OPT
GENERAL FEEDBACK

Last updated: 31 January 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:	LXD55 Power requirements...
Sent:	Thursday, January 30, 2003 13:40:29
From:	"Jean Dorais" (Jean.Dorais@pwgsc.gc.ca)
I'll make this short as I'm sure you're flooded with e-mails.

If I wanted to plug my LXD55 mount straight into a power
outlet/extension cord, what amperage would my adaptor need to be?  I
thought I'd seen a post that said 12v, 800mAh was fine, but now I'm
reading I need more ...

Help!!!!

Thanks,

Jean Dorais
Ottawa, ON
Canda
LXD55 SN10
Mike here: 1500 mA seems to be the desired number for the LXD55 series. My Meade LXD55 adapter says its output is 2.5A.

And:

Thanks for the information....a 2.5A adaptor is being sought as we speak!

Clear and dark skies,

Jean Dorais

Subject:	Regarding Autostar Problem - LXD55 not appearing as telescope selection
Sent:	Thursday, January 30, 2003 03:11:41
From:	Dimitris Rakopoulos (liquid@mediaone.gr)
I had the same problem when I was installing a new LXD on Mr. Nomikos
store (sole distributor of Meade in Greece). A couple of autostar
controllers didn't have LXDs installed. When we reset the autostars LXDs
appreared by themselves! I think it's that simple to see LXDs on the
Telescope menu.

Best regards,
Dimitris Rakopoulos
liquid@mediaone.gr
Athens, Greece

PS: I will send you a new report of my late session with my LXD55 6"
Refractor. Mr. Nomikos was kind enough to lent me a Sirius Optics Minus
Violet filter to check the optics against Sirius. Remember I was seing
weird colors/shapes like spikes around Sirius? Well, they are.. almost
gone. I'll tell you all about it on a new report.

Subject:	re:  LXD55 SC-8 questions
Sent:	Wednesday, January 29, 2003 21:33:19
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	roger_sheppard@agilent.com
One thing that might help with the "stars moving out of eyepiece"
problem is to perform the "LXD Alignment" procedure. IT's in the Manual,
and it's a submenu under  Setup > Telescope. You do it during the
daytime (so you can see what you're tweaking), using landmarks, not
stars. What it does is guarantee that the RA axis and telescope optical
axis are parallel.  Which is how you get a GEM to keep those stars in
place.

good luck
--dick

Subject:	Visor control of Autostar
Sent:	Wednesday, January 29, 2003 09:31:23
From:	Mark Schilling (mark_schilling@yahoo.com)
I just got an email from Mark/Space informing me that they no longer
manufacture a serial interface cable for the Handspring Visor line of
PDAs.  This is the cable required to control Autostar via the
Planetarium program.

Do you know of any available alternatives?

Mark Schilling
Mike here: I found this linked from the Scopetronix site:
http://www.andale.com/stores/sf_catHome.jsp?sid=116080&cid=7185395&mode=1&catId=1144160
Subject:	LXD55 SC-8 questions
Sent:	Tuesday, January 28, 2003 12:10:44
From:	roger_sheppard@agilent.com
You seem to be knowledgeable about this scope so I would like to ask a
couple of questions since I have the same scope. I received my LXD55
SC-8 on Dec 14 2002. My only previous scope experience has been on a
simple Newtonian that my dad built in the 60s so I am somewhat
unfamiliar with AutoStar and goto and even the GEM mount. But I think I
can figure it out. I have been out several times with the scope when the
weather cooperates which hasn't been as much as I'd like since it's been
raining and overcast here in Santa Rosa for the past few weeks and
around Christmas. Just last night I some great views of Jupiter, Saturn
and some deep sky. I have gotten the goto to work pretty well but I am
still confused on the proper polar alignment. Can you share your
technique for aligning to Polaris? I find it just fine and my finder and
scope are properly aligned. I have trained the drives and did the
detailed motor alignments. When I get Polaris aligned and do the easy
align on two stars I get good goto. Bang Jupiter came in, bang Saturn,
bang Andromeda galaxy - they are pretty right on the first time. I'm
impressed but one thing bothers me. I try to level the scope by eye in
the dark which is hard. My elevation adjustment seems too high when I
put the scope in the polar position and try to find Polaris. I'm at 38
deg but the knob reads much higher. Once I've found it you are supposed
to be able to spin the RA axis and have stars rotate around it. They
don't. All the stars move out of the eyepiece. So either my scope isn't
level or the DEC is off but I don't have a good feel yet for how to fix
it. Got any suggestions? How can my goto be pretty good but not get
spinning stars around Polaris?

Also, how do you solve the dew problem? When the fog comes in here in
the cold, I get a lot of dew so I quit for the night. I've noticed some
precipitation spots on the front corrector. Do you clean this with
anything or leave it alone?

Sorry to bother you with so many questions that are probably real
simple.

Roger.. 
Mike here: I rarely use the Polar Alignment scope. I set the tripod down and eyeball the pointing of the polar axis towards Polaris. I then check the finderscope and reposition until Polaris is basically centered. I tweak the position (by moving the tripod) until Polaris is in the 26mm eyepiece. If I can't get Polaris into the eyepiece then there are likely one of two reasons: either the tripod is not level or the latitude is set incorrectly. Personally I eyeball the leveling and then adjust the latitude up or down until Polaris appears in the finderscope and then the 26mm eyepiece. If I observe from the same location every night then these last adjustments are normally only done once. Then I do the Autostar alignments. Using this simple technique I get good GOTOs. Will everything be precise enough for long duration astrophotography? No. Will the GOTOs be OK and tracking OK for visual and limited photographic work? So far, based upon my limited time with the LXD55 8"SC (yes, lousy weather when I'm home and schedule conflicts keeping me away from home on the good nights!), the answer is yes. As to avoiding dew, a dewshield (such as I discuss on my 8"SC observations page; to be updated with a revised dewshield soon) will help. Cleaning should only be done when absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt, necessary. Most people think they need to clean too often. The optics really need to be pretty badly coated before you will notice any significant deterioration. And cleaning incorrectly will cause more harm than good. Fingerprints or other acids are another matter and should be cleaned off as soon as possible. For some cleaning tips, see the Cleaning article on the "Buyer/New User Tips" page on my ETX website.

And:

Thanks Mike. This helps a lot. 

Roger..

Subject:	What will I see?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 28, 2003 05:52:39
From:	NANATE25@aol.com
Do the pictures that people post show what you will see through the
scope or is it all together different? Like the picture you posted of
M42 with your SC8" has a green and blue color to it and other pictures
are bright blue and some are bright pink and red. I see all of these
pictures and wonder what it looked like through the scope. I know
cameras can bring out more colors than we can see but do you know of any
pictures that show more of what we would see with our eyes. I really
just wish I knew a few people with the different scopes I'm trying to
choose from so I could look through them. But I don't know the first
person with a scope. Well, I would appreciate a little input from
anybody. Thank you very much.

Nate.
Mike here: The eye is not as sensitive at low light levels so usually you will only see faint green and gray colors on nebulae. Also, since photographic images can be manipulated to enhance the colors, contrast, and details, they should not be used as a guide to what the eye will see. You should look for a local astronomy club. Check with local telescope dealers or check the Meade web site.

And:

Thank you very much. I think I found a club about 15 miles from me. I
will try to join up with them and maybe that will help me out some.
Thank's again.

Subject:	LXD55
Sent:	Monday, January 27, 2003 08:49:41
From:	"John Iannelli" (John.Iannelli@aheadcomusa.com)
How are you?  I just purchased a LXD55 SC*.  I have sent the Autostar
back to the manufacturer because the autostar did not recognize the
LXD55.  My question is does the autostar hace a selection for the LXD55
when you select Telescope type fir the configuration.  The customer
server people at Meade do not seem very knowledgeable on the subject but
they will replace me with a new autostar.  Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks
John Iannelli
Mike here: Yes, there is a selection for the LXD55 8"SC. Do you recall what version the Autostar ROM was?

And:

Thanks for the quick response.  No I do not remember what version of the
Autostart Rom was.  Now that I know that there is a selection for the
LXD55 it reinforces that the wrong version was packaged with the scope. 
I should receive the new Autostar shortly and I will keep you updated. 
Thanks for your help.
John Iannelli

Subject:	ETX LXD problems
Sent:	Tuesday, January 21, 2003 19:51:29
From:	joerodricks@attbi.com (Joseph Rodricks)
I wondered if you have encountered any problems with your LXD55 mount,
the plague ETXs. Including, but not limited to, backlash, play in the
drives, drive lagging, etc. This is of course excluding the OTA. Thanks

Joe
Mike here: The only problems I had were of my own making (see my report on my LXD55 site).
Subject:	RE: Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Tuesday, January 21, 2003 18:50:22
From:	"Shane Allen" (shanea@danka.com.au)
My Autostar displays 2.6Ea.  What's the difference between Ea and Ec?
(obviously later version of the firmware, but were there any major bugs
or drama's with Ea? Specifically with goto ability?)

Thanks.
Mike here: As I recall, a bug fix for Quiet Slew plus some other stuff. Definitely should upgrade your Autostar.
Subject:	Advice?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 21, 2003 14:11:33
From:	David Sherfy (sherfy@fum.com)
Have you had any luck or made any headway in finding out if it is
possible to autoguide through the AUX port on the LXD55?  Do you feel
this is a dead issue or something that is possible to be resolved?

Thanks

D. Sherfy (Warp)
Mike here: According to reports I've seen, it SHOULD work but no one has been successful using the LX90 APM.
Subject:	re: Autostar bug?
Sent:	Monday, January 20, 2003 23:30:32
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	wayne@lawler.name
i should have asked two things:
(A) which version of firmware are you running (it's under
  Setup > Statistics [enter][scroll up]

(B) are you running in Quiet Slew mode?

In -older- versions, there -was- a bug correlating Quiet Slew, 
LXD55 and failure to GoTo Messier Objects.
The fix is to update to v26Ec.

good luck
--dick
And:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
wayne@lawler.name said:
>Autostar model #497 version 26Ec  (445 KB) is available. Rev.
>26Ec adds quiet slew to the LXD-55 Product Line.
>
>        I read this as:  The functionality for Quite Slew mode for
>LXD55's was added in this latest release.  Do you read it the same?  Was
>the quite slew function available on other Meade models prior to this
>release?

I read that as "we FIXED quiet slew for the LXD55..."
I forget which version -added- it (for all models, it was just a bit
whacko for the LXD55)

>        You where correct in far as me 'forgetting' to SELECT the object
>before performing a GOTO.  What I don't understand is why some menu's
>allow you to GOTO an object without SELECTing the object first and
>others do not.

They actually -don't-.  All require an Enter.
Please provide an example of one which doesn't.
I think if you -say- your keystrokes, you'll always find an [enter].
(this does not include Tours, which can have "auto select" buried
in their scripts).

