Last updated: 30 August 2003

LXD55 8sc logo

This page is for user comments and information of a general nature or items applicable to all LXD55 models. If you have any comments, suggestions, questions or answers to questions posed here, e-mail them to me and I'll post them. Please use an appropriate Subject Line on your message. Thanks.

Subject:	Cable to Link Laptop to Autostar
Sent:	Thursday, August 28, 2003 10:56:42
From:	SJohnson@grede.com
I've taken a look at your site and although it's probably covered in
there somewhere, I don't have the technical knowledge to know for sure.
Anyway, I want to connect a laptop to Autostar.  I know the laptop has a
USB port and a 9 pin serial port.  By the way, my knowledge of hardware
is really limited too.

I've got computer guys at work who can help me out in building a cable,
but what can I tell them so they really understand what I need? 
Normally, I would just buy the Meade 505 cable but it appears that it's
only 6ft long which is way too short in my opinion.  My table would have
to be set up right next to the scope for the most part and then it would
likely interfere as I move around the scope.  So, that's why I'd like to
have something longer.  The computer guys cringed when I said 20 ft so I
assume they must be afraid of signal loss or something like it.  How
long a cable and I safely make?

By the way, I'm using an LXD55 mount.

thanks for your time Mike,

Mike here: You need more than just the #505 serial cable. You will need a Keyspan or Belkin USB-serial adapter and Mac or Windows software that is included with the adapter. For more info, you can read the article "Update Autostar using a Mac" on the Autostar Information page.


Mike, thanks for the reply.  Just one follow up question though.  Maybe
the article takes care of it, but I'm using Windows and not Mac.  Does
the article you mention only apply to Mac users?  I don't have enough
technical know how to distinguish that from reading the article and want
to make sure I have the right informtion so I can let our computer guys
know they have the right info to help me out.

Mike here: USB is USB. The products ship with Windows and Mac drivers. The only thing don't need is VirtualPC with Windows since you have a physical PC.
Subject:	jumping in RA
Sent:	Wednesday, August 27, 2003 05:32:02
From:	"Barbara Beardsley" (lotus33@verizon.net)
I couldn't figure out how to post this on your site.

I have the AR-5, also purchased from OPT. I've had all the typical
problems with the mount-loose setscrews, loose worm gear, etc.  There is
a huge amount of what I call "jumping" going on while tracking in RA.
The initial slewing to the object is not smooth, and when it gets to the
object, it "jumps" in RA every 20 sec. or so. We had automatically
assumed it was due to those setscrews which we've tightened for the
bazillionth time- so we replaced them with steel 4/40s (and loctite) as
recommended on the LXD55 yahoogroups site. This helped for all of about
2 minutes, when the jumping started again. My husband found that the
worm is loose- could this be the culprit, or something worse? I also
have a SN-6, which I've had to send back to Meade 5 times, so I'd rather
not have to go that route again. My husband is an electronics tech, so
he will try to fix it, but he is not sure how to proceed. Is there info
on how to tighten this worm up, if indeed it is the problem?

Also, I have seen several warnings to stay away from the encoders lest
they get bent. Where exactly are they, and what do they look like, so I
can steer clear of them?

Mike here: Since the postings are "moderated", there is no direct to the Site posting. Does the jumping appear to be a "catching on something" or a "jerkiness"? Could the lock be overtightened? If you move the telescope in RA by hand (with the lock loose) can you feel anything grabbing? When you slew in RA at a slow speed, is there any jumping? What about at higher speeds? Is it only at certain angles (which could indicate a balance problem)? Yes, lots of questions since I really don't have a solution; just trying to pin down something. Unfortunately, I've not gone digging for the encoders so can't answer that.


Well, I am tearing my hair out over this one. Actually, I guess you
would call the motion a jerkiness, while watching the gears turn through
the inspection port in RA, slewing in speeds 9,8,7,6 when I let go of
the arrow button on autostar, the silver gear "jerks" ahead 4 teeth,
then tracks smoothlyfor 20 seconds then "jerks" ahead again. The gears
look meshed to me (comparing them to the ones in Dec, which are fine. In
speeds 5 and below the gears just jerk all the time. Manual movement in
RA is fine.It happens at all angles. I am clueless, I suppose a call to
Meade is in order. BUT, if it does have something to do with the
"looseness" of the worm, my husband could try tightening it up first, if
you know of a file or something that tells how to do this.

