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Replacing ETX-80 but with what?

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#1 petmic

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 03:37 AM

I bought an used ETX-80 about two years ago. And i loved it. It is really a nice little scope but I am getting tired with its design flaws especially  the constant "Motor unit failures" (I already cleaned the encoders, soldered wires that used to be crimped, using external battery e.t.c) and the annoying sound from the motors in tracking mode. That sound drives me crazy :) What is really bad i noticed one of the plastic gears in Az motor drive has already started to split. It still works but not for long i guess. 

 

I am not sure what to get next. C6 or C8 would be nice but I am a bit scared of it's tiny FOV. I think i would get lost easily and wouldnt appreciate high magnification and small FOV. I am thinking about something similar to ETX80. But this time i want something better made that will work hassle free in next 20 years or so.  Something without cheap plastic parts that will fall apart in couple of years. I really want something solid that will work trouble free.

 

I came with this list of requirements:

-a wide field refractor, ideally 80 - 100mm aperture, 400-600 focal length 

-i am not too bothered about chromatic abberation - didnt notice it much in ETX80

-OTA must be possible to mount on different mounts if i decide to upgrade in the future (unlike ETX where OTA cannot be easily fitted to third party mount)

-Goto mount would be nice but i think a sturdy EQ mount would be just fine. 

-if not Goto mount the EQ should have possibility to upgrade with electric motor drive (at least in RA axis).

-If Goto it must be robustly built!! Ideally with clutches in both axis that would allow for manual movement.

 

I intend to use this setup for visual observation only. 

 

I am just wondering if you could point me what scopes should i look at? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

 

Thanks


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#2 SeaBee1

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 08:22 AM

I bought an used ETX-80 about two years ago. And i loved it. It is really a nice little scope but I am getting tired with its design flaws especially  the constant "Motor unit failures" (I already cleaned the encoders, soldered wires that used to be crimped, using external battery e.t.c) and the annoying sound from the motors in tracking mode. That sound drives me crazy smile.gif What is really bad i noticed one of the plastic gears in Az motor drive has already started to split. It still works but not for long i guess. 

 

I am not sure what to get next. C6 or C8 would be nice but I am a bit scared of it's tiny FOV. I think i would get lost easily and wouldnt appreciate high magnification and small FOV. I am thinking about something similar to ETX80. But this time i want something better made that will work hassle free in next 20 years or so.  Something without cheap plastic parts that will fall apart in couple of years. I really want something solid that will work trouble free.

 

I came with this list of requirements:

-a wide field refractor, ideally 80 - 100mm aperture, 400-600 focal length 

-i am not too bothered about chromatic abberation - didnt notice it much in ETX80

-OTA must be possible to mount on different mounts if i decide to upgrade in the future (unlike ETX where OTA cannot be easily fitted to third party mount)

-Goto mount would be nice but i think a sturdy EQ mount would be just fine. 

-if not Goto mount the EQ should have possibility to upgrade with electric motor drive (at least in RA axis).

-If Goto it must be robustly built!! Ideally with clutches in both axis that would allow for manual movement.

 

I intend to use this setup for visual observation only. 

 

I am just wondering if you could point me what scopes should i look at? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

 

Well, Peter, this one is easy for me... the Celestron Omni 102 XLT on the CG-4 mount. It will be a noticeable upgrade in aperture, the mount is easily upgraded to a motor drive for tracking, and not too heavy. This mount is robust enough to last. Even though the focal length is a bit longer than what you want, the CA is well managed because of it, and the slightly narrower FOV, IMHO, is not a problem. I get a decent view of M45 with my 25mm Paradigm eyepiece. The scope comes with a standard Vixen dovetail for mounting on any compatible mount. Picture to follow...

 

gallery_241784_6281_333733.png

 

^^^ Please note the pier extension... this is a must do upgrade for viewing comfort, with the added benefit of introducing a huge amount of stability. In this pic, I had set up for some white light solar viewing...