>        Another question:  when selecting a constellation to GOTO, are
>you able to simply select the constellation, or do you actually have to
>select a star within that constellation?
>        From the Constellation sub menu in Autostar, if I try to GOTO
>the Constellation of Orion, I get the now familiar "Object not above the
>Horizon" message.

So, what had you pressed [enter] to last?

> If I then SELECT the Constellation of Orion and then
>select one of the actual stars (now displayed as a sub menu of the Orion
>Constellation itself) that is located in Orion, the Autostar slews
>happily to the select star.  I am at fault here?  Can you not select a
>constellation directly - do you have to select a constellation and then
>select a star from within the constellation?

Loose descriptions sink Autostars: when you say "if i try to GoTo Orion"
what is showing on your screen?  -THAT- is what tells me what you've
selected, or where you are in the menu tree.

If you are seeing    Constellation / Orion
you have NOT selected that constellation yet... so it's the previous
target that it's complaining about.
When you press [enter] (do i hear an echo?) the display changes to
 Orion
 00:00.0   00* 00'    <- (i don't know the numbers)

Those values are the "centroid" of the shape in the sky defined
as Orion's Official Boundaries.  If you -now- press [GoTo]
it'll go -there- (usually aimed at nothing noticable).
Whether or not you pressed [GoTo], you can now scroll down 
through the list of Bright Stars in Orion.
IF you are seeing    Orion / Rigel
and press [GoTo], it'll go to the centroid (unless you pressed
another [enter] twixt then and now).
If, however, you press [enter], you'll see
 Rigel
 ALP ORI
-now- Rigel is actually selected (we pressed Enter, right?)
and -now- tapping the [GoTo] will GetThere.

and so forth into the night...

>Should I put the scope back in the box because I am too stupid
>to own one? :)

No, you should stand outside in the dark and cold.
And during the daytime, set it up and play with the Autostar and
make it GoTo whirr whirr in the house, with an awake brain.

This "always press [enter] before [goto]" is subtle and bites lots of
people (how do you think i know it so well?).  What you may need to
work on is your lack of faith in my use of the word "always".

I eagerly await your example of "not needing to press [enter]"
(since i'm always willing to learn, be surprised by Autostar antics,
and firmly believe in empirical evidence overruling theory)

have fun
--dick
And more:
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
wayne@lawler.name said:
(there may be a crow at risk in the local vicinity... i can plead
"too many autostars" since the LX200gps operation is a bit different
in the Constellation list area)(but.. wait.. maybe i cover that situation)

>I even had my (not so) trusty assistant read through the
>manual and we still missed it!  Time to find a new
>assistant! :)

I don't think it's -in- the manual.  (gasps of amazement all around)

>        ###Stop Press###
>
>        If have just reinitialized Autostar - after completing the
>alignment process, if you follow the exact keystrokes as listed above
>for Case 4, when you press *GoTo*, I now get the [Not Above Horizon]
>message!

I believe it's trying to GoTo Andromeda.
(you can specifically -try- for Andromeda, to see if it's "Below")
[until i reached further down this message, i was unaware of your site]

In Case 4, it's remembering the last-selected Constellation.  Perhaps
from an hour ago.  So the -next- time you visit Orion, it's still the
"selected" constellation.  A better test is to bounce between two
constellations, to verify that you do have to tap [enter].
The immediately-after-powerup starts with Andromeda "selected",
hence your symptom.
Try bouncing between Octans and Orion, or (since it's a red flag)
some easy-to-scroll-to Constellation which -is- "Below".

> If I hit the *Enter* key when [Orion] is displayed, the
>co-ordinates for the constellation are displayed.  If I now press *GoTo*
>the Autostar scrolls through the stars in the constellation.

I had forgotten that nuance (you've got to admit it didn't GoAnywhere,
even though you press GoTo) ... it's actually (almost) difficult
to GoTo the centroid. (you have to tap [enter] again, -then- GoTo,
if memory serves.. so there's that extra [enter], again)

>If I hit *GoTo* on one of these stars, the Autostar slews to the correct
>star! (Even though Autostar thinks the Constellation is still not above
>the horizon).
>        This is different to the other example in Case 4 - I can see no
>explanation for why this is happening (other than I am going stark
>raving mad!)

For Centroids, it's Constellation/Orion [enter]
(which selects that constellation's submenu, and displays the centroid)
Orion / 00:00.0  00* 00'
If you now press GoTo, it doesn't Go.There (unless something in Orion was
the last thing you did in the Constellation list)

Are you sure it's slewing to the Star ('cause i remember the cadence
of Constellation/scroll/Orion/enter/goto/Rigel/enter/goto/
Since i'm preparing to go to work (no telescope on table)
i can't test it now... there's the chance it's handled like a Tour
(i call the Constellation stuff a "Constellation Tour"), and merely
having the name on the lower line selects it... ahh: indoor test:
Orion/Rigel [goto] 
IF it's still just showing Orion / Rigel, scroll to Orion/Betelgeuse.
[GoTo]
If Betelgeuse was selected by merely scrolling, it'll move.
If it wasn't, the scope may burp, but it won't GoAnywhere.

>Case 5:
>From the [Objects] menu
>        -> [Solar System]
>        *Enter*
>        ->[Jupiter]
>        *GoTo*
>        AUTOSTAR SLEWS TO THE PREVIOUSLY SELECTED OBJECT
>(ie, not to the new target, but re-centers on the Constellation of Orion).

Until you tap [enter], it doesn't bother to calculate the moving body.

(stars and DSO's are fixed, but the Solar System stuff has to be
actively calculated)

> One advantage of a Sydney summer is that it's not cold.
>The only problem with that is that it is so damned humid
>the clouds roll in most evenings and ruin any chance of
>stargazing (oh, if you can see the sky through        
> the smoke from the bush fires, that is!)

It's winter here, which means rain, rain, rain.  Forest fires are still
7 months in the future.

have fun
--dick
And more:
From:	Dick Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To rescue a -few- shards of my shattered reputation, i think i have
found the real reason for the "Below Horizon" you got the time you did
the second "Case 4" test...

It was below the horizon.

I set my ETX to Sydney, and got "Below Horizon" at 8pm But if i started
at "10pm", then it slewed to Orion (yes, without touching [enter]...
grump, grump)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	re: Balancing the LXD55 SC-8
Sent:	Tuesday, January 21, 2003 06:47:08
From:   rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To: Orlando.Felan@cityofhouston.net
>My second question concerns the R.A. setting circle. I used your link to
>Jason Carden's "Using the Polar Finder Scope" and understand it pretty
>well. But I'm still not sure what the little scale labeled "R.A." and
>graduated with "0 2 4 6 8 10" is and how it is used.

Those are a "Vernier scale".. a method of reading the main RA scale to
ten times greater accuracy than its major tick-marks allow.

How it works: First set up so that one of the RA scale's major marks
(say, the 8 hour mark) is aligned with the little scales zero.
Note that the little scale's 10 is -also- lined up with a major scale.

Note how -none- of the rest of the little scale's marks are lined up
with any other RA mark.

Now move the RA axis just a -little- bit. Enough so that the 
little scale's 2 mark aligns with whichever RA tick next touches it.

You have just moved 2 tenths of the distance between the RA scale's marks.
As you -slowly- move the RA axis, you'll see that each of the little
(Vernier) scales marks line up with an RA mark, and then that state
of alignment moves on to the next Vernier mark.
Eventually the RA scale's next small tick mark beyond the 8 hour mark
will line up with the Vernier's zero mark.  And you will have advanced
ten RA minutes.  But the hand-off of line-ups on the Vernier scale
will have allowed you to dice that to -individual- RA minutes.

This is difficult to explain with words alone.. but one you get the
hang of it, it's magical.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	lxd55 - offer tune up service
Sent:	Sunday, January 19, 2003 09:53:47
From:	Dave Adams (adamsdp@comcast.net)
I was wondering if you offer a lxd55 "tune up" service.  I have a new
lxd55 mount and debating about getting all the bugs out myself or
sending to someone.  thanks.

Dave Adams

p.s.  I posted the problems I ran into with my first gotos to the yahoo
list below.

--- In LXD55telescopes@yahoogroups.com, Dave Adams (adamsdp@c...) wrote:
I got some clear skies here in freezing Michigan and tried out the lxd55
mount with a C9.25 on for the ride.  I trained the drives during the
day, then tried to do the easy align.  After aligning the scope with the
north pole (I did a rough alignment - could see polaris in the field of
view of my finder and it was off the fov of eyepiece by about 2 degrees), 
the first star was procyon.  It was not in the field of view of the
eyepiece but was in my finder and was off by a few degrees.  I centered
procyon and the second star was in the big dipper and again it was off
by a few degrees and I could see it in my finder and centered it. I did
a goto to Jupiter and it was centered in the fov.  I next went to Saturn
and it was off by a few degrees and ditto for M-42.

I tried to do the easy align again and this time it was way off the
first alignment star procyon by maybe 10-15 degrees.  I centered procyon
and the second star was Belelguese and on the way there I got a motor
something? error.

Not about to give up, I tried again and procyon was again way off then
the next star was off by 20-30 degrees.  It was very cold out and I am
wondering if this had something to do with it.  Towards the end, I tried
to slew to a star and let the arrow key up and the scope kept slewing
for about 10 seconds before it stopped.  Any ideas as to what went wrong
and any good ideas for remedies?  Thanks.
Mike here: I personally don't plan on providing this service. Currently, Dr. Clay Sherrod provides an ETX, LX90, and LX200 Supercharge and LXD55.com is planning to offer a LXD55 service. As to Autostar GOTO problems, these sound very similar to the problems I experienced after cloning the LXD55 Autostar from my ETX-125 Autostar. A RESET, CALIBRATE, and reTRAINing solved the problem.
Subject:	Power Supply
Sent:	Saturday, January 18, 2003 08:07:20
From:	Rick (yag_1064@yahoo.com)
Must ask you a question about power supplies (AC Adapter). I bought my
scope from OPT, so I checked out the price for their AC Adapter. It was
like $70.00 I checked out the price from a few On-line suppliers of
Electronic Components (www.mouser.com) I found a 12v DC 1.5A for $11.00
Why such a high mark-up in price? Is there any differences between the
AC adapted Meade uses and others? ie: better regulation, filtering of
induction spikes.

Your input would help me sort things out..TIA
Mike here: There are many variables but regulation seems to be a key factor in how reliable the adapter will be for telescope operation. See the Telescope Tech Tips page on my ETX Site for more information on power supplies.
Subject:	Star Test
Sent:	Saturday, January 18, 2003 08:04:17
From:	"Steve Rigsby" (srigsby@icsi.net)
Thanks very much for the link to the Star Test Gallery. I found the
image for the 8" Cassegrain 3 inside focus to be much the same as what I
observe in the star test. My outside focus images are somewhat more
similar to the inside focus than those in the Gallery. For instance, in
the Gallery picture, the innermost ring and outermost ring do not
appear to have the same brightness both inside and outside focus
although they do for my telescope. On the other hand, the rings between
the innermost and outermost rings are more distinct inside focus than
outside focus which I do see, although I do not always observe this and
sometimes it is more pronounced (as in the Gallery photo) than at other
times.  These images are more helpful than those in Harold Suiter's book
on Star Testing, at least for me.

Steve

Subject:	I think I saw Jupiter!!!
Sent:	Friday, January 17, 2003 20:31:32
From:	NANATE25@aol.com
Just wanted to tell you I think I saw Jupiter Tonight.(01/17/03) If the
2  center cloud belts are in line with, I think, Two of the moons, I was
able to see them tonight with the little Tasco 21EB 15x45. I have to
keep it on 45 and it just will focus enough to be able to see the belts
and the moons. This is about 09:50P.M. CST when I looked. I've been
thinking a lot about what scope I'm going to get and think I will go
with the LX90. Dick made a pretty good point about it being a real
"sweat spot" between the LXD and the LX200GPS. Same optics but less
trouble to set up and "All the bugs have been squashed." Y'all have been
great help and I have learned more about scope in the past month than I
have in my entire life from reading www.weasner.com, www.optcorp.com and
www.scopetronix.com . Y'all are great. You too Dick. Well, I'm about to
go out and see if I can bend my neck down far enough to look through
that little Tasco and see Saturn. I'm going to try to take a picture of
the Wolf Moon at 5:47 A.M. CST with my 1973 Konica Autoreflex T3 with
260mm x2 lens. By the way, the first set of pics with it didn't do good.
Much to learn and love learning it.

       AmAst,
             Nate.
Mike here: Yeah, that very bright object high in the East at the time was probably Jupiter. And it will easily show a couple of cloud bands and up to four of its moons. Congrats on the telescope decision. Enjoy! And keep watching the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site as the LX90 uses the same Autostar as the ETX-90, 105, 125 and LXD55 series.

And:

By the way. I am on a limited budget and I was wondering just how much
of a difference the UHTC makes. Do you think if I was to get the
standard and later on look through someone's scope that has the UHTC,
would I be disappointed and regret not opting for the UHTC? See, I also
don't want to miss the $99. EP special and well, things just start to
add up. But I really don't want to regret something after that big of a
purchase. I know it's all a matter of preference, but opinions can help
a decision. Anybody's input would be helpful. Thank you very much.
Mike here: The UHTC does improve the views. See the Meade Announcements on my ETX Site for a link to Dr. Clay Sherrod's test results. Add, like many worthwhile hobbies, the expenses never end...

And:

Thank you. I'll check out Dr. Clay's site right now. Is it because of
the full moon why I can't get a very good focus on Jupiter? By the way,
I just acquired a Silver Eclipse RR70060EB refractor. Not much of a
scope. I think it's more for terrestrial viewing. I guess I was just
hoping for a little more than it can do. It also has a SR4mm eye piece.
Do you know what the magnification might would be on that? Oh well. I'm
going to your site now.
Talk at ya later.
Mike here: If you mean "focus" then no, the Moon will not affect the telescope's ability to bring an object into focus. If you mean, the sky background is "washed out" and there is less contrast, yes, the Full Moon can do that. As to the other scope (any telescope, in fact), the magnification formula that applies is telescope focal length divided by eyepiece focal length. So divide the telescope's focal length (if you know it or can measure it) by 4 millimeters.

And:

Cool.  You're right, of course. I could get Jupiter in the view and just
could see the two center cloud belts and four moons. Couldn't get good
contrast though. It's a 700mm FL and 60mm main objective lens. I guess
that makes it an f/11.6 and the eye piece was at 175X. I looked for the
scope on line and all I found was a couple of customer reviews that said
it's a pretty poor scope. But it's something more to play with than the
little Tasco till I get my Meade and the EP special. Maybe in about a
month I'll have it. Hope so. Till then, I'll try quit bugging you. I'll
be reading your site more and that will probably answer most of the
questions I'll come up with. Talk to you later.

             AmAst.
                   Nate.

Subject:	re: External power supply for LXD55
Sent:	Thursday, January 16, 2003 22:57:34
From:	Dick Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To:	jkraeme@us.ibm.com
> My question is:  Is the power plug polarity for the LXD55
> sGerman mountthe same as the polarity for the ETX.

Yes... exactly the same power plug arrangement as the ETX, DS, LX90,
LX200gps, 4504, 114EQ...

5.5mm outside, 2.5 mm inside, Center Positive,
 RadioShack Adaptaplug N (Nancy)

Expect the LXD55 to want at least 1.5 amps at 12v
(an ETX supply may be underpowered, depending upon what you have)

have fun
--dick

Subject:	RE: Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Wednesday, January 15, 2003 20:12:53
From:	"Shane Allen" (shanea@danka.com.au)
Finally got a clear night to test your theory on using a few different
stars in an attempt to gain a successful Autostar alignment with my SN6.

Using Sirius and Achernar gave me a successful alignment.  Sirius at
first attempt was in FOV of viewfinder, but not of eyepiece and I made
the necessary adjustments with the slew keys.  Achernar was a different
matter, with it no appearing in viewfinder FOV and a big adjustment was
necessary with the slew keys.

My first GOTO object was the moon, which the scope slewed to but in the
26mm eye piece only the outer sections of the almost full moon were
visible. Similarly, all other objects were close to being in the FOV of
the viewfinder, but reasonably big adjustments were necessary to centre
the object in the eyepiece.

I feel I have taken a step forward with the process after this result,
but obviously want the GOTO element to be spot on.  What tips can you
give to refine this process?

Additionally, on two occasions whilst using the scope last night,
Autostar went blank and then went through the initialisation process by
itself. Could I be doing something to cause this?

Lastly, I accidentilly moved the mount in Declination while the Dec.
Lock was tightened.  Is it suppossed to be able to be moved after the
Dec lock is tightened?

Thanks Mike.
Mike here: Practice does help with alignments. And actually getting the object into the finderscope is good. If it appears in the 26mm eyepiece, that is better. And again, with practice and really good training and alignments, GOTOs will be more in the eyepiece. With my ETX-125EC I get most objects in the eyepiece. With the LXD55 I'm getting probably about 50% right now but always in the finderscope (since I corrected my Autostar clone problem). As to the auto-resets, see further down this Feedback page for the email item "Autostar differences". The locks are just friction locks so it is possible to move the telescope. Not a good idea though.

And:

Thanks for your quick responses Mike.  Am really enjoying my first
scope. Guess it does come down to how much time you spend on it as to
how good you get with it.  Will monitor your site daily.
And:
From:   rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
"Alignment failed" usually appears if the Autostar calculates that the
-distance between- the two stars is not what it thinks it should be.

Many things can cause this:  wrong stars (i get confused,too),
dirt in encoders (probably -not- your problem, since the initial
alignment slews (guesses?) place them within the viewfinder.),
slipping clutches/clamps.

The Polar Alignment scope has 4 small circles... those are for 
southern hemi usage for stars near your pole.
May i suggest that you take your scope on a small walk to a spot
that -does- let you see (and align upon) your celestial pole?
(we're trying to -Align- here, so it is not important if some major
chuncks of the sky are blocked at that site).

Other ways to improve/do alignment:  Fake it.
Set up. 
Choose "One Star"  and just press [enter] when it asks for centering.
NOW: GoTo an easy, bright star somewhat near your pole.
Adjust the *tripod* to remove -half- of the error.
Now GoTo a star near the Equator (Sirius, Aldebaran).
After it beeps, press the [enter] key for three seconds.  Release.
It will ask you to center the star.  Use the slew keys to do so.
Tap [enter] when you're centered.  That procedure is called SYNCing.

Npw GoTo the close-to-pole star (again).  
Adjust the -tripod- (again) to remove -half- of the error.
GoTo "Sirius" (Again)... do the SYNC procedure (again).

Repeat that Pole/tripod/Sirius/SYNC  sequence three or four times,
and your alignment should become -very- accurate.

Finally test it by GoToing stars and MEssier objects.  
Do NOT use the Moon or Planets to center or test GoTo quality
(the orbital calculations can add errors)

good luck
--dick
And:
Thanks Dick.  Will use the SYNCing scenario from my back yard which has
the obstructed view of the SCP.  I have a dark sky site with no
obstruction of SCP that I will try the Polar Alignment Scope.  I still
don't understand how to use it though, I just don't understand the
method.

Having identified a position in the sky that's close to the SCP, how do
you go about using the illuminated reticule to align the mount on that
point in space? Is it fully a tripod adjustment?  How do you do it
without taking the level out of the mount?  I'm sure it'd be straight
forward if you had seen someone do it, but I don't even know what I'm
looking at when I look through the reticule!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
And:
The Polar Alignment scope is supposed to help you aim the center of the 
RA axle to pointing directly at the celestial pole.
It has two sets of markings: a circle (or square, i forget, and i've
never -seen- one, i'm going byu hearsay) for Polaris in the northern
hemisphere, offset the 3/4 degree which Polaris is from the pole.
For the southern hemi, they've got 4 small circles which should match
the pattern of Octans' stars near the pole, 6th magnitude Sigma Octans
being the closest.
Both those stars all -move-... they circle the pole throughout the night
and year.  So the Polar Alignment scope has a date/time graduated scale
which rotates the scope to match that rotational effect.

ahh.. found it... THESE two pages (from Vixen) explains it -very- well:
This covers the time/date setting, 
www.vixen.co.jp/english/telesco/gp.manu.12p.htm

and -this- explicitly describes the Southern Hemisphere reticle pattern:
www.vixen.co.jp/english/telesco/gp.manu.13p.htm

Having identified a position in the sky that's close to the SCP, how do you
go about using the illuminated reticule to align the mount on that point in
space?

See above two pages.

Is it fully a tripod adjustment? 

Yes.

How do you do it without taking the level out of the mount?

If slightly doesn't matter... the -base- of the tripod can be level,
then the latitude tilt of the mount handles the up/down, and rotating
the head handles the east/west.
Since the scope is totally supported by the RA axle, the tripod could
conceivably be used to tilt the axle up.down without the telescope knowing.

I'm sure it'd be straight forward if you had seen
someone do it, but I don't even know what I'm looking at when I look through
the reticule!

Try those reference pages 

have fun
--dick
And:
Thanks Dick, this is very useful.  Thanks for taking the time out to
help. Going out to dark sky site this W/E and try it.  Will let you know
how it goes.

Subject:	Search function on your telescope sites
Sent:	Wednesday, January 15, 2003 11:31:39
From:	Stephan.Nolte@web.de (Stephan Nolte)
Your telescope sites are a vast pool of knowledge. I am just missing a
search function on the LXD site. Do you plan to include a search
function on these pages as on your ETX pages?

Kind regards and greetings from Germany

Stephan Nolte
Mike here: Thanks! At some point I will implement a search function. Just need the time...
Subject:	Balancing the LXD55 SC-8
Sent:	Wednesday, January 15, 2003 14:34:00
From:	"Felan, Orlando - PWE" (Orlando.Felan@cityofhouston.net)
I am 49 and a newcomer to telescopes.  I have had an ETX 60AT with
Autostar for a little over a year and have never had any problems of any
type. Its a good little telescope. I recently acquired an LXD55 SC-8.
The manual doesn't provide answers for over half of my questions. I've
never had or used a GEM before. Now that I have found your web site and
all its information, everything is all seeming to magically fall into
place. Thanks for such a great web site. My first question concerns
balancing the telescope. When I unlock the R.A. or DEC lever it seems
like there is still alot of friction when moving the OTA on either axis.
Is it supposed to be like this or should it be smooth and almost
frictionless? When I try to balance with the two weights, its difficult
to find that precise placement of the weights. I can move the weights
several inches in either direction and the telescope won't move. I have
to move the weights all the way to either end of the rod for the OTA to
drop or rise quickly and smoothly. Are the motors still engaged or is it
that a precise placement of the weights isn't needed?

My second question concerns the R.A. setting circle. I used your link to
Jason Carden's "Using the Polar Finder Scope" and understand it pretty
well. But I'm still not sure what the little scale labeled "R.A." and
graduated with "0 2 4 6 8 10" is and how it is used.

Any help you can give me with these  questions will be greatly
appreciated. And thanks for the tremendous help you have already given
me through your website.

Orlando Felan
Mike here: I have noticed that there does not appear to be a "frictionless" movement but when I balanced I just put the single counterweight where there seemed to be a minimum of resistance when moving the telescope by hand. I don't think I've had any out-of-balance problems. As to the extra numbers by the RA scale, I haven't tried to deal with the polar alignment yet; I've just been eyeballing it and getting good results (lately, now that I have the Autostar probably setup).
Subject:	Re: SN-6 go/to problems
Sent:	Wednesday, January 15, 2003 09:51:28
From:	John Gilkison (jgilkiso@zianet.com)
Mike

I tried your method last night and it worked in that it improved
accuracy. The first time I tried it, the alignment star was Betelgeuse
and I had to move the scope dramatically. I could tell I was way off the
pole still but objects were in the field on the west side of the mount
but not the east side. The second time I tried it the first align star
was Capella and the amount I had to move the mount wasn't that dramatic
and I had pretty good accuracy on both sides of the mount. The only
acception was M-45 which is near Capella which was at the edge of the
field.

You certainly have me intrigued about getting more serious about getting
a good polar alignment now. I guess using alt/az go/to ruined meon the
concept or it's importance. The manual seems to indicate it isn't
important for casual viewing which I find strange because most beginners
aren't going to know they aren't looking at certain objects because it
is outside the field of view.

In the old days I always tried to get good polar alignments formy fixed
telescopes (through the drift method). On a field mount used for casual
viewing you still had to find things anyway. I was thinking that with
such a generous field of view for the SN-6 just having the polestar
centered was good enough. So what I need to do from here is discover a
method that works for me for getting a reasonably good alignment.

I looked at your polar alignment publication and I have to say it isn't
clarified for me by that document. The photograph that shows a set up
for August 7 appears to me to be on the wrong side of the number eight?
I played with this, but doing a set up for January seemed impossible as
I understood it. What I think I can do is set up now when Polaris is at
upper culmination early in the evening and see what that looks like.I
will get back to you about this later in the week.

Thanks again for all your help

*
John Gilkison
President, National Public Observatory

Subject:	RE: Autostar Bug?
Sent:	Wednesday, January 15, 2003 05:05:58
From:	"Wayne" (wayne@lawler.name)
Mike,

Firstly, thanks for your response, it is much appreciated.

I have completed a Calibrate to no avail.

I get the feeling that there is something not quite right with the
autostar database itself.  After I have completed the alignment process,
if I then try to Goto either the Constellation of Orion or the Great
Nebula in Orion, the autostar tells me that neither of these objects is
currently above the horizon.

If I try a GoTo on one of the specific stars in the Orion constellation
(eg, Rigel or Betelguese) the Autostar works just fine.

After I have slewed to one of these stars, I can then select the Orion
nebula or the Constellation of Orion from the Autostar menu and the
autostar will then slew to the appropriate object without any
problem(ie, no error message that the Nebula/Constellation is not above
the horizon).

This is not causing me major grief, as if I can still(eventually) slew
to the selected object.

I will contact a local Meade distributor to see if they have heard of
any other occurrences similar to the one I have described.

If that fails, I will try to get them to reproduce the error on one of
their units to find out if this behavior is limited to my unit
only.Failing that, I will email Meade in the US and go from there.

Thanks again for your response.  I will let you know if I manage to find
out where the problem lies.

Regards,

Wayne Lawler
Mike here: Definitely odd. I can go to M42 without problem with 2.6Ec on the LXD55. Meade's bug report address is engineer@meade.com.

And:

From:	Dick Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
I saw your note on Mike's site, and have a suggestion:

Press [enter] before pressing [GoTo].

If you are seeing 
 Solar System
   Saturn
on the display, you haven't really -selected- Saturn (yet).
When you press [enter], it will become:
  Saturn
   Calculating....
then
  Saturn
  RA=HH:MM  Dec=DD:MM

-now- it's selected, and -now- you can GoTo it.

That little slew you saw each time it "didn't work"?
That's the system GoTo'ing the -last- object you selected.
i.e. pretty much where you are -now-.  So it doesn't slew far.

How's that?  Both symptoms explained.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Initial LXD55 8" SC Experiences
Sent:	Tuesday, January 14, 2003 14:44:28
From:	Jim Davis (davisj@lisd.net)
Michael - Many LXD55 web sites and newsgroups are helpful but I consider
your site with pictures of unpacking, setup, and a journal of
experiences the most helpful. We are in the process of getting funding
and will probably get an LXD55 SC-8. None of our teachers consider
themselves competent at astronomy. We will have to work hard to keep up
with the children and parents who will show up at a star party.Thanks
for your support. I expect a lot of people have enjoyed your site. I
also think it is important to tell somebody when they do a good job.

Jim Davis, Lamar Middle School Math, Flower Mound, TX

Subject:	Autostar Bug?
Sent:	Tuesday, January 14, 2003 06:56:41
From:   yawne@iprimus.com.au (Wayne)
My name is Wayne Lawler and I live in Sydney, Australia. I was wondering
if you have heard of Autostar doing any of the strange things that I am
about to outline in this message.

Several months ago I purchased a Meade LXD-55 10 inch S/N with Autostar
model 497.  I have completed the most recent web updates for the ASU
PROGRAM and then to the handbox itself.  The current version of software
is 26EC.

After I have completed the alignment (either easy or two star) the
autostar seems to have problems with some objects and finding those
objects in the sky.  The Orion Nebula seems to have the poor old
Autostar completely confused (or maybe it's only me!).  If I complete
the alignment process and leave the Autostar pointed in the opposite
direction in the sky, then perform a "Goto" on the Orion Nebula, the
Autostar simply slews a couple of degrees and displays that it is now
pointing at the selected object.

Currently Orion is located roughly to the North East of my location
early in the evening, whilst Autostar thinks that Orion has decided to
up and move to the South West!  It gets stranger.  If I select the
constellation of Orion from the Constellation menu in Autostar, it tells
me that the Constellation is not yet above the Horizon.  Yet, if I tell
the Autostar to Goto the star Rigel (which I think hasn't moved any time
recently and still lives in the Constellation of Orion), then
theautostar slews successfully to Rigel.

If I then select the Orion Nebula whilst pointing in the correct general
position in the sky, the Autostar successfully moves to the orion
Nebula!  I have also found a similar problem with Saturn.  If the
autostar is pointing Southwards when you ask it to goto Saturn, it
simply slews a couple of degrees and says that it is now on Saturn
(which has now moved to the South West of Australia!)

I am confused.  I have rechecked all of the details that I have entered
and they appear to be OK.  I have reset and started with completely new
settings and the same problem occurs. The Autostar seems to be fine most
of the time - is it possible that there is some sort of database error
or that there is a bug that affects only the Southern Hemisphere?  Have
I lost the plot?

Thanks for reading my message and if you have any thoughts or
feedback,that would be much appreciated.

Kind Regards,

Wayne Lawler
Mike here: I haven't heard of a specific southern hemisphere bug. But is the proper telescope model selected? And have you done a CALIBRATE? Sometimes besides the RESET and reTRAIN, a CALIBRATE seems to help. Let me know.
Subject:	Autostar Alignment
Sent:	Monday, January 13, 2003 19:04:51
From:	"Shane Allen" (shanea@danka.com.au)
Recently purchased a SN6 and observe from Brisbane, Queensland,
Australia. Have had considerable trouble with Autostar alignment, which
I think is made more difficult as everything in the manual is Northern
Hemisphere specific. I have calibrated and trained motors, (had to
tighten gears in both RA and Dec drives though) tried many variations of
pointing the tripod south, know that my tripod is level, have tried
variations on latittude adjustment (as the pointer on this adjustment is
a tad ambiguous) and have gotten close to having a good two star
alignment, but it is never exact.

From what I can gather, using the slew keys to make big adjustments to
centre stars in the eyepiece (usually Sirus and Canopus) causes the
alignment to fail.  How much use of the slew keys and at what speed will
cause the alignment to fail?  And given that I have been through about
50 close, but no cigar alignments, what would you recommend doing to get
it more accurate?

Your advice would be much appreciated!

Shane Allen
Mike here: I would not say that using the slew arrow keys causes any inaccuracies. Under normal circumstances you should use the slew keys. I have used several speeds on my ETX telescopes as well as the LXD55 and haven't seen any reason to suspect a problem with the speed setting. The Polar Home position seems to be a critical item for the LXD55 GEM, unlike with the ETX which can be used in Alt/Az. So, latitude, optic/mount alignment, leveling, and good pointing at the celestial pole seem to be important. One other point I recently noted on my LXD55 web site: be certain the Autostar is set for your scope model, do a RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN (especially important if you have updated or cloned the Autostar). That solved all my oddities on GOTOs. By the way, does your Autostar have 2.6Ec?

And:

Thanks for this Mike.

What has been happening is that with the two star alignment, the scope
will slew to the direction of the first star (Sirus) and then stop.  It
will be visible in the outer realms of the viewfinder, and obviously
nowhere to be seen in the low power eyepiece.  At this point I have been
bumping the slew speed up to 7 or 8 to centre the star in the eypiece. 
The process repeats itself with the second star (Canopus) but the
alignment always fails.

The drama I have is that a combination of obstructed South Celestial
Pole from my site and lack of knowledge of finding the SCP,but the
manual gives every indication that as long as the front leg of the
tripod is pointing south, and the OTA is pointing south, that everything
should be honky dory. Obviously not the case?  Are there any resources
you could point me to in correctly polar aligning this mount in the
Southern Hemisphere?

