Monday night I was testing the 1992 vintage Meade 152ED that I just bought locally from another CN'er. This is my first Meade (I've been biased since I worked at the scope shop in the 80's -- we didn't carry them because the owner was miffed at Meade throwing their dealers under the bus by selling direct from Crown Optics). But the seller is very experienced, and vouched for the quality of the optics. One article I read also said that Diebel tried to improve quality control, after he bought Meade back in 1990, to restore its reputation. There is a signed QC sticker inside the lens cover.
It was a 1st quarter moon, and there were high, thin clouds that came and went, so it wasn't the best of conditions. The atmosphere was unstable near the horizon. Venus clearly showed its shape, in a watery sort of way, and atmospheric dispersion gave it some extra color, top and bottom, but no sigh of CA.
Overall, the scope is very good. A star test shows some undercorrection, with the rings sharper inside of focus than outside. As I would expect, it has less contrast than my 6"f9 AP triplet. Using a 10mm Delite, for 170X, The colors on Jupiter were not as saturated. I could make out 6 belts and some detail in the NEB. Saturn showed one belt, and Cassini was easy to spot, but the fainter moons were a little harder to pick up with averted vision.
Looking at a few prominent doubles, Izar, Rasalgethi, and Almach separated nicely, although the colors shifted significantly with slight defocusing. Rasalgethi's primary looked bright orange until it was focused. Alberio was lovely.
On the moon, there was just a tiny bit of faint yellow at the limb, at 285X, but no purple at all - I wouldn't notice the yellow if I wasn't looking carefully for it. The fine detail was close to what the AP shows. A couple of cell phone snaps through the Nagler 4.8mm:
M57 wasn't quite as contrasty with the 10mm Delite as in the AP, and I couldn't glimpse the outer companion star with averted vision, as I can in the AP (although that only became possible with the recent baffle improvements). With M31, 32, and 110, in the 41 Pan, it took some effort to see 110, while it's obvious in the AP. M13 resolved nicely, maybe needing a bit more averted vision to get to the core than in the AP. The double cluster was very sharp.
I could probably improve the contrast by repainting its interior with Black 2.0, but I'm not going to touch the lens cell and risk decentering the elements. I understand that the baffles are just held by friction, so if I could pull them out the back and repaint them, that might improve things, but I'm not sure how the rear cell is held in place. I see one screw near the bottom, and there are the finder bracket screws, but I also know that Meade liked to glue things.
It has the electronic focuser, with a JMI controller. I'm not a fan of electronic focusers, and it has some lag in reversing. With the motor, turning the focuser knob manually is quite stiff. Either I'll adapt to the electronics, or I may tinker with it. I did replace the 8x50 finder (which is stopped down behind the objective to about 40mm) with a Telrad on a Meade finder shoe, and that worked nicely.
My AP 706 mount carried it well, but the pedestal I just finished building needs additional bracing for this much weight, which I suspected it would - there was a lot of low frequency vibration that took forever to damp.
It's definitely much better than one of the 6" f8 achromats (comparable to my early f16 Unitron 142, in terms of CA). Although it doesn't match a fine triplet, it's still going to give excellent views for my students that will make it much easier for them to see the features I want them to experience.