 

I do love this rig and can highly recommend it. IMHO, it is likely the best all around scope for the money - around $500 new. Solid performer...

 

Hope you have found this helpful!

 

CB



#3 CharlesC

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 08:22 AM

Orion 100mm Skyscanner is a tabletop widefield newt that will fit on Nexstar or Evolution mount.  You can get a used Nexstar GT mount on ebay super cheap.



#4 aeajr

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 09:28 AM

What is your budget?

 

Nexstar 6 and an Orion 100 skyscanner is not a bad idea.   Skyscanner for low power wide view wnd sct for high power.  That could work.



#5 Ken Sturrock

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 09:49 AM

Your thought process is very similar to my own a few years back. For visual, I liked the size of a small refractor on an alt-az mount but wanted to avoid brittle plastic, flaky electronics & noise.

 

You could certainly go in many different directions but, unfortunately, a higher quality (less plastic) alt-az mount (with or without electronics) is a bit of a niche item. If you want GoTo, you may want to look at the iOptron line of "cubish" mounts and pair one of them up with the refractor of your choice from the usual suspects (Stellarvue, AstroTech, William, Sky Watcher, Explore Scientific, etc). If you want to go manual then you might check out the Stellarvue line-up. The M1V is a good simple option for smaller OTAs (like an 80mm). The M2 is better for larger OTAs (like a 102mm). Beyond the SV mounts, there's always the DiscMounts DM-4 and DM-6, but those mounts are more expensive. On the plus side, not only are the DiscMounts larger but they are also designed to be easily setup with Digital Settings Circles. Here's a short post about mine and you'll see Gabe's shown later in the same thread.

 

There are a few other brands, but I have no personal experience with them (since UA went out of business...).

 

As far as EQ mounts, you've got more options because they are usually designed from the start to be easily setup with different OTAs. While there are still some non-computerized EQ mounts on the market (SeeBee has a great example), GoTo has become like power windows on a car - most people want GoTo and the electronics don't cost that much more to add, especially compared with the cost of the quality mechanics that you apparently want.

 

Good luck.



#6 sg6

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 11:18 AM

How big a scope do you want to use ?

There is a new (to you) Skywatcher coming out that is an Alt/Az goto, has been a popular item over here. The Skywatcher GTi WiFi.

 

It is rated at 5Kg and it seems able to handle that happily.

 

The weight does limit you to a similar size scope as already - around 80mm. Quite a few here seem to be using the Skywatcher 80ED. So thoughts are similar diameter but better viewing (ED) and greater magnification as the 80ED is f/7.5

 

The other Alt/Az that seems to actually perform is the iOptron item. Usually iOptron are optimistic on the load so maybe reduce whatever they claim by say 20%. But people seem happy with it.

 

The big question on the Skywatcher is will they bring out a beefed up one rated at 8Kg or even 10Kg

 

If you want to go above 100mm then the Skywatcher is likely not adaquate, not sure about the iOptron.



#7 aeajr

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 11:20 AM

Another option might be something like the Orion Starseeker IV 130 GoTo.

https://www.telescop...15/p/113916.uts

 

Full GoTo, 650 mm FL means wide views.   2.6X the light gathering of the ETX 80.  No CA.

 

You can remove the Newtonian and drop on anything else you like, within weight specs for the mount.



#8 SeattleScott

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Posted 23 March 2018 - 11:30 AM

Vixen Porta II would be good for an 80-100mm refractor, or CG4 if you prefer eq and the option to add tracking motor instead of maximum portability.

Scott

#9 petmic

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 12:59 AM

Thank you for all your answers. 

 

Well, Peter, this one is easy for me... the Celestron Omni 102 XLT on the CG-4 mount. It will be a noticeable upgrade in aperture, the mount is easily upgraded to a motor drive for tracking, and not too heavy. This mount is robust enough to last. Even though the focal length is a bit longer than what you want, the CA is well managed because of it, and the slightly narrower FOV, IMHO, is not a problem. I get a decent view of M45 with my 25mm Paradigm eyepiece. The scope comes with a standard Vixen dovetail for mounting on any compatible mount. Picture to follow...