You also mentioned optic/mount alignment.  Is there a procedure for
that? Don't know if my Autostar has 2.6Ec. How do I tell?

Thanks for spending the time on a newbie.
Mike here: Sorry I misinterpreted what you meant. If you get an Alignment Failed message then the Autostar was not happy with one or both stars that were centered. That usually happens when you select the wrong star to center. But as the stars you've chosen are bright, the next thing that could cause the problem is if the stars are too close together in the sky. Try some different stars. You can find some tips for Southern alignments on the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site (not written for the GEM mount but could help). Also, check Jason Carden's "Using the Polar Alignment Scope" article. Both are linked from my LXD55 Site home page. Jason has some further info that might help. You can see the short version of the Autostar ROM version when you power-on the telescope. To see the full version, select Setup-->Statistics and scroll up/down until you see the version display.
Subject:	re:  LXD55 SC8 Question.
Sent:	Saturday, January 11, 2003 11:03:52
From:	Dick Seymour (rseymour@wolfenet.com)
To:	NANATE25@aol.com
Another model to consider is the 8" LX-90.

In my opinion, it falls halfway between the LXD and the LX200gpsin terms
of price and features... enjoying the best of both. It's a real "sweet
spot" in the price/performance area. It's simpler to set up and use than
the LXD55, but doesn't have the (expensive, heavier) extra features of
the LX200gps. The heavy part (when you're setting up) is almost 20 pounds
lighter than the LX200gps.

It looks and runs like a "grown up" ETX model.

I -have- a 10" LX200gps, and an ETX90 and an ETX70.

But for an 8",  mostly visual us (with some photography), if it's within
your budget, consider the LX90.  They've been out a year longer than the
LX200gps, the Autostar firmware is the same as the ETX90/105/125 (and
LXD55) uses, so it's quite"mature" (read: all of the big bugs have been
squashed).

There is a Yahoo group discussing its merits and misadventures:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lx90/

I believe Clay Sherrod's opinion is that it's the best buy for the
buckin that size range.

For the record, here are a pair of other Yahoo groups,one for the
LX200gps, the other for the LXD family:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LXD55telescopes/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LX200GPS/

..and, although Saturn is impressive, i have to admit that -i'm-
always caught by the dance of Jupiter's moons... over the course of a
half hour you can see them -move-... passing each other, disappearing and
reappearing.

Another fascinating target for your mother's Tasco scope... it rises
just before 8pm these days, and is the brightest thing almost due west
between 9pm and 10pm (and keeps rising...).

have fun trying to choose...
--dick
Mike here: Excellent point Dick. I almost got the LX90 8" instead of the LXD55 8"SC. They have the same optics. But I opted for the LXD55.

And:

To Dick.
Thank you very much for the input. I have been looking at the LX90 too.
Another one that I was looking at is the Meade LXD55 AR6 Do you know if
it has as good of optics as the 8" SC's ? I've seen pictures that people
have taken with competitive 6" models that looked very impressive. The
price is lower but I don't want to sacrifice any image quality. Oh. and
Mike. What ever scope I get will never go in a closet. I will be fine
toting it around and I don't believe I will ever run out of time or
things too look at. I think I will build me a custom box to carry the
whole rig in too. My Grandfather has a place in Texas I can take it too
on weekends. I know, that's a lot to carry around all the time. That's
ok. I have plenty of love for nature and astronomy to put up with a lot.
OH. And, how many people think a mid 70's Konica Autoreflex T3 camera
will do for astrophotography? I'm taking pictures of the moon with a
75-260mm lens and a 2X adapter to test it out. I'll send you some if
they come out good, Mike. Thanks very much for the help and info Dick.

Mike has developed THE amateur astronomer site. You people are great.

Nate

And:

Sorry, but i can't render an opinion on the refractors.  I've never
seen one.  The Yahoo LXD55 group discusses them regularly.
Some members have -both- AR and SN and SC models, so they can give
side-by-side, or "why i sold my..." reports.

A good source of Used equipment is www.astromart.com

have fun
--dick

Subject:	Condensation on corrector lens
Sent:	Saturday, January 11, 2003 15:17:12
From:	Richard Durrant (orionjrd@btinternet.com)
Hi first of all many thanks for your wonderful site, it's great to read
andsee your experiences with the SC-8.

The SC-8 is my first telescope and I would appreciate some advice
namelycondensation. After being out on a cold night the front corrector
lenssteams up when I bring the scope indoors after veiwing I know this
is due totemperature change but is this the right thing o do? After a
time the condensation evaporates off but looking at the correctorthere
are tiny marks where the dew has been is this usual? Is it best to leave
well alone and will they affect the performance?Sorry all this sounds
basic stuff but I have a lot to learn!

Regards John Durrant  UK.
Mike here: Yes, condensation will form in that case. Unless the residue is really gross I would leave it alone for now. The common tendency is to over-clean optics and that can actually be worse than the problem being removed. Plus, if you have the UHTC, one has to be more careful. However, if you really think you need to clean it, see Dr. Clay Sherrod's solution in the "Cleaning Optics" article on the Buyer/New User Tips page on my ETX Site.
Subject:	SN-6 go/to problems
Sent:	Friday, January 10, 2003 09:58:27
From:	John Gilkison (jgilkiso@zianet.com)
I called OPT today about go/to problems with my Meade LXD-55 SN-6 and
they gave me your website. I bought the scope in May of 2002 and
obviously want to have any problems ironed out before May of 2003.

The telescope will not accurately go/to objects after several sessions
of working with it to try to sort out the problems. It will go/to the
area where a object is but typically be off a degree or more with the
object not being inside a low power eyepiece FOV.

I have worked with trying to align the optical axis with the mount, and
I have tried to train the motors. I gave up on the polar finder scope
battery as it is always dead when I go back to the scope. The only way I
know to keep them is to take them out everytime? The instructions that
came with this telescope are not good, and so far I have not been able
to get the telescope to go/to accurately enough to rely on it for public
events.

I currently own a 12 inch LX-200 and a Meade 70 mmm go/to with autostar
and I can get both of these telescopes to go/to accurately enough for
normal use. I have been flustrated by the SN-6 mount so far. Do you have
any ideas?

*
John Gilkison
President, National 
Public Observatory
jgilkiso@zianet.com
www.astronomy-national-public-observatory.org
Mike here: Getting used to the GEM mount does seem to require some changes when you've been used to using the ETX. I know I had to make some changes. Some points: Get the latest version of the Autostar ROM from Meade's site. RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN the drives. Be certain to use really good batteries or a good external AC or DC power supply; the LXD55 seems to really eat batteries. I set the telescope up in the GEM Polar Home position (Polaris is visible in through the Polar Alignment scope and then in the 26mm eyepiece). Be certain the OTA is directly above the GEM head. Then power on the system and go through the alignment. Now that I have this procedure down I'm getting good alignments, GOTOs, and tracking.
If this doesn't work for you then you may need to go through some further steps to improve the optical alignment with the physical alignment of the GEM.

And:

I have a power supply and will try that this weekend. I will try your
suggestions. I am not sure how to go about downloading the latest
version of the Autostar ROM from Meade's site or how to download it to
the telescope?  I can RESET, CALIBRATE, and TRAIN the drives! I will let
you know how it goes.
Mike here: To download the updated ROMs to the Autostar you will need the #505 cable from Meade. It turns out to be a pretty easy cable to make; instructions are on the Autostar Information page on my ETX Site (linked from my LXD55 Site).

And later:

Not good news. I spent Saturday aligning the polar scope with the
mechanical axis and I also aligned the main telescope with this. I
double checked the site info and made sure I used an atomic clock to set
the time. I set up on the pole as accurately as I could.

I tried doing a two star alignment several times and the unit failed the
alignment although I know the sky and I had the right stars, (Capella
and Betelgeuse). Finally I got a sucessful alignment on Castor and
Capella. In every case the telescope at best goes/to an object putting
it in the edge of the field. If I center the object and do a sync and
then go to another object it is off at the edge of the field or not even
in the field. I am using a 26mm eyepiece so these fields are pretty
generous.

At this point I am very flustrated. I trained the drives today also just
to see if that would help. In the nine months I have had this scope it
consistantly has done the same thing. That is it failes known sucessful
alignments and it will not go/to objects accurately enought to get them
in the field at all 50% of the time.

Where do I go from here. While it is better it is still unacceptably
inaccurate as a go/to?
Mike here: Is the Site location set for a reasonably close city or even to your exact lat/long? If so, lets try a trick. Set up in the GEM Polar Home position and do the Easy Two-Star Alignment. When the Autostar slews to the first alignment star and asks you to center the star, instead of slewing the telescope, physically pick up the telescope, mount included, and rotate it horizontally until the star is as close to the center of the finderscope FOV as you can get it. Then finish centering it, first in the finderscope and then in the eyepiece using the Autostar slew arrows. If you want, change to a higher power eyepiece for the final centering (although I rarely do that myself). Press ENTER to confirm that this first star is centered. The Autostar will now slew to the second alignment star; center it normally using the Autostar slew arrows and press ENTER. Let me know if this helps.

And:

The site location is my exact Lat/Long. I will try this, but I am
mystified  as to how this would help, or if it did work, where would it
leave me sinse the polar axis would then be so far off (unless I am
actually that far off the pole)? I only have weekend to work on this
problem so I won't be back at this until this coming weekend.

P.S. If I am this badly off the pole I can put it on the pole with the
drift method, although this is of little use in anything except
perminant installations.
Mike here: Yep, it helps when you miss the NCP. I use the technique when I can't see Polaris or otherwise determine True North.

And:

I am open minded, and I will try it. I don't believe I am that far off,
but anything is possible? I have noticed that on the initial go/to for
alignment stars are off as you say, and I have wondered about it? Since
I cut my teeth on a  old style LX-200 where you slew to the alignment
stars I really had not made any connection about this initial miss on
the alignment stars until you mentioned it. I will try it as soon as I
can, and I want you to know how much I appreciate your help. I will have
a report on the sucess of this to you in a few days if the weather
continues to cooperate.

Subject:	External power supply for LXD55
Sent:	Friday, January 10, 2003 08:35:38
From:	Jim Kraemer (jkraeme@us.ibm.com)
I upgraded from an ETX90 to an LXD55 SN 8" this Christmas.  I had been
using an external power supply from Radio Shack to power my ETX when I
am at home.  I can't remember the post on your Mighty ETX site, but I
used the adapter plug suggested on one post.  An external power supply
really drives the scope even when the temperature makes it painful to go
outside.

My question is:  Is the power plug polarity for the LXD55 German mount
the same as the polarity for the ETX.  I would like to use the same RS
power supply for my new scope, but I will purchase a new one if
necessary.

Boy, the new scope lets me see clearly what my ETX just hinted at.  It
is just getting more fun all the time!!

