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60 day review of ETX 80

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#26 aeajr

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Posted 18 August 2016 - 09:36 AM

Figured I should do a 1 year user review update.

 

ETX 80 is going strong.  Even though I have the 8" Dob this one gets plenty of sky time.   Here is where it fits a year after purchase.

 

 

  • Great for tossing in the car.  This plus an 8-24 zoom and a 3X barlow and I have all I need
  • If I am going to use it manually I don't need power
  • if I am going to use the GoTo I can run off the internal battery pack - I rate it for about 5 hours so that is more than enough for an evening BUT I typically use it with an external 12 V auto jumper pack and a cord.   The slew is faster and it lasts forever.   Means  I have to bring the pack but I prefer it to the internal batteries.
  • Outreach - the GoTo and tracking are great for outreach.  So many people show up with these big scopes which are cool but somewhat intimidating.   To someone just exploring the idea of astronomy the ETX 80 with its cute little OTA and fully robotic operation seems so much more friendly and fun.
  • Personal Star parties - I set this up on a target and set up the XT8i and have friends looking through both.  I can even show them how to use the hand control and give them a list of targets and let them operate the scope.   Easy
  • As a pointer scope and a confirmation scope when I am hunting new bino targets in my very light polluted skies.   Is that really the target?  Well the ETX 80 is sitting on it and tracking with the 15X eyepiece.    Now I can confirm that what I found in the binos is the actual target. In the future I can find it again with just the binoculars and I know how it looks.

I just like this little scope.   Some nights I just like to pull this one out instead of the 8" dob.   And things like the Pleiades and the coat hanger looks better in the ETX 80 than they do in my XT8i even with the 38 mm wide view eyepiece I have for the bigger scope.

 

Every tool has its use.  This is  how I use this one.   I still enjoy it and still recommend it to others.

 

The new model has some improvements:

 

Optical tube can now be easily removed so you can use it on another mounts if you wish.  A lot of people have used these for AP.

The database on mine is about 1500 objects.  While that will take a long time to exhaust the new one has over 30,000 objects in the database.

https://www.telescop...e-with-backpack

 

If you prefer a Mak over a refractor then the ETX 90 might be more your speed especially if your main forcus is planets.

https://www.telescop...h-carrying-case


Edited by aeajr, 18 August 2016 - 09:41 AM.

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#27 Kanook

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 11:36 PM

Thanks aeajr for this write up. I purchased this as my first scope about 9 months ago and love it. However I did have the wild slewing issue after a few hours of use one night. I thought it was an issue with the drive but fortunately discovered after searching the net and now reading your write up its probably the internal battery pack. I'll invest in a 12v pack too. I'm also glad to hear your review of the internal barlow. I thought something was wrong when it took so much turning of the focuser, I'll have to invest in an external barlow instead. Any recommendations? This scope got me hooked on looking at the night sky so I ordered a Nexstar 6se that should be here Wednesday. But like you this will be my throw in the car road trip scope. Also along with an external barlow recommendation what would be some good lenses? The 8-24?
Thanks again


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#28 Kanook

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 11:39 PM

Another question I just thought of. The internal pack is 9v are you using a 12-9 converter or can it handle the full 12v?
Thanks again



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#29 aeajr

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Posted 22 August 2016 - 11:52 PM

It handles 12V directly.  The AC adapter that Meade sells for this scope puts out 12V.



#30 aeajr

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 01:07 PM

Time for an update, a little sad and a bunch happy.

 

 

My ETX 80 has been acting up lately, actually starting back in late July, but this scope doesn't come ot that often as I also have an 8" scope.  Naturally the 8" gets more use.  But the ETX 80 gets sky time too.

 

Back in July the goto started being highly inaccurate on initial set-up/alignment.  Often off by 2 degrees or more.    I have not had this problem before.    So I went to  the manual and the advice is to train the drives, something I have done before.   This is a regular maintenance item you do periodically.  Accounts for slop and lash in the gears.    Only takes a few minutes.  Best done during the day.

 

Did this twice but continued to have a problem.     So I contacted Meade.   No Problem!   Covered by Warranty, ship it in we will send you a new one.   In fact the one I have is not made anymore so they are shipping me the newer model.