Of course this had to happen just in time for the Mars opposition. Argh!

Mike here: Dumb question but have you tried a CALIBRATE?


Yep. I calibrate each time I set up. Guess I'll call Meade tomorrow.

Subject:	LXD 55 AR, SN or SC??
Sent:	Monday, August 25, 2003 14:07:47
From:	"Trina Lescaudron"
First of all, thank you for your site, which I think is extremely
useful, rich and interesting. I've been visiting it for the last 3 days
and reading the different links and articles available.

I'm a beginner in astronomy and am having difficulties choosing a
telescope that would suit my needs, capabilites (physical and
financial), and my environment :

1) I live in the city
2) I am interested in deep sky objects as well as planets and appreciate
   sharp, clear images
3) I would like do some astrophotography (in the future)
4) I am small in size but will usually have someone to help me setup the scope
5) My budget is the cost of a brand new Meade 8" SN model, 8" SC or 6"AR model
6) I have never before owned a scope but astronomy and star gazing have
   been a childhood dream (the only reason why I'm jumping to an amature's
   scope is because it is going to be a symbolic gift from my father to me
   and I want it to be of excellent quality, a scope that I can cherish and
   live with for a long time)

Here is my dilema :

I am very interested in the 6" AR scope particularly because it :
Provides excellent images
Is highly suitable for a city dweller

However :
I am not sure about the quality of deep sky images the scope can provide
and if I would enjoy the reduced field of vision (especially for star
clusters, galaxies, ...)

I am interested in the 8" SC scope because it :
Is compact and has a large aperture
Provides a wide field of vision

However :
It is less suitable for a city dweller
I have not been able to see enough photos taken on the 8" SC to be able
to determine the quality of images
I am confused as to whether the 8" SN provides better images than the SC
(the photos I have seen on the SN looks far better in crispness and
contrast than the SC).

I am only interested in the 8" SN scope if it :
Provides better images than the 8" SC

Does the LXD55 8"SC and SN scopes make alot of noise when slewing? (like
the LX90 scope does?)

I'm writing to you today in the hope that you could help me with some
insight on the 3 scopes in mind as I have no friends (as yet) who own
scopes themselves. I have recently joined an astronomy group with my
first outing to be held on the 19th of Sept (was thinking to try out the
group's scopes before buying one)

Thanks heaps for reading my lengthy email and looking forward to hearing
from you,

Mike here: Keep in mind that the SN and SC telescopes have different designs, with considerably different focal lengths. The SN models are more wide-field instruments than the SC. This makes the SC model ideal for planetary work vs the SN models but less ideal for nebula/galaxy viewing since the longer focal spreads the light out over a larger area. As to photos, there are many variables so it is not necessarily appropriate to compare photos from different telescopes unless the same person took them with the same equipment under the same conditions. From your requirements it does sound like the LXD55-8"SC is closer to what you want. And yes, the drive is loud when slewing (although there is a "Quiet Slew" which reduces the volume); tracking is quite though.


thank you so much for your speedy response and very useful advice. I
have narrowed down my decision and will soon purchase the telescope.
Last night I had a lovely dream of an extraordinary nebula and galaxies.
There were many colours and they were so pretty. The best thing was, I
wasn't even looking through a scope!! Anyway, this is a good sign and I
can't wait to visit the meade dealer next monday.

I will continue visiting your site. I find it very structured, humaine
and extremely useful.

Warmest regards,
Mike here: Keep in mind that you won't be able too see that many colors when actually using a telescope. Most nebulae will appear gray or green-ish.
Subject:	AOS in Telescope setup submenu
Sent:	Saturday, August 23, 2003 17:55:21
From:	doug canard (dcanard@cswnet.com)
I noticed in the submenu for telescope parameters under the main SETUP
menu that there is something called "AOS" with a default value of "5". I
looked on page 29 and 30 in the owners manuals and couldn't find a thing
about that and "elevation" {which I suspect has something to do with the
warning message that your scope might hit the mount while slewing near
the zenith?}.