 

 

 

^^^ Please note the pier extension... this is a must do upgrade for viewing comfort, with the added benefit of introducing a huge amount of stability. In this pic, I had set up for some white light solar viewing...

 

I do love this rig and can highly recommend it. IMHO, it is likely the best all around scope for the money - around $500 new. Solid performer...

 

Hope you have found this helpful!

 

CB

That is way too long for my skills. I have an old 60/900 refractor (my first scope) on a sturdy home made Alt/Az pipe mount. I use it sometimes but it's very narrow FOV makes it almost impossible to starhop for me. It's ok for moon and planets but finding something like M81 is a mission impossible for me.

 

Orion 100mm Skyscanner is a tabletop widefield newt that will fit on Nexstar or Evolution mount.  You can get a used Nexstar GT mount on ebay super cheap.

I do not want Nexstar/Evo mounts. I read quite a bit about them and came to a conclusion this is not something i want right now. Maybe one day i will be up to C8 and then i will go for Evo mount.

Also no newtons either :) Maybe a big dobsone one day.

 

What is your budget?

 

Nexstar 6 and an Orion 100 skyscanner is not a bad idea.   Skyscanner for low power wide view wnd sct for high power.  That could work.

Well, budget. That is a tricky one. I would like to keep it in 500-600 EUR range. If there is a huge difference to what i can get for 700 and 600 i might stretch the budget a bit but ideally i would like to stay at about 500 eur. That is for the tripod/mount and scope. I need to accessories as eyepieces, filters e.t.c as i already have that. Motor drive or Goto (if available) will be a future upgrade.



#10 petmic

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 01:14 AM

How big a scope do you want to use ?

There is a new (to you) Skywatcher coming out that is an Alt/Az goto, has been a popular item over here. The Skywatcher GTi WiFi.

 

It is rated at 5Kg and it seems able to handle that happily.

 

The weight does limit you to a similar size scope as already - around 80mm. Quite a few here seem to be using the Skywatcher 80ED. So thoughts are similar diameter but better viewing (ED) and greater magnification as the 80ED is f/7.5

 

The other Alt/Az that seems to actually perform is the iOptron item. Usually iOptron are optimistic on the load so maybe reduce whatever they claim by say 20%. But people seem happy with it.

 

The big question on the Skywatcher is will they bring out a beefed up one rated at 8Kg or even 10Kg

 

If you want to go above 100mm then the Skywatcher is likely not adaquate, not sure about the iOptron.

How big: Well, i am thinking about something like 100/600 refractor now. That's under 4 kg i guess. But i am tempted to get a mount that could work fine with C6 and maybe even C8 (not likely). C6 should be about 5kg.

 

Interesting beast that Skywatcher Gti. However i would prefer not to hassle with wifi connections, phones e.t.c. Who knows if these will be still around in 15 years time.

 

80ED - i don't think i would appreciate better optics for visual only. I would rather spent the money premium on either larger aperture achromat or better mount.

 

Another option might be something like the Orion Starseeker IV 130 GoTo.

https://www.telescop...15/p/113916.uts

 

Full GoTo, 650 mm FL means wide views.   2.6X the light gathering of the ETX 80.  No CA.

 

You can remove the Newtonian and drop on anything else you like, within weight specs for the mount.

Again, i do not trust that mount (might be in my head). Also a newt is a No.

 

Vixen Porta II would be good for an 80-100mm refractor, or CG4 if you prefer eq and the option to add tracking motor instead of maximum portability.

Scott

CG4 is something i am considering at the moment. I like that it can be fitted with drive motors - but no goto :(


Edited by petmic, 24 March 2018 - 01:46 AM.