 

So, unfortunate because we all want our stuff to work all the time, forever.   But Meade stepped up and is taking care of me.   Great customer service.   

 

I ship the old one back and they will send me a complete, brand new system.   :)

 

I will let you know how the older model compares to the new model.


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#31 jgraham

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 02:14 PM

Coolness.

 

A couple of quick notes...

 

The general fix-all for Autostar scopes is to reset the controller and start over.

 

The manual talks in detail about training the drives, but it only mentions calibrating the motors once. To get accurate GoTos it is important to calibrate the motors and to train the drives, in that order. I had problems with my first Autostar scope until I figured that out. I usually tell people with a new Autostar to go through the procedure once to see how it is done, then to reset the controller and do it again.

 

If that doesn't clean things up (an it usually does) it is time to dig a bit deeper.



#32 aeajr

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 02:46 PM

By reset I presume you mean power off and power on again.   Yes, did that several times.

 

I had never noticed the calibrate the motor option and, as you noted, it is only mentioned in review of the set-up menu.    I am not sure I ever calibrated the motors.    I wonder if that would have helped.

 

I did train the drives several times. I saw this as routine maintenance.  

 

Oh well, the old scope is on its way to Meade so i can't try it now.  They will be shipping me a new scope based on the new design.  Hopefully this will be a nice upgrade.  I am a little concerned about the tripod but we will see.



#33 jgraham

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 05:22 PM

There is a menu item to reset the controller, which usually does the trick. There is also a master reset that envolves holding down a couple of keys that I can't recall.

 

Your mount automatically calibrated the motors the very first time you turned it on. It slews the motors briefly as part of the initial setup. You can recalibrate the motors with a menu item under Setup.

 

If anyone else is experiencing inaccurate GoTos or rubberbanding the general fix is to reset the hand controller, re-enter all of your information, calibrate the motors, and train the drives. A nice beefy power source like a jumpstart battery also helps.


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#34 aeajr

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 11:11 PM

Thanks for the tips John.    I wish I had known these.   Now I do.   

 

It is a great little scope that I like a lot.   Looking forward to getting the new one.



#35 aeajr

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 12:00 PM

So easy a child can use it.

https://www.youtube....h?v=XqkBChT-BgM

 

He left a step out on the alignment but overall he does a pretty good overview of the scope.



#36 sparkyjoe

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 03:28 PM

A tip to any ETX users, it will work on the internal batteries but it works MUCH better when connected to an external 12V source like your car, a jumper pack or a power tank.   There are also AC adapters if you are close to power.  It works so much better under an external power source.

Hi you say this will work on a power tank which i would like to do but the etx 80 is 9v and power tank is 12v so how do you do this,i am not very good with eletrics just purchased etx 80.

 

steve


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#37 aeajr

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 03:58 PM

Easy way is buy this cord.

 

https://www.amazon.c...0?ie=UTF8&psc=1



#38 sparkyjoe

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 04:31 PM

Hi ed thanks for quick reply but we cant seem to get this in the uk only seems to be available to us and canda,but my question would be that still would not cut 12v to 9v as it would be connected direct or am i wrong?Thank you very much appreciated.

 

Steve



#39 aeajr

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 04:44 PM

Your profile and signature didn't indicate you are in the UK.

 

 

As noted earlier in the thread the system works fine on 12V as verified by Meade.  In fact it works better on 12V, as I said and you quoted me.

 

If you buy the Meade AC/mains adapter it puts out 12V.   You may want to go back and read thorough the review and the discussion from the beginning.

 

I imagine you could make up your own cable but that is the one I purchased.  

 

Found this on the amazon UK site?

https://www.amazon.c... 80 car adapter


Edited by aeajr, 22 October 2016 - 04:51 PM.


#40 sparkyjoe

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 04:36 AM

Thank you very much for finding that lead have just purshased it they only had 1 left so very handy bit pricey but will save money in the long run,Sorry for not saying i was in the uk from the start i will have to check see how to put that on my profile,i am near London

 

Thanks 

Steve


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#41 aeajr

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 10:36 AM

I get most of my astronomy stuff from Amazon because of their incredibly fast shipping and amazing return or exchange policy.  Price is usually good and I get free shipping as an amazon prime member. 

