Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Classic Collectors and New Chinese Imports

equipment mount refractor tripod optics observing imaging
  • Please log in to reply
191 replies to this topic

#1 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 01:00 PM

Explore Scientific FirstLight AR-102 

 

My $300 brand new refractor arrived this morning.  According to the info on the shipping crate, it is #7 of 852.  Shipping weight is 32 pounds.  I haven't bought a new refractor since 1988, so let's see what's in the box!

 

ES-FLAR102 S01 - Unpacking.jpg ES-FLAR102 S02 - Unpacking.jpg ES-FLAR102 S03 - Unpacking.jpg ES-FLAR102 S04 - Unpacking.jpg

 

I bought mine from the very good folks at Agena AstroProducts --> http://agenaastro.co...-eq3-mount.html

 

Packing & Shipping:  No complaints about the factory packing - all boxes & contents made it from China to The Swamp undamaged.  FREE Shipping - so no complaints about that, either.  FYI:  The accessories were packed with the tripod, which I wouldn't do.  But the tripod is light weight and the bag of stuff was sealed in enough bubble wrap to choke a horse.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 December 2016 - 01:57 PM.

  • Scott in NC, BarabinoSr, photiost and 13 others like this

#2 CounterWeight

CounterWeight

    Star walker

  • *****
  • Posts: 10871
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: PDX, OR.

Posted 03 December 2016 - 01:04 PM

Congrat's on the scope setup!


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#3 leveye

leveye

    Aurora

  • ***--
  • Posts: 4813
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Metro Detroit Mi.

Posted 03 December 2016 - 01:26 PM

Nice and congrats! I'm very interested in the new line of long scopes by Bresser. Especially the 127mm.


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#4 paulymo

paulymo

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 773
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2014
  • Loc: Vermont

Posted 03 December 2016 - 01:32 PM

Wow, BB...that's..a lot nicer looking than the old ES AR102 with the short, fat dewshield.  Didn't know they had redesigned it.  Looks sleek and, dare I say, Vixen-ish.  If the optics are still as nice as the old ones had...I may have to break down and get one of those for that price!  Also hoping the EQ3 is at least adequate for it.  Looking forward to a "Firstlight" report soon.

 

Pauly

 

Edited to reflect the fact that I'm an idiot...this is the f/9.8 4" scope, not a f/6.5 shortie.  Still interested in how the tripod handles it.  The mount looks nice (and I'm guessing there are add ons to motorize tracking...).


Edited by paulymo, 03 December 2016 - 02:14 PM.

  • 3 i Guy, leveye, Bomber Bob and 1 other like this

#5 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 02:02 PM

First Setup

 

Pretending to be a first telescope owner, was tough (got my first refractor in 1969).  I followed the single page illustrated guide, and had the whole thing put together in just 15 minutes.

 

ES-FLAR102 S05 - First Setup.jpg ES-FLAR102 S06 - First Setup.jpg ES-FLAR102 S07 - First Setup.jpg


  • Paul Hyndman, Scott in NC, 3 i Guy and 16 others like this

#6 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 02:04 PM

The dust cap felt hermetically sealed!  Had to use the dull side of my pocket knife to pop it off.  Yes, there's a lens in there - with pretty green coatings.

 

ES-FLAR102 S08 - First Setup.jpg ES-FLAR102 S09 - First Setup.jpg


  • Patricko, CounterWeight, Alan Grant and 6 others like this

#7 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 02:14 PM

First Impressions

 

The timing of this review is perfect.  I just finished rebuilding my 1971 Criterion RV-6 Dynascope -- a 45 year old version of the economy telescope --> http://www.cloudynig...ascope-rebuild/  

 

Criterion cut corners on the RV-6 with every component except the optics - it has a first rate mirror set.  Explore Scientific has (hopefully!) followed the same design concept.  It's raining today, and for the next 4-6 days, so star testing is postponed.

 

Meanwhile, everything about the FL-AR102 says, "attractive but cheap."  The hardware looks authentic, but it's not.  My Weber grill has a heftier & stabler tripod.  My 1950s Edmund 4 has a plainer but stouter & smoother mount with vibration damping under 2 seconds.  The AR102 is shaky with the tripod at its lowest height.  Raise it to the max, and the flexure is obvious.  Tap the focuser, and it'll dance for about 4 seconds - yikes!  The thin-walled plastic knob & control grips discourage over-tightening - two are already loose.

