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Features & Specifications: Hexagonal 1 Turret (1.25" format)

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Hexagonal 1 Turret General Information

VSI's Hexagonal 1 offers a contoured European styling and DOUBLE Nylon (10-32) lateral locking thumb screws, incorporating our exclusive failsafe lateral locking system, on each eyepiece port. The Hex1 also features spring-loaded, ball bearing click stops at each of the six ports and rotary eyepiece cylinder lock-down thumb screw. Our exclusive, built-in 2" format filter slot offers instant filter changes for all 6 eyepieces. No removing eyepieces and fumbling with 1.25" filters for each individual eyepiece. You use one filter for all 6 eyepieces.

Note that all eyepieces should be [push-pull] parfocal positioned to eliminate refocusing when rotating from one eyepiece to another. If you have a matched set of parfocal eyepieces, all you do is pop them in and lock them down -  you're done. If you have an unmatched set of different eyepieces, then simply parfocus each eyepiece by push-pulling until all eyepieces are parfocused. Note the green-white indented dot. It is filled with luminous paint that glows in the dark. This feature will easily indicate the active eyepiece position in total darkness.

VSI's 2" to 1.25" x 6 Hexagonal 1 turret offers exclusive features and build-quality that other turrets don't. Our unique 2" format barrel-nose input with full 1.75" internal clear-aperture diagonal mirrors (ProtoStar QUARTZ 1.83" minor axis x 0.375" thickness), eliminates vignetting from fast scopes and/or low power 1.25" eyepieces (i.e. 40mm, 32mm, 26mm, 24mm, 20mm, etc.). The built-in 2" filter slot accepts 2" filters with a cell thickness up to 5/16" or 0.3125" (8mm). Just pop the filter in the spring-loaded slot and push the ejection button on the bottom and your filter is instantly ejected out into your hand (see picture at left). The Hex1 turret accommodates six 1.25" eyepieces (not included).

Functionality and simplicity of operation have always been VSI's trademark of quality. Our new Hexagonals are no exception. The entire Hex consists of only two major parts (the 2" barrel-nose tube structure and the rotating 6-eyepiece cylinder), with only one moving part (the rotating 6-eyepiece cylinder itself).

The Hex1 has a locking thumb screw that secures the rotation of the 6-eyepiece cylinder. No other turret eyepiece holder, that I know of, has this exclusive lock-down capability. Why would you want an eyepiece rotation lock? Same reason you want a focuser with a moving tube lock. And all individual eyepiece holders incorporate our exclusive, failsafe angled lock system. By placing the locking thumb screws at a 45 degree angle to the eyepiece's 1.25" barrel-nose, you apply lateral pressure as you tighten the thumb screw, locking it in place - like a lock washer. Each eyepiece on the Hex1 has dual angle, self-locking thumb screws for super secure failsafe operation.

Load your Hex1 with eyepieces once, and you'll never have to fumble with eyepieces in the dark again. Find a custom eyepiece case, like the one pictured at right (not included), and you'll be instantly set up for mobile astronomy in the field. Just slide your fully loaded Hex1 into your scope's visual back and you're ready to observe. And you'll have the coolest looking, eye-catching scope at the star party!

Why does the Hex1 have a long 2" barrel-nose that wastes profile? Profile is NOT wasted on the Hex. In conjunction with our optional AHEX SCT adapter, this added profile is ergonomically necessary so you don't hit your head on the back of your scope's visual back when trying to look through the eyepiece. If the Hex was fitted with a low-profile 2" threaded slip-ring (like our Sliders), the Hex1 would attach too close to your scope's visual back - ouch! If you have a secondary focuser docked to your scope's visual back, then you still have plenty of clearance for your head, and the Hex's 2" barrel-nose profile is consumed inside the focuser's moving tube - profile issue equalized. All 1.25" eyepiece turrets should have a 2" barrel-nose (unfortunately, none do), expecially when using 1.25" low-power, wide-field eyepieces because vignetting can be eliminated with a 2" format input. And Hexagonals also feature a huge internal 1.75" clear-aperture and oversize 1.83" minor-axis, first-surface QUARTZ  mirror. Is this overkill?