 

As to your country, go to the top right of the screen.  You will find your screen name with a down arrow next to it.  Click that and go to settings.  I will take you to a screen where you can put your location as well as build a signature if you wish.   Many people put in some basic info about what equipment they are using.

 

Good luck with the ETX.


Edited by aeajr, 23 October 2016 - 11:10 AM.


#42 sparkyjoe

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 06:38 AM

After purchasing the etx 80 a power tank and all the leads from internet cant get it to work,it works okay on batteries but not from power tank has anyone got any ideas what is  wrong.



#43 aeajr

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 10:18 AM

I don't knwo what power tank you got.  I use a car jumper pack.   Some require you to turn the power on on the pack.   Yours may be like that.   Are you getting no power at all? 

 

Have to check for power.  Take a meter or some other test device that you know and plug it into the power port on the tank.  Are you getting power at the port?

 

If so, plug in the power cord for the scope.  Take that meter or tester to the scope end and see if you are getting power?

 

On my old ETX 80 the connector from the power cord went to a 9V type connector and replaced the internal battery pack.   How are you connecting power to the scope?

 

This is the kit you bought.  It has an AC adapter. Does it work with that?

https://www.amazon.c... 80 car adapter

 

With electrical issues is it is just a matter of working the power circuit till you find the problem.   And don't forget to wiggle wires while you are testing.  Sometimes there is an internal break that provides intermittent connection.  Those can drive you crazy.  

 

If you are getting power to the connector to the scope, then check the on/off switch on the scope.   Wiggle it and see if you get any response from the scope.

 

You say it works OK on internal batteries so you know the motors and such are OK and the hand set lights up so that is OK. 

 

You need to find the breakdown in the circuit.  Basic electricity.


Edited by aeajr, 27 October 2016 - 10:20 AM.


#44 sparkyjoe

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 04:21 PM

I have a skywatcher power tank it works okay tried it on other things so i know its not that,i am running straight from 12v into the connector where battery pack go,it works okay from mains just cant get it to work from batter tank and i know that works okay everything is brand new so might send power tank back and get new one where i can plug lead straight into 9v into scope.i will have another go tomorrow to see if i can get it to work.

 

cheers 

steve



#45 aeajr

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 05:00 PM

So, your scope runs fine using the external cable if you run it from mains power.    So it isn't the connector or the cable.

 

This is what you are using, right?

https://www.amazon.c... 80 car adapter

 

 

You say you have used the power tank with other things and it works fine, so why would you send it back?

 

When you plug the power cord into the power tank using the cigarette lighter plug, that is when you have a problem.   Sounds like you are not plugging it in all the way or the port on the power tank is not working.   When you plug in the 12V plug into the 12V port on the power tank try turning it a bit to see if maybe you just don't have it in all the way.

 

One more thing to try.    Plug the adapter cable into your car's 12V port and see if the scope works.  If it does then it is the port on the power tank.  

 

Do you know someone who has a jumper box with that kind of port?  You could try that too.


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#46 aeajr

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Posted 29 October 2016 - 02:39 AM

FIRST LIGHT TESTING OF THE WARRANTY REPLACEMENT ETX 80.

 

They sent me the new ETX 80 observer to replace my older one that failed but was under  warranty.

http://www.meade.com...0-observer.html

 

 

Here are the package differences from the original ETX 80 that I had.

 

  • OTA can be dismounted with two hand screws so you can put it on another scope or another mount.
  • Red dot finder included
  • Knob on the focuser is a bit different, larger so it may be a little more convenient to use.
  • Comes in a backpack that can carry everything but the tripod
  • Includes the 45 degree angle for correct image daytime viewing
  • Different tripod with quick removal feature for the scope. 
  • Old hand control computer included 1400 objects.  New hand control 30,000 objects with audio that tells about the objects. (you can turn it off)

Those are the major differences in packaging.

 

The older model came in two packages, the AT package which I had, and a backpack version.   The new one only comes in a backpack version.  