 

The bag of accessories is the same way.  The mirror diagonal... my wife's compact has a better first surface.  The Super Plossl 25mm FMC looks like a Meade, but edge distortion is at least twice that budget eyepiece.  The cell phone imaging platform is a soap dish with suction cups & an elastic band to hold your phone.  Don't think I'll trust a $600 iPhone on that contraption...

 

[Big Sigh]

 

Let me switch from grumpy old scope collector to first telescope owner.  At this point, would I be happy with the FL-AR102?  Yes.  I just got a brand spanking new 4" F10 refractor with mount & tripod for $300 that looks just like old Bomber Bob's Classics that he's always yammering about.  I don't have to take stuff apart, clean it, collimate it, polish it, etc.  First clear night, I can take it straight outside and start looking at stars & planets.  I got a great deal.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 December 2016 - 02:49 PM.

  • CounterWeight, dpastern, Sasa and 9 others like this

#8 BillP

BillP

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 18838
  • Joined: 26 Nov 2006
  • Loc: Spotsylvania, VA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 02:43 PM

First Setup

 

Pretending to be a first telescope owner, was tough (got my first refractor in 1969).  I followed the single page illustrated guide, and had the whole thing put together in just 15 minutes.

 

Wow....Now that is a classically beautiful telescope!


  • Bomber Bob and paulymo like this

#9 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:21 PM

It is a beautiful first scope - no doubt about it.  It has that wonderful new scope smell, too.

 

ES-FLAR102 R05 - First Setup.jpg


  • Vesper818, sparrowhawk, CounterWeight and 8 others like this

#10 paulymo

paulymo

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 773
  • Joined: 10 Oct 2014
  • Loc: Vermont

Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:48 PM

Any shootout planned vs one of your classics?


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#11 Binojunky

Binojunky

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5660
  • Joined: 25 Dec 2010

Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:50 PM

Good looking scope however I would prefer to pay more and get usable accessories and a sturdier mount, having the AR102 F6.5  I think I will give this scope a miss,  its longer focal length and slimmer style looks good and its very tempting but for now its off the list,TD.


Edited by Binojunky, 03 December 2016 - 03:51 PM.

  • Bomber Bob likes this

#12 leveye

leveye

    Aurora

  • ***--
  • Posts: 4813
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Metro Detroit Mi.

Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:52 PM

How would you rate the mount head just by itself? I'd like to get one and put some wood legs on it. Nice looking from the pics.


  • Bomber Bob and paulymo like this

#13 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 03:57 PM

Any shootout planned vs one of your classics?

Yes.  My JaegerMeister & my Edmund 4 will challenge this new kid on the block - F5, F10, & F15.


  • Terra Nova, leveye, paulymo and 1 other like this

#14 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 04:02 PM

How would you rate the mount head just by itself? I'd like to get one and put some wood legs on it. Nice looking from the pics.

Another excellent question!

 

When I isolate the mount, it carries this scope perfectly.  Couldn't ask for better balance, slewing, & clutching - very similar to my vintage Vixen Polaris.  It has a "header" for a polar axis drive, and I could easily adapt a $30 9V battery powered drive to it.

 

Yes, the tripod is the weak link in this kit.  A set of Vixen or even Towa 339 wood legs would be the ticket.  I have a set of antique surveyor tripod legs, but they need to be restored.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 December 2016 - 04:05 PM.

  • leveye and paulymo like this

#15 leveye

leveye

    Aurora

  • ***--
  • Posts: 4813
  • Joined: 06 Feb 2013
  • Loc: Metro Detroit Mi.

Posted 03 December 2016 - 05:29 PM

Man on the US website all the firstscopes are sold out. Bet they are happy about that. 


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#16 Agatha

Agatha

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5399
  • Joined: 04 Jun 2012
  • Loc: Wisconsin

Posted 03 December 2016 - 06:32 PM

I love the look of your new telescope.   The all white, even the rings, is beautiful.  The small touch of red trim color at the objective is tastefully done and just looks great.   Have fun.   :)


  • jrbarnett and Bomber Bob like this

#17 SteveG

SteveG

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7893
  • Joined: 27 Sep 2006
  • Loc: Seattle, WA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 06:48 PM

That's a good looking refractor. I'm really liking the proportions, and yes, no coffee can for a dew sheild. Looking forward to hearing how it performs.


  • jrbarnett, Bomber Bob and paulymo like this

#18 Ed D

Ed D

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4793
  • Joined: 30 Apr 2010
  • Loc: Sunny South Florida

Posted 03 December 2016 - 07:47 PM

Bob, congratulations on your new scope.  It's a beautiful OTA.  When I saw the pic of the package contents in your first post the first thing I thought was that the tripod looks spindly for the scope size, which you confirmed in post #7.  However, the mount head looks to be very usable.  For $300 shipped to your door there's nothing to complain about.  Bresser optics have a good reputation and I think you have a winner!  I'm also looking forward to your reports on performance.