For your convenience, all VSI TOADLOADERS models, that incorporate the [dual purpose] QUAD-LOCK feature, allow their moving tubes to lock the Hex in place, while still providing full rotation of the Hex body (see AHEX SCT adapter below for more info). No other turret on the market has our exclusive dual rotation feature. Just turn the handle to the most comfortable active eyepiece position (no thumb screws to unscrew), then simply hold the handle in place and rotate the eyepiece cylinder to change magnifications. When speed and safety are paramount, this is the eyepiece turret you need. It's great for star parties, public viewing sessions, quick A/B object comparison using different eyepieces or filters. Slip a 2" filter in the Hexagonal's built-in filter slot and this exclusive convenience becomes a necessity.

NOTE: If you are using a VSI focuser with QUAD-LOCK, you don't need the SCT AHEX Revolver. See ADAPTERS link for more adapters.

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VSI's Exclusive 2" Built-in Filter Slot

Our New 2" format filter slot is now built into both Hex models - the 1.25" x 6 Hex1 (pictured at left) and the Giant 2" x 6 Hex2 (pictured far below). Each Hex comes with a fitted 2" OD ring (included) that simply pops into the filter slot, eliminating stray light from entering the housing when not in use. This stray light blocking ring is pictured (below left), inserted in the Hexagonal's filter slot. The finger notch, also pictured below left, allows easy grasping of the ring or filter after pushing the spring-loaded eject button on the bottom of the Hex1 housing (pictured below middle). The filter ring is held in place by a plate-type spring (pictured below right).

This exclusive feature offers filter insertion and extraction in a split second, literally. No bulky filter wheels or separate slide mechanisms that gobble up your valuable profile and induce mechanical flexure into your imaging train. Our built-in filter slots consume only the profile thickness of the filter cell itself, which is typically less than 5/16" (8mm).

The filter slot was designed to accept the larger format 2" filters to eliminate vignetting caused by using 1.25" low-power, wide-field eyepieces (i.e. 40mm, 32mm, 24mm, etc.). This larger 2" format was selected because a 1.25" filter, at an extended distance from the eyepiece base, would cause more severe vignetting, compared to placement of the filter at the base of the eyepiece. This extended distance from the eyepiece would only allow the use of hi-power eyepieces. Therefore, this slot will only accept the larger, thinner 2" format filters with a cell thickness up to 5/16" or 0.3125" (8mm). Most 1.25" filters are actually thicker (0.45") and have an internal ring that reduces the available clear-aperture even further. See ADAPTERS link for other 2" filter slot adapters.

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The Inside looks as Good as the Outside

Hex1 turrets contain oversize optical-grade, first-surface, diagonal mirror flats from ProtoStar that have a huge 1.83" minor axis with a 0.375" thickness (1:6 ratio), and meet or exceed Milspec MIL-M-13508C.  QUARTZ mirror with individual Zygo interferometric analysis documentation included with each Hexagonal. Wavefront flatness is typically better than 0.08 peak-to-valley measured at 633 nm light. Coatings provide the highest possible reflectivity across the entire visible spectrum with a thin pre-coat layer of chromium to promote good metal adhesion. Dielectric overcoat layers are applied using Electron Beam Deposition (EBD), followed by an ultra-hard Ion Assisted Deposition (true argon IAD) process.

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Milling the Rotating 6-Eyepiece Cylinder

Like quality aluminum racing wheels, our Hexagonals are also machined from a solid billet of aircraft-grade 6061-T6 aluminum. After being turned on a lathe to a perfect cylinder (above left), the [4.5" O.D. by 1" wall thickness] blank is then milled on a digital mill (shown below) using a rotary indexing head with arc-second accuracy. This full-machining process is very time consuming and aircraft-grade aluminum is expensive, but the end result is far superior to cheap, thin, weak pot-metal castings or thin multi-part rotating housings, like the other rotary eyepiece holders on the market. The original billet blank (above left) weighs a little over 2 lbs (37.5 oz). After a copious amount of metal is removed (above right), the weight has been reduced to a mere 14 oz.