Also, are the dec and r.a. motor/gear/decoder  sub-assemblies exactly
the same? I noticed that the gear ratios in that same telescope setup
sub menu are exactly the same, except for a negative and a positive sign
in front of the values. Could it be possible to swap out the
sub-assemblies for troubleshooting purposes if I ever needed to?

Finally, have you ever looked at your mount where the dec shaft assembly
screws onto the r. a. assembly by those two allen bolts?

I noticed last night that there are two plastic spacers on those bolts
that create a gap between the dec shaft and R.a. shaft assembly. This
allows my dec shaft to sag and my scope's optical axis to not be
perfectly parallel with the rotational axis when I polar align with the
polar scope. When I nail Polaris in the polar scope {which I have
adjusted very accurately} ,Polaris is towards the bottom of the EP FOV.
So, even though my scope was adjusted via the "LXD adjust" function in
the telescope sub menu, I am still not mechanically aligned when in the
"home" position during one-star alignment.

I removed those two plastic spacer washers and reassembled the dec shaft
onto the R. a. portion, so that the dec subassembly is now totally flush
and tight with the R.a assembly with no more sagging. I have yet to
check this out tonight, but I'm positive it can only improve GOTO
accuracy if adjusting the cradle mounts for good orthogonality is
crucial for better GOTOs. Unless those spacer washers were there for
some reason I can't figure out... I see no use for them to begin with.
It didn't seem to hurt anything by removing them.


Mike here: The AOS is for satellite tracking. There is more on satellite tracking on the Autostar Information page. I haven't had to work on my DEC drive so haven't come across the spacers. Thanks for the report.


Thanks. "Aquisition of signal' aka "AOS". Got it. Any idea what the "5"
stands for? I am still confused as to what that would do if I changed
that number.

On a side note: I made one of those Hartmann masks for the ten inch newt
and looked at Mars last night. Very nice! I noticed that the unfocused
images had no secondary silhouette, just like a refractor. Would that
mask, in theory, give me better resolution and contrast comparable to a
six inch refractor {I did the math and came up with the same aperture
and light gathering ability as a 6.25 inch telescope with an F-ratio of
about 7.5} without any chromatic aberation? The view at 330x was
outstanding with good seeing, regardless!

Thanks again,

Mike here: I think it is seconds but I've not done any tracking myself. Yep, the mask will change the focal ratio, thereby affecting the resolution and contrast.
Subject:	Opposition of Mars on CBS' Early Show August 27th!
Sent:	Friday, August 22, 2003 19:17:08
From:	scott@astronomyoutreach.net
CBS will air a live interview with famed astronomer Jack Newton on CBS's
The Early Show on August 26th at 8:47 a.m. to discuss the opposition of
Mars and how best to observe it.

Wishing everyone good luck and clear skies,

Scott W. Roberts, Editor
The AstronomyOutreach network is an award winning web site devoted to
the people, events, and organizations involved in outreach to the public
in astronomy and space exploration.
Mike here: An earlier email had this as the 27th.
Sent:	Thursday, August 21, 2003 13:33:10
From:	"Alun Halsey" (ALUN@halsey593.freeserve.co.uk)
Mike here: There are concerns that leaving the axis locks engaged will cause problems over time, either due to strain on the system from the weight of the telescope or by creating "flat spots" (just like with tires when vehicles are not used for a long time). I keep my ETX telescopes unlocked but I do lock my LXD55. So, whether that negates "permanent" setups or not is a matter for debate.
Subject:	RE: LXD55 8SCT/ Coolpix 5000 MARS Fotos !!! 08/17/2003
Sent:	Wednesday, August 20, 2003 16:03:18
From:	Javier Villarreal Nuez (VILLARREALP@gruma.com)
I also used a mask to focus, i had it for long, i used to have a meade
2080. The thing is that i used it to focus and then i removed it to take
the shots and used higher power. I also used Full optical zoom from my
coolpix 5000 and 12.4mm plus a 2X barlow lens. I'll try some new ones
tonight. If i get good results i'll send some to you.

Best regards and keep up the great site. Ohh and thank you for posting
my photos :) 

Javier ..

-----Original Message-----
From: Mike Weasner 
Hard to say whether the focus is a little "soft" 
but the limb does look somewhat out-of-focus.  Focusing is a challenge;
I just made a "Hartmann Mask" for my 8"SC.

Subject:	LXD55 SN - Autostar updates and problems with laptop COM1 port
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 15:40:29
From:	"Adrian Charters" (adrian@keygs.co.uk)
I am a new and confused owner of an 8 inch LXD55 SN who has just
purchased the Meade 505 connector cable set to update Autostar from my
Dell laptop. I cannot seem to connect/detect the COM1 port of my laptop
using the ASC software, or using the autodetect option doesnt help
either. I am running MS XP. I have also tried controlling the scope from
Starry Night Pro 4 but with no success either.

Any ideas of FAQ answers would be appreciated, many thanks

Mike here: Many times the problem is that some other software has the serial port tied up (fax software usually). Check for that. Also, you might take a look at the Autostar Information page for more on connecting via Windows. I tend to avoid Windows and so am not an expert in it.
Subject:	RA setscrew
Sent:	Tuesday, August 19, 2003 09:33:42
From:	"McKinnon, Edward M. (NG)" (edward.mckinnon@ngc.com)
Quick question: My LXD 55 has experienced the same RA gear problem that
youencountered. The fix was simple, but it doesnt seem like it will
stay tight very long. First,I couldnt really tighten it down too
much. It was holding, but I tested it bymoving it back and forth for a
minute(by hand)and just that caused the little hex screw to loosenenough
to have the gear slip. I tightened it back, but Im wondering if it
will hold? Has your fix lasted?


Mike here: My fix has lasted. I've seen other reports that replacing the hexscrews with more substantial types has worked.
Subject:	LXD55 SC-8 and focal reducer
Sent:	Saturday, August 16, 2003 19:51:57
From:	Lamar McLouth (lmclouth@a1isp.net)
I've just bought a Meade LXD55 SC-8 and I really appreciate your web
site and your comments on your telescope.  It helped me to decide that
this was the scope for me.  I knew I would be doing some
astrophotography and I didn't want to have to buy a field de-rotator
when taking long exposures.  So the SC-8's equatorial mount was perfect
for this.

My question deals with a focal reducer; either the Meade f/6.3 focal
reducer/field flattener or the Celestron version.

Have you tried either of these with the SC-8? If so, what was your
opinion of them?

As I mentioned above, I'm planning on doing some astrophotography and I
was considering purchasing one to help with the long exposures.

I am somewhat confused by the Meade description of this attachment and
how, after connecting it, you still use your current eyepieces.  Their
description says "you thread this to the telescope's rear cell in front
of the #62 T-Adapter or Off-Axis Guider." Does this mean the T-Adapter
replaces your normal diagonal and it allows you to use your existing

Thanks for your input on this accessory.

Mike here: I've not used either of those on my LXD55-8"SC but I did try the Shutan (Apogee) one from my ETX telescopes on the 8"SC. Results not so good. The T-Adapter allows you to contact a camera and do "prime focus" photography. I'm not certain whether the star diagonal attaches to the focal reducer.
Subject:	re: LXD55 motors
Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 16:05:27
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Two folks who sell LXXD55 motors are:

http://www.telescope-warehouse.com/    <--bill vorce
http://www.citlink.net/~optics/    <-- gary russell

good luck

Sent:	Friday, August 15, 2003 07:28:20
From:	"Alun Halsey" (ALUN@halsey593.freeserve.co.uk)
I have just recently brought myself an lxd55 8" sn and have had a few
problems to sort out but thanks to your brilliant site i have got over
most of them now. but the thing thats bothering me at the moment is what
is the box clamped to the autostar cable and why is it that if i plug it
in as the manual and all the photos i have seen depicts it, ie the box
end to the mount my autostar cuts out but if i reverse it, it works ok,
is there a problem? 

regards Alun Halsey from England
Mike here: When I first used my LXD55-8"SC I had the ferrite core next to the Autostar. I had a lot of random slewing problems. So I reversed it and placed the core next to the mount control panel. No more problems. The core is to reduce or eliminate electrical interference. But the unfortunate part of this location is that there is very little leeway and it is easy to not get the cable fully inserted. Check that.
Subject:	Power Supply applications
Sent:	Thursday, August 14, 2003 23:49:07
From:	diverdude63@earthlink.net (Michael & Lynn)
I just purchased the AC adapter by Meade to use with my scope (LXD55 8"
Schmidt-Cassegrain) when near a power source (home) but with remote
operations, I am planning to use a power inverter I purchased from SAMS
Club for about $35.00 connected to the 12 vdc accessory socket in my
vehicle. It takes the power from the auto battery and changes it to 120
vac then goes to the Meade power supply where it changes back to a
(regulated) 12 vdc for the scope. It should allow for several hours of
uninterrupted viewing before needing to run the vehicle I would imagine
without needing to lug a rechargable battery pack around. Do you see a
forseeable problem with this setup? I just received my scope (Newbie) in
May, so I am open to suggestions on preparing for the winter viewing in

I also purchased the Meade software and #505 cable to connect a laptop
(Windows XP) to my scope but the computer is not recognizing the scope
through the Com port #3 which is also my modem port. Do you have any
suggestions or know of anyone else using this configuration?  Thank you
for your assistance.

Michael Gillispie
Mike here: Should be OK. Let me know how well it works. As to the Windows problem, check for some application (like fax software) tying up the serial port. Also, do you have the Autostar application searching for ports or did you set it to use Com3?


My modem is on COM 3 which is where the #505 cable plugs into, so
I assumed that it would use the same port. I will try letting it find the
port and get back to you with the results in case anyone else runs into this
problem. Thanks, Michael Gillispie

Subject:	LXD 55 Counterweight
Sent:	Sunday, August 10, 2003 17:31:28
From:	"Alistair MacDonald" (amacdonald@st-philips.co.uk)
Just to let you know that I was able to purchase an extra counterweight
on Astromart.  

Thanks again for your help.

Kind Regards


Subject:	Mounting Nikon 995 on LXD55 SC-8
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 22:32:04
From:	"KELLY CAFFEY" (kelcaf@msn.com)
I should receive my scope tomorrow, I can't sleep!
Question: I want to mount a Nikon 995, how do I do this?
I found the eye piece, but do I need a bracket?
How do I do this?

Best regards,
Kelly Caffey
Mike here: The best way (for afocal photography) is the Scopetronix Digi-T System. See the Accessory Reviews --> Astrophotography page on my ETX Site. Also, check out the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page for more on Nikon astrophotography.
Subject:	LXD55 Motors...
Sent:	Thursday, August 7, 2003 05:28:29
From:	"Brett Boucher" (rayvyn@att.net)
Any idea where I can purchase a set of motors for an LXD55?? I need both
motors and am finding nothing...

Mike here: Meade doesn't sell spare parts. But people do buy a LXD55 telescope and then sell the tripod. Watch for those type of announcements on eBay and my LXD55 Site.
Subject:	LXD 55 Counterweight
Sent:	Wednesday, August 6, 2003 07:12:09
From:	"Alistair MacDonald" (amacdonald@st-philips.co.uk)
Please could you tell me where I might purchase a spare counterweight
for my LXD 55 Mount?  Thank you for your assistance.

Kind Regards

Alistair MacDonald
Mike here: I don't know if the dealers stock that. I doubt it.

Later I was able to found this out: "Meade has not come out with a part number for these individually for their dealers. Right now I would say he would have to order from Meade, but it looks like he is in the UK, so his local dealer is going to have to call Meade to order this "repair part"."


I am in the US at the moment so will contact Meade direct.  I will also
try Astromart.

Thanks again


Subject:	Re: Autostar Error
Sent:	Tuesday, August 5, 2003 09:01:57
From:	"Josh Edmondson" (jedmo@hotmail.com)
I just recieved a #505 cable through the mail and downloaded the Updater
from Meade's website. Now, do I just upgrade to the newest firmware
version or is there a way reload all the Autostar information. This is
in reference to my previous messages about my Autostar choosing stars in
wintertime constellations forcing me to set the date back six months.
BTW the the time was correctly entered.


