The Current Equipment Photo
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Being a concise telling of how a Meade ETX125-EC (Maksutov-Cassegrain Telesecope) came to be acquired using HP gift / bonus cards, and what happened then...
Owing to some rewards placed by my manager with HP, I received several gift cards useable for merchandise at various retailers. Thinking I might get a weather station or a telescope, I initially ordered a $420 wireless station, from Oregon Scientific, since the telescope options were generally not the sophisticated sort. After having the station in the box for a while, however, and not really installing it, I discovered that the Discovery Channel Store was added to the vendor list. This store has Meade telescopes from $150 - $12,000... a much better option. And so, I dutifully returned the weather station, and ordered an 8" Schmitt-Newtonian Reflector, with the mount, and Autostar, which was initially due to arrive mid November.
On October 22, however, I was disappointed to find that said scope was delayed until Jan-Feb 2003. This was not a happy development. So, I checked, and on October 23rd, ordered an ETX125-EC, with the ultra high transmission coating (UHTC). This was due to arrive at least by the first week of December. As a result of having to switch from one scope to another, the Discovery Channel Store agreed to ship the instrument to me for free.
On November 5, the Telescope arrived. What ho!
Unfortunately, upon taking it out of the package, and operating the flip mirror control, the flip mirror adhesive failed, and kerplunk went the mirror into the flip mirror cavity. Bummer. The recommendation was to not attempt a home repair, as that would void the warranty. A UPS call tag was generated (in order to not incur any shipping charges), and on November 12th, the ETX was on its way back to Irvine, California.
On November 19th, Meade received the telescope, and it is expected to be repaired and back the week of December 9-13th.
The Discovery Channel Store agreed to a $100 discount as the result of this turn of events.
As the repair dragged on, it became apparent that there was a chance I'd not be getting the scope in time to have it prior to leaving for a vacation to Florida, on December 20. As such, I requested that Meade call me prior to shipping it, so that I could possibly switch the destination to the rental property in Florida.
Repairs were apparently complete before December 17th, as it was shipped via FEDEX Ground, on that day, to the initial destination (in Ohio). Unfortunately, it was scheduled to arrive on December 26th, right in the middle of our vacation.
And, since they shipped it ground, there was no way to switch destinations enroute. It's not that I wanted the telescope for Christmas; I simply wanted to be able to take time to learn to use it while on vacation. Such was not to be. I called Meade on December 20th, and because they failed to follow my shipping request, they agreed to send me a Meade Filter Set (4 filters) for free. (I whine tenaciously, when necessary.)
Current accessories on hand for the telescope that is yet to be, include:
Meade Polarizing Moon Filter, AutoStar, Scopetronix Dew Clip, Meade Dew Shield, Laser Guide Scope, and the computer serial adapter.
I finally got the telescope on January 3rd, and was quietly surprised that it appeared to work well. "First Light" occurred officially on Tuesday, January 7th. Collimation appears quite accurate, and I'm generally very satisfied with the overall operation of the system.
Ah, but the saga is far from over. Effective February 1, 2003, Meade and Discovery Channel began a special deal, whereby one could get a free $150 case and a free #884 tripod with the purchase of an ETX-125 (which I ordered). I called to suggest that since I didn't get to use the scope upon its arrival, and because there were oodles of problems associated with delivery, quality, etc., I submitted to them that I should be able to take advantage of the February deal, even though I ordered my scope in October of the previous year.
I emphasized that I didn't need the case, nor any other smaller item, and would rather see if they could send the advanced field tripod, which lists for $359.00. After a bit of discussion, they agreed, and I simply needed to pay tax to arrange delivery. Such a deal. I must say the tripod is phenomenal, and the Discovery Channel Store is to be commended on superior customer service and support! I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the firm as a whole.
And so, THIS finally brings the primary saga to a close. Since March of 2003, I've added a few things here and there, most notably, the ability to do CCD imaging with a Logitech Webcam Express. I have subsequently acquired the Scopetronix MotoFocus (power focus device), a Meade #140 2x Barlow lens, a parfocal ring, and a T-Mount for a Pentax camera (which will be used by the neighbors).
As fate would have it, and in spite of my wishes to keep astronomical interests alive, I admit I fell prey to the "been there done that - seen that star cluster before" syndrome whereby a very expensive piece of telescopic equipment sits idle for way longer than it's actually used. And as a result of having moved on to a new past time (horse back riding), I have decided to consider selling the whole works in order to afford a riding suit (for competition).
On January 17, 2011, I placed the entire package on Craigslist for sale at $795 (also on Astromart). One gentleman there, who sells old equipment for spare change, suggested I had grossly overpriced the scope. As it turned out, a guy at WPAFB ended up purchasing the entire kit for $800 on February 4, 2011. Thus ENDS the entire Telescope Saga that began in 2002.