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2" SCT Quad-Lock AHEX Revolver (optional)

This VSI exclusive [2" format] SCT Quad-Lock captive revolver allows dual rotation of the Hex1. Screw it onto any 2"-24tpi SCT threaded visual back, slip the Hex1 into the Revolver and tighten the four [Quad-Lock] Nylon thumb screws. Then back them off a quarter turn [or so] until you can rotate the entire Hex1 easily. This unique dual-rotation feature allows the outer eyepiece housing  to rotate normally (like any eyepiece turret) by holding the rear handle stationary to rotate to a different eyepiece and/or rotate the entire Hex1 to a more comfortable viewing position by allowing the rear handle to rotate with the Hex1, which rotates the entire Hex itself. It  has industry-standard 2"-24tpi female SCT threads at the base of the adapter (pictured above right), double thumb screws at the top that lock into standard safety indents (see arrow at left), and our proprietary double thumb screws that are screwed into the proprietary locking groove in the barrel nose of our Hex1 (see arrow at left). It also doubles as a super-solid [Quad-Lock] SCT 2-inch barrel adapter when you need zero-flexure for astroimaging, etc.

When the Hex1 is inserted in the Revolver, and the Quad-Lock thumb screws are properly engaged into the Hex grooves, you simply rotate the Hex body [active eyepiece] by using the convenient handle at the rear. Its like rotating a diagonal, but you don't have to loosen or tighten any thumb screws and the Hex is securely locked into the rotator. It's locked in place, but can still rotate by simply turning the rear handle. You then change your magnifications by holding the handle in place and rotating the outer cylinder from eyepiece to eyepiece (click - click - click).

For your added convenience, all VSI TOADLOADERS have Quad-Lock, and mimic the AHEX function (pictured above left). This exclusive body rotation bonus is part of the VSI focuser Quad-Lock feature that [also] locks your Hex into your VSI Toad, while still allowing instant Hex body rotation, just like the AHEX adapter. So, if you are using a VSI Toad with Quad-Lock, you don't need our AHEX SCT adapter. See ADAPTERS link for additional adapters.

Note that this special AHEX adapter, or a VSI focuser, is not required to use our Hexagonals. Our 1.25" Hexagonal turrets (above) fit in any standard 2" format focuser, etc. This proprietary feature, utilizing the AHEX adapter and/or our VSI focuser's Quad-Lock feature, just makes it a little more secure and very convenient to operate, allowing the Hex housing to rotate freely without loosening any thumb screws. 

Features & Specifications: Hexagonal 2 Turret (2" format)

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Hexagonal 2 Turret General Information

VSI's 2" format HEX2 has been completely re-designed and simplified. The old Hex2 was just too complex and too expensive to manufacture. The new 2" HEX is designed similar to the 1.25" Hex above, just much larger in proportions. To give you an even better 2" HEX size comparison, look at the pictures (left) of the 10" SCT with a 2" HEX installed. This is the smallest scope [recommended] for the 2" HEX, and you will need some serious counterweighting, but it'll work great. Also see Scott's C14, that did not require counterweighting, at our USER INSTALLATIONS link and pictured above.

VSI's 6-eyepiece manual turret Hexagonal also has our exclusive built-in 2" filter slot with two insert rings included (see picture at right and "Filters for your Hexagonal Turret" section below). The stray light blocking insert ring provides a 2.75" internal clear aperture, and is inserted when you are not using a filter. The other ring holds a 2" format filter (up to 0.5" filter cell thickness) that can be locked into the insert ring using three set screws (extra 2" filter holders available, Item HFH). Each filter insert ring is held in place with two spring plates (just pop it in), and removed with an ejector button on the bottom (just push the button to eject the ring).

