Tests / First Lights

ES FL-AR127mm

It arrived Wednesday morning – fetched it meself. I opened it last evening.

Explore Scientific FirstLight AR127mm Doublet

Out of the box, missing the necessary washers, split-ring & spacer to properly fix the mount and eyepiece holder to the tripod. See illustrations 5a, 5b, 5c, 6a, 6b of your Twilight Mount ‘manual’ – 3 pages, 1 staple.

Also missing:
• Smartphone Adapter
• One 25 mm Plössl Eyepiece
• Red Dot Viewfinder
• Computer Software

and (!) received damaged: the 2″ x 1.5″ extension tube – inner threads and paint.
No manual for the telescope package as a whole – so no part numbers for any of the missing accessories.

So, I was in a mood – because said scope was to be set up for wife upon return from work. I scared up a couple washers and a spacer and got the mount & tripod functional. I have a number of extra finders – red dot, 30mm, 50mm – but none that fit the blessed finder stub on the AR127. Made mental rant to self about standard or universal finder bracket stubs. meh.

Tripod has two set screws for each leg – nice. Tripod is light, but not shaky – nice.

Twilight Mount: Ya can’t get vertical with the AR127. You can get 65-70 deg. So, there was no Andromeda for the wife tonight.

The Alt slo-mo stubs are just where they shouldn’t be in angular relation to the dovetail clamp slot. Anything above erm 50 deg and the cables are in the way, unless you use the stub on the otherside, which makes it unreachable from the EP (and has it sticking in the air about parallel to the OTA – just peachy). I’m sure there is a very good reason they couldn’t have rotated the position by +/- 45 deg to avoid awkwardieness of slo-mos. 

The Twilight Mount action is smooth and very nearly vibration free with regard to the view thru the EP – the focuser causes 1 to 2 orders of magnitude more vibration – focuser close to the end of the ‘lever’ / OTA, worms and gears near the center blah blah blah.

If only the weight of the OTA were to be dealt with, the mount would be adequate. But add in the weight of the 2″ diagonal (nice one, btw), a barlow & adapter, most 2″ EPs, or an all metal Cell Phone holder and we are at the point where the Alt assy / bolt brake starts to loose its / their grip if nudged – even if you (of course) rebalance when changing load.

That’s common enough – but if you’re going to ship a mount as part of a package you should make sure it’s got enough guts to handle standard, common things like a decent barlow, common heavy-ish lenses and so on. I haven’t taken the mount apart yet so I’d like to think they’ve used a compression band or bushing between the end of the brake bolt and the shafts. That’s what I’d like to think…

Balancing – very nice on this setup – you can slide the dovetail in the clamp, and slide the OTA in the hinged rings. One of the securing screws was butter smooth, the other one is now. The rings are handled – they have a handle – very nice. 

Included Accessories – we’ll just skip any discussion about items that were left out of this particular shipment for now (a rare occurance, I am sure…). 

The OTA itself:  Nice. Very nice. I hate the color of the paint, and I hate the honking fat square-butted dew shield. Looks dufus. 

Visually, however… Very little color added from (8/2.5) = 3.2mm thru 40mm. A very, very narrow fringe of low intensity. I saw a review and a mention or two of this OTA being a semi-apo-ish doublet and since I don’t know much / any better yet, I’ll agree to that.  A crystal clear view of moon. We had bad atmospherics tonight – lots of rippling and haze, but thru that there were periods of clarity and Saturn, Mars were nicely uncolored and unfringed. With decent air the view @ 3.2mm would have been super totally exquisite. 

While we couldn’t go vertical enough to grab Andromeda tonight, I did get some glimpses of the Ring Nebula @ ~16mm (which was past the air limit for the 90 minutes I was futzin it, on and off.) But it was a ring, albeit a dull gray ring barely visible thru the haze and wispies, but identifiable – two-thirds the way from Sulafat to Sheliak. At 8mm it was a ghost – next to no contrast against the bg.

It was a garbage night for a first light – truly – but the Wife wanted to know what the hell was in the big box (her language was a bit more colorful than that)? She returned from security guarding and stopped cold when she saw it. “Is it for me?” Why, of course, my darling!. She quick changed into observing clothes and proceed to hog the scope for the next three hours – I got to view during her breaks. This is how I know this is a very nice scope for the price – I received no beating nor badgering from my darling darling.

The paint job on this buzzard is perfect – and I hate the off-white color. When I grow the nards to do it, I will paint it some wonderfully deep lacquer whate-ever-the-wife-likes color. But for now, I will grimace and bear it – it is our largest refractor and our only semi-apo-ish doublet (the Orion 120mm f/5.0 isn’t semi-apo-ish).

I’m not pleased with ES for leaving out the needed washers or un-included accessories – it’s not like they have a lot else to do other than QA and deliver telescopes to users ‘as advertised’ – it’s kinda simple.  I am impressed with the OTA and the mount (though I considered it a bit undersized for this tube and the Alt slo-mos stubs really are in the wrong place) enough that I will certainly consider their products in the future.

To close, I heard a voice whisper to me “needs a bino…” whatever the heck that means…

Update: First thing this a.m. was a lovely message from ES letting me know the missing items were already on their way. Fingers are crossed! 

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