 

Ed D


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#19 Snookstar

Snookstar

    Explorer 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 57
  • Joined: 27 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Between N25° and N26°

Posted 03 December 2016 - 08:42 PM

Bob sweet looking scope. Can wait to read the star report!


  • Bomber Bob likes this

#20 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 11:28 PM

Man on the US website all the firstscopes are sold out. Bet they are happy about that. 

The model number is FL-AR1021000EQ3.  If the first run is 852, and all those came to the USA, surely they're still available?

 

Mine shipped from a vendor in Arkansas - maybe entered at Memphis.

 

B&H lists them as In Stock, but I've gotten delays before, regardless of what a website states.


  • leveye and Augustus like this

#21 Bomber Bob

Bomber Bob

    Hubble

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16006
  • Joined: 09 Jul 2013
  • Loc: The Swamp, USA

Posted 03 December 2016 - 11:38 PM

Good looking scope however I would prefer to pay more and get usable accessories and a sturdier mount, having the AR102 F6.5  I think I will give this scope a miss,  its longer focal length and slimmer style looks good and its very tempting but for now its off the list,TD.

Can't argue with that.  Also, I generally don't buy the first run of any product (don't get me started about my first year Jeep Liberty!)

 

Once I've used this scope, I'll give y'all the straight skinny on it.  My indoor functional testing is a mixed bag.  But if the optics perform at least average, and the mount works on an appropriate tripod, it'll be tough not to recommend it at this very low price.  The caveats:  How many beginners have spare wood tripods?  Or high end prism diagonals?  Or Ohi-made Orthoscopics?

 

I swap parts the way others swap rumors, but the average beginner won't have that option.

 

I assume by FirstLight that ES means First Telescope.  But there are probably reflector and/or CAT owners who want to try refractors without making a huge investment.  Is this a good choice for them?  We'll see -- and hopefully soon.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 03 December 2016 - 11:45 PM.

  • JHollJr, leveye, Augustus and 1 other like this

#22 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 12328
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 04 December 2016 - 03:56 AM

This version of the scope is not the one sold in Europe. Here it's quite a bit better outfitted, with a mount similar to an EQ-4, though with not so good tripod legs. The focuser is vastly superior, being a 2.5" R&P, and the whole OTA looks a bit different: 

 

http://www.bresser.d...-Telescope.html

 

I guess the optics are the same? 

 

The European version is also available on a bigger mount, the EXOS-2, identical to an EQ-5. 

 

http://www.bresser.d...-Telescope.html

 

If they ditched the crappy tripod (look at how small it is!), this would be a very, very nice kit. 

 

Still no news of the new 90/1200 and 102/1350...

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark



#23 Rutilus

Rutilus

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • Posts: 2444
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2010

Posted 04 December 2016 - 09:20 AM

Bob sweet looking scope. Can wait to read the star report!

Me too.



#24 Terra Nova

Terra Nova

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 20649
  • Joined: 29 May 2012
  • Loc: Middle Earth

Posted 04 December 2016 - 12:00 PM

 

Any shootout planned vs one of your classics?

Yes.  My JaegerMeister & my Edmund 4 will challenge this new kid on the block - F5, F10, & F15.

 

I find it very nice to have a combo of available focal lengths of 4" refractors! Mine are F 6.4, F11, and F15.


  • mdowns, Bomber Bob, G.Richard and 2 others like this

#25 Don Taylor

Don Taylor

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1124
  • Joined: 12 Jul 2009
  • Loc: Broken Arrow (Tulsa Area) Oklahoma

Posted 04 December 2016 - 12:05 PM

 

Man on the US website all the firstscopes are sold out. Bet they are happy about that. 

The model number is FL-AR1021000EQ3.  If the first run is 852, and all those came to the USA, surely they're still available?

 

Mine shipped from a vendor in Arkansas - maybe entered at Memphis.

 

B&H lists them as In Stock, but I've gotten delays before, regardless of what a website states.

 

ES offices and distribution are based in Springdale Arkansas. I've been by there but on a Sunday when they were closed.  Not a small facility by the way.  I would guess your scope was shipped from there?


  • Bomber Bob and G.Richard like this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: equipment, mount, refractor, tripod, optics, observing, imaging



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics