I recently acquired some more astronomy hardware. First, a Helios 200p OTA (or in plain English, a large Newtonian reflector without mounting). I hoped that this would provide some extra power for looking at planets in particular, as well as making use of my under-employed EQ-5 mount with electric RA drive. The OTA was very cheap, a fraction of the cost of a new one.
I also got two premium quality eyepieces, a Baader Classic Ortho of 10mm and a Celestron X-Cel of 8mm focal length. I got the X-Cel cheap on Ebay- they retail for around £70.
Last night I managed to test the new eyepieces in my 127 Maksutov telescope. Both are an obvious improvement on the 9mm stock eyepiece that came with the Celestron Mak. The 9mm struggled to split Epsilon Lyrae 1 or2 (not a severe test for this scope) while the other two split this double-double easily, showing round dots with diffraction rings.
I am still working up the Helios, having so far tried it on the EQ-5 mount three times. I have adjusted the collimation, given it a spare red-dot finder (only good for finding very bright objects, unfortunately) and checked that it works with various eyepieces. I fitted a grab bar across the tube rings so that I could handle the scope safely. With the tripod legs fully extended, the eyepiece proved to be too high to reach when the telescope was aimed at the zenith. At 9Kg this is the heaviest scope one can put on an EQ-5 without exceeding the maximum recommended loading. It seems stable enough for visual use.
The Helios has a f5 focal ratio, like almost all the larger Newtonians for sale today. This f-ratio is not really well suited for visual work, but makes the scope shorter, lighter, and easier to mount. In this case, making the tube any longer would bump up the mounting requirements to a stronger, heavier and more expensive mounting.
The Helios seems much less user-friendly than my 127mm Mak go-to outfit, and I wonder what a beginner would make of it.