Mike here: Not certain what you mean by all the Autostar information. But to upgrade the Autostar you do run the software and select to upgrade. There is more info on the software on the Autostar Information page on my ETX and LXD55 sites.
Subject:	LXD Power Supply
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 18:01:55
From:	DC1000000@aol.com
I am considering using a 12V DC car battery to power my LXD. If I attach
a cigarette lighter jack to the battery, then use a Meade #607 Power
Cord, would this give the Autostar the regulated power it needs?

Thanks for your help, Joe.
Mike here: Yep. Should work.
Subject:	LXD55 10"
Sent:	Monday, August 4, 2003 05:52:52
From:	BrunoJonben@aol.com
Hi ! I'm french(sorry for my bad english). I've just bought an LXD55
10",and I've been immediatly diapointed when I first seen through the
26mm eyepiece,because there was a dark zone in the center of the image
(corresponding to the secondary mirror). I've already an ETX 90,an I've
never notice this kind of problem...So do you know if it is normal or a
problem of configuration ?

I've just a little more question,The craddle is only attach to the mount
by the 2 locking knob ? There is no screw,it seems to be fragile for my
big 10" .Is it the same attach for your 8" SC ? thanks

thanks by advance...brunojonben@aol.com
Mike here: The dark area is typical of the Schmidt-Newtonian design at this focal ratio. The degree to which it is visible will depend on the eyepiece and the object being viewed. Yes, there are just the two locking screws. Seems to work OK.


Thanks very much,Indeed I've seen that it is less visible with more
magnificent eyepiece.

Just one last thing,do you use the original batteries ? I think it eats
too much power,so i was thinking about buying a transformator
(converter),I know motors needs 12 Volts,but do you know the intensity?
600, 700 mA or more ? Thanks for all
Mike here: I use Meade's AC Adapter. It is 2.5A.
Subject:	cord wrap
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 16:34:00
From:	"Neil" (ringers@ringers.screaming.net)
I've just come in after trying (yet again ) to bag M69,70&55 to
virtually complete my 2003 Messier Marathon from the back yard. I've got
a C8 on an LXD55 mount which works fine. I've downloaded the patches
which incl ability to switch of cord wrap (which I have now done). I
just can't understand why autostar still keeps taking me right round the
sky to get back to the same area I'm already in e.g tonight I was at M69
and wanted to go to M55 and it happened ALL THE WAY ROUND. can someone
please tell me why this happens and more impt' can I do anything about
it? It makes me mad 'cos in quiet slew (I have to think of the
neighbours) it takes forever to do it and it often ruins the nice tight
accuracy in that part of the sky when I've often 'enterd to sync)
several times and getting good go-to's.

helllllp please

Neil (in the UK)
Mike here: That's just the logic that the Autostar uses.


Oh dear!
thanks anyway

Subject:	Jack Polarity on Autostar Control Panel for LXD55 Mount
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 11:10:16
From:	caravan208@earthlink.net (Michael Carter)
I have recently received a very nice power supply unit for my LXD55
mount. It supplies 13.8VDC rated at up to 3 amps.

I have checked through your website about power and current requirements
and such, but did not see any info in the polarity of the power jack on
the control panel.

Do you know if the jack is tip+ or tip-? I'm not going to be guessing on


Mike here: See the FAQ page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	LXD55/ sn10 point of prime focus.
Sent:	Saturday, August 2, 2003 04:17:53
From:	"PETER CRANE" (peter.crane@tesco.net)
Can anyone help.I am using a Toucam Pro webcam with 1 1/4" adaptor and
am unable to get focus the focus tube will not screw far enough back
into the OTA. I have inserted a 2x barlow but this will not focus
either. It would seem that the focus tube needs about 1/4" more travel
to give good focus. Do I have to perhaps screw the primary mirrow
collimation screws in another few turns to push the focal point further
into the focus tube? I have only used the scope 4 times to date so I am
a real novice.

Ist class site Mike.
Mike here: You can find the location of the focal plane by aiming the telescope at a bright object (like the Moon; don't use the Sun) or a distinctive terrestrial object. Remove the eyepiece and hold a piece of tracing paper over the eyepiece hole. Move the paper towards and away the hole until you find where the projected image is in focus. You can also use piece of solid paper but then you have to view the image from the other side. This should let you find out where the focus is and then determine if you need to use some sort of "extension tube" to mount the camera.

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