Eyepiece holders accommodate six 2" eyepieces (not included). 1.25" format eyepieces can be used in the HEX2 by inserting a standard 2" to 1.25" reducer, like our item #AR21 (see ADAPTERS link). All 2" eyepiece holders incorporate failsafe double [Angled Locks] Nylon thumb screws for a total of 12 Nylon knobs, shown on the back of the HEX. As with our 1.25" Hex1, the back also has a large luminous dot to indicate active eyepiece position in total darkness. Internal spring loaded, ball bearing click stops assure accurate optical path alignment. You can use non-parfocus 2" eyepieces and parfocus each one individually, or simply insert a set of parfocus 2" eyepieces and lock them down to eliminate refocusing when rotating from one eyepiece to another.

VSI has introduced a relatively new feature - adjustable click-stops on all HEX2 models. This very special feature allows you to easily and accurately set, using an Allen wrench, the spring pressure on the ball (see picture at right). By doing so, you achieve the sensitivity necessary for any eyepiece and/or accessory load. Such as all 2" Nagler "grenades" or all 1.25" eyepieces (using 2" to 1.25" reducers) which are much lower in weight, or even empty eyepiece sockets. Although this adjustable click-stop upgrade would not be beneficial for the smaller Hex1, it is almost a necessity for the HEX2 because it extends the load capability and adds substantial versatility to the array of eyepieces and accessories you can install on the HEX2.

To accomplish this task, the HEX2 had to be re-designed almost from scratch, again. Although the new adjustable click-stop looks like an easy modification, it was not. You can easily see the new raised section in the picture at right, with the stainless steel [ball & spring] insert mechanism, but you can't see any of the other design changes because they are mostly dimensional and internal. In other words, none of the previous HEX2 parts are interchangeable with this newer model HEX2. Unfortunately, this does mean that none of the old models are upgradeable to this new model.

HEX2 turrets contain optical-grade, first-surface mirrors from ProtoStar that have a giant 2.6" (minor axis) diagonal flat with a 0.65" thickness, and meet or exceed Milspec MIL-M-13508C. HEX2's have QUARTZ mirrors with individual Zygo Interferometric analysis documentation included with each Hexagonal  (see mirror picture at left). Wavefront flatness is typically better than 0.08 peak-to-valley measured at 633 nm light. Coatings provide the highest possible reflectivity across the entire visible spectrum with a thin pre-coat layer of chromium to promote good metal adhesion. Dielectric overcoat layers are applied using Electron Beam Deposition (EBD), followed by an Ion Assisted Deposition (true argon IAD) process.

When speed and safety are necessary, this is the eyepiece turret you need. It's great for star parties, public viewing sessions, quick A-B object comparison at different magnifications, and even switching between different imaging devices (i.e. CCD cameras, spectroscopes, photometers, comparator devices, etc.). Input port is an industry-standard 3.25"-16tpi (female) thread that screws directly onto Meade or Celestron (with optional converter, Item AMC33 below) visual backs (also see DOCKING CONVERTERS link for stock docking converters for other scopes). Output ports (6) are standard 2" female format. Six dust caps are included with your HEX.  See "Why do you need a Hexagonal Turret?" (bottom of this page) for picture of first 2" Hex prototype built in 1992.

WARNING: When this turret HEX is loaded with Six 2" Nagler "grenades" (or equivalent eyepieces) you need a large telescope, or some very serious counterweighting, to balance your instrument's weight.

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Filters for your Hexagonal Turret

Once you've experienced our Hexagonal, with its exclusive built-in 2" filter slot, you'll never be able to return to a simple diagonal again. No more dysfunctional eyepiece and/or filter exchanging. No more time consuming filter changing operations that involve removing the eyepiece, screwing in a filter, observing, removing the eyepiece, unscrewing the filter and endlessly repeating this obsolete, cumbersome process. In total darkness, this scenario can become a literal nightmare. No bulky filter wheels or separate slide mechanisms that gobble up your valuable profile and induce mechanical flexure into your imaging train.You can even perform double filter comparisons (stacking) by screwing one into the base of your eyepiece and then switching them in and out of the spring-loaded filter slot.