#11 petmic

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 01:42 AM

I think i forgot to specify in details what i want to use that scope for. So, i am an casual observer with kids. When I am lucky a get about 30 observing nights a year. I am still a beginner, re-started my interest in stargazing about 2 years ago. My observing sessions are about 2-3 hours long. I enjoy sketching - not good at it by i enjoy it :) I am quite used to tracking on ETX80 -  i think it is a necessity for sketching. So the new mount should have a tracking option and must be a lot quieter that ETX that sounds like a broken R2D2 :) I don't mind using a paper maps - i actually enjoyed it. I like the Goto on ETX but really that no essential. However the tracking is.

 

With 3 little kids i do not think i will have time to get into astronomy much deeper that a small refractor would allow me. Definitely not in the next 10 years. The setup i am going to buy must last at least 20 years hassle free. I doubt any "cheap" goto mount currently on the market will last that long. I assume problems with gearing, electronics (wifi, apps e.t.c might not work in 20 years time) and parts availability is likely to be nil for such mounts.

 

So the idea is to get a reasonably well built Eq mount with removable RA tracking motor (if it breaks and cannot be replaced i could still use the mount) that would comfortably support 100/600 refractor (maybe even 120mm aperture??) and perhaps C6 for visual only. If the mount supports a feature update with goto it would be a great advantage i think.

 

When it comes to the scope i prefer no longer focal length that 600mm. Aperture wise i am thinking about 100mm so it is a modest upgrade to ETX80. If 120mm is reasonably priced i might consider that but do not want to go bigger. Achromat is fine -  i dont notice chromatic aberration in ETX80. But i really want better focusing than on ETX, something smooth that feels like a real instrument no toy like ETX.

 

If I am in a need for more magnification in the near future (let's say 5 years time) i might get a second hand C6 OTA.

 

I hope the above makes sense :)



#12 petmic

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 01:58 AM

What do you think about these:

 

https://www.astrosho...-exos-1/p,43997

 

https://www.astrosho...-exos-2/p,43998

 

What do you think about these mounts/scopes?

 

The first one will be within the budget, the mount should support up to 7kg and there is a RA tracking motor available for 150 eur (acceptable price for an upgrade it one or two years time). Will the mount be possibly ok for C6?

 

The second one stretches my budget a bit but comes with a sturdier mount that supports up to 13kg. This one might support even C8?

There is a tracking motor set for both RA and dec for about 250 eur - quite ugly looking a expensive for what it is. There is also a goto upgrade, neatly looking but way too expensive at 440 eur.

 

Have you got any experience with Exos mounts? How do they compare to Celestron CG4? Can one use setting circles on those mounts as a "crude" push to navigation? They appear quite small on pictures.



#13 sg6

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 03:07 AM

Looks like you are in Europe ? Astroshop and € mentioned.

If so add a location, people will be suggesting US based equipment otherwise and there is a bit of a difference in what is available. My suggestion of the GTi WiFi was based on the item being out in the US in April - I had read that Skywatcher are likely to show it at NEAF.

 

The 102/600 is a nice scope weighs in at 9lbs as a bare scope. Well mine does when hanging off a fishing scale. If you get one then you need to add one of the extension tubes to it for visual.

 

Do you want an EQ ?

They are more involved in the setup, just thinking with 3 children maybe something a bit "simpler" may be in order. Equally it reads that 100% accuracy is not required.

 

Interesting beast that Skywatcher Gti. However i would prefer not to hassle with wifi connections, phones e.t.c. Who knows if these will be still around in 15 years time.

I would not be surprised to find that most mounts head to WiFi soon. Means that the manufacturers just have to supply an app and not a handset with the electronics and software.

 

If sketching is a consideration then do contemplate the ED 80. The improved image quality is going to be significant and I would expect very relevant. The potential greater magnification simply comes from the better optics and the longer focal length, but both will be useful for seeing Saturn in a few months time. The Cassini division requires decent optics to resolve.