Jim Kraemer Ph.D.
Mike here: I suspect it is but haven't seen a confirmation of this.
Subject:	AutoStar info, one queston
Sent:	Sunday, January 5, 2003 21:26:06
From:	Hscisiii@aol.com
I am hoping you could clear up one important question I have regarding
AutoStar. I certainly understand if you are unable to answer me
personally and I did look through your site prior to contacting you
directly

I have a 10 ' Meade LX55 and have downloaded the most recent Autostart
software for the controller.

I am unable to site Polaris from my backyard viewing location, basically
my house is in the way. I can sight Polaris from the front of my house,
but it has other problems, mostly from the lights of my neighbors front
porches and the occasional car.

So while I expect to go to better sites for observations, I do have some
questions about the limitations, if any, this condition places on my
ability to enjoy AutoStar and its features in the location of my
backyard.

I have entered the parameters the Autostart asks.

I know you can align to stars that are not Polaris, and I can identify
and sight several of the stars offered in the 2 star alignment menu
choices.

My question is since I cannot align to Polaris, does this mean I never
can settle in the Home position.

Without the ability to align to Polaris, ( and the subsequent "Home"
position) do I lose all of the real benefits of AutoStar, tracking and
goto?

Or is going with the non Polaris 2 start alignment sufficient to allow
the goto and tracking capabilities

Any insight you can provide would be sincerely appreciated. By the way,
I live in the North East San Fernando Valley

H.Schuyler Collins 
Mike here: Not being able to see Polaris to point you to True North is not that much a problem. Just use another means to find approximate it. Since you can see it from another location you can determine True North's relation to your house and then just use that same orientation where you set up. As you do this more times you'll get better and better at finding the right location for True North. One thing you can do (which I've done from some locations when I can't see Polaris and I'm unfamiliar with the local geography) is to point approximately North and let the Autostar slew to the first alignment star. Then physically pick up the tripod to rotate it so that the star is as close as possible to where the telescope is pointing. Then center the star using the slew keys. Then just center the second star normally using the slew keys.
Subject:	LXD55 SC8 Question.
Sent:	Saturday, January 4, 2003 21:16:36
From:	NANATE25@aol.com
I found your website a few weeks ago and it has been so helpful. I have
wanted a telescope all of my life. I am 27 now and I think I can get one
soon. The more I read about them, the more I was no longer ready to just
go out and buy one from the local optical store. Your site made me
realize that you really have to take your time in purchasing one.
Especially if you know you can't afford to change your mind and get a
new one because you want something a little better. OH!! BUT GUESS
WHAT!! I was on the front porch tonight,(way out in the country of
southern Mississippi) with my mothers Tasco 21EB 15x45x D=50mm spotting
scope looking at things. I like to look at the moon with it at night. If
you saw the moon tonight (01/04/03) it was the last quarter I think but
you could see the faint glow of the whole moon. It was pretty and I
observed for about 30 minutes. Well normally this scope is good for
nothing more than looking at wild life and the moon. But, I always look
at stars anyway just because I wish I could see more. It just turns them
into a tad bit bigger, tiny dot. Well, tonight I decided to look at a
kind of bright star that was a bit diagonal to the right of a dimmer
star. And to the right a little below that one was another dim star.
Well I decided to look at the brighter one just to imagine it was
something neat. I bet you already know what I saw. SATURN!!!! I couldn't
believe it. It was so tiny though. It was cute. I showed my parents and
my nephew. We were so amazed. I have never seen anything like that
before in my life. I've seen the pictures on the net and your pics from
yesterday, ( after I came in to write you this) but it was so much
better seeing it myself. I am hooked. I want an 8"SC. Now this is my
question, or few. Sorry about country mile right turn off the subject. I
want an 8" SC but I'm not sur if I want the LXD55 8"SC or the LX200GPS.
I know there is a $700 difference but I think maybe my tax returns will
help for that. The reason I'm not sure which one I want is because of
the difference in problems I have read about between the two. So far,
the LX200GPS reads to be a little more trouble free. I am new into this
stuff but I have patience with computers and electronics but not with
the hardware on something like this. I wouldn't want to have mechanical
problems with it after spending that much money on it. Mainly because of
the cost of shipping it back and repair costs if needed. So could you
give me any input on if it would be worth the price for the ease of
operation of the LX200GPS and trouble differences between the two? I
also want to do astrophotography. I know a cam with 3MP or higher is
better for quality but what kind of exposure time do I look for and how
do I know if the lens will adapt to the scope? Next question, what is
better, f/2 or f/10 or does it depend on the scope? I know how to get
the focal ratio but I don't know enough to know which is better. Look,
sorry this is so long, I am just so wired after seeing Saturn. I love
your site and I am amazed of your willingness to help. Thank you very
much for you time.

Nathan.
Mike here: Glad you like the LXD55 Site. You might also want to check out my ETX Site (http://www.weasner.com/etx). I mention the ETX Site because it is easy to put the ETX, LXD55, and LX200 telescopes in that order of capabilities, cost, and performance. The ETX line has the low-end mount but optically are excellent although they are small. The LXD55 line is a step up mechnically while adding even more optical performance (due to larger apertures). And then there is the LX200 line, an established high-end mount with excellent optics. However, the decision on which telescope to buy has to be based upon HOW you want to use the telescope. The ETX, and to some extent, the LXD55 line, are portable telescopes, meaning you can set the up on a moment's notice. The ETX line is small enough to easily take on trips. The LX200, and to some extent, the LXD55, require more setup time due to their size. For many, you have to move the mount outside, then take the telescope tube out and attach it, the hook up everything, then do the alignments, and then finally you are ready to observe. Yes, the views are really good through larger telescopes, but that only means something if you are willing to actually USE the telescope. For many people, larger telescopes end up in the closet because they become too cumbersome to use. That spotting scope you've been using is like the ETX, easy to carry and set up, and that has enhanced your enjoyment of the night sky. So, like I said, it comes down to HOW you want to use a telescope. Larger aperture and longer focal length can be important if you want a lot of magnification to see a lot of details on the Moon and planets or fainter galaxies and nebulae. For the best astrophotography you need a good mount. Yes, you can do some types of astrophotography with just about any telescope (you can see many examples of ETX astrophotography on my ETX Site) but if you plan to get into serious astrophotography, the LX200 is the best choice. (By the way, don't forget that there are telescopes from Celestron and Orion that you might want to look into. Pricing and features will vary somewhat from manufacturer to manufacturer. I like Meade but other people like other telescopes. Many dealers carry both Meade and Celestron.) As to which camera for astrophotography, check out the Helpful Information --> Astrophotography page on my ETX Site. Lots of discussions about some different cameras. f/2 or f/10? Just like with cameras, the smaller the f/ ratio the more light that reaches the eye (or film plane). With telescopes, smaller f/ ratios typically mean that the telescope is better for wide-field use and larger f/ ratios will have longer focal lengths meaning that you'll get more magnification from the telescope. Keep in mind that there is a theoretical maximum magnification for any telescope: twice the aperture in millimeters or 50-60X per inch of aperture. So for the 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain, that works out to 400X or a range of 400-480X. You can exceed this on good nights with bright objects but the image becomes more fuzzy the closer you get to the max and can really breakup when you exceed the max. However, I have exceeded the max on the ETX-90, ETX-125, and LXD55 8"SC on the Moon and the brighter planets. Lastly, the moon that you observed on 4 January was not a Last Quarter moon but a thin crescent moon. The "dark side" of the moon was being illuminated by "earthshine", or sunlight reflected from the Earth.
Subject:	re: Polar alignment
Sent:	Friday, January 3, 2003 23:08:40
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
On Mike's ETX site it was asked:
> One of the nice things about the LX-200 is that it allows you to refine
> polar alignment by periodically slewing to polaris.  I've used this
> method often and it gives excellent polar alignment with very little 
> pain in 3-4 cycles.
>  Is there any way one could fake the mechanism with the autostar?  

..and i'm happy to report that the answer is "yes".

It's a technique called "iterative polar alignment", and is done almost
exactly like the LX200's method.

To wit:
(a) Polar Align as per normal.
(b) GoTo a star (Aldebaran?) neat the equator.
(c) SYNC on that star.
(d) GoTo Polaris
(e) *mechanically* adjust the mount to remove -half- of the error 
 seen in the eyepiece.
(f) return to step (b), above.  Repeat until the (e) error is acceptable.

What you're doing is mechanically improving your polar mounting (e),
and then the SYNC step (c) tells the Autostar that you've moved a bit.
The trick of only removing -half- (or 2/3rds) of the error is to avoid
overshooting... it allows the method to -converge- on the proper 
alignment, rather than hunting -around- the perfect point.

3 to 5 iterations is usually more than adequate.

"Mechanically" means adjust the mount's latitude-tilt and azimuth.
SYNC means the hold-enter-3-seconds, and then slew to center as prompted.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: Would it work with the LXD55 GEM?
It should be universal... it does require that the scope
be properly set up (the "LXD Adjust" procedure should be done
to guarantee that the LXD's optical axis is truly parallel 
to the RA axle)

I certainly didn't invent the procedure... there's even a "white paper"
circulating among the Classic LX200 crowd discussing what makes for
a good choice of the "second" star (sorry... can't find the URL at the 
moment).
I've just gotten moderately adept in describing it in a few lines.

have fun
--dick
Mike here: With my recent GOTO difficulties, I may have to consider checking this.
Subject:	Autostar differences
Sent:	Thursday, January 2, 2003 12:51:25
From:	"Bob White" (gunta@socal.rr.com)
Here are some pictures of the different Autostar jacks from an older
"ETX" Autostar and the newer "LXD55" Autostar.

Bob
Autostar jack

Autostar jack

Autostar jack

Mike here: I compared the jacks on the three Autostars I have. My older "ETX Autostar" looks the same as my LXD55 "Autostar"; the pins seem raised. I have another Autostar #497 that I got from Meade about 18 months ago and it is different; the pins lay flat.

And:

I know this jack is the #1 problem people are having with resets and
motor unit faults (even some dead looking units e.g. no display). 
Several folks have Emailed me saying thanks for the tip to lift the pins
as it fixed their problems too.

As for the gotos of the LXD55.  It does appear based on some people
complaining that there might also be a sidereal speed issue (4 mins per
hour). While I cannot confirm this yet, my scope does not track at the
correct speed either. In my 12mm Nagler M42 would drift out of the FOV
in about 3-4 minutes. I wonder if Meade has an issue somewhere here too
which varies from motor to motor? Possible I guess but needs more proof
/ validation.  My ETX125 will track better than this scope. I need to
re-validate if there is a tracking problem.  Some folks posts on Yahoo
sounds very familiar to what I am seeing.  I am going to play with the
RA percents to see if this helps at all.