The 3" outside diameter, stray light blocking insert ring on the HEX2 provides a 2.75" internal clear aperture, and is inserted when you are not using a filter. The other 3" OD ring (both included) holds a 2" format filter (up to 0.5" filter cell thickness) that can be locked into the insert ring using three set screws (extra 2" filter holders, Item HFH). The filter slot's 3/8" thick-wall construction is rock-solid. Just install a 2" filter in the filter ring and pop it in the slot, and it's automatically locked in place by two tensioned spring plates, one on each side of the slot (see left picture). And removing a filter is as simple as pushing the ejection button on the bottom of the Hex (see right picture).

Whether you are using filters for lunar, planetary, comet, deep-sky observing or just cutting your light pollution, you will find the Hex indispensable. You can switch filters instantaneously for A-B comparisons. When viewing subtle planetary contrast changes using color filters, nebulous deep-sky objects using narrow band-pass and UHC filters, or simple polarizing filters to cut the Moon's brightness, the Hex is a "must-have" necessity.

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Eyepiece Strategies for your Hexagonal 2

The question, "Why don't you create a Hex that will take one 2" and five 1.25" eyepieces?" is asked frequently. So a section on this basic topic will help answer that question, and probably provide a few other answers too.

People are probably thinking of the old Unitron Unihex from many years ago. At one time, Unitron offered a dual format, 6-eyepiece turret that accepted one 1.25" eyepiece and five 0.965" eyepieces. This was feasible because the difference between a 0.965" and a 1.25" eyepiece is about a quarter of an inch. The difference between a 2" eyepiece and a 1.25" eyepiece is three quarters of an inch - 3 times the diameter difference. This increase is the reason a turret with one 2" port and five 1.25" ports would be impractical, at best.

To insert one, or six 2" format eyepieces in a turret, you would still need a turret with a rotating housing profile exceeding the 2" format, like the Hex2 , which has a rotating housing profile of 2.5 inches (see size comparision picture at right). Essentially, to make a turret with one 2" port and five 1.25" ports, you would need to make a turrret with the same dimensions as the Hex2. So why not just make the Hex2 and use 2" to 1.25" reducers, such as our AR21, in the 2" ports? Note the left Hex2 picture, that creates the reality of the above question, one 2" eyepiece and five 1.25" eyepieces, using five AR21 reducers. And, you now have the versatility to install any combination of 2" and 1.25" eyepieces.

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Docking Ring Converters for your HEX 2

VSI can CUSTOM MACHINE any docking ring or adapter you need to dock our HEX2 to your scope's visual back. If you don't see your specific docking converter listed, just call. That's all it takes. FYI, the above docking ring was custom machined to transfer the HEX2 from a client's Meade SCT  (3.25"-16tpi, bottom larger thread above) to his second scope, a Takahashi refractor (M72-1mm thread pitch, top smaller thread above) while still maintaining a 2.5" internal clear aperture. Anything is possible!

One exception is noted. This GIANT HEX 2 is just that - GIGANTIC! Therefore, VSI will not [even] offer docking converters for 2" format focusers or any type of 2" docking (i.e. SCT 2"-24tpi, 2" barrel-nose, etc.). The weight, with six 2" format eyepieces installed, would overwhelm any 2" focuser, except our 2" TOADLOADERS of course. However, even if you could [mechanically] dock the HEX2 to our 2" TOADLOADER, the typical 1.75" internal clear aperture would cause vignetting with lower power, wide-field eyepieces, especially at an extended distance from the eyepiece.

Threaded Docking Ring Converters for your HEX 2

Meade 4"-16tpi female to Meade 3.25"-16tpi male Docking Ring Converter, Item ACR43 (above left): This converter is designed to screw onto the Meade 16" LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain scope's 4"-16tpi male threaded visual back so you can dock a HEX 2, or any other 3.25"-16tpi device, on your 16" Meade SCT. At last check, Meade did not offer this accessory and said they had no plans to offer it.

Meade 3.25"-16tpi male to Celestron 3.29"-16tpi female Docking Ring Converter, Item AMC33 (above right): This 3.29"-16tpi female to 3.25"-16tpi male threaded converter is used to convert your larger 3.29" Celestron (C11 or C14, etc.) threaded visual back to Meade's smaller 3.25" threaded visual back format.

