So I have this old Meade 395 that I bought new back in the early 90s that I used for a year or two then went to college, I think it counts as a classic by age if nothing else I had it in storage for almost 30 years as life intervened and now I am starting to get back into skywatching. It’s not a bad scope as far as I can tell. Just some minor issues that I am trying to work though with vibration.
The equitorial mount has a little more play then I like so I did some minor adjustments per the manual to push the gears a little closer to create more friction. This helped a little but still some extra play. Livable though. I took a piece of butcher block I had lying around and cut it to fit above the tripod leg brace and cut an old black rubber bungee to make bumpers where it touches the legs. This keeps the lower legs from flexing inward, adds some extra weight, and keeps the legs under tension so they can’t drift. I went to the store and picked up some rubber feet, like you put under a washing machine, to set the tripod on. Finally I added about 5 lbs of weight to the butcher block shelf. All this has made it a much nicer experience. Less wobble in the mount and the time it takes for an image to stabilize after changing the focus has been cut in half. I think my next thing to try is attaching a length of chain to the tube to help absorb the excess vibration. I think that’s about all I can do without spending much cash.
My question is, are the optics in this scope worth spending money on mods? I see people buying them for $50 - $100 so selling it or trading it in on something seems like it wouldn’t be a good move because replacing it would cost significantly more and optically I don’t think this gives up anything to the new, similarly sized units but I haven’t looked to hard at this point. If I want a tracking drive for this, they are tough to find (Meade 531) and pricey (there’s one in a UK shop going for about $110 plus $20 shipping to the US). I have read here and elsewhere that the GSO Focuser is a common upgrade as well to help image stability and 2” eyepieces give a better field of view. 2” eyepieces are a bit pricey but those can be used on other scopes as well so I don’t consider those an upgrade to the scope, more like an accessory that can be moved to a different scope later if I want to.
Right now I am really looking at viewing the night sky and learning stuff. I’m pushing 50 so I’m not a beginning teenager or looking to make this a career, just a hobby but I also am not into beating myself up by using the wrong tool for the job either.
So what do you all think? Spend a few hundred making this scope more useful or put that few hundred towards something else? If you think it’s worth doing the mods, what ones do you recommend?