 

Whatever you get after the ETX-80 it will be more involved in the setup and alignment - have 4 mounts and one is an ETX-70, the ETX is way easier to setup and get running. I am off to an event today and the ETX-70 is the one I am taking. Not the apo's or the EQ goto's. Yes it grubles as it tracks, however one of the "common" EQ's is nicknamed "The Coffee Grinder" owing to the noise it makes. lol.gif lol.gif

 

Any clubs in your area to visit? See the stuff in use is often better.


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#14 petmic

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 03:44 AM

Looks like you are in Europe ? Astroshop and € mentioned.

If so add a location, people will be suggesting US based equipment otherwise and there is a bit of a difference in what is available. My suggestion of the GTi WiFi was based on the item being out in the US in April - I had read that Skywatcher are likely to show it at NEAF.

 

The 102/600 is a nice scope weighs in at 9lbs as a bare scope. Well mine does when hanging off a fishing scale. If you get one then you need to add one of the extension tubes to it for visual.

 

Do you want an EQ ?

They are more involved in the setup, just thinking with 3 children maybe something a bit "simpler" may be in order. Equally it reads that 100% accuracy is not required.

 

 

 

I would not be surprised to find that most mounts head to WiFi soon. Means that the manufacturers just have to supply an app and not a handset with the electronics and software.

 

If sketching is a consideration then do contemplate the ED 80. The improved image quality is going to be significant and I would expect very relevant. The potential greater magnification simply comes from the better optics and the longer focal length, but both will be useful for seeing Saturn in a few months time. The Cassini division requires decent optics to resolve.

 

Whatever you get after the ETX-80 it will be more involved in the setup and alignment - have 4 mounts and one is an ETX-70, the ETX is way easier to setup and get running. I am off to an event today and the ETX-70 is the one I am taking. Not the apo's or the EQ goto's. Yes it grubles as it tracks, however one of the "common" EQ's is nicknamed "The Coffee Grinder" owing to the noise it makes. lol.gif lol.gif

 

Any clubs in your area to visit? See the stuff in use is often better.

I do appologize i should have said i am in Europe.

 

What extension tube for 102/600 for visual do you have in mind?

 

I prefer eq. I dont mind spending 10 or so minutes setting it up. But i want it to track well for the whole night once set properly. Also i observe 99% form the very same spot from the backgarden so maybe a fixed pilar might get red of the eq alingment before every session. Yes i agree etx is easy and quick to setup but keeps spitting motor failures often and require realignmets 2 or 3 times per session.  And that is very frustrating. I think eq mount provides best price to robustness ratio. If alt az it would have to be goto. And if that breaks the mount will be no better than my pipe mount smile.gif

 

You see, being an electronics engineer i became a bit old fashioned. People seem to be compensating  cheaply made mechanics with sophisticated electronics these days. And electronics does break, sw is usually written hastily without proper testing e.t.c. And an end user gets frustrated :)

 

I would like to enjoy the stargazing in the same hassle free manner as i enjoy wearing my manual wind watch from 1960s. Almost 60 years old and they still do the job they were designed to do.

 

For the accuracy: 100% is obviously not required. I am not planing to go to the astrophotography - simply i dont think i will have time for that. But i want the accuracy good enough to keep the object in the FOV for couple of hours. ETX can do that provided it do not stop at motor unit failure ;)


Edited by petmic, 24 March 2018 - 03:54 AM.


#15 petmic

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 04:03 AM

If sketching is a consideration then do contemplate the ED 80. The improved image quality is going to be significant and I would expect very relevant. The potential greater magnification simply comes from the better optics and the longer focal length, but both will be useful for seeing Saturn in a few months time. The Cassini division requires decent optics to resolve.

 

Whatever you get after the ETX-80 it will be more involved in the setup and alignment - have 4 mounts and one is an ETX-70, the ETX is way easier to setup and get running. I am off to an event today and the ETX-70 is the one I am taking. Not the apo's or the EQ goto's. Yes it grubles as it tracks, however one of the "common" EQ's is nicknamed "The Coffee Grinder" owing to the noise it makes. lol.gif lol.gif

 

Any clubs in your area to visit? See the stuff in use is often better.