 

The included backpack takes the OTA/fork mount and all the accessories except the tripod.  But that can be attached externally via stretch cord weaving on the back pack.   Overall it is a nice package and would make it VERY easy to take it out for hikes or camping.  While I don't think I will make much use of the back pack it is a nice feature.

 

The new redesigned Tripod is quite sturdy.  This was my primary concern with the backpack packaging but no longer.   It also has a very convenient way to put the OTA on the tripod quickly and easily if you want to store the OTA in the back pack.    The tripod also has a built in level so you can get it level and then add the OTA.  Two quick to use finger screws lock the OTA onto the tripod.   Tripod has three eyepiece trays each with place for 3 eyepieces which should be more than enough for anyone.

 

The included 45 degree correct image diagonal attaches to the rear port easily and turns the ETX 80 into a daytime spotting scope.   A surprise was that this diagonal must change the FL in some way because the included 26 mm Plossl eyepiece yields a different magnification in the 45 degree angle than in the 90 degree astronomy angle that is built into the scope.

 

There is a dial on the side of the scope that allows you to move a flip mirror so you can direct the light to the 90 degree angle or to the rear port where the 45 degree angle attaches.  This makes it easy to compare the view through the two angles.

 

I put my 8-24 zoom in the 90 degree angle at 24 mm.  This provides 16X whereas the 26 mm Plossl yields 15X.  Close enough for comparison.  I picked a treetop about 1/2 mile away as my target.

 

When I put the 26 mm into the 45 degree angle it produced a much higher level of magnification.  Using the zoom I estimated that it was around 50 X, about what I would get from an 8 mm eyepiece in the 90 degree angle.    I was not expecting this.    The image was correct vertically and horizontally but just more highly magnified.  Not sure why.    I did not try the included 9.7 mm eyepiece but I would expect that to give me about 2.6 times the magnification or about 130x. 

 

Only time will tell if I make much use of the 45 degree angle but it is there and included if you want to use the scope for daytime as well as night time use.   But be aware of the relatively high power you get with the eyepieces when using the 45 degree angle.

 

The included red dot finder is a very nice addition to the package.  My original ETX 80 did not have a finder scope.  This will come in very handy when I am using the scope manually and during the initial alignment process if the alignment stars are not quite in the FOV.  It was perfectly aligned to the scope right out of the box.  No adjustments needed.  It just slides into a shoe that is already mounted on the scope.

 

I attached the hand control and did all the date/time/location set-up and all seemed to work well. 

 

I "trained the drives" which is a calibration step discussed in the manual.   In daylight everything seemed to work fine.  So far I was very pleased.

 

 

9 pm I put the Goto through its paces using the internal battery pack.   Everything went well except the .   Once I finished the alignment the scope was able to put all the targets into the FOV of my Celestron Zoom set on 24 mm.  That is a 16X/2.5 degree FOV.  A little tap on the hand controller buttons for final centering and I was all set. 

 

I had the scope take me through the Tour feature.   It worked very well and hit all the targets nicely.

 

The new scope seems quieter than the older one both while slewing and while tracking.

 

The audio feature of the hand control seemed cool but I turned it off.   I may explore it more later but for now I am not looking for the telescope to talk while I am observing.  

 

So, would I continue to recommend the ETX 80 based on the new package?   Yes. 

 

Time will reveal longer term reliability but initial tests have me pleased with the new package.


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#47 jgraham

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Posted 30 October 2016 - 11:12 AM

Fantastic! I have the original backpack versions of the ETX-60 & 80 and I have always enjoyed them. The backpacks are well designed and comfortable to wear. They makes great grab'n go packs as everthing is tucked away in one nice package. I've never tried securing the tripod to the pack, but it is easy to carry. The red dot finder sounds like a really nice addition. If I recall right the erecting prism includes a mild (1.5x?) Barlow to extend the focal plane back a bit.

 

Enjoy your new scope!



#48 aeajr

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Posted 30 October 2016 - 03:26 PM

I don't know about the original backpack ETX but the new one has a great backpack but it also came in a pretty small box. I am going to save the box so I can put it all back in the box for trips and such.  But for general use the back-pack will be nice.   And the scope comes off the tripod really quick and easy.

