This product can provide hours of sky scanning enjoyment. But be aware that any good telescope requires practice. You can find the moon and be awed by its landscape straight out of the box; but beyond that this scope is best enjoyed after investing the time to master its operation.
Physical set up is relatively easy. The assembled unit is light and easy to move about. But careful reading of the manual, and watching the accompanying DVD, will reveal that this is only the start. Like all intricate instruments, much more adjustment is required than the advertising indicates. None of this is "rocket science;" it just take time and some care. Meade also maintains an excellent web site and forum with many active scope users happy to offer suggestions and help.
The mount and tripod offer vibration-free viewing. The motor is good but Meade also offers an improved 2114 model with an upgraded finder system (model# 20125), mount and motor. It is worth purchasing the upgrade for even better performance because the original 2114’s motor will not keep an object exactly centered in the eyepiece. This means continuous, if minor, adjustments; especially when using the higher powered 9.6 mm eyepiece.
The two Super Plossl lenses that come with the scope are more than enough to get you started. They offer bright viewing, excellent contrast, show no chromatic problems and are easy on the eye for extended viewing. The mirror provides a bright image. Of course telescope experts say a bigger mirror is better (more light gathering “power”), but this one is excellent for seeing more than you knew was out there and, most important, enjoyment.
Issues with SmartFinder
Locating objects with a telescope is made easier with a mounted viewfinder. Meade provides a view scope that allows the viewer to see the object as it is (that is: not reversed and upside down). The older 20123 system utilizes an eyeglass-type lens on which a red dot is projected. That red dot is part of the LNT (level north technology) module on which the lens is mounted. The problem with it is there is no rear sight and hence it is difficult to place the red spot at the same place on the lens each time one seeks a new object. This also makes it very difficult to properly align the finder for automated viewing. The newer, 20125, model places the viewing lens on top of the LNT module and should make sighting easier and more accurate. The older model was not ready for prime time.
The Autostar computer is a marvel. The 494 model that came with the DS 2114, does the job. But beware, this is not NASA. Unless the motor is trained (see the DVD and read the manual) and the SmartFinder accurately aligned, it will frustrate more than help. For the highly publicized “go to” features to work, one needs to practice the LNT star alignment drill (it is semi-automatic, not fully automatic). When the instructions say one must slew (move the scope) once an alignment star is found in order to center it in the eyepiece, it means exactly that. More, the motor control speed is variable and one will want to use the speed control for slower or faster slewing during alignment. The advertising gives the buyer the impression that this automation is ready out-of-the-box. Not so. However, you will feel deservedly proud when you master this and begin to enjoy the computer’s considerable library of objects to see in the night sky.
More on Autostar controls
In order to use the SmartFinder’s red-dot, the viewer must move through several steps with the computer control unit. When one wants to set the scope to hold an object in view, one must maneuver through several more levels and steps. One would prefer that both of these basic controls were available on the control unit panel. Alas, they are not. Shifting back and forth through various menus to operate these basic controls makes viewing unnecessarily complex.
None of these complications should deter someone who wants to study the heavens from purchasing this scope (or any other automated model). There are plenty of excellent counter-weighted manually-operated scopes on the market but when all is said and done, an automated, computer-controlled scope, offers the promise of more viewing and less “fiddling” time. The DS 2114 is a cost-effective way to start and is capable of providing awesome viewing. The DS 2114’s computer will not only help you explore the night sky, it will teach you what is out there and where to find it. Enjoy.
Pros: Excellent optics and valuable go to computer
Cons: Poor viewfinder on older model. Upgrade is recommended.
This review was written in the old system and had content requirements that are different than reviews written today.