Well ED80 being over 650 eur for the OTA only is a bit over my budget. I though ED is a necessity for photography but not really a big advantage for visual. Would really be ED80 better than 100mm achromat so much better?

 

Dobsons, small newtons on manual eq mounts and binos are common over here. Few people use SCT and small maks. Refractors other than department store types are very rare - i have not met anyone with something i am looking for.



#16 aeajr

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Posted 24 March 2018 - 09:33 PM

I have an ETX 80 so I understand your comments about the sound.   My ETX 125 is silent and I believe the ETX 90 is silent also.   Just FYI.

 

I don't know what where you are but the only european site I know is First Light Optics so that is what I will use.

 

Since your focus is on what the mount will do then let's start with the mount.

 

 

Skywatcher EQ3 PRO Synscan GOTO   £399

Payload Capacity: Approx 5kg for imaging and 7kg for visual

https://www.firstlig...nscan-goto.html

 

Now put on any refractor you like that is under 5 KG.   I am unable to find a 100 mm refractor OTA offered separately from the mount in your price range.

 

 

Others can probably do a better job for you.



#17 izar187

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Posted 25 March 2018 - 01:21 AM

I bought an used ETX-80 about two years ago. And i loved it. It is really a nice little scope but I am getting tired with its design flaws especially  the constant "Motor unit failures" (I already cleaned the encoders, soldered wires that used to be crimped, using external battery e.t.c) and the annoying sound from the motors in tracking mode. That sound drives me crazy smile.gif What is really bad i noticed one of the plastic gears in Az motor drive has already started to split. It still works but not for long i guess. 

 

I am not sure what to get next. C6 or C8 would be nice but I am a bit scared of it's tiny FOV. I think i would get lost easily and wouldnt appreciate high magnification and small FOV. I am thinking about something similar to ETX80. But this time i want something better made that will work hassle free in next 20 years or so.  Something without cheap plastic parts that will fall apart in couple of years. I really want something solid that will work trouble free.

 

I came with this list of requirements:

-a wide field refractor, ideally 80 - 100mm aperture, 400-600 focal length 

-i am not too bothered about chromatic abberation - didnt notice it much in ETX80

-OTA must be possible to mount on different mounts if i decide to upgrade in the future (unlike ETX where OTA cannot be easily fitted to third party mount)

-Goto mount would be nice but i think a sturdy EQ mount would be just fine. 

-if not Goto mount the EQ should have possibility to upgrade with electric motor drive (at least in RA axis).

-If Goto it must be robustly built!! Ideally with clutches in both axis that would allow for manual movement.

 

I intend to use this setup for visual observation only. 

 

I am just wondering if you could point me what scopes should i look at? Any suggestions will be appreciated.

 

Thanks

From another direction, a 6" f/5 newt, on a pipe mount.

As you've already built one pipe mount, you know already much of what is necessary.

Easily a 20 plus year mount, with nothing to wear out or fail.

 

Or a larger newt, on a dob mount, on a tracking platform.

Manuel movement with tracking. DSC options too.



#18 petmic

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 01:40 PM

A sad day today. I parted with my trusted ETX80. I hope the new owner will enjoy it as much as i did. Well, it had its own flaws but in general i liked that scope.

 

Time to move on i guess. Exos 2 mount is already with the courier - should be delivered tomorrow.

 

I initially wanted a manual eq mount but after coming across OnStep project i am definitely going to motorize it. 

 

I am still quite unsure about the scope. AR102S seems to be a safe bet but perhaps AR127 might be even better.

 

On the other hand if I get SCT 8" in near future it might go better with AR102S.


Edited by petmic, 17 April 2018 - 02:00 PM.


#19 amzking

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Posted 17 April 2018 - 04:53 PM

A sad day today. I parted with my trusted ETX80. I hope the new owner will enjoy it as much as i did. Well, it had its own flaws but in general i liked that scope.

 

Time to move on i guess. Exos 2 mount is already with the courier - should be delivered tomorrow.

