My first "serious" OTA, purchased for better views and a start with astrophotography was my Orion ED80.
I always had an interest in astronomy since I was a kiddo and got my first view of Saturn at a Star Party somewhere near Indianapolis. Since then I would take any optical tube I could find and afford, which wasn't much. There were plenty of bird-jones reflectors to be had on the cheap (yikes), and I remember a (chinese) red tubed Tasco reflector that I got with a mostly-unusable, shaky EQ mount. A few zoom spotting scopes and late 80's and mid-90's department store rejectamenta found their way into my hands.
When it was 17 my birthday came around and my girlfriend splurged on me- buying me a "backpacker" 60mm ETX setup. I loved that scope- for the first time I really got an idea about how much FUN, portable, and just plain USABLE a telescope could be. I used the scope off and on for many years- until my early 30's. By that time I had a kiddo of my own and he got his first close-up views of Luna through that little tube. Around that time my interest in astronomy really took off. I was feeling pretty limited with 60mm of aperture and 350mm of focal length. I wanted better views of planets and more aperture. I joined CN at that point and got some good advice. I did some reading, sold the ETX, and saved up those nickels and dimes.
A few weeks later I had a small pile of change, and what happened to pop up on the Goodwill Auction site but an Orion ED80. Back then, the site wasn't quite the madness that it is today, and optics could usually be found for a bit less than what they're worth. There was a big dent in the dewshield, and the objective wasn't even photographed. I took a chance to the tune of $212 plus shipping.
When it arrived I thought it was the most beautiful telescope I'd ever seen. The glass was flawless with deep green coatings, the focuser was an original sloppy single-speed with missing rubber grips, and it came complete with a little blue padded Orion bag. I must have gone over every millimeter of that tube, cleaning and buffing out scuffs. I took it out for it's first light and was amazed at the views that could be had through my simple plossls. The lack of fringing and false color was astounding to me. For months I never missed a clear night. Over time I upgraded to a dual-speed focuser and bought an AVX mount to get me started with astrophotography. I even found a new old-stock OEM dewshield for it.
For several years I enjoyed that scope as I played the "save up and spend" game that goes along with a devotion to astrophotography. Eventually I had a second OTA that was getting more use, and I needed the money. I sold the ED80 for about what I paid for it- I remember that I had it up in CN classifieds and it sold in a flash. That was about 4 years ago. These days I don't miss it too terribly- I have another 80mm scope that performs a bit better, but...
Well, there just isn't anything quite like that scope. I never abused it, but if any scope could put up with abuse, it would be that ED80. It was built like a tank with a thick tube- fast to reach ambient and never seemed to warp enough to affect focus on a long night of imaging. It was easy to use, heavy for a doublet but much lighter than my triplet- I could take it anywhere, pop it on any CG4+ mount and never give it a second thought, it just "got out of the way". I sure hope that it's still out there somewhere, throwing up some great views.
Edited by zakry3323, 10 May 2021 - 01:27 PM.