Whitepeak Observatory Tacoma, WA
I obtained this scope for use as a solar/auxillary scope on the 5" refractor.
Mount: The slow motion consists of a bronze worm and steel drive gear. The worm shares it's shaft with a nylon drive gear which is driven by the smaller motor gear which is also nylon. The motor attaches with a threaded coupling ring which could be easily crossthreaded--which would cause misalignment of the gears--and could easily account for the stripping scenarios mentioned; motor attachment is a bit on the fussy side but properly attached it is more than adequite to the task--the OTA weighs in at 5lbs 5oz, not nearly enough to overload these gears unless abused. Both alt and az worms have adjustment screws for lash; appropriate hex wrenches are included. The mount's settle-down time is between 1 and 1.5seconds max with tripod fully extended, not bad at all.
The yoke is metal as is the tripod top and solidly made. Tripod has aluminum legs the lower section of which telescopes entirely inside the other--a better arrangenment than the open sandwiched mid section arrangement one usually sees. It has quick release levers for extension locks which are secure & more convenient than the usual locking screw arrangement. The tube rings are plastic (as is the cradle) with metal knurled locking knobs on metal shafts.
Electronics: The supplied handbox is a non-tracking, variable speed alt-az slew capability only setup but has buttons built-in for the Meade electronic focuser (not supplied) which plugs into the aux port. However, the autostar handboxes (#494 was the one i also tested with it) alos can be used--just plug it in-- and then it functions as an ordinary autostar mount; works just like an ETX, no problem. There is a snap-on (to a tripod leg) largish eyepiece tray with a bracket for the handbox molded in, a nice touch. The battery case (10-AA batts) is velcroed to the base of the yoke, no dangling cord, neatly out of the way. System runs on 12vdc, standard Meade power plug.
Optics: 80mm/900mmfl. Appears to be a cemented doublet as no spacers are visible? Checked the CA with Jupiter just after dark, low on horizon but still very little detectable CA, definately visibly less than the AR-5 displays. No MV filter is needed IMO. Jupiter displayed it's bands clearly defined with hints of texture at 117X using an Apogee 7.7mm ortho; if the planet was better placed I'm sure it would tolerate 50x/inch no problem. Last was the star test (done at 180x w/ a UO ortho) which indicated minor spherical aberration (overcorrection 1/8~1/6th) otherwise the lens seems fine, nice snappy focus. (Seeing happened to be good enough tonight to allow a good steady test.) Scope is made in Taiwan not mainland China for whatever that's worth. The scope is indeed a refurb but to my eye appeared as-new in all respects; no blemishes. CA Ratio of this scope is a very color corrected 3.5. CA Ratio chart
Accessories: Finder is a 6x30, lacking in utility for starhopping as are all undersized finders IMO. The supplied diagonal is typically substandard quality. Two 1.25 eyepieces are supplied, a 25mm kellner which is adequite but lacking in FOV and a modified Huygens 9mm which is just plain poor. The 2" focuser is somewhat coarse but useable; I had no particular difficulty getting an accurate focus. A plastic adapter ring for 2" eyepieces is also included. The dewshield is metal as is the tube and it's fully baffled; the lens cell is unadjustable & plastic. The unit carries a full manufacturer's warranty--which i have already used as it came with one tube ring for a DS-90; a call to Meade and right one is on it's way, no problem.
Worth every penny of the 139$ price, delivered. (Meade outlet)
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