 

I am getting almost a 3X effect from the 45 degree angle which I do not like.   I wanted no difference top and real eyepiece positions.   But it is what it is.   Should be fun for daytime use.  I may try to get a longer eyepiece for the 45 degree angle.


Edited by aeajr, 30 October 2016 - 03:44 PM.


#49 aeajr

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Posted 08 November 2016 - 03:06 PM

Update on new ETX 80 Observer

 

I have now had the new scope out three times so I can share my impressions as compared to the orginal ETX 80 I sent back for warranty replacement.

 

So, here is what I liked about the old ETX 80.  This still applies.

 

  • Great for tossing in the car.  This plus an 8-24 zoom and a 3X barlow and I have all I need
  • If I am going to use it manually I don't need power ( see notes on this below)
  • if I am going to use the GoTo I can run off the internal battery pack - I rate it for about 5 hours so that is more than enough for an evening BUT I typically use it with an external 12 V auto jumper pack and a cord.   The slew is faster and it lasts forever.   Means  I have to bring the pack but I prefer it to the internal batteries.
  • Outreach - the GoTo and tracking are great for outreach.  So many people show up with these big scopes which are cool but somewhat intimidating.   To someone just exploring the idea of astronomy the ETX 80 with its cute little OTA and fully robotic operation seems so much more friendly and fun.
  • Personal Star parties - I set this up on a target and set up the XT8i and have friends looking through both.  I can even show them how to use the hand control and give them a list of targets and let them operate the scope.   Easy
  • As a pointer scope and a confirmation scope when I am hunting new bino targets in my very light polluted skies.   Is that really the target?  Well the ETX 80 is sitting on it and tracking with the 15X eyepiece.    Now I can confirm that what I found in the binos is the actual target. In the future I can find it again with just the binoculars and I know how it looks.

 

After 3 times out

 

  • The optics are comparable to my original ETX which are good
     
  • The internal 2X flip barlow works but you have to do many turns of the focuser to adjust the focus. If you like to flip back and forth between barlow and not barlow this is a pain.   However if you were going to switch to the flip barlow and stay with it for a while then It would probably be acceptable.  For example, say if you were going to be looking at the moon and planets for the evening.  Then you would only want high mag so flip in the barlow and leave it for the evening.  That would work.    Say you are going to look at DSOs that look best at low power, leave the barlow out and work that way for the evening.    Those could be very workable approaches to using the flip barlow.    I have separate barlows so I use those.
     
  • The GoTo seems quieter and perhaps smoother.  Once aligned it has been hitting targets very nicely.
     
  • The tripod is not as steady as the AT version I had on the old ETX.  Every time I go to focus, the image jiggles.  I did not have that with the old scope.   It settles in a second or two but I have to turn, then wait for it to settle than turn again.   I did not have this before and I find this quite disappointing.  I will try some kind of anti vibration pad arrangement to see if that helps.  Or I may hang a weight from the provided hook and see if that helps.
     
  • The old ETX, with the clutches released, was not a great manual scope but it was very useable. I used it a lot this way when, like last night, I was looking at something I knew and could find without help.  It moved smoothly and easily in the horizontal/azimuth axis. 

    The new ETX 80 observer is MUCH tighter and stiffer to rotate by hand in the horizontal/azimuth axis.  This combined with a more flimsy tripod makes for a challenging manual targeting exercise.    It would probably be better to turn on the computer, not align it, and use the arrow keys to move the scope.  I confirmed that works pretty well and there are variable speeds.   So release the clutch, get it close, lock it down and use the hand control to point it.    This is not my desire but I may find it acceptable over time.  The Older ETX 80 was much easier to use without the computer and the tripod was much stiffer. 
     
  • In the vertical/altitude axis things work fine.  You can use the side clutch to tighten or loose the movement of the OTA.  So that works.
     
  • Finder - I love the red dot finder.  the original ETX 80 did not have a finder.  The addition of the red dot finder is a Wonderful addition. This makes alignment so easy and makes manual pointing a snap.  I may add a finder shoe to my XT8i so I can use the finder on that scope too.
     
