by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Meopta MeoPro HD 80
MeoPro HD 80 spotting scope from Meopta. Photo provided by Meopta.

This report covers:

  • Otho is interested
  • Attaching my iPhone to the spotting scope
  • Oh-oh!
  • Otho needed the Meopta
  • Fix the problem
  • Stable tripod!
  • How well does it work?

This is a continuation of my report on the MeoPro HD 80 spotting scope from Meopta. I have now purchased this scope, so it’s mine to use from now on. Every time I look at it, I see it for the first time. It’s like being at a party and seeing the prettiest girl there and envying the lucky guy who gets to go home with her — then realizing she’s with you!

Last time I told you about using the scope at the range for the first time. I mentioned it was possible to attach a smart phone to the scope so you could view your targets even larger, because the phone has a zoom capability that’s separate from the spotting scope. Today I want to tell you how that went.

Otho is interested

One thing that last test did was raise some interest in my shooting buddy, Otho. He’s a troglodyte when it comes to cell phones. Someone tried to give him a smart phone and he claimed it was smarter than him. Like many of us who now get senior discounts, Otho doesn’t like technology that’s made for 20-somethings. But the idea of seeing targets that are far away does appeal to him. Finally — someone came up with a good reason to put a camera into a phone!

I told him I had an old smart phone that is no longer active, and I would gladly donate it to the cause if he could make it work. So, he watched how I attached the phone to the spotting scope.

Attaching my iPhone to the spotting scope

Meopta sent an “adaptor” which is a fitted rubber cup that goes over the scope’s 57mm eyepiece. So far, so good, because there are not a lot of smart phone adaptors for scopes with 57mm eyepiece  lenses. Make that none! I guess that’s because if your eyepiece is that large, they (the people making cell phone adaptors) probably figure you work for NASA and don’t need their help!

Meopta adaptor
The Meopta adaptor (left) is a rubber cup that fits over the scope’s eyepiece. The paddle attached to it with JB Weld residue from the failed first experiment, is glued to the back of a smart phone case (right) to hold the phone. Not the strongest arrangement — especially when I own a large phone that weighs a lot!

I attached the adaptor to an iPhone case and it seemed to work well. When I zoomed in on my target at 100 yards I couldn’t believe how easy it was to see! I still have problems from my repaired retina, so being able to look at the target with both eyes is a plus. Also, as a writer I want to take pictures of targets through this scope for articles I write. Often it is impossible to walk down to the 200-yard berm to retrieve a target, but with this I can get there from my shooting bench! That’s a big reason to get it.

I took a preliminary photo of the target at 100 yards prior to shooting and, given what happened next, I’m glad I did. The image isn’t as sharp as it could be because I didn’t spend any time getting it. I was just setting things up — or so I thought.

Meopta target
This is the picture I took through the spotting scope. Please forgive the blurriness. I was only seeing if the scope was aligned. I did plan to refine the focus later. For reference, the central square is about one inch across.

MeoPro second 200-yard group
This is a 200-yard target that’s twice the size of the 100-yard target shown above. My goal this day was to show a photo of a group shot from 200 yards away, taken through the spotting scope.

Oh-oh!

After taking that first image I needed to get something, so I slid my chair back and stood up. When I did, my shoulder hit the bottom of the phone and broke the JB Weld bond, dropping the phone onto the cement. Fortunately it was protected by the case and landed case side down! But the test was over for that day. That’s why you can see the JB Weld residue in the first picture.

Otho needed the Meopta

Later in the shooting session, Otho found he could not see the bullets holes from his .221 Fireball in the bull at 200 yards, so he asked me to take a look. I counted them, told him where they were and also saw the larger 7.62X39mm holes he had shot from another rifle. I could see the difference in the size of the holes left by each bullet at 200 yards! If that isn’t a ringing endorsement of the MeoPro HD 80, I don’t know what is!

Meopta Otho
Otho uses the MeoPro HD80. He can’t see the bullet holes through his spotting scope.

Fix the problem

To fix the problem I needed to attach the phone case to the adaptor more securely. The old glue was carefully scraped off both parts, down to bare plastic.

I thought about small screws that would be the most secure way to attach the two, but there are some clearance issues I didn’t want to deal with. Instead I found a Permatex epoxy made especially for plastic. Using a Dremel tool and a dental burr, I made numerous divots in both the back of the adaptor paddle and the back of the phone case — the two places that would be glued together. Then I mixed the epoxy and applied it to both pieces. The phone had to be installed in the casefor this to properly align the camera lens with the small opening in the adaptor. Fortunately the epoxy set up in 5 minutes. Then I allowed it to cure for 24 hours.

The other thing is I have to do to make this work is take any pictures in one go, then remove the phone from the scope. If I had done that, the phone wouldn’t have broken the glue bond the first time.

Meopta remounted
This is what the camera looks like when it’s properly mounted. The scope is rotated to the side so the camera hangs straight down. That increases the shear strength of the epoxy bond.

Stable tripod!

I spent real money on the spotting scope, I sure as heck won’t mount it on a ten-dollar tripod! That would be like putting a mass-produced airgun barrel on a 10-meter target rifle!

I used a major tripod made for a large medium format camera. It’s the one I used for my Mamiya RB67 6X7 camera years ago. That’s a camera that’s so large some guys put wheels on them and tow them behind their cars (that’s a joke — for all you non-camera guys). The point is — NO VIBRATION! A perfect scope like this would be ruined if it vibrated when you looked through it — yet I see guys at the range all the time using tripods they got for free when they spent $100 at a camera store. Of course the scopes they have aren’t any better!

How well does it work?

That’s a question that’s going to have to wait until next time. The goal is to put several holes close to each other in paper a long way away and take their picture through this spotting scope. All I have to do now is find something to make those holes.