 

I initially wanted a manual eq mount but after coming across OnStep project i am definitely going to motorize it. 

 

I am still quite unsure about the scope. AR102S seems to be a safe bet but perhaps AR127 might be even better.

 

On the other hand if I get SCT 8" in near future it might go better with AR102S.

I am not sure what the "S" is in the AR102S you are talking about, but here is a thread where I asked about the Explore Scientific AR102.  It might help.

https://www.cloudyni...ientific-ar102/

 

And here is my "first light" thread with my final choice, the AT102ED from Astronomics.  Not sure if it's available in Europe though.

https://www.cloudyni...to-starhopping/


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#20 petmic

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 12:20 AM

I am not sure what the "S" is in the AR102S you are talking about, but here is a thread where I asked about the Explore Scientific AR102.  It might help.

https://www.cloudyni...ientific-ar102/

 

And here is my "first light" thread with my final choice, the AT102ED from Astronomics.  Not sure if it's available in Europe though.

https://www.cloudyni...to-starhopping/

These refractors are sold under Bresser brand in Europe. There are few different flavors - depending on the focal length. There is AR-102L with 1350mm, AR-102 1000mm, AR-102S 600mm and even AR-102XS with 460mm focal length.

 

ED is way over my current budget. 



#21 geoffl

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 06:24 AM

Hello Peter,

 

I'm not sure which version of the Exos 2 mount you ordered (manual/GoTo), but , as an EQ mount, it is not the simplest for visual. My first telescope was a 3" Tasco, on a fork and rod mount, bought in 1986 to see Halley's comet. Many years later, I bought the Celestron Astromaster 130EQMD, but found it a pain to align the EQ mount and to get reliable tracking, using a potentiometer to set the speed. After a few more years, without many observing sessions, I went for the Skywatcher Skymax 127mm Mak. with full Synscan GoTo. Much easier to set up and get going. I liked it so much that I bought a second one to use at my holiday home in the south of France. The long focal length of the Mak. does mean that you cannot see all of M45, even with a 32mm eyepiece, but it is great for the Moon and planets (including Uranus).

 

You do not mention in which part of the Euro zone you are situated, but here in the UK, the Celestron Skyprodigy 70 is available for under £200. It is an Az/Alt mount with the Starsense camera built-in, so having entered the location, once, and checked/corrected the time (it has a battery-backed RTC, so keeps track of time, reasonably well, when unpowered), it will align itself in a couple of minutes. The 70 comes with a 70mm / 700 mm FL refractor, that is OK for the wide field views.

 

Now the good bit:- the Skyprodigy systems are available, with the same (almost) mount, and different OTAs. The 70 is the smallest, and thus by far the cheapest. Each variant has a different plastic cowl, over the dovetail clamp, designed to be a snug fit over that variant's OTA. So, as supplied, my 127mm Mak would not fit the Skyprodigy 70's mount. 3 Allen bolts hold the cowl in place, so a few minutes with tin-snips and a file, and I have Starsense for my Mak (and my Star Travel 120 refractor). You mention that you have young kids, and something like this may be more likely to spark their interest in astronomy, when they see it "do its own thing" to align itself.

 

I, too, come from an electronics background, mostly avionics, so I appreciate reliable circuitry and firmware. I have tried the WiFi route, but find dedicated handsets more user-friendly, with proper tactile feedback, and use the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" approach to firmware updates.

 

Geoff


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#22 nytecam

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 09:45 AM

 ​Hasslefree mechanics/drives for 20 years - wow. How often do you change your car flowerred.gif

 

Nytecam


Edited by nytecam, 18 April 2018 - 10:01 AM.

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#23 petmic

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Posted 18 April 2018 - 01:49 PM

 ​Hasslefree mechanics/drives for 20 years - wow. How often do you change your car flowerred.gif

 

Nytecam

I am driving 15 years old Land Rover Discovery. Don't think i will sell her any time soon.  And surprisingly there have been no issues with electronics so far bow.gif


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