  • The 26 and 9.7 mm Plossl eyepieces are nice quality.  No problem there.  15X and 41X.  Great or many DSOs.   Flip the barlow and you have 30 and 82X which is good for the moon, Saturn, Jupiter and some DSOs that work well with higher mag. You will probably want to add something in the 6 mm range to get higher mag.  A 6 mm would give you 67 and 124X.   That is a very good combination for this scope.   It works best up to about 150X and I have pushed it up to about 180X on bright targets with a 3X barlow. 

    I added a 6.4mm Plossl but I would not recommend that as the eye relief is very short.  Works fine but I would look for something with more eye relief and a wider field of view.  Or add the zoom which is what I use most of the time.   16 to 50X without the barlow and 32 to 100 with the flip barlow.   Actually I use a 3X barlow with this scope most of the time.   Using the Celestron 8-24 zoom that is 16 to 50X and with the 3X barlow it is 48 to 150X.   Works well for this scope.  
     
  • I don't expect to get much use out of the 45 degree correct Image angle as I don't expect to use the scope much during the day.  However it is there and it works fine.  I don't like the 2.4X effect but that is it is just me.  Perhaps I will get it in the field one day, bird watching, and find I love it.  
     
  • ‚ÄčThe new ETX has an audio feature in the hand set.   When you select the target the system tells you about it.  I find it annoying but some people may like it.  I imagine kids would love it.  I have the volume set to zero.
     

My ETX 80 will get plenty of sky time.   For the forseeable future my use of the scope without the hand control will be minimal.   I believe I will now use this primarily in the GoTo mode or use the hand set to move the scope for manual targeting.  And it will be the platform of choice for my Revolution Imager 2, RI2, system.  I now have the RI2 mounted so I am starting to work with that.

 

As a GoTo scope I can say I like it a lot.    

 

 

Would I recommend it?   If what you want is a nice, compact, easy to take with you scope then this fits the bill. It can also be used as a tabletop so you can leave the tripod home.   But plan to use it with the hand controller most of the time. 


Edited by aeajr, 08 November 2016 - 05:27 PM.


#50 aeajr

aeajr

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Posted 09 December 2016 - 12:02 AM

40 DAY UPDATE ON THE NEW MEADE ETX 80 OBSERVER - Backpack observatory

 

I have had days of clouds but tonight, as I was taking out the recycling I saw a clear sky and stars.  Oh joy!

I grabbed my Zoom, a 3X barlow and my grab and go ETX 80 which I planned to use manually.  I did this so many times with the original ETX 80 and was always happy with the results.

Orion was overhead and I wanted to focus in on the Orion Nebula.   With the Zoom and 3X I have 50 to 150X which should be just fine for a quick look.

I turned on the red dot finder, aimed the scope and was right on it.

As you know I have been a big advocate for the Meade ETX 80, at least the one I had originally.  But this new one has disappointed me.  The scope is heavier than the old one, but not enough to bother me for walking it around though the package feels very top heavy on the tripod.

The optics, the finder  and the Goto have been great.  But the new tripod is so weak that it is rendering the views a shaking mess that I never had with the original scope and tripod.  

Tonight there was a slight breeze, enough to rattle the few leaves remaining but nothing much.  The image never stopped vibrating.   I had the Orion nebula in the view at 150X and the trapezium never settled down.  I reset the tripod several times.  I made sure the central tripod lock ring was locked down.

I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to enjoy this new ETX 80 I am going to have to find another mount because this tripod just shakes and vibrates way more than I can tollerate.  In dead calm, the slightest touch of the focus knob sends the image vibrating but it settles.  Tonight it wouldn't settle at all.

They took a great scope and put it on a tripod that is too light and ruined the package.

I may look for a used ETX 70 or 80 AT just for the tripod.  Or I will come up with something else.

The ETX 90 that I had temporarily did not suffer from this.  That mount was solid.  Maybe I will look for a used one.

So if you were considering the new ETX 80 Observer, in the backpack, I would suggest you look for something else or plan to replace the tripod.




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