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.
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.