Although optically today's SCT is just as good (if not slightly better) than those available 15 to 20 years ago, I feel everything else that comes with these scopes is cheap and poorly constructed. I'm talking about the mounts, internal gears and motors, and the computer boards that control the GoTo functionality. I will clarify...
I agree; there is a certain solidness missing from recent incarnations of the SCT, and not just from the use of plastics where metal once was. Designs now are made using CAD, which in my experience usually means that just enough material will be used to accomplish the task at hand, with little consideration given to the overall "feel" of a part. A little over-engineering is a good
thing with a delicate instrument meant to be portable...
I own a circa 1989 Meade LX5. It's a non GoTo fork mounted unit. This scope functions flawlessly. Once polar aligned it tracks its target well. The optics are just as good as a new 8" SCT. I have talked to other owners of these old Meade's as well as older Celestron's and everyone is happy with the performance and ruggedness of their scopes.
Ditto. These model Meade scopes, along with older Celestron SCT's, are still very much in evidence among the groups I observe with. They are indeed well-liked, rugged and dependable.
The newer 8" SCT's like the CPC 8" are quite enticing. They are packed with features like GoTo drives with giant databases, and GPS self alignment, but they have plastic gears, computer boards that burn out within 5 years, and weaker tripods than their older siblings.
I've talked to several owners of late model Meade and Celestron products that have had issues with these components.
As have I; slicker and cheaper seems to be the order of he day.
Am I the only one who sees this as a longevity problem? Are we just entering an age of disposable scopes? If someone is spending over $1000 on a telescope shouldn't it ought to work for a while?
You are most assuredly not the only one noticing these issues, and how they relate to a given scope's longevity; such is a matter for discussion quite often among my friends and astronomical acquaintances, particularly when someone's whiz-bang go-to scope has entered into a coma (often an irreversible one, to boot - that's what happens when you can't obtain parts any longer). While its true that the OTA could be salvaged and placed on a GE mount, the SCT then loses its overall elegance, of which the fork mount is a considerable part.