the Dobsonians I have noticed this has not held true. In fact I have yet to assemble an Orion Dobsonian whose mirror and secondary mirror were properly aligned out of the box. I don’t know if it is the thinner vanes that hold the the secondary mirror or what but the secondary is usually out of alignment and the primary slightly so. I am uncertain if this is something that happens in travel or is not fixed at the factory. In any case, it can be a little disconcerting to a new user if their telescope is out of alignment at the start.

To sum up: Orion’s Intelliscope is still great. But despite a recent re-write of the instructions there still seem to be some issues with location of parts, errata parts still being included, and legacy parts. In my opinion Orion should combine to two manuals into just one since they no longer sell Intelliscopes without the controllers. This whole process could have been made much easier for the average customer.


Comments on: "Assembling the Orion SkyQuest XT8i Intelliscope Dobsonian Telescope – Part 2" (3)

  1. Hello, can I ask something here? Is there some to reply? Thanks for the post

    • Hello, what did you want to know?

      • Hello, thanks for your soon reply

        Sorry if my english isn´t clear, but Im not native english speaker (Im chilean)

        Last week I received my first telescope: Orion Intelliscope 8”, the same of one of your posts.

        As it´s my first telescope, and as I dont have electronics expertise, I was very carefully about the assembly instuctions included in the scope.

        Unfortunately (after 2 days of attemps) when I do the “encoder test” (pages 22-23) I have 2 troubles:

        The first one is that Im not capable of know if the 2 first digist of the first line (alt encoder) are below “F3” bevause I dont understand the hex notation as well as to interpretate the test results numbers.

        The second one is that, the 3 digits result (the “radius”) is between 114-163. Bad number asthe Manual says.

        The Alt-Azm are usually correct: if I put the OTA horizontal, an the put it vertial, the display shows +90°. The sames happens about the Azimut axis.

        So when I try to push-to feature, the display shows me incorrect objetc positions. I think Im doing the alligment procedure correctly: put the scope vertical (checked), the star one, then star 2, both at a 60° distance or above, and then find…….. and error. As i can see, the error is notorius in the alt axis, and less in Az Axis. And that´s where I have bad “enconder test” results

        I´ve written many fórums and assembly post, finding some tricks to have a better encoder assembly. The encoder movements are mechanically ok, Alt-Az test is correct.

        But Im so confused and dissapointed about this issue. I dont want to put my hands on th eencoder itself, because I haven´t expertise in electronics. I just try to follow the instructions or the tips given in fórums.

        Return the scope is not an alternative, shiping cost and taxes are the same as Scope cost. And perhasps the soultion is simple….. for someone who knows about the enconders features.

        I can send you some pictures to see if the assembly is correct, but I have done it at least 3 times.

        Do you think yo can help me?

        Thanks again

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