4 October 2008
8" LX90-ACF - The Wait is Over!
Mike here: Before I get into the status of my LX90, here's some feedback from another owner who had the same problem with his LX90:
Subject: Status update from Bob Sent: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 23:45:09 From: Bob Lashley (rlashley...) I called Meade today since it's now September. The customer service guy on the phone looked up my information and said that my scope was repaired. But he didn't know exactly where it was. So he took my number and promised to call me first thing Thursday morning with a report from the Irvine warehouse manager about where the scope was en route to me. All in all, rather exciting. I then asked him about the root cause of the problems Meade has had with the LX90s and their tracking. He said "the lenses were not being aligned correctly." I asked how the optics could have an impact on the motor drives. He said, "it's all too technical to explain to you, but there's a front lens and a rear lens and they weren't being aligned properly, so the scope wasn't tracking correctly." 8-) I see now why the dialog on the boards are so down on Meade. I had to stifle my laughter. I'm sure glad I'm not an investor. I hope you get good news soon. (I took out my old Celestron and did a new site survey of my back yard to plug into Astroplanner tonight. It felt great! I'm ready and waiting!) Cheers! -bobMike here: I wonder if he read that the optical encoders were misaligned?
When I called Meade earlier this week and got the strange story from their Customer Service person, at least he promised to get back to me with the status of the scope. He never did. So I called again and got someone else. He had a completely different story that is much more plausible. He said they had to make some software changes - which would have to go through the usual QA and release processes - all related to the optical encoders. But he told me it would be weeks before I would see my scope. (I'm almost at my one-year-anniversary for trying to buy an LX90.) I keep holding back when I read all of the dialog on the boards. It's difficult and I don't have a clue where I can find help (or even the real story) anymore. So I made a new plan with Astroplanner tonight and spent some more time remembering the good times with my old Polaris mount and C4.5. Therapy is good. I hope the weekend cools down a bit. I was sweating in my backyard tonight here in San Jose. I can only imagine it being worse where you are. Cheers! -bob
And an update:
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2008 09:28:25 From: Bob Lashley (rlashley...) Good news! I just got a phone call from David in Tech Support at Meade. He says my scope is repaired, in house, and ready to ship out first thing Monday. He believes I should have it by the end of next week. We'll see. ;-) I hope you get a similar phone call shortly, if not already. Cheers! -bob
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2008 15:59:43 From: Bob Lashley (rlashley...) Hell must have frozen over. UPS brought a big box to my front porch a half hour ago. I dropped everything. I set it up, powered it on, went through a "bogus" alignment, and started tracking. Five minutes, no vibration. I let it track for a half hour. Another five minutes with no vibration. I have to be in the same room and fairly near the scope to hear it track, too. That's much different than before. But up close, I can hear it going through a variety of tracking sounds. I wonder if any will show show up in the EP. I'm excited to get it outside tonight. Astroplanner tells me I have a small window before the moon wipes out my viewing. I'm going to fix an early dinner. Cheers! -bob
Also interesting - and I noticed this last time. The technicians managed to get white grease all over everything - from the Autostar HBX to the OTA and fork. I got rather excited last time because the first couple of scopes smelled awful - like a automobile garage's old axle grease. And that appeared to be what was used on the gears and in the mount. So lithium grease would be a big improvement. But alas, I exposed the gears and it's the same old smelly black axle grease. I wonder where the white went... :-) At least it doesn't smell so bad this time. Or maybe I'm used to it. Eventually, I'll clean it. Cheers! -bob
I'm not certain that all is well. It clouded over here in San Jose the moment I went outside to look through the EPs. Still, the mount seems to be very quiet. I'll try again tonight. It should be better until the moon comes up. A side note, the firmware in this HBX is now 44Ea. I haven't seen that in any of the threads. Is this a new release to aid in fixing our problem or has this been out awhile? If new, I should let DickS know. Astroplanner has no troubles with the scope either. Keep your fingers crossed. Cheers! -bobMike here: I suspect 4.4Ea will show up soon on Meade's site. Did you get a repair report with the scope this time? I wonder if software was the entire fix.
Contrary to what the Customer Service Rep told me on the phone, there was zero paperwork in the box. No indication of what was repaired or where the scope had been or .... I'll leave off the editorial comments. ;-) Cheers! -bob
And an update:
I think I'm going to give up and declare it to be good. I went back to pointing to Az 132d, Al 57d (The Great Pegasus Cluster for me) and still find the following: - slewing at 8x ("3") or faster is no problem - slewing at sidereal or 2x speeds works ok in one axis but not in the other axis I find I can do just fine at 8x to center an object. And it also seems to track an object fine (which is rather strange). I left it for 20 minutes or so and still found the cluster satisfactorily centered. It appears to be fine in all other parts of the sky that I've tried. It's just this combination of load and encoder positions that causes the motor system to struggle. (I'm buying a new counterweight system to fine tune the balance - from OPT, naturally.) Cheers! -bobMike here: Just curious. Have done a reset, calibrate motor, and train drives? I wonder if that strange slew problem is related to needing to do that.
Yes, I had done drive training prior to each attempt. I have not done a motor calibration, however. Perhaps tonight I will investigate that. After I finish tiling a bathroom.... :-) Cheers! -bob
And an update:
I went through the process tonight: - reset - alignment - calibrate motors - train drives (using Polaris) - alignment again - back to M15: same issue with one axis at speeds below "3" I'll await the new counterbalance kit and try again. Cheers! -bob
Subject: LX90 Sent: Friday, October 3, 2008 09:01:18 From: Slade Lindquist (firstname.lastname@example.org) I have been following your trials (5 months and counting) with your new telescope and after searching the internet, I have discovered that you are not alone regarding your issues. I have been considering an upgrade to a larger telescope and have seriously looked at the lx90. However, I am a bit hesitant to purchase a product line that appears to have some serious flaws. As of this moment, Celestron is looking like a better product. If Meade is unable to correct these problems, then their financial outlook doesn't bode well for them. Perhaps with your contact with Meade, you could stress to them that if I am considering Celestron over Meade, there are probably others in the same boat. In the long run, it would be to Meade's best financial welfare to fix these flaws in the product line ASAP. Thanks for listening, Slade
Mike here: After hearing that Bob had his LX90 back I contacted Meade. After waiting a week for a response I contacted them again, via their Customer Service phoneline, on Monday, 29 September. The rep checked, commented that they sure had had my telescope a long time. (No kidding.) But he couldn't give me any status and said he would get back to me "later". After waiting over 24 hours I then fired off another email; this time I got a response - they would check on it. The next day (as promised) I got an answer: they would send me a new telescope. It was to ship out the same day, 1 October, via 2 day delivery. The replacement 8" LX90-ACF was left outside at the door Friday, 3 October, by UPS. I got it unpacked and set up the same day. Since this was a new telescope there was no repair information enclosed.
Initial tests indoors did not indicate the motor/gear vibrations that were evident in my previous two 8" LX90-ACF telescopes. However, the skies on Friday night were cloudy and the forecast through the weekend is for cloudy skies and rain. So a final "thumbs up" will have to wait for better weather sometime this coming week. I'll post an update once I complete more indepth testing.
FYI: the new LX90 has AutoStar version, 4.4Ea. It is not yet available on Meade's site.
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