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Meade DS-114EC

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Date: 8-16-2002
Price: $349.00 - $389.00
Design: 114mm Reflector with 910mm focal length at f/8
Description: Reflecting telescope equipped with Autostar system. 

The Review

A little bit about me...

This was my first scope and I have been observing for about 2 years now, most heavily in the last six months, I am probably still in novice range and I know very little about the optics. I will attempt to share with you my feelings on this scope as per my experience in my central Oklahoma viewing location.

My skies run about 3rd magnitude naked eye at zenith from my front and back yard.  I am blessed with a baseball field, a car lot, and a highway all within a mile of my house so anything that's not straight up or above 45 degrees in the NE is pretty much blotted out.  That said, I have taken this scope to darker skies with slightly better results.

This scope was given to me as a 17th birthday present along with the Autostar controller and was certainly exciting to look at from a novice's eyes.  Assembly is easy and relatively straight forward, documentation was very sparse though.  The focuser is a 1.25" plastic version that is quite a headache to use.  I eventually took it apart, lubricated the tube and loosened all the Allen screws in it to give it much smoother performance.  I did add an electric focuser eventually, but found that it was too slow moving until you got to the fine tuning stages, but if you turn it by hand to get it that close, the electric focuser becomes too loose and won't turn the knob.

The viewfinder is (after experiencing some others) very poor.  It arrived out of focus and is not (as far as I can tell) focusable.  This makes finding objects by hand very difficult in my skies, as if it isn't naked eye, you probably can't see it in the focuser.

The Autostar... dear Meade I think you missed the mark.  On the DS scope, the Autostar was nothing but a perpetual headache.  The backlash in the drive motors was terrible and this threw off your alignment after one good "go to," even after training the motors.  The Autostar that I bought apparently had buggy software and I had to return it for a new one, which did not run considerably better.  It's warnings for when the telescope may hit the mount (slewing to an object near zenith) come too late and too little.   Several times did I suddenly hear the sound of slipping gears telling me that my hard earned, very hard earned, alignment had just been lost due to the scope hitting a leg of the field tripod (whose legs don't lock into place making for awkward setup and movement).

The motor system was nothing special either.  The afore mentioned backlash made centering objects a very unpleasant affair.  You either tap the motors at high speed and over shoot or hold down the button at low speed for over 2 minutes before the slack picks up.  Another problem that took me a long time to notice (but cured many headaches when I did) was that the connecters were very loose in their sockets.  When the cords induced tension on the plugs, the would shift a little causing the Autostar to tell me about a "motor failure" which required recalibration and realignment.

That said, in the past six months I have removed the motors, put the Autostar in the closet, broken out the star charts and had a lovely time.  I will say nothing more of the optics than that they were good enough for me.  I am not qualified to review them more than that.  I did notice slight coma tonight when viewing Deneb, but I have not collimated this scope in a long time and I suspect that to be the problem.  The Supplied 25mm eyepiece delivered views that I was satisfied with.  When compared to my ETX-90 though, the DS definitely showed more detail in the globular cluster M13 in Hercules, even without collimation.

The scope is a good scope in my opinion, it's the finder, the focuser, and the motors that give you problems.  And the Autostar is not an altogether terrible system, it works beautifully on my ETX-90 and when I get lucky with the backlash on my motors and when I put some tape around the motor plugs so they don't shift, I get almost as good of results with the DS scope.  If you can get this scope without the motors, I'd recommend it for a newbie.  With the motors the expectations are too high and the rewards too small.

Clear Skies to you!

Submitted by Daniel Hayes

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