Anyway I have been getting poor gotos as well.  Last night I worked on
my worm gear backlash to clean that up (it was sloppy).  MAN what a job!
You have test how tight the worm gear is across the full 360 degrees of
the RA and ALT gears.  The RA and ALT gears are not round!  The result
is some sloppy areas and some tight areas with the 360 degrees of
rotation.  Obviously you don't want it too tight so you have to find and
adjust to the tightest area.  Hmmm the gears could be better for sure.
We shall see if this helps improve gotos.

Also think that if there is a tracking (motor rate) issue on some mounts
then this will effect gotos for large distances don't you think?  My
close gotos are just OK but longer slews are way off! My LX200 10" is
always right on so I do have a high benchmark to compare to but even my
ETX-125 is doing better than this LXD55 right now.

I'll keep you posted about what I find. My LX200 10"

Bob
Mike here: What was bugging me last night is that on previous nights GOTO was nearly excellent. One thing that just occurred to me is that I was always in a rush on previous nights. Last night I took extra care on the polar alignment (not precise, just tried harder than previous nights). I remember that with my ETX I always got better GOTOs when I didn't go overboard trying to set a precise HOME position. Maybe I should go back to that technique with the LXD55! As to poor tracking, yes, there was some drift evident at high powers, but nothing too extreme for visual work.
Subject:	star test
Sent:	Thursday, January 2, 2003 06:50:39
From:	"Steve Rigsby" (srigsby@icsi.net)
I, and perhaps some others, would be interested in your description of
the star test on your new scope. Even though I have the Suiter book,
without the opportunity to inspect other telescopes, the results are
somewhat hard to interpret.


Stephen Rigsby
Mike here: There are some tests mentioned on my ETX Site (on the Telescope Tech Tips page). I've yet done a thorough star test of the LXD55 8"SC but did notice nice Airy disks.
Subject:	CCD imaging
Sent:	Wednesday, January 1, 2003 16:35:56
From:	"Michael Knapp" (golfing18@msn.com)
Happy New Year!

You may recognize my name from your ETX site. My father-in-law is
interested in purchasing a telescope specifically for CCD imaging. It
seems that every telescope description I read indicates that "the
(insert scope name here) is ideally suited for CCD imaging." As a new
user of the Meade LXD55, have you had any experience with imaging and in
your opinion, would you consider the

LXD55 a good choice for CCD imaging?

Thanks,

Mike Knapp
Mike here: Many scopes will do CCD imaging since they are typically short exposures. The ETX can do and so can the LXD55. Aperture becomes one important component since you do want a lot of light reaching the CCD. I haven't done any CCD work but have used the Sonfest SAC imager as well as digital cameras.
Subject:	re: SC-8  (Solar Tracking Rate)
Sent:	Tuesday, December 31, 2002 23:28:13
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	cfkjjk@bellsouth.net
The tracking rate adjustment for the sun is about -3

(23 hours 56 minutes divided by 24 hours = 0.997 
and the tracking rates are expressed in tenths of percent of sidereal.
So 0.3% slower is -3

have fun ... use filters and don't forget to block the finders.
--dick

Subject:	re: ordered from OPT
Sent:	Monday, December 30, 2002 09:15:52
From:	"oelsch" (oelsch@prodigy.net)
Mike,
On the strength of your experience, I placed my order

this morning on the LXD55 SC-8 w/ UHTC with

some peripherals.
Craig told me that they had several in stock at the start of the Holiday
season --- alas, all sold out.
So now the holding pattern begins.
Many thanks for your assistance
Cheers,
Max
Mike here: You'll like it! Let me know when it arrives.
Subject:	Mounting an ETX on a SN6
Sent:	Sunday, December 29, 2002 17:10:43
From:	Joe Rodricks (joerodricks@attbi.com)
I'm wondering if anyone has mounted an ETX (90mm) on an SN. I plan on 
putting my ETX optical tube on my SN-6 if it ever comes. I'll probably 
guide through one and photograph through the other. I may guide through 
the SN6 and photograph through the ETX, because I have an electric 
focusser for that, and I dont know how well the SN6 focuser will hold the 
weight of my camera at afocal. 

Thanks.

Joe, 18, MA, USA
Mike here: There is probably a Losmandy mount that would work with the SN6. I've seen ETX-90 OTA mounted on LX200 telescopes using the Losmandy mounts.
Subject:	SC-8 POSTS
Sent:	Monday, December 30, 2002 07:25:42
From:	"CARMEN KUNSTMANN" (cfkjjk@bellsouth.net)
Thank-you for the excellent reports of your lxd55 sc-8. I wish there
were more posts with actual observation reports like yours. Keep them
coming. Your kitts peak trip looks great.

I am 59 and live in light polluted miami,fl. I used to have a meade
2080(bought in 1983, sold in 1987). I have a lxd55 ar-5 (got it
12/10/02)and a 80mm f11 and i am a member of the yahoo lxd55telescopes
group, and several othrs.

The only problems i have had with the ar-5 are-1.-The spiked feet were
wobbly(i corrected this by removing the feet and putting some duct tape
on the legs and putting the feet back on) and 2.-The tripod is too short
for a refractor. I bought 3 8x8x16" cbs blocks to put my setup on. The
extra 8" is a real neck and back saver.

I have also replaced the straight thru 8x50 finder scope with an orion
9x50 right angle-it fits right into the stock meade mounting
rings(another neck and back saver).

Since the legs on the tripod

are fully extended and i get some torque twist, i am currently checking
into surveyor tripods with wooden legs to replace the stock one(most of
them are as tall or taller with the legs retracted than the meade is
fully extended). I've read several articles about this but none about
how they mounted their telescope and whether they are really solid.

Other than that i am extremely happy with my ar-5. I get almost perfect
gotos with easy align and i haven't even used the polar scope yet(except
to look thru to adjust latitude)-the plastic is still separating the
batteries.

Your etx site is great-lots of info there.

Last month i think i saw a question about the custom tracking rate of
the sun. Do you remeber what it is?

In case you missed warps and my post on the lxd55 group-it is highly
recommended that you remove the ota and counterweights when not in use.
You should also unlock the dec and ra locks so nothing gets flat
spotted.

Thank-you again for all of your good info.

Sorry this is so long.

 JOHN
Mike here: I do recall the Sun tracking question but not the answer. For all practical purposes, sidereal tracking rate should be adequate.
Subject:	re: observations and photo's of 12-27
Sent:	Saturday, December 28, 2002 03:01:34
From:	"oelsch" (oelsch@prodigy.net)
Mike, based on your results, I'm ordering the LXD55 SC8. It looks to be
just what I need.

On the dew issue: I've been enjoying some views lately of Saturn,
Jupiter etc. through a C90 telephoto (1000 mm, no finder) here in
Flagstaff. I can circumvent the dew problem entirely by bringing the
lens and tripod inside the garage for a two or three hour warm-up, even
when the outside temp is in the 20s. Then on inside. Your humidity may
be much higher, so this may not work in your location. But lately we've
been in the 40-to-50 percent range.

Enjoyed the photos. Incredible that such photographs can be achieved
with today's technology.

Cheers,
Max
Mike here: I live close to the ocean so the humidity does get pretty high at times. With my smaller telescopes (up to the ETX 5") dew wasn't much of a problem. But the 8"SC just seemed to warrant not dealing with the problem so I've ordered a dewshield. I'll report on it when it arrives.
Subject:	LXD55 Tracking
Sent:	Friday, December 27, 2002 20:34:56
From:	don@aiwebs.com (Don Waid)
I have a LXD55 mount which I use with my Celestron C8.  The tracking is
very slow.  I have to use a custom tracking setting of +104 to keep
objects centered.  If I use the standard tracking, RA drift is about .5
degrees in 15 min.  Others on the user group have reported the same
thing.  I also note that the tracking is very jerky.  This is very
evident when using eyepieces less than 15mm.  I wanted to do imaging
with the telescope but with this problem I do not think this will be
possible.

I was wandering if you have notice a similar problem.  If so, do you
have a solution?

Thanks,

Don
Mike here: Tracking on my standard LXD55 8"SC is very smooth and accurate. It isn't perfect, as can be seen by the longest duration photography of M42 that I posted on my LXD55 Site on 27 December. I haven't yet tried to determine what the error is from. As to jerky tracking, that can be caused by lots of things: locks too tight, improper counterbalancing, poor gear meshing. Drift while tracking can be caused by poor or less than perfect alignment, improper latitude setting on the GEM mount, wrong latitude on the Autostar, incorrect tracking rates, poor training. One or more of these errors can compound the problem.

And:

Thanks for the prompt reply.  I did carefully balance the telescope.  As
far as the latitude setting in AutoStar, I used a city listed in setup
that is 10 miles from my location.  That was the closest.  Maybe I
should enter the latitude manually.  I tried to carefully polar align
the telescope and think I am pretty close.  The locks being too tight
might be a problem.  I thought you were supposed to tighten them snugly.
I'll try to loosen them a little on the next time out. I question the
gears in the mount.  I  had disassemble and tighten the set screws
twice.  Both times the scope stopped slewing while the motor kept
running.  Once in RA and once in DEC.  This is a common problem with the
mount.  Many postings about this from the user group.  I believe my next
step is to completely disassemble the mount and carefully clean, polish,
and relube all bearings.  I will check the gears for proper mesh at that
time.  If all this fails, it is either a trip back to Meade, or a trip
to eBay.

Subject:	LXD55 10"
Sent:	Friday, December 27, 2002 10:30:54
From:	Steve Gauss (astro@erols.com)
I received my 10" LXD55 with UHTC about a month ago. After a few
observing sessions I note:

o In freezing weather it appeared that Autostar reset itself several
times. I think I saw some other comments that it didn't like cold
weather. Is that the consensus?

o The drive suddenly stopped moving in Dec. I took a chance and undid
the one large Allen bolt holding the motor case and found the gear to be
completely loose. Using a .050" Allen wrench I was able to tighten the
set screw and it works fine now. However, you have to make sure to line
up the two gears so that they mesh - the gear on the head seems to be
flush with the end of the shaft.

o The $99 eyepiece deal is very nice. However, the 9mm eyepiece had all
of its components loose. Do you know the proper orientation for the
lenses?

In just a few nights I've seen more objects than in many years of
observing with my home made 10" Newtonian. Orion Nebula is spectacular,
planets pretty nice.

Regards,
Steve

F. Stephen Gauss
Mike here: Yes, the Autostar does not like really cold weather. But I would check for a loose connector or wire someplace. There have been some recent reports of that and can cause a reset (due to power interruption) when the Autostar cord is pulled. As to the eyepiece, check the article "Eyepiece Designs" on the Telescope Tech Tips page on my ETX Site.

And:

Thanks - that's exactly what I was looking for.

So far I agree with most comments (flimsy mount, some careless assembly)
but am amazed that they can sell a scope like this for the money. (I
spent my life computerizing professional telescopes, starting with a
computer that weighed 1 1/2 tons in 1968 and spending several millions
of dollars in the process).

Regards,
Steve

Subject:	LXD55 SC
Sent:	Thursday, December 26, 2002 11:16:20
From:	Oelsch@prodigy.net (Max Oelschlaeger)
nice website. I've joined the user's group, but you're out ahead of the
pack. So a few comments and then a key question or two.

I'm 59, nearing retirement in abut 3 years, and picking up astronomy
again after a 20 year hiatus. The old days of a 12.5 Newtonian and
hypered film are behind. So much has changed.

Right now I want to get started with a decent, affordable scope that I
can move in and out easily: the LXD55 SC seems to be that scope. The
value and price point seem to intersect here very nicely. And I'm
definitely a GEM kind of person. So, now that it's all said and done,
would you buy the LXD 55 again? Are my conjectures about the
intersection of observing value with price consistent with yours?

Down the road, once retired, who knows? Maybe a big dob in a permanent
observatory. Maybe some CCD photography with a larger SC. It's all fun
to think about.

Finally, I live in Flagstaff. Dark lanes in the MW visible from my house
(in town). My 11x80s got me started again.

Many thanks.

Max Oelschlaeger
Mike here: The LXD55 8"SC seems like a fine telescope. There are some concerns by some about the GEM mount but it seems OK for the 8" SC. And the optics of the 8"SC are impressive (as expected since it is the same OTA and optics as on the LX90 8" and the LX200 8"SC). As my last report indicated, even pushing the max magnification it provided a nice view of Saturn. I'm hoping for some clear skies again but with these recent west coast storms, who knows how soon that will be. But I hope soon so that I can get some extended time with the telescope and can provide a more extensive report.

And:

thanks for the quick response. Do you own optcorp? Does the company of
the LXD55SC with UHTC in stock? If not, does the company run
interference, so to speak, with Meade? What kind of delivery time can I
reasonably expect (to Flagstaff, AZ)?

Max
Mike here: No, I don't own OPT nor do I work for them. We are just doing some astronomy stuff together. All good Meade dealers should be able to "run interference" and OPT is no exception. You'll have to contact them directly for delivery times as I don't have that info.
Subject:	GEM Warning
Sent:	Sunday, December 22, 2002 22:21:25
From:	Donti@aol.com
I was on your above page and noticed some velcro on your tripod legs,
I'm guessing that this add stability to the tripod?

Thanks for the warning.

Don Soria
Mike here: The velcro is to hold the Autostar.
Subject:	Welcome
Sent:	Sunday, December 15, 2002 17:32:30
From:	"Terry Pierson" (fhlboss@buckeye-express.com)
Mike: Welcome to the LXD series. I've followed you ETX site for about a
year and always find it informative. I received my LXD SN10 UTC in
August, Thus far, I find it to be a pretty good scope for the money. No
doubt the eyepiece deal helped.

Terry Pierson
Toledo, Ohio

Subject:	Thanks
Sent:	Saturday, December 14, 2002 20:40:06
From:	"Bruce J. Skelly" (Bruce@Skelly.COM)
I just wanted to drop you a note to thank you for all of the hard work.
I ve been on the LXD55 telescope group for several months now, and there
is a lot of good advise given out. The problem is separating the wheat
from the chaff. After visiting you ETX site off and on over the years, I
know that you are an expert at doing just that. I look forward to
reading you site as you develop it in the future.

Yours,
 Bruce--

Subject:	LXD55 6" S-newt
Sent:	Saturday, December 14, 2002 07:49:31
From:	"Joe Rodricks" (joerodricks@attbi.com)
I just ordered my LXD 55 from OPT. They said that realistically I won't
get it for about 8 weeks. Thats ok with me though, as the up grade from
my ETX 90 to to an LXD 55 is a huge jump for me. I plan on using my ETX
OTA as a guide scope. I bought a solar filt fro mt ETX from OPT a while
back. I was happy with the service. I noticed that you got yuor new
LXD55 from them so I decided I'd give them another shot. Shortly after I
orderd online, I got a call from them. I forget the name of the guy I
talked to but he was very nice and informative.

I still can't believe I bought it. It was $658.20 shipped. I'll spend
the $99 for the Meade's eyepiece deal once I get my invoice. That puts
of me buying a car for another...oh 6 months or so. I am only 18 and I
only work 15 hours a week because I am a fulltime college student. I
guess not to many 18 year old's put a telescope in place of a car just
goes to show that amature astronomers are nuts. I searched a great deal
online for reviews and websites on the LXD (specifically the mounts and
goto/tracking abilities) I came up with very little...especially about
the 6" schidt-newt (which my father calls a shit-newt...i dont know why)
Once I get it, I'm going to put it through its paces and document it as
much as I can. I'm going to make "Joe's Wanna-be Mighty LXD site"
Hopefully I'll have a lot to contribute to the LXD portion of yuor site.

Joe Rodricks,
18, MA
Mike here: Enjoy the new telescope (when it comes). The LXD GEM mount may take some getting used to due to the difference from the ETX mount but you'll get it. Looking forward to your contributions. As to a car vs a telescope, just tell your friends you are cruising the Universe instead of the streets. There are more heavenly bodies there!
Subject:	re; LXD55 versus satellites...
Sent:	Wednesday, December 11, 2002 21:36:01
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
To:	scottedw@melbpc.org.au
I'd appreciate a copy of the TLE's you're using,
plus your Site data and the time and date of a satellite pass
which messed up.

The site location can be seen in the Autostar by pressing [mode]
for 3 seconds, then releasing.  Then [scroll down] through the
status screens... 
You can also do:  Setup > Site > Edit [enter] 
and then a combination of [scroll down] and [enter] to visit
the Site Name, LAtitude, Longitude and Time Zone

Likewise, for a single satellite, you can do:
Object > Satellite > Edit .. and use multiple [enter]s to see all 
of that satellite's TLE data ... as the Autostar (thinks it) knows it.

I'll try to duplicate your experience... (well, on an ETX90, in Polar,
but i'll still try)

have fun (otherwise)
--dick

Subject:	re: LXD55
Sent:	Wednesday, December 11, 2002 21:29:13
From:	rseymour@wolfenet.com (Richard Seymour)
Ryan Gordy wrote:
>hi, do you know of any way to buy the lxd55 schmidt newtonian 6in mount
>by its self? thanks

You might inform him of both www.ebay.com  and www.astromart.com
(the latter is more recommended)
both of which frequently have separated LXD55 mounts and optics.

have fun
--dick

Subject:	telescope
Sent:	Wednesday, December 11, 2002 16:48:43
From:	Dwa644@cs.com
mike, glad to hear you moved up to an 8 inch.i just bought an nexstar 8
gps very nice.i had a nexstar 8 and moved up to the gps one.as to your
troubles with meade this is why i got away from themtheir q.c. is
terible and they dont seem to care when you call with a problem.i have
one meade left a etx 90 ra i keep this because it is the first scope i
ever owned.i have had three celestron scopes and have never had a part
missing, cant say the same for meade.your right with the addeunduem
thing when celestron made a change to the n 8 gps they put a addeunduem
in with the manual meade should do the same.maybe some day you will
learn from your mistakes and come over to the real telescope company,
haha.anyway mike good luck with your new toy your going to love the
views an 8inch can give. daryl
Mike here: I know I'll enjoy the telescope. The ETXes I have, including my 6+ year old 90RA, work fine.

And:

i agree with the etx 90 ra it is the only meade scope that i have ever
owned that worked right the first time.

i had nothing but problems with the ec models.

i am suprized that meade doesnt take care of you better than they do.
you are a great resource and free exposoure for meades etx line. if i
was meade i would be bending over backwards to take care of you. i have
never met a person who has one of these scopes who doesnt know of your
site.

just a thought, if meade is treating you like this, how do they treat
the averege person?

daryl
Mike here: I didn't mention I was that "Weasner" when I called them. I didn't want any special treatment. I'm sure that some of their customer support reps know me by name but since I was talking about the LXD and not the ETX, I presume the connection was not made.

And:

oh okay, mike i was wondering what made you chose the lxd 55 over the lx
200? was it just the price factor or do you think the gem is a better
mount for astro photography?
Mike here: Price, for the 8"SCT. And certainly the GEM is better suited to some types of astrophotography unless you get a field-derotator.
Subject:	Battery cable
Sent:	Monday, December 9, 2002 22:04:50
From:	William
I recently received my SN10. I did'nt feel like paying $25 + shipping
for a car adaptor. Ventured to make my own from Radio Shack but can't
find the right tip. I decided to canibalize my cheap battery pack that
was included, since I had no intention of continuously purchasing
D-Cells. Took the needle nose plyers, plucked the wires off the case and
picked up the lighter plug from "Shack". Images of Homer Simpson go
through my head. "Dope!" I forgot to keep track of which wire was - and
which one was +. One of the wires has spec writing on it; 300v 24watt,
etc. The other one has continuing series of _ _ _  _______ _ _ _ _______. 
Can you tell me which one of these wires is the positive one and which
the negative?

On a side note, is the Meade plug center positive or negative?Thank you
in advance for your help

William
Mike here: The center pin is positive, assuming it is the same configuration (most likely) as the ETX series. Not being an electrical engineer I can't tell you which wire was which.
Subject:	Experiences with an LXD55 AR 5"
Sent:	Friday, December 6, 2002 19:05:24
From:	scottedw@melbpc.org.au (Scott Edwards)
My first serious scope and I am very happy with it.  Optics are OK and
Autostar aligns well, with one exception-satellites. With satellites,
the autostar locates a pass correctly (as compared to
"heavens-above.com"), but when it comes to align it usually points
downward to the ground!  On odd occasions it points nearly vertical
upwards.  On one occasion it did point roughly in the correct direction.
I live in the Southern Hemisphere, (Australia) and am suspicious the
problem has something to do with Southern Hemisphere bugs in Autostar. I
also note that the Satellite alarm function does not always work and
similarly the sleep function does not always work.  (ie pressing ENTER
has no effect. The Autostar is model 497 version 26Ec.

Have you heard of these problems before?

Scott
Mike here: I don't recall either of these problems being mentioned before. 2.6Ec is the current version. For the ETX series, I suspect most people are using Alt/Az and not Polar, so perhaps that could be the reason. One thing to check though would be an object (not satellite) near the South Celestial Pole. Does the Autostar GOTO it correctly or does it miss by 12 hours of RA?
Subject:	lxd55
Sent:	Wednesday, December 4, 2002 06:58:33
On Tuesday, Dec 3, 2002, at 22:50 US/Pacific, Ryan Gordy wrote:
hi, do you know of any way to buy the lxd55 schmidt newtonian 6in mount
by its self? thanks
Mike here: There are similar GEM tripods from other companies such as Vixen and Orion. The Autostar won't work with those however. So if you want and Autostar and the LXD55 tripod, you'll have to buy the whole LXD55 and sell the OTA (there are probably buyers for one). You might try to locate someone who wants a particular OTA type and buy that model.


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