Hi BlueTrane2028, the AWB is the scope I’m switching from to go to the ST80. I’ve owned the AWB for 6 years and I’ve fallen out of love with it for a number of reasons. Here’s why I am going from the OneSky 130 to the ST80.
1) Helical focuser, I hate it. The focuser is molded into the plastic and can’t be changed. Also, it has limited travel. Also ALSO, it’s off to the side, so large eyepieces/cameras put weird side loads on the secondary.
2) The telescoping arms for the secondary make it compact, but they can never be as rigid as a solid tube. Large eyepieces/cameras flex the arms, and the amount the arms flexes changes with altitude angle.
3) The tube is like a modern cellphone - well optimized for its intended purpose, but unable to me modified (I’m not talking about the baffles, or Teflon on the focused - I did those). The red dot finder has a semi-custom shoe and is on the secondary ring so you can’t change it to a right angle finder like I like (AND another finder would weigh to much).
4) The tube is mounted to a dovetail, not rings. You can’t add rings, because the tube is only the back half. With a dovetail and a fixed focuser, putting it on an EQ mount doesn’t work.
5) No EQ ability and a fixed-position side focuser means it doesn’t work for AP. You can’t balance the tube side to side (dovetail) or back to front (short dovetail on the back half).
As an all-in-one package, the AWB is fine for visual, but I want a scope that I can grow with. The ST80 has a cottage industry of mods and upgrades so you can learn about your scope and do more types of astronomy. If I like my ST80, I’ll be able to add additional features and acquire experience and hardware that’ll serve me well on $1,000 scopes - all for a MUCH lower entry point.
Is the AWB the most scope you can get for $200? Probably. But the compromises to fit it all into there means the scope gives up expandability and modification that would grow with the user.
I won't heap undue praise upon the OneSky, as it definitely has a large set of compromises, but for the $100 I paid for mine off of Facebook, it's near perfect. I have left it 100 percent stock and will likely keep it that way.
To reply to a few of your points, however:
Focuser. It works with the eyepieces I use on it, which is mostly a set of Orion Expanses (the 9mm is branded Celestron, yes I know the Gold Lines are the same, I got them before I learned that). 24mm ES 68* is the heaviest I'd ever want to use, the focuser and truss arms seem Ok with that as well. I used to have some Orion Stratus eyepieces... they were definitely a no go, as are my Meade 4000 8.8 and 14mm ultrawides, but I have phased them out of regular use anyways in favor of 5000 series replacements. The Meade 5000s also work well in the OneSky along with the rest of my "A team" glass. Actually, the Orion Nebula, the OneSky and the 14mm series 5000 Meade? Bliss. I just keep the Expanses with it as the scope literally lives in my car. If someone steals it, at least I'm not out a fortune.
Truss arms. My favorite scopes at the moment are both Skywatcher Flextube Dobs, so I'm very familiar with the setup. I will say, I wish they had squeezed a third arm onto the OneSky, but so long as you aren't going past the limits of the focuser, the existing arms seem to be up to the task. Again, I use a mostly lightweight set of eyepieces on it. The OneSky seems to hold collimation better than my larger flextubes, for whatever that's worth.
Finder. I like red dots. I use a Telrad with all my scopes. The OneSky won't mount one of those conveniently, but the existing dovetail does work with the Celestron StarPointer Pro, an oft overlooked Telrad competitor. Having owned both, I agree the Telrad is better, but the StarPointer Pro is a fine option with the limited mounting. If you need a right angle finder, people have mounted them right at the top of the lower tube section, which doesn't alter the CG all that much.
Mount. I dislike that it's on a table top. I'll eventually build a tripod table for it (there's instructions out there). Such a table would provide a great platform for any table top scope... or, I'll invest in an alt-az tripod mount. I have ONE telescope on an EQ mount, my 90mm f/10. I don't find them necessary for visual (obviously) and I don't do AP at all. I'd likely invest in a completely different setup for that... which an ST-80 COULD find itself a part of.
As for portability concerns, I don't fly, ever. As previously stated, the OneSky rarely leaves my vehicle. It's the telescope I have for when I wasn't planning on needing a telescope but find a good moment to observe. An ST-80 could also fill that role. I enjoy the wide fields that my OneSky provide in comparison to my 8" f/6 and 12" f/4.9, I'm open to trying something like an ST-80 to get an even wider view.
To summarize, the OneSky's compromises aren't an issue for me, except for the table top setup... my gripe there extends to all table top scopes. It, being lighter than my previous table tops, is less of a strain on the folding table I have for it, so I can enjoy nice relatively wobble free sessions with it, but the table is yet another thing to lug around. A tripod would probably take up less space.
And finally, I just plugged everything into Stellarium. The ST80 will frame all of the Andromeda Galaxy where my other scopes fall a little short. The ten thousand dollar question is, does it have enough aperture to actually see the whole thing, in a dark sky site? Imaging is not my preference...
Edited by BlueTrane2028, 23 November 2020 - 11:03 AM.