Threaded Docking Ring Converter for VSI 3" TOADS

3.1" Flange to 3.25"-16tpi Male Threaded Docking Ring Converter for 3" TOADLOADERS, Item A325 (above): This converter will allow you to dock any Meade 3.25"-16tpi large-format accessory to the output [moving tube] of your 3" TOAD. However, it's main purpose is to dock our Giant Hexagonal 2 turret to the output of our 3" TOADLOADERS (see picture at left).

Docking Ring Converter for your Custom Scope

4.5" Round [flat-bottom] Base to 3.25"-16tpi Male Threaded Docking Ring Converter for Custom telescopes, Item ACR45 (above): This round, flat-bottom, bolt-on converter includes mounting hardware and is designed to dock our HEX2 directly to a [usually] custom scope's flat visual back. Where the scope has existing primary focus control/operation by moving the secondary or primary mirror and needs no external secondary focuser attached to the scope's visual back. This converter would also dock one of our 2" TOADLOADERS, as a secondary focuser. Fully machined from a massive 1-inch thick cylinder of extruded 6061-T6 aluminum. Mounting base angle is adjustable using push-pull set screws and Allen bolts (included). Converter has three counter-sunk [Allen bolt] holes opposed by 120 degrees.

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Why do you need a Hexagonal Turret?

Besides the obvious fact that Hexagonals look really cool, our exclusive dual-rotation system (explained in-depth later) also offers the ultimate in eyepiece security, while providing instant [and secure] active eyepiece repositioning and instant eyepiece/magnification changes. During the early days of Black Forest Observatory (1986-2001), I utilized a gigantic custom Hexagonal (2.6" format, pictured right and left), that I created at BFO's machine shop (the first Hex), exclusively for public sky tours (for more info on BFO's 30-inch Cassegrain, see Installations link, bottom of the page). When you have 40 people in your observatory, you have to reposition the scope with the utmost alacrity of purpose. Public people have no patience. They don't want to stand around all night freezing in the dark, waiting for the next celestial object to become available in the telescope's eyepiece.

That's where this super Hex, with the dual-rotation feature, came into play! Simply turn the handle (giant star knob in this case) on the rear to a comfortable viewing position, without loosening or retightening anything. It's locked in place, but the active eyepiece body is still fully rotatable. This exclusive Hex body rotation function, that no other turret offers, is identical to rotating your single eyepiece diagonal to a more comfortable viewing position, but with the Hex, you don't have to loosen and retighten thumb screws. Even single eyepiece diagonals don't do body rotation. Of course, to take advantage of VSI's exclusive turret body rotation feature, you need to use it in conjunction with our SCT Captive Retaining AHEX Revolver (Item AHEX above) or any model VSI focuser with the [dual purpose] Quad-Lock feature. If you use the Hex with other focusers, you simply lose the [double locked-in-place] body rotation feature. That simply means you will have to loosen [hopefully] two thumb screws, rotate the head to a more comfortable viewing position and tighten the thumb screws -  an inconvenience that accompanies all other [less functional] eyepiece turrets and standard diagonals on the market.

While you are rotating the Hex body to a more comfortable viewing angle, you can simultaneously hold the rear pull-type handle (star knob pictured above) in place to rotate to a different eyepiece (click - click, etc.), and you're ready to view. Instantaneous, quick, Hex body and eyepiece rotation with one homogenous action. It doesn't get any better than that! Changing viewing positions and eyepieces takes only a second, literally. No fumbling around in the dark. Total eyepiece security. You can even install two identical power eyepieces, with different 1.25" filters, for instantaneous A/B comparisons. If you have matched sets of eyepieces for your binoviewer, you're already there.

At first, you may think that this Hex device is a frivolous luxury. After you've actually experienced the Hex advantage first-hand/eye, you will find that it has become an undeniable necessity for your visual observing - I guarantee it! This extra, exclusive Hex body rotation feature was so fluid and functional, that I eventually developed a conditioned response, operating my Hex without even having to think about what I was doing. These two new, much lower priced, Hex models are a fantastic way to visually tour the celestial wonders of the night sky. Beyond the above facts, I simply wanted to offer a new observing experience to all my friends